G4YSS Actn:TAL-Y-FAN,GW/NW-040,10-04-10

SOTA Activation Report for Tal-Y-Fan, GW/NW-040 on 10-04-10.

G(W)4YSS using GC0OOO/P. VHF only. Unaccompanied.
IC-E90, 5W to SOTABeam for 2m FM. IC-E90, 3.5W to home-brew half-wave end fed for 4m FM.

All times BST (UTC plus 1).

This was the final day of our conference week in Llandudno. (See previous report for NW1 & NW8).

Tal-Y-Fan was the easiest of a group of NW summits for which routes had already been prepared (NW5, NW10, NW14, NW22, with NW16 & NW25) and I had a spare afternoon. As I found out in 2007, this hill is not only very easy to activate but has a summit wall for shelter if required and is close to where we normally stay. It is also a very pleasant even friendly SOTA which overlooks the coast to the north and big mountains to the south.

Driving south from Llandudno, I passed the end of the gated road to Rowen (SH758720) and went via Castell, which is further but a slightly better road. The journey only took 30 minutes.

It was 13:42 when I climbed the stile after parking on the grass verge at SH 73123 71455 in order to climb the hill from the south. The route up is via a grassy path through gorse and heather; easy to follow and not too steep. There were more stiles to climb at SH 7278 7222 & SH 7272 7236. 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 I logged in 2007 at SH 72945 72657.

On such a pleasant day getting out of the wind was not a priority so I settled down on grass on the north side of the wall after erecting the 4m vertical. The climb, slow at first because I was using the phone, ended up taking 24 minutes. Not having to carry heavy QRO gear for once was a real breath of fresh air, making the outing far more enjoyable.

TAL-Y-FAN GW/NW-040, 610m (2000ft) 4 pts, 14:07 to 16:20. 15 deg C. Sunshine and 8mph wind. Great views of the Welsh North Coast (IO83BF, WAB:SH77.)

4m FM - 6 QSO’s:
There was good phone coverage at the top and at the car with a gap in between but the network was busy so I couldn’t phone Roy G4SSH for a spot. I was hoping that Mike G4BLH would be monitoring and I was not disappointed when I called CQ with my 3.5 Watts on 70.450 at 13:18z. Reports were good and over the next half hour I logged the following stations: G4BLH - Mike nr. Nelson, G8CXR - Ron in Fleetwood, M0FWD - Ron in Fleetwood using his club call, G0VOF - Mark at Blackburn (who had successfully worked me on Snowdon on Top Band CW the day before), M3ZHG/P Chris nr. Chester and a surprisingly good S2S with GM7GAX/P - Bob on SOTA GM/SS-062. According to Bob’s Reflector report, this contact was over a distance of 322km; not bad with QRP and Omni verticals at both ends. Reports were a steady 51 both ways and no words were missed.

2m FM - 14 QSO’s:
A lot of the time there were thoroughly nasty noises all over the band which made me fear that I would call CQ then sound like a fool by not returning to the responders. It was severe QRM that someone said might be ‘low frequency radar.‘ Hoping for the best, I called CQ on S20 and QSY’d to 145.400, logging the following stations with my vertically polarised 3-ely SOTA-Beam:

G1KLZ/M (Doug - Ingleton), G1OHH (Sue - Lancaster), G6LKB, M0LKB, M6LKB, M3ULV (Dave, Andy, Clifford & Majorie - family at Ulverston), 2E0BMO (Roger - Standish), G4BLH (Mike - nr. Nelson), 2E0LAE/P (Tony - Blackpool), M0RJM (Roger - Chester), GW4GRW/P (John - Colwyn Bay), M0PVA (Mick in Ciltheroe - long time no hear!), GD4KIN (Phil - Douglas) & GW1SXN (Patrick - Caernarfon). I can only hope that any weaker stations trying to get in were not disappointed due to my high local QRM level.

The battery on the IC-E90 discharged during the final QSO and the VX150 was needed to complete it. The last op; Patrick was very interested in the ICOM, having bought a 4m band modified one very recently. I passed on the information given to me by G4BLH that it only achieves 3.5W on 4m and tends to over deviate a little.

Not many of the regulars were in evidence despite spots for 4m and 2m by G4BLH. Perhaps it was the Grand National horse race that had been taking their attention.

Packing the rucksack quickly, I set off from the summit and then ran down the second half of the path to make the car in 16 minutes at 16:36. Because of the use of simple gear on a really nice hill, the whole experience was one of pure pleasure. It seemed like recreation especially after multi-band HF from NW1 & NW8 the day before. I can thoroughly recommend this one.

Walking: 235m (771ft) ascent, 3.2 km (2 miles) up & down.
Time: 2 hrs - 54 minutes gross, 41 minutes net walking time. GEKO 301 GPS.

4m FM: 6 QSO’s.
2m FM: 14 QSO’s.
TOTAL: 20 QSO’s.

THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and assistance from Mike G4BLH for spots. Apologies for not doing HF from here this year. There wasn’t sufficient time.

73, John G4YSS (using SSEG Club callsign, GC0OOO/P)

In reply to G4YSS:

Thanks for another great report John.

It was very nice indeed to work you on Tal-y-Fan, especially on 4m FM.

Although I have a higher noise level on the lower HF bands than I had 15 years ago, it is nowhere near as bad as the diabolical QRM that some people suffer from!

My QRM problems are actually on VHF with 50Mhz being the worst affected & 70MHz being about 50% as bad. With SSB / CW it is possible to reduce the noise to a certain extent using filters & other such bells & whistles available for those modes, but with FM it is not quite so simple.

I seem to recall that I was working on my computer & had turned down the volume on all my radio’s except my Icom IC725 which I usually use to drive my 4m transverter when you first called. It suddenly crackled into life & I heard Mike G4BLH responding to a station that broke through my quite highly set squelch, but I was not sure who it was. I quickly left my work, opened the squelch & followed you to your eventual QRG.

It was a struggle to pick out your voice through the noise but I copied your callsign & summit reference despite the QRM. When you called QRZ? I was amongst a few callers & thankfully you did pick me out & asked me to wait while you worked the other stations. I needed headphones to read your voice, but as your audio was nice & loud, (Thank goodness for the E90’s over-deviation!), I copied about 90% of your overs through the noise.

For 3.5 Watts & an omni-directional vertical to my indoor horizontal dipole in the middle of a mass of QRM you did extremely well! I was firing about 30 Watts back, although given the orientation of my antenna, it was probably mostly heading in the direction of Buxton HI!

Thanks again & Best 73,

Mark G0VOF