G4YSS: G/NP-008 VHF-NFD Campover, 6&7-07-19

GREAT WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008. SOTA/ VHF-NFD Camp 6th to 7th July 2019

G4YSS (using SSEG club callsign - GX0OOO/P)
VHF-NFD on 2m & 4m SSB
SOTA on 160m-80m-40m CW & SSB QRO & 2m-FM QRP
17th consecutive year for VHF-NFD on NP8
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 Adaptable Yagi antenna. 4-ely on 2m or 3-ely on 4m or 1-ely on 6m (620gm inc 4.5m RG316/ BNC)
6m x 5 section aluminium alloy/ carbon-fibre composite mast adaptable for HF or VHF
80-60-40-(30)-20m link dipole with (new) loading coils for 160m and 1m end sticks.
Transverter for 70 MHz Band with 28 MHz input 10W output (Ukrainian)

IC-E90 Quad-band 5W H/H with integral 7.2V / 1.3Ah Li-Po battery
Vertical J-Pole for 2m-FM on 7mm dia x 1.32m carbon fibre composite rod
Voice Keyer (Home-Brew)

Li-Po Batteries:
Two pairs of 11.1V/ 5Ah and two 11.1V/ 2.2Ah with paralleling harnesses
Total 24.4Ah (16.5 Ah used)

Other Items:
Lichfield Viper-2 Flysheet with pre-attached poles & pegs
Poly Groundsheet & six pegs
Mountain Equipment Nova synthetic sleeping bag (1.2kg)
Spiderman (child’s) Airbed

Pack weight:
Ascent: 22.3kg (49.2 pounds) including food (dog food) and 3.25 litres of fluids (1 ltr as ice). Two sleeping bags, two mats & one airbed.

Descent: 18.8kg, (41.5 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 3.4kg of antennas, poles & flysheet on outside (inc. in above figures)

This was the seventeenth consecutive G4YSS/ GX0OOO/P (SSEG) VHF-NFD on Great Whernside G/NP-008, Scarborough’s closest 2,000 footer at 63 miles distant. Of these there have been seven summit camps; 2011; 2013; 2014; 2015, 2016, 2018 and this year 2019. With other issues coming to the fore in the run-up to this year’s expedition, planning was not started until 2-days before. I would be dog sitting for the weekend but would have wanted to take Sasha anyway. Taking her along creates a heavier carry but she really is no trouble as well as being great company.

WX for both days:
The MWIS mountain weather forecast for the Yorkshire Dales: 5 to 8C at 2,000 feet, 16C in the valleys. Wind 10 mph variable. Sunny periods with slight risk of the odd light shower. Like last year, with neither lightning nor significant rain in the forecast, the decision to stay overnight was easily made.

Pack weight seems to hover around 50 plus or minus 5 pounds. This year I kept it down to 49 pounds but that’s still a big carry uphill, albeit over a shortish distance. Unlike last year when everything was baked dry, there was water available on the way up and although flowing, it didn’t look too pleasant.

I had to be in Filey to pick up my Grandson at 5pm on the Sunday so we would have to leave the summit at least three hours earlier than in previous years. With that in mind, fluids could be limited to 3.25 litres which included 1 litre of ice to keep the food cool. Last year we took a gallon which gave real meaning to the the phrase, ‘heavy water!’

Similarly, battery requirements were less so I took 24.2Ah comprising two pairs at 5Ah and a pair of 2.2’s. All were Turnigy’s apart from two HRB 5Ah ones bought recently. To run the IC706-2G at 100W on HF it’s best, though not essential, to parallel two 5Ah’s using a home made harness. EC5 connectors are fitted to the 5Ah Turnigys. The remainder have ST60’s with EC5 adaptors.

Good weather meant that I could dispense with the inner tent and just rely on the flysheet and a ground sheet, the same as last year. As well as two mats and two sleeping bags I added my Grandson’s Spiderman airbed. Since temperatures were set to drop near 5C overnight, Sasha would need a coat this year.

So many times I’ve hand-carried up two 2.2m ali masts for VHF in addition to one for HF strapped to the outside of the rucksack. Last year I took only the 4-section HF mast but added another base section to make it 6m high in 5-sections. The three bottom sections double as a support for VHF beams at a height of about 4m and ‘R’ clips are used to stop rotation between sections. Overall weight is saved but pack weight is increased by 260 gm for the new base section. Also it’s much less convenient having to take HF down to put VHF up and vice-versa; especially if there’s bad weather (not in this case). One spin-off is that the dipole ends up 1m higher which won’t do 160m any harm.

The home-brew 4m band 3-ely beam, merely a scaled up version of the original G3CWI 2m band Sotabeam, has extra holes in the boom to take four elements for the 2m band. A 6m dipole is also a feature but that was a failure last year due to high VSWR. To weight-balance the antenna, the 4m reflector is left in place when configured for 2m. It looks a bit strange but it works.

We set off from Scarborough on Saturday 6th July 2019 at 15:00, driving via A170 Thirsk, A684 Masham, Middleham and Horsehouse (74 miles), arriving at the top of Park Rash at 17:20.

Repeater QSO:
On the way I answered a call on GB3HG - Harrogate 2m repeater who’s antenna is on the club house at Sutton Bank Gliding Club. A QSO with G0KFV ensued, the main topic of conversation being the possible loss of our beloved 144 MHz band. Mark was already preparing for it and had made a 10-FM vertical for local working should the dreaded event come to fruition. I tried to give reassurance that the authorities wouldn’t carry it through but common sense does not always prevail, especially nowadays.

Brake Failure:
Just as I rounded the top bend to start the descent Sutton Bank and asked for the brakes, my foot disappeared to the floor. Well almost to the floor, some braking remained within an inch of maximum travel. Well I am used to old bangers and their idiosyncrasies, having had nothing else all my life but this was a bit much and nothing like this had happened for more than 20 years.

I was surprised to say the least, going down a little slower than I would normally do and using the gears and not the foot brake should the latter fail altogether. Looking in the mirror and trying to spot a trail of brake fluid seemed like the prudent thing to do but Henry’s company had done their job well in providing me with two braking circuits. Checking the efficiency of the handbrake was next on the mental list and it wasn’t bad.

I kept testing the foot brake and by the time I got to Thirsk, about 5 miles, the system had mysteriously ‘healed up’ and had returned to the normal one-inch of travel. What caused it I do not know as it’s been perfect since but the problem must have been in the master cylinder. On checking the fluid level I found the reservoir to be full and there were no drips underneath; just the one driving. I have the spare car and if needs be, I’ll swap the masters.

Glider Pilot:
Just over a mile short of the parking place was a man with a massive rucksack thumbing a lift while displaying a sign saying, ‘Glider Pilot.’ The rucksack was shoe-horned into the front passenger seat while he sat in the back, making friends with Sasha. In his backpack was a paraglider and he told me that he’d taken off from near Whernside (NP4) flying in company with his friend and hoping to get possibly as far as Harrogate!

They’d found several thermals and updraughts but in the end had to accept that they were not going to meet their ambition. Even the hope of landing on top of our eventual destination Great Whernside (NP8) had to be given up. His friend landed on the lower slopes of Buckden Pike (NP9) while ‘our man’ came down between Great Whernside and the ‘C’ road that we were driving along.

We had a nice chat about our respective hobbies in which he told me that before taking off he’d seen someone apparently ‘setting up radio equipment at Ribblehead.’ His mate was sitting beside the road when we got along to the parking place and about 10 minutes later they’d flagged down another car which was taking them down Park Rash towards Kettlewell, waving as they went.

It was pleasing to note that the cattle weren’t in evidence on this particular afternoon but to avoid the damage of the past, I took the now routine precaution of parking on the Kettlewell side of the cattle grid at Tor Dike (SD 9861 7567 - 495m - 1,624ft ASL).

The trick was to remember to give the dog her tea at the car, leaving just her breakfast to carry. After hurting her back legs trying to jump the cattle grid last year, I carried her over and fastened her lead to the gate before going back to don the rucksack. Once the poles, beam and tent were untied from the roof rack and strapped to the outside, we began our climb at 17:45, an hour earlier than in 2018.

As always with a pack this heavy it was a slow, hot slog up the bogs and gullies albeit with a light breeze. Proving to herself that she could do it last year, Sasha easily jumped the fence next to the stile after which the gradient decreases. I only saw one sheep and she’s not been interested for the past year, so no lead was needed. The climb was made in 47 minutes and after a few photos at the trig we continued to the camping place 250m to the north east.

Again, after rejecting the stile as a way over, Sasha ran up and down the summit fence trying to find a low spot and attempting to get underneath the gate. I know she can jump obstacles higher than that fence, I’ve watched her jump a 5-bar gate while chasing deer on the Yorkshire Wolds but she needs adrenaline and a run-up to do it. Ascent is 217m (712ft) and distance one way is about 3km (just under two miles) to the camping place via the trig.

Setting Up:
Displaying the usual exuberance Sasha started doing high-speed circuits of the camping spot while I unloaded the rucksack from my back. Year on year, what a relief that is! I felt like I was about to float upwards, immediately thinking of the glider pilot we’d given a lift to.

Everywhere is lumpy so it’s Hobson’s choice. The flysheet was soon up and six pegs secured the poly ground sheet. Bugs consisting of flies, spiders and this year a very large black beetle, are free to enter under the sides but it’s worth it for the weight saved and there weren’t too many of them. It takes time and effort to convert the contents of a rucksack into a living area. I allow over an hour for setting up and the same to take it all down.

New 160m Coil Tests:
The link dipole and 6m mast were deployed with the two newly made and hitherto untested 160m loading coils added at the 40m break points. The new coils were to replace the ones accidentally left on Ben Wyvis in May when they got buried under snow and out of sight.

VSWR tests proved the system albeit for some reason these new coils have ended up further LF that the original 2004 ones. The pressing thing at that moment was ensuring that the two desired frequencies of 1.832-CW and 1.846 MHz SSB were usable and that was fulfilled with plunger settings of ‘4’. The dipole was then taken off the mast and laid aside with the upper mast sections for use on Top Band after dark. This frees up the lower sections for use as a support for VHF beams. The beam, configured as a 4-ely on 2m, was then mounted horizontally on top.

Just in case time became available for FM, the 2m J-Pole was set up vertically on a dedicated short mast.

GREAT WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008, 704m (2,310ft), 6 pts for SOTA. 17:45 on Saturday 6th July to 12:52 on Sunday 7th July 2019. Temps approx: 9C on arrival, 5C overnight, 12C noon. Saturday evening: 5 mph NE wind dropping to zero between 11pm and 5am. Sunday: 5 mph SW wind. Some sun both days. A few spots of rain at noon on Sunday. Good Vodafone coverage throughout. WAB: SE07. LOC: IO-94-AD. (TP-0703 was not valid, being non-compliant with the 30m rule).

Index to operating 2019:
Times: UTC (Chronological order)

Saturday – NFD & SOTA:

  1. 3.760 SSB - 14 QSO‘s from 18:55z WAB/ SOTA
  2. 144 SSB - 10 QSO’s from 19:43z NFD
  3. 145.550 FM – 5 QSO’s from 20:44z SOTA
  4. 144 SSB - 8 QSO’s from 21:00z NFD
  5. 1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:10z SOTA
  6. 1.846 SSB - 9 QSO‘s from 22:22z SOTA
    QRT: 23:00z (Midnight BST)

Sunday – NFD & SOTA:
7) 3.557 CW - 6 QSO’s from 07:00z SOTA
8) 3.760 SSB - 12 QSO‘s from 07:20z WAB/ SOTA
9) 7.128 SSB – 1 QSO at 07:54z SOTA
10) 70 MHz SSB - 13 QSO’s from 08:20z NFD
11) 144 SSB - 7 QSO’s from 10:22z NFD
QRT: 11:06z


SATURDAY 06-07-19

  1. 3.760 SSB - 14 QSO’s from 18:55 to 19:10z WAB SE07/ SOTA
    What good fortune on switch-on; a sizeable evening WAB net already running with Steve G4HPE controlling. With NP8 and SE07 to offer but sadly no trig, I had 14 QSO’s in the log in 15 minutes as follows: G4HPE Steve; MM3PDM Peter; G3XKT Tony; G0OFD John operating G7WAB; G8VZT Dave; M0LZY Paul; G0BPK Nigel; G0GWY Geoff; 2E0FEH Karl; G7AFM Phil; G0FEX/P Ken busy with the latest WAB mag (arrived as I type this – thanks Ken) and John G0AJH running G0WAB from TQ58.

The band was working very well and reports were almost all 59 both ways with a 58, a few 57’s incoming and a 44 from me to Karl. Power was 40 Watts to the inverted vee dipole at 6m centre height. A good start and unplanned.

  1. 144 SSB - 10 QSO’s from 19:43 to 20:23z NFD
    With 50 Watts to the 4-ely Yagi I logged ten stations called on their own frequencies as follows: G3CKR/P in IO93AD; GM3HAM/P (see below) in IO74WV; G3RCW in IO93EP; M0BB/P in IO91PK; G4ZAP/P in JO01PU; G2BQY/P in IO81RF; GW3ZTT/P in IO82KW; EI9E/P in IO62OM; GW3SRT/P in IO82LQ; G3SVJ/P in IO92XA.

I asked Dan GM6CMQ, who was the op at GM3HAM at the time (and who incidentally knows Dave G4EDR, a mutual friend in the Scarborough area), whether Andy MM0FMF was with them. He was on this year’s team but was busy with an experiment of some kind, though I would work him later.

  1. 145.550 FM – 5 QSO’s from 20:44 to 21:00z SOTA
    Thinking I’d better give the local SOTA chasers a chance before it got late, I switched to the 5-Watt IC-E90 handheld which was coupled up to the vertical J-Pole outside. A single call on S20 brought back G4BLH in Clitheroe. After a failed attempt to spot myself, Mike kindly did the job for me. Actually my self-spot was only delayed. That aside I went on to work: G6XBF Walt in Leeds; M6KZB Chris also in Leeds; G1DRG Gareth in York and the final caller M1EJX Martin at Dunscroft near Doncaster. Reports were 59 both ways apart from the first and final QSO’s; Mike gave me a 51 in response to 57 and the exchange with Martin was 55/ 52. These could have been NFD contacts but I thought it would save time if they weren’t.

  2. 144.375 SSB - 8 QSO’s from 21:00 to 21:30z NFD
    Selecting the alerted frequency of 144.375 MHz, I spotted myself and called ‘CQ SOTA, CQ Contest.’ This strategy brought in the first five QSO’s starting with G4TMZ - Dave in IO93GN.

After another 8 minutes of CQ’ing using the voice keyer with the IC706’s mic pressed against it’s speaker, I was found by G0OLE/P op Neil in IO93PX, then G4ATH/P - Donald in IO83NU (SD43) and G6XBF Walt in IO93FU.

Someone told me about a Danish station who was operating down the band so I QSY’d and worked OR6T in JO20KV. After this minor triumph, I went on to log G3VLG/P in IO92GD and G6IPU/P in JO02QV. I say ‘minor triumph.’ My son worked down past Rome from Scarborough with 50 W to a 7-ely on 144 MHz four days prior to field day and it was an easy QSO too.

I must have gone back to 144.375 and called CQ; it’s not recorded but I was called by MS0TR which turned out to be Andy helping to operate GM3HAM in IO74WV. He’d got my message of earlier and came in for a chat. For 10 minutes we talked, the main topic being GM/NS classics such as Ben Loyal and the like.

  1. 1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:10 to 22:20z SOTA
    The beam was laid on the grass and the mast put back together to support the dipole and already tuned up coils. Top Band was qualified with CW in 10 minutes. The band was noisy and there was intermittent QRM.

Using the maximum available power of 100W (likely only 70W with the voltage applied) I worked: G0HIO Mike Burton-on Trent 579/ 449; G4BLH/M near Clitheroe using a very high Q whip on his car - 579/ 599; EI5HJ Gary 449/ 599 and G4WSB Bill in Swindon 2 x 559.

  1. 1.846/ 1.845 SSB - 9 QSO‘s from 22:22 to 23:00z SOTA
    As well as static crashes, there were lots of man-made nasty noises on SSB again probably caused by ‘creeping data.’ I moved up from 1.843, a frequency I used for SSB in the years up to 2017 but it wasn’t enough. Much further and I’ll be limited to 32 Watts. Further than that and I’ll be having to re-tune the coils before QSY’ing to SSB.

In the 160m SSB log: G4BLH/M Mike 46/ 59; EI3GYB Michael in Mayo 59/ 57; 2E0FEH Karl 2x 58; G4WSB Bill 58/ 59; G0HRT (failed QSO – see later) and M6BYW - XYL of Bill 55/ 59.

Continuing from 22:46z - M0BKV Damien just in from work was easily readable at 59 plus 5dB. Giving me 59 also. CT1DVU Agnelo in Lisbon was next with 44/ 54. After a few repeats G0HRT Rob entered the log on the second time of trying at 2x 55. It was hard to get the reports across for Rob but the real difficulty was properly identifying Rob’s callsign in massive QRM. Last but not least, I was surprised to be called from Polska in the form of SP2EWQ Alex who promised to try 80m in the morning. This, the final QSO was 59 both ways.

It had taken a long time, a QSY and a lot of battery power to complete the Top Band SSB session but it was well worth the effort. Full available power was used most of the time but fearing sudden battery failure that was reduced for the last three QSO’s but not by much.

I usually go out after midnight to remove the Top Band coils in readiness for 80m first thing in the morning but this time it was overlooked. This omission did however give me the opportunity to do further tests on the new coils in daylight.

QRT for the day: 23:00z (Midnight BST)

648 kHz:
Yes I had to get this one in didn’t I? My favourite subject as I am ‘of an age.’ While arranging the sleeping gear for the night we tuned the 706 to Radio Caroline. However that didn’t last long; one Amp of current is an extravagance just to listen to broadcasts but the 1kW signal was steady and quite listenable.

The long night:
Well, not really at this time of year but much depends on comfort or the lack of it. The temperature dropped after dark and so gradually did the wind; the latter a good thing but the still conditions encouraged loud music to drift up from below, presumably Hagg Dyke until well past midnight. This has happened at least once in the past.

It became quite cold outside in the early hours but despite the open ‘brailings’ we were warm enough. The dog, with her head on my Tesco inflatable pillow (what a sacrifice) slept better than me in her coat and sleeping bag until about 4am after which we were both awake much of the time. I think I got about three hours which is good compared to some previous years. Great Whernside’s tussocks were minimised by my Grandson’s (aged 11) Spiderman Lilo but when I saw him he was mildly critical that I would actually use such a child like thing at my age. I explained about the weight but that wasn’t sufficient an excuse.

SUNDAY 07-07-19:
We got up at 07:30 but there was no hot tea this year as I deemed it too time consuming because of our shorter stay. Looking out I was surprised to see a clear day with the odd bit of hazy sun and there had been no condensation overnight. Sasha was soon outside rolling about in the grass after enjoying her breakfast while I tested the available bandwidth for various coil plunger positions on 160m before QSY to 80m in readiness for the QRV time.

  1. 3.557 CW - 6 QSO’s from 07:00 to 07:15z SOTA
    It was early on a Sunday morning but the chasers were available. With 50 Watts to the dipole, the following stations were worked in CW: Immediately on calling CQ, EI6FR came back. Declan and I exchanged at 599/ 559 but he is much better at CW than me, he having operated from exotic DXpedition locations in the past. I got the idea that he was asking if I wanted spotting so I replied, ‘Please spot if you can.’

Declan’s spot alerted others and I soon had another five in the log as follows: G4WSB Bill - Swindon; G0NES Don in Brum; M0BKV Damien in Cornwall; PA9CW Tonnie at Oosterhout and finally a good overseas customer on 80m over the years; Frid DL1FU.

Reports were mostly 599 for these but understandably I got 559 from Tonnie and 569 from Frid. Bill’s exchange was 599/ 579. After some poor showing lately on 80m CW, I was quite satisfied with six worked, especially early on a Sunday morning and it was much appreciated.

  1. 3.760 SSB - 12 QSO‘s from 07:20 to 07:50z. WAB SE07/ SOTA
    Last year and for a long time before that I would by now be sending ‘SSB, SSB, SSB’ on the CW frequency. Roy G4SSH would pick up on that and spot the QSY for me in advance. Sadly Roy is in a home in Scarborough now without access to a radio so the ‘team’ is broken up.

With 40 Watts to the dipole I called ‘CQ SOTA, CQ WAB,’ getting back Dave G4IAR using GB6ABG but recognising his voice. We exchanged at 59 both ways and a brief chat followed. Shortly Dave alerted me to trouble with a poor audio report which became worse on the next over. This is a sure sign of under-voltage so I swapped the two 5Ah Turnigy’s for a pair of new HRB’s. The former had done pretty well in supporting 45 high power QSO’s on the previous day, the Top Band sessions being particularly demanding. I wasn’t at all concerned about battery resources; with just 10Ah used, there was plenty left from the 24Ah brought up and we were due to leave the summit three hours earlier this year.

Next in was G0RQL Don in Holdsworthy, Devon 59/ 57. Settling in to a routine the chasers came in a steady stream as follows: M0TVU Paul - Great Barr; GM6ZAK Andy Cupar; M0TMD Helen in Glossop; M0JLA Rod in Hereford City; G4OOE Nick in Scarborough; G6GGP/P Paul (aka G4MD) using his ‘B’ call from Walton Hill G/CE-002. Thanks for the S2S Paul!

Next to call was G8VNW - Nick a handful of miles down the Wharfe valley in Threshfield; 2E0PJN/P Paul nr. Hitchin using 10 Watts from TL23; 2E0FEH Karl in Saltash, Cornwall with a request for 40m and finally EI2KD Rod in Milford, Co. Donegal.

Four reports were 59 both ways but there were some 55’s and 57’s coming in and a 37 from Rod M0JLA because of local noise on this particular part of the band.

  1. 7.128 SSB – 1 QSO at 07:54z SOTA
    40m was not planned; rather it was quickly arranged following a request made on 80m SSB by Karl 2E0FEH. ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get,’ said Karl. 7.160 was QRL so I chose 7.128. With an 80m configured antenna I couldn’t check it and hoped it was truly clear and would remain so after I’d relayed it to Karl on 80m and then gone out to open the dipole links. Luckily Karl went up there and ‘sat on it’ until I could get there. We exchanged at 57/ 55 but it took 100W to reach Karl with the report.

  2. 70 MHz SSB - 13 QSO’s from 08:20 to 09:49z NFD
    So finally it was back to VHF. The NFD schedule had 70 MHz starting at 08:00z so that was next on the agenda. I took the mast apart and laid the dipole down, not entirely convinced that it wouldn’t be needed again. Care was required to connect up the transverter properly and set the input power. Any mistakes could potentially be costly.

With the 3-ely beam atop the three lower mast sections, I began at the bottom of the band, hunting as I twiddled the VFO up in frequency but pausing to call CQ on sked with my son Phil at 08:30z. This was a new band, so at least I could work everybody without having to check whether I’d worked them on Saturday or not. That niggle would come later with a return to 2m.

Conditions didn’t seem too bad but it took me quite a while to hunt these stations down. Maybe I was just tired but I was certainly suffering with a headache by now, having not drunk enough; a continuing problem as I have almost no sense of thirst.

Stations worked on 4m: G3TBK/P in IO93RA; GM4ZUK/P in IO86RW; G0UUU/P a 10-minute sked with son Phil at Ravenscar near Scarborough in IO94RJ - 54/ 57 on 70.245. After the sked, G2LO/P in IO92GB and G1EZF in IO93FT – the latter two worked on 70.248 after they answered my CQ.

Continuing on: M0NFD/P in IO94MJ; G4ATH/P Donald in IO83NU (SD43); G0OLE/P in IO93PX; G0VHF/P in JO01PU; G3CKR/P in IO93AD; MM0CCC/P in IO85OQ; G2OA/P in IO83PN and finally G3PYE/P in JO02CE.

The transverter gives out 10 Watts when driven with 2W from the IC706-2G on 28 MHz, though power efficiency in the HF rig must me absolutely diabolical.

  1. 144 SSB in 7 QSO’s from 10:22 to 11:05z NFD
    The trouble with having one boom for two beams is the chore of reconfiguration. On the plus side it gets you out and eases some of the pain, stiffness and discomfort which by now was becoming very noticeable.

This would be the final session today whereas normally I’d be inserting 70cm-SSB and then returning again to 144 for a final session, running up to the close at 14:00z. After that would come a SOTA activation on 14MHz. Not so today. For pressing family reasons, I was determined not to work beyond noon local time.

The last gasp on 2m: F8KGU in JN19BQ; G0ARC/P in IO91EH; M0HRF/P in JO01JA; PA1T in JO33JF; G0UUU/P in IO94RJ (Phil at Ravenscar – 266m ASL); DF4T in JN39NR and the final QSO of the 2-day expedition G2OA/P in IO83PN. I wish I’d worked one more which would have made it 90 QSO’s for the expedition but I didn’t realise that at the time.

Final QRT: 11:06z
End of Part-1


Packing up and Descent:
Owing to preliminary work done between the 4m and 2m sessions, it took less time than usual to pack up at the end. That time wasn’t wasted in trying to lighten the load either but we had brought so much food that we couldn’t eat it all; well not me at least. The dog never seems to fill up no matter what and is always sniffing round hoping for the latest treat, leftover or to share my tuna sandwiches, the latter still appetisingly cool from the ice we’d brought up. She wouldn’t touch the cheese and beetroot however. I had brought up some cubes of corned beef for her and a can of sardines which she wolfed down now in short order.

From 3.25 litres of fluids there remained a surplus of more than a litre of water which had originally been ice, now poured into the grass. Annoyingly the first precipitation of the weekend in the form of three minutes of light drizzle, arrived right on cue immediately before it was time to take down the hitherto bone-dry flysheet. Murphy’s Law shall be complied with!

The rucksack was eight pounds lighter than the day before but I still managed to fall down a hole and sprain my left ankle. We hadn’t made a hundred yards from the QTH but now I had a set; the right one still weak from a fall on Fountains Fell on frozen snow about three years ago.

I managed to lift Sasha’s 28kg over the summit fence without too much difficulty but the walk down had to be slow and careful. As before she jumped the next one without much hesitation. The procedure at the cattle grid was reversed and we were at the car for 13:40. It was now time to relax and drive home.

Drive Home:
Monitoring S20 along the way and hearing a CQ, I was about to answer it when someone else jumped in first. They QSY’d to 145.550 but signals were intermittent and scratchy at first. After half an hour I thought I heard the words, ‘Trig Point’ mentioned. With renewed interest and after a few more miles on the clock, I heard someone announce, ‘QRT’unless called.’ It turned out to be a SOTA activation run by G1IXJ (I hope I got that right) on Urra Moor G/TW-001/ WAB NZ50 and we worked at 14:20z.

The 74 mile journey via the A648 and Sutton Bank took from 13:55 to 16:10 and there were no brake failures this time.


VHF-NFD discussion:
26 serial numbers (minus one dupe spotted by my son - therefore only 25) were given out for VHF-NFD contacts on 2m-SSB and a further 13 on 4m. 70cm was dropped this year due to lack of time and to save weight. I had the choice of making the five QSO’s on 2m-FM proper contest ones but to avoid possible confusion and to save time I didn’t bother.

For the relatively short times I was on, VHF band conditions seemed quite good and I managed to work into Germany, Netherlands, Belguim and Eire on 2m, though these were ‘hard won’. The French op took a while to work out that I wasn’t a GW as he’d never heard of a GX. In fact he seemed to get quite animated at the prospect of a new prefix despite him initially calling it a suffix. Best distance was 793km out to DF4T at the far side of Luxembourg on 144.196 MHz (JN39NR).

The 4m contacts were more local. JO01 and IO86 were the furthest squares worked but with 10W to a 3-ely, I had less gain and less power than on 2m and this was only my second year with 4m-SSB capability.

This year was more of a family affair than usual as I worked my son Phil on both the VHF bands used. Our sked worked out well on 4m but he was forced to chase me up and down the band for the 2m QSO, eventually finding me working PA1T, a QSO we both had some difficulty with.

As ever, I’m only there to have fun and give out points and in 17 consecutive years I’ve never put in an entry, only two (and now three) check logs. This attitude might be hard to understand for some but the mental not to say physical effort of doing it the way I do is more than enough to satisfy me. On the other hand, if I could guarantee somebody official having to climb up to inspect me I’d pre-enter just for badness.

This year there were one or two stations who’s ops were prepared to pause for a chat and others that caused me amusement by laughing at my funny callsign. Every year I like to work G0OLE just because I have a soft spot for the place that stems from my childhood visits to relatives and walks on the banks of the Ouse. Goole’s alternative name is ‘Sleep Hollow.’ It’s the river air.

The Blakey Ridge/ Lion Inn crowd is another outfit I like a QSO with but I only heard them on someone else’s frequency this year. I got a chat with Andy MM0FMF after leaving a message at GM3HAM and I’m always looking to join the ‘AD’ club for another year by swapping my IO94AD for their IO93AD. Yes, there are so many familiar callsigns and I’ll miss them when I’m too old to climb.

The home-made voice keyer saved a sore throat again this year though I didn’t call CQ as much as I would have liked.

Not quite as bad this year as we stayed for three fewer hours. The Spiderman airbed was the star of the show and it only weighs 340gm. I’m sure that if she could talk, Sasha would have something good to say about my Tesco inflatable pillow. The Mountain Equipment Nova-2 sleeping bag, new last year, was more than adequate.

As good as gold and a great companion sums it up. I would take her any time so long as the weather and terrain challenges are not too great. In the next couple of weeks our ages will be equal at 70, hers in dog years of course. Thanks to her owner Hazel for letting her come along.

160m SOTA:
For me 160m is at least equal to NFD if not more important. Despite noisy conditions, static crashes, QSB and very loud data QRM on the SSB frequency, propagation was good enough to work both UK and overseas stations in EI, CT1 and SP with a total of 13 QSO’s.

The session ended at midnight BST which may have been a bit late for some chasers but at this time of year the start time of 11pm local is only just over 90 minutes after sunset. Any Sunday morning 160m session would have had to be ridiculously early which is why I booked 80 instead. Thanks once again to the 160m enthusiasts who supported the activation.

The New Coils for 160m:
Thankfully, the Mk-2 coils did a fine job in tuning the 80m dipole every bit as well as the ones I lost in May. This was the first RF they’ve seen so it was a bit of a risk announcing Top Band beforehand. For some reason they cover a lower range of frequencies than the originals I made in 2004 which just covered the 160m band.

The new ones cover up to approx 1.87 MHz with the plungers fully out and right down to roughly 1.690 in the medium wave band with them fully in. This will need further investigation.

On the 6m mast with 1m ends and coil plungers set to position ‘4’ VSWR is as follows:
2:1 at 1.819; 1.5:1 at 1.827; 1.1:1 from 1.833 to 1.852; 1.5:1 at 1.858; 2:1 at 1.862 MHz. This setting covers both 1.832-CW and 1.846-SSB. The originals would be set to 4.7 for the same characteristics. ‘6’ is fully in (max inductance) and 1 is fully out (min inductance). The coils are inserted in series at the 40m break points of the 80m link dipole. Readings from the IC706-2G meter with about 40 Watts in.

80m SOTA:
80m was perfect for reaching the G- countries as well as EI, PA and DL. Signals were mostly strong or very strong. When evening and morning sessions are added together, 32 QSO’s were worked on this band including six in CW. The evening session was done on a whim. In fact I heard activity on 3.760 whilst flicking through the memories on the IC706 and decided I’d like to join in. Glad I did; 14 QSO’s were logged in only 15 minutes thanks to excellent control by Steve G4HPE.

40m SOTA:
Again unplanned but a request from Karl 2E0FEH resulted in 1 QSO.

As few as three years ago phone coverage on NP8 and NP9 was at best unreliable and at worst non-existent. This year and in 2018 I had 100% coverage from Vodafone which is reassuring when on an isolated summit overnight. Before that I had to rely on a 2m-FM link back to Roy G4SSH but he obviously could not monitor on a 24 hour basis. Neither could he copy me 100% at QRP levels.

Battery Power:
I took six batteries in three pairs this year but only used 16.5Ah from the total of more than 24Ah for a total of 90 QSO’s running up to full power.

QSO Summary:
Saturday: 50
Sunday: 39

VHF- NFD Contest:
2m SSB: 25
4m SSB: 13
TOTAL (Contest): 38

Non-Contest / SOTA:
160m CW: 4
160m SSB: 9
80m CW: 6
80m SSB: 26
40m SSB: 1
2m FM: 5
Total (SOTA): 51
Grand Total: 89

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

Times (BST):
Drive to Start: 15:00 to 17:20 Saturday
Walking: 17:45 Saturday
Arr. Trig Point: 18:32 Saturday
Camping place / QTH: 18:42 Saturday to 12:52 on Sunday (7th July-19)
Descent to car: 13:40 Sunday
Drive home: 13:55 to 16:10 Sunday

Up: 47min. Down: 48min. Summit time: 18hr-22min. Car to Car: 19hr-55min.
Distance Driven: 147.2 miles. Total driving time: 4hr-35min

Thanks to all SOTA chasers and VHF-NFD contest stations for contributing to yet another fun stay on Great Whernside. Thanks also to: G4BLH; EI6FR; G4WSB; G0HIO and the SMS SOTA spotting facility for spots. Steve G4HPE the WAB controller on Saturday evening. Phil G0UUU/P for skeds and for submitting my NFD check-logs. Thanks to Sasha for the company.

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

Photos: 1-6-7-11-15-23-24-37-39-40-47-57-62-65-66-71-75-80-85-89-105-108-114-120

Above: Car and dog both safely at their required sides of the cattle grid

Above: Electric fence ahead, NP8 top right

Above: The steep mid-section of the route

Above: Looking back to the start

Above: Half way

Above: Easy gradient; summit ahead

Above: A spring; bone dry in 2018’s long, hot summer but running today

Above: Summit cairn. Just 270m to QTH

Above: Deeply fissured rocks next to the cairn. Ideal for activations in east/west winds

Above: Looking just west of south

Above: High speed approach to the camping place. Summit cairn 270m SW

Above: G/P-008. Flysheet, 2m-FM vertical and HF dipole with new 160m coils fitted ready for tests.

Above: IC706-2G tuned up for 160m-SSB

Above: You couldn’t make it up! Radio Caroline’s 1kW transmission coming in at 57, on the old BBC-WS frequency.

Above: 4am.

Above: The 706 again tuned to 80m-CW on Sunday morning. Just worked Don G0NES

Above: Sasha. ‘Treats please.’

Above: Back to NFD. IC706-2G with 2W input on 28 MHz produces 10W on 70.248 MHz to work G0UUU/P on sked

Above: 70 MHz/ 3-ely home-brew beam. A scaled up Sotabeam; the design credit goes to G3CWI

Above: The same boom with four elements fitted for 2m. The long element is the 4m reflector needed for weight balance

Above: Packing up after light drizzle

Above: Another fine VHF-NFD over.

Above: Sasha easily clears the fence from a standing start

Above: The final section


Good to have a 10min chat John during the contest. Conditions didn’t seem as good as last year. We were using a new radiol, an Icom 9700 running 100W into a single 17ele 5λ Yagi. It’s a really nice radio to use and we got lots of compliments regarding our signal and audio which is always good. The band scope is excellent for search and pounce operating.

It ran effortlessly for the whole contest and the fan in the PSU was louder than the fan in the radio. More than can be saiid for the 23cms FT736 which is showing its age and whilst the front end has been seriously “hot-rodded”, the frequency was drifting as it wasn’t locked to its Rubidium standard. The power was up and down too. Possibly it’s done its last contest and time for something new.

Here’s the 11ele 4m antenna with Cairnharrow GM/SS-191 behind.

And here’s one of me getting a doublet working on 80m ready for the GM/NS SOTA-pedition coming up this August. I’ve got a full size dipole built as well. If I get time, I’ll try to make some 80m loading coils to insert at the 40m link in my 40/60m dipole By heck, these LF antennas are big!



Belgium though and sadly not Denmark.

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Hi Andy,

Thanks for your input here and the photos of a real VHF-NFD station, though it does make me feel a touch inadequate! 11 ely on 4m! That takes some doing; I can only dream. Condx. may have been a bit down (I didn’t notice with my kit) but there’s one good thing about it. We had decent WX, though there were some that didn’t further south.

You gave me a shock there, moving Denmark into Belgium but thanks for finding the error. I can’t say I’ve come across ‘OR’ before. This is where I need Roy; he was a DX’er before SOTA and would have known. I genuinely thought it was Denmark but I’m getting very rusty on prefixes these days. It will be corrected.

I’m pleased you are building something for 80. They are big but I’ve been using 80m dipoles portable since 1987 or before, so they don’t seem big to me anymore. I think Mark G0VOF used a full size 160m dipole from one or two G/SP summits on a 10m mast a few years ago and that is big! I used to have one in my garden; well nearly all of it fitted, the rest was bent round. It must have been the ‘experimenting’ that Dan (I think it was Dan) mentioned you were doing when I worked HAM. Well done; keep up the good work for Ben Loyal, the summit of which will ‘take’ an 80m dipole.

73, John

Thanks for the report and the callsign checks, John, but it’s GB6ABG this month - up to the 28th anyway!

Many thanks to you John both for the s2s and the inclination to get out for what was an excellent morning’s radio - it was seeing your alert on Saturday evening that inspired me to give it a go :slight_smile: Great to chat again

73 de Paul

Hello Dave,

Thanks for spotting the error. Strangely I had it right at the time; it’s in the paper log with a six but I typed a one! Likely I’ve worked the GB1 prefix in the past and it stuck.

Thanks for getting up early. Dedicated chasing!
73, John.

Hi Paul,
Pleased to be of service. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get us moving - seeing something on the SOTA sites.

Yes, good to chat and I will try not to keep a summiteer waiting next time. I just didn’t think it would be a SOTA as we don’t usually get up that early!

Anyway whatever; yours was my only S2S all weekend to special thanks to you. Pleased you enjoyed your day.
73, John

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No problem John, you had no way of knowing I was on a summit! Didn’t mind at all waiting while you caught up with Nick. Surprised I was your only s2s - that makes me extra glad I went out :slight_smile: Hope to catch you again soon

73 Paul

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Sorry I missed you on 160m, John, I was in a pub on the last night of my week camping in Pembrokeshire with no internet or I would at least have tried on 80m, I too must make a 160m antenna to go in my kit!

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Thanks Brian,
You’ll need a big kit bag! Hope you enjoyed your holiday. I wasn’t the only one camping apparently. I did wonder if you’d missed the (late) alert but we’ll see you next time.
73, John

My 65 litre extensible will even take the kitchen sink! That said, I just checked on my W3EDP antenna and apparently it will cover 160m if I add a quarter wave counterpoise, so I will experiment with a loading coil in the counterpoise to keep the length sensible - but I will need to make a new tuner, too! Plenty of time before the Autumn.

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And here’s one of me getting a doublet working on 80m ready for the GM/NS SOTA-pedition coming up this August.


…what are the dimensions on your doublet? …wire …match unit …feed line …tie outs …mast …tell me more please

G4YSS - Nice and thorough write-up…great read…tnx

One question: Did you tell the glider pilot you had no brakes before or after he got in? :wink:


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:laughing: :laughing: :+1:

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Probably foreign body contamination in one circuit of the master cylinder causing fluid to escape past the seals. It’s moved and the seals are working again. Where it’s moved to is the issue!

For peace of mind you should probably change the brake fluid. I’m don’t recall brake fluid changing being part of the service plan of cars I owned in the past but it was an item on my old Audi but that maybe because it was a higher performance buggy. Anyway John, you’ll be shocked to hear that in 2013 the Audi main dealer wanted £168+vat for a brake fluid flush and change and my independant Audi dealer (ex-main dealer staff) did it for £38+vat). They have a gizmo that fits onto the bleed nipples and master cylinder reservoir that means you just connect it, crack the nipples, press the button and come back 10mins later and tighten the nipples and you’re done.

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Very good multiband setup, well done. And to activate 160m as well as the relatively easy HF bands, pretty good effort. Hats off to you for a successful pedestrian multiband field day and SOTA activation. With dog food.

A thought: a double sized zs6bkw is a workable antenna on 160/80/40/20 without pulling anything down, you just need a good ATU capable of handling some high impedances on some bands. Makes late night band changing easier. Length 56.8m. Feedline 22m ribbon. The LDG tuner I have handles the standard doublet on 80/40/20/17/10 with my 706/iig.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

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@VA4SR Craig, here’s the info

The wire is 7x0.1mm copper with a clear plastic insulation in a figure-of-8 twin arrangement. The OD of a single core including insulation is 1.2mm. It solders nicely.

The doublet has legs of 13m each and the feeder is a 5.5m length of twin. The pole is 5m and the antenna was right at the top with the ends sloping to ground. Normally I’d have then ends 1m off the ground but I was in a hurry to get it going and open the Whisky.

Here is an offcut with a US quarter for scale. This is still twin cored.

I bought a “big reel” of it at a rally about 5 years back including the winder for €15 where the handle folds flat to reduce the size. So far I have used it for all sorts of antenna experiments including giving someone a 30m length. It’s not as flexible as normal PVC wire. Also you need to take care when splitting it into single core pieces that you allow the “twists” out or you get a nasty knotted mess. I’ve made a full sized 80m dipole, the doublet and feeder and countless other wire antenas, give wire away and still have this much cable leftm shown with an AA battery for scale.

The tuner is the GQRP ‘Sudden’ tuner. It’s a QRP balanced tuner with high and low impedance outputs and a LED SWR ‘bridge’. It tunes the doublet on 80m and 60m but tuning is really, really sharp. I was having real issues tuning on 40m up and I got bored experimenting as it was eating in to operating and drinking time. The aim was to get something that would work on 80m and it did that. Repeatable albeit very sharp tuning. Again shown with AA for scale.

It was the really sharp tuning that persuaded me to make a full size Inv-v dipole the next day. I felt it was too sharp to be easy to deploy on a Scottish summit were typically it’s windy or cold or damp or any combination thereof. Plus midges. I’ll experiment further because there’s something not right yet. Hence a dipole that will be right all the time.


Very nice report John. Very detailed and full of useful info and great pictures too.
Many thanks.

Sorry about my failed chase on top band. I tried to reach you using QRP and just an 80m antenna (all that was available) but was being swamped by a WSPR mode signal singing away on your frequency.
I have deleted the log entry for my chase.

Memo to myself. Must try activating Great Whernside myself just a soon as I have got myself a great canine companion like your Sasha. Last one was Cali a Border Collie who reached fifteen years and passed on. (Photo on another thread)

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Hi Craig,
No but I wouldn’t let him in until he tied his paraglider to my tow ball just in case!

Thanks for your comments. It’s a marathon reading it all. Really needs a train journey. Hopefully most people just read the bits they’re interested in. My son only reads the radio bits, the rest gets him out of breath!
73, John

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