SOTA G/TW-004 on 160m CW/ SSB & 20m CW on 13th of March 2018
BISHOP WILTON WOLD on 160m
G4YSS (using SSEG Club Callsign - GX0OOO/P)
With G0UUU/P (doing RSGB 70cm Contest Evg. (NOT valid for SOTA)
All times: UTC
IC706-2G HF-VHF-UHF QRO Multimode Transceiver.
Link Dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20m.
Insertable loading coils with slug tuning for 160m (at 40m break points).
5-section 6.8m Home-brew CFC mast (Blue/ White colour coded)
Two 4.4 Ah Li-Po Battery (RCM) with paralleling harness (Not fully discharged)
Garden chairs x 2
This ‘summit’ is a low one of 807ft and the closest SOTA to my home QTH just south of Scarborough. It doesn’t get any easier than this and the hill doesn’t look the part. You’d be forgiven for failing to recognize this as a SOTA. There are at least four roads in the activation zone and one is the A166 road out of York.
This was done on a whim. My son Phil G0UUU takes part in the RSGB VHF contests which run weekly from 20:00 to 22:30 starting with 144MHz on the first Tuesday of the month, 423MHz on the second Tuesday etc. 50MHz is slotted in between these two on a Thursday, which results in a demanding workload.
Normally Phil’s XYL Bev and their dog Roxy go along too. I was just standing in for them on this occasion and I’m told Bev was pleased! Phil uses a different portable QTH for each of the contests. 2m is done from Irton Moor, 6m from Ravenscar and 70cm from Bishop Wilton Wold which just happens to be a one-point SOTA, G/TW-004. Because the power supply and rig are in a car, Phil cannot fulfill the SOTA requirements but I could operate independently and fully portable on an HF band of my choice, which considering the time of day, would be 160m.
Set off from Scarborough at 18:40 in Phil’s car and arrived at 19:20 inside the activation zone, on the ‘C’ road which runs SSE from the A166. There is a wide flat verge at SE 8248 5655 which is where Phil set up his mast and 70cm 18 ely parabeam. The grass verge here is stony. Using a hammer and steel tube we tried to make a hole deep enough for Phil’s 3m mast but kept hitting chalk at around six inches down. The solution was to use guy ropes.
After listening to Phil working the first ten stations on 432 MHz, I donned a headlamp and set off up the road on foot with my mast, rig, battery and two folding chairs. A likely looking section of grass verge was chosen, about 150m from the A166 junction, at SE 8238 5682. Cross-talk between 160m and 70cm was very unlikely and the 130m between the two stations should almost guarantee it.
The mast and HF dipole were erected with the feeder led down to a folding chair for the operator and another for the equipment. The 160m loading coils were fitted and the antenna tested. VSWR was terrible, the rig complaining with a pathetic squeaking sound on TX. After 15 minutes of testing other bands, I came to the conclusion that due to the headlamp and no spectacles, I hadn’t connected a coil properly. Second time lucky.
Because I didn’t have to carry it for miles, the mast used for this activation was almost 2m longer than usual. Also the ends are usually supported on 1m long sticks but in this case they were fastened to the top of a 2m high freshly flailed thorn hedge. To compensate for the extra AGL, the slug tuning slugs were adjusted from the usual 4.7 position to around 5.0 (i.e: more inductance). The station was ready to operate at 20:50 ahead of a 21:00 start time, which had been alerted that morning.
G/TW-004; BISHOP WILTON WOLD, 246m, 1 pt, 19:20 to 22:45. 7 Deg.C, zero wind. Overcast. No rain or low-cloud. WAB: SE85. LOC: IO-94-PA (Trig point TP-6078 was 300m away, therefor not valid for this activation). Good EE phone coverage.
1.833 CW - 1 QSO:
1.832 had a CQ on it so I moved up 1kHz, self spotting for the first time ever, the latter being surprisingly easy. At 21:02 OH3GD answered my 60 Watt CQ from the IC706-2G. The exchange was 589/ 579 and he gave his name as Kari. This didn’t seem like a SOTA chaser, however. Further CQ’s were not responded to but I have noticed a decrease in UK CW SOTA chasers lately.
1.832 CW - 1 QSO:
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I answered the CQ from MM0ZBH who gave his name as Paul. His QTH was Fife and the exchange was 599/ 589.
1.846 SSB - 8 QSO’s:
With such a poor showing on CW, 160m SSB was needed to qualify the summit. Using 100 Watts I logged the following stations:
GI0AZB and GI0AZA Ian & Esther in Londonderry 59 both ways; G4IPB Paul QTH Middleton-in-Teesdale 59/ 57; G4IAR Dave in Loughborough 2 x 59; MI1AIB Paul in Limavady; 2 x 59; G7LMF Graham in Telford: GW4VPX Allan in Pencader 44/ 57 and GM4WHA Geoff in Annan 33/ 31.
Power was 100 Watts (in fact significantly less than that with the voltage in use) and the session took 18 minutes.
14.057 CW – 3 QSO’s:
Top Band had dried up so where to next? Surely 20m wouldn’t be open at this time of night would it? Without even without removing the 160m coils I could hear signals on 20m. After pulling out the 20m band links they became very loud.
Maybe if I could self spot again, there would be a chance of working across the Atlantic. Looking at the phone, I noticed that there was a SOTA station KE5AKL/P on 14.061 CW but though I could hear chasers calling him, there was no sign of the activator’s signal. Time to find a clear frequency, self spot, wait a short while then cast the net.
The plan paid off. A couple of CQ’s and I had a contact. This was the wished for DX in the form of K4QS Charles in VA with an exchange of 589/ 559. A good start and just what I’d aimed for.
Next in was a 599 signal which turned out to be Phil G4OBK in Pickering. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of the respective distances worked for the last two contacts and I think I sent ‘HI HI.’ Phil gave me 579 in return and afterwards I continued with the CQ’s. At least Phil was in the log and all were welcome at this time of day.
Presently I was called by K3TCU Gary in Seneca PA (579/ 559). Was this too easy? However, a glancing at my watch told me that there was less than half an hour to go before Phil’s UHF contest ended. I had to pack up by then and help Phil do the same. I also wanted a last try on 160m so after a few more unanswered CQ’s on 14.057 returned to Top Band.
1.843 SSB - 1 QSO:
I thought I’d self spotted 1.846 again but when I checked, the screen said 1.843 which. This was right in the midst of FT8 signals but Phil G4OBK reworked me on here (59 both ways) and there was time for a brief chat. Further CQ’s brought nothing despite a spot from Phil and and initial self spot from me. At 22:15 it was QRT time. I had been sitting outside for an hour and a quarter and owing to a complete lack of wind, I wasn’t even slightly cold.
Last time I was here, for the solar eclipse, my mast and dipole got badly entwined in the thorny hedge and that was in daylight. Now it was black as pitch apart from my headlight, so I knew care was needed. In fact all went well and I made it back the 130 metres encumbered by the Morrisons carrier bag full of kit and the two chairs, in time to help Phil take his station down. He had logged 46 QSO’s including one into Eire and one into France. Three times as many as I’d got using HF!
We split the 18-ely into two and took down the mast. That was the easy bit. When Phil tried to get his car off the verge it moved a few yards then dug two holes. After wedging dry vegatation under the front wheels and with me pushing, we got it back onto the road but then came the three point turn. I gave him bad advice and the wheels went off the road and stuck again. More pushing and the car just made it safely back onto tarmac. Phew.
At 11:30 pm Phil dropped me off at home in Scarborough. There was a good discussion on the way home and the conclusion was ‘a good time was had by all.’
QSO’s: 14 comprising
2 on 160m CW
9 on 160m SSB
2 on 20m CW
Ascent/ Distance: 0m/ distance 2 x 130m.
One SOTA Point
This SOTA is nothing like a SOTA at all. Not a rucksack in sight and no effort needed. I felt so much like a fraud that it affected my operating routine. After being conditioned by hundreds of ‘proper’ SOTA’s, sitting on a folding chair just didn’t feel right. Add to that the unusually pleasant weather and the mind was completely fooled. One the plus side, traffic was almost non-existent. Only one car passed in the entire three and a half hours we were there.
Thanks to SOTA chasers and the other stations worked. I was grateful for every contact. Also to the spotters: GM4WHA; K4QS and G4OBK. I must not forget to thank Andy MM0FMF, who devised the phone spotting service that I signed up to years ago but never used until now. It works like a dream – when you have a phone signal that is. That’s not as often as I would like on SOTA summits with EE but this one was solid.
Thanks to Phil G0UUU for taking me along. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, especially the complete lack of pain and discomfort I usually associate with winter activating.
73, John G4YSS
(Using Scarborough Special Events Group callsign; GX0OOO/P)
Above: Phil G0UUU/P taking part in the RSGB 70cm SSB/ CW contest, from Bishop Wilton Wold. 2nd Tuesday in each month 20:00 to 22:30. 46 QSO’s (/M NOT - SOTA!)
Above: G4YSS - GX0OOO/P luxury setup on G/TW-004
Above: G4YSS - GX0OOO/P on G/TW-004. 6.8m CFC H/Brew mast supporting dipole. Thorn hedge that you can so easily get snagged on.
Above: G4YSS - GX0OOO/P on G/TW-004. Dipole with 160m loading coils
Above: G4YSS - GX0OOO/P on G/TW-004. IC706-2G working the USA on 20m CW. Phone for 1st time self spotting.