My son was on a school trip to a bunk barn in Halton Gill yesterday. I was to drop my son and one of his class mates at the venue at 10am. The night before it struck me that the bunk barn is only a couple of miles away from the starting point to walk up Birks Fell G/NP-031. I couldn’t really say no to an opportunity to squeeze in a cheeky SOTA activation could I?
The pub in Litton at the start of the walk.
I got a very (very!) good deal on an MTR-3B last month and I thought a zero pressure activation (no points available) would be a good time to fire it up on air for the first time. I haven’t tried a commercial MTR before so I was interested to see how the rig would work.
The walk up through the farm yard and along the well defined path was pleasant and Radio 4 kept me amused along the way. Breaking away from the path and heading towards to trig point brought me to a very boggy area but I managed ok in my 15 year old Scarpas.
View across the boggy bit towards Pen Y Ghent G/NP-010
My venerable SOTAbeams BH3 (40/30/20m) seemed like the perfect match for my MTR-3B, so it was deployed on the 7m SOTApole. There was very little wind so I didn’t bother with any additional guy lines.
I hadn’t experenced a bought MTR before, all my others are home built. It seems as the the default keyer speed is slower on the commercial rigs. I attempted to use the direct frequency entry function to set 7.032 MHz and thought the speed was a bit slow, so I used the speed menu to take it up a notch. I fired in the frequency of 7.032 and was just getting set up when another SOTA station started calling, no problem, I shifted up to 7.033.
My MTR collection (should I call someone?)
I haven’t programmed any keyer memories yet into the MTR-3B,so I had to call CQ the old fashioned way by hand, such hardship! I was surprised by the number of callers, I worked my way through 28 QSOs. I was very pleased to work a number of G stations, something I’ve missed for a long time. I suddenly realised that I had been sending quite fast, I do hope it was OK. Received signal reports were higher than I expected when compared to incoming signals, whilst there was no problem at all, I began to suspect that the receiver could benefit from a re-alignment.
Switching to 30m brought a couple more contacts but stations were down in the noise with me, as stated above, I’m almost certain that a re-alignment will improve things.
20m brought in another 2 QSO’s but again, the signal reports didn’t tally. Rather than continue with a receiver that seemed a bit deaf, I decided to call it quits. 32 QSO’s on a weekday is not to be sniffed at!
I looked at the RBN data and it appears as though the frequency calibration of the MTR is slightly off.
So, to sign off, I really enjoyed my last minute activation, I think my new MTR will be a great asset once I’ve given it a bit of TLC. I’m probably just very picky and I like stuff to be as good as it possibly can be. My MTR-3B is ex-demo and probably not represenative. Sorry to any callers that I missed, hopefully work you soon.
I must remember to program the MTR-3B keyer memory!
The anvil seems to be bringing in the chasers