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G4YSS Actn. Rprt: GW/NW-040, Tal-Y-Fan, 10-Nov-07


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.)


In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John.

Another great report! Many thanks.

“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.’”

No, I appreciated you calling me by name John - that’s because it was G4OIG, you were working, Hi. I’m not sure what you copied, but I did send that this was actually our first ever QSO. In 21 months of SOTA you have been the most elusive MG. Maybe one day I’ll work you when you are using your own call.

73, Gerald


In reply to G4OIG:
Hi Gerald,

More embarrassment! Sorry for writing your call in the log incorrectly but many thanks for pointing it out, so I can correct it. I did think the coincidence was too great but it’s not the first time someone has contacted me for a correction and it won’t be the last, I’m sure.

I know you sent something but I must write each letter down and then try to figure out what was said afterwards. I do this on the top of my log in pencil. When the next station sends a message, I use the rubber on the pencil to erase that and write a new message. Unfortunately, this is the same block of time I use to fill in the all-important log proper and by the time I’m ready to write a BK comes. In this case, it would seem that I couldn’t even do that right! I don’t mind messages; they give me breathing space. It’s question marks a really fear!

As I have admitted before, I really am not a CW op. It took me a full 6 months to learn it (the RAE was nothing in comparison) and I haven’t improved in 23 years. The time factor steers me into the cardinal sin; sending faster than I can receive for the sake of getting through pile-ups.

What is happening is that I cope with it as best I can which means callsign, report and time are prioritized. It’s lovely to hear my name or a greeting but I don’t always know ALL of what is said. There are also side issues; log blowing about, pencil dropped down a crack or broken, gust of wind lifting umbrella which may only be secured between my knees, glove needed urgently, curious visitors etc. You will recognize all these things of course; they will happen to you and every /P, plus a host of other things too.

I’m afraid that I find CW activating rather stressful a lot of the time. If I were a CW ‘whiz’ it would perhaps be different. I know it sounds a bit lame but I’d rather be honest and it doesn’t help having ‘longish teeth’ either! The irony is that the SSEG is full of CW professionals who can ‘read CW while asleep’ because GCHQ is at Scarborough and many work(ed) there. Unfortunately, I am not one of them HI.

Glad you and Mike DSP enjoyed the reports. They must take a bit of reading but my problem is a legacy of having to deal directly with the engineering section of the CAA. They wanted to know the far end of everything. You can imagine! I also write them to look at later, after my joints seize up!

Thanks for our 1st QSO. You’re quite right too, I looked for G0OIG on Monday and neither that nor G4OIG appear in my databank. That is now rectified. A pleasure to work you for the first time Gerald.

Gerald…4, Gerald…4…4…4…4…4. Think I’ve got it!

I can only laugh about this.

Best 73,

(Maybe it’ll be an S2S next time)


Great report John. Tal y Fan is interesting, in that the indicated path on OS maps runs on the south side of the wall, but the one to the north side is much better going. In the most ferocious wind coming in off the Irish Sea, then the more difficult south side at least affords shelter. Last time, I ignored the wall and looped around at “ground level” alongside the ridge, before cutting up a steep path directly to the summit.

You are far too modest about your CW. When I am in the queue listening to your activations, I aspire to reach your standard, and am always most appreciative that you slow down when you hear my call.

Now, with my education-head on, would it not be better to remember

…4 …4 …4 …4

rather than

…4 …4 …4 :wink:

73, Tom


Hi John,

No probs on the call - it is easily done, especially when undertaking an activation. The outdoor shack is rarely as comfortable as you’d like it to be.

Like Tom I think your CW is great - some toggle switch! You have a nice fist - easy to read and I didn’t need to write what you were sending even though I had a carrier running near the frequency which was managing to get through my CW filter. Excellent - I hope to have more QSOs with you over this coming winter.

73, Gerald 4 4 4 4

P.S. Watch out for M3OIG - he’s not called Gerald!