G/SE-003 - Summit brain and nice dx!

A temporary change to my daily routine has seen me getting up in the small hours with time to fill. What better way to fill that time than to try some early morning SOTA activations! A couple of days ago I activated Leith Hill, G/SE-002, and this morning I headed for Black Down, G/SE-003.

It’s about a 40 minute drive from my home, and I arrived at the car park on Tennyson’s Lane at about 3.45 local time. There was just the smallest hint of daylight.

I have activated this one a few times, but never in the dark, so I had to rely on my OS App and some light from my phone to find my way to the activation zone. I really enjoyed walking through the woods in the dark!

I found my way to the trig point soon enough, and selected my operating spot. There was a little more light by now, but it looked as though I wasn’t going to be treated to a spectacular sunrise as it was an overcast morning. It wasn’t too cold though.

I knew I was bit early for most European chasers, but I had plenty of time, and they would be there if I hung around long enough. I setup first for 20m in the hope that there might be some dx out there whilst waiting for Europe to wake up! I erected my SotaBeams 40/30/20 linked dipole and switched on the radio, ready for action!

I had a quick listen around the band first, and I could hear plenty of stations, so things were looking promising. Not for long! The SWR reading on my ICOM 7100 went to maximum every time I tried to transmit. I lowered the antenna and had a good look to see if there were any breakages, but everything looked to be in order. I re-raised the antenna in hope more than expectation, but got the same result. I just couldn’t understand it! The last time I had used it, everything seemed to be in perfect working order.

Luckily on this occasion I had brought a backup, so it was time to deploy the SotaBeams Bandspringer along with a tuner I had brought along. Once I was tuned up for 20m I tried some cw calls, but didn’t have any takers. I wasn’t especially worried about this as I was more than happy to take in the scenery and wait for the Europeans to emerge from their slumbers! I switched to SSB and used the voice memory function on the 7100 to put out some calls whilst I took another look at the dipole!

Just as I was thinking of changing bands to see if I would have a better chance of raising some stations, I was called by Tom, @W4JKC for some nice DX! Excellent! I still love those surprise moments where seemingly out of nowhere a voice or some morse from another continent comes out of my speaker. Thanks for the QSO Tom. It made the early start worth it.

There didn’t seem to be any other takers on 20m, so I flitted between some other bands, and after a gap of twenty minutes finally started working some other stations, with a total QSO count of 19.

I packed up at about 6.45 local time and made my way back to the car.

An enjoyable activation, and once home it was time to get on with real life again!

I found myself with some spare time after lunch and thought I would have another look at the dipole to see if I could find what the problem was. And sure enough, the answer was staring me in the face!

For some reason I had closed the first of the links on either side of the dipole, so it was resonant on 30m rather than 20m! I have used this antenna many many times, so I knew what I was supposed to do! The only explanation for my gaffe must be an attack of summit brain!

Ah well, not to worry. I enjoyed being outdoors as the world was waking up. I still made plenty of contacts, and I particularly enjoyed having a nice DX contact with Tom.

73 and thanks to all those who have called in on the last couple of activations.

Matthew M0JSB


Great to work you Matthew; and even better to be the one to start your day. You were my last QSO before heading to bed. Working weak sigs on cw or ssb for a bit more than 59(9) still make my most pleasurable hours on the air.
Hope to work you again - early or late.
73, Tom, W4JKC


Nice write up. Photos of countryside in the dark make for an unusual set of photos on here.

I’ve only managed one activation in the dark and that was after sun set rather than sunrise. I must get out before sunrise one day Having said that I’ve been up since 3:30am today and now its a bit later I can see that we are going to have a lovely summers morning. Just like we’ve had for the last few days. So I’ll try a pre dawn activation when summer comes. :grinning:


Thanks Tom, and thanks for being first in the log again this morning as dawn was breaking over Ditchling Beacon, G/SE-006.

Will that be in 2025? I’ve started to wonder recently if we’ve already had our summer for the year! :grinning:


Hopefully some more to come, it’s just that we’re just getting it in instalments this year :wink:


Hi Matt,
Thanks for digging me out of the noise during your 7-11-24 activation. I was running 1/4 watt at the time, which would be a bit better than 16,000 miles per watt. You have a good receiver.


Hi Ed, Many thanks for taking the trouble to work me this morning. It took a few tries, but we got there in the end! Wow, 0.25W is hugely impressive. Well done!

Looking forward to the next one,

Matthew M0JSB