G4YSS: G/NP-008 VHF-NFD Camp-over, 07 to 08-07-16

Gt.WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008-SOTA/ VHF-NFD-IO94AD Camp-over, 7th to 8th July 2018
Issue-3 (Callsign errors & G4ZAO/P)

G4YSS (using SSEG club callsign - GX0OOO/P)
VHF-NFD on 2m, 4m & 70cm SSB
16th consecutive year for VHF-NFD on NP8
SOTA on 160m-80m & 20m CW & SSB
Overnight summit stay with Sasha the lurcher

Non-radio: BST (UTC plus 1)
Radio ops: UTC (‘z’)

IC706-2G HF-VHF-UHF 100W Transceiver with CW key (toggle switch) in microphone
Home Brew ‘Universal’ Yagi adaptable to 4-ely on 2m; 3-ely on 4m & 6m dipole (0.6kg)
7-ely Moonraker ZL-70-7 for 70cm Beam
6m x 5 section aluminium alloy/ carbon-fibre composite mast adaptable for HF or VHF
80-60-40-(30)-20m link dipole with loading coils for 160m and 1m end sticks.

IC-E90 Quad-band 5W H/H with integral 7.2V / 1.3Ah Li-Po battery (not used)
Vertical J-Pole for 2m-FM on 7mm dia x 1.32m carbon fibre composite mast

Li-Po Batteries:
Four 5Ah and two 4.5Ah with paralleling harnesses and a single 2.2Ah.
Total 31.2Ah (7.2Ah remaining at the end)

Pack weight:
Ascent: 23.02kg (50.8 pounds) including food (dog food) and 4.5 litres of fluids (1 ltr as ice). Four hexamine tabs (1.5 used). Voice keyer. Two sleeping bags & two mats.

Descent: Approx. 17kg, (38 pounds). 1 litre of water was discarded before descent.
Apart from the dog lead & treat bag, there were no hand carried items this year.
85 litre rucksack with 4.0kg of antennas, poles, flysheet on outside (included in figures)
No equipment was hand carried this year.

This was the sixteenth consecutive G4YSS/ GX0OOO/P (SSEG) VHF-NFD on Great Whernside G/NP-008, Scarborough’s closest 2,000 footer at 63 miles line of sight. Of these there have been six summit camps; 2011; 2013; 2014; 2015, 2016 and this year 2018.

With the weather settled and warm for several weeks this summer, the decision to stay overnight was easily made. For the first time that I can remember there were no threats from lightning and rain was a distant memory. Heat was the only danger and that would mean taking a lot of water, especially since there were two of us. Sasha would also need dog food, a bed and lots of little snacks to relieve the boredom of radio.

WX for both days:
The MWIS mountain weather forecast predicted that summit conditions in the Yorkshire Dales would be as follows: 19C at 2,000 feet, 25C in the valleys. Wind 5 to 10mph NW. Extensive sunshine with a little fair weather cloud.

Pack-weight 23kg/ 51 pounds:
Last year the rucksack weighed 46 pounds as against 53 pounds the year before. This time, to survive an extended summit stay, I would need more fluids than ever before. In fact I ended up carrying a gallon (4.5L) which would have to keep me and the dog going for 23 hours car to car. There is no water anywhere near the summit of this hill and this year even the summit bogs were dried up and crispy.

Furthermore, after making a 3-ely Yagi for 4m and trialling it successfully during an overnight summit camp in April, I naturally wanted to add 4m SSB to the schedule this year. It would mean packing a transverter. That created more work like changing the power leads and adding a PTT line to suit the IC706-2G plus tests.

To counter this situation I took a number of steps. One was to dispense with the need to carry up two masts, one for VHF and one for HF. In fact up until about two years ago, I used to carry three. The 5-piece was for dipole and carried on the rucksack but the other two were ¾ inch diameter aluminium poles 2.2m long. The latter were unwieldy to say the least and they had to be hand carried all the way.

It wouldn’t be half as convenient but my five section mast, normally only used for the HF dipole, would have to do the VHF beams as well. Only the bottom two sections are sturdy enough for that purpose, so I made a new 1m long base section using ¾ inch aircraft tubing, sleeved down to a carbon ground spike. That made a 3-section support for the beams with a height of about 3m.

I had to find a way of pinning them all together to stop rotation. ‘R’ clips and a couple of holes provided the answer to that. The dipole would end up 1m higher but that is no detriment, especially when 160m comes into the mix. There was a third advantage in that one of the higher sections could be carried inside the new base unit. The weight penalty is 260gm but that is better than the 550gm each for the old 2.2m tubes.

I set to work on the 4m band 3-ely beam, adding holes to take four elements for the 2m band and making the driven elements extendible to form a dipole for 6m. The extra aluminium welding rods didn’t add too much weight but this was already a rather delicate construction and more tests were required.

Hot weather meant that I could forget the inner tent and just rely on the flysheet. I would need to carry two mats and two sleeping bags so the airbed was thrown out along with my winter fleece, in favour of a lighter top weighing 285gm. Sasha wouldn’t need a coat either.

I tried to aim for 50 pounds max. but one way and another it crept up to almost 51 (23kg). I have carried more up summits in the past, once 61 pounds (28kg). That’s when we had lead-acids, now replaced by Li-Po’s but believe me, I wasn’t looking forward to carrying this lot up in hot weather. On the plus side, you don’t have to suffer for long and by early evening it might just have cooled down a bit.

We set off from Scarborough on Saturday 7th July 2018 at 16:00, driving via Thirsk & Masham (74 miles) and arriving at the top of Park Rash at 18:30. A large herd of cattle lined the route for the last half-mile so to avoid losing my door mirrors for a third time, I parked at Tor Dike (SD 9861 7567 - 495m - 1,624ft ASL) on the Kettlewell side of the cattle grid. All very well for the car but this was to cost the dog sore legs 24 hours later. The first job was to feed her, leaving me just her breakfast to carry. Once the poles, beams and tent were transferred from roof rack to rucksack, we were underway in sunshine at 18:41 .

My offer to dog sit while Sasha’s owner organised a barbecue in York, was made two months ago. It would be interesting to see how I could get the dog safely up NP8 when there were sheep grazing at intervals. There were also two stiles to worry about. Sasha weighs 28kg so I wasn’t overly confident about lifting her over with 23kg’s on my back.

After a slow, hot slog up the gullies, we arrived at the first stile. I climbed it first and encouraged Sasha to jump it. She tentatively got onto the step, put her front paws on the top rung and jumped without much difficulty. One down, one to go.

The gradient eases here and the cool breeze had more effect as the dog trotted along freely, apart from where there were sheep. Caution was necessary as Sasha shows interest albeit in a playful way. The trouble is she only plays rough.

After passing two muddy areas where there were springs (no clean water) the large summit cairn hove into view. Though sunny, the breeze was quite strong and views were great.

The SOTA QTH is a good furlong NE of the trig point. The dry ground was easily covered in under ten minutes but in the end, I had to lift Sasha over the fence. She tried to climb the stile but it was too small. Neither could she get underneath the gate, which had a combination padlock on it. The technique was to first climb over myself then lean over to lift the dog, whilst taking care not to overbalance with the heavy load on my back. Ascent overall is 217m (712ft) and distance one way is about 2.8km (1.7miles) plus 270m to the camping place from the trig.

Setting Up:
As is often the case, sheep were confined to the lower slopes today so I could safely allow Sasha some freedom. Filled with exuberance and after a short rest, she tore off at great speed to do a few orbits of the immediate area, while I tried to find a flat pitch. As usual, that was a hope destroyed. Everywhere is lumpy. Also, to save weight and because of the warm weather, it was flysheet only which gives bugs, spiders and small flies, free reign (or is it free rein?). Six pegs secure a poly ground sheet.

The routine with the aerials was different again this year. Firstly the link dipole was deployed, this time on a 6m mast (the usual 5m plus the new base section). The two 160m loading coils were added at the 40m break points and the whole system tuned for operation on 1.832 and 1.846 MHz. The dipole was then taken off the mast and laid aside with the upper mast sections for use after dark. This freed up the lower sections for use on VHF.

The plan was to give out points on 50 MHz until VHF-NFD ended on that band at 11pm local but it turned out to be impossible due to a very high VSWR on the horizontal half-wave dipole I’d prepared. This was simply an extended version of the 4m driven element on the universal beam. I couldn’t discover the cause but maybe one of the outer half-metre long sections was not making proper contact. The element arrangement was changed resulting in a four ely Yagi for the 144 MHz Band. I would have to fill the time before Top Band somehow and 2m seemed the best second choice.

In case it was needed, the 2m-FM J-Pole was set up on a short mast at the other side of the tent. That completed the setting up which took well over an hour.

GREAT WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008, 704m (2,310ft), 6 pts for SOTA. 19:31 on Saturday 7th July to 16:49 on Sunday 8th July 2018. Temp: Max 20C (10C overnight). 8 mph NW wind dropping to 2mph at 10pm and zero between 11pm and 2am. Sunny both days with some fair weather cloud from 10am on Sunday. Good Vodafone coverage throughout. WAB: SE07. LOC: IO-94-AD. (TP-0703 was not valid; outside the 30m rule).

Index to operating 2018:
Times: UTC (Chronological order)

Saturday – NFD & SOTA:

  1. 50 SSB - Nil QSO’s from 20:20z NFD (Hi SWR)
  2. 144 SSB - 15 QSO’s from 20:55z NFD
  3. 1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:00z SOTA
  4. 1.846 SSB - 7 QSO‘s from 22:10z SOTA

Sunday – NFD & SOTA:

  1. 3.557 CW - 8 QSO’s from 07:16z. SOTA
  2. 3.765 SSB - 7 QSO‘s from 07:39z. SOTA
  3. 70 MHz SSB - 16 QSO’s from 08:20z NFD
  4. 144 SSB - 17 QSO’s from 10:00z NFD
  5. 432 SSB - 6 QSO’s from 11:50z NFD
  6. 144 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 13:14z NFD
  7. 145.400 FM - 1 QSO at 14:01z (G4SSH)
  8. 14.052.6 SSB - 8 QSO’s from 14:17z NFD
  9. 14.273 SSB - 5 QSO’s from 14:32 SOTA


SATURDAY 07-07-18

  1. 50 MHz SSB - Nil QSO’s from 20:20z NFD
    Due to an antenna fault as yet unknown, nothing was achieved on 6m. The 6m half-wave dipole seemed to be receiving reasonably well. A couple of stations could be heard, one of them at around 59. Every time I tried to call him, the SWR shot up to FSD, apart from a couple of times when it was 1.2:1 for a second or so.

When I made this antenna, I colour coded the 4m elements at the ends with paint. There appeared to be sufficient overlap but maybe the paint was stopping contact with the stainless steel extenders, which are held on with short lengths mains cable sheathing. This worked well in trials but I had to give up after a few adjustments didn’t improve matters.

Probably the antenna fault was to blame but there didn’t seem to be more than two or three signals on the entire band at that time. Maybe 6m was closed for long distances and therefore considered to be not worth the effort. A clue to this is the fact that NFD finishes at 22:00z on this band.

  1. 144 MHz SSB - 15 QSO’s from 20:55z NFD
    6m’s loss was 2m’s gain. QSO’s made this evening would not have to be made tomorrow, so time was being saved.

With 50 Watts to the 4-ely Yagi, I logged: GI4GTY/P; PA1T; M0NFD; G5LK/P; GW3ZTT/P; G3CKR/P; GM3HAM/P; MM0FMF/P Andy; GW3SRT/P; EI9E; G3ZME/P; G0OLE/P; G0FBB/P; M0HRF/P and G4ZAP/P.

If I heard him clearly, M0HRF gave his location as SOTA G/SE-001. He could have been using a generator for all I knew, so I won’t claim it as an S2S.

All stations were chased on their own frequencies. While working GM3HAM, I heard a shout in the background. This turned out to be our very own SOTA op and MT member, Andy MM0FMF, after my summit. We had a brief chat before exchanging RST’s and Serial numbers.

Locators Worked:
IO Squares: 62-74-82-91-93 and 94
JO Squares: 01 and 33
Highest serial number came from PA1T – 358.

  1. 1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:00z SOTA
    I had to go out and reconfigure the mast for 160m, removing the beam, laying it on the grass then adding the two upper sections and dipole. Here was an example of the disadvantage of having only one mast available.

Top Band was qualified with CW from the alerted time of 11pm local. I worked: G4SSH Roy (2 x 449); G3RDQ David (2 x 599); G3RMD Frank 2 x 599) and PA0SKP Sake (599/ 579). Power was 100W to the inverted ‘V’ which at 6m AGL was a metre higher than usual, thanks to the new base section. Ends were at 1m.

  1. 1.846 SSB - 7 QSO‘s from 22:10z SOTA
    There were lots of nasty noises on SSB plus some SSB QRM from a Russian contest station off to one side. My fault; he was probably there first but calling intermittently.

The log: G3RMD Frank (2 x 59); G8VNW Nick (2 x 59); MM0XPZ Steve (57/ ‘you’re under the S9 noise level but I can copy you’); G4OBK Phil (55/ 44); G8ADD Brian (55/ 57); SA4BLM Lars (56/ 33) and EI3GLB Michael in Co. Mayo (2 x 57).

Full available power was used again but that didn’t make the QSO with MM0XPZ in Greenock any easier. From first hearing Steve call in, a further 15 minutes passed before he could finally be logged. Considering that the further away stations were strongest, Phil and Roy were probably too close for good signals. Nick was sufficiently close that he didn’t have to rely on skip.

The last act before retiring was to go out and remove the Top Band coils in readiness for 80m first thing in the morning. Sasha stayed in her sleeping bag; a good choice as it was quite cool out there by then.

One wonderful thing about overnight stays on summits besides sunsets, sunrises and starlight, are the views. You can often see the lights of distant cities and conurbations evidently Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and York, in this case. I just had to stand and stare for a minute but photos don’t do justice to this kind of vista.

‘Good Night’:
No not really but maybe not as bad as the overnighters of April and May. It wasn’t particularly cold, especially after midnight when the wind speed decreased to zero for two or three hours, so our two thin sleeping bags were adequate. The dog slept well with her head on me, making it harder to turn over. Great Whernside’s lumps and bumps combined with keys, a camera and a mobile phone in trouser pockets, all conspired to eliminate any quality sleep but at least I had the luxury of a blow-up pillow from Tesco’s.

SUNDAY 08-07-18:
We (or more accurately ‘I’) got up at 7am, whence half a pint of hot tea was brewed on the welding wire stove. The great reviver went down well but two hex. tabs were needed because the latter kept falling off the support.

The grass was still mostly green but the summit was drier than I’ve ever seen it before. It’s normally audibly soggy but you could stand in the middle of what, in previous years were bogs, without the slightest sign of moisture. If it’s ever this dry again I will set up the stove on a large patch of gravel about 30m away .

By now Sasha was running around the summit, full of the joys of a sunny but still cool morning. The smelly dog meat and biscuits were enjoyed while I held the bowl.

  1. 3.557 CW - 8 QSO’s from 07:16z. SOTA
    With 40 Watts to the dipole, I managed to log the following early risers: G4SSH (Roy right on cue - 599/ 559); G4OOE Nick also in Scarborough (599/ 589); DJ5HAV; G3INZ John (579/ 559); G4OBK Phil (59 plus 30dB/ 599); GW4VPX Allan ; G3RMD and ON7QB Donald (599/ 579).

80m was working adequately but as far as more QSO’s in the log are concerned, I guess the issue was the time on a Sunday morning.

  1. 3.765 SSB - 7 QSO‘s from 07:39z. SOTA
    By the time I’d checked that 3.760 was clear and gone back to announce it in CW, there was someone calling CQ on it. This situation creates maximum inconvenience because Roy picked up the QSY and spotted it. I think I broke in on 3.760 and shouted ‘five up.’

Keeping the power set to 40 Watts, the following stations were worked: G8ADD Brian (59/ 57); G4IAR (59 plus 20dB/ 58 – Dave was whispering so as not to wake the family). Next in was G3RMD Frank (2 x 59 QSB); MM0XPZ Steve (59/ 56); G3RQL Don (2 x 59); G3RDQ David (56/ 55) and GI4ONL Victor (59/ 57) just sneaking in as I was about to QSY. QSB was deep and quite fast.

The day was hotting up rapidly so I located the seven 18 inch canes, stuck them in the ground and inserted the rear and side brailing pegs into the top ends. That has the effect of lifting the tent’s sides a foot off the ground to let the breeze blow through. It’s a lightweight tent and the sun’s rays can easily penetrate it, so to deepen the shade I tied a sleeping bag on the outside. Ah, life was good again!

  1. 70 MHz SSB - 16 QSO’s from 08:20z NFD
    I regarded this as the ‘star turn’ and it was only the second time I’d used 4m-SSB. With the two top sections and dipole removed, the universal boom was reconfigured as a 3-ely for 70 MHz. Great care was taken in connecting up the 10W transverter and making absolutely certain that the IC706-2G (the exciter) was set to 28 MHz and the lowest RF output power available (setting ‘L’). I had no SWR facilities on this band so a lot of trust had to be put in the home-brew beam.

Stations worked on 4m-SSB: GW8ASD; G3TPW (Steve at Swindon near Malton); G0OLE (Goole Club); G5LK/P; GM4ZUK/P; G2XV/P; GM6MD/P; G1EZF; G4MBC; G3RCW/P (Worksop); G3TBK/P; G4FOH/P; G4ATH/P; G3SVJ/P; GM3HAM/P and M0HRF.

Steve Webb G3TPW and I had a chat for about 15 minutes. I know Steve quite well from local 2m-FM QSO’s and his talks at SARS but he is known to many as the inventor of the Cobweb compact HF antenna, among other things. Mentioning that I’d seen his antenna advertised in the American ARRL QST magazine, I asked if he received any royalties. I was a little taken aback at first but on reflection, not really that surprised when the answer was ‘No.’ Remarking that they’d even pinched his name, Steve replied that this was not the only company cashing in on his ideas.

Steve told me that he’d been to one of my (rare) talks at the club that had inspired him to go portable. When he said ‘portable’ he meant it but possibly not in the normal sense. In fact it might better be called mobile because he walks along with a strangely shaped antenna connected to an FT817 and dragging a counterpoise.

Six QSO’s into this session was as far as the 2 x 4.5 Ah battery pair could take me. This was swapped for two 5 Ah’s also in parallel.

Locators Worked:
IO Squares: 74-75-83-84-86-91-92-93 & 94
JO Squares: 01 & 02
Highest serial number came from G3SVJ – 56.

  1. 144 SSB - 17 QSO’s from 10:00z NFD
    This was the second of three 2m-NFD sessions, the first being Saturday evening’s. However, the main purpose of this QSY was to work my son Phil on Irton Moor, Scarborough. For the purpose a frequency of 144.345 was used. It’s easy to remember and is actually the WAB channel for this band and mode.

I heard Phil calling me immediately on tuning in and we soon established contact at 59 both ways. In fact I was able to turn the power down to a couple of Watts.

Phil, accompanied by Bev and Roxy (their dog) was running 50 Watts into a 7-ely Innov beam; the same aerial that had got him 72 QSO’s from Ravenscar in the two and a half hour RSGB 2m contest evening, the week before. Conditions then however, were much better than today’s. We exchanged information about one another’s VHF-NFD successes and failures.

Now with 50 Watts to the 4-ely Yagi, I went on to log: M0MDA Mick in Leeds; GM0FRC/P; G1ZJQ; G3RMD Frank in Cheltenham; G0RQL Don in Devon; G0SAC/P; DJ5KW/P; G4NPH/P; G3PYE/P; G8VNW Nick in Threshfield; M0PVA Mick in Gisburn; G4HCC/P; G4HZG; M0NFI; G3WKS/P and MI6XZZ/P.

Half these stations were chased on their own frequencies, the other half were on a fixed frequency of either 144.345 or 144.234 MHz, attracted by my voice keyer, ‘CQ Contest, CQ SOTA, Golf X-Ray Zero Oscar Oscar Oscar Portable.’

Locators Worked:
IO Squares: 70-81-83-84-85-91-93-94 & 95.
JO Squares: 01-02 and 31.
Highest serial number came from DJ5KW/P – 306.

  1. 432 SSB - 6 QSO’s from 11:50z NFD
    I had intended fitting the 70cm beam to the mast earlier, positioning it under the universal beam, but that didn’t come easy or quick when the elements for 2m and 4m are so delicate. I simply swapped 144 for 432, laying the 144 MHz beam on the grass for later use.

Using 20 Watts from the IC706-2G into the Moonraker ZL-70-7 seven ely. beam, I worked just six stations as follows: G0OLE in IO93PX; G3TBK/P in IO93RA; G5LK/P in JO01QD; M0NFD/P Clive in IO94MJ; MM0GPZ/P Gordon also using 20 Watts from IO85AK and during a lengthy session when the QSB peaks allowed, DF0MU in JO32PC.

The latter was a very hard won QSO. He was coming in at 55 and that was generous. He can’t have been using massive power or he wouldn’t have heard me at all. As it was the QSB would take me down time after time with only half the my particulars across. I must have gone back to try at least five times but eventually he got my callsign. Once that was in the margin of his log, it was a simple matter to try to get the RS, Ser. No & LOC over little by little.

He seemed pleased in the end and I certainly was both pleased and relieved that the effort was finally over. If he’d been busy, I wouldn’t have hassled him with this but he wasn’t missing much; mainly calling CQ over and over without anybody going back. I think he only gave out about three serial numbers in the half hour I spent chasing him.

What an epic effort but still only six QSO’s on 70cm? That was my worst effort yet and it took 50 minutes!

Locators Worked:
IO Squares: 85-93 & 94
JO Squares: 01 & 32
Highest serial number came from DF0MU – 261

  1. 144 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 13:14z NFD
    This was the final 45 minutes of NFD and as always, I wanted to finish on 2m. That meant another sortie outside to swap the antennas.

With the usual 50 Watts and 4-ely, I worked the following stations: DF0DA; GB3SSB; M0KCB/P Darius S2S on G/NP-001 Cross Fell; G3SQQ; G0TUM/P on Otley Chevin; M5DWI; MX0HFC/P John; near Hull; G8HXE near Buxton; G7KSE/P Alex S2S on G/LD-001 Scafell Pike ; G6IPU/P and finally M0NOM/P Mark.

Only DF0DA was worked on his own frequency. The remainder came steadily in on a fixed frequency of 144.233 MHz, spotted via my mobile phone.

The second battery pair gave up four QSO’s from the end of this session and was exchanged for an identical pair of 5 Ah Li-Po’s. These lasted until the end of the activation.

Locators Worked:
IO Squares: 84-86 & 93
JO Squares: 02 & 30
Highest serial number came from DF0DA – 331
Two SOTA S2S’s

  1. 145.400 FM - 1 QSO at 14:01z (G4SSH)
    A 50 Watt call from the IC706 to the J-Pole brought in Roy on sked. This had been prearranged the night before and its purpose was to get spotted on 20m for SOTA. This is usually essential due to almost non existent EE phone signals on this and neighbouring summit Buckden Pike. However, since last field day I have swapped to Vodafone and the change is astonishing. I was able to get messages off at will throughout the summit stay and occasionally used the phone to self spot. The reverse can happen of course but Vodafone have my vote when if comes to NP8!

No matter, Roy and I were able to catch up on our respective day’s events and he spotted me on 20m after a delay of ten minutes needed to pack up the beams and put up the dipole for the final time.

  1. 14.052.6 SSB - 8 QSO’s from 14:17z NFD
    The final band at last and not much time to spare. Transmitting with a power of 60 Watts to the dipole and 100 Watts for later QSO’s, who should I work first but Roy G4SSH. Unexpected short skip with perhaps a little ground wave/ semi line-of-sight thrown in, allowed an exchange of 579/ 339.

Roy’s spot did the trick as follows: OZ4RT John; SA4BLM Lars; G0FVH David and EA2DT Manuel. Next I was called from a nearby summit. This was G4ZAO/P S2S G/NP-032 Cracoe Fell 15km to the south of me. Dave, who is a fellow and recent SARS member, lives in Scarborough. Because it was on 20m-CW, logging Cracoe Fell was somewhat unexpected. No doubt Dave & I will speak about this QSO when we meet for Hornsea quiz night next week.

The S2S was followed by: SP6GNK Piotr and UR5UEY Cheslav (Ukraine) and the majority of reports were 599 both ways. Others were 559 or 579 and I got 229 from Polska.

  1. 14.273 SSB - 5 QSO’s from 14:32 SOTA
    The intention was to do this on 14.285 but someone beat me to it by a few seconds. I had to self spot the nearest clear frequency which was 14.273.

Starting at 14:32z and finishing at 14:42, five callsigns were logged: 2E0DYU Brian - Worthing; M0PLS/M Jack stationary in a traffic jam on the M4-J15 (56/ 44); ON5WS Mark in NW. Belgium (59 plus 10dB/ 59); ON4CVL Lieven on an FT817 (56/ 58) and the final QSO of the day, G7AEY Dave in NW Kent using 100W from an IC718 (59/ 55).

QRT 15:44 BST & Descent:
That was it. I would have loved to put on 2m-FM and there was more than sufficient battery capacity remaining. I could even have given it 50 Watts to the 4-ely turned vertically but time was pressing. Besides, it had been a long double day not just for me but for Sasha too.

I never look forward to the next stage; it’s too much like hard work. Looking around, you wonder how all this kit fitted into the rucksack in the first place and how could it possibly go back? Having got it repacked it you think about the fact that in another three hours it’ll all have to come back out again. Despite the apparent futility, there’s no choice but to get on with it. On the plus side and because of the good weather, the task took only an hour this year.

Though the sun wasn’t shining all the time now, the flysheet was left until last, as it was the only shade available. From the 4.5 litres brought up the day before, a surplus litre of water which had originally been ice, had to be discarded. Considering how the summer has been so far, that little patch of grass would have been very grateful.

Thinking primarily about the dog, all that remained now was to get safely back down to the car without incident. We walked off the summit at 16:49 BST, arriving back at the road by 17:33. Unfortunately, the journey didn’t go quite to plan. I had to lift Sasha over the top fence, though I got her to jump another immediately to the left of the stile, lower down. She took off after a rabbit which luckily was at the remote side of a 6 foot wall, so as a precaution I put her on the lead for the sheep and electric fence that we had to pass.

On reaching the road, I must have let my guard down. With just 5 metres left to the car and with me bending down to pick her up, she decided without warning to try and jump the cattle grid. Disaster! Though her front paws landed on a bar, her back legs shot down between two of them. She didn’t yelp but it must have hurt. She ended up with cuts on her back legs and lower haunches.

After 24 hours of good behaviour and no problems, I have to go and let her injure herself in the final 20 seconds of the journey. It could have been worse of course but the incident rather took the edge off the post SOTA euphoria that I normally ‘suffer’ from.

Back at the car, the 2 litre bottle of ice bubble-wrapped inside a cardboard box, had done its job well. Both of us were able to have a nice cold drink and some food before driving home. The 74 mile journey via the A648 and Sutton Bank took from 17:50 to 19:58. Then all I had to do was put everything away. With tentage to hang up, groundsheets to wash and all manner of other things, that usually takes a few days.



VHF-NFD discussion:
65 serial numbers were given out for VHF-NFD contacts. Most were on 2m and 4m, 70cm being a pathetic effort this year. Unusually and because I had SSB, I didn’t work any 4m-FM. At least this year I got into Europe. The furthest stations worked were in JO30 and IO62.

Much the same as in previous years, with minor exceptions, VHF band conditions seemed fairly flat. When I worked the Goole club G0OLE on Saturday evening, they remarked that there seemed to be an impenetrable curtain across the south of England and Europe. I didn’t really notice that on the Sunday; in fact I managed to work into Germany twice on 2m and once on 70cm.

This year took the record for remarks about the club callsign. ‘Tongue twister,’ ‘mouthful’ and the like. This never comes over in a bad way however and it’s never taken badly either. In fact I like the attention because it gives me a chance to explain which club it represents. As far as I know I couldn’t put an entry in with a club call but I have never felt the need to. My agenda is always just to give out points and enjoy the overall experience, though I have been known to put in a check log a couple of times. Trouble is, if a check log has errors in it, I worry that it could detract from someone’s entry and cost them points.

This was my first NFD with 4m-SSB capability and after trialing them on an overnighter from NP4 in April, I can say that the 10W Ukrainian transverter combined with a home-brew 3-ely Yagi, has proved a winning combination. If weight considerations ever forced me into a choice of two bands from three, it would be 70cm that got dropped.

6m was a disaster. Despite careful trials prior to the FSD weekend, nothing was worked on there because of an antenna failure, as yet undiagnosed. There was also the feeling that the band was a bit on the quiet side, at least at the time I was listening on it.

The home made voice keyer saved a lot of work by calling CQ for me again. It is not wired to the rig. Rather the PTT’d mic is laid across it before triggering. A speaker delivers audio to the mic head. It’s crude but effective with the advantage that it can be used with any rig. It does sound a tiny bit muffled to me but stations were coming in with the correct callsign most of the time.

The peaty top was very dry this year and I fretted that it would be difficult to install the mast deeply enough. There was no need to worry, although if you turn the beam too much, you end up with sore hands as a preliminary to blisters.

Every year I have a moan about this. It reared its head again but as well as the radio, at least I had Sasha to distract me from it. In years gone by, I tried a small folding stool. It was a bit heavy but a comparative luxury until it disappeared from the summit. I have tried airbeds tied into seats with rope, a pole on the ground as a backrest etc.

This year I took a rope loop tied to a carbon rod which was pushed into the peat beyond the rig. The plan was to lean back in the the loop with it round my shoulders. This arrangement helped to ease the lower back discomfort but that was replaced by the rope cutting into my shoulders. It didn’t last long. Also the blow-up pillow was a bit unstable for sitting on. Without a massive weight penalty, it would seem you can’t win.

I had no regrets about taking Sasha. I’m always a bit apprehensive regarding sheep, running away etc but she was very well behaved and great company. She never went more than 30m from the tent apart from when she was on an early morning walk with me. She ran around the summit but never walked on any equipment nor dragged any wires. In the tent she was careful where she walked and never knocked anything over or pinched any food. Once during the night she was frightened when a sudden gust of wind flapped the tent but she was soon calmed down.

She got little packages from time to time. A bit of tuna, cubes of corned beef, cheese or a dog treat and lots of attention from me. I thought this would relieve the boredom of too much radio but I think she was quite happy, intermittently sun and shade bathing. I regret letting her down with the cattle grid incident but apart from taking more care crossing that and accepting the obvious weight penalty, I wouldn’t hesitate to take her again.

160m SOTA:
Apart from the shear joy of overnighting on a summit, this was the reason to stay over. Propagation after 22:00z on Saturday evening was good enough to reach Eire and the Netherlands with good reports and Sweden with a marginal one. Signal strengths for the closer stations were somewhat down unless you were (like G8VNW) too close for it to matter.

Judging by the 599 and 59 reports, the optimum skip seemed to be running to the Midlands and south of England. MM0XPZ Steve almost failed but perseverance from both ends won the day in the end. Here QRP would have had no chance but for seven of the eleven QSO’s, 100W was probably much more than was required. As is too often the case, static crashes and general QRN made it a bit more difficult.

There was no Sunday morning 160m session. To be really effective, I would have had to run it very early this time of year and that’s not fair to chasers who have stayed up late on Saturday night. Thank you to all those 160m enthusiasts who supported the activation.

80m SOTA:
Outside of Top Band, the reason for being there was to put on VHF but I still wanted to give a chance to the regulars up and down the country. This is where 80m came in handy by reaching G, GW, GM, ON and DL. Signals were mainly strong. In fact Phil G4OBK was 30 over the nine to me with G4IAR not far behind him despite whispering so as not to wake the household up. ‘Have a great time in 5B4 Dave.’

20m SOTA:
Thinking that mid afternoon might be a good time to work transatlantic, I was a little disappointed when it didn’t happen. However, I did get my friend Roy G4SSH in CW, Dave G4ZAO/P from the radio club and a few more ‘G’s besides. Other than that 20m was performing a lot like you’d expect 40m to; getting into Europe as far as Ukraine and down to Iberia. Since half the stations worked were SOTA chasers, this was a worthwhile final effort before leaving.

In 2016 Vodafone mobile phone coverage was unreliable; sometimes a full scale signal but more often nothing. EE was almost non-existent in previous years. I can’t vouch for EE but for some reason Vodafone was almost 100% reliable this year. Perhaps they have been referring to their coverage map and trying to make improvements.

As for EE, I’m reliably informed that they have accepted a contract to provide something like 95% UK coverage for the emergency services; a challenge indeed. We’ll see what happens.

Battery utilisation and the IC706-2G:
A total of 31.2 Ah was carried but only 24Ah was used; food for thought when weight saving is so important. However, it’s so hard to predict and I’d hate to run out when there’s the chance of a few more contacts or something unusual. The IC-E90 wasn’t even switched on.

The IC706-2G receiver takes in over an amp and that’s with back-lighting and button lighting switched off. Even at the reduced voltages when using 11.1V nom (12.6V fully charged) batteries it still can take up to 16 amps when set to full power and 10 amps for full power on 2m. It’s why I normally supply it from two paralleled 5Ah Li-Po’s.

Bench tests have shown that the lower the power the worse the efficiency. Like most other 100W rigs, it takes something like 5 amps to produce 5 Watts. For some reason, my example frequently refuses to transmit on 2m, which is why I wrap it in aluminium mesh and ground it but it never missed a beat this time.

When thinking about protective clothing, tentage and sleeping bags, warm, fine weather with low wind speeds equates to a lighter rucksack.

Water is heavy but with hot days and two consumers, I didn’t feel like skimping. The top was completely dried out but according to the map, Stone Beck to the east could be a possible water source. However, it’s been so dry lately that for all I knew, it might have not have been flowing for the first mile. I did see two boggy areas on the path down to the car where there are obviously springs but nothing looked remotely potable.

The 18 inch canes, employed for lifting the sides and rear of the tent for ventilation were a Godsend and a sleeping bag covering the sunny side added useful shade. With no inner tent you can’t afford to be squeamish about insect invasion, though apart from a few spiders and small flies, it was not much of a problem.

Lapwings and Curlews, sometimes flying in the dark were almost ever-present but luckily there were no sheep on top. The only living things of interest to eagle-eyed Sasha, were occasional groups of walkers at the trig point but we got no visitors.

QSO Summary:
Saturday: 26
Sunday: 79
TOTAL: 105

VHF-NFD Contest:
2m SSB: 43
4m SSB: 16
70cm SSB: 6
TOTAL (Contest): 65

Non-Contest / SOTA:
160m CW: 4
160m SSB: 7
80m CW: 8
80m SSB: 7
20m CW: 8
20m CW: 5
2m FM: 1
Total (SOTA): 40
Grand Total: 105

Ascent/ Distance (round trip) - Revised:
217m (712ft)/ distance 5.5km (3.4 miles up & down) + 2 x 270m (to/ from tent position).

Walking: 18:41
Arr. Trig Point: 19:31
Camping place / QTH: 19:38 Saturday to 16:49 on Sunday 8th July
Descent to car: 17:33 Sunday
Drive home: 17:50 to 19:57 Sunday

Up: 50 min. Down: 44 min. Summit time: 21hr-18min. Car to Car: 22hr-52min.
Distance Driven: 147 miles. Total driving time: 4hr-18min

Thank you to: G4SSH; G4IAR; G0UUU and G3RMD for spots. Thanks to Roy G4SSH for 2m-FM liaison. Thanks to all SOTA chasers and contest stations for contributing to another enjoyable VHF-NFD on Great Whernside and thanks to Sasha for the company.

73, John G4YSS
(Using Scarborough Special Events Group callsign; GX0OOO/P)


Above: Cattle which lick all your windows and rip off your door mirrors. G/NP-008 Gt.Whernside in the background.

Above: Windows and door mirrors remain undisturbed if you park here. Sasha at the cattle grid which was to injure her 24 hours later.

Above: On the way up, steepest part behind us. Stile at SD 9963 7522

Above: Sasha negotiating the stile at SD 9963 7522

Above: Saturday evening on the way up NP8. Easy path before summit.

Above: Summit of Great Whernside SOTA G/NP-008. Saturday evening.

Above: Looking back at the summit on the way across to the camping place. Locked gate and stile at SE 0025 7392. Sasha declined to jump the fence.

Above: The worst is over. At the camping place - SE 0036 7405 Gt.Whernside on Saturday evening.

Above: VHF-NFD QTH on Gt.Whernside G/NP-008. Tent, mast with HF dipole & 2m-FM J-Pole.

Above: VHF-NFD QTH on Gt.Whernside G/NP-008. 4m/ 2m beam rigged as a 6m dipole. High VSWR - no QSO’s!

Above: Gt.Whernside G/NP-008. Sasha keeping warm.

Above: VHF-NFD-NP8. 4m/ 2m beam rigged as a 2m x 4-ely beaming right to left. Long element (right) is the 4m-band reflector, left in for weight balance.

Above: Gt.Whernside G/NP-008 just after sunset looking approx. NW. Top Band dipole ‘parked’ for later use.

Above: Gt.Whernside G/NP-008. 4am Sunday morning.

Above: VHF-NFD-NP8. 4m/ 2m beam rigged as a 4m x 3-ely beaming right to left (south).

Above: Gt.Whernside Sunday. Tent brailings lifted up on 18" (0.5m) canes for ventilation.

Above: VHF-NFD-NP8. Transmitting on 70.233 MHz with the Ukrainian 10W transverter as recommended by Andy MM0FMF.

Above: VHF-NFD-NP8. 4m/ 2m beam rigged as a 2m x 4-ely again, beaming left to right. The long element (left) is the 4m-band reflector, left in for weight balance. Sleeping bag gives maximum shade.

Above: VHF-NFD-NP8. Working DF0MU in JO32PC on 70cm-SSB with 20W to a 7-ely. IC706-2G with alumesh wrapping.

Sasha going for maximum shade and maximum comfort (as dogs do)

Above: VHF-NFD-NP8. Moonraker ZL70-7 beam. 7-ely ZL Special for 70cm.

Above: SOTA from G/NP-008. Just after the 100W/ 20m-SSB session. GX0OOO/P now QRT.

Above: Somehow it all went back in or on the rucksack. Items carried outside: Tent, 2m/4m beam/6m dipole; 5 section - 6m mast; 18" canes and 70cm ZL beam. 4kg in all.

Above: Great Whernside. Sunday afternoon descent down gullies.

Above: Almost down. Rabbit detection system in operation, 10 minutes before the chase. The 16th VHF-NFD from NP8 is over.


It was really good to be able to have a chat with you, John, this time whilst we were both active. We were a smaller crew this year, just 8 of us and that made setting up harder and required stricter adherence to operating schedules. But you were a damn fine signal on 2m John. No real DX for us on 2m but it was nice to get some SpE on 4m and work EA8DBM in IL18 square

Here’s Dan checking the boom clamp on 2m.


The ground was baked hard. Normally there is plenty of give that just a roll up foam mattress is quite OK to sleep on with the soft earth. This time it was like concrete and 2 foam mattress and my new Vango self-inflating mattress meant it was still far too hard to be comfortable.

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Hi John

Thanks for the reports, pics and the cw contact and don’t get to concerned about Sasha…dogs will be dogs…been there done that :slight_smile:

73 Allan GW4VPX

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