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G0VOF/P Activation report G/SP-008 15/01/11

I would like to say a big thank you to all stations that worked me on G/SP-008 Boulsworth Hill today in what is the most unpleasant weather I have yet experienced on an activation.

I was asked by Tony 2E0LAE several months ago if I wished to accompany him & Elaine on a joint activation of this hill & alerts were duly posted. Of course, we had no idea back then what the weather would be like today & up until a few weeks ago the snow & ice on the roads would have made this activation a little awkward. As it was, the snow & ice went a couple of weeks ago & the only thing we had to prepare for today was gale force winds & heavy rain.

OK, pack some waterproofs & my £7 single skin supermarket tent & I can deal with that I thought. I have to say, conditions today were probably just a little bit more that the “keeps the rain off at a rock festival” tent was designed for. I have used it successfully in rain & wind before on Pendle Hill, but today’s wind & rain was far more forceful.

I had also picked up on a practice used by several top activators & packed all my moisture sensitive gear in watertight food containers which worked a treat,& all my gear was dry on arrival at the summit. Of course, the problems arose when I had to remove the gear from the boxes in order to operate. Although infinitely better inside the tent, rather than outside, the force of the wind & rain was penetrating the single skin & giving everything inside an occasional sprinkling of water. No problem, I covered the FT817 & all was good, but with my HF dipole too low for 80m I sadly had to abandon what would have been my first cw activation.

I set up my HF dipole, somewhat lower than I normally would & angled the legs into the wind to give a little more support for the pole which was bending quite considerably in the very strong wind. I connected the ATU to the antenna & then the FT817 to the ATU the powered up the radio. The first station I heard was Dave M0MYA/P on G/WB-004 so after quickly tuning the antenna (not strictly necessary as it is resonant), I gave him a call & my first qso was a Summit to Summit.As I hadn’t really got into a comfortable operating position at that point I said I would take the frequency once Dave had finished with it. I took the opportunity for a cup of coffee & once the frequency was free I called CQ SOTA. The first station to respond to my CQ call, as on several of my activations was Paul G0HNW, a stalwart of the 60m band & a very good signal. At this point I found that my logsheets had taken quite a sprinkling of water & my pencil no longer worked. This would be a problem!

Having been in a similar position before I asked any other stations to standby while I set up my mobile phone to record the activation for transcription later.

Once I had my phone running it was especially nice to be called by Martin M1MAJ, as on my first activation of this hill with Scott 2E0RCS in April 2009 we had both exhausted our batteries & I don’t think I managed a complete QSO with Martin before the last battery failed. No such problems today, & it was very nice to finally definitely work you from G/SP-008 Boulsworth Hill Martin :slight_smile:

Martin was followed by Steve GW7AAV who spotted me, (as had Martin), & Steve also spotted that Tony was active on VHF/UHF. I know that Tony missed a few regular chasers which was no doubt due to the wind blowing his mast & yagi over to about 60 degrees from horizontal. He did qualify the hill first but did mention that most contacts were relatively local stations.

Did I mention the dire weather conditions?

Several other SOTA 60m regulars called me, along with a couple of stations I haven’t worked before, & after a final un-answered CQ I said I would QSY to 4m FM in about 15 minutes. This was probably a bit optimistic as I had to pack away my HF gear first. As soon as I stepped outside I realised that the weather was now even worse that it had been earlier & after taking down my HF dipole I could see that Tony was packing up.The weather was by now very dire, so I only used a quarter wave whip attached to the Wouxon handheld to put out a CQ SOTA call from the inside of my tent. This was answered by Mike G4BLH, who although not too far from this hill, is screened from the summit itself, hence he said I was very weak. I took my phone in one hand & the radio in the other & left the tent to find a better position. We eventually worked & Mike kindly spotted me, although I did not expect great things with such a small antenna. So I was very pleased when Les G3PUO answered one of my CQ’s as I have known Les for many years & it was very nice to work him on four metres after he had changed over antennas specially to work me just in time :slight_smile:

The Wouxon KG-699E is not waterproof, & by now condensation was appearing in the LCD window, so after a final call I closed down & joined Tony & Elaine in packing up.

The journey down was now into the wind which was now much stronger than on our ascent, & the rain definitely had the odd spot of hail in it, but as it is mostly downhill back to the parking spot there shouldn’t really be any problems. The ground was noticeably boggier on the way down & the stream we crossed earlier with relative ease was now at least 4 inches deeper & a few feet wider at the point we had crossed earlier. After checking up & down stream I came to the conclusion that where the normal path crosses the stream is the most sensible option, with it having a firm & visible bed & at that time 6 to 8 inches of fast flowing water. We all crossed safely, but we did get our feet wet :wink:

Despite the soaking from the rain & wind, we all returned to Tony’s car with smiles on our faces & plans for doing another joint activation soon. One comment that Tony & Elaine made on the walk down was that if I hadn’t been with them they probably would have cancelled the activation as the weather was so bad. Well Tony, if you are reading this, there is no way I would have gone up there on my own, & I only went up today because of you & Elaine :slight_smile:

We both successfully activated a hill we had alerted for months in advance in the type of dire weather conditions that this part of the world does very well, heavy rain & strong wind. The fact that we all came away smiling says it all :slight_smile:

It was a real pleasure :slight_smile:

For those interested, I have checked what is left of my paper log & it is still legible. My Camera & mobile phone both performed flawlessly & I can transcribe my activator log from my phone. In fact, this time I pointed the phone camera at the radio for most of my qso’s today so if you worked me today there is a good chance you may appear in my video of this activation when I post it on Youtube, although there is a 10 minute time limit on my videos :wink:

It really doesn’t give any impression of just how windy & wet it was up there today though.

Despite the fact that temperature wise it was quite mild, I think we earned our winter bonus points today :wink:

A big thank you to all that worked us, & an especially huge thank you to Tony & Elaine for allowing me to tag along :slight_smile:

Video & photos to follow once edited.

Best 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to G0VOF:

HI Mark,

The pleasure was ours yesterday and although we agreed we were all mad to be up there in such awful conditions we also agreed we had fun!!

Elaine commented after dropping you off at home that she really enjoyed the day and is already looking forward to going out again soon ( she is more keen than I am in the winter)

Thanks for the more detailed excellent report and looking forward to next time

73

Tony

In reply to 2E0LAE:

It was indeed great fun despite the weather :slight_smile:

My video of the activation is now online, I hope you enjoy it.

73,

Mark G0VOF

You are completely bonkers.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to G0VOF:

Excellent Mate,

if this was full length it would be a Carry on Classic!!!

Thanks again for a very funny but truthful video!!

and yes Tom we all agreed MAD!!!

73

Tony & Elaine

Video added to SOTA TV http://sotatv.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/2e0lae-g0vof-on-gsp-008-boulsworth-hill-15th-january-2011/

In reply to GW7AAV:

Thanks Steve :slight_smile:

I noticed that a few activators have attached log extracts to their videos, I wasn’t sure how to do that so just sent you the video link.

Incidently, shortly after our arrival at the parking spot we heard Alan M1EYO/P calling CQ SOTA from G/NP-032 Cracoe Fell on 2m FM. I eventually worked him from the the highest point on the vehicle track, but Alan was being very sensible & didn’t want to hang around until me & Tony were in the activation zone for a Summit to Summit. He did call Tony later while on his way down from the summit while Tony was activating.

Maybe we were a little bit mad to go ahead with it, but it was definitely fun & this is an activation I will remember for a long time :slight_smile:

I didn’t take too many photos but those I did are now online:

Thanks & Best 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to M1EYP:

You are completely bonkers.

They could, so they did - and in style I’d say! … and their set up were right luxury. Had that been me, I’d have been hunkered down beneath a plastic tarpaulin.

In reply to G0VOF and 2E0LAE:

Well done all of you. Pleased to see there are others that are willing to get out and about in the wet stuff. Looks like you’ll be getting yourself some waterproof paper then Mark in readiness for the next time. If you can arrange some way to leave the rig in its plastic container in your backpack, you’ll find it is much easier to operate when it’s wet. I’m always surprised how well the Yaesu mics stand up to getting a soaking, but the rigs are susceptible.

Thanks for the interesting report. Boulsworth is a pleasant hill and probably one of the few SP’s I’d bother activating again.

73, Gerald G4OIG

“Again” Gerald? Are you feeling OK?

I use Exped Drybags to keep my kit dry inside my rucksack - they work very well.

A waterproof pad is a must - I use ‘Rite In The Rain’ all weather notebooks - very good.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to G4OIG:

I’d have been hunkered down beneath a plastic tarpaulin.

Tarpaulin. Luxury! We used to dream of operating under a tarpaulin. 150 of us use to have to lick grass dry before we could operate. (With apologies to the cast of the At Last The 1948 Show, aka Monty Python’s Four Yourkshiremen)

It did look quite posh and civilised didn’t it Gerald. I can only assume that their bags were not laden with flasks of soup or other essential provisions if they had space for tents.

Cabin fever is now officially set in as I haven’t been out SOTAing for 18days.
:frowning:

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

HI Gerald and Andy,

Yes it was a very civilised affair, I might have a scouse accent but I have to have my luxuries!! HiHi

I don’t know what Mark had for sustenance, but Elaine always bring the Grub, and this time we had two flasks of Beef Oxo and Ham & Cheddar Sandwiches with the crusts cut off(HiHi) and I drank my Oxo with my little finger in the air of course!!

One has to be seen to be cultered despite the weather don’t you know???

73

Tony

In reply to 2E0LAE and MM0FMF:

we had two flasks of Beef Oxo…

Cabin fever is now officially set in…

Oi you two, leave off. One brings my longing for SOTAscoff to the fore and the other makes reference to the ball and chain around my ankles! I’m not out up them thar hills until the end of the month and I’m having to exist on proper meals until then! Looks like I’ll have to try to keep the weight off by breaking my new boots in when they arrive. I’ve finally decided to buy a pair specifically for the 4th season… :wink:

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to M1EYP:

“Again” Gerald? Are you feeling OK?

No, apparently not. Must have been a slip of the keyboard while I was musing on what to do in retirement! :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG & M1EYP:

Yes Gerald, it is a very nice hill & good for VHF too. I used 6m & 2m the last time I activated this hill & had a very leisurely activation reclining between a couple of boulders. Sadly this time the South Westerly wind made that spot unusable so we moved further round the summit to find the most sheltered spot we could. I have to compliment Elaine on the photo she took, (on Tony’s Flickr page), that is far better than any of mine & shows both our aerials which none of mine do.

Yes Tom, waterproof paper has definitley moved up my shopping list. I had intended using cw for the first time on this activation, I had even been improving my receive skills all week. Sadly my brain isn’t yet at the stage where I can hold a qso without writing down at least the callsign of any station calling me, so with wet log sheets it would never have worked.

As Gerald says though, we could, so we did :slight_smile:

I had looked at using some heavy gauge polythene sheet we have at work to make a similar shelter to the one I have seen photos of you using Gerald, but in the end I opted to give my cheap tent a try. It certainly kept off 90% of the weather, unfortunately it was so severe that the 10% that got through was enough to soak eveything after about 10 minutes. I do have a smaller, heavier one man tent that would cope with the conditions, but sadly it takes much longer to put up & is almost twice as heavy.

The food container idea definitely appeals to me as everything I had packed in them was perfectly dry after the ascent, I assume you must have made some holes in yours to allow cables & leads to pass though, or do you pass the leads under the lid? The only drawback I could see would be operating the controls on the radio, but I was at least half way there using the lid to keep most of the incoming water off my FT817.

Of course, the best shelter was afforded by the summit itself. On a hill with a flat top the activation would have most likely been limited to VHF handhled only in those conditions.

I also tried out GPS Navigation for the first time & was very impressed. Of course I had a map & compass, & although neither were needed given my existing knowledge of the hill, the unit was certainly accurate & definitely as waterproof as I’ll ever need. This actually led to my first gymnastic display for many years. I had knelt down to look for a geocache on the way up to the summit, but I forgot about the extra weight on my back as I stood up, & I performed a perfect single parachute roll a few feet back down the hill HI!

From the GPS track, we arrived at the summit at 11:35, only 5 minutes after our alterted time. My first QSO was at 12:40, what had I been doing for over an hour??

I really must get a move on in future!

Certainly not the most difficult Southern Pennines summit, or indeed the most difficult weather conditions when compared to other activators experiences, but it does merit as the worst weather I have encountered on an activation.

I would not have bothered doing this activation on my own, but with Tony & Elaine, it became a fun day out :slight_smile:

Here’s to the next one :slight_smile:

Best 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to M1EYP:
I have a waterproof notebook Tom made of plastic sheets. Whilst activating in the rain it works fine with pencil but on drying the sheets are bonded together. Many I can prise apart but a fair number are welded together! It cost £11-50 for this A5 sized wonder. Do you use Rite in the Rain as single sheet or in a bound notebook? If in a notebook what happens when the paper pages dry out?

A weekend in Lakeland with my all-weather father is coming up soon. The conditions we had on Stoney Cove Pike [Caudale Moor really] last year - horizontal rain and strong winds to drive it - might repeat. With rain gods Gerald and Paul in the region the same weekend, I need to prepare. HI

73

David M0YDH

In reply to G0VOF:

Hi Mark,

I had looked at using some heavy gauge polythene sheet we have at work
to make a similar shelter to the one I have seen photos of you using
Gerald

Mine’s just a cheap plastic tarpaulin bought off eBay - 8ft x 6ft. I had one half that size, but after Gisborough Moor G/TW-003, I decided a larger one was needed. Sometimes I take both - almost a tent’s worth! I find it the most flexible means of getting shelter - quickly!

The food container idea definitely appeals to me as everything I had
packed in them was perfectly dry after the ascent, I assume you must
have made some holes in yours to allow cables & leads to pass
though, or do you pass the leads under the lid?

If you look at my Flickr photos - especially Belling Hill GM/SS-244 and Linton Hill GM/SS-263 - then you’ll see what I’ve done. the container is an A4 plastic box for storing paper as sold on eBay. I’ve made the end of the lid into a flap so the rig can be accessed. Fly leads bring the RF (HF and VHF for the 857) PTT, key and headphones out to the front. If you want me to photograph it out of the backpack, then drop me an email and I’ll show you how it goes together. There are many ways of protecting the rig - I would say none are totally waterproof. There’s nowt like swirling drizzle or small hail stones for getting in everywhere.

Of course, the best shelter was afforded by the summit itself.

I agree entirely - looking for shelter is action number 1 on arrival at the summit - even if there isn’t a cloud in the sky!

73, Gerald G4OIG