SOTA activation Report of Tal-Y-Fan, GW/NW-040 on 10-11-07.
G(W)4YSS using GC0OOO/P. HF/VHF. Unaccompanied. FT817ND, 5W to a link dipole on 5m mast. (2m FM: 5W to omni vertical half wave.) All times UTC.
This was the second day of our long weekend in Llandudno. (See previous report for NW1 & NW8).
Tal-Y-Fan was the easiest of seven single summits that I had prepared a map and route for. The others were NW5, NW10, NW14, NW22, with NW16 & NW25, which I thought might be combinable as a linear route. It fitted well with my XYL and Ann’s proposed visit to Conwy Castle and it was the closest 4-pointer to our hotel. I knew I only needed one, maybe two single activations prepared but I didn’t know what towns my companions might want to visit. An easy day was acceptable, sandwiched between two harder ones.
John GW4BVE supplied some inspiration when I’d read his NW40 route details and description. It came across as a ‘snip’ at 235m of ascent and less than 2 miles there and back. I could trust this expert but the WX was not going my way. I would take HF QRP gear and the tent flysheet and hope that somehow I could erect it.
We took our time over breakfast and didn’t set off from Llandudno until 10:42, stopping off to inspect parking for the castle but it was slightly remote and the castle and walls were rather extensive.
Like the road to ruin, taking the road to Rowen (SH758720) was not a success. It turned out to be very narrow and gated. I couldn’t expect two ladies with MS to drive along there twice, opening gates. Eventually we arrived at SH 7310 7146, where there is a ladder stile. I sent them back via Castell, which is further but much more acceptable.
It was 12:02 when I climbed the stile and I didn’t need to be back there until 16:00! The route up was rather ‘NP like;’ a grassy path, easy to follow and not too steep. There was gorse and heather. I was soon in cloud and it was a bit dull but it didn’t rain. There were more stiles to climb at SH 7278 7222 & SH 7272 7236 and the northerly wind increased with altitude and proximity to the east-west ridge ahead. There comes a point where one must lose height but it’s only 5m or so. The path runs along to the north of the wall which is crossed on another ladder stile next to the trig-point, which was logged at SH 72945 72657.
There was a wealth of difference in the wind-speed between one side of the wall and the other and after erecting the dipole and tying it back to the wire above the wall, I settled down on the soft heather without the requirement for any tent. My only problem was that I’d ‘pre-hydrated’ far too much for such a modest undertaking, so mode and band changes provided welcome ‘breaks.’
TAL-Y-FAN GW/NW-040, 610m (2000ft) 4 pts, 12:27 to 15:43. 6 deg C. Low-cloud (Cloud-base 450m) 45 mph NW wind. Rough heather & grass, with a wall for shelter and backrest. (IO83BF, WAB:SH77.)
There was good phone coverage here, nearer to the coast and thanks to Roy G4SSH, who seemed surprised to hear from me, we were underway on 3.723 CW by 12:55. Unlike the day before on Snowdon, there was no need for gloves and my toggle-switch CW-key was working perfectly; more than could be said of my brain. Within the hour, I would be telling people I was on NW4 not NW40! I heard someone walk past along the other side of the wall, shouting over the howling wind, into a mobile phone. ‘I don’t know what it is.’ ‘It looks like an aerial but what it’s doing here I can’t imagine.’ I stayed hidden, sending reports with my phones on. Apart from him, I saw no one, as had been the case on Lliwedd, the day before.
80m was in fine shape and I soon had 11 regular chasers in the log including Don G0NES, his CW improving every time. Phil G4OBK was there too, coming in strongly from North Yorkshire and after announcing SSB, a straggler arrived in the form of Pete EI7CC, in the nick of time. ON4ON came in from over the water at 599. G0OIG really confused me and I fell into the number trap ‘Hello Gerald.’ He must have thought I was deranged; QRZ.com gives his initial is ‘M.’
Graham G4JZF is very often first up on SSB and today it was the same. The single QRG / two mode approach doesn’t always work out like it should but 3.723 was quiet today and the chasers are by now very well versed in the routine, further helped by another post from Roy at 13:22. 14 stations were worked in this mode and all was going swimmingly until the QSY to 40m CW.
There were thoroughly nasty noises all over the band, even on the sacred 7.032 MHz spot! It sounded like a cross between someone who’d died on his key set to 40 wpm and a bunch of Christmas turkeys. Now and again it would go away, presumably as bird-flu struck one of them down but then return annoyingly just when you thought your CQ was in the safe hands of a German or Swiss chaser. This was a far cry from the easy listening FM the day before, having to transmit report after report 4 or 5 times. Possibly it was the stress of this that caused me to start sending the wrong SOTA ref. which theoretically increased my ASL by over 1100 feet but maybe it wasn’t noticed by all, under that racket. The 15 stations I did work took 35 minutes. If I’d thought about it at first, 10 MHz would have been a much better bet. Good thing I’d taken an oversized battery. QRO would have been very handy too!
There was still some time to spare and a call on S20 brought the crisp audio of Mike G4BLH, which soothed the ringing ears. On 145.375, there followed chasers Rob G4RQJ, Mick 2E0HJD and Zofia 2E0ZLD. After that came some less familiar calls and Steve M0IGG in Walney who I haven’t worked for ages. Jordan M3TMX called in; keen and interested as ever and asking all the pertinent questions backed by much relevant experience for his young years. Next was Peter GD4TSO at 15:29 and just as I was about to close, came John M3RXR/P with an S2S from Winter Hill (SP10). After 59 both ways; that made 11 on 2FM.
With no time to spare, it was a case of throw it all in the rucksack and run down the second half of the path to make the car at precisely 4pm. Yes, Denise & Ann were waiting as arranged but they had been listening to the activation on the scanner, all the way from Conwy. How embarrassing! They enjoyed looking at Conwy, though the castle was given a miss, on the grounds that access was a bit difficult for them. Edward 1 had apparently allowed it to be built without an integral car park and coffee shop. Shame on him!
Summary: GW/NW-040, 4 points, FT817ND, 5W to an HF link dipole / VHF J-Pole vertical.
One 3 Ah SLAB battery (part-used) fed in via a miniature, resettable, 2 Amp thermal circuit-breaker.
8 x 2.7 Ah internal Ni-Mh, AA cells in reserve (not used). Jingtong 2m-2W H/H as reserve rig.
235m (771ft) ascent, 3.2 km (2 miles). 4 hrs gross, 0.7 hrs net (total walking time). GEKO 301 GPS.
80m CW: 11 QSO’s.
80m SSB: 14 QSO’s.
40m CW: 15 QSO’s.
2m FM: 11 QSO’s.
TOTAL: 51 QSO’s.
John (GW4BVE) was right. A nice ‘family-outing-in-summer’ type of hill. I can’t hold him responsible for the fact that it was November I never saw a thing! Thanks John, I enjoyed this one and though my interest is not ‘uniques’ it was new to me.
THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and assistance from Roy G4SSH, Steffan DL3JPN and Lionel F5NEP, for spots.
73, John G4YSS (using SSEG Club callsign, GC0OOO/P)
(Following in due course: 11-11-07 NW6, NW3 & NW4 report.)