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G4YSS: G/LD-023 Knott on 04-06-17

G4YSS Activation Report, G/LD-023 Knott on 04-06-17

Lakes Week 2017:
(G/LD’s: Day-1 LD23; Day-2 Rain; Day-3 Rain; Day-4 LD4; Day-5 LD8)

G/LD-023, KNOTT on 160m, 80m, 40m, 20m QRO & 2m-FM QRP
G4YSS using GX0OOO/P
All times BST UOS (UTC + 1)

EQUIPMENT:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W transceiver without internal batteries
MX-P50M 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier No2 (No1 failed on last SOTA)
5Ah Turnigy Li-Po (No3 - new)
Four-section, 5m CFC mast with 1m end sticks.
Link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20m
Home-brew tunable loading coils for 160m
Half-wave vertical J-Pole for 2m-FM

Reserve Rig:
IC-E90 4-Band, 5W, VHF H/H (not used)

QRO Pack-weight approx. 10kg, inc. thermoball jacket, umbrella and a litre of water.

LAKES WEEK-2017:
This activation report describes day one of our annual six-night break in the Lake District with a walking group led by David Barnes of Worthing. Routes were devised mostly from Lakeland Walker Magazine. Some XYL’s came along but did not do any of the main walks.

Execution:
For today the group leader announced a sortie to Little & Great Scar Fells and Knott, with a start point to the NW, on the C-road at Longlands. A path goes all the way via Charleton Gill with a retreat taking-in Trusmadoor. After reaching the summit and sitting down for a brief lunch, the group returned immediately while I settled down for a long activation on HF & VHF.

We had some trouble driving from Keswick to the start point due to a damaged bridge a mile north of the A591/ ‘C’ road junction. ‘Walk Mill Bridge’ wasn’t aptly named. Vehicular access was prevented by a barrier. A sign warned that just crossing it on foot was risky. As the advanced party, I was forced to backtrack in order to bypass the obstruction via Bassenthwaite village. After a friendly cyclist had carried his bike across, he gave me this tip. I phoned the rest of the group who were coming up the A591 ten minutes behind me.

Three or four cars can be parked near Longland’s Farm (NY 266 358). Since two cars were already there, care was needed with placement. A heavy shower stopped as we arrived and despite weather warnings to the contrary, we would have no more rain that day.

Route:
After the gate, take the track NE as far as NY 2755 3646 (before Charleton Wath) where a right-turn (SE) is made. A grass path runs over the two Sca Fells (Little SF - NY 2895 342; Great SF - NY 2914 3389) descending via a 640m Col (NY 2925 3347) then climbing to Knott. The path is easy to follow but be aware of a LH bend at NY 2818 3479. An unhurried walk-in with stops for drinks and removing coats, took 2 hrs and 4 minutes.

Later in the day, my solitary return via Trusmadoor at NY 2791 3342, was badly executed. Instead of trying to get a signal on the DAB radio, I should have focussed my attention on the map and GPS. A similar thing happened here in 2008 but for different reasons. The result was the same; I was off the path and forced to cross rough tussocky ground after almost being drawn into the wrong valley.

To be honest, I’m pretty sure no path over Burn Todd actually exists and I didn’t locate a grassy zigzag path until NY 2801 3328. Conversely, lower down, there are too many paths to chose from and many go in similar directions. The return took 75 minutes, a lot slower than last time. Apparently the group hadn’t faired much better.

Arriving at 12:37, I set up the dipole while the others found a marginally less windy spot for lunch.

KNOTT, G/LD-023, 710m (6 pts) 12:37 to 15:54. Overcast with sporadic sunshine. 11 Deg.C. Wind 15 mph. LOC: IO94KQ - WAB: NY23. Phone coverage (EE) at summit & on higher parts of route.

3.557 CW - 3 QSO’s:
I called G4SSH with 30 Watts at 11:56z. 589 to me, Roy came back with a 449 report. Either Roy’s spot acted extra quickly or Frank G3RMD was being very attentive. We exchanged at 579/ 559 QSB. Last in was Phil G4OBK with an easy copy of 59 both ways using his new acquisition, a Carolina Windom.

3.760 SSB - 5 QSO’s:
The five stations worked with 30 Watts were: G3RMD Frank; G6MZX Geoff; G8VNW Nick; M0BKV Damien (Cornwall) and GM4WHA Geoff in Annan. Reports were all 57 to 59 apart from a 55 from Damien who was the most distant.

1.832 CW/ 1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s:
There was a ‘heads up’ alert by Roy twenty minutes earlier, but it didn’t help much. Only Roy G4SSH worked me in CW (229 both ways from Scarborough with his tuned up Butternut vertical) and Nick G8VNW (51/ 47 from Threshfield) in SSB. I then spent some time either CQ’ing or trying to get Frank G3RMD into the log after hearing him at 529 QSB calling me. Power was the maximum available 50-Watts but Frank did not respond. Thanks however, for trying.

Although Roy and I exchanged 229 the reality was better. I could copy all of what Roy was sending and he half of what was coming back; QSB zapping the rest. With Roy’s experience, that’s more than adequate for a good QSO with perfect timing.

7.160/ 7.164 SSB - 13 QSO’s:
With 160 and 80 only producing ten QSO’s between them, I thought I had better try a bit harder with a QSY to 40m. Using 30 Watts on 3.760, I threw in my call. G7BGA came back with a 58 report but to avoid blocking the WAB channel, I asked Geoff to announce a QSY up the band.

Immediately Peter MM3PDM/M called me on the new frequency and we had a bit of a chat. He was waiting in the queue at Aberdeen for the overnight ferry to Shetlands in order to do some WAB’ing. After Peter: G0RQL Don; M0MDA Mick; EA2CKX Pedro; M0JCQ James; G8MIA Andy; GI8SKN David; ON4CB Kurt; 2E0MNG Neil; G0VOF Mark and finally G4TSQ/P and G4WYL/P - Mike & Christine sharing the same radio in Devises Wilts.

Reporting on my 30 Watt signal was mostly good (55 to 59) apart from a 52 both ways from Spain. I found out that Mark G0VOF had missed the 160m session due to falling asleep. I can fully sympathize with that. I fall asleep in the chair at times and that’s without having to work all week! I did think of returning to 160m but in the end, there wasn’t time.

14.052.6 CW - 12 QSO’s:
After sending a text to Roy and getting a spot, the sortie onto 20m exceeded expectations. Again with 30 Watts, I logged the following stations: RW3XZ (a little fast for me); DL2DXA Bernd; DL0VN/P DARC Club; HB9AGH Ambrosi; F6EAZ Chris; EA2DT Manuel; N4DA Luther GA; EU2MM Vlad; OK1DVM Miro; DL/OK2PDT/P Jan S2S on DM/BM-321; DL1FU Frid and SP9AMH/ QRP Mariusz.

Most were coming in at 599 but I had some difficulty with the S2S and with the QRP signal from Poland; not hearing much at first. It came as no surprise that this session produced the best DX of the day in the form of N4DA with a 579/ 449 exchange. I didn’t care to try 20m SSB as time was getting short and it’s always much harder to find a clear spot than for CW.

7.034.1 CW - 7 QSO’s:
Roy advertised this QSY for me too but I didn’t expect it to yield fewer QSO’s than 20m had. Firstly, it was a challenge to find a clear frequency. Rather I had to squeeze in between established SOTA activators of which there were several in the area between 7.031 to 7.035. This was a Sunday after all but I hope I caused no interference. On the other hand, it was good to see 40m-CW being put to such good use.

Stations worked with 30 Watts: G0VOF Mark at 59 plus from Blackburn; DL8KUD Dieter; DL6JZ Wolf; F6EAZ Chris; DJ5AV Mike; G4SSH Roy and finally G4LHI – Peter with a ‘normal’ (that is to say not SOTA) QSO. Nearly all reports were in the 579 to 599 range apart from a 539 from Mike, a 559 from Roy and a 529 from DL8KUD.

145.400 FM - 6 QSO’s:
Using the 5-Watt FT817ND to a vertical J-Pole, I called CQ on S20. John G0TDM straight came back with 59 plus, both ways. After a ‘bad day yesterday’ health wise, he was fortunately having a better one today.

Next in was Mario MM0GQY/M who was from Germany and touring Scotland. He thanked me for his, ‘First VHF SOTA QSO’ and in turn I welcomed him to the UK, wishing him a good holiday.

Geoff GM4WHA called in again from Annan, followed by 2E0LDF Reg in Cockermouth and G0ORO in Workington. Dennis is one of my longest running chasers so we paused for a brief chat.

The final QSO of the day was with GM0ICF/P. Bill was passing through 250m ASL whilst descending something that sounded like Baitlen Hill, Ayrshire in IO75OR square. He had been up there experimenting with microwaves.

All stations were 59 to me apart from Bill who was 55 on a handheld. Incoming were two 59’s, the remainder being 55.

Descent:
The return route (described earlier) via Trusmadoor, was in full sunshine. The car was regained at 17:09 and it took about 25 minutes to get back to Keswick, once again bypassing the broken bridge via Bassenthwaite.

Comments:
A slow start was made on 80m and only 8 stations were worked. The band was carrying as far down as Gloucester but as I found out later from Don G0RQL, not as far as Devon. With this in mind it was a bonus to work two stations on 160m and hear a third G3RMD in Cheltenham. There was QSB on both bands. Not many stations seem to be equipped for 80m and far fewer for 160m.

40m got half a dozen Europeans in but most were UK stations. 20m was pleasing and worthwhile with twelve QSO’s; one into the USA.

In my experience, located as it is in the middle of the Northern Fells (as defined by Wainwright) Knott is never very good on VHF, so six QSO’s with five Watts wasn’t bad.

This was a fairly long walk but I enjoyed the company on the way in. It was perhaps a bit on the cool side for a three and a half-hour activation but it was nothing compared with winter.

I spoke to a few people on the summit. There were two ladies, each walking on their own (if you discount the dog) and two groups of walkers. Even on a weekend, this is unusual for Knott, which tends to be fairly quiet. At least three people came over to ask the inevitable questions. One opened with, Is it short wave?’ and ‘How far have you got?’ This kind of enquiry is a clue to a little knowledge, which enables the answers to be tailored accordingly.

I had the battery power to extend the activation further but not the time. In fact after capacity checks of my entire stock of Li-Po batteries with disappointing to abysmal results, I bought a new 5Ah for this activation. Goodness knows what I will do if another overnighter is required for VHF-NFD but it could prove expensive. I know I don’t treat these batteries too well but some are only two years old.

There was no activation on day two, only constant rain.

QSO’s:
3 on 80m CW
5 on 80m SSB
1 on 160m CW
1 on 160m SSB
13 on 40m SSB
12 on 20m CW
7 on 40m CW
6 on 2m FM
Total: 48

Walk data:
Start/ finish: Longlands at 212m ASL; 10:33 and 17:09
Knott summit: 12:37 to 15:54
2hr-4min up/ 1hr-15 min down

Ascent & Distance:
540m ascent - 12km total
3hr-19 min walking time
3hr-17 min summit time
6 SOTA Points

THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED. Also to Roy G4SSH; Mark G0VOF and John G0TDM for spots. Special thanks to Roy G4SSH for QSY liaison via text and to group leader David for organizing the walk.

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

Photos: 2-6-9-11-19-30-33-38-41-43

Above: Leaving the road at Longlands. Roger, David, Rob & James

Above: Rob, James, David & Roger passing Longlands Fell

Above: Walk leader David at Little Sca Fell summit.

Above: Lone lady walker having lunch at Knott Summit (LD23)

Above: Lunch on Knott summit. Rob, James, Roger & David

Above: Lone lady walker with dog walking off Knott towards the east.

Above: View SW from Knott G/LD-023, looking over Little Calva to Skiddaw G/LD-004

Above: Summit cairn on Knott G/LD-023 with activation in background

Above: Looking NW over Trusmadoor from the grassy path on the descent

Above: End of the walk. Approaching the road at Longlands.

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LINKS to other Lakes Week 2017 reports:


2 Likes

John, as always an extremely detailed writeup of your activation - but very enjoyable to read and gives me some ideas on where to go when I next get over to the UK.

A comment on your battery usage - from what I read of your writeups, you usually tend to operate until the battery is depleted (presumably when the radio or amp shuts down). With the Lithium batteries, I have been advised to avoid using more than 80% of the battery’s capacity and then recharging as soon as practical. So far this has proven to work with my LiPo and LiFePO4 batteries still performing well at the 4-5 year mark.

To measure my power consumption, I use a watt meter from Turnigy that performs a number of functions including a running measure of power used (in Wh or mAh). I keep an eye on the meter during an activation, swapping to another battery when it gets to about the 75-80% mark. As I tend to run QRO, I have a number of batteries up to 20Ah in size for my activations - they can be a little expensive, so I like to minimise the abuse to them.

Matt
VK1MA

Hiya Matt,
Thanks for the reply but more particularly for that information on the way you operate your Lipo’s.

No, I have not looked after mine as I should. I have just finished a program of capacity checking all of my batteries (seventeen) with some harrowing results, given the costs involved. Years ago, I built a test box intended for SLAB’s and car batteries which is about perfect for 3 cell lipo’s of 11.1V nom (12.6V full). The circuit is based on an aircraft low buss-bar voltage warning unit and the cut off is 10.65 V (adjustable). The discharge element is a car headlamp bulb with 4.8 amps average current. A new Turnigy 5Ah lasts a couple of minutes short of an hour. A 2.2 goes for around 24 to 28 minutes. I use a balancing charger.

That’s how I test them and I know full well that 3.3V/ cell is the limit but yes, you are right, I do wait until system cutoff and despite tests on the amp and 817 long ago with recorded results, I have been too lazy to look them up and find out. I used to use an IC706-2G which did in fact shut down at a voltage high enough so as not to be a problem and that started the bad habit. I have just continued with the FT817ND and linear in the hope it does the same. However, something is killing my lipo’s and that could well be it. Out of two Turnigy 5000 mAh’s bought 2015, one is down to 37 minutes and the other 13 and bloated. The latter I’ve scrapped. On the other hand, a pair of RCM 4.4Ah ones from about 2010 just tested out at 75% of new. Tellingly, those have been used with the 706 and not the 817/ amp combi.

I’ve also heard that they should be stored at (say) 80% full. I’m afraid I store mine at 100% and that’s partly habit (I used to use SLABs) and partly so I can do activations on a whim at short notice. You can’t even rely on self discharge to help, as there is very little but after all, we activators have more than enough prep to do without recharging the rig batteries as well as the handheld, the phone, the backup phone, the DAB radio, the MP3 player, the GPS, the station clock (I only use that once a year) etc etc. You get the picture. It goes against the grain. If I did forget to top up from 80% to 100%, and in addition made a rule not to let it down below 20%, my battery would a just over half as effective as labelled.

However, you are right. I must give myself some discipline in trying to adopt a method close to your own. I have buzzers which attach to the charge socket and a similar thing that scrolls the voltages of the three cells but the buzzer seems to go off far too early - maybe at 75% full and it’s very loud. Now I will look for the device you mention. I’ll search on ebay. One day somebody will come up with a high capacity battery which is both light in weight and not temperamental. I think people who use 4 cell lipo’s are in an even worse position from this aspect.

I will have to get myself sorted before early July. The traditional VHF national field day/ SOTA over-nighter can require 30 or 40 Ah for extended QRO. The weaker the batteries, the more you need and I am more than a little weight obsessed.

Thanks again - food for thought,
Glad you enjoyed the report by the way.
73, John.

No worries at all John.

I use an older version of this one:

One thing that I will comment on is not to buy the cheap and nasty variants (even if they sell under the turnigy name) as they inevitably fail or do not work as claimed - I can say that from personal experience.

The buzzer style are only voltage sensors so of less use for QRO use (when the voltage may sag a little more than it would for QRP) - this is far more useful in my opinion.

Another observation is that the FT-817 will operate under 8V (I think most people find their 817 suts down at between 7-7,5V) which is well under the recommended minimum voltage for a 3S or 4S LiPo whereas the cuttoff for the IC-706 is much higher, so the battery will not be fully discharged when the radio shutsdown on you (which seems to match your observations).

I particularly like the watt meter as if doing multiple activations, I have a good idea of what the remaining capacity of a battery is and whether I need to replace it for the next summit or if there issufficient remaining capacity to make it worth the while carrying it in.

Keep up the great writeups, they are long but very thorough and enjoyable to read the details.

Matt
VK1MA