I consider myself lucky in having a choice of nearby SOTA summits, and having made a last minute decision to head out, it was a toss up between Longmynd G/WB-005 (accessible, but popular and possibly busy on a nice evening) and Corndon GW/MW-013 which is more of a climb, but a good VHF/UHF site.
Corndon won, and I placed an alert.
Moments later, I realised that I had no lightweight antenna system for 70cm, but at least it would be good exercise.
Then John @G4YSS mentioned Topband, and since I have a topband dipole and would be on the hill anyway, it seemed churlish not to try that too. I have only activated twice before on 160m, and in each case I took my 8m fishing pole, which is rather heavy, and only just high enough to keep the 80m long dipole clear of the ground - but I couldn’t carry that as well as the aluminium pole I use to support the 70cm Yagi. Time was running out, so I took my normal rucksack friendly 5m pole, and would think about how to use it when the time came…
It was a glorious evening to be out, sky larks singing, and indeed a small family of them were playing in the heather just a few metres from me - taking off and gliding back again. I’ve never seen so many together!
I was in time to catch the second half of the FMAC, working nine stations including S2S with M1EYP/P and G1ZAR/P.
Moving on to the UKAC, I managed 38 QSOs - M1EYP/P being the only S2S - and finishing at 21:30 local. Conditions didn’t seem good to me, noise levels were quite high, but I heard some high serial numbers being exchanged and I see from the claimed scores (on RSGB website) that some good DX was worked by others.
This gave me half an hour before our tentative sched to set up the 160m dipole, which proved to be just about enough. On arrival, I had paced 50m from the trig point to my operating position, as that would leave room for the dipole without having to move the “shack”.
I used the sturdy telescopic aluminium pole which had supported the 70cm Yagi, and - having removed the end cap - dropped the fibreglass fishing pole over the top section. This put the feed point of the 160m dipole at around 7m, just enough to keep it from sagging to the ground, with each end supported by a walking pole. The wire was running roughly East - West.
Having matched it with the Elecraft T1 tuner, I heard Phil G4OBK working John on CW, and soon after, we had completed the S2S with 599 both ways. FB!
G4OBK and GM0OPS followed into the log. Moving to SSB, it was good to work Brian G8ADD 58 / 44 and G4IPB 58 / 57. John then called me, and we did complete the QSO, but it was a struggle compared with CW earlier - 34 / 44. Sorry to have missed Rod M0JLA. With hindsight it might have been more helpful for me to start on SSB while John was on CW, and then move to CW later…
Anyway, a very enjoyable evening. Thanks to all who called or listened in hope, and to Tom and John for encouraging me up and out!
70cm, with Stiperstones G/WB-003 in the background:
70cm the hard way! Photographed at home this telescopic rotatable mast is a nice bit of kit, but at 2Kg not ideal for SOTA. The “half a Tonna” is not ideal either, but we use what we have:
The 160m dipole support pole:
Fibreglass to aluminium interface: