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G4YSS: Ben Horn, GM/NS-107, 09-05-15

G4YSS: Activation Report, Ben Horn - GM/NS-107, 09-05-15

BEN HORN - GM/NS-107 - 2 points.
GM4YSS/P and SSEG Clubcall GS0OOO/P.
HF - QRO on 40m & 160m. 2m-FM QRP
All times: BST (UTC plus 1hr UOS as ‘z’).

Second SOTA in the May 2015 series GM/NS-069; GM/NS-107, based at the Dornoch Hotel.

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M, 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier
Link dipole for 80m thru 20m on a 5m CFC mast with 1m end sticks
Home-Brew tunable loading coils for 160m
6 Ah Li-Po battery (2.2Ah in reserve - used only on the walkout for WAB NC72)
2m-FM/ PMR rig: Vero VGC UV-X4; 2W VHFM/ UHFM, 130gm H/H (Like Baofeng UV-3R)
Vertical J-Pole for 2m FM (not used)
QRO pack: 8.7kg ( 19.2 pounds) including food, Primaloft jacket & 0.25 litre drinks.

This was only the second but also the final SOTA activation during a 7-night self-drive holiday at the Dornoch Hotel from 4th to 11th of May 2015. GM/NS-069 Ben Armine was activated the day before (see separate report). Ben Horn was a ‘new one’ for me on 17th February 2005 (see Yahoo SOTA report http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Summits/conversations/messages/8883) and I climbed it for a second time in 2013. See also a 2005 photo from the summit at http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/474304. The same scene today shows windmills.

With little enthusiasm for anything more ambitious or time consuming, I again chose this familiar, easy summit close to our hotel at Dornoch. It needed to fit into half a day. I had more or less promised the 7.160 MHz WAB chasers that I would put on a coastal portable square; NH97 in the afternoon.

The drive via the A9 north, turning left in Golspie to Bridge-of-Horn, took less than 25 minutes to 09:40. There’s a good parking spot beside a track which forms a loop with the road at NC 8001 0474 and I set off walking at 09:51.

Initially the route is easy to follow from the locked gate, up a forest track between now sizeable trees, which were about 1 metre high back in 2005. At NC 8026 0506 you pass a water tank with a gauge on the side. After a turn to the left, a tall gate appears at NC 8023 0532 and beside it, tucked well out of the way to the left, is a ladder stile for crossing the deer fence. It’s quicker to climb the gate, then take to the open fell at NC 80219 05337. I headed E then NE as far as NC 8039 0542; NC 8048 0554 and NC 80586 0566. There is not much of a path, merely the suggestion of quad tracks in places but at least the vegetation is fairly short.

After this you head north passing via NC 8060 0572; NC 8062 0578; NC 8057 0592; NC 8058 0599; NC 8058 0608; NC 8060 0616 to NC 8059 0625 after which the path (if you can call it that) bends east and passes via NC 8065 0633 to the summit cairn which I GPS’d at NC 80724 06329 in 2013. The marked position of the cairn in 2005 was NC 80724 06329; for some unknown reason the disagreement of 22m is outside the stated GPS accuracy. Judging by the latest tracklog, I think it must be the 2005 position that’s erroneous. As the summit is approached, the path’s definition increases.

BEN HORN - GM/NS-107, 521m, 2 pts, 10:28 to 12:15. Initially 2 mph wind, sunny and 10C. Later 10mph wind, overcast with hail and rain. No low-cloud. No midges. Reliable Orange EE phone coverage. LOC: IO78XA, WAB: NC80.

For the third time, I set up the dipole at the small summit cairn, using the latter as a seat.

7.033 CW - 22 QSO’s:
40m CW was in good condition today with 22 chasers worked in 35 minutes. Power was 30 Watts throughout. G4SSH was first in the log after an QRV time sent via an SMS message. Countries worked were: G; PA; DL; ON; HB9; SM; EI and GM with half the callers UK based. Most of the reports were in the range 559 to 579 but there were extremes both ways. Some Brits gave me 599 while European chasers struggled at around 339; 329 etc.

7.107 SSB - 18 QSO’s:
I chose this frequency not only because it was clear but also because it nicely matched the SOTA ref. Opening with GI6FHD, I logged 18 contacts in half an hour. As often happens with SSB on 40m, the majority of callers (in this case all but two) were UK based. The only station on the European continent was ON5SWA with an exchange of 56/ 42. Otherwise reports were between 57 and 59. Power was 30 Watts.

145.575 FM - 1 QSO:
After giving a few calls on the local channel on arrival with no result, I tried again. Old friend GM3PIL Ray came straight back and we arranged the QSY to 160m. I was only using 2 Watts to a rubber duck but reports were 59 both ways. Hardly surprising with a line-of-sight and mostly sea path across to Nairn.

1.832 CW - 1 QSO:
In addition to the set-up sked with Ray, this QSY was spotted by Roy G4SSH following a text message. Ray and I exchanged 599 reports and my power was 50 Watts. ‘Great’ I thought. NS-107 on Top Band for the first time in its life. Without Ray’s cooperation, I would have left disappointed.

Just before working Ray, I put out a few CQ’s and heard Phil G4OBK coming in at 519 clear as day. At first I took this to be a response to my CQ’ing but then I heard Phil send ‘NIL.’ I was astonished to hear him however. What a station he must have to send a signal 500km this close to noon on 160, though I have had one or two surprises on the band. Though it’s been mentioned before, I remember working GM0UDL Andy (QTH near Inverness) from an LD summit at a similar time of day a few years ago. Thanks Phil, for trying! Unsurprisingly, my 50 Watts to a reduced size, low AGL antenna could not hack it.

1.843 SSB - 1 QSO:
This was a simple repeat of the procedure with GM3PIL Ray; this time in SSB. For reasons unknown, the exchange was now 55/ 47. We seemed to have similar trouble the day before and neither of us could fathom out why.

The WX had changed quite markedly in the foregoing half hour and now instead of sunshine, there was an angry dark grey overcast and the onset of light rain. Moreover the windmills below; stationary on arrival, were now picking up speed. Fortunately I had all but finished packing up before the hailstones came. The walk down to the car took 28 minutes to 12:43. I was back at the Dornoch Hotel by 13:15 which set me up nicely for an afternoon doing the planned WAB portable NH97 (See WAB Yahoo Reflector).

ASCENT & DISTANCE (Start point at 220m ASL):
300m (984ft) ascent / 4.4 km (2.8 miles).

Left Dornoch Hotel: 09:18 (via A9 to Bridge of Horn)
Parked: 09:40
Walk started: 09:51
GM/NS-107: 10:28 to 12:15
Returned to Car: 12:43
Drive: 12:46
Back at Dornoch: 13:10.

Walking times: 37 min up / 28 min down. Total: 1hr-5 min.
Summit time: 1hr-47 min.
Time Car to Car: 2hr-52 min.
Gross time Hotel to Hotel: 3hr-52 min.

22 on 40m CW
18 on 40m SSB
1 on 2m FM
1 on 160m CW
1 on 160m SSB
Total: 43

In three times of doing this hill, I have never managed to locate a path and that’s probably because there isn’t one worthy of the name. There aren’t many easy 2 pointers in Scotland but NS107 is one of them. It’s also handy for Dornoch; the place where we enjoy staying.

40m band conditions had been a little up and down all week but they were more than acceptable today. 160m? Well what can be said? The usual challenge if you want to work any distance and though top Top Band chaser, Phil G4OBK was clearly heard, a much better set up at the northern end would be required to work him. I doubt that 100 Watts from the IC706 would have made any difference either. GM3PIL kindly saved the day for a second time. Without local stations like Ray primed to answer on 160m, the cause would very likely be a lost one. If Ray appeared in the SOTA database, I think he would by now feature as GM top scorer for 160m SOTA. It was Ray who provided the sole contact on 2m-FM also, albeit I was only using a 2 Watt Handie.

ALL STATIONS worked. To G4SSH and ON5SWA for spots with a separate thank you to Roy G4SSH for his very successful SMS text spotting Service. I should learn to spot myself for the times that Roy is not available! Once again, special thanks to Ray GM3PIL for working me on 160m and 2m-FM.

73, John G4YSS
Using GM4YSS/P and Scarborough Special Events Group Club call - GS0OOO/P.

Note-2: For the activation of the aformentioned portable WAB square NH97 in the afternoon 09-05-15, please refer to the Yahoo WAB Group reflector: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/worked_all_britain/conversations/messages/16258

3: Loch Horn from Ben Horn
6: Ben Horn summit and windfarm
12: Activation
13: Antenna mast & Link Dipole
17: The brewing hail storm

Above: Loch Horn from Ben Horn

Above: Ben Horn summit and windfarm

Above: The brewing hail storm - time to leave!

Above: Activation at summit cairn

Above: Antenna mast & Link Dipole