G4YSS: G/NP-013; The Calf on 25-05-13

G4YSS Activation Report for G/NP-013 on 25-05-13

THE CALF from Four Lane Ends, Howgill Lane.
G4YSS (using GX0OOO/P unaccompanied.)
80m CW/ SSB; 40m CW & 2m FM.
All times BST (UTC + 1).

HF / VHF QRO: IC706-2G. Link dipole. Sotabeam (3-ely) for 2m FM
2 x 11V, 4.4 Ah Li-Po battery (1 x 4.4 Ah in reserve - not used).

A single activation was slotted in during part of a long weekend spent with friends in Cumbria. No pre-announcement was possible. The Calf was chosen mainly for reasons of proximity, being a mere 15 minute drive away from where we were staying in Killington but also I hadn’t activated it since 2008.

The route used is just one of a few recognised routes and starts at a point almost due west of the mountain at SD 6324 9583. This is Four Lane Ends on Howgill Lane where is space to park one car so long as it is touching the hedge at one side. If it’s dustbin day you might have to shuffle two wheelie bins along a little. Apart from my introduction to this mountain on 28-08-1988, when four of us made the round trip in 2hr-32min, all previous approaches have been from Cross Keys so as to activate Yarlside on the return. Through not leaving the car until 10:35, there was only sufficient time for one summit today

From the car at SD 63242 95829, walk east up the track to High Withens forking left at Castley SD 6382 9581. From there walk between walls to a gate which opens onto the fell at SD 6414 9597. Here the track turns right, gradually descending to cross Chapel Beck at SD 6459 9631. Then it’s all uphill on a good path via SD 6538 9680 and SD 6618 9729, to the grassy summit. The weather was unthreatening today so I set up without shelter at SD 6680 9701, a little way from the trig point and path.

Partly because of recent inactivity due to an infected shin following a fall up my own stairs, I found the climb long and tiring.

G/NP-013 THE CALF, 676m, 4 pts, 11:57 to 14:27, 13 Deg.C, 8 mph NW breeze, sunshine. (IO84RI, WAB SD69). Orange (EE) Mobile phone coverage.

After donning a fleece and setting up the dipole, I phoned Roy G4SSH for advice on HF conditions. The report was disappointing. Not only were conditions bad on the lower bands, there was a contest running. ‘Most people are on the higher bands’ said Roy. I certainly didn’t want to waste valuable time working DX; I can do that from home. SOTA chasers in the UK and Europe were the intended targets, so I started on 80m.

3.557 CW - 3 QSO’s:
Roy G4SSH was waiting there but the report was only 339. G4FGJ, Gordon in Biggleswade came in next with a slightly better RST but there were no further takers. Kevin G0NUP could not even hear my 100 Watts to the dipole but I returned here a little later to work him. Further CQ’ing appeared futile.

3.724 SSB - 4 QSO’s:
This was a little more encouraging but again the channel dried up very quickly. Four were logged: G6LUZ, Steve in Crewe; G4JZF, Graham in Brum (having a break from mowing his lawn); G6ODU, Bob much closer than the previous two and finally G6TUH, Mike in East Sussex who was using 15 Watts to a makeshift antenna. It seemed strange that 80m should be covering such a large area but still not produce a high number of chasers. Oh well; on to better things, or so I thought.

7.032.5 CW - 7 QSO’s (inc 2 x S2S):
Now for the pileup? Not at all; it was a slow start even after a spot from Roy. Up to 70 Watts of CW brought in only seven chasers starting with ON4FI. OE8SPW was next in with a 599 report. Then: DL3HXX; ON6ZQ; HB9CGA/P; DL6AP and GW6DTN/P.

It was perhaps a little surprising that two out of the seven stations worked were on other hills. HB9CGA Uli was on HB/TG-007 Oberheid/ Greutisbärg. He had climbed higher than me for just one SOTA point! Dave GW6DTN produced the second S2S from four pointer GW/NW-034, Cyrniau Nod. Though the channel seemed clear to me, it had taken 20 minutes to work these. It seemed that I was mostly flogging a dead horse so after briefly nipping back to 3.557 to work G0NUP, it was off to a nice easy 2m FM.

145.400; 145.300 FM - 17 QSO’s (inc 2 x S2S):
Once again Roy G4SSH obliged with an alert in the notes of a previous spot. I used the IC706 and around 25 Watts to a vertical Sotabeam. This was mounted atop a three section mast comprising two of my carbon fibre HF dipole support sections and a plastic tube above that. The latter passes through the beam when it’s vertical so needed to be RF transparent.

Whilst looking for a clear channel I happened upon Karen, 2E0XYL coming in at 59 plus 50 and working a steady stream of chasers from GW/NW-053 on 145.400 MHz. We had a nice QSO. It was armchair copy of the highest order but my clubcall again confused her. No worries; it confuses many and even me at times.

Karen helped announce a QSY to 145.300 where I worked another 16 stations starting with Geoff G4WHA/A at his shop in Penrith. After that: G8TSE, Walesey; M6WAD/M Paul driving a taxi on the A590 at Back Barrow; G4ZRP Wirrall; G4OWG Rawdon; G4UXH/P Colin, who was busy climbing a WOTA outlying fell; MW0PAD Holyhead; G0TDM Penrith; M6EPW Liz in Whitehaven; M6DHV Walney; M0XSD Frizington; 2E0MIX Derek S2S on G/LD-015 Grisdale Pike.

Then followed GW0ELM/P Colin; 2E0HTC Barrow; G0HRT in Lancaster and finally with the beam turned SE and 50 Watts, G6XBF Walt in Leeds. I also tried to work another Leeds station but failed to pull him in. For most of this session I was on the second 4.4 Ah battery. Conveniently, the frequency dried up just when I was approaching my time limit.

The descent took 56 minutes to 15:23 and I was back to Killington for a nice welcoming and much needed cup of tea by 15:45.

The return was via Crook of Lune Bridge. I was curious as to how narrow this bridge could be and I wasn’t disappointed. The door mirrors fitted between its walls with just a couple of inches to spare at either side. Care had to be excercised. I was driving the XYL’s new car!

Ascent & Distance:
590m (1,936ft) ascent inc 53m on return / 9.2 km (5.8 miles.)
Battery utilisation: Approx 7 Ah.
Pack weight: 12 kg.
4 SOTA points.

80m CW: 3
80m SSB: 4
40m CW: 7
2m FM: 17

This was a pleasant outing on a wonderful hill which commands the top of the Howgills. The WX was non threatening for a change and time was not unduly constrained. This is quite an efficient route up easy, well defined paths mostly over grass and it is not too steep. I was initially disappointed regarding the time taken to climb The Calf until I calculated the ascent and distance for this report.

The views were magnificent and I could see the sea in several directions. The VHF takeoff seems better than from the neighbouring Yarlside NP19. Finally, I really needed a good walk.

Thanks to all stations worked and for spotting by G4SSH, G4WHA and M6EPW.
Thanks to G4SSH for telephone coordination.
Thanks to Susan & John of Killington for a very nice weekend.

73, John G4YSS (using SSEG Clubcall GX0OOO/P)

In reply to G4YSS:

Great report John, thanks for sharing your experience - very useful for future planning.

The 'CGH family was staying at my father-in-law’s house near to Newton Abbot in Devon over the bank holiday weekend. The drive down to Devon on bank holiday Friday had been pretty arduous especially as a section of the M42 was closed due to an accident. Luckily we were able to divert onto an A road before rejoining the M42 lower down. The journey took in excess of 7 hours.

I had previously expressed a desire to active a SOTA summit whilst in Devon so my wife suggested that I should do an activation on Saturday. The rest of the family spent the day recovering from the long journey!

I chose to activate Christ Cross G/DC-005 as this was one of the nearest summits and would not involve a huge time commitment.

I also found the bands pretty devoid of action apart from the multitude of contest stations. To keep my gear down to a minimum I had taken along my MTR’s covering 40m,30m and 20m between them and the SOTABeams BHIV. I opted to start on 30m to put my effort in to qualifying the summit. After several Q’s, I swapped on to 20m and found the band extremely busy with contest traffic. After my 2 Q’s on 20m, I deemed my activation a success and I really didn’t fancy getting out the 40m/20m rig and facing the contest stuff on 40m, so I had lunch and headed back to the family.

In hindsight I wish I had tried 40m, I realised afterwards that I hadn’t worked any UK stations and the summit is not activated all that often. Having read your activation report John, I think that we may have had a chance for an S2S.

Oh well, never mind, I will be visting the area again later in the year so I will maybe do another activation from Christ Cross or other DC summit.

Colin, M0CGH
(now back in Yorkshire and missing pretty Devon)

In reply to G4YSS:
Many thanks for the fb report. My set-up on Cyrniau Nord was the usual 7M wire vertical against a 4M counterpoise laid along the ground and tuned (matched?) with a Z-11 Pro auto-tuner. Power 20W from an FT857 (300Hz filter for cw) and a rather tired 5Ah LiPo. 40M was a dismal failure - very quiet when I listened across part of the band, and despite a self-spot, only 1 taker (PA0B). 12M was little better (G6ODU and 5/9 for I2VZU). 20M seemed the place to be - 21 QSOs on ssb including S2Ss with 2W0WDS/P (Holyhead Mntn, GW/NW-069) and MW0IML/P (Trum Y Ddysgl, GW/NW-024).

I suppose it is a bit cheeky to chase S2S on cw without using the mode to activate the summit, but it did net me DL/HB9DST/P (Lupfen, DM/BW-057) on 30M, and yourself.

Many thanks for giving a beginner some cw chaser points.

Regards, Dave, G6DTN (on hf)

Colin, M0CGH
Thanks for your response Colin.

I haven’t even had time to check my report yet; merely put it on the reflector. No doubt my apostrophe marks will have been ‘eaten’ as I forgot to change them to the other type.

Sounds like you had the same trouble as I. Roy told me yesterday that 40m was carrying inter-G so I hope it stays like that for next week and adds Europe too. I should be up on LD SOTA (3rd to 6th inc).

Unless you’re overlooking a chaser or two or going really high, I don’t think there’s much point in doing Top Band this time of year and that’s made worse activating around noon as I tend to do in summer.

I tried to get to High Willhays once (about 1980) but was turned back by the army, which means I have never climbed a DC. Hope you get another trip to Devon soon. I wouldn’t mind going back myself.

73, John G4YSS.

Dave, G6DTN.
Hi Dave,

Thanks for your comments. I like the sound of your tuned system. I remember activating Kinder Scout with Phil G4OBK. I was intrigued to see he was using a miniature ATU. I don’t know whether the aggregate of tuner plus wire & mast beats a link dipole & mast for weight but it may well be fairly close so I have never discounted it. There’s also the advantage that you can stay hidden from the WX for QSY’s (if there’s anywhere to hide, that is). Actually I need a periodic walk to avoid stiff back, get warm and service an increasingly ancient ‘water works’ so the attraction of an ATU fades a bit with age. Great for overnighter SOTAs though when you don’t want to leave the sleeping bag.

I never thought of 20m though I have a link for it. In fact it’s the highest link on the standard antenna. I have to use a different one if I want to go above 20m though I guess the 7MHz link should in theory work on 21MHz.

Sounds like you are learning CW. If so you are making a very good job of it. I am not a natural at Morse; it took me 6 months to pass the 12 WPM but I do like the mode probably best of all for SOTA and cope OK with the standard stuff. Since SOTA I have got much worse at std text CW. Keep up the good work and cuagn S2S CW I hope.

73, John G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS:

Just got back from a ‘shake-down’ in a new caravan near Fenny Bentley, so apologies for delay in replying. Weighed the two systems (including the walking poles I used to keep the ends of the dipole off the ground and the tuner) and they are just about the same at 1.6kg. The advantages of the vertical, to me, are :

  1. It is much quicker to set up.
  2. A much smaller footprint - very important on small or busy summits.
  3. The dipole had to be set up in line with the wind on anything other than a relatively calm day.

Also, a vertical is said to have a shallower angle take-off, but this is probably negated by the use of only one counterpoise rather than several/groundplane.

Thank you for your kind comments about my cw. At best, it creaks. If anything else happens, like a tale-ender coming on, and it tends to fall down. It will be a very long time before I risk a cw activation, but an individual request passed on by a chaser I’d TRY.

Will always look for a QRS S2S.

Hope to be out on GW/NW-039 (Foel Goch) some time tomorrow (Tuesday)

73 es cuagn

Dave, G6DTN