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G4YSS: G/NP-008 VHF-NFD Campover, 2&3-07-16

Gt.WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008-SOTA/ VHF-NFD-IO94AD Campover, 2nd & 3rd July 2016 - Part 1 of 2

G4YSS (using SSEG club callsign - GX0OOO/P)
VHF-NFD on 2m, 4m & 70cm (14th consecutive year for VHF-NFD on NP8)
SOTA on 160m-80m & 40m
Overnight Summit Stay - Unaccompanied

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

EQUIPMENT:
IC706-2G HF-VHF-UHF 100W Transceiver with CW key (toggle switch) in microphone
3-ely SOTA-Beam for 2m SSB on 19mm dia x 2.7m aluminium alloy mast
10-ely parabeam for 70cm on 19mm dia x 2.7m aluminium alloy mast
Vertical J-Pole for 2m-FM on 7mm dia x 1.32m carbon fibre composite mast
Vertical half-wave for 4m-FM on 7mm dia x 1.32m carbon fibre composite mast
80-60-40-(30)-20m link dipole on 5m aluminium alloy/ carbon fibre composite mast
Loading coils with slug tuning for 1.8 to 2.0 MHz in 3.5 MHz centre loaded dipole

IC-E90 Quad-band 5W H/H powered externally
(Integral 7.2V / 1.3Ah Li-Po battery was not used)

Li-Po Batteries:
2 x 5Ah; 1 x 9Ah; 1 x 6Ah; 1 x 4.2Ah - new Floureon derated from 5.5Ah after tests. Paralleling harnesses.
Total 29.2Ah ‘99%’ depleted.

Pack weights:
85 litre rucksack with 4.2kg of antennas, poles, flysheet on outside (included in figures)
Ascent: 20.9kg (46.1 pounds) including food, 2 x 0.5ltr ice, 1ltr water, 2 x 0.5ltr fresh orange, 0.25ltr electrolytes, airbed, 4 x hexamine tabs (2.3 used), voice keyer.
Descent: 17.7kg, (39 pounds). 1 litre of water was discarded before descent.
Masts for VHF & UHF beams and twelve 18 inch canes are hand-carried (1kg).

Introduction:
This was the fourteenth consecutive G4YSS/ GX0OOO/P VHF-NFD on Great Whernside. Of these there have been five summit camps; 2011; 2013; 2014; 2015 and this year 2016. It’s almost always the case that the decision to stay overnight is not easily made; the weather in general and the lightning risk in particular, being the critical factors.

WX - Saturday:
The mountain weather forecast suggested, ‘Heavy showers with a risk of lightning’ but the BBC forecast didn’t decide until very late, just when these would end. Wind speeds would be quite high, ‘Westerly; increasing to 35mph on higher tops in the afternoon.’ That could make single-handed tent pitching potentially difficult if it continued. However by evening wind speeds were expected to decrease. Daytime temperature at 600m was predicted at 9C for the weekend but that would decrease overnight.

WX - Sunday:
Sunday was going to be the better day with winds 20 to 25mph and a low risk of showers. I made a late decision to drive across to the start point on Saturday afternoon and wait out the weather. If there was still time to get up and set up before dark I would go. If not I could sleep in the car and ascend early on Sunday morning.

Packweight:
Last year the rucksack weighed 53 pounds but then I took too much water, too many batteries and ate less than half the food. By adjusting those items this year, I managed to get it down to 46 pounds. Total battery capacity was just over 29 Ah this year and fluids amounted to 3.25 litres. Because summit conditions were predicted to be cooler than 2015, just one litre of that was in the form of ice.

EXECUTION:
Set off from Scarborough on Saturday 2nd July 2016 at 16:08
Drove via Masham (77 miles plus a 6 mile ‘satnav detour’ via Ripon)
Arrived Top of Park Rash & parked at SD 9861 7567 at 18:30

Walking: 19:10 (after rain cleared)
Arr. Trig Point/ photos: 19:54
Camping place / QTH: 20:00 Saturday to 16:32 Sunday 3rd July
Descent to car: 17:09 Sunday
Drive home: 17:20 to 19:19 Sunday

At Thirsk the satnav and I had another of our disagreements but why I fell for it so close to home is a mystery. I should have gone my usual way but ended up in a biggish town which I think was Ripon. It cost me 20 minutes but all turned out well. By the time I got past Masham, heavy rain was falling and that lasted for the remainder of the drive and beyond. Would I have to use plan-B and sleep in the car? Apparently not; as predicted by the BBC forecast, by the time I’d got my boots on and waited a while, blue sky and white clouds appeared. Convenient, but how long would it last? I need fully two hours of good weather to climb the hill and set up the encampment.

The top of Park Rash hill, north of Kettlewell at a feature called Tor Dike (SD 9863 7573) is the highest place you can start NP8 (495m - 1,624ft ASL). There were no Highland Cattle lurking this year but I was not taking any chances. Preparation added to the aftermath of an overnight NFD/ SOTA expedition takes enough of my energy without having to mend the car afterwards, so again I parked at the Kettlewell side of the cattle grid.

Not counting the bogs half way up, the cold wind and lack of sunshine made the ascent easier than last year but the large summit cairn was still a sight for sore eyes. The SOTA QTH is a couple of hundred metres NE of the trig point and I was there by 8pm; the same as last year. Ascent is 211m (692ft) and distance is around 2.75km (1.7 miles) one way.

Setting Up:
With the western sky starting to looking ominous, the first job was to pitch the flysheet in the brisk wind and I did this while listening to Wimbledon on the radio. Sheep were confined to the lower slopes today so I could have brought the dog. On second thoughts she wouldn’t have understood the discomforts ahead nor the lack of space.

As usual the 10-ely Parabeam atop a 2.7m (hand-carried) alloy tube and a modified 2m-3ely SOTA Beam similarly supported, were positioned either side of the flysheet near the front. These can be rotated with one hand under either side and vertical lines are painted down one side of each mast to assist blind aiming.

A pegged-down groundsheet covers most of the grass but small beasties; in this case a few spiders and tiny grass coloured insects, can enter at will. This and the increased draught are the prices paid for saving the weight of an inner tent.

The link dipole on its 5m mast is positioned roughly east-west and to one side. The 2m & 4m verticals go either side but further down the flysheet to clear the beams.

It was now time to enter, unpack the rucksack and connect up the antenna coaxes. Manually blowing up the airbed makes you light headed but that’s better than lugging a pump. Food items and drinks are stored with the bottles of ice. Along with boots, water goes in the porch area where it will be needed for tea making the next day. Everything else is stored in two see-through, zip-up pouches.

New for this year is the logging system. No, it’s not a computer log! A low-tech pencil is still required but there is a separate log for SOTA and one for VHF-NFD contacts. Each has its own backing board. The NFD log has dedicated sheets for the three bands in use, namely 2m-SSB/ FM, 4m-FM & 70cm-SSB. To save time later, serial numbers were pre-inscribed. In previous years there was just one continuous log for all types of QSO, which can be confusing. In the case of NFD a mixed log makes it all too easy to attempt dupes which evokes the embarrassing retort, ‘Already in the log OM.’ From that viewpoint this small change was a success.

Apart from the cold wind, the weather was cooperative to say the least. The recommencement of showers, forecast for late evening, occurred only after the outside work was finished. With so much to achieve, setting up took about 75 minutes in total.

GREAT WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008, 704m (2,310ft), 6 pts for SOTA. 19:54 on Saturday 2nd July to 16:32 on Sunday 3rd July 2016. Temp: Max 9C (6C overnight). 20 to 25 mph westerly wind (15 mph overnight). Overcast Saturday evening/ low-cloud all night. Hazy, then full sun from early Sunday morning; overcast in the afternoon. Almost non existent Orange (EE) phone coverage. Intermittent Vodaphone coverage. DAB radio coverage on summit and route. WAB: SE07. LOC: IO-94-AD. (TP-0703 invalid; outside 30m rule).

Index to operating 2016:
Times: UTC (Chronological order)

Saturday – NFD & SOTA:

  1. 144 SSB - 5 QSO’s from 20:28z NFD
  2. 145.400 FM - 7 QSO’s from 21:00z NFD (SOTA)
  3. 3.557 CW - 5 QSO’s from 21:30z SOTA
  4. 3.726 SSB - 2 QSO‘s from 21:45z SOTA
  5. 1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:05z SOTA
  6. 1.843 SSB - 3 QSO‘s from 22:20z SOTA
  7. 1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:45z SOTA
  8. 1.843 SSB - 4 QSO‘s from 23:07z SOTA
    Total: 34 QSO’s

Sunday – NFD & SOTA:

  1. 144 SSB - 2 QSO’s from 07:08z NFD
  2. 1.832 CW - 5 QSO’s from 07:28z SOTA
  3. 1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s from 07:41z SOTA
  4. 3.557 CW - 6 QSO’s from 07:52z. SOTA
  5. 3.719 SSB - 12 QSO‘s from 08:07z. SOTA
  6. 144 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 08:45z NFD
  7. 70 FM - 1 QSO at 09:50z
  8. 144 SSB - 2 QSO’s from 10:00z NFD
  9. 70 FM - 1 QSO at 10:21z
  10. 432 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 10:50z NFD
  11. 70 FM - 2 QSO’s from 11:59z
  12. 144 SSB - 4 QSO’s from 12:12z NFD
  13. 70 FM - 1 QSO at 12:31z
  14. 144 SSB - 4 QSO’s from 12:36z NFD
  15. 7.160 SSB - 1 QSO at 13:14 SOTA/ WAB
  16. 7.033 CW - 20 QSO’s from 13:25z SOTA
  17. QRT 14:22z
    Total: 85 QSO’s

SESSIONS in DETAIL:

SATURDAY 02-07-16

  1. 144 SSB - 5 QSO’s from 20:28z. NFD
    There was plenty of time to spare before the 80m & Top Band SOTA skeds, scheduled for 21:30z, so now was the time to put a few NFD contacts into the log. With the headlight lit in the dimming light and to the accompaniment of rain beating on fabric, I made one pass up the 2m-SSB sub-band finding just five stations as follows:

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
20:28 144.257 35 SSB 59 / 57 G3PYE/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-001/57-093 JO02CE
20:34 144.282 50 SSB 59 / 59 G5TO/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-002/59-056 IO93FL
20:36 144.285 50 SSB 55 / 53 M0BAA/P VHF-NFD-16; 55-003/53-263 JO01KJ
20:40 144.365 50 SSB 59 / 59 GM3HAM VHF-NFD-16; 59-004/59-046 IO74WV
20:43 144.269 50 SSB 59 / 59 G0OLE/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-005/59-079 IO93PX Richard

  1. 145.400 FM - 7 QSO’s from 21:00z. NFD (SOTA)
    2m-FM on a fixed frequency was really intended for SOTA chasers but since this was field day, why not use the specialized exchange? Using 5 Watts from the IC-E90 to the vertical J-Pole:

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
21:00 145.400 5 FM 59 / 59 G0WUY VHF-NFD-16; 59-006/59-001 IO94LX
21:05 145.400 5 FM 59 / 59 M0SGS VHF-NFD-16; 59-007/59-004 IO93DT
21:09 145.400 5 FM 59 / 59 G6XBF VHF-NFD-16; 59-008/59-001 IO93FU Walt
21:11 145.400 5 FM 59 / 59 M0PVA VHF-NFD-16; 59-009/59-001 IO83TU Mick
21:14 145.400 5 FM 59 / 52 2E0ZZR VHF-NFD-16; 59-010/52-001 IO94MG
21:22 145.400 5 FM 55 / 55 G4SSH VHF-NFD-16; 55-011/55-001 IO94SF Roy
21:27 145.400 5 FM 52 / 53 G8VNW VHF-NFD-16; 52-012/53-001 IO83MG Nick

  1. 3.557 CW - 5 QSO’s from 21:30z. SOTA
    On HF and with no locators or serial numbers to exchange , the remaining sessions of the evening were aimed purely at SOTA chasers.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
21:30 3.557 70 CW 569/559 G4SSH ROY - IRTON
21:32 3.557 100 CW 579/589 G0VOF MARK - BLACKBURN
21:34 3.557 100 CW 599/599 G4OBK PHIL - PICKERING
21:35 3.557 100 CW 599/599 G0ILZ MARTIN - WOODBRIDGE
21:41 3.557 100 CW 559/559 OH6KSX FINLAND - SOTA CHASER

  1. 3.726 SSB - 2 QSO‘s from 21:45z. SOTA
    Daylight 80m has been surprising me of late. At night it should go further but there were only two takers in SSB. Both were close at hand.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
21:45 3.726 100 SSB 57 / 58 G0VOF MARK - BLACKBURN
21:51 3.726 100 SSB 57 / 59 G8VNW NICK - THRESHFIELD

  1. 1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:05z. SOTA (160m-CW Session-1)
    160m is the highlight and the main reason for staying overnight. Out into the inhospitable night I went to add the loading coils. The first problem was finding where to put them in misty darkness and wind borne drizzle. The procedure is to cast around with the headlight beam until it reflects off the fluorescent tape on one of the end sticks. Once there, one leg of the dipole can be walked down as far as the 40m break points, whereupon a coil is inserted. This is repeated for the other leg. The danger is tripping on one of many grass tussocks whilst looking upwards at the antenna.

Kneeling in the tent entrance, I could see that the VSWR was much too high. The loading coils had to be fiddled with to get the resonance right such that both CW and SSB frequencies were covered. After two more unpleasant outings, all was ready at 11pm local; the pre-announced 160m QRV time.

Power was initially 80 Watts but this was increased to 100 Watts for the Swedish station. The log is shown below:

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
22:05 1.832 80 CW 599/579 G4OBK PHIL - PICKERING
22:07 1.832 80 CW 579/569 G4SSH ROY - IRTON
22:09 1.832 80 CW 589/589 G0VOF MARK - BLACKBURN
22:14 1.832 100 CW 599/559 SA4BLM LARS - SILJANSNAS Sweden

Phil always puts out a great signal and can hear me well on his Beverage. However the latter was not working correctly tonight so he used his inverted ‘L’ for both transmit and receive. Crashing and banging caused by severe static was ever-present but it was encouraging to find that Roy G4SSH (Scarborough) was much stronger than over the same path (102km) at the same time a year ago. Enthusiastic as ever, Mark followed and a little later, after a few more CQ’s, SA4BLM too. Thanks to all four stations for qualifying NP8 on 160m in under ten minutes!

  1. 1.843 SSB - 3 QSO‘s from 22:20z. SOTA (160m-SSB Session-1)
    Last year I logged six QSO’s in SSB including Kalingrad. This year it was three but that would be remedied later. Despite a new local noise source from his ‘generous’ neighbours, Mark G0VOF was hearing me reasonably well tonight. Nick G8VMW is more or less line-of-sight down the valley but G8ADD took some logging. It took six minutes of repeats before I got my RS from Brian after which he came up in QSB. Murphy’s Law - he was giving me 55 then 58 at the end but prior to that, a static crash would continually take out the much repeated readability figure completely.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
22:20 1.843 100 SSB 59 / 58 G0VOF MARK - BLACKBURN
22:25 1.843 100 SSB 59 / 59 G8VNW NICK - THRESHFIELD
22:30 1.843 100 SSB 55 / 55 G8ADD BRIAN - BIRMINGHAM

  1. 1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:45z. SOTA (160m-CW Session-2)
    Tired, uncomfortable and cold but not yet beaten, I went back to CW to give it another chance. After all, 160m is still a rare offering on SOTA and Mark was sticking with me all the way. Further stations were logged as follows:

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
22:45 1.832 80 CW 579/539 SM7DIE TORE - RODEBY
22:52 1.832 80 CW 579/569 PA0SKP SAKE - ZUILICHEM
22:55 1.832 80 CW 599/599 G6GLP TONY - NEWTON ABBOT
23:02 1.832 80 CW 579/579 M1EYP TOM - MACCLESFIELD

With night conditions on the increase, it became easier to work further afield; Tore and Sake being very welcome. Tony is new to me and he was a very strong signal. Tom called in but I didn’t immediately recognize his callsign. The ‘E’ was being wiped out by a static event every time he sent it. I should have ‘twigged’ earlier but by now I was getting a bit weary.

  1. 1.843 SSB - 4 QSO‘s from 23:07z. SOTA (160m-SSB Session-2)
    Having seen a spot purely by chance, while making last minute preparations for an IOM SOTA trip, Victor GI4ONL called in first with a big signal. Sake reworked me in SSB and father and son team Tom & Jimmy gave me two for the price of one. No more CQ’s were answered.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
23:07 1.843 80 SSB 59 / 57 GI4ONL VIC - BUSHMILLS
23:10 1.843 80 SSB 57 / 55 PA0SKP SAKE - ZUILICHEM
23:13 1.843 80 SSB 57 / 57 M1EYP TOM - MACCLESFIELD
23:16 1.843 80 SSB 57 / 57 M0HGY JIMMY - MACCLESFIELD

Thanks go initially to Roy G4SSH and later to Mark; Sake; Brian and Tom for spotting these several QSY’s. They kept events moving forward with the minimum of delay.

A Long Night:
Sleep was almost non existent. The lack of an inner tent allowed a proportion of the strong wind to circulate for the entire night and it was quite cold outside - around 5 or 6C. The airbed stayed inflated but its large compartments allow convection. I had the thinnest of sleeping bags which I pulled over my head. A chemical heat pad which happened to be in a fleece pocket left over from winter, was too old and didn’t work at all. I tried interposing polythene bags between me and the worst of the penetrating drafts but I saw ever hour if not every minute.

Morale was supported by eating at intervals and having calories to burn keeps you warmer. Daylight came early but that didn’t help sleep either. A peep under the flysheet revealed that the fog was still present but by 6 am the sun was out. By 7am I could put up with it no longer, whence a pot noodle and a half a pint of hot tea brewed on the welding rod stove, lifted the mood no end.

SUNDAY 03-07-16:

  1. 144 SSB - 2 QSO’s from 07:08z NFD
    While waiting for the QSY to 1.8MHz at 08:30 local, there was time to work a couple of stations in the contest. Power was set to 50 Watts for this and all subsequent 2m-SSB contacts. By the end of this session, the first battery (a 9Ah one) failed.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
7:08 144.305 50 SSB 59 / 59 M0NFD VHF-NFD-16; 59-013/59-079 IO94MJ
7:15 144.279 50 SSB 52 / 56 G3ZME/P VHF-NFD-16; 52-014/56-144 IO82NN

  1. 1.832 CW - 5 QSO’s from 07:28z SOTA
    Wind Mischief:
    Touching the key showed that the VSWR was sky high on 160m. Going out, I could see that one of the 160m loading coils was detached at one end. The wind had also damaged the aluminium whip on my 4m-FM vertical which was now bent almost horizontal. One of the driven elements had fallen off my 2m beam too but I was not to notice that until later.

Using 50 Watts to the J-Pole, Roy G4SSH and I discussed plans for the day on 145.400-FM (55) both ways. The morning 160m sessions had been confirmed on-air with G0VOF the night before. In the notes of the final spot, Mark had written, ‘Back on 1832-cw at 0730z.’ With a power of 100 Watts I worked five stations; the final two a surprising result in long established daylight:

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
7:28 1.832 100 CW 559/559 G4SSH ROY - IRTON
7:29 1.832 100 CW 599/579 G4OBK PHIL - PICKERING
7:30 1.832 100 CW 589/579 G0VOF MARK - BLACKBURN
7:32 1.832 100 CW 559/559 G3RMD FRANK - CHELTENHAM
7:36 1.832 100 CW 559/339 G3RDQ DAVID - STOCKBRIDGE

  1. 1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s from 07:41z SOTA
    Mark reworked me in SSB with good signals both ways, followed by Nick. Threshfield is a village just down the Wharfe valley from Great Whernside. It’s approximately 6 miles distant and almost line of sight. Nothing further was heard.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
7:41 1.843 100 SSB 58 / 57 G0VOF MARK - BLACKBURN
7:43 1.843 100 SSB 59 / 59 G8VNW NICK - THRESHFIELD

  1. 3.557 CW - 6 QSO’s from 07:52z. SOTA
    Going outside to remove the 160m coils came as a welcome change from kneeling, lying propped up on one elbow or sitting on a rolled up sleeping bag. It was sunny too. Since this sked had been arranged with G4SSH several days ago, I called Roy in first.

It was a shock to me that 80m seemed depressed after 160m. I was giving out much poorer reports than expected until I realized that I had accidentally knocked the 20dB attenuation button. With that fixed the band burst into life, proving itself a viable alternative to 40m for both ‘G’ and just into Europe.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
7:52 3.557 60 CW 559/559 G4SSH ROY - IRTON
7:53 3.557 60 CW 569/589 G0VOF MARK - BLACKBURN
7:55 3.557 60 CW 559/579 G3RMD FRANK - CHELTENHAM
7:58 3.557 60 CW 579/559 F5SQA DAN - Brancourt-en-Fleuris
8:01 3.557 60 CW 599/599 M1EYP TOM - MACCLESFIELD
8:03 3.557 60 CW 589/599 G0BPU MIKE - Ipswich

  1. 3.719.5 SSB - 12 QSO‘s from 08:07z. SOTA
    Signal reports of mostly 57 to 59 showed that 3.5MHz was working exceptionally well around the UK at this time of day at least. G4OBK; G0VOF and G0VWP were 40dB; 20dB and 15 dB over S9 respectively. I chatted with Terry in York G0VWP about his recent GM/NS exploits up as far as Cape Wrath.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
8:07 3.719 60 SSB 59 / 58 G0VOF MARK - BLACKBURN
8:11 3.719 40 SSB 59 / 59 G4IAR DAVE - LOUGHBOROUGH
8:13 3.719 40 SSB 59 / 59 G8ADD BRIAN - BIRMINGHAM
8:16 3.719 40 SSB 58 / 58 G0GMY PAUL - IOW
8:18 3.719 40 SSB 59 / 59 G4OBK PHIL - PICKERING
8:19 3.719 40 SSB 59 / 59 G0RQL DON - HOLDSWORTHY
8:21 3.719 40 SSB 59 / 59 G0VWP TERRY - YORK
8:27 3.719 40 SSB 44 / 57 G3RMD FRANK - CHELTENHAM
8:31 3.719 40 SSB 58 / 57 GX3WTP GLENN/ G0GBI - Bedford Club Picnic
8:33 3.719 40 SSB 59 / 55 GI0AZA ESTER - NW IRELAND
8:36 3.719 40 SSB 59 / 57 M0MDA MICK - LEEDS
8:39 3.719 40 SSB 58 / 37 GM4WHA GEOFF - ANNAN

  1. 144 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 08:45z NFD
    With the SOTA sessions out of the way for the time being, I went back to NFD. One reason for this was my son Phil G0UUU/P. He was giving out VHF-NFD points from Ravenscar just north of Scarborough using an FT857 and a home-brew Yagi. While I was working him, wishing his XYL Bev ‘Happy Birthday from NP8’ the second Li-Po (5Ah No1) failed. Dropping my power to around 2 Watts got me a ‘Still easily readable but no meter reading’ response from Phil who not only left me the frequency but posted me on SOTAwatch; the DX Cluster and the WAB Reflector. From this I got a further four callers.

At 09:37 it was time for the ‘AD Locator Club’ meeting and we exchange a comment about this every year. (An IO83AD - IO94AD QSO). There are many different ways of remembering people we have worked before and this is just one of them.

The Missing Element:
Towards the end of this session at 09:30z, I became suspicious of the antenna. Why were some stations louder on the vertical J-Pole and why were some people struggling to get my locator? Going outside, I finally noticed the missing driven element. It was lying on the grass. The other half was still in its socket. Earlier photos seem to suggest that this had fallen off in the wind during the night. After it fell off a second time, I secured it with a rubber band.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
8:45 144.337 50 SSB 59 / 59 MW1LCR VHF-NFD-16; 59-015/59-011 IO82KW
8:48 144.343 50 SSB 59 / 59 G0UUU/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-016/59-010 IO94RJ
9:05 144.345 50 SSB 59 / 59 G1PAA VHF-NFD-16; 59-017/59-024 IO93OJ
9:06 144.345 50 SSB 59 / 59 G3RCW/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-018/59-051 IO93EP
9:11 144.345 50 SSB 59 / 59 G4ATH/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-019/59-064 IO83NU
9:13 144.345 50 SSB 59 / 59 G4TMZ/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-020/59-002 IO83DM
9:25 144.327 50 SSB 59 / 58 G6IPU VHF-NFD-16; 59-021/58-079 JO02QV
9:28 144.225 50 SSB 56 / 53 G4ZAP/P VHF-NFD-16; 56-022/53-338 JO01PU
9:37 144.218 50 SSB 59 / 59 G3CKR/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-023/59-177 IO83AD
9:39 144.265 50 SSB 59 / 59 MM0HCE/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-024/59-030 IO75IU
9:43 144.189 50 SSB 54 / 54 M0MCG/P VHF-NFD-16; 54-025/54-069 IO80AQ

  1. 70.450 FM - 1 QSO at 09:50z
    Using 5 Watts to the vertical, the QSO with Walt in Leeds was credited to VHF-NFD and logged accordingly. Walt seemed pleased with his second batch of NP8 SOTA points in 12 hours. There were no other takers.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
9:50 70.450 5 FM 59 / 59 G6XBF VHF-NFD-16; 59-026/59-002 IO93FU Walt

  1. 144 SSB - 2 QSO’s from 10:00z NFD
    Just two QSO’s on 2-SSB after which I could no longer find fresh stations to work. Unless a QSO is tenuous, I normally give out the SOTA ref at the end which is what happened with GW3SRT/P.

Introducing himself as SOTA op G4AZS, Adrian was only too pleased to get the bonus of six SOTA points and he knew my name too. We had a brief chat and he gave his QTH as ‘Long Mountain’ explaining that it was a SOTA summit but that he was using a generator and was outside the 25m zone. Almost an S2S but not quite. The feeling of camaraderie lifted flagging spirits caused by continuing discomfort.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
10:00 144.309 50 SSB 59 / 59 GW3SRT/P VHF-NFD-16;59-027/59-052 IO82LQ G4AZS Adrian
10:08 144.195 50 SSB 58 / 55 G3RCV/P VHF-NFD-16; 58-028/55-126 JO01HH

  1. 70.450 FM - 1 QSO at 10:21z
    As always with VHF-NFD, there was a lot of ‘flitting about.’ When one band can yield nothing further it’s worth trying another so here we were on 70 MHz again, working John who I have met many times on 4m-FM over the past few years.

I called CQ again with 5 Watts to the vertical half wave but without further response. The decision was made to try 432 MHz for the first time this year but not before having a break for a brew and something to eat.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
10:21 70.450 5 FM 59 / 59 MW1FGQ VHF-NFD-16; 59-029/59-002 IO83IG John

  1. 432 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 10:50z NFD
    Compared with the G3CWI designed/ G4YSS modified SOTA beam, aiming the higher gain 70cm beam is a bit more difficult. With three times the number of elements, it’s noticeably peakier. This aerial actually belongs to my son Phil G0UUU/P who bought it at Elvaston Castle open air radio rally when he was 12 year old, 3 Watt, 2E novice. It is actually an 18 element parabeam which I split in half for field day. We used to carry all of it up for the four years when he accompanied me but nowadays going solo, I can’t face the extra weight.

The feed arrangement is a bit different. It uses a loop of coax connected in a certain way. I found that this was not making proper contact the day before NFD so remade it. It has a quad-like driven element and reflector making it difficult to transport on a rucksack without bending it. It’s mast is positioned at the opposite side of the tent to the rig making it harder to turn but it’s a magnificent asset for 70cm.

The IC706-2G runs a maximum of 20 Watts on 70cm. When I twiddled through the band I was a bit disheartened to find just three stations but eventually worked eleven.

People are much keener to make your acquaintance on bands other than 2m. I’m no contester but I do understand that ‘multipliers’ are involved. Indeed a couple of ops (G5TO/P & G0FBB/P) tail-ended my QSO’s with stations I’d completed with, announcing ‘GX0OOO/P - five down’ etc. I think these were taking a fancy to my semi-rare IO94 square. As it happened, this did me some good when I was called after one such QSY by a further four stations responding to my CQ’s.

My one CW QSO for NFD was on 70cms. I went back to a CQ from M0BAA/P, who was weak until he presumably turned his beam. Apart from the RST, the exchange is the same as for SSB and it counts the same. It just takes a bit longer.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
10:50 432.228 20 SSB 59 / 59 G0VHF/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-001/59-124 JO01PU
10:52 432.245 20 SSB 59 / 59 G3RCW/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-002/59-033 IO93EP
10:58 432.198 20 SSB 57 / 57 G3PYE/P VHF-NFD-16; 57-003/57-113 JO02CE
11:00 432.193 20 SSB 59 / 59 G5TO/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-004/59-045 IO93FL
11:11 432.189 20 CW 559/559 M0BAA/P VHF-NFD-16; 559-005/559-112 JO01KJ
11:15 432.212 20 SSB 57 / 57 G0FBB/P VHF-NFD-16; 57-006/57-097 JO01LD
11:17 432.208 20 SSB 59 / 59 M0NFD/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-007/59-024 IO94MJ
11:20 432.208 20 SSB 59 / 59 G1HLJ VHF-NFD-16; 59-008/59-119 IO93JD
11:22 432.208 20 SSB 51 / 54 G8SRC/P VHF-NFD-16; 51-009/54-039 IO91CL
11:23 432.208 20 SSB 59 / 59 G1PPA VHF-NFD-16; 59-010/59-019 IO93OJ
11:26 432.208 20 SSB 59 / 59 G0OLE/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-011/59-038 IO93PX

At 11:26 I had a brief conversation with the Goole Club, namely Richard who told me that there was a WW2 memorial on the banks of the Ouse there, which just might have my Grandfather’s name on it. He was on Bennett Line ships sailing out of Goole and in December 1939 his ship, the Corea, was lost off Cromer due to a magnetic mine.

The G0OLE/P operators were ensconced in a 1938 bell tent on Garrowby Hill. It’s a fair bet they would be taking the prize for oldest VHF-NFD tent whilst on the other hand, I was vying for smallest.

By the end of this session I was fitting a fourth battery to the IC706, the third (a 5Ah No2) having failed. The only remaining Li-Po after this was a 6 Ah, running the IC-E90 handheld on 4m-FM.

  1. 70.425 FM - 2 QSO’s from 11:59z
    From time to time 4m-FM would be revisited. In this instance a further two QSO’s resulted from a CQ on 70.450. One was what you might call casual, giving out points just like I was doing and the other a dedicated NFD’er. All are welcome of course.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
11:59 70.425 5 FM 59 / 59 G1GHG VHF-NFD-16; 59-030/59-001 IO93LX Keith
12:01 70.425 5 FM 59 / 59 G5TO/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-031/59-043 IO93FL

  1. 144 SSB - 4 QSO’s from 12:12z NFD
    This was the only time I managed to get out of the UK mainland this year. The EI9EP group have always amassed a good score when I work them year on year. They asked if I had any other bands, offering their 70cms channel of 432.234 MHz but on swapping antennas and swinging the beam west, nothing was audible. They could have been pointing away from me of course but I would have liked to have helped them out once again this year.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
12:12 144.250 50 SSB 59 / 59 EI9EP VHF-NFD-16; 59-032/59-252 IO62OM
12:18 144.245 50 SSB 59 / 55 G4WGE/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-033/55-175 IO91XG
12:21 144.250 10 SSB 59 / 59 GW8ZRE/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-034/59-023 IO83JF
12:26 144.265 50 SSB 59 / 59 MW0TWC/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-035/59-336 IO82JG

  1. 70.450 FM - 1 QSO at 12:31z
    A final look on 4m-FM logged a second QSO with my only Scottish station of the VHF-NFD contest. Heard in the past the lament, ‘Nobody turns their beams north.’ In this case, five Watts to a vertical was all that was needed to get back an honest 55 report. I think that GM3HAM/P sets up on a high spot, possibly over 2,000ft, every year too. No shortage of mountains up there.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
12:31 70.450 5 FM 59 / 55 GM3HAM/P VHF-NFD-16; 59-036/55-053 IO74WV

  1. 144 SSB - 4 QSO’s from 12:36z NFD
    By now the battery situation was starting to look like it could get critical and I still wanted to give the European SOTA chasers a chance. The decision to cut the rucksack weight down to 46 pounds was now regretted but you can’t have everything. The weather was still good and there was still another 100 minutes of contest remaining, so it was a shame. The final hour can sometimes boost your score significantly. Nonetheless, resolving to make this my ‘last gasp’ for NFD, I logged the final four as follows.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
12:36 144.288 50 SSB 55 / 54 G3VEF/P VHF-NFD-16; 55-037/54-088 IO91JA
12:42 144.314 50 SSB 57 / 55 G8SCR/P VHF-NFD-16; 57-038/55-172 IO91CL
12:46 144.181 50 SSB 57 / 53 G8BGV/P VHF-NFD-16; 57-039/53-043 JO01HP
12:53 144.218 50 SSB 56 / 51 G3KMI/P VHF-NFD-16; 56-040/51-133 IO91GI
End of Part-1

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Gt.WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008-SOTA/ VHF-NFD-IO94AD Campover, 2nd & 3rd July 2016 - Part 2 of 2

  1. 7.160 SSB - 1 QSO at 13:14 SOTA/ WAB
    Casting around the bands, I decided that 40m would do the job of getting me into Europe so I tried a CQ or two in CW on 7.033. Nothing heard so it was off to see if I could offer NP8 and SE07 to the WAB chasers. Recognizing Dan’s callsign from some of my WAB mobile runs, I called and worked him. I could hear little else, apart from possibly ‘G4HPE/M’ who think I heard call in to Dan. If so, this would be Steve but he was barely audible in the long skip.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
13:14 7.160 40 SSB 59 / 59 SM6CNX DAN - SVENLJUNGA (WAB)

  1. 7.033 CW - 20 QSO’s from 13:25z SOTA
    Now that NFD had been abandoned, the 3-Ely horizontal beam was not needed any more so connecting the J-Pole to the 2m-FM QRO source, I selected 145.400 with the intention of updating G4SSH and getting a spot for 7.033-CW. However, there were strong signals on the channel. I think the callsign was G3RCW/P and the op was a YL transmitting from Emley Moor. She was doing great VHF-NFD trade and I didn’t want to disturb her.

With remaining battery capability in question, I would have to try for a spot somehow and resorting to the mobile phones. I could see that the Vodaphone one; an ancient but miniature Nokia 8310, had a good signal at that moment. All well and good but when Roy answered his phone, mine cut out. It happened twice. Though I’d charged both phones before leaving home, the station Li-Po’s were not the only dodgy batteries on NP8.

I turned again to the Orange network, ‘No Service.’ There was nothing for it but to try ‘CW alley’ again, between 7.032 and 7.034 as nobody would find me on a randomly selected SSB channel.

Calling CQ on 7.033, I was answered by an Englishman abroad. F/G6AIG - Hugh near Paris. Hugh was on holiday and in no hurry. He couldn’t know about my fast approaching battery crisis but I think he did understand what SOTA was. I went on to work three more stations including an S2S with Kurt HB9AFI/P, then it went quiet.

In desperation I tried looking on 145.400 again. It was still busy but I threw in a quick message in case Roy should hear, ‘Up two!’ Though the lady op and I were similar signal strengths at Roy’s QTH, luckily he responded and we were able to have a long overdue conversation on 145.450.

Thanks to Roy, I got that critical spot and went on to work another 15 European chasers and a Cornish station, all hungry for NP8. I later found out that DL9UJF had posted a spot some ten minutes before Roy’s but I was otherwise engaged phoning and trying 2m-FM. A comedy of errors but thanks to Roy and Wolfgang I logged a goodly number of chasers on 40m. Two spots are better than none!

Whilst thus engaged the rig started FM’ing so I reached for the last battery available which was the one attached to the IC-E90. For the past 18 hours, albeit not switched on all the time, it had been feeding the handheld. After another handful of QSO’s this too was showing all the signs of going flat. With stations still calling there was no other option but to connect two of the almost empty Li-Po’s in parallel. This did the trick for a while longer and as luck would have it, the frequency dried up about 30 seconds before the rig cut out on a CQ.

Time-z Freq W Mode S / R Station Name / QTH / Comments
13:25 7.033 40 CW 579/579 F/G6AIG HUGH - Antony, nr PARIS (Hols)
13:29 7.033 40 CW 579/559 DL9UJF WOLFGANG - FORST
13:30 7.033 40 CW 579/559 DL8AWK DIETER - SUHL
13:33 7.033 20 CW 559/559 HB9AFI/P KURT S2S HB/VD-032
13:57 7.033 20 CW 579/549 HB9CYV CHRISTIAN - OBERHASLI
14:00 7.033 20 CW 579/579 HB9TVK/P PETER S2S HB/SZ-021
14:01 7.033 30 CW 579/569 DL1FU FRID - Biedenkopf
14:02 7.033 30 CW 579/559 ON4FI KAREL - HERENT
14:03 7.033 30 CW 579/579 DL3JE GUENTER - BERLIN
14:05 7.033 30 CW 579/549 HB9CLT THOMAS - ROMANSHORN
14:05 7.033 30 CW 579/559 HB9BIN/P JUERG S2S HB/SZ-021
14:06 7.033 30 CW 579/539 HB9AGH AMBROSI - ZURICH
14:08 7.033 30 CW 579/579 DL6MST KLAUS - Benzingerode/ Harz
14:09 7.033 30 CW 579/549 PA0B ROB - HEEMSTEDE
14:10 7.033 30 CW 579/599 HB9FVF/P MATT S2S HB/AI-013
14:11 7.033 30 CW 579/559 DL6UNF FRANK - GUBEN
14:14 7.033 30 CW 559/339 G8DQY/P
14:17 7.033 30 CW 599/599 MK0BKV DAMIAN - WEEK ST MARY, Cornwall
14:19 7.033 30 CW 579/339 DL2EF FRANK - KREFELD
14:21 7.033 30 CW 579/559 PA7MDJ MICHAEL - Dordrecht

40m-CW S2S Summary:
HB9AFI/P - KURT S2S on HB/VD-032 - Mont Tendre - 1,679m - 4 points
HB9TVK/P - PETER S2S on HB/SZ-021 - Rigi Kulm - 1,798m - 6 Points
HB9BIN/P - JUERG S2S on HB/SZ-021 (See above)
HB9FVF/P - MATT S2S on HB/AI-013 - Hüser/ Furgglenfirst - 1,951m - 6 Points
A real ‘HB9 fest’ and some pretty big mountains too. Thank you.

  1. QRT 14:22z:
    That was definitely that. Every battery was empty apart from the 1.3 Ah one for the handheld. I did think of turning the beam vertical and hooking it up but by now I’d had enough and just wanted to go back to civilization.

The Retreat:
With no time wasted, I set about the task of dismantling the station and encampment. It was a thankless task. There were five antennas, two rigs and a hundred other small items to shoe-horn into or onto the rucksack.

The flysheet was left until last due to a stiff cold wind which kept blowing my hat off. The sky had a few dark clouds. Even having reduced the fluids carried this year, I still found myself pouring away a full litre of water which had originally been ice. Had I got this right, I could have had an extra battery but you can’t be certain exactly what you’ll need. Nor can you predict the number of QSO’s or how band conditions will effect power consumption.

After fiddling with the DAB radio to take my mind off the painful shoulders caused by the still significant load, I found that it too had a flat battery. I was walking off the summit at 16:32 BST and back to the car by 17:09. Fortunately the car was the one thing which didn’t have a flat battery.

Well before and every now and then during the expedition, I think of that final moment of collapsing into the car seat and turning on the fan for a face full of cool air. With the 2 litre bottle of ice still only half melted in my cardboard larder, I was able to enjoy a cold can of fruit and some fresh orange juice. Well earned luxuries I thought.

The journey home via the A648 and Sutton Bank spanned 17:20 to 19:19 and I clocked up the normal 77 miles for this.

OBSERVATIONS:

VHF-NFD discussion:
As has been the case since I started doing VHF-NFD’s from NP8 in 2003, the conduct of participants was well mannered with no bad operating. Unlike last year, there was no splattering.

51 serial numbers were given out for VHF-NFD contacts. Most were on 2m and 70cm SSB but a few were on 2m-FM and 4m-FM. The furthest stations worked were in JO01 and IO62 squares (EI) and I heard nothing from Europe.

Like the majority of previous VHF-NFD expeditions to NP8, VHF band conditions seemed flat and there was less QSB than last year.

Previously, I incremented the serial numbers regardless of band but this time I had separate log sheets for each of the VHF bands and also kept SOTA separate. In the event I forgot to use the 4m-FM log sheet and those QSO’s ended up mixed in with 2m-SSB. No matter, I don’t put in an entry. There are far too many rules to trip over anyway but worst of all it is mandatory to pre-advise and that might ‘tempt providence’ when it comes to operating from a remote place for an extended period in July (lightning season). The club callsign with its ‘X’ would not be acceptable either.

I wish I had 4m-SSB capability but arranging that would be expensive to say the least and it would add at least another kilo, so I only have FM. Nevertheless, I find that if I keep returning to 70.450 through the day, a handful of contacts can be picked up on 70 MHz. Some of these are just people who happen to be monitoring but there were a few of the NFD ‘big names’ to be heard calling on there from time to time. Frustratingly, with such a basic aerial, my puny five Watts was not heard by all of them.

Voice Module:
The home made voice keyer, which was knocked up based on a circuit from ebay (Hong Kong) a couple of years ago, came into its own again. It is very basic but you can end up a bit hoarse after NFD and it saves your voice if you park on one frequency. It’s just a case of holding it onto the microphone and pressing the button after which it churns out a short call, ‘CQ CONTEST; CQ SOTA GX0OOO/P.’ I think it got me three or four replies this year; equivalent to significant calling, which must justify its 180 gram weight, especially since it cost little more than one GBP including postage! See - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ISD1820-Voice-Recording-Playback-Module-Sound-Recorder-Board-With-Loudspeaker-/361459221882?hash=item5428a6057a:g:wcgAAOSwa-dWhKNP

Unless someone proves me wrong, I am claiming the highest VHF-NFD QTH in the country again. Great Whernside provides good VHF paths up and down the east side of the Pennines and it’s not too far to drive or difficult to ascend with a big load. It may be somewhat screened from some of the more lucrative areas down the west side of the country but I only take part on NFD for the love of it. The summit peat is feet thick which makes installing radio masts is quick and easy.

Every year I mention the pain and discomfort which used to be mainly derived from the ascent with a huge rucksack. Nowadays with my aging bones, it’s a toss up between that and the agony of lying around on the floor of a small tent for the better part of 20 hours. I bought a small stool from China on ebay but at 0.5 kg deemed it too heavy to carry up unless going just for the day. The last buffet stored there, disappeared between one NFD and the next, so nowadays nothing is left on the summit. Sheep tend to disrupt it anyway.

Regrettably, with the encampment 250m from the summit I cannot offer the trig point to WAB collectors but it is well out of the way of walkers.

160m SOTA:
If you want success on 160m it’s almost essential to have high power and far preferable to do it in the dark. Propagation after 22:00z on Saturday evening was good enough to reach Sweden and the Netherlands as well as Top Band SOTA regulars in the UK but last year Kalingrad was best DX. That said, signal strengths for the closer stations seemed up on last year. As is too often the case, static crashes and general QRN made it hard work on Saturday night.

The quieter Sunday morning session was easier on the ear and signal strengths were still surprisingly good considering the time of day; several hours after sunrise. More often than not, daytime conditions with the associated attenuation could be expected at 08:30 BST in July, so we were lucky. Of the two modes, the first one to drop off when daylight takes over is SSB, so CW is preffered under those conditions.

80m SOTA:
How do you get around the country? The choices are 40m; 60m; 80m or possibly 2m with a beam and power. 40m has been very poor for inter-G since the end of winter. 60m is a good choice at certain times of day but it’s not quite as user friendly as the other two. In this case the 2m option was already covered. That leaves 80m which won’t work at all during the day in sunspot high but is increasingly proving its usefulness as the cycle declines.

Signals were good on both days, skip being longer at night and QRN greater as expected. Many ops are now choosing 80m for their Sunday morning chatter nets so I couldn’t get on the advertised channel. Fortunately there were spaces close by.

A favourite of mine, 80m will become increasingly important for inter-G SOTA traffic (and WAB) in the next few years. I would encourage anybody who currently can’t use the band, to erect an aerial for 80m, no matter how modest, or to tune up what already exists. Activators just need to add an extra 9 metres on each side of their 40m dipoles.

40m SOTA:
Conditions on 40m CW were quite good in favouring the longer distances but I did also work one station in Cornwall at 599 both ways. Since Europe was the intended target and I logged 19 chasers from there, 40m did more than a reasonable job once the spots arrived. I was called from four other summits resulting in four successful S2S’s, all of which were in HB9.

The alternative to 40m would have been 10.118 but without pre-announcement or a spot, 30m is hardly a viable option.

Phone:
Vodaphone mobile phone coverage was unreliable; sometimes a full scale signal but more often nothing. Orange (EE) network on NP8 (and it’s similar on NP9) was almost non-existent. When I did needed to phone G4SSH for a spot, the Nokia (Vodaphone) battery went flat. That was partly due to the phone and battery being old and partly because phones use much more power searching for fickle signals. There is a theory however, that there are too many signals and that can confuse the phone; who knows? Amazon are sending a new battery, at a cost of 8 GBP.

Battery utilization and the IC706-2G:
A total of 29.2 Ah was carried and all was used. The IC-E90 and an externally wired Li-Po (included in the 29.2 Ah stated) was used for 2m-FM & 4m-FM.

To save weight, as well as cutting down on heavy liquids and food items, I reduced the number of batteries. All of the battery power was exhausted with no reserve. If there’s a next year, I will need to take an extra battery.

Now that the IC706 is only used once a year, I had unlearned just how ‘juicy’ it can be. It draws 20 amps at 13.8V for 100 Watts out. The 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) Li-Po’s, it still can take up to 16 amps when set to full power and 10 amps for full power (nominally 50 Watts) on 2m. Worse still, the lower the power the worse the efficiency. Like most other 100W rigs, it takes something like 5 amps to produce 5 Watts! However, it showed non of its tantrums this year. It frequently refuses to transmit on 2m but I didn’t even need to ground it this time.

After using the much gentler FT817ND/ 50 Watt HF linear combination for the past 2 or 3 years on a single 5 Ah battery, I had forgotten that the IC706 ‘prefers’ two of the same in parallel.

Broken Antennas:
Whilst on the subject of windy conditions, as well as the unwanted overnight air conditioning, three of the five antennas were affected. The 3-ely beam for 2m-SSB ended the night with half the driven element missing and one of the 160m loading coils became disconnected from the dipole. The whip on the 4m-FM vertical was bent alarmingly but then again, it is merely a length of soft aluminium welding rod.

The problem with the 3-ely beam wasn’t immediately spotted with the result that QSO’s were being made at low-efficiency until it was noticed. All three of these aerials are designed mainly with weight in mind but also they must be quick and easy to deploy in all conditions. It was never intended that they should stand out in high winds for 20 hours non-stop.

In the case of the dipole, it only uses 26 AWG PTFE insulated hookup wire. That is as thin as I dared make it for use on 80m thro’ 20m, particularly when you consider that my mast uses no guys but is held up by the antenna wire. It is now being asked to cover 160m too, with two 38 gram coils weighing it down with the result that breakages do occur from time to time. In this case, once discovered, everything was easily fixed.

General:
WX:
The decision to go overnight can only be taken after it becomes fully clear what is happening with the WX. In this case it was only after arriving at the parking place. The alternative plan was to sleep in the car. Once the rain cleared, the only threat was from a possible shower and the wind but the latter dropped a little before the time came to pitch the flysheet, which has its guys and pegs pre-attached. The heavy showers conveniently came after all the work was done.

There was only a very light shower on Sunday and that lasted just 5 minutes. By then the possibility of lightning had passed also but the wind kept going all night when more often than not it drops considerably, sometimes to zero.

With cooler conditions on offer this year I took the reduced amount of fluids (3.25 litres). One litre of that was in the form of ice to keep the food fresh and drinks cool. Even so that litre was poured away at the end. I also packed more food than was required.

Water is heavy but there is the option to take a gamble on finding some near the summit once the work of preparing the camp is done. The head waters of Stone Beck to the east may provide the solution to this problem but how far down you would need to walk depends on how wet or dry the season has been. It could also be tricky if the clag was down.

The airbed stayed up and did its job but it was a cold, windy night and I got almost no sleep. The 1.2kg synthetic sleeping bag is barely warm enough at 9C which was the maximum daytime temperature at that height and it was colder overnight. The 18 inch canes, intended for lifting the rear of the tent for ventilation in warm weather were employed as extra pegs instead; insurance against the windy conditions this year. The flysheet did a good job of fending off a heavy shower or two on Saturday evening and internal condensation was minimized by the through draught.

The only wildlife seen were Curlews, and some unidentified small birds, a few green coloured flies and a spider or two. There were no sheep on the summit area, only lower down. I saw groups of walkers at the trig point three or four times but the only person to pass by the tent didn’t call in.

QSO Summary.
Saturday: 34
Sunday: 85
TOTAL: 119

VHF-NFD Contest:
2m SSB: 28
70cm SSB: 11
2m FM: 7
4m FM: 5
Total (Contest): 51

Non-Contest / SOTA:
160m CW: 13
160m SSB: 9
80m CW: 11
80m SSB: 14
40m CW: 20
40m CW: 1
Total (SOTA): 68
Grand Total: 119

Ascent/ Distance: 211m (692ft)/ distance 5.5km (3.4 miles up & down).
Times: Up: 44 min. Down: 37 min. Summit time: 20hrs-37min. Car to Car: 22 hours.
Distance Driven: 160 miles (inc. 6 mile detour on the way). Home to Home: 27hrs-11min.

Pack weight:
Ascent: 20.9kg (46.1 pounds)
Descent: 17.7kg, (39 pounds).
Masts for VHF & UHF beams are hand-carried (1kg).

This was SSEG’s 14th successive VHF National Field Day on NP8, Scarborough’s closest 2000 footer at 63 miles line of sight.

Thank you to: G4SSH; G0VOF; G8ADD; PA0SKP; M1EYP; G4OBK; G0UUU and DL9UJF. for spots, and 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.

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

Photos: 2-4-13-25-33-35-41-53-57-61-62-63-66-68-70-87.

Above: Saturday evening after the rain and ready to go. Masts (on roof rack) are hand carried. NP8 in background

Above: Saturday evening part way up. Looking south over Kettlewell in Wharfedale

Above: Looking north from NP8 summit. No time to loose before the next batch of rain is due

Above: Late Saturday evening. Braving the dark, clag, wind and drizzle to install the 160m loading coils

Above: Two hours after QRT and still no sleep. 02:30 on Sunday morning

Above: Early Sunday morning after a windy night. Sky high VSWR on 160m but not all damage was noticed

Above: Further wind mischief. Two and a half elements of a 3-ely beam. Bent 4m-vertical whip.

Above: Breakfast. Hot tea and hot food are priceless even a pot noodle!

Above: IC706-2G. Worked M0NFD for VHF-NFD on 2m-SSB at 07:08z

Above: How the 2m Sotabeam should look

Above: The business end (ten elements) of Phil’s (G0UUU) 18-ely parabeam for 432 MHz


Above: G/NP-008/ VHF-NFD Summit Camp looking north

Above: Working G4SSH on 80m-CW

Above: Encampment to rucksack takes 75 minutes. Time to leave - 16:30 on Sunday 03-07-16

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