G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation of G/NP-009, 26 May 2014
BUCKDEN PIKE on 160-80-30-40 & 2m.
G4YSS - (unaccompanied using GX0OOO/P.)
All times BST (UTC + 1) UOS.
HF/ VHF QRO: IC706-2G.
Link dipole for 80-40-20-15 & 10 (CT3-1992) with loading coils for 160m and adjusters for 12m.
2 x 6 Ah Li-Po batteries in parallel - fully depleted.
8.8Ah Li-Po in reserve (not used).
IC-E90 4-Band VHF for 4m (no QSO’s).
NP9 (from 2011) ROUTE Repeated Here:
From the quarry parking place at SD 9455 7996 (413m ASL) the way goes initially up the tarmac, through a gate at SD 9454 8000, across fields then through a second gate at SD 9475 7979. The second gate was locked today. A path across pasture land connects the two.
Follow a poor sort of path via: SD 9479 7975, SD 9486 7977 and SD 9507 7981 (at the latter point it is a quad track). Go up to a wall corner at SD 9516 7975 and then on to SD 9521 7966. Pass through a gateless gap in the wall at SD 9534 7954 and up steep ground to SD 9539 7951. Cross Cow Close Gill beside by the wall at SD 9546 7947, loosing a few metres here.
From the Gill crossing, swing right (south) to pick up the meagre path again at SD 9547 7936 and SD 9551 7933. Less than 300m later this wall-path joins the ‘main drag’ coming up from Cray, at SD 9565 7921. The Cray path now takes you all the way to the top, via SD 9609 7885 in luxurious manner, being fully surfaced and stepped in places.
Today I left Scarborough at 05:40 for the 79.8 mile drive to Bishopdale arriving at the start point by 07:30. The elapsed time for the 2.4km ascent, starting at 07:41, was 38 minutes. Height gain, including reascents of 4m on the way up and the same on the way down, is 297m making this quite an easy way to gain six points. In many places, some care is needed on tussock and boggy ground. Miniature purple, yellow and white wild flowers were again in evidence as were Lapwings wheeling noisily overhead. I am not the most observant person so failed to locate any of their nests. I did however find and photograph a skylarks nest containing three eggs along with the wild flowers. The sunlit mountain was deserted until much later in the morning.
The station was set up on the north side of the east-west running wall. A couple of stout posts, which I scrounged from the other side of the wall a few years ago, make a good seat and one has a pencil holder. A cool draft coming through the wall was stifled using a plastic sheet but a disadvantage of this was that it picked up condensation, making for a wet backrest. Orange mobile phone coverage is not good on either NP9 or the twin peak of NP8 and in fact mine stubbornly refused to pick up any signal at all for the duration.
BUCKDEN PIKE, G/NP-009, 702m, 6pts, 07:41 to 12:40. 10C initially; 14C by noon. Wind from S at 10 mph. Constant sunshine. Zero Orange mobile coverage this time. LOC: IO84XE, WAB: SD97.
145.400 FM - 16 QSO’s:
With no phone coverage, a radio link to Roy G4SSH (105km) was desireable for spotting. For this I normally use the IC-E90 with 5 Watts to a vertical J-Pole but even with 50 Watts from the IC706-2G this time Roy could not be raised. After some thought and a few unanswered calls on 3.557 CW, I decided to open on 145.500 merely because it is one of only two or three frequencies where SOTA chasers are almost guaranteed to be listening.
G6ODU who was QSY’d to the preferred working frequency of 145.400, got the session underway. After Bob: G1PIE; G4OBK; G1HZR; G6XBF; G4WYN; M3NHA; M6NHA; M0MDA; G4MYU; M0JVW; G4UXH; G4CPA; M0SSD; GW1CJJ/P Phil walking a dog on HOTA HT/NW-071 with a H/H near Colwyn Bay. The last station was 2E0FAM in Lincolnshire. Power was 25 Watts for all QSO’s.
At first thinking that Roy was on his Monday morning Morrison’s run I expected him to call in later. Then I remembered the 7Mhz temporary dipole we had put over his QTH a week earlier. Its coax passes very close to his 2m Slim Jim and we later realised that this was producing a deep null to the west. In fact the Slim-Jim was acting as a mast; the dipole centre being formed by an upturned plastic plant pot resting on its top. We had found by experiment that 2m coverage to the east and north was barely affected but evidently that was not the case in the westerly direction. I would be on my own today but no matter. I had high power, multi-band, multi-mode capability and 20 Ah of battery power. For sure; HF contacts would be prised out from somewhere!
3.557 CW - 4 QSO’s:
Using 60 Watts to the full sized dipole the following four stations were logged: G4SSH; G3RMD; G4OBK and G4OOE. (Roy, Frank, Phil & Nick). Most reports were in the range 559 to 579 with Phil 599. Good old 80m scores again.
3.724 SSB - 6 QSO’s:
With full power applied I worked G4OBK; G0RQL; G0VWP; G0RMD; M0MDA and G6TUH. Reports were between 55 and 59 with a 52 from Mike G6TUH who was using 10 Watts to ‘a bit of wire.’ Considering G0RQL - Don is located in Devon the band was doing a fine job in established daylight conditions. 80m should never be written off without first trying it.
1.832 CW - 1 QSO:
3.5 was working pretty well but what could we expect from 1.8? G4OBK (Pickering) was 599 plus 20dB to me. Phil is the 160m ‘datum’ station. I am told that if Phil is less than about 589 to the other chasers, there is little chance of working me. It’s true; he puts out a really great signal on Top Band but this contact was almost line of sight. No other stations called after several CQ’s.
1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s:
G4OBK was reworked in voice mode and an informative chat about his recent Madeira activations ensued. Phil was still a full 59 without his linear. After the CW session, further callers were not expected but another loud signal was immediately received. This was G8VNW in Threshfield which is 15km SSE of NP9. Nick, who was 57 to me, was running 60 Watts into a jury rigged antenna with a high VSWR. Initially he seemed concerned about the finals on the Marine Band transmitter he was using but that soon got the better of him when he turned it up to its maximum 250 Watts for a 59 report. Great stuff and welcome to Top Band SOTA. After Nick, not a squeak.
10.118 CW - 1 QSO:
This was supposed to be the start of some serious European offerings which would then extend further up the HF spectrum. In fact my 60 Watts failed to attract a single SOTA chaser and I had to satisfy myself with a QSO with F5GWU in Rennes; presumably a non-chaser. After this it quickly became obvious that further CQ’ing was futile. If my signal was landing anywhere with any strength, it wasn’t on SOTA chasers.
7.160 SSB (WAB NET) - 18 QSO’s:
After checking that 40m was open for inter-G during a QSO with Mark G1PIE on 2m-FM earlier, I thought I would try the WAB net. In fact it did not disappoint but due to mobiles calling in it took around 25 minutes to log 18 stations. With a much reduced commitment I wasn’t worried about time so an early lunch was eaten between the mobiles. With the power up at 100 Watts, incoming reports were almost all 59. All stations but two were in England. The exceptions were MM3PDM - Peter in Peterhead and SM6CNX Dan in Svenljunga.
As is usually the case, the controller (in this case G0FEX - Ken the latest WAB-Mag editor) was efficient. Not only the WAB square but the SOTA ref. and our SSEG club book number of 11,000 was announced to all stations. WABing is always a pleasant and friendly experience. Not only that I was 18 QSO’s further along the way. This session ran from 10:00 UTC.
14.052.6 CW/ 14.265 SSB - Nil:
I had put these QRG’s in my alert but without the timely spots, normally provided by Roy, there was little chance of success. It was simply done as a duty to what had been announced. 20m has been pretty dead lately so expectations were low in any case.
7.032 CW - 18 QSO’s:
After announcing everything but on the alerts page, I found myself back on ‘old reliable’ 40m-CW but it took a few CQ’s to raise anybody. First in was Steffan DL3JPN but he was quite a bit weaker than normal. Despite this for some reason I gave him 579, getting back a more realistic 539. The rest of the session brought in further European stations and three G’s in the form of G4SSH; G4ZIB and G4FVK. Countries worked were: DL; G; OK; ON; EI and PA. Many incoming reports were around the 559 mark despite my initially 100 and later 70 Watt output. Though the band has been supporting inter-G working, apparently conditions into Europe on 40 have been poor of late.
7.132 SSB - Nil:
Token 70 Watt CQ’s unsurprisingly were not heard by chasers. What looked like a yellow two-seat autogyro buzzed around the summit, first above and then below my position.
24.909 CW - Nil:
Was this band even open? It didn’t seem so and I think I proved it, though I didn’t stick around for long.
I could hear little if anything on 10 metres but thought I would give a call on 29.6. As soon as the PTT was pressed the rig cut out. My reaction was to rummage in the rucksack for the spare battery, then it struck me how early I could be home if I set off now. Besides, the cloud was gathering all around and the sun was by now fading. The forecast spoke of rain in the afternoon so I made this my final excuse to leave. Just one thing remained.
70.450 FM - Nil:
Using the IC-E90 4-band handie with 5 Watts to a rubber duck on an eastern Pennine summit, I expected little. Sadly, that’s what precisely what I got.
After initially planning to stay until 2pm or later, I started down at 12:40, meeting a few walkers on their way up. One chap leading a group of seated and apparently exhausted females, seemed to be looking to me for inspiration. ‘How long would you estimate it would take us to reach the top from here?’ ‘Oh, about five minutes.’ The girls hung their heads in despair at this but before I could ascertain who would win the battle of wills; ‘Up or Down?’ I had dropped out of sight.
After reaching my wife’s Citreon by 13:10 (she is was somewhere off Canna at the time, spotting Minke Whales), the 80 mile drive home took from 13:20 to 15:30. Being a Bank Holiday, the roads were unexpectedly clear until I reached Thirsk. After that it became somewhat tedious. It was a pity. I had seen only about three cars on the morning drive.
NP9 - Buckden Pike: 297m (974ft) ascent / 4.8km (3.0 miles) up/down. (38U/30D)
Distance driven: 160 miles.
Battery utilisation: 11.1V, 12 Ah Li-Po - 100% used.
Pack weight: 12 kg.
160m CW: 1
160m SSB: 2
80m CW: 4
80m SSB: 6
30m CW: 1
40m SSB: 18
40m CW: 18
20m CW: Nil
20m SSB: Nil
12m CW: Nil
4m FM: Nil
2m FM: 16
This was done because it had been too long since the last activation. In fact it is around six weeks since the exciting activations in La Palma, Canary Islands took place. This was an easy one summit day which can be savoured and need not be rushed. Originally intended to be the main ‘chaser bringers’ conditions on the higher HF bands seemed very poor to non existent. Without a means to spot, it became necessary to ad lib a little. Once again the old dependables; 2m-FM and 40m saved the day. I didn’t want to push my luck. I have had a stubborn throat infection for two weeks now as well as an ‘expired’ car. Not only that, heavy showers and possible thunder was forecast for the afternoon so I was quite happy to leave at noon. It was also intended as a little gentle exercise for the forthcoming Lakes week.
Paving slabs, which have been stored there for a while, have started to appear in the boggiest places along the top between the trig point and the east-west wall. Presumably the intention is to have paving right up to the Wellington Bomber crash site at the south end of the summit ridge. This is a dilemma. On the one hand we like our mountains to be natural but the other side of the coin is that the area is tedious to cross because it’s so waterlogged and therefore gets damaged by boot intrusion. Certainly a mixed blessing but it may be happening on many NP’s. I saw it on Pen-y-Ghent last year.
Borrowing a car was the only way I could do this SOTA but in fact yesterday I bought a ‘new’ Fiesta to replace the MOT failure. It cost 500 GBP and is a 21st century model! The old one has done 5 years for 700 GBP so it owes me nothing. I can fix the holes in the sills but felt I could do little to remedy the trail of smoke. It has now become a collection of spare parts for the latest one.
There was plenty of evidence along the Dales roads regarding the forthcoming Tour de France. Bikes painted yellow lashed to trees; campsites prepared and July road closure notices. Unfortunately it starts on 5th July which is going to affect VHF-NFD if I decide to do it from Great Whernside (NP8) again.
On the way home, Roy told me on 2m-FM that definately I had picked a bad day for band conditions. It is well known that with modest equipment, G4SSH is a prolific amasser of chaser points and often averages 50 or more per day. Even he only managed 15 points today including the six from NP9. With that in mind, I thought my self lucky to have worked 66 QSO’s.
The 160m QSO’s are always pleasing but signals were never destined to travel far in the middle of a spring day. Both stations worked were in line of sight. The other Top Band regulars were either unavailable and/ or well out of range. I know Frank G3RMD was listening but Cheltenham proved too much of a challenge with the band as flat as it was.
The 80 thro’ 10m link dipole of today has never been used for SOTA but was built as one of a pair in 1992 for overseas use. Because of this it has the higher bands which is something my usual SOTA dipoles do not. After recent success (if not necessity) when activating 2000 miles from home, it occurred that I should be giving the bands 20m and above, more attention from the UK. Conditions were not favourable however.
The day didn’t go exactly to plan but was nonetheless a very enjoyable reintroduction to peat, grass and bog after the volcanic dust of the Canary Islands.
THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and for spotting: G4SSH, G4OBK, G6ODU, DL3JPN.
73, John G4YSS.
Using GX0OOO/P SSEG Club Callsign.