G4YSS:G/NP-004 Summit Camp & 4m Contest,19& 20-04-18

G4YSS: G/NP-004 Summit Camp 19th to 20th April 2018

G.NP-004 - WHERNSIDE on 160m-80m-40m-20m-4m-2m
RSGB 70 MHz-SSB (CW) Contest

G4YSS using SSEG Club Call GX0OOO/P

BST (UTC+1) for walking etc.
UTC for Radio operations (denoted ‘z’)
Sun Times: 05:55 & 20:20 BST

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M HF 50 Watt Linear Amplifier (80 thru 10) with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with loading coils for 160m
5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks
3 x Turnigy 11.1V, 5 Ah Li-Po batteries

70MHz (from 28MHz i/p) 10W Transverter (400gm) fitted with a 2A thermal CB.
(From Ukraine as recommended by MM0FMF. Thank you Andy!)
3-Ely Home-Brew Yagi (480gm)
PVC Mast extension for use with lower two sections of HF mast.
IC-E90 4 Band VHF-UHF 5 Watt Handheld
2m Band Vertical J-Pole on 1m carbon rod

Viper-2 Ridge tent (1988/ 2.2kg)
Sleeping bag 1.6kg synthetic
Airbed (Cheap - 4 GBP eBay 490gm)
Pack-weight: 19.06 (42 lbs) inc. fleece (carried - not worn), 1.75 ltr fluids & 0.5 ltr Ice

Garmin Geko 301 GPS
Hitachi MP3 Player
DAB Cube
Goretex Bootees worn for use if leaving the tent

There were two reasons for this particular summit camp. Firstly to give points out in the RSGB 70 MHz Contest evening, trying out new equipment at the same time and to do some 160m night operating.

G/NP-004 - Whernside was chosen because it is relatively high, easy to climb and overlooks the south and west of England well. Two previous overnight summit camps, for the purpose of taking part in the 432 MHz and 50 MHz contests respectively, had to be cancelled mainly due to the weather which left the 4m band next in line.

This was very frustrating because I was not properly equipped for operation on the 4m SSB band. I had a transverter available. It had been ordered in July 2017 after a tip-off from Andy MM0FMF. The cost was 61 GBP including postage but then I promptly forgot about it and the carton had never been opened. I had nothing but a vertical half-wave for the 4m band so a horizontal beam had to be built quickly.

Using some 20mm PVC conduit for the boom and six 1/8” x 1m long aluminium welding rods which I happened to have in stock, I knocked up a 3-Ely Yagi, closely mimicking the highly successful G3CWI 2m SOTAbeam; scaled up accordingly to resonate on 4m. Garden tests pointed to reasonable performance and so it transpired.

WEATHER - MWIS mountain forecast at 600m ASL:
In stark contrast to previous mountain forecasts, the weather for 19th & 20th April was predicted to be quite favourable with no more than a stiff breeze, temperatures just into double figures and sunshine. I don’t like the latter very much but the rest was welcome after the mean easterlies of February and March.

Just like previous plans for the 70cm & 6m contests, this one almost didn’t come off either. The MOT for the old Fiesta ran out the day before the expedition and I hadn’t realised. I ran it down to Pete’s garage on Roscoe Street and it only failed on one thing; a broken rear spring but a new one was to be delivered at 16:30 the same day. Needless to say and just my luck, it didn’t turn up but by then the car was in bits.

Pete kindly offered to come round early the next morning to remove one from the scrap car which resides on my front lawn. I said I’d do it that evening so instead of preparing for the SOTA, I found myself grovelling under the wreck. After 45 minutes and skinned knuckles, I had the right hand rear suspension leg in my hand which was when I noticed it too had a broken spring.

This exercise was repeated at the nearside with identical result. If the job couldn’t be completed by the next morning I wouldn’t be going anywhere and after putting ten alerts on SOTAwatch, this would be exceedingly embarrassing. Sadly the only recourse was for Pete to put the original leg back on after which I collected the car an hour before I was due to leave. All this did nothing for my nerves but what MOT ever does when you run a 17 year old banger?

On leaving home in Scarborough late morning, I called Roy G4SSH on 145.400. We had a short discussion about the schedule, a copy of which I had dropped off for him. Once again he said he would be available to do some spotting for me.

Starting at 11:30, the 95 mile drive via A170, A684 Hawes and over the Coal Road, took until 14:15. (Used to setting off at 03:30 am, I just couldn’t face the lunch time traffic on the York Bypass and through Harrogate).

Calling through GB3HG on 145.625 MHz on the way, I worked a Scarborough friend, G0OII/M Richard. He and I are down to man the Special Event station that SSEG will be running for the Tour de Yorkshire bike race on the morning of 5th May.

While I was getting ready to leave, a group of eight walkers came down from the summit and asked what the equipment was for. They told me that it was ‘heaving up there’ and that they’d been warned by some sort of ranger not to frighten the birds. ‘It’s breeding season.’ Apparently he’d been patrolling the paths on a 6-wheeled vehicle. Ten minutes later a solitary female walker told me the same thing. I was hoping not to meet this chap, then have to explain what was in and on the massive rucksack.

Leaving the car with the 42 pound pack at 15:07, I started the ascent in warm afternoon sunshine. It was a case of grin and bear it, while trying to take my mind off the pain by listening to music. After the stile and stream crossing, there is a short rise to a particularly awkward bog. This must be crossed. The choices are to detour right for slightly better ground or take a direct line by the fence, stepping on some rotten wood which has been laid in the mire. Either way, there’s a strong possibility of wet feet; something I didn’t desire to sleep with.

I topped out to a deserted trig point at 15:53. The ascent had taken 46 minutes and fortunately there was neither sight nor sound of the official or his vehicle. After worrying that questions might be asked as to why I was erecting a tent and lengths of wire on such a popular summit, apart from one man the next people I would see didn’t arrive until 08:00 the next morning.

G/NP-004 WHERNSIDE, 736m (2,415ft). 15:53 on Thursday 19th April to 12:28 on Friday 20th April 2018. 14 Deg C on arrival, 6C overnight and 10C next morning. Wind SW at 10 mph, decreasing slightly overnight. Blue sky & sunshine on Thursday; low-cloud on Friday morning from 04:00 to noon. WAB: SD78. LOC: IO84TF. Trig: TP-0702. Less than 50% reliable EE phone coverage.

For rapid deployment, the tent and fly sheet are carried outside the rucksack and the latter has its poles, guy lines and home-brew carbon pegs pre-attached. The single-handed job usually takes less than 3 minutes after which the tent is hung inside the fly and pegged down in 6 places. This 30-year old Lichfield Viper-2 ridge tent weighs under 5 pounds. I would love to replace it but fears about modern backpacking tents taking longer to pitch, is stopping me. Also if it works, why bother? No supplementary guy lines or pegs were needed today. In fact I broke with tradition of rear into wind, thinking some cool air would be welcome. The ground was squelching underfoot and I pitched quite near a pond full of frog spawn; something I was later to regret.

The HF dipole was run parallel to the wall with the J-Pole for 2m-FM to one side. Coaxes have to be routed in such a way that the inner tent door can be zipped up overnight.

145.400 FM - 21 QSO’s from 16:06z
This was not on the SOTAwatch schedule but was included because of time to spare. Using 5 Watts from the FT817ND to the J-Pole, I heard activity on 145.400 MHz. G7LAS/P Rob and 2E0YYY/P Mike were worked S2S on G/HSP-020 Maw Cop, a HuMP. After a chat with Mike about combining some DX’ing early the next morning, I took the frequency when their activation came to an end.

Further stations worked over the next hour and a half were: G7CDA Dougie near Garstang; G6HMN Ray in Colne; MW1FGQ John (a regular 4m contact of mine); G1OHH Sue in Lancaster (soon to be a Great Grandma); 2E0TBT/M Nick in Milnethorpe; GM4WHA/M Geoff at Annan; 2E0MOW Chris 2 miles north of Blackpool who explained Fusion radio to me and M0HZP David, who was using 2 Watts from a freshly restored FT290; QTH Fleetwood.

Another CQ brought in: G6XBF Walt in Leeds, just in from garden tidying; M3PQT/M Steve passing M6-J38. Next were 2E0LKC and 2E0LMD – Peter and Ann near Manchester A/P; 2E0XLG; Chris at Thornton-in-Craven (who has access to a 1,600 foot ASL shack) G4BLH Mike in Clitheroe testing his new aerial; G4JNN Paul in Bradford (we had a good talk about our mutual knowledge of the place); M0RSF Chris in Leeds; M0IGG Steve (ex M1ZXY) on Walney; G7OEM Tony at Blackpool reporting recent overcast (Whernside would have full sun until it set); and finally G0TDM John in Penrith.

A good session with lots of time for chatting. I was asked several times about Blackpool Rally. All being well, Roy G4SSH and I will be attending on the 29th of April.

At the end of our 2m QSO, John MW0FGQ and I tried to make contact on 4m-FM. However, John’s double zepp antenna had been half wrecked by the weather and I only had a set-top antenna. I could hear him but it was one-way only.

3.557 CW – 4 QSO’s from 17:45z:
First item on the schedule was 80m CW at 17:45z and that was the exact time of the log entry of the first caller, Roy G4SSH. He was followed by G4OOE Nick on his local SOTA summit, Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004 (S2S).

G4WSB Bill in Swindon preceded Hans OE7PHI and then there was silence. Reports were mainly 599 both ways apart from a 559 from Roy and a 449 QSB from Austria. Power was 30 Watts to the dipole.

3.760 SSB - 14 QSO’s from 17:56z:
First in was Phil G4OBK, almost totally exhausted from concreting his Tennamast base followed by some carpet fitting. After Phil I logged: G8ADD Brian in Brum; M0JLA Rod (Hereford City); G0RQL Don in Devon; G4OOE/P Nick on TW4; EI3GYB Michael in Mayo; G8VZT Dave a WAB operator from Shropshire; MM3PDM Peter in Peterhead.

Next in was G8VNW Nick in Thresfield with broken-up modulation; G0GWY Geoff, a well known WAB collector; GI0AZA Esther (Ian was out mending the Landrover Defender); G0VWP Terry in York; GM4WHA Geoff in Annan and GW4VPX Allan - Pencader.

Power was again 30 Watts and reports were all 59 or 59 plus with just a couple of incoming 57’s. 80m was working magnificently.

14.052.6 CW - Nil from 18:30z to 18:40z:
Despite being bang on the alerted time and frequency, disappointingly there were no replies to CQ’s on here. I tried to spot myself. In fact I tried several times on this expedition but none of the spots I sent, actually appeared. Half the time the phone wasn’t working which probably caused the problem. One text to my son arrived hours after I sent it.

14.285 SSB – Nil:
This was the alerted frequency but unfortunately it had two USA stations chatting. Their signals were not strong. After some darting to one side or another I gave up. Without spots it would be almost pointless and the time for the 4m contest was looming.

RSGB 70MHz Contest Evening 19-04-18, 19:00z to 21:30z:
Apart from Top Band, the Contest Evening was the main reason for all this effort. I had assembled most of the beam earlier. It just remained to remove the top two HF mast sections, laying these and the dipole with its previously tuned 160m coils carefully on the grass to save time later on. The extender to take the beam could now be fitted above the remaining two sections. I did think of bringing a dedicated mast for the beam but it wasn’t worth the extra weight.

Now for the proof. Would this cobbled together beam and spanking new transverter actually do the job? I took a few photos of the low sun before going back inside to start the contest a few minutes late. By then cloud was filling the valleys below. Combined with high atmospheric pressure, was this perhaps a good omen for enhanced VHF conditions?

It was now a matter of unplugging the HF linear power connector and coax from the FT817 into the transverter but why wasn’t the green LED on? I had forgotten to push in the circuit breaker. Phew! I selected the 28MHz band on the 817 and tuning around revealed the welcome signals of 4m contest stations. 70MHz SSB being as I thought, a slightly obscure entity, I expected no more than a dozen but there were more than that. They were strong too.

Settling on 70.160MHz (28.160MHz i/p from the 817), I gave G4HGT several calls but he wasn’t hearing me. What now? You fool! You need to plug the PTT phono lead from the ACC socket on the FT817, into the back of the transverter. Now it works perfectly thank goodness. We exchanged with 59 both ways at 19:06z for my first ever QSO on 4m-SSB. That made me smile!

The exchange for these contests is RST, Serial number and Maidenhead locator. Over the next two and a half hours I worked a total of 45 stations in the contest:

From 19:06z:
G4HGT; G8PNN/P (name Gordon giving ‘QRZ?’ but frustratingly, rarely a callsign); G0EHV/P; G0EAK/P; M1MHZ; G4BFJ/P; G1YBB/P; M5AFG (Dave G8VZT using 1W from an IC7300 to a linear running 160W); G0TVM; G8ONK; G8EOP; G4CLB; G4BEE/P; G0CDA (I work the op for this station in VHF-NFD every year. Then he is in IO84AD whilst my QTH at the top of Great Whernside G/NP-008 is IO94AD. We remark about it every July but this time we were both in different locations).

From 1947z:

From 20:04z:
G4NTY; G1EZF; G3PWK; GW4ZAR/P; 2E0DXK/P; G4OAR/A; G4EHD; G6CQC; G1FFH; G0ODQ; G0CER; G3YJR; G3VCA; G4FZN/P (IO94JF on Sutton Bank); G3PYE/P (top scorer); G4ODA; G8BUN (Robert – the chairman of the 807 Radio Club, specialists in VHF contesting, with whom I had a brief chat). Finally at 21:28z I logged G8SFI/P. The contest was over and the band went quiet apart from a few stations chatting.

Several stations remarked about the ‘tongue twisting’ club callsign and I had two breaks, one at 21:10z for 25 minutes and another later on at 20:51z for half an hour. These were partly breaks of my own making and partly the fact that nobody came back to calls I made during those periods.

The first seven and the final four stations were hunted down. The remaining 34 stations were worked on a spot frequency of 70.236MHz from 19:35z to 20:50z. This was as close as I could get to my SOTAwatch alerted frequency of 70.232MHz, which was somewhat randomly selected beforehand and alerted on the hour and half hour.

Workload was reduced on the spot frequency by means of a voice keyer that I built up a few years ago. This is a stand alone device with a small speaker. You simply hold the mic. over the speaker and press both the start button and PTT simultaneously. You can program in what you want such as, ‘CQ Contest; CQ SOTA, Golf X-ray Zero Oscar Oscar Oscar Portable,’ which I used on this occasion and for VHF-NFD in July every year.

The first 5Ah Li-Po battery went flat three quarters of the way through. I was half way through giving my locator at the time but the station concerned remarked how quickly the new battery had been connected. The beauty of standardisation using EC5 plugs and sockets for battery inputs.

The transverter, rated for a 10W output on 70MHz, was excited using the 2.5 Watt setting on the FT817 set to the 28MHz band. Bench tests beforehand showed no difference in transverter output for either 5W or 2.5W inputs. Even 1W in gave a 95% output. It seemed stupid to waste power in the transverter’s attenuator network pushing in the recommended 5 Watts.

Squares worked:
IO82; IO83; IO84; IO91; IO92; IO93; IO94; IO95 & JO02. No overseas stations were heard but signals were of good strength and the band was very lively. Only one or two ops requested a repeat from me and I logged everybody on the first attempt. I didn’t turn the beam very much but when I did it was evident that it was working as a beam should.

Every station got the SOTA summit ref and mountain name whether they wanted it or not. I felt slightly guilty about the five extra seconds this added to each QSO when I was hunting but once on my ’own’ frequency and calling CQ, which was most of the time, I could do as I liked. Almost all operators heard the reference to SOTA and acknowledged it in some way. Most responses were very positive and the word ‘effort’ was used a number of times. Almost all seemed to know about it but one said, ‘I don’t know what that all means but thanks for the QSO.’

Half a dozen knew the mountain well because they’d climbed it in the past. One, G8BUN – Robert told me that he’d done VHF from there years ago and climbed it with his XYL. I winced when he told me that he’d carried a car battery to the top. Yes, there was life before SOTA!

Top Band:
I had only allowed 15 minutes in the schedule for taking down and dismantling the 4m beam and re-erecting the dipole for Top Band after the contest had finished. One great thing about staying on a SOTA overnight can be the sights you see. It’s very often foggy but this night was as clear as it gets. Stars, the odd shooting star and a sliver of moon with earth shine. My camera is nowhere near good enough to capture such things so I pressed on with the work.

In the dark it took a little longer than it should have. The screw and nut which hold the two sections of boom together are very small and fiddly and I still had to reconfigure the station inside the tent to enable HF operation.

1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 21:47z:
I wondered whether the skip would be too long to allow the closer stations in at 11pm but propagation was good. With the FT817 set back up to 5 Watts, the linear will produce 50 Watts. First I called G4SSH in Scarborough. Roy came back immediately but he was very weak. In fact he was at the bottom of an SSB cycle but once I’d confirmed it was him, we exchanged at 559 both ways. That was perhaps a bit optimistic.

Next to call was Mike G0HIO coming in at 559 from Burton-on-Trent. Mike gave me 449. He was in the log but in QSB and noise, wasn’t 100% happy, coming back later to confirm the QSO.

A loud signal completely destroyed the noise. This was OH9XX Marko and he was 59 plus to me. I got a 579 from him but if the rumours are true, it was Marko’s antenna that was doing most of the work.

Finally GI4ONL called in. Victor was very loud too and entered the log easily at 599 both ways.

1.846 SSB - 9 QSO’s from 22:03z:
Continuing with 50 Watts, I worked (or reworked) the following stations in SSB: GI4ONL Victor in Bushmells giving me a 59 plus 10dB report – amazing for my setup and Top Band; EI3GYB Michael in Mayo (59/ 57); G8VNW Nick in nearby Threshfield this time with steady modulation (59/ 49); SM6CNX Dan, who I sometimes meet on the WAB nets (57 both ways).

Next G8ADD Brian in Birmingham who can often copy me even if I can’t hear him (56 both ways); G6WRW Carolyn in Kidderminster struggling with static (57/ 42); OH9XX Marko (59/ 57); GI0AZB Ian in Londonderry back from his Landrover fixing (59 both ways) and the final QSO of the day, GM4WHA Geoff in Annan, just scraping in at 33/ 31.

Apart from Geoff, conditions were such that it was possible to have a short conversation with everybody and the session lasted 25 minutes. What a successful 160m activation. I was thankful to chasers for coming up so late in the day but with conditions this good, it was certainly worth it.

Victor stuck with us to the end and he came in again to marvel over the signal he was getting from me. I can’t claim any credit for that. When you consider what is required for Top Band, my antenna setup is little more than pathetic and the maximum power I can run is 50 Watts. It was all down to conditions and the time you can come up is everything.

Before retiring I nipped outside to QSY the dipole to 20m for the morning alert on CW at 06:30z. This turned out to be something of a mistake. 40m would have been better.

The Night:
At least I could have some music to get ready for bed and have supper to. The 817 was tuned to 648kHz and Radio Caroline, a loyal friend since 1964, was coming in a treat at SIMPO 54544. Not bad for a kilowatt. The skip distance from the east coast must have been just right.

It wasn’t exactly warm outside and eating is one way to keep warm. After making myself light headed blowing up the cheap PVC swimming pool Lilo, something I should have done on arrival, it took significant effort to get into the sleeping bag, it being higher at the foot than at the head. The fleece jacket would not slide over the cotton liner which resulted in at least 5 minutes of reverse Houdini struggle while jambed under one side of the inner tent sloping roof. Another 5 minutes were wasted with the full length zip and careful positioning was required to avoid the hump in the tent floor whilst still remaining on the centre-line of the airbed.

There are many things that can stop you sleeping and in such circumstances, I had my fair share. We won’t expand on certain physiological characteristics which cause regular interruptions but men of my age group will readily sympathise. Turning over is an operation in itself as there’s always the danger of flicking the airbed sideways. The latter is not the warmest of things from a convection viewpoint, having as it does just four large air compartments as against thousands for foam. To be fair, it does however iron out lumps very well and unlike New Year on Pen-y-Ghent, this one did stay inflated all night. It takes up minimal space in the rucksack and its low weight allows more batteries to be carried.

My sleeping bag is not of the best quality either. A twenty quid wonder from a local shop many years ago, it comes out every time despite owning a high spec Rab down one that is far too expensive to actually use. I do however take it out of the cupboard now and again to admire its fine quality and put it away again. Sometimes I wish I’d never been born a Yorkshireman. We can perhaps afford things but we can’t always thoil them.

I did manage 2 hours of fitful sleep from about 12:30am but what was that unfamiliar sound? Yes, the breeze was flapping the tent slightly but this is something you get used to. It was then that I regretted having pitched near the frog spawn pond but at least the croaking did stop at 3am.

Around four am I heard dripping noises. ‘Drip, drip, drip’ but no rain was forecast. A search around with the headlamp revealed nothing. It was just water condensing on the dipole from the low-cloud which rolled in around that time and dropping on the flysheet.

At 5am the birds started. Skylarks in fact, though you can’t knock that cheerful sound. By 6am the discomfort was too great for further rest. I should have broken out the ‘stove’ and made a breakfast cuppa then, something which I regretted during a later CW session when suffering from brain fog due to significant dehydration and hunger.

Friday 20th April 2018:
Back to work.

145.400 FM – 1 QSO at 06:07z:
G4DEE was taking calls on the channel I happened to be monitoring. I was hoping to hear Mike 2E0YYY. Tony, located in Manchester and I exchanged reports at 57/ 53. Power was 5 Watts from the IC-E90 to the vertical J-Pole.

14.052.6 CW - Nil from 06:30z to 06:33z:
I was bang on time with the alert but the band didn’t seem particularly open. After this disappointment I flicked down to 40m SSB to look for anything interesting, all the time bearing in mind what Mike 2E0YYY had told me.

7.188 SSB – 1 QSO at 06:46z:
The first station I came across on 40m gave his callsign as ZL2RNN (or similar suffix) and he was a solid 56 despite the antenna link selection, which was still on 20m. By the time I’d got my boots on, gone out into the fog and swapped the links, he had gone QRT. Little did I realise that Mike 2E0YYY/P was working antipodean stations from the summit of Shining Torr G/NP-004, at around the same time on the same band.

I found Mike a little later still calling on 7.188 SSB and we had an interesting conversation about DX after logging our S2S that is. He thought it was getting a little late for 40m and that 20m might open up in the next 30 minutes. Inviting me to join him on 20m, we QSY’d to see what could be done there.

14.320 SSB – 2 QSO’s from 06:59:
Mike called ‘CQ SOTA’ and I listened whilst doing a few chores around a very untidy tent. He worked a couple of ‘G’ stations in the midlands but I couldn’t hear them. I did manage to log one station courtesy of Mike and this was SV3HJW – 57 both ways. Another contact was made by Mike but he got away from me.

Despite his efforts on his cold, damp summit, Mike was not lucky enough to reach Australia or New Zealand on 20m today. With his knowledge and experience of SOTA DX, he had been in the right place at the right time earlier – 40m. No amount of calling on 20m could persuade nature to cooperate, so with my 80m sked overdue, we said 73. Mike lugs a heavy CB vertical up his SOTAs for pulling in the DX. That’s dedication for you!

3.763 SSB – 1 QSO at 07:40z:
About this time my son G0UUU got a text through to me, asking about 80m. Phil was in Scotland on a week’s holiday at Isle of Whithorn D&G. He was also there to do some WAB activating mainly on 3.760 but there was a ragchew on there at this time.

I suggested we try 3.763 MHz. Conditions were marginal but we managed to exchange reports, me giving him 33 and getting back a 55. His rig, an FT857D, was up to its tricks again, shutting down at 100 Watts. This is an intermittent fault, probably of the mobile installation. Dropping the power to 40 Watts did the trick without much loss of signal detectable at my end.

Phil told me that he’d been recording some of my 4m SSB and 160m CW/ SSB QSO’s of the day before, using the internet receiver at Nantwich.

3.557.6 CW – 13 QSO’s from 07:49:
3.557 was in use but life was made easy on here due to a timely spot from Phil G0UUU. I had sent some texts to Roy G4SSH but they were delayed by over half and hour. It was even worse with self spotting. Nothing I sent ever appeared. The system worked perfectly the last time I used in from TW4 in February so it might have been my location and the fickle phone signal. However my son pointed out that I should have selected ‘SMS’ before pressing send. Oh dear, Dad gets it wrong again!

In the Log:
G4WSB Bill; PA0SKP Sake; ON3YB Lucas; ON4VT Danny; G0BPU Mike; G4SSH Roy; G4OBK Phil; DL2HWI Dietmar; G3RDQ David; M0BKV Damien; DJ5AV Mike; G0TDM John and G3RMD Frank down in Cheltenham.

Power was 50 Watts. Half the reports were 599 ranging down to 559 with a 229 from G4SSH 339’s from DL2HWI and G0TDM.

3.724 SSB – Nil from 08:14 to 08:23:
Unfortunately 3.760 was still occupied but it was nobody I recognized as having anything to do with Worked All Britain. The alternative frequency in the alerts was 3.724. No luck and not the wherewithal to make any. That was the end of the pre-made schedule, so it was ad-lib from now on.

145.400 FM – 4 QSO’s from 08:27z:
Did I hear my name mentioned? Yes, there was Nick G4OOE calling me on S20 and on his way to Cross Fell with Dave G3TQQ. They had just arrived at the car parking place; the barrier on Great Dunn Fell’s radar road. Using a handheld to a car roof antenna, they weren’t too strong but we managed 51 both ways with an update on progress at both ends.

The two further stations worked were M0NOM Mark in Windermere (59/ 55) and M0PXP/M Chris (59 both ways). Leg pain, fatigue and dizziness preoccupied me now, so I may not have been 100% lucid. Apologies.

7.033.7 CW – 12 QSO’s from 08:54z:
There was battery power and time to spare so I tried 40m CW. There was no spot but I soon had replies and it proved quite lucrative. See below:

DJ9MH Hajo; SP9AMH Mariusz; DL3HXX Lothar; HB9AGH Ambrosi; ON4FI Karel; PA1BR Pascal; OE7PHI Hans; HB9BIN/P Jurg S2S HB/LU-024; HB9CGA Uli; HB9DBM/P Mark S2S HB/BL-014; OE5WLL Willy and OK/DL2DXA/P Bernd S2S OK/LI-042. (Sorry for calling you ‘Fred’ Bernd. Fred is DL8DXA so it can be a bit confusing especially when your brain is as addled as mine was then).

I had to swap to the third and final 5 Ah Li-Po just after the start of this session. Band conditions were not that great with reports averaging between 559 and 579 and a 439 from PA1BR. Power was 50 Watts.

Without so much as a drink, let alone anything to eat, I had become very dehydrated. Sending Morse is not an ideal thing to do when you are below par and I was dizzy, light-headed from lack of sleep and in pain from either kneeling or laying propped up on one elbow. When faced with sending something as complex as ‘OK/DL2DXA/P’ I could barely get it out in my current state. Neglect of yourself in favour of the radio is not a good thing, especially for a chap of my age but it can so easily happen when you’re preoccupied.

I was soon to be faced with getting what had come to resemble a bomb site back into the rucksack. Knowing it would take me an hour to 90 minutes, I set about trying to ameliorate my poor physical condition.

Better late than never, I decided to make a brew. A rudimentary ‘stove’ hastily bent up from a single 1/16 inch mild-steel welding rod, to include pan stand, ground spikes and a platform for a single hexamine tablet, was deployed in the porch area. The pan is just an empty Dole fruit can and for the handle I used a pair of wire snips. A baco-foil surround keeps out the breeze. A 500ml bottle of water, topped up with water from the ice bottle boiled up fairly quickly. One and a half hexamine tablets made two steaming mugs of tea, which in my current state was a welcome pick-me-up. A bite to eat and I felt better but it wasn’t nearly enough.

145.525/ 145.550 FM – 7 QSO’s from 09:35z:
This started off as a check on the progress of the Cross Fell party. By now they were set up, and running on 145.525. I exchanged 59’s with both Nick G4OOE/P and Dave G3TQQ/P at the summit of G/NP-001. Thanks for the 8 points lads! Suddenly the signal disappeared but it wasn’t until later that I heard that their antenna had fallen down and apparently broken internally. Good job they had HF available.

Just after this, Phil G4OBK called in from Pickering (58/ 55) followed by a few other callers but just in case Nick & Dave wanted their channel back, I QSY’d ‘one up’ to 145.550, continuing there. G4ZRP Brian followed me up and also G6LKB Dave, G4WHA/A Geoff at the shop in Penrith and finally 2E0MOW Chris from Thornton-in-Cleveleys.

I hope I wasn’t rude to anybody but I did quite a lot of moaning and groaning regarding the gross discomfort I was suffering by this stage. I was certainly glad when finally there was silence. There was still plenty of battery power remaining and I could have done plenty more, for instance trying 20m again, but the deficits were time and patience.

Continued below…


Packing Up:
Yet another two-day expedition had come to a close and it was with a mixture of regret and relief. It took over an hour to pack up, the most difficult thing being deflating the airbed and persuading the sleeping bag into the smallest volume possible in such circumstances. The airbed has a rudimentary type of non-return valve at the inflation point. I use a bit of welding rod bent into a ‘S’ shape to hold it open but you still have to roll it up and knee it into submission. The tent seems to reduce in size the longer you’re in it but when it comes to packing up, it will never fold up as neatly as it does at home.

There were plenty of people about by now; walking to the trig at the other side of the wall. I’d heard the first voices at 8am. Ribblehead viaduct was the main target of their photographing with Ingleborough a close second. I spoke to most of them. Some asked what the night had been like and others why I’d been there. Thankfully there was no sign of the potentially officious official patrolling on the 6-wheeled vehicle.

There was a cool breeze at the summit but the fog finally cleared about now, leaving slightly hazy sunshine. I tried to address the dehydration problem using water from the ice I’d brought up. I have almost no sense of thirst so I need to remember to drink. I always bring ice for overnighters in warm weather. It keeps the food and drinks cool. A carrier bag doubles for a fridge. There was more ice down in the car too and more victuals for lunch and the journey home.

The descent took from 12:31 to 13:03 (32 minutes) and compared to what had gone before, it seemed very easy and enjoyable because of the views. It’s always a relief when you realise that the car is still where you left it the day before.

QSO’s - 138 comprising:
33 on 2m-FM
17 on 80m-CW
15 on 80m-SSB
4 on 160m-CW
9 on 160m-SSB
12 on 40m-CW
1 on 40m-SSB
0 on 20m-CW
2 on 20m-CW
45 on 4m-SSB (Contest)

Days/ QSO’s:
97 on Thursday 19th Apr
41 on Friday 20th Apr-2018

Battery Utilisation (Li-Po’s):
5Ah No1 of 3: 100%
5Ah No2 of 3: 100%
5Ah No3 of 3: 28% (Tested)
Total used: 11.4Ah.

Ascent & Distance:
280m (919ft) / 4.2km (2.6 miles).
6 SOTA points.

Walking Time: 1hr-18 min.
46 min up/ 32 min down ( at 2mph)
Summit Time: 20hr-38 min.

Distance driven: 190 miles

Chronology (BST):
11:30: Left Scarborough
14:15: Arrived White Shaw Moss (via Thirsk, Hawes & Dentdale)
15:07: Walked for G/NP-004
15:53: Arrived G/NP-004

12:31: Left G/NP-004
13:03: Arrived car
13:11: Drove for home
16:06: Arrived Scarborough (via Hawes, Thirsk & Sutton Bank)

They say you get out of life what you put in and it’s true. This took some organising and executing but the rewards more than made up for that.

RSGB 70MHz Contest Evening:
In a few words, ‘Beyond my wildest dreams.’ Thinking 4m to be an afterthought/ backwater not worthy of mainstream Tuesday evenings but demoted to Thursday, my ‘wildest dreams’ had me just about getting into double figures. Having never even heard a 4m SSB signal in my life let alone worked anybody, truly I had no idea what to expect.

I am not saying 4m is second rate in any way; to me it’s just the opposite but I just thought few people would have equipment for SSB on this band. How wrong can you be! It was immediately obvious 30 seconds after switch on, that provided all the equipment worked as expected, this was going to be a lot easier than envisaged.

My impression of it was a friendly atmosphere, in fact something a bit special and I was glad to be there. I didn’t expect to pick up so many contacts calling CQ on a single frequency either. Maybe my 84 square was attractive; at one point there seemed to be a queue. A lot is owed to band conditions which seemed significantly ‘up.’

Thinking about it, the new and popular IC7300 probably had a lot to do with the large number of signals on 4m. The IC7100 does 4m SSB too.

70MHz Equipment:
The Ukraine built transverter worked perfectly and teamed up well with the hastily home-brewed 3-ely beam. Putting this much effort into bringing up two bits of untested kit was a risk that paid off.

The 4m beam worked well too but it is very delicate. The elements are soft aluminium welding rods with 4BA threads on the end. They are eminently bendable and must touch nothing but fresh air when the aerial is deployed. However, once back inside the boom they are fully protected for transportation. For a weight penalty of well under 1kg, the enjoyment I got from doing the 4m contest was well worth turning up for.

Conditions seemed very good on here too. Four QSO’s in CW qualified it but a few years ago I would have expected more. Nowadays most of the business is done with SSB. Best DX was OH9XX – Marko but I suspect he has a very good setup. G0VOF was missed again but Mark has no aerial for Top Band at the moment.

Maybe he was at the optimal distance but Victor GI4ONL gave me the best report of the evening – 59 plus 10dB. It was possible to hold a normal conversation with many of the others too, which is unusual for 160m SOTA. The 4m contest didn’t end until 10:30 so putting on 160m at around 11pm local time was Hobson’s choice. As it turned out, it was also an excellent choice.

As far as QSO numbers are concerned 80m was just about equal with 2m-FM. Between them they brought in half the total. 80 would have easily won had I been able to get on 3.760 on Friday morning. The channel was occupied and the alternative could not be communicated to chasers. As well as being the mainstay up and down the country, some European stations were worked on here too.

I checked 7.160 on two or three occasions but it was quiet. An unannounced appearance on 7.033 brought in twelve additional chasers and also gave the Europeans a better chance than 80m had.

50 Watt scheduled and pre-alerted CQ’s went out on 20m CW on both days to no avail. The only luck I had on 20m was 2 QSO’s courtesy of Mike 2E0YYY. The DX treat didn’t materialise either (you can’t force nature) but I enjoyed chatting to Mike with the bonus of an S2S linking NP4 with SP4.

The top scorer with 33 QSO’s, 145MHz also provided communication with friends Nick G4OOE and Dave G3TQQ on NP1. It’s a chat band if you want it to be. Perhaps not a bad thing when you’re isolated in a tiny tent on top of a mountain.

This was not in any plan or schedule because to do justice to it, I would have had to cart up yet another antenna, my end-fed vertical as I didn’t want to push my luck with turning the beam vertical. John MW1FGQ did try to make contact on 70.450 but it didn’t result in a QSO due to my weak signal and his broken aerial.

In a word; benign. You don’t expect such summery weather at 2,400 feet in April, especially at night. I was able to save weight. No waterproofs or coat were required.

This was my fourteenth summit overnighter for SOTA, discounting one aborted in 2002 after a few hours due to lightning. I should be used to it by now but twenty plus hours in a small tent is no picnic. The discomfort is great. For operating there are only two options. You can either lay on one side, propped up on one elbow or kneel down hunched over in front of the rig. I find it difficult to sit upright for very long. Hours in either position make me want to scream. Relief comes only from a walk outside to change links etc, or a break with some food or drink thrown in but that’s rare in my case which results in dehydration. To be fair, the intensity of radio operations overcomes the suffering for a while but that’s all in the mind and the body must continue to take the stresses.

A few things have been tried. A folding stool has helped on VHF-NFD’s in the past on NP8 but it weighs plenty. I made a backrest, the ultimate luxury, from a fibreglass tube that can be knocked into the ground and surrounded by 22 mm foam pipe insulation but that is only good if you don’t mind ruining the tent groundsheet.

Another innovation was a way to fold the airbed into a seat using nylon lines to hold it in place but that was a failure too due to insufficient rigidity. Whatever you do there’s a weight penalty. You start off with good intentions. Oh yes, I’ll definitely take this up with me. Then as the rucksack fills up so you can barely lift it, your item of luxury is the first to go.

Doing these campover’s makes me feel like a pack mule even just carrying the basic kit but after carrying over 60lbs in the days of lead-acid batteries, I currently fight shy of exceeding about 45 pounds. On this occasion it was 42lbs on the way up and somewhat less coming down. Good job the rewards are great.

There are plenty of other complaints I could go into but perhaps most of the problem is down to my advancing age.

After some confusion both on the day and when trying to write this report, I came to the conclusion that the station clock had reset itself to BST. I had to go back through the entire log, checking each time and altering the ones in BST, which was most of them. Why I didn’t realise at the time and just blindly wrote down the clock times, I’ll never know but you do lose all track of real time in such circumstances. Just to reiterate. All the times pertaining to radio are in UTC, the rest in this report are BST (UTC+1).

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED. Many thanks to the ones who stuck with it late on Thursday night for Top Band. Thanks to the VHF contest crowd too. Also to Roy G4SSH, who was on standby for text messages but the two which were sent were delayed by 30 minutes. Thanks also to spotters: G4SSH; G4BLH; G4WSB; G0UUU; SP9AMH and GM4WHA. I am indebted to Andy MM0FMF for suggesting the Ukrainian 70 MHz transverter and also to the ones who made it. A brilliant piece of kit!

Blackpool 29-04-18:
Roy G4SSH and I are planning to be at the rally this year, once I get my MOT that is. It will be great to put some faces to callsigns and meet up with old friends once again. See you there.

73 John G4YSS (Using SSEG Club station GX0OOO/P)

Photos: 2-9-13-23-28-30-31-33-36-47-52-56-63-69-71-73-82-87-88-110-111-112

Above: At the parking place. (G/NP-004 behind)

Above: The final push up Whernside from the west.

Above: G/NP-004 Summit Trig Point TP-0702 with Ingleborough G/NP-005 in the background

Above: G/NP-004. A weight off my shoulders. The 42 pound (19kg) pack.

Above: G/NP-004. Summit pond with mostly frogspawn and a little water. One of the nocturnal noise generators pokes up his head.

Above: View from Whernside G/NP-004. A long train stationary on the Settle Carlisle railway line.

Above: Hazy view from Whernside G/NP-004. Ribblehead Viaduct - Settle Carlisle railway line.

Above: Activation of Whernside G/NP-004 on HF.

Above: View from Whernside G/NP-004. Cloud starting to fill the valleys after about 6pm. Ingleborough summit with its head out of the clouds.

Above: Activation of Whernside G/NP-004 on VHF. Taking part in the RSGB 70 MHz SSB (CW) Contest with home-brew 3-ely beam (scaled up from a SOTAbeam)

Above: Activation of Whernside G/NP-004 on VHF. Home-brew 3-ely beam for RSGB 70 MHz SSB (CW) Contest

Above: G/NP-004 just before sunset. Great Coum G/NP-011 in the background

Above: Activation of Whernside G/NP-004 on 4m. Taking part in the RSGB 70 MHz SSB (CW) Contest using the very capable Ukraine built transverter (42MHz LO).

Above: Summit camp on Whernside G/NP-004. Home-brew 3-ely beam for the RSGB 70 MHz SSB (CW) Contest

Above: Summit camp on Whernside G/NP-004. 11pm. Contest over. Back to HF and ready for 160m

Above: Summit camp on Whernside G/NP-004. Time for bed. Listening to Radio Caroline on 648kHz.

Above: Summit camp on Whernside G/NP-004. Friday morning fog. What a contrast to Thursday afternoon.

Above: Summit camp on Whernside G/NP-004. The Hexamine stove bent up from a single welding rod, incorporating ground spikes, pan stand and platform for one fuel tablet.

Above: Summit camp on Whernside G/NP-004. Making a brew

Above: Bog on the way down Whernside G/NP-004.

Above: Looking back towards Whernside

Above: Car at last. Exactly where I left it. Always a worry!


Another great report John. Thank you. You must put almost as much effort into your write-ups as into the actual activation!
Despite my best intentions I am yet to fulfill my ambition of camping o/n on a SOTA trip. Well done.

I’m glad you like it. I may have to punt for one myself.

Hi John.

Another epic report…thank you and for the contact on 80m. Hope to meet you in the Blackpool rally.

73 Allan GW4VPX

Absolutely amazing John. When will you slow down? I think you need Andy’s lucky anvil as part of your kit. The heaviest pack I have ever hauled up a mountain for SOTA is 17kg and that nearly did for me. I did have a 34AH car battery as part of my kit when I operated 10GHz from Kinder Scout back in the early eighties, but there was little option in those days. It appears you were similarly afflicted!

Many thanks for another excellent report. I don’t know how you settle down to get some sleep when you are on your own in a remote place. I think I would need to be undertaking a joint activation to do an overnighter. Maybe I am just a wimp. :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG

EDIT: Just checked my ascent time in January 2007 when I was a mere youngster of almost 55 and I see it took me 1 hour and 5 minutes from the same spot that you parked on. My excuse was that I had friend Barry with me and we had done Ingleborough earlier. :wink:

Thanks for the two s2s and chat, John. Sorry I couldn’t drum up any VK/ZL Chasers on 20m, however, you probably picked the worst day I can remember for the band.

When I QSY’d from 40m to 20m at about 0700z, within a minute, I knew, DX was a lost cause.

73 Mike

Great report there, and having no clue about pounds in weight was amazed at the total - I consider myself relatively fit but a 9kg backpack up the modest 45 min staircase of Red Screes was starting to drag. I was just thinking ‘it feels like I’ve got a small kid on my back’ when a couple appeared on the descent - father with small child on back wearing full motorbike gear including helmet with his wife carrying the child’s helmet as well as her own and in full leathers. OK I thought, I’ll stop moaning. For some reason I decided to wear a pair of board shorts and a pink shirt - goodness only knows what they thought of me! Obviously my 9kg included trousers and some warm apparel as well!

Looking forward to seeing folk at Norbreck - last year I didn’t know too many folk and for some reason missed the SOTA stand but I suspect it will be very much more of a social occasion this year! I have had a SOTA polo shirt printed complete with callsign so anyone who spots me be sure to say high!

This will be the year of a summit SOTA all-nighter for me as well. I have the gear, just need to get the plan together!

Mark. M0NOM

Curious? What is a DAB Cube? Google implies some sort of wifi radio? How do you like it?

Warning going off-topic!

DAB (now called DAB+) is a 10 year old technology that should have been “Dead And Buried” years ago but keeps trying to be forced onto consumers by some in the industry.
The advantage over “normal” FM broadcasting is that multiple stations can be transmitted from one transmitter and mast/antenna with the available bandwidth split between multiple digital stations reducing per station costs.
The disadvantages over normal FM are:
Multiple stations can use the same carrier - for commercial reasons the owners of DAB+ transmitters cram-in as many (paying) stations as they can into the bandwidth and signal quaity suffers. The Audio quality is not as good as Analogue FM.
Range is less than FM as 180-220MHz is used rather than 88-108MHz.

Take-up has been slow, which in some countries, as an example Norway, has resulted with the government edicting that all FM stations must close down and those who haven’t are being fined. In contrast in the UK just last week the BBC halted their planned close down of FM transmitters and now plan that both technologies will run in parrallel.

In Germany, where DAB has been around a long time, 94% of the public still receive their radio via normal FM stations. Although more German built cars are (optionally) fitted with FM+DAB radios take up here has also been very slow.

With Internet radio via the 4G network, through audio streaming and Podcasts, DAB has been overtaken and while it could have some good use in remote areas of countries where currently only one or two FM stations are available (the existing transmitter could be converted to DAB and supply up to a dozen local and/or national stations), in general, my personal opinion is that after 10 years with only limited take-up, I can’t see it replacing FM radio in Europe. More likely is that Internet based radio will replace FM and DAB for home and possibly also in cars.

73 Ed.

1 Like

Hi John

Thank you for the s2s contacts and the comprehensive report. You continue to be a great inspiration to us all!

Nick G4OOE

Apologies for my poor modulation on 80m - a combination of old age and unexpected warm temperatures on some of the tantalum capacitors in my rather old military/marine transceiver. This was considered state of the art at the height of the cold war and intended to be part of a “secret” emergency communications network in the event of nuclear attack on the UK, known as HDRS or NCRS or Conrad, but (thankfully) never used. Still going strong, but occasionally does need some TLC.

Strategic use of freezer spray enabled the contact on 160m, but a more permanent solution is now underway.

Thanks for the very detailed report.


Thank you for the contact on Top Band John.

Sorry for the poor report I had not checked which antenna I was using and was on the “wrong one”. Your signal did come up while you were talking to Marko so I can give you a SWL report of 5/5 :grinning:


I listened to your contact with John, Carolyn, unsurprisingly you were a good strong signal with me despite the wrong antenna. Earlier I listened to Z62D operating DXpedition style, the band seemed to be in good nick, I ought to try it more often.

Great report John and inspiring on a number of fronts!

I love your ingenuity, thinking of, and creating solutions.

I still haven’t managed an overnight SOTA, despite contacting you several years ago for advice on a Lake District overnighter. I did attempt the expedition but something ‘felt wrong’ when it came to setting up camp on the summit. I can’t explain what the feeling was, it wasn’t fear or loneliness, I just had a gut feeling that I needed to return to the car. I reached the car in darkness a couple of hours later and just at that point, it started with really heavy rain. A bit later, lightning was thrown into the mix. I don’t think I knew about MWIS back then! I definitely did the right thing by aborting.

I have recently lost 3 stones, I’m officially no longer ‘overweight’, so I’m feeling much more energised than I have for a while, I really fancy having another go at my Lake District expedition. I now have my lightweight (Altoids tinn) CW rig too, I won’t have to pack the multiple HTs and spare batteries like I did last time.

Hope that we can cross paths at Blackpool,

73, Colin

Hi John, as always a very detailed report and great pics. You really were 100% armchair copy on 160 metres received via my full size OCF dipole (windom) antenna, I think we must have been at optimum distance although I also had good signals from most of your chasers.

Hope to meet you, and others, at Blackpool this weekend.


Victor GI4ONL

NP4 Campover 19 & 20-04-18 Replies to comments:
Thanks for all the many comments. Replies to ALL:

Thanks Andy for the encouragement.

Sadly the answer to that could well be pretty close to ‘Yes’ but it does have the effect of prolonging the enhanced mood that a good activation brings. In fact some activations are so hard and you can be so battered by weather etc that the enjoyment only begins when you get back to the car from the last summit or even after you return home. It can gradually increase through the reporting and for a few days after that.

I hope you can do a summit camp. They’re one of my favourite things in SOTA but I was doing them a long time before that starting with The Cheviot in 1981.
73, John

Hi Andy,
I do and you should. Can’t go wrong even though they are now up to 105 USD inc P&P. I was pleasantly surprised about how well it worked and how little fuss there was in commissioning it. The hardest thing was rooting through the shed to find an old tape recorder phono lead that could be pressed into service as the PTT connection.
Hope to see you at the rally,
73, John

Hi Allan,
My pleasure; thanks to you also. Yes I should think we will meet up, all being well. Hope so anyway. I will be bringing Roy G4SSH. The old car was retested today so Blackpool is all go. Looking forward to it.
All the best, John

Hi Gerald,
Lucky Anvil; yes. It would make a good seat or better still a backrest; the one thing I really miss. Perhaps Andy could leave it on NP8 for me.

I have long referred to this type of operation as ‘piano jobs’ because it feels like you’re carrying one. You’re right though. It was much worse years ago and people did carry car batteries. I used an aircraft battery for OV00 in 1987 and carried another one up NP8 for VHF field day a couple of years running. To be fair I think my son carried it the second time. Going by memory it weighed 27 pounds. Now we don’t know we’re born. A new element - Lithium has been discovered!

As for slowing down? Yes, to a degree. Less SOTA and more walking the dog but too much on the flat does next to nothing for you. My best time for that route is 29 minutes but that was with a 2m-FM handheld in cold winter conditions about 2004 and I was really pushed for time.

Actually it’s impatience that spoils things for me. I go too fast then have to stop. This repeats all the way up if you let it. Much better when I tell myself off and do a slow plod with tiny footsteps. Trouble is the mind is already on the summit and that makes the body feel even worse. I must say, I have never got much pleasure from walking uphill.

Sleep. It’s not really proper sleep; too shallow because of discomfort. Reasons to not sleep: Cold, flapping tent, being at the back of the queue when bladders were given out, aircraft, bird song, sheep skulking about outside. For me daylight is a bad one as is an inability to stop the brain dwelling on the radio schedule (either what’s gone or what’s to come) and this last time frogs mating no less! Once or twice if the wind’s low, sounds from way down below like loud music or fireworks. You’re lucky if you get more than one or two hours so you’re right. Settling down is not easy. It’s all good fun though. You should have a go.
73, John

Hiya Mike,
Don’t worry about the lack of DX. The best thing was to have your company for a while and hunting in packs like wolves was quite an experience. I have heard that happening around 3.800MHz many years ago.

My error was to go on 2m and 20m-CW when I should have been on 40 SSB. Well done on the DX you got on 40. I wish I’d been there to share it but I did hear that one ZL loud and clear. Maybe my aerial would not have delivered like your vertical over that distance/ low angle.

I’ll come and see you at the rally. Hope by now you know where they’re going to put you and it’s a good pitch!
73, John

Great Mark,
If you can get to camp on a SOTA go for it. Nothing could be finer. Just take some extra string and pegs in case it’s windy.

I can see why you describe Red Screes as a staircase up from Kirkstone Pass. It took me a couple of activations before I properly GPS marked that route with all its subtle direction changes. Very steep too. I don’t like it in the dark either and fight shy of it is there’s ice.

Once in the early days through ignorance, I went straight up some steep, loose gullies to the right without seeing a path until the last bit. It was a bit hair raising and I was wouldn’t have wanted your preference - shorts that day. My knees would have been shredded.

9 to 10kg is somewhere close to what I normally carry for HF. Pack weight is the most non-linear thing I know. Anything up to 6kg, you don’t even notice. Once it gets around 10kg it begins to feel like hard work and anything above that can really ruin your day.

As for pounds, being of a generation that had to learn to use both avoirdupois and SI units, I can work in either or sometimes both, the latter being frowned upon of course.

Thanks for the QSO’s. Sorry if I was a bit surly later on. It was the hours of discomfort.
See you at the rally. I’ll look for the shirt.
73, John
PS: Sent the coil data but I think I already sent it last month? Not sure. Half my system is down. Something got accidentally disconnected.

KI6NAZ / DD5LP - Josh and Ed.
DAB Cube: Thanks for asking and many thanks to Ed for his explanation. The DAB Cube is a little pink radio that approximates to one cubic inch. It receives digital audio broadcasts with the headphone lead as the antenna. Mine charges from a 5V USB supply and it only weighs around an ounce – good for SOTA ops when you’re doing HF. Most of the broadcasts are in mono.
73, John

Above: DAD CUBE with much repaired headphones

Hi Nick,
We were keeping the 400 Club going from the Dales again. Yes, thanks for the contact with Cross Fell. Hope Dave fixed his ant. I was reading about the Helm Wind a while back in Trail mag. Now I know why it’s so cold up there on NP1.

My lad Phil and I did do an overnighter on there when he was 11 on 09-08-1990. Camped 150m E of the shelter – so the record says. 15 minutes of views followed by 15 hours of fog and 11 QSO’s on 80m 40m inc G4SSH for WAB NY63 Cumbria. Up from Kirkland – a right trek. I remember going a walk for exercise up to the shelter and back at midnight in the fog. Couldn’t relocate the tent with Phil in it. Thought I would have to start shouting and wake him up. Same tent! Great days.

Enjoy your European trip. We’re off to GM/NS again in May, LD in June and GD in Sept.
73, John

Hi Nick,
Yes, I thought something weird was going on but you were perfect on 160. Well done for ‘fixing’ it at least temporarily between the 80 and 160 skeds. You did well but you sound as if you know it like the back of your hand. We have a member of SSEG who is mad keen on ex Mil stuff - G8YQN. He is also a specialist valve merchant; the ones that guitar amps use. Booming market apparently. Sound better than solid state not that I’d know.

Pleased that you have become one of the regular 160m chasers over the past four years. Dead handy for NP activations. Keep up the good work. It’s regular chasers like you that got me the cert. A dedicated bunch.
73, John

Thanks Carolyn,
Your wrong aerial seemed just fine to me but maybe with the noise at your end it wasn’t receiving as well. You seemed to make it into the log easily enough and band condx were well good at that time of evening.

All being well I’ll see you at the rally,
73, John

Hello Brian,
Yes, the propagation was as good as I’ve heard it for some time. That’s probably because instead of coming on around dusk due to having to get back to the car, I was able to chose a better time a couple of hours into darkness. Hope I can repeat that again this year. Trouble is by late spring there can be an increased risk of lightning; something that scares me like nothing else (apart from hospitals that is).
Thanks for the chase,
73, John

Hi Colin,
You’re pretty inspiring yourself. I have not yet built my gear on the summit before logging DX with it!! That’s to say nothing of all the shiny lorries and cars.

You did right to get down. You must have a 6th sense. Maybe we all have to some degree. It’s a terrifying thing to be up high when it’s lightning. It happened to me in June 2002 on NP2. My carbon mast poles sticking up from the rucksack started sparking between them as soon as I topped out into a southerly wind. A crackling sound.

I pitched anyway but it all started a few hours later and got worse until flash and bang were much less than a second apart. I never broke camp so fast and ran down carrying the poles low to one side. As if that would save me! Fortunately I’d qualified it on 2m-FM but I also had a dipole up for 80m to try out a 1W QRP rig I’d built from an OXO and a Sudden. No QSO’s on that but it was daytime with nil sigs on the band. Plenty of big sparks off the BNC though.

Yes, you must try it again. Better and lighter now and not just the gear by the sound of it. That’s an awful lot to lose but you didn’t seem overweight when I saw you. I am 2 stones lighter that at some points in my SOTA career. It makes it a lot easier.

I’ll look out for you at the rally. Bringing Roy G4SSH. Car retest went well this morning so apart from the heater stuck full on, we’re OK.
73, John

PS: Got the email from Mark M0NOM and sent off the coil data. Thought I’d done that already. Mark is second or third interested party this year. 160m might get busy!

Hiya Victor,
What a great signal you were too. I did think at the time you must have been in the right place for skip. It sounded like 2m-FM almost.

Yes, we should be at Blackpool. Roy is coming with me. Don’t know what time we’ll be leaving but we plan to arrive just after the queue dies down. Hope we can all park.
Cu there,
73, John

Thanks again for all replies and see some of you at Blackpool


Thanks for the reply John.

Good to hear your old motor has gone through the test!

The shiny lorry goes under the hammer in Perth tomorrow - my step dad believes he’s too old to work on it now, everything is so heavy. The AC sports tourer is a bit more elegant!

Later edit.

Lorry sold 28/04/2018, new owner in Scotland.

I weighed over 15 stones in 2017 , the 2018 version is now 12 and a bit stones - putting my BMI back into ‘Healthy weight’ territory.



73, Colin

Why did you post that picture? I’ll be off to watch videos of classic lorries now on Youtube. Maybe even some Detroit Diesels and the amazing split shifting to keep them in the power band. Sad.

Thread hijack!

Ha! Yes, there’s something visceral or primeval about changing gear in older vehicles, a bit like walking into a timber yard, it’s like we’re pre-programmed to take pleasure in them. A CW contact done right is also very similar. Hope you enjoyed the YouTube excursion!