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G/LD-020 Dale Head and G/LD-021 Robinson

Friday 20 November 2020 Dale Head G/LD-020 and Robinson G/LD-021

The previous weekend, the week ahead weather forecast had suggested good weather was due on 20/11/2020, so I booked a day of leave from work, with the intent of cycling from my QTH to Buttermere, and ticking-off three summits (Dale Head, Robinson and Grasmoor - with a possible fourth of Grisedale Pike).

As the week progressed it became clear that the fine weather would be a day earlier, on Thursday 19th, and that Friday 20th would be somewhat poor. Nevertheless I resolved to continue my plan and at least tackle Dale Head and Robinson. Parking my bicycle at the top of Honnister pass would make for an easy ascent of Dale Head G/LD-020.

I had an early start on the day, and the cycle ride to Honnister felt longer than usual, since I had opted for a heavier duty bike than my usual lightweight-weight audax bike. It took a couple of hours to cycle from my QTH to the summit of Honnister pass, much of it in the dark. I arrived at the summit of the pass at 0810UTC. The weather had steadily worsened during the ride; I would usually have purchased a cup of tea from the Honnister Cafe, but no such comforts were available today due to the lockdown. The slate mine was still busy though, but with min workers rather than tourists. I locked my cycle to a road sign next to YHA Hostel, and changed into walking gear. Today was definitely a day for multiple layers.

Suited and booted, I headed off up the path to Dale Head. A short break of 2 mins was taken at the ruined stone hut about a hundred metres up - this was a good spot to refill my water bottle/filter and take on some food whilst sheltering behind a wall.

I was soon at the top where I decided to try putting-up a fibre glass pole with a slim jim. The pole went up fine, and I connected a VX6 HT to the feedline. The weather really was foul at this point - sheets of rain were being blown across the summit with the wind at around 30-40mph with some stringer gusts.

On calling CQ I was glad to hear a number of stations returning - 2E0MIX was first followed by another six stations. It was a relief to get the fourth QSL (G7CDA) and know that the 3 hours of effort I had so far expended, in poor weather, were worthwhile.

I was soon dismantling the pole and carefully winding the guy lines before heading off to Robinson G/LF-021. The route to Robinson takes you over a pleasant ridge - Hindscarth Edge. Even in these poor conditions it felt an enjoyable walk. the ridge is not excessively narrow but I was aware of the risk that if the wind continue to increase over the next hour, the return trip could be made hazardous in places.

Google Photos
IMAGE - SUMMITS OF DALE HEAD ON A WET FRIDAY

I jogged across the grassy parts of Hindscarth and up onto Robinson. There is not much to see on the summit (especially in mist) except meagre effort of a shelter. I wedged myself into gap in a rocky outcrop for some shelter and decided to use an RH770 telescopic antenna rather than the pole - by this point the wind was gusting strongly and the sky had turned to water with occasional showers of air.

The RH770 gave good performance - possibly better than the slim-jim and 7m pole I had soon made six contacts including M7XUP who earlier in the week had advised that I wouldn’t need HF to make the necessary contacts on these summits (good advice - there was no way I would have put up a 20m/40m antenna in thee conditions, let alone risk an FT818 to the rain).

Since the RH770 was dual band I switched to 70cms for a quick QSL with 2E0MIX who suggested he put a spot out, cancelling my alert for Gasmoor later that day. I said I would wait until I was back in the valley to decide (the plan at the point was to cycle back to Crumnock waster and ascend Grasmoor).

After closing down, I headed back onto Dale head. At the point the wind had strengthened further and the rain had really blasted me as I had made my way across Hindscarth Edge. It was 1120 and I realised an ascent of Grasmoor might be stretching things a bit, the weather seemed to be worsening. I called-up 2E0MIX (Derek) on VHF and asked if he could enter a spot to cancel my alert for Grasmoor.

I also made three further contacts on my second pass over Dale Head, whom I had not spoken to earlier that morning.

Google Photos
IMAGE - ABOUT TO START THE DESCENT FROM DALE HEAD

I was soon heading back down towards Honnister, having to pause occasionally to allow strong gusts of wind to pass rather than be knocked over.

Back at the summit I was relieved to find my bicycle still locked tot he post. A quick change back into cycle shoes, and strap by pack to the pannier rack and was heading back down the pass.

The cycle home was rather tough, it being mostly into the wind. As I passed the base of Grasmoor I did almost have second thoughts and attempt an ascent. I assured myself I would be back in a couple of weeks, whence I could collect the winter bonus (and perhaps bag Grisedale Pike too).

I was glad to get home after another 2 hours of cycling, and glad I had not attempted Grasmoor - but already making plans for the next outing. It was a great day - I quite enjoy walking in this sort of weather as the fells feel so much wilder than they do on a fine summer’s day.

I was surprised how little benefit was given by the 7m pole and slim-jim compared to the RH770 - in future I may not bother with the pole(unless using HF)

Many thanks to those who chased me,

9 Likes

I face this dilemma on every VHF activation with my [Diamond original] RH770 and J-pole/3m pole. I get such good reports with both but I’ve rarely done an A vs B comparison of the two. I don’t like the RH770 waving around in strong winds because of the strain it puts on the BNC-to-SMA adapter on my Yaesu HT [I’ve broken 4 adapters that way mid activation]. I choose the J-pole/3m pole where I want to hide down low from the wind but still have the antenna up high.

Re your activation, you were brave cycling and walking in Friday’s weather. Both those summits on are my to-do list. I’m retired so I can choose my fine-weather days at short notice and realized Thursday was shaping up to be the only good Wx day [sunny, dry but very cold] to activate Pen-y-Ghent (G/NP-010). Sorry to rub salt in the wound: everyone at the summit was basking in midday sunshine sitting the leeward side of the drystone wall sheltered from the icy wind and admiring the grand views. By contrast, on Friday I was staring out the window at the rain and strong winds thinking I’m glad I did it the previous day.

Anyway, well done!

2 Likes

Thanks for the report and pics…brings back good memories of those two…activated quite a few years ago on a nice day and a wet and miserable day :grin:

73 Allan GW4VPX

It was pretty bad weather, and u was a little jealous of those out on Thursday. On a fine weather day such as Thursday it is hard to imagine that the weather could possibly be so foul just 24 hours later!

I find the pole has the same benefits as you noted… in high wind I can lie down and fully shield the mic from the wind.

I have both a BNC and SMA rh770 (both clones), the SMA screws onto the fx6 nice and tight, so I am hopeful that it is supported by the body of the HT. I am careful to remove, and stow in a length of 25mm conduit, after use though, replacing with the rubber duck to ensure the VX6 remains waterproof.

I’ve had two** Chinese RH770 clones - electrically they performed well but were mechanically very fragile despite careful handling. The first fell apart mid QSO on Kirby Moor (G/LD-049) but I managed to push the telescopic sections back together to complete the QSO and qualify the summit.

**Actually, I’ve had three but the third fell apart on first inspection!

The clones were about one-third of the cost of my Diamond original [from a UK dealership] but lasted a lot less than one-third of the time / number of activations compared to the Diamond to-date.

The clones had the advantage of having SMA-m terminations, which as you say fit snugly onto the top casing of my Yaesu FT1D.

How do you use the RH770 with a handheld, do you just hold it in your hand and wave it about?

Only if you want to stress and break the socket on the handy.

2 Likes

That answers my question I think. It is connected directly to the handheld?

Yes, connected directly.

I only attach immediately before calling cq, and then remove as soon as finished. I carry a second flexible antenna for use while mobile.

I had not thought of using it any other way actually…but perhaps some sort of base mounting placed atop a summit cairn of trig point would work.

The 10m of RG58 on the tail of the slim Jim reduce the power from 5W at the transceiver to around 3.5W at the antenna, so perhaps this negates any intrinsic advantage relative to the RH770.

1 Like

Great report and photos. Again thanks.

73 de Geoff vk3sq

PS…what is your name?

Who is on first? :slight_smile:

For my first activation I used a 2m half-wave mobile whip complete with mag mount on a biscuit tin lid, perched on a rock. It worked a treat!

Very well done, especially with the cycling! Dale Head from Honister would have been stretching a different set of leg muscles.

I got you on Dale Head which means the telescopic whip is working well. I won’t go over old ground with the pole/Slim-G versus telescopic whip other than to say that they both seem to work very well. The Slim-G comes into it’s own where you can get shelter, otherwise the RH770 is much more convenient. I still use a combination of both, typically using the Slim-G when I am taking a pole for HF.

Mark.

Ultimately, I find more benefits in using the supplied rubber duck with my handheld than a supposedly better alternative.

If I want to be tethered to a proper antenna, I have my 817 in my rucksack for that - so the handheld can remain for use as an actual handheld while walking.

The supplied antenna is designed to snugly fit the radio and preserves any water-resistant properties much better.

Connections just inside the radio beneath the connector on handhelds can fail - so attaching / removing helicals and alternatives are best kept to a minimum.

My Yaesu FT70D gives amazing performance on both RX and TX with the supplied rubber duck too. So with the points noted above, I’ll stick with the RD.

Why so much lossy coax?

The pole is 7m, plus a bit extra to reach across to a tent or summit shelter.

I’m considering trying LMR-195 as an alternative to RG-58. Not sure about flexibility. I really like the crimp connectors I can get from RS components, and their fit, so am keen to try those with a better cable. I also don’t want to consider cable that is any heavier, RG-58 adds up to a significant load with enough metres.

Please let me know before I make a purchase if you’ve had experience of LMR-195 and it isn’t suitable for SOTA activities.

It’s stiff enough that they do LMR-195UF (ultra flex) that is 33% more expensive. If I was buying then I’d go for that. The problem is the reduction in loss is not very much. Yes, I know every bit matters but will it be noticeable?

Maybe what you want to do is take say your 10m length of RG58 and cut it at say 6m and fit a plug, then fit plugs on the 4m bit but use on female BNC and one male. Then you can use the 6m piece normally and when in a setup where you need more length, such as having to get out of wind into a shelter, add the 4m piece on. That will nearly halve the loss in the feeder for all the times where you can use a shorter piece. And when you can’t use the shorter length, you’ll be back to where you were before (maybe with a tadge more loss in the connectors).

Choose lengths to use your pole/antenna setup etc. so maybe 7/3 is a better cutting guide. It will only cost you a couple of crimp on connectors.

Ideally you need to keep your eyes peeled for any time you see dudes working on cell sites. If you do, mosey on over to them (obey Covid rules etc.) and ask them if they have any offcuts or scrap bits of cable. You may find them more than happy to let some gimp clean up the trash instead of them :slight_smile: If you do it right you find might find yourself like me: the proud owner of 26.5m of brand new Andrew FSJ 4-50 and the special connectors that were surplus to the job, worth about £350 I reckon. It’s used for contesting not SOTA as it weighs a few kilos!

Tom, I know you have debated this before on at least one other SOTA thread.

When you say [provocatively IMO] “supposedly better alternative” I assume you are not contesting that many [perhaps most] HT-mounting 2m antennas have better performance than the stock rubber duck but rather [putting words in your mouth] that the benefit of convenience [in your case] outweighs the performance improvement of the alternative.

In which case, I would say that depends on your activating location and whether or not you would like some interesting Dx as well as local chasers.

In my experience, I probably could qualify G/NP and G/SP summits with a rubber duck [being located close to large urban conurbations] even though I activate only on work days and during the day. I would be pushed to qualify many of the 1-6-pointer summits in my region [G/LD] with a rubber duck on those days and time of day.

P.S. I don’t care to monitor the call frequency whilst walking. I prefer to focus on the walk and do the radio bit at the summit.

73 Andy

I try to pitch my 6m pole right next to me / the tent / the tarp. I feel inhibited putting up an HF antenna anywhere near a summit shelter unless nobody else is there or I think unlikely to come.

I’ll do VHF/UHF in a shelter. That’s where the quick-to-deploy RH770 comes in handy. But I’ll switch the audio from the HT speaker to an earphone / mic if any one shows up.