G4YSS Actn Rprt NP6, NP30 & NP16 on 11-01-08

G/NP-006 Great Shunner Fell, G/NP-030 Lovely Seat and G/NP-016 Dodd Fell.
11-Jan-08. All times UTC. G4YSS using GX0OOO/P. Unaccompanied.
IC706-2G, 5m mast with 1m end supports. One 7.5Ah SLAB for each SOTA.

Left Scarborough at 04:18, arriving via a rather ‘skiddy’ A684, at Buttertubs Pass for 06:37; earlier than expected. Being dark, it was too early to set off so I went to sleep. Like Mike, GW0DSP, I overslept and didn’t get walking until 07:41; still in gloom. There is plenty of space at the cattle grid but a boggy track runs from SD 8688 9570 all the way up, keeping to the right of the fence until it is crossed via a stile at SD 8503 9723.

G/NP-006: GT.SHUNNER FELL, 716m, 6 pts, 08:27 to 10:43, 1 deg.C. Overcast with barely any wind and no low-cloud. IO84VI, WAB SD89 YSN. 195m ascent, 7.5 km.

Set up by the fence. The ‘crossed-wall’ shelter was not needed. I was on schedule to meet the alert; a state of affairs that I class as ‘late!’ My fault for falling asleep. Without a flyer, I would now be ‘pushed’ to fit three into today. No matter, at least Roy G4SSH was fully awake and once again he ‘jumped’ my QRL? After being spotted, 3.724 came alive but there was QRM from the start. (Or perhaps I was the QRM depending on one’s viewpoint.) That said, using about 20 Watts, 17 mixed UK and European stations received their RST’s in around half an hour.

A change to SSB produced a further 22 QSO’s and even after 10am, there were still Mike DJ5AV and Ambrosi HB9AGH mixed in among the ‘G’s.’

1.832 CW added another 3 QSO’s in the form of Phil G4OBK, Roy G4SSH and Roger G4OWG. The final dregs of the battery were expended calling Mike EI2CL but by then I was probably FM’ing and there were no further takers anyway.

The QRM had cost time and it had taken 100 minutes over the 42 QSO’s. As usual, a lot of the fault was mine; I really must save up and book myself a place on the next ‘G1INK lightning QSO techniques’ course!’

Everything got rammed into the pack without ceremony. I knew it would have to come out again for a battery change back at Buttertubs Pass, where I arrived at 11:22 and had a quick lunch. At 11:34 it was off again, over very wet ground to the start of the climb for the aptly named Lovely Seat, which is a gift in terms of ascent; only just fulfilling the 150m rule.

G/NP-030: LOVELY SEAT, 675m, 4 pts, 11:55 to 14:22, 2 Deg.C, 5 mph wind. Overcast and no low-cloud. IO84VI, WAB SD89 YSN. 151m ascent, 2.9 km.

This really didn’t go remotely to plan and the reason for this was the state of 80m, which had gone all quiet on me. In blissful ignorance, I opened at 12:07 on 3.723 CW, expecting the ‘lads’ would be waiting in line. Initially it seemed OK. ‘Here’s the first of many;’ David G3RDQ in Hampshire. After a lot more CQ’s, I began to despair and was even beginning to miss the QRM! After 15 minutes I gave up and tried Top Band; also with nil result. No problem; just phone Roy for a spot but the O2 Mobile Phone Company didn’t want to know me either. After flicking through 5 MHz, I called CQ on 7.032. Magnificent! Nik HB9EAA. Another 21 chasers found me after HB9AGH Ambrosi and F8DZY spotted me. Amongst them was Phil G4OBK and he posted that 80m was not functioning just yet. A highlight was an S2S QSO with Hans HB9BHW/P on HB/ZH-004; the 1110m Bachtel.

I decided to leave 80m as late as possible, in the hope it might recover, turning my attention to 160, which ‘won’ me Pete EI7CC. Though I could hear Dan ON4ON calling weakly, I couldn’t get back to him. 80m seemed livelier now and my SSB CQ on 3.724 at 13:33 was answered immediately by Steve GW7AAV with good signal reports both ways. Nine others followed Steve into the log until the QRG dried up.

80m CW was (as is now routine) carried out on the same ‘all-modes’ frequency of 3.724 with no more than a 2 minute gap. Whenever there is a frequency or mode change, I always check the band; ‘QRL? QRL? After this Roy G4SSH was the first to come back to me and I worked on for several minutes when a commotion seemed to break loose. It was all too fast for me but I could hear exchanges between a G3XJS, who was bravely answered by Phil G4OBK. The gist of it seemed to be ‘CW interference to an SSB net’ but the detail I will no doubt learn later. When changing modes SSB to CW and though theoretically predictable, one never quite knows which way or by how much the signal might jump or be annoying, when heard through an SSB filter. It seems that the chasers & I annoyed someone. For this, I must apologise but I thought we had been ‘established’ on this QRG for some 25 minutes. Nevertheless, I logged 9 in CW after the complainant withdrew.

160m CW produced 2 more QSO’s with G4OBK and G4SSH. (Phil & Roy).

‘Skates on.’ At 14:22, was there enough time to get off NP30, drive through Hawes, along Cam Houses Road, opening and closing all three gates and then ascend Dodd Fell before daylight faded? Probably not but let’s give it our very best shot!

Getting back to the car at 14:40 was a good start but I still had the flat SLAB to replace. Hawes was a bit busy and getting stuck behind a tractor ‘raised my temperature’ but the kind farmer had left 2 out of 3 gates wide open! I ‘bounced’ along the rough road thankful that at 1900ft ASL, it was free of snow. Enthusiasm didn’t end there either; I turned right at Kidhow Gate and drove up the Pennine Way in the old Fiesta. However, it soon became obvious that, when all the holes, ruts, bangs and scrapes were taken into account, I could have walked faster, so I abandoned the car at SD 8304 8367 by 15:15.

The only thing I had forgotten today was to load the GPS with NP routes. I knew it would be pitch black next time I saw the car and the GPS might be vital, so I made a route as I walked, thankfully finding my way up OK via SD 8339 8433 and SD 8349 8434. As usual, it was wet but it’s not much of a climb and there was still daylight enough to make setting up easy.

NP-016 DODD FELL HILL, 668m, 4 pts, 15:38 to 17:29, 1 Deg.C, 15mph wind. Overcast with no low-cloud. Dusk on arrival, then dark. IO84VG, WAB SD88 YSN. 94m ascent, 4.2 km.

O2’s signals were positively washing over Dodd Fell, so the first priority was to phone Roy & get spotted. Without that and me being only half expected on a third summit, things might have been difficult. Dodd Fell is a peat bog pure and simple, so what’s this flat rock doing here. Just right to sit on but it turned out to be hiding a small plastic box full of tiny objects. Had I found my first ever Geo-thingamy purely by chance? It would seem so and the ‘seat’ was useful.

The whole activation seemed to flow like no other that day as I opened on 3.724 CW and logged 18 mixed European and UK stations in not many more minutes. The change to SSB was swift and immediate and 16 chasers found me on 3.722 between 16:25 and 16:52. After dark, signals were peaking up nicely and few had much trouble copying the mostly 20W output. The sky was a picture at this time; reds and oranges over by Ingleborough.

That brought the ‘last gasp’ of the day but 1.832 CW proved much more than that, with ten callsigns logged: G4OBK, EI7CC, G4SSH, G3ZES, EI2CL, SM6CPY, GM4FAM, G0NES, DK5SF and finally G4OWG. Icing on the cake, I’d say. It was good to see that Mike EI2CL, after fruitless hard listening through bad QRN all day, at least got a QSO on the last one.

Along with the headlight, the GPS did come in handy in taking all the effort out of getting back down. Even so, it was a relief to see the car number-plate reflecting back my headlight beam, at 17:50.

It took from 17:56 to 20:20 to get home.

16 on 1.8-CW.
45 on 3.5-CW.
48 on 3.5-SSB.
22 on 7-CW
Total: 131 QSO’s.

Totals: 440m (1444ft) ascent, 14.6 km (9.1 miles) walking. 186 miles driven in the day.

Battery utilisation (one ‘fresh’ 7.5 Ah SLAB taken to each summit):
NP6: 99% discharged. NP30: 99% discharged. NP16: 78% discharged.

It had been a good day weather-wise with light winds, temperatures just above freezing and no rain. There were only tiny patches of lying snow, mainly in hollows and almost no low-cloud. The first two seemed like hard work, radio-wise but surprisingly, I quite enjoyed ‘Dodd in the dark.’ Being around 100 miles from Scarborough, the NP’s have become my ‘bread and butter.’ Whether this is a good or bad thing, is debatable.

Thanks to all stations worked and to G4SSH, G4OBK, EI2CL, HB9AGH, GW0DSP, F8DZY, GW7AAV, EI7CC for the essential spotting services and to G4SSH for his ‘phone-a-spot’ service. Finally, thanks to Phil G4OBK for efficiently dealing with the ‘QRM’ complaint.

73, John G4YSS
(using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call)

In reply to G4YSS:

Yet another truly excellent report John for summits which were a carbon copy of my trio of last October. It was interesting to note your comments on the boggy sections of track and the boggy summits which concur with my own experience, though doubtless conditions were far worse when you did the summits.

What I can’t figure out is how you managed to sleep immediately before an activation. Obviously you are a much more laid-back person than I am!

73, Gerald

In reply to G4YSS: Many thanks for replying to my hidiously slow and sometimes inaccurate sending. Now I’ve dipped the big toe in the cw water I’ll have to keep at it.

73s, Dave, M0DFA/G6DTN

In reply to G4YSS:
Another excellent and informative report John.
160 was very strange yesterday, apart from yourself I only heard G4OBK 599 and SM6CPY 579.

Roger G4OWG

Nice one John. I have done all those hills a couple of times, and your speeds of ascent/descent look amazing.

“I really must save up and book myself a place on the next ‘G1INK lightning QSO techniques’ course!’”…

…either that or use M3EYP’s “phrasebook”. In it is a rather direct and unambiguous “Can I say thank you for the contact and 73”, delivered without fail immediately after exchange of reports! I think most reading this will have heard that sentence from Jimmy at some point.

Congratulations Dave on the CW chaser contacts. There’ll be no stopping you now!

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP/G4YSS:
Yes Tom I agree - John is one of the “Greyhound Breed” who can fly up hills. We visited SP-001 Kinder Scout about 18 months ago just as I was getting into SOTA. I had to ask John to slow up at one stage on the way up, and I do a lot of walking and I am reasonably fit.

A good report John - thanks - with lots of useful info and grid refs for when I get around to tackling those 3 summits. Regarding the “alleged QRM” to the SSB net that was 3 KHz away from your transmission on one of the summits - The operator piped up without giving his callsign sending something like “QRM to ssb net on 3727 pse QSY” he didn’t give his callsign, but to his credit, later did. What annoyed me was that you had been on that QRG for over 20 minutes without anything being said and made many QSOs on less than full power from the top of a mountain in less than ideal condx. So why did he shout about it after the event? I therefore felt I had to come back on and tell him that. We had an few exchanges, (sorry about taking over the freq due to my annoyance with his comments). He then went away and you carried on making several more QSOs. At that time I could not hear any SSB on or around your QRG. Well done you stood your ground and made several more QSOs before QSYing to 160m.

We all have to live together on the amateur bands with our seperate interests, but I suspect he may not have been aware of the bandplan in relation to telegraphy, despite him being a very experienced operator on that mode.


In reply to G4OBK:

“We all have to live together on the amateur bands with our seperate interests, but I suspect he may not have been aware of the bandplan in relation to telegraphy, despite him being a very experienced operator on that mode.”

Perhaps an old problem, changes of conditions allowing two seperate QSOs on the same frequency to become aware of each other!

One thing I have mentioned to John but think worth bringing up here since bandplans have been mentioned, is that it is a VERY good idea to avoid the immediate vicinity of 3.730 MHz, which is the centre of activity for SSTV. Some days ago John had been pushed by activity to 3729 and the activation was sharing the channel with two stations swapping pictures - quite good ones, too (you see a lot of dross on that channel!) but a little spoiled by the patterning from the stronger CW stations. I know that the bandplan seems to suggest that you can operate CW wherever you like, and we know that nobody owns a frequency, but it seems sensible not to force the SSTV enthusiasts (of which I am one!) to spread out over the band. Few non-enthusiasts find the sound of Scottie or Martin attractive and as for the digital modes…well, you see what I mean!

So a plea. Avoid 3.730 MHz!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4YSS:
Hallo John
First of all thank you for the fine s2s QSO from Fryday. You pushed a nice signal up to mount Bachtel. The WX up there was very windy and chilly. I enjoyed to work a few SOTA-stations before descending.
Wishing you a Happy New Year and I hope to hear you many more times on SOTA.

vy 73’s Hans, HB9BHW

In reply to G4YSS:
“Nice one John. I have done all those hills a couple of times, and your speeds of ascent/descent look amazing.”

It may be something to do with the length of his stride. Myself and Mark M3ZPY activated the same two hills the following day and I think it was my turn to follow in Johns footsteps, or not as the case was. We followed footsteps left in the black mire which were not frozen, I tried to keep the same stride distance but it was impossible, I must have been down by a third, even Mark who is quite a bit taller was well short…

Great report as ever.

Clive M1YAM (27” inside leg)

Reply to post by G4OIG on 12th January 2008 at 09:40. Hi GERALD: Considering the rain we had in early summer, the ‘sponges’ may not have been any boggier now than they were in October. Deep frosts are the best conditions to do these summits in.
I can sleep during an expedition (e.g. before an activation after the drive-in) but sometimes miss not one but two nights of decent sleep before a major expedition where the ‘comfort zone’ must be abandoned. This causes even more anxiety and so the spiral propagates. It helped that this (for me) was a well-practiced ‘routine, back-yard’ affair. I don’t know how to solve this worsening problem (‘worsening’ because I must by now be well overdue an accident) but breaking it down helps. I think my worst fears are immobilization via stroke (CVA) etc and the potential for involvement in road accidents, considering the high mileages that SOTA activation demands. I certainly wish I was laid back but it helps to know that you’re not either!
Reply to post by M0DFA / G6DTN on 12th January 2008 at 09:56. Hi DAVE: There’s nothing any more hideous about your Morse than (for instance) mine. As I have said before, I can’t read CW at any great speed, must write it down and struggle to understand anything preceded by a question mark! That means your slow Morse is easy for me. The bottom line is that we made a QSO for which SSEG will send you a commemorative QSL card (no need for one in return). If the RST’s are received OK and both parties know whom they’re working, that’s all that really matters. You don’t even have to send your callsign twice; the RST and ‘BK’ will suffice. Very glad to hear that you are one of a few who are getting over bad health situations. You’ll be back to 100% very soon, I hope!
Reply to post by G4OWG on 12th January 2008 at 10:07. Hi ROGER: Strange indeed but you would pick up Phil’s top-band signal on your washing machine (HI!) The fact that you could hear SM and not some of the G’s is odd though but we (in SOTA) are still learning about this band. Interestingly, 160 seems to be developing from an obvious gimmick to somewhere where it is possible to make SOTA contacts (in winter-dark-dawn-dusk or in the day up to 50 miles) quite reliably, provided your noise level is fairly low and you have some power to hand. With many stations not having sufficient space to erect 80m let along 160m aerials, tuning up what’s available seems to be more the rule than the exception but it is getting QSO’s in logs. The enthusiasm for 1.8 is steadily growing. I hope to continue with it especially in winter except on sorties where the gear is too heavy or there’s not sufficient time, due to multiple summit ‘rounds’ etc.
Reply to post by M1EYP on 12th January 2008 at 11:50. Hi TOM: You have had me checking the data but it seems to be OK and roughly in keeping with previous. I wasn’t aware of being quick and it may just be due to familiarity. Route finding is no longer required (yawn). All that is needed on NP’s nowadays, are stops for minor adjustments of the ‘blindfold’ to take the odd photo and for hyperventilation on the steep bits! Where I would like to be faster is in the activation but that’s down to me and Parkinson’s law. ‘The job expands to fill the time available.’ Band condx. come into it too. Also, I feel slightly guilty if I rush too much and like you, I say things that are probably operationally unnecessary. A lot can be learned from Steve INK!
Reply to post by G4OBK on 13th January 2008 . Hi PHIL: If you need any GPS routes I can supply (Garmin Mapsource format). Same goes for anybody else too.
Yes, thanks for helping out that time. It would not have been easy for me to deal with it and a QSY might have been the other way out of it. There was notification on the reflector about a year ago, from the Constructors Net who it stated that they use 3.727 (This came via Richard G3CWI?). At that time I and one or two others, were using 2-modes on 3.725 (QRG traditionally used for SSEG GB special event stations since 1988). That made me use 3.724 or 3.723 more often than not. On this occasion I was below 3.723 which should have been OK. Unless I start to use 3.561 plus another QRG for SSB, all I can do is continue to check the freq before use on either mode. As you say, we must all fit into the band on a voluntary basis. Despite bad QRM sometimes, I still think on balance, that 2 modes / one frequency has its plus points, both for the activator and the chaser but it does worry me that nobody else does it. Maybe it’s not such a good idea after all?
Reply to post by G8ADD on 13th January 2008 at 10:02. Hi BRIAN: I try to avoid the data mode on 3.730 if I can but once or twice I seem to have ended up on there. I will try even harder not to use it unless the activation is in jeopardy or there’s any other desperate situation which can arise from time to time, during an activation. In any case, it would have to be clear at the time of QRV. One problem here is ‘alerting.’ I am in favour of some aspects of alerting and against others. There’s always a danger that it may sometimes be construed as ‘gospel truth’ when it should be regarded as guidance only. If that assumption is true, it means I have to try to get as close to the announced QRG as I can so I can be found quickly. If the alerted freq is not as clear as it might be and/or there is no mobile phone signal, the QRM consideration tends to be pushed into second place. From now on the tendency will be 3.724 or below (rather than on 3.730 or above which might push me to 3.735.) Keep up with the slow Morse practice Brian and give me a call on there sometime.
Reply to post by HB9BHW on 13th January 2008 at 10:37. Hello HANS: I had announced a QSY and was just unplugging the headphones to go and change the antenna when you called. When I heard ‘/P’ it grabbed my attention. It was great to work you S2S for the first time. I was using about 10W to a dipole. Your signal was not too strong but the frequency was quite clear. I noted afterwards that your mountain was twice as big as mine for only half the points, so I’m not surprised you were cold up there. Well done and keep up the good work! HNY.
Reply to post by M1YAM on 13th January 2008 at 17:41. Hi CLIVE: Certainly your turn to follow me this time after Thorpe Fell. You never know when you ‘book’ what other people are scheming up. We missed by a day but in December, I didn’t miss Geoff G4CPA by very much, on Birks Fell. After all the activations, it’s amazing that we don’t meet one another more often. I can only remember meeting an activator on one occasion and that was on LD1 in April 2006 (M0NJW and M0RCP). Yes, you are right, I can beat you on leg length but I bet you’d beat me on strength. I hope the Bell’s Palsy is gradually improving or will do so in the near future. Good to see that, as far as activating is concerned, you are pretty well ignoring it. Best approach!
73 to all & thanks for your comments,
John G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS:

I can sleep during an expedition (e.g. before an activation after the
drive-in) but sometimes miss not one but two nights of decent sleep
before a major expedition where the ‘comfort zone’ must be abandoned.

Hi John,

I am actually improving on the pre-activation kip. It’s just that after 175 miles or so of driving, the alert level is high (as it should be) and I can’t just have a power nap. This is a shame as power naps certainly do work - in my case the settee at home seems to be mandatory to achieve success!

I think my worst fears are immobilization via stroke (CVA) etc and
the potential for involvement in road accidents, considering the high
mileages that SOTA activation demands. I certainly wish I was laid
back but it helps to know that you’re not either!

Being laid back or not is part of our personal chemistry. I am self-employed and I have to be on the ball when it matters in order to survive. I was always told to work hard and play hard. Structuring my SOTA activations does help me get the most out them - there is no place for being complacent, especially when the summit is 175 miles away from home. Failure due to non-adherence of the 5P principle is not an option. The health aspect is certainly part of the regime. A work colleague of mine died of a heart attack last week while out on a bike ride - it brings it all home when things like that happen!

73, Gerald

G4YSS: Bread and butter - we all have those John, but most of us don’t need to put in those mileages to get ours! I was wondering why you seem to favour the NPs quite so much, especially in these days of unique-bagging, but it quite obvious really reading your latest report.

Plus the NPs are lovely aren’t they? Proper hillwalking. They do suit the sun better than the rain though. A huge portion of my Pennine Way walk (over a year and a half ago now - eek!) was through NP country, and it was beautiful.

G4OIG: I can do ‘laid back’ with the best of them. Yes, I like ‘laid back’. Can’t do ‘power naps’ I must admit, but at least I don’t ‘sleep’ at night - I just fall into a coma. I have a secret tip for getting straight off to sleep when I go to bed - I make my head touch the pillow. Gone.


In reply to M1EYP:

I have a secret tip for getting straight off to sleep when I go to bed -
I make my head touch the pillow. Gone.

Very funny Tom :-)) (that’s a laugh by the way).

On a routine of one activation every 2 weeks, I manage that 13 nights out of the 14. I guess the anticipation of the activation and the early alarm at 3.30 a.m. tends to keep me awake. Being late wouldn’t be an issue if the summits weren’t so far away.

73, Gerald