G4YSS:G/NP-008 VHF-NFD Gt.Whernside,07-07-24

GREAT WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008. VHF-NFD & SOTA on Sunday 07-July-24
Iss-2. Pse Rprt Errors?

G4YSS/P VHF-NFD Contest on 2m SSB/ FM; 4m SSB/ CW & 70cm SSB (All QRP)
SOTA on 20m CW/ SSB (QRP)
This was my 22nd Consecutive VHF-NFD from G/NP-008. Unaccompanied
This VHF-NFD report is based on previous ones. They’re all much the same!

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

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
Link dipole for 80m thru’ 20m
6m CFC/ alloy 4-section mast with 1m end-sticks for HF dipole (w/o section-4)
Base 3-sections from above for VHF beams plus guying kit
One HRB 5,000mAh Li-Po battery
3-ele Sotabeam scaled up for 4m band, converts to…
4-ele Beam for 2m band (home-brew)
J-Pole for 2m-FM
(No dedicated antenna for 70cm – see text)

Baofeng UV-5R 2-band/ 5W H/H (not used)
Baofeng UV-3R 2-band/ 2W H/H (not used)
Pack weight: 11.4 kg (25 pounds) including 1.25 litre drinks

Other Items:
1988 Lichfield Viper-2 ridge tent flysheet with pre-attached poles & pegs
Groundsheet – polythene, 1.8m square (190gm) with 4 home-brew carbon pegs
Tiny folding 3-legged stool (290gm)
Garmin GEKO-301 GPS with routes
Umbrella – hand carried
Boots: ‘New’ Scarpa Ranger GTX. Second of two pairs purchased 2012, commissioned today

This was my twenty second consecutive VHF-NFD on Great Whernside G/NP-008, seven of which have been overnighters. The contest runs from 14:00z on Saturday through to 14:00z on Sunday. 6m is on the Saturday, 2m & 70cm run throughout and 4m is reserved for Sunday from 08:00z. There are other VHF bands that I don’t have equipment for.

If you want to enter the contest you need to register before the event so that the station can be inspected while operating. I have never entered but sometimes I put in a check-log. It amuses me to think of someone struggling up NP8 just to inspect my meagre station. The Backpacker’s Contest overlaps the NFD and runs from 11:00z to 15:00z. Europe have a similar contest which coincides with the UK’s.

To keep pack weight down the HF linear amp and 70cm antenna were not taken. Because of an unfavourable weather forecast, which annoyingly seems to threaten this event almost every year, I decided there would be no Saturday night summit camp.

I asked if I could take Finn but the request was turned down on the grounds that according to the vet, he has a bad back. That was a shame. I knew he’d have loved to come along as he’s enjoyed NP8 twice before. He has also been on two NP6 summit camps with me.

WX for Sunday 7th July-24:
The MWIS mountain weather forecast for the Yorkshire Dales was wind W to NW 15 to 25 mph; afternoon showers with the risk of lightning; 8C, 80% cloud-free summits. The Met Office mountain forecast was similar, specifying the lightning risk for around midday. Some forecasts had heavy rain showers all day but at least high winds were not predicted.

By far my greatest worry, for obvious reasons, is lightning. I was caught out on Mickle Fell once and had to beat a hasty retreat. I hate to admit it but the amount of anxiety that this causes me on the lead up to this event every year has become somewhat debilitating. You can’t pick and chose the weather when the day is fixed. In the event, apart from a light shower on the drive home, not a single drop of rain was seen for the duration, nor was any thunder heard. That said, I was exceedingly fortunate. Some stations had to delay their setup because of heavy rain and others complained of it when I worked them.

Up at 03:25, I got away for the 75 mile drive via the A170, A61, B6267, A6018, A684 and the ‘C’ road SW from Middleham, by 04:20 driving through herds of cattle for the last mile and arriving at the top of Park Rash for 06:30.

There were two issues. The A61 was completely closed with a barrier west of Thirsk at Carlton Miniott, forcing a short detour via Sandhutton to rejoin at Busby Stoop roundabout. (Notices in Thirsk informed of closures there for 6-weeks in July/ August). Secondly a yellow sign near Horsehouse stated, ‘Road closed in 7 miles; no access to Kettlewell via Cam Gill Road’ That made me panic. A track-back and drive-around via Cray and Buckden would have wasted up to 45 minutes but I carried on in hope. Fortunately I got to the parking place after just 5 miles.

As usual, I parked on the Kettlewell side of the cattle grid at SD 9861 7567. This means forcing up onto the verge through long grass but you need to do this if you don’t want your car licked from top to bottom, including your windows and your door mirrors ripped off. It’s happened to me on two previous NFD’s so I just keep issuing the warning. To be fair, I only wash my 2001 car once a year, for the MOT in November, so I think it was winter salt that the cattle were after on those occasions.

The Ascent:
As in the previous three years, I just took the 25 litre rucksack with tent flysheet, Yagi and mast tied to the outside. A pack weight of 11.4kg/ 25 lbs, was a lot less than last year when I needed to take dog accoutrements including food and extra water.

The walk started at 06:58 and took 48 minutes to the trig including an unscheduled stop to remove the fleece and re-secure the externally attached items. As usual it was boggy between the wall gate and the top stile. One bog was notable in that you could jump up and down in the middle and the whole convex area around would wobble accordingly. The traditional QTH, which is 270m northeast of the summit, was attained around 07:10 BST. There was a moderate breeze with wispy low-cloud for the first hour or so.

Route in Brief:
Park south of the cattle grid at SD9861 7567. From there: Gate SD 9891 7558; Stile SD 9963 7522; 1st marker post (yellow top) SE 0005 7468; 4th marker post SE 0022 7414; Summit cairn SE 00205 73905.

Note-1 The 100km grid letters change from SD to SE part way up.
Note-2: Buckden Pike G/NP-009 can also be accessed from this parking place.

GREAT WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008, 704m (2,310ft) 6 pts. 07:46 to 14:38. Temp: 9C rising to 12C. Wind: West 10-15 mph. Thin low-cloud cleared after an hour. No rain and some sun. WAB: SE07. LOC: IO94AD. Trig: TP-0703. Vodafone coverage - 4G 95% of the time.

Setting Up:
With rain in the forecast, getting the tent flysheet up and the groundsheet inside is reassuring. The 3-section 4m high mast was positioned just outside the door and guyed. Assembling the home-brew beam takes some time. There are sufficient elements to make either a 4-ele/ 2m band or 3-ele/ 4m band Yagi on the same boom. Colour coding helps. I use the front BNC on the FT817ND for VHF antennas and the back SO239 is designated for HF.

VHF-NFD Contest 144 MHz SSB - 21 QSO’s between 07:40z and 10:05z.
5W to a 4-ele on a 4m mast:
(All the references in brackets below are to signal reports & serial numbers received).

There weren’t many stations that I could hear but after peaking one up I tried to call him with my five Watts but without success. After several attempts someone shouted ‘up three’ where I worked G4HZG – Mike using a 13-ele and 50W from IO93HE (59-032). We had a brief chat, so at least I knew the gear was working. I tried calling EI9E/P who I usually work but he couldn’t hear me and I never heard him after that.

Self spotting the (WAB) frequency of 144.345, I worked Phil G4OBK (59-001) booming in from Pickering. Phil, who had noticed my spot, was using 100W to a 7-ele crossed Yagi beam. I went on to attract a further three stations on this QRG: G4SJM/P in IO94GC (59-030); GM3HAM/P in IO74WV (56-092) passing my 73 on to Andy MM0FMF who was ‘somewhere around.’ Next in was G6DDN, Ian in IO93BS at 400ft ASL. Ian gave me 59 plus 30dB and ser No 006 so I think he must have had a pre-amp? After these, my 144.240 channel dried up so it was a case of going hunting.

On 144.330 Mhz I heard TM5R talking in French. I called a few times but he was working mainly continentals and probably turned that way. Eventually he heard my mouse power. I worked him last year with 5W and repeated it again today. He was in JN19BQ (59-491). This turned out to be the only overseas station worked in the contest and at 570km, my best distance on VHF.

Next: G3ZME/P IO82NN (55/128); G3CKR/P from IO93AD precisely one square south of me (57-147) and G3SRT/P in IO82KV (59/132).

Continuing: G4FUO IO93KV (56-001); MM0CPS/P IO84BT (58-033); G4ZAP/P in JO01PU (57-367); M0NFD/P on Blakey Ridge - IO94MJ (55-070) and G0FBB/P in JO01LD (59-114).

Things had been going very slowly but now came a complete famine with 26 minutes elapsing before the next contact. I could have stopped for lunch but with the weather threat, there wasn’t time for that. I kept hunting but could either find no new stations or couldn’t make any that I did find, hear me.

With activity increasing, as it always does later in the morning, I worked G3PYE/P in Cambridge (where else?) JO02CE (57-119) and G1DSP/P in IO92XR (57-057).

Food ‘on the hoof’ between QSO’s left much to be desired. To save space, the scotch egg was in with the parkin. The crumbly mix was forced down with one hand and the VFO twiddled with the other. It wasn’t nice.

Once again someone shouted my callsign. This time, ‘down to 144.240.’ When I got there I was met by G4MQV in IO94FQ (57-001). This was Bill nr Durham but he didn’t seem to be doing the contest. After a chat I was left the frequency and in came G7SXR Mark in Driglington IO93ES (59-005) (‘see you later for FM’). After Mark a just as friendly Goole Radio Club G0OLE/P, op Richard in IO93PX (59-022) followed. If I remember correctly I think a 2m band halo antenna was mentioned? What a great idea; it doesn’t need turning.

The last three 2m-SSB QSO’s were with G0HEU/P Paul in IO94AT (59-002); G4JRT/P John in IO94JF, location Sutton Bank top (57-002) and G3OHM (love the call) IO92AJ in a ‘noisy Birmingham’ (33-026). There were no further callers and time constraints forced me to move on ASAP.

VHF-NFD Contest 145.550/ 145.450 FM – 5 QSO’s & G7SXR from 10:13z:
5W from the FT817ND to a vertical J-Pole on the front tent pole was the setup. To start the ball rolling, I tail-ended a QSO between M6MOF/P and G7SXR on 145.550, logging the former as a contest exchange IO93CP (52-001). This turned out to be Cane parked up at a high spot and out for a few Sunday afternoon contacts. He didn’t know about the contest until Mark G7SXR explained it to him so I hope that a few of the other contesters tried FM.

Mark then got his patiently awaited 2m-FM QSO (59/ 57) but having worked him earlier in SSB, we could dispense with the contest exchange this time around. Mark, QTH Driglington (Leeds) only logs FM SOTA contacts. ‘See you on Seamer Beacon’ was Mark’s final comment. To HEMA chasers that’s G/HTW-008 (189m) and he often works me on 2m-FM when I walk up there from my home in Irton, Scarborough.

A self spot, which this time had to be sent via SMS lined up a handful more, or maybe they just found me: G4TML Barry in Almondbury (Hudds) IO93CP/ WAB-SE11 (55-001); M0PVA our old SOTA friend Mick at Billington in IO83ST (58-001); G0RXT IO93IF Colin in Bolsover Derby’s (55-001) and finally G0PMJ IO94FN Dave in Darlington (59-001).

Barry G4TML told me that he specialised in activating Trig Points with Brian G0BFJ until ill health caught up with both of them. I have worked Brian countless times, going back decades, on the WAB net and latterly heard him in the UKAC VHF evening contests. Brian is one of the OV00 ‘pioneers’ going down the 500 foot Beast Cliff on a rope with a scout leader as guide. Barry has activated more than 70 Trig Points and today he chased mine plus the WAB square of SE07.

VHF-NFD Contest 70 MHz SSB/ CW - 12 QSO’s between 11:09 and 11:53z.
10W to a 3-ele on a 4m mast:
The excellent and lightweight Ukrainian transverter had already been connected and bungeed to the FT817ND the day before. All I had to do was take down the beam, re-configure it as a 3-ele for 70 Mhz and plug it in the back of the transverter where it says ‘VHF Ant.’ For the aerial, it’s a case of removing the four 2m elements and screwing in three 4m ones. The elements are soft aluminium welding rods with 4BA threads and therefore quite weak.

There were half a dozen stations across the band calling CQ but not getting very far. I turned the beam north towards GM6MD/P in IO75VG, getting 59 for my ten Watts and Ser No 023. He was running a ‘5 over 5 and max legal power of 160W from an ASL of 2,300 feet.’ No wonder I was 59! I gave him the SOTA Ref, as I did all stations unless they were very weak, and he enquired of my altitude. ‘Ah, you beat me by ten feet,’ came the reply. No doubt he would beat me by a bigger margin when it came to antenna AGL! A good start.

On a frequency of 70.195 (28.195 MHz from the FT817) second in the 4m log was GW3ZTT/P in IO82KW (59-008). Progress seemed quicker on here and 4 minutes later I worked G3CKR/P in IO93AD (55-059). Pointing briefly north again my 10W got me GM3HAM/P (59-036) in IO74WV. G3PYE/P (57-058) in JO02CE got his second QSO of the day from me followed by G6AAQ/P in IO92MO (52-030).

Seven minutes elapsed before I found G3PIA/P in IO91TN (54-041) and a third Scottish station MM0CPS/P in IO84BT (59-031).

Next in was G0OLE/P - Goole Club located ‘in a van near Warter on the Yorkshire Wolds.’ Op Ken (‘71’) accompanied by Colin (‘82’) gave me 59-029 from IO93PX. As always we had a brief conversation; they know I love Goole. Ken’s laughing retort: 'Ah, I told them he’d be lurking somewhere,’ meaning me of course. This followed my initial call-in of ‘G4YSS/P Great Whernside.’

Next in the log was G3ZME/P in IO82NN (59-061) on top of The Long Mynd and G2BQY in IO81RF (55-049) who I’d tried for earlier but failed. The latter was a difficult QSO. Neither of us were very strong to the other so it took a while with lots of ‘Rogers.’ When I thanked him for his perseverance he reciprocated.

I heard a CW CQ and answered it in the hope the Morse key wouldn’t go wrong again and start spraying dots, as it had in GM/CS in June. A home test afterwards found no fault. As it was I fumbled my locator but soon all was well and the QSO with G0FBB/P was good. ‘RRR FB TNX.’ Glad I made it, as this was the best distance on 4m of 388km (559-052).

After that I tried several times to make G8SRC/P hear me to no avail and with dark clouds to the west, was this a sign to end the contest and move to HF? No, we’ll risk it a bit longer.

VHF-NFD Contest 432 MHz SSB - 4 QSO’s between 12:09 and 12:21z. 5W to 4m 3-ele:
I didn’t have an aerial for this band but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. What can be done? My 2m band J-Pole works on 70cm with a 1.7:1 VSWR but that’s a vertical. The 4m band beam was still on the mast so why not try that? Nothing to loose, except maybe the PA!

A quick calculation showed that a hoped-for harmonic response was not available. 432 MHz divide 70 MHz is 6.2, which is close to an unhelpful even harmonic but not even on that close. This was hardly useful so a high VSWR could be expected. The FT817 has an SWR scale and it’s set to that permanently. However if the SWR gets really high it shows its annoyance. The letters ‘SWR’ flash up as if to say, ‘Stop it, this hurts!’ In the event that didn’t happen but it was still almost full scale. Never mind; the 817 has shown itself to be robust over the years and it must have protection, so lets carry on and see what happens?

Turning the beam revealed lobes squirting out right around the compass. The stations calling wouldn’t ‘stand still’ for long enough for me to tell which lobe was the strongest (if any) so I just rotated the beam as best as I could to peak them up and called. To my surprise it worked; people were coming back!

The first station I tried was MM0CPS/P in IO84BT (59-027). He asked me how I was finding it; presumably meaning the contest and/ or 70cm, so I described the current working conditions and said I really couldn’t tell. I expected laughter but his reply was, ‘Never mind, you’re getting out and that’s what matters!’ MM0CPS/P was 145 km away; my best distance on UHF.

Yes despite the employ of a 70MHz aerial for 70cm, I was getting out and went on to work three more stations, peaking them up on one of my ‘rogue’ lobes: G4EKT/P in IO94RB using 10W from 120m ASL (59-014); G4SJM/P IO94GC (59-024) and finally G3CKR/P in IO93AD (59-089). 70cms didn’t seem too busy and a quick wander on the waveband (as my friend Stephen Glennon called it in the 1960’s, while looking for pirate stations on MW) revealed nothing further that was obvious. This made it three bands but it really was time to QSY to HF for some pure SOTA and no more serial numbers.

14.059 CW - 7 QSO’s from 12:51z
The beam was removed from the mast and the thin top section screwed into place to take the dipole which in this case was plugged into the back of the transverter where it says ‘HF Ant.’ That gives you a path straight through the transverter for the FT817ND HF output without disconnecting patch leads etc. You have to ensure that the transverter is switched off however, so just to be sure I also pulled the 2A circuit breaker.

The following stations were worked on 20m-CW following a self spot:
IU1KGS Carlo in JN44 Italy 579/ 559; HB9EVF/P Tom S2S on HB/BE-111 (Gurten 858m) 579 both ways; SM5LNE Jan – Kungsor 599/ 559; OH3GZ Jukka – Toivakka 599 both ways; G4OBK Phil – Pickering (N.Yorkshire) 599/ 569; DC1UH Ullrich - Jena 579-QRM/ 599 (‘pse agn my RST?’) and DK8SX Paul – Ludwigsburg using just 1W ‘VLP’ 599/ 579. Judging by his loud signal, Paul must have a very good antenna system! The session took 13 minutes and power was 5W to the link dipole.

14.305 SSB - 5 QSO’s from 13:06z:
Continuing with the same setup: OK4NEO Mat – Kopnvnice 59/ 53; EA3EVL Pablo – Tortosa 59/ 57; SP6KEP Lesnica Radio Club station 57/ 54; EA6/ M0DLL Dave – Menorca 57/ 56; and to round off an enjoyable day OK1KT Vrata – Hradec Kralove 59/ 55.

EA6/ M0DLL Dave’s UK home QTH is West London but he’s originally from Durham. He was hearing my 5 Watts to a dipole well enough for a second over from me. His QRZ page reveals interesting background information about his long career in TV and also his radio hobby since 1955. He mentioned that he reads my SOTA reports and likes the detail. The latter could be a mixed blessing I suspect but after an occupation where report writing was a mandatory requirement, I find it hard to stop! Maybe I need therapy? A good QSO.

Packing up and Descent:
In previous years an hour for packing up was accepted as normal but I had much less equipment deployed today. In fact at 26 pounds the rucksack was under half the weight of much earlier NFD’s. The beam had been packed up after the contest, with the elements stored inside the boom. There was only the dipole to roll up, the mast to split and the tent to take down. Thankfully the heavy rain and lightning, mentioned in the forecasts, never arrived and just 26 minutes after the final QSO, I was walking off; a new record!

Lost Hat:
In my rush to avoid bad weather that never came, I wasn’t sufficiently thorough. Firstly the unrequired SOTA sunhat didn’t make it into the pack and secondly the items carried outside the small 25 litre rucksack were not properly secured. I just donned the hat to get rid of it but I was already wearing my mountain hat, required for ear protection in the cold wind. Now two hats.

On the way up I always visit the trig point first but going down is easier if you just cut the corner and head for the next stile north along the fence at SE 0026 7406. Just after the stile, the tent, mast and beam became partially detached and the 2m J-Pole was lying in the grass. I hate stopping once underway but like on the way up, I had to re-attach the items.

A little further down the hat came to mind. Reaching up I found only one hat not two. ‘Did I put it in my pocket?’ I was loathe to go back and search the 120m of rough ground to the QTH. The next and last time I saw that hat was after getting home, in the final photo I took before reaching the path down. It’s just visible in the grass near the aforementioned stile. The Khaki hat was new from Barry in June to replace a red one I lost on Seamer Beacon. I’m not fit to be let loose. I shall have to pay Barry for another. Oh well, it’s only money. I got back to the car at 15:22 which is 2 or 3 hours earlier than in most previous years.

Drive Home:
I took the traditional route via A684, A1M, A168 (around Thirsk), A170/ Sutton Bank, which took from 15:30 until 17:52. After Helmsley I caught up with a queue of cars and a steam traction engine doing not much more than a fast walking speed. It took a while to get past that and then I caught up with another one. Again a delay but then I met several ancient tractors trundling along with a mile between them. It’s a good job I like old vehicles. Pickering traction engine rally is not until 26th July so maybe preparations are starting early.

QSO Summary:
VHF- NFD Contest:
144-SSB: 22
145-FM: 5
70-SSB: 11
70-CW: 1
432-SSB: 4
TOTAL (Contest): 43

2m-FM: 1
20m-CW: 7
20m-SSB: 5
Total (SOTA): 13
Overall Total: 56

Battery Utilisation:
70% of 5,000mAh HRB Li-Po for 56 QRP QSO’s (discharge test)

Ascent/ Distance (round trip):
217m (712ft)/ 5.5km (3.4 miles up & down)
Adding 2 x 270m to/ from QTH makes it 6km (3.8 miles up & down)
Time up to trig: 48min gross
Time down from QTH: 44 min gross
Summit time: 6hr-54min

Times (BST):
Drive to Start: 04:20 to 06:30 (75 miles via A170, Thirsk & A684)
Walking from SD 9861 7567: 06:58
Arr. Trig Point: 07:46
Arr. QTH: 07:55
Left QTH: 14:38
Arr. Car: 15:22
Drive home: 15:30 to 17:52 (80 miles via A684-A1M-A168-A170)

Distance driven: 155 miles
Total driving time: 4hr-42min

VHF-NFD on 2m-4m-70cm:
Like last year, TM5R in France was the best distance on 2m-SSB at 570km and on 4m it was G0FBB/P using CW at 388km. On 70cm I worked into Scotland using an antenna that was six times too big for the band so I can’t complain. MM0CPS/P in 84 square was 145 km away. It would have been good to fully rotate the 4m beam being used and see where the (several) good lobes were but nobody transmitted long enough for that. I should thank the big stations for helping to minimise my pack weight with their many antenna elements!

Power was 5W on 2m SSB/ FM and 10W from the Ukrainian 28/70 converter with 2.5W input from the FT817ND. Both antenna configurations are based firmly on the excellent 3-ele Sotabeam, now unavailable. On 4m mine is a straight scale-up (145 divide 70) and on 2m the measurements are identical with a forth (second director) element added for good measure. The boom is made in two pieces from 20mm plastic conduit. Weight is 620gm including 4.5m of RG316 coax.

It took just over 2.5 hours for the 22 SSB QSO’s on 2m and 44 minutes to get the 12 contacts on 4m. Especially on 2m and because I started early in the morning, a lot of time was taken up searching for stations to work but nine people called me on one of two fixed frequencies early and late. Discipline was 100% and most of the time you could detect the friendliness from the other ops. I gave the SOTA ref for 90% of the QSO’s and that created interest from some, often with a short exchange developing after the swapping of reports, serial numbers and Maidenhead locators.

The SOTA spotting service helped but if I had been serious about putting in an entry, self spotting would not have been permitted. With just a check-log you can do as you like which suits me fine.

Unless someone can tell me otherwise at 2,310ft ASL (704m) mine was the highest VHF-NFD contest station in the UK, if only by 10 feet (GM3HAM/P at ‘2,300ft’).

Conditions on 14 MHz seemed OK. I managed to work 12 stations in all. Last year I worked a few more with 50 Watts so maybe there were a few chasers looking for me but hearing only their local noise. I was hoping to get USA in the log but it’s not that easy with QRP, especially at weekends.

I regret not putting on my favourite 160m. As part of weight saving, I didn’t take the coils for one thing but with a dark sky to the west time seemed to be a factor too. I do regret not having a quick look for the WAB net on 7.160-SSB; something I intended to do before leaving but forgot. That said they don’t favour weekends when the bands are busiest so maybe I wouldn’t have found them anyway.

The Weather:
As usual there were days of upfront weather stress and anxiety but apart from a minor shower on the drive home, not a drop of rain fell and not one clap of thunder. Most, if not all forecasts included heavy showers and the threat of lightning. The former can be merely an inconvenience but for SOTA ops, particularly extended operations, the latter needs very serious consideration.

Out of the 22 years of VHF-NFD’s from NP8, more than half have been preceded by forecasts which included rain and thunder. High winds have also plagued this event quite regularly and because this is VHF you end up high and unprotected.

The first week in July is so often the start of this type of weather and sometimes I wish NFD could be moved to a safer date. I was lucky this time and I’ve been mostly lucky in the past but quite a few other stations reported heavy rain with disruption or delays in setting up or operating. At least it wasn’t windy this year; something to be thankful for.

Folding Stool:
I took too much food, too much drink and despite the ‘luxury’ and weight penalty of a folding stool, suffered the usual agony in my old bones. Certainly at 290 grams it was light enough but the stool was much too small. That said, if it had been much higher, headroom may have become an issue. I had to half sit and half kneel; a position I could only endure in 15 minutes stints before having to lie down. On the plus side, the record low pack-weight this year no doubt helped the ascent. The umbrella, taken to fend off possible torrential downpours while walking, was not needed but it made a fine stick for going down the rocky gullies.

My ‘new’ Scarpa Ranger GTX boots; the second of two pairs purchased 2012 for £90/ pair, were commissioned today after pair No1 (first SOTA Dec-2017) failed through sole detachment on GM/CS-015 on 19-06-24. Pair-2 seem OK. They look perfect, no wet feet and comfy at least.

I’m watching out for possible hydrolysis of the mid-sole as advised by Andy MM0FMF. Thanks Andy. If the Meindl article in your reply to my recent G/CS-015 report is accurate, I can expect minimal service from these 12-year-old ‘new’ boots. Pair-1 gave me six years but were not what you’d call ‘worn out’ when the soles fell off. I have worn out six pairs just for SOTA since I started in April-2002. Fingers crossed!

The NP8 (and NP9) Vodafone signal is gradually improving year on year from just about absent a decade ago to reliable now. 95% of the time there was 4G indicated but when there wasn’t I used the SOTA SMS service instead, so it’s good to have the option.

Thanks to all SOTA chasers, VHF-NFD contest stations, for the Sota spotter and to my son Phil G0UUU for entering my contest QSO’s as a check-log with associated maps. He does it in a fraction of the time it would take me and then I’d get it wrong.

73, John G4YSS

Photos: 1-4-7-8-11-13-15-17-18-21-23-27-35-42-43-80p-81p-53-54-66-68-74a.
Contest Maps: 2m-4m-70cm

Above: One mile to the parking place…

Above: … in your own time! Shouting ‘horse radish sauce’ didn’t shift 'em either

Above: NP8 ahead. Minimal low-cloud and no rain

Above: Park just south of the cattle grid - or else!

Above: 25 ltr rucksack with an insecure load

Above: Looking back. Startled by the fell runner, unexpected at 7am. By the time I got the camera out, he was a mere ‘dot.’

Above: An unscheduled stop to reposition the load and remove the fleece jacket

Above: Rocky gullies ahead

Above: An easier gradient but misty

Above: The summit of Great Whernside G/NP-008

Above: Looking East from the trig. Heading for the gate and stile

Above: Getting the shelter sorted before the rain that never arrived

Above: Up and running on 2m-SSB but forgot the 23 gram counterbalance - an AA battery or two AAA’s

Above: Searching for contacts on 2m-SSB

Above: The first 14 QSO’s on 2m

Above: The beam reconfigured for 4m and pointing SSW. Summit cairn visible

Above: QRV on 70 MHz via the excellent Ukrainian transverter. 28 MHz input from the FT817ND and a warning to ‘Set Input’ (if using a 100W rig!) Input was 2.5 Watts giving 10W out on 4m

Above: It’s rare to see anybody this far from the summit proper. This man had come up from Angram Reservoir, a journey that is pathless. He is pointing out his return route. Having removed the beam, I am in the process of erecting the dipole for HF

Above: Looking back after climbing the ‘exit’ stile. My new but now lost khaki SOTA hat is lying in the grass but I only spotted that the next day!

Above: Looking down to the road. Buckden Pike G/NP-009 is at top right

Above: Now it’s the car’s turn to do the work. Driving away from NP8 on the deserted (closed) road

Above: Driving back through the beasts.

Above: On the way to Pickering Traction Engine Rally?

Above: 2m contest map

Above: 4m

Above: 70cm.

Maps as a result of check-log submitted for me by G0UUU. Thanks Phil!


A nice report as ever, thanks John. I was on 23cm with G3SRT/P this year, so I didn’t get to work you - sorry that we seem to have missed you on 4m!

A minor point, and just to prove I really was reading your report - it is no longer compulsory to register in advance.

" We’ve received feedback that people liked the registration scheme for VHF NFD, particularly because it allowed the sweepers to know who would be on. We didn’t want to re-introduce a hurdle to people entering, but we will enable VOLUNTARY registration for portable stations for VHF NFD. The advantage of you registering is that the sweepers know to look out for you".

There are still inspections, and the general rules state that you have to divulge your location if requested!



I’m in my 60s and all my OS maps have been metric since 1974. So I know how big a foot is. About 30cms :slight_smile: But I have no clue how big a 2000ft mountain is. It’s meaningless to me and probably everyone younger than me. Apparently, 2000ft is about 610m and I do know how big a 600m mountain is. Weird because I drive cars in miles and work out miles per gallon despite buying fuel in litres :slight_smile:

Anyway we are 192m ASL at our site which is about 630ft.

There was some excess bacon that needed putting into rolls and then putting in to me!

I should be able to find some audio of you working us John. If I can find it I will upload it.


I thought a foot was about 30cm. Why the s on the end? I see this all the time and don’t know why people type more characters than necessary. Or is it a pre-SI metric notation?

1 Like

It’s abbreviated speech as opposed to a measurement. i.e “it’s about 30 cms” instead of “it’s about 30 centimetres”. If it was a measurement it would 30cm as in “cut a piece of wire 30cm long”.


Don’t you mean 610ms?


No because it’s not abbreviated speech but a measurement.



Here’s what you sounded like for your 5W into a 3 ele beam into our 9700 using a 17ele beam @10m AGL with about 24m of LDF4-50 feeder.

Index of /G4YSS-VHFFD24-Audio <= this link is to 13 files, each one contains either TX audio or RX audio .

The filename format is : 20240707_080147A.wav <= that means 2024, July 7th, 08h01m47s UTC

Your browser may play the audio when you click on the file or it may download it so you can play it later.

You can see that you were a really easy copy even for QRP powers and antenna.


Replies to ALL:

G4AZS Thanks Adrian,
I should stay still and call CQ more but see little point with 5W. I did it on 2 though, with some success but not on 4 or 70. Bet you enjoyed the G3SRT/P ops. 23 cm! Beyond my imaginings but I’d love to try that band. It’s a long way from 160 though!

Thanks for the update on registering. I hadn’t looked into it but the trouble is with a full entry I couldn’t self-spot on Sotawatch. I’ll give it some thought for next year though; if I get there that is?

I’ve had such a lot out of the event over the years and still do. I’m still ‘up there’ as I type this 5 days later - still on a high especially after adding last night’s 50MHz UKAC which I did with my son. VHF is a friendly place and never any agro. Advance anxiety ref the NFD WX and increasing discomfort in my old bones are the only downsides.

MM0FMF Hi Andy,
Firstly, thanks for the info on boot sole degradation (GM/CS-015 rprt). That Meindle article is interesting and its contents surprising. After commissioning the ‘new’ pair for VHF-NFD, being a Yorkshireman I EVO-stuck the soles back on for a second time, this time using half the tin. These are now demoted to walking around Scarborough, not that I use boots for that much unless the mud gets over an inch deep. (Timing myself on the same walk several times and averaging, I’m almost 10% faster in walking shoes for local work than in boots. Occasional wet feet and a high shoe destruction rate are the downsides).

Thanks for that audio which must have taken you some time to sort out from very many recordings but it’s interesting to hear how I sounded. They played just by clicking on them. Yes, you are right, the 5W is surprising strong, especially pointing the wrong way with the beam. It supports my decision to go lighter in recent years. I’ll see if I can join the clips together in Audacity when I get around to it. Though I say it myself that’s one resource I’m a bit of a whiz at.

I know you run a luxury setup at GM3HAM/P and I fully understand about the bacon. You’re excused! Wish I’d had some at my end. Maybe if I enter next year I’ll ask the inspector to bring some up with a stove and frying pan!

G4TGJ Hi Richard,
Just as an aside: There are very few compensations to age but being in my 70’s means I’m equally happy with imperial or metric and use both or either. Feet and inches are normally more useful to me for constructing things, than cm and m but my stride is 1m. I can readily see why the USA and aviation still use some of the old measurements. The downsides are the 12; 14; 16; 8, 20, 22 etc etc. 10 makes much more sense.

Thanks for all replies. Much appreciated. Sorry I don’t always get around to replies to replies. By the time I do, it’s often too late. Then there’s also the problem of bumping an old report back to the top.

73, John


It wont stick. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Once they start hydrolysing they’re for the bin unless you fit new mid-soles.

Colin GM4HWO cooking the bacon. :slight_smile: