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G4YSS: GD/GD-003 on 80 & 160m, 11-09-18

G4YSS: Activation of GD/GD-003 South Barrule on 11-09-18

Issue-2 (Callsign errors corrected)

GD/GD-003 SOUTH BARRULE on evening of 11 th September 2018

QRO on 160m, 80m CW/ SSB & 70cm SSB

All times BST (UTC + 1). UTC for radio operations (denoted ‘z’)

Evening operation for RSGB 70cm contest and 160m SOTA.

Unaccompanied from A27 road, WSW of the summit

G4YSS using GT0OOO/P

EQUIPMENT:

IC706-2G HF-VHF-UHF Multi-mode transceiver (100W rated at 13.8V)

Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20

Loading Coils for 160m at the 40m breaks

5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks

Moonraker ZL70-7, 70cm 7-ely beam antenna…

(mounts on lower two sections of HF mast)

Two RCM 11.1V, 4.5 Ah Li-Po batteries (50% depleted)

Two Turnigy 11.1V, 5 Ah Li-Po batteries (50% depleted)

Paralleling harnesses for both battery pairs

IC-E90 4-Band, 5W, VHF H/H (used to monitor GB3GD only)

2m Band Vertical J-Pole (monitoring only)

Reserve Rig: Baofeng UV-3R, 2W, 2m/ 70cm H/H (not used)

Pack-weight: 12.2 kg (27 pounds)

Other:

Lichfield Viper-1, one-man ridge tent…

(pole & peg prepared fly sheet only/ easy pitch)

Small poly groundsheet

Garmin Geko 301 GPS

Food to replace B&B Evg Meal

Headlamp (Energizer - with four settings, from Wilko’s)

Spare headlamp and torch

Hitachi MP3 Player (not used)

DAB Cube (for England-India test match finale)

INTRODUCTION:

GD3 was the third GD activation on our 10-day holiday at the Arrandale Hotel (£38 B&B pppn. Ev’g meal-deal £13). The GD3 start point is approximately 30 minutes drive from Douglas.

The basic idea of a night activation during our IOM holiday was not a recent or spur-of-the-moment one; having been planned for several months to coincide with the RSGB 70cm contest evening for September.

Originally I’d envisaged a second activation of Snaefell GD1 but got put off that idea during a visit to the IOM radio club in Ballasally. I was told by Mattie MD0MAN that as well as a 2m and a 70cm repeater at the summit, there are various commercial radio services such as Tetra and one for the CAA etc. Interference has been suffered in the past on 2m but it was not known if that would affect 70cm. Club night was a worthwhile exercise and I received such a great welcome that it was a no-brainer to go back there again the week after.

The other reason for doing a SOTA in the dark was yes you guessed it – Top Band. After the frustration of two daylight GD activations with 160m included and only three chasers satisfied, I was looking forward to operating after dark. The trouble was the weather. Isn’t it always? Rain was forecast and strong winds. I would need a decent shelter; not merely a brolly or windbreak but something that could be used as a temporary shack. With such diverse operating over a long period, you need to spread everything out so it can be easily accessed. A one-man tent flysheet and plastic sheet to sit on is not the best of arrangements but I wasn’t wanting to carry anything heavier.

Route:

The start point for this hill is a path which leaves the junction of the A27 road and a forest track. A kissing gate at SC 2474 7566 gives access to this path. The car can be parked at the opposite side of the track where there is space for three or four.

A GPS route for this summit was derived from a track put onto (I think) a trig-pointing website by G0OBK (thanks Phil). With a variable gradient, quite steep in places, the path is essentially straight for its entire length, going up via: SC 2506 7574; SC 2535 7581; SC 2560 7586, to the trig (TP-6063) GPS’d at SC 25773 75928. Ascent is 183m over a distance (one-way) of around 1.2km.

Execution:

Leaving the B&B in Douglas at around 16:00, I was all packed up and walking by 17:53 .

Even with a pack full of heavy SOTA kit with the mast, 70cm beam and accommodation strapped to the outside, the wind-assisted ascent wasn’t too stressful. Less than 20 minutes saw me at the top and looking for a place to set up.

With a stiff wind blowing from the WSW, I tried to get into the lee of the rubble-surrounded trig point but there was little lee. In fact very little respite at all was available. The next consideration was the take-off for 70cm. That and the low, squishy bits needed avoiding. I settled for a spot about 25m NE of the trig, hoping that the latter and it’s plinth of large stones wouldn’t block the sight-lines SW too badly.

With rain expected sooner or later, the first job was to pitch the flysheet; a relatively quick job, except that the short pegs weren’t really reaching the ground through thick vegetation, some of it heather. Once the rucksack was inside and unpacked, I was happy. Rain? Bring it on!

The HF dipole antenna was erected parallel with the wind. I looked at the bodged repair at it’s centre, a legacy of GD1, hoping it would hold for this most important Top Band night operation. ‘Not too much tension John, but enough to keep the coils as high above the deck as possible, once the time for fitting them came.’

To be fair the long-suffering dipole in thin 24 AWG wire, with its attractive pink insulation, was not initially intended to take the weight of two loading coils, even though they’re only three ounces (accurately 78gm) between them. If set up over challenging topography (which doesn’t apply to GD3) or with the wrong included angle into wind, they can end up a foot off the ground, which really pulls the tuning, causing severe QSB if it’s windy.

The 7-ely beam was plugged into the rig and prepared for use but I carried no separate mast for it.

I made myself a schedule (BST):

18:45: 3.557-CW

19:00: 3.760-SSB

19:45: 432.232-SSB

19:40: Sunset

21:00: 1.832-CW

21:15: 1.846-SSB

22:00: Back to 70cm

22:30: Pack up

23:00: Leave summit

24:00: Back to B&B (No later!!)

SOUTH BARRULE GD/GD-003 , 483m, 4 pts, 17:12 to 22:53 . 13 deg C (on arrival). Wind 25mph plus. Overcast but no low-cloud. Clear views. Wind-driven rain from 21:00 BST onwards. LOC: IO74PD. WAB: SC27. Trig: TP-6063. 100% EE mobile coverage.

3.557 CW - 9 QSO’s:

I almost missed the 80m sked time after getting distracted by photography. There were great views all round, especially towards Snaefell.

G4SSH Roy didn’t respond to my 40 Watt call at 18:45. I tried again with full power, getting back a 229 report from Roy. Not too encouraging but at least we had a QSO in the log. Roy was 589 to me initially and 599 after a minute or so.

Once Roy’s spot took effect, a CQ brought further results as follows: G4RMD Frank; DJ5AV Mike; IK2LEY Fabio; ON7DQ Luc; PA9CW Tonnie; OK2PDT Jan; G4OBK Phil and DG1NPM Norbert.

G4AZS called in several times but even full power didn’t seem to be reaching him. After a while Roy came in to pass a message, saying that Adrian was calling me four hundred Hz up the band. To my regret later and disappointment at the time, I neither understood nor properly interpreted this message. Probably Adrian was suffering QRM on my frequency and wanted me to move slightly to work him in a clear spot. I just kept on calling him in but no QSO ensued. Bad operating on my part lost him the summit. Apologies are in order.

Power was 40W except for Fabio, ‘100W.’

(Note: When fed with 12.6V from a fully charged 11.1V Li-Po, the IC706-2G probably develops 80W or so but 100W is quoted at the full power setting for the purposes of this report).

Outgoing reports were all 599 apart from a 339 for Fabio and Norbert’s 579. As usual, life was was not that easy for chasers. Five incoming RST’s were between 579 and 599 but the rest were 339, 449 or 559. After the initial 229, Roy G4SSH came in near the end of the session to tell me that my sigs had increased to 579.

A voice was heard; unexpected at this time of evening. This was a girl up near the trig point, walking her two dogs. My only other visitor was an inch-long bendy looking black beetle which was rapidly evicted.

3.760/ 3.765/ 3.768 - 20 QSO’s:

As usual, Roy posted the SSB QSY for me.

With Steve G4HPE in control, stations fed through to me (and another portable station - Martin GD3ZZN) on the WAB frequency of 3.760 were: SM6CNX Dan; G0FEX Ken; G0GWY Geoff; MM3PDM Peter in Peterhead; G8VZT Dave; G7LMF Graham; GW0FGO Bill; G7XKT Tony; GW4VPX Allan; M3FEH Karl; M0NMI David; F4VSU (Dave G6LKB posing as a Frenchman); GM6ZAK Andy.

Looking at my watch, I had a minor panic attack. Sked time for 70cm had come and gone. My son Phil would be waiting in vain on 432.232 MHz SSB. I took my leave of the WAB net after working the final two stations on Steve’s list, thanked him for control and moved up 5kHz to work any final SOTA chasers.

DG1NPM:

After several announcements from both Steve and myself, it was hoped that everyone would follow the QSY but it wasn’t the case. DG1NPM Norbert, who I’d worked earlier in CW and who’d been calling in when Steve asked for check-in’s but wasn’t heard, didn’t appear on the new QRG. To be fair, he’d had a long wait and I think there may have been something about the CW contact that he wasn’t completely happy about. Something I couldn’t read ‘cos I’m poor at Morse. I tried calling him in myself but he didn’t copy me. If he does happen to read this, I can assure him that the CW QSO was good from my side. I will get around to the database work in due course. Norbert may have been ‘The other German Station’ which Ed mentioned.

After logging one station G6NHW (Birmingham), I realised that I’d jumped on someone’s net despite having pre-checked it. Another QSY was executed, this time to 3.768 where I logged five more stations as follows: G4OIG Gerald; G8ADD Brian; 2W0TNX; G0HIO Mike and G3RMD Frank.

Signal strengths were mainly good or very good but there was a lot of noise which caused a few R4’s to be given out. The best I got were a few 59’s and 58’s but there were 44’s and a 33 from Karl M3FEH. Power was often 100W but down to 40W whenever possible.

Working as quickly as possible, the HF dipole was laid down on the grass and the 70cm beam fixed to the two lower sections.

432.232 SSB – 2 QSO’s:

By the time I got there the sked time with G0UUU/P had been missed by 15 minutes. I pointed the beam SE towards East Anglia, where Phil was on holiday and called him but there wasn’t a sound. A few CQ’s brought in two stations. The first was GM3SEK Ian in IO74SR, followed by GI0VKP Robert in IO74AO.

The first station was very distorted and in turn reported the same on my signal. However if I tuned a couple of hundred Hz down the band Ian’s audio was perfectly OK. It seemed he was just not accurately netted. Further CQ’s attracted no callers so I decided it was time to go hunting.

432 MHz SSB – 4 QSO’s:

I worked four stations on their own frequencies as follows: GD0AMD/P in IO74QD; GD8EXI Richard in IO74PC (located near GD4 - Bradda Hill); GD6ICR Mike in IO74PF and GI6ATZ Gordon in IO74AJ. So far I hadn’t managed to get out of my own square! Things were not going well and I’d lost confidence in the rig after a second station alluded to distortion. Fortunately Richard GD8EXI told me that it was perfect.

At the end of this session the first battery went flat and I discovered I hadn’t connected the paralleling harness meaning that it was not a 9Ah pack as intended but only a 4.5Ah. As I was changing it the phone rang. It was my son Phil G0UUU/P. We tried pointing our beams at one another but neither could hear the other. The exercise was deemed a failure so we went our separate ways. Phil to get 22 contacts on 70cm and me to Top Band.

1.832 CW - 10 QSO’s:

After G4SSH didn’t hear my call, due to noise and QSB, it was EI7CC Pete who provided me with the first QSO. Pete spotted me. Roy was in next with a 559/ 559 exchange, reports between us that would have been unheard of in daylight. Just about now it began to rain.

At 20:05z I was called by Frank G3RMD. He had a great signal – 599 both ways. Three more QSO’s followed, all with 599/ 599 exchanges. These were PE5ROS Gert; GI4ONL Victor and G3RDQ David.

Next came Phil G4OBK with 599/ 579; G0HIO Mike struggling at 599/ 339; G4TGJ Richard 579 both ways and finally GW4VPX Allan, just barely readable in noise at 339/ 559.

Power was 100 Watts for the first four and 60W thereafter I sent out the usual ‘SSB-SSB-SSB’ which Roy picked up and spotted. Considering the band we we on, exciting times indeed!

1.845.3 SSB – 10 QSO’s:

The alerted frequency of 1.846 had some splash on it so I nudged down a little, hoping that the chasers would still find me. They did and Pete EI7CC got the ball rolling in phone with 57 both ways.

Next Frank G3RMD came in to give me 59, which I sent back. We had a brief chat. Then a surprise from Bavaria in the form of Ed DD5LP using his 40m loop antenna, no doubt tuned for 160m. I gave Ed a 57 report but that was just some of the time. There was a lot of noise and QRM on the channel and I got 33 back. Ed sounded pleased and rightly too. It wasn’t a bad contact for 160m for an hour after dark.

After Ed, M3FEH called in. Karl was an easier copy than normal at 57 both ways. G8VNW Nick in Theshfield (Yorkshire Dales) exchanged with me without too much difficulty at 57/ 47 to 58 but then I heard the smallest of signals. Only the first letter of a callsign which didn’t give much of a clue, as it was a ‘G.’ However the intonation did kind of give it away and I asked, ‘Is that Geoff?’ We went to and fro for the next two or three minutes but eventually after a lot of effort, GM4WHA was in the log at 31 both ways.

It was the turn of G8ADD next but Brian wasn’t an easy copy either. I gave him 44 and he got it. I was surprised when a 57 came back. Was that ‘The Varieties Brian?’ ‘Roger Roger!’ Just when I thought there’d be no more, after a few CQ’s two further stations called in. I worked G4TGJ Richard 55 x 2 and Helen M0TMD, SOTA’s latest ‘A’ class licensee, in Glossop with 44/ 31.

After briefly going back to CW, only to find that someone was using my frequency, I came back to SSB to put out some more CQ’s. I soon tired of that and put the mic down for a while, at that point noticing that my evening meal was still lying on the groundsheet uneaten. I’d only agreed to carry it up on condition I didn’t have to carry it down.

Eight minutes after the preceding QSO and half way through my supper, I put out a single CQ. Straight back came G4IPB, Paul in Middleton-in-Teesdale. The distance between us and other conditions must have been perfect as until then, Frank G3RMD had been the best signal of the evening. I think Paul said he was only running 30 Watts so I reduced power to about 50 at my end. This was armchair copy territory with not a word missed and Paul’s signal completely parted the waves of noise that had troubled earlier QSO’s. Paul was using an inverted ‘L’ aerial.

There were some stations missing, one in the form of Michael EI3GYB. Pity he missed it after all his valiant but ultimately futile Top Band efforts earlier in the week. I found out later he’d been working and hadn’t seen the spots until midnight.

432 MHz SSB – 2 QSO’s:

After rolling up the dipole and re-erecting the 7-ely ZL beam, these were the final QSO’s on 70cm: GW0MDQ in IO83KC and G3UVR Dennis in IO83KH. Finally, I’d managed to work outside my own locator square!

There were a couple of CW QSO’s going on but they seemed to disappear after each QSO. Furthermore I couldn’t work out who’s frequency it was so I gave up hunting to call CQ on the fixed frequency of 432.232 MHz. After five minutes of no luck and with just two minutes of contest time remaining, I admitted defeat, switched off and began the task of packing up.

A systematic approach is essential in rain, with the final act the removal of the tent. A soggy one in this case. After returning the rock, borrowed for a ground sheet weight, to the summit we were ready for off.

Descent:

Leaving at 22:53, walking directly into driving rain and taking my time in the dark, I arrived at the car for 23:09 . The head-torch was great on full beam but it uses a lot of power on that setting. 2-hours is all you can expect from 3 x AAA’s so I settled for a little less illumination.

While I was extricating myself from the rucksack, a tricky task when there’s a delicate beam antenna tied to the back of it, a car stopped on the main road and turned into the track entrance. The man wound down the window, ‘Are you alright?’ He asked. ‘Yes, I’ve just come down the hill from doing radio.’ ‘Oh, I thought you were going skiing.’ How he came up with that comment, goodness knows? For a start I don’t use sticks.

Comments:

Out of all the activations of the holiday, I think I got the most out of this one. Maybe it was just relief after having had it in the back of my mind for months but the 160m success had a lot to do with it too. This was a little out of the ordinary, involving the late night descent of a hill I’d never been on before, rather than my more usual overnight stay and walk down in daylight the next morning. Like countless times in the past, the weather had to be tolerated once again. Not that it was particularly onerous. It was after all, merely a bit of rain and fortunately, though windy it wasn’t cold.

The flysheet did a wonderful job, though I noticed it was wet inside where my coat had been touching it. As always, the down side was the pain of lying propped on one elbow or kneeling in this small space for several hours.

The shocking lack of success on 70cm was more than balanced by the satisfying 160m log content. This followed two daylight 160m activations which were frankly hard work from the viewpoint of QSO’s versus time spent, not only for me but for the chasers too. On GD3, once the sun was removed from the formula and despite a dramatic increase in band noise, things started to move along quite rapidly. Yet again the interest, loyalty and support of the 160m chasers cannot be underestimated in making this a success. The enthusiasm came right out of the speaker and that give this activator a boost. A 100 watt rig on full power undoubtedly helped for marginal QSO’s in providing that vital extra half ‘S’ point in the chaser’s receiver.

80m was a good place to be too. In fact it was the ‘bread and butter’ of the activation, supporting QSO’s from the UK right out as far as Italy just after darkness set in. I did become a little stuck on the WAB net, missing my sked time in the process but the efforts of Steve the controller brought in quite a few stations that I may not have worked on my own frequency.

I wish there’d been time for a higher HF band. It might have produced some interesting results and with hindsight, it could have replaced 70cm altogether. As for the latter, I still don’t know what went wrong. I barely seemed to be able to work outside my own locator square and my confidence was shaken by early reports of distortion. These turned out to be unfounded, or at least didn’t occur after the first battery swap. That substitution might not have been required had I remembered when packing the rucksack, to parallel the second 4.5Ah in with its twin.

Was it my location or didn’t I have enough antenna gain or TX power? Worse still, has the 19-year old IC706-2G developed receiver deafness on UHF? The following evening I discussed this with Richard GD8EXI at the IOM Radio Club meeting, my second visit of the holiday. He offered to bench test the rig for me and check receive sensitivity; a kind offer which would have been hard to fit in with just one day remaining and two activations left to do.

What he did say was that in contrast to conditions on 2m the Tuesday before, where ‘all stations out as far as 400km were a full 59 to him, in the 70cm evening almost no one was better than 53. He uses a 32-ely with a 10m boom (soon to be two 42’s) and 400W on 70cm so maybe conditions were in winter mode as he suggested and it wasn’t my rig after all, albeit my setup by necessity, is exceedingly modest.

The IOM Radio Club meetings take place on Wednesday evenings in the scout hut at Ballasally (south part of the island). NGR is: SC 28019 70193 (N54.09881 W4.63167). I don’t know when they start but they general pack up around 21:30. They are informal and visitors made to feel very welcome.

QSO’s:

80m CW: 9

80m SSB: 20

160m CW: 10

160m SSB:10

70cm SSB: 8

TOTAL: 57.

Walk data:

16:53: Left A27 road/ track/ path junction (300m ASL)

17:12 to 22:53: GD3 summit

23:09: Arr. back at car

23:59: Arr. Douglas

Summit time: 5hr-41min

Walking: 19min up 16 min down

Total: 2.4km (1.5 miles) / 183m (600ft) ascent

Thanks to all stations worked and to spotters: G4SSH; EI7CC and DD5LP. Thanks to Roy G4SSH for responding to texts with spots and monitoring 3.557 MHz.

73, John

(G4YSS using Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call GT0OOO/P)

……………………

Photos: 1-3-4-8-10-21-24-36-40-44-49-56-59-60-62-63-66-67-68-71


Above: GD/GD-003 start point on track off A27 road WSW of summit


Above: GD/GD-003 start point. Rucksack


Above: GD/GD-003 as seen from the start point off A27 road


Above: GD/GD-003 Trig Point (TP-6063)


Above: GD/GD-003 Trig Point (TP-6063). Hillfort details


Above: GD/GD-003 Trig Point (TP-6063). Hillfort plaque


Above: GD/GD-003 accommodation for the evening


Above: GD/GD-003. Starting to look like rain


Above: GD/GD-003. Darkness, the friend of 160m! Lights of Douglas behind


Above: GD/GD-003. IC706-2G on 160m CW


Above: GD/GD-003 activation on 70cm-SSB. Only 8 contacts!


Above: GD/GD-003. IC706-2G on 70cm-SSB with 20W out


Above: GD/GD-003 - South Barrule. Taking down the tent


Above: Parting shot of South Barrule’s trig (TP-6063)


Above: Douglas from the summit


Above: Peel from the summit. Camera resting on the trig


Above: ‘Just walking in the rain.’


Above: A wet op but nearly there


Above: Back at the kissing gate


Above: Ah! Shelter from the rain (23:10). 80m & 2m whips


Above: Next day - drying tentage

7 Likes

Part-2
Comments referencing GD3 on foot of GD2 Report:

DD5LP
Only Top band and 70cms? That’s two extremes! Neither of which I would expect to hear down here - I’ll try 160m when I see the spot though - you never know.
73 Ed.

Update: Just saw the earlier 80m alert - I’ll take a listen for that as well.
Update2: 1830 UTC - hearing John at a workable signal if it wasn’t for the constant beep, beep on frequency!
Update 3 2030 - great to get you on top band John - had to keep it short as the ATU was complaining about the antenna! Using the 40m loop as a top (capacitive) loaded vertical and its very critical on tuning.
Ed DD5LP:

…………………………….

… hearing John at a workable signal if it wasn’t for the constant beep, beep on frequency!

Yes and wasn’t it annoying!! Thankfully tonight when John was on GD-003, he moved up 5kHz and I managed my first 80m for a long time - many thanks John. The noise on 160m was horrendous, so there was no chance on that band and I couldn’t get much power out of the rig anyway - obviously a system SWR thing. As per my school report - “could do better!”
73, Gerald G4OIG
……………………….

Thankfully tonight when John was on GD-003,

My comment was when John was on GD-003 - I guess he came back to 80m later in the evening and then no longer on the WAB net frequency (which is where the beep beep was).

Really chuffed to have got him on 160m from here!
Ed.
………………

G4OIG Gerald
John moved up 5kHz immediately after he left the WAB net. The net controller confirmed the move and several of us moved up and worked John.

Well done on the 160m contact. It is a long time since I have had any success on the band, indeed since the demise of my quarter wave horizontal loop which is no more on account of a support being removed when a neighbour took a tree down.

………………

G4TGJ Richard
I could just about hear Ed here in Yorkshire - nice to hear your voice. I was pleased to work John on both CW and SSB - my first ever top band contacts on those modes!
………………

G4OBK Phil
G4YSS
The lateness of your activation in the darkness helped reduce the absorption John so your 160m signal level was very good - 579 into Pickering, North Yorkshire. I hope you didn’t encounter any IOM wallabies on your late drive back to Douglas…
73 Phil
……………….

G0HIO Mile
I have to say I was impressed at the speed and efficiency the WAB net worked though the pile up! I thought the beep beep was DD2 station swearing when ignored by the controller.
Thanks for brightening the evening up John, I wonder if you have plans to do any more?
73 Mike
…………………

GW4VPX Allan
Hi John
Thanks for 80m contact and for eventually pulling me out of the noise last night on 160m cw. You were solid 559 here. I called you a few times then decided to tail end your activation so when I heard the 3s coming back I knew my signal was rubbish on my 80m doublet…so I need to work on it

I hope you enjoyed your activation which was really appreciated by all.
73 Allan GW4VPX
…………………

DD5LP Ed
G4OIG
Hi Gerald,
Well to say I was surprised when I heard John on 160m is an understatement.
I was using my now ladder-line fed 40m full wavelength horizontal loop, with both sides of the feed shorted together in the shack and tuned against an Earth spike. This then matched using an MFJ-993B - this works but the tuning is VERY precise a small amount off and the SWR is through the roof. I tuned up about 10KHz away and while I was OK to start with after about a minute things started to get “hairy” so I only just got the contact in before everything shut down! I was running around 250-300 watts of RF-Clipped LSB SSB. I’m happy he was on 1.8453 as above 1.85 we’re only allowed 75w (750w below that).

The 40m loop is effectively a capacitive loading of the feed which acts as the vertical.
………………….

DD5LP Ed
G0HIO
Hi Mike,
I never called into the 80m WAB net - that was a different German station. I wasn’t going to call-in with the beep beep on the frequency making it impossible for me to properly copy John.
73 Ed.
……………………

G0HIO Mike
Sorry Ed my mistake, this was my attempt at humour.
73 Mike
……………………

DD5LP Ed
No worries Michael, Karl also said he thought he had heard me on 80m - so I guess it was most likely another DD call ?
73 Ed.
…………………

G4OIG Gerald
DD5LP:

I was using my now ladder-line fed 40m full wavelength horizontal loop, with both sides of the feed shorted together in the shack and tuned against an Earth spike.

My 40m full wavelength was fed with 300 ohm ribbon direct from the Kenwood AT-230 ATU and it easily tuned 160m with only a mains earth. The shack is now on the “wrong” side of the house which is another factor in having a poor antenna for the band. Such is life… things change, but not always for the better.
……………………………………………………………………

RESPONSE de G4YSS:
To Ed, Gerald, Richard, Phil, Mike, Allan & Mike.

Thanks for your comments about the GD3 activation, posted on my GD2 report and transposed above. Thank you for calling in on either 80m 160m or both. All QSO’s and support is greatly appreciated as are your morale boosting comments. It is nice when a good plan comes together, apart from 70cm that is. Fortunately the HF part of the evening more than made up for that.

It would seem that Ed was best DX on 160m and it’s not often I get contacts into Germany (40 in 14 years!) with my set-up on that band, dark or not. I must say I wasn’t expecting Ed to call so soon after dark and I was taken aback at the time. You were quite easily readable Ed but it was a lot easier to understand when I found you were using 250 to 300W. However the real issue was, could you pull me through the extra noise of a home QTH? You did. Well done on the power and antenna but mostly the operating. I wish I could carry 250W to a summit but a bigger/ higher antenna might be a better investment on this side.

The ‘heart beat’ as I’ve heard it called and only there at night, has been present on 3.760 from my first WAB QSO’s (OV00) in 1987 and believe it or not, it has become a familiar friend. Personally speaking the reason for that is mostly nostalgia. Most WAB ops have operated through it time and again and over many years. I heard a whisper a while back, that WAB have been discussing a change of channel but in some ways the timing pulses are a blessing. If you’re not used to them, you wouldn’t go there so it’s more likely to be free if WAB ops want to start a net running there. After a while the noise blanker in your head removes them.

Judging by some of these posts, ingenuity with regard to antenna systems for 160m, or more correctly for use on 160m, is alive and well. SOTA activations on the band very often evoke discussion of antennas. Hardly any of the chasers have dedicated 160m aerials, but they’re not short of ideas about what they can tune up to get on there somehow! The surprising thing is, these efforts and bodges quite often work and are always worth a try.

Phil puts it in a nutshell and lucky for us, the ‘D’ layer is scared of the dark. Congrats on being the most consistent 160m chaser with four GD’s in the week. You make me wish I’d tried from GD4 too (big regrets). I think we might just have made it even at noon! I know you have a useful number of 160m QSO’s to your name from GD summits as an activator so well done on pioneering 160m SOTA from the IOM.

As for wallabies, I thought you were joking but you weren’t. Just read an article in the Guardian and it’s true, over 100 of them. They told me at the IOM club that there are no deer on IOM so maybe less of a tick problem too; unless the wallabies carry them too?

Mike said that the WAB controller was efficient, which was true. Steve has a lot of experience in that quarter and getting run down the net can be an easy and quick way to get contacts in the log. Sometimes if there are a two or even three mobiles running down with you and band conditions are poor, it can take quite a lot longer. WAB have been on in the evenings on 80m (and 160m) more than in the day recently and now we have reached that point in the cycle which precludes the use of 40m for inter-G.

As a fixed and SOTA station, I feel reticent about going on there in peak times in case I hold up mobiles. When I feel we’ve reached the point where the purposes of SOTA are starting to be served to the detriment of WAB, I tend to announce a QSY so that the remaining SOTA chasers can work me and the WAB mobiles can get on with the job in hand on their net frequency. Not that I don’t consider myself a WAB op too. I have been an occasional one since the late 80’s (1st book No 7664), mainly specialising in portable squares.

Pleased to provide Richard with a first QSO on 160m in CW & SSB. Three stations worked me in both modes on 160m – EI7CC Pete; G3RMD Frank and Richard G4TGJ. Keep calling in. I hope there’ll be more Top Band.

A pleasure to log G4OIG and at such good strength on 80 with your tuned up system Gerald. One day, you may make it on 160. Hope so and hope you’re fully recovered but maybe too early to assume that just yet.

I didn’t catch all of Allan’s callsign at first but we got there in the end.

Thanks to the above and all other stations that worked me, particularly on Top Band. Great support!

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That is only three less than me and I was running full legal power into a 23 element. Conditions were pretty awful that evening

Again Big thanks, now caught all 5 summits of GD on 80m and 2 on 160m placing couple squares on 160 for WAB as well.

Big thumbs up and thanks again and yes even ed was strong to me shame he no hear me but faded out afterwards well caught in time :slight_smile:
karl M3FEH

Apologies from me are more in order, I think John, I need more practice at chasing on CW!

I could hear you, with deep QSB which occasionally took you below the noise level for a few seconds. I heard you come back with my callsign more than once, and did begin to respond. However, each time, in between characters I heard other signals pop up, and so stopped to listen. It may have been you doubling, though often it was another station calling you or sending a report - this caused me to doubt whether you were trying to work me…
After a few attempts I gave up, not wishing to waste time for you or the more skilful chasers.
Had it been just you and I on a clear channel, I’ve no doubt we would have completed, as you were a good S point above the noise at best. As I say, I need to listen more, and practice more!
I could hear you on SSB, but not well enough to copy.

I enjoyed your report as ever, and continue to be encouraged by your exploits!

73
Adrian
G4AZS

Hi Barry,

That says it all, except it’s a whole lot harder from where you live. I hear folks don’t turn their beam north until the last minute. I did hear someone calling you repeatedly, maybe on sked and if I remember right, I heard you coming back at about 51 but that could have been later in the evening. I would have loved to have worked you but as far as I know, it was someone else’s freq.
73, John

Hi Karl,

My pleasure entirely. Glad you got all the GD’s and two on 160m is good; it’s not an easy task. Great that you heard Ed too. It comes over to me time and again that you have great ‘ears.’ Your 10W is hardly ever a big signal which doesn’t give me much confidence in getting back to you but so far, I don’t think we’ve failed. Shouldn’t have said that. It’ll tempt providence and invite Murphy’s Law!
Just keep calling in, it’s appreciated.
73, John

Hi Adrian,

Thanks! I don’t feel as bad about it now. You say you need practice but at least you had a go. I sometimes hear SOTA friends calling in CW and want to go back. I end up getting ready to transmit and I am either far too hesitant, hoping not to get it wrong or I just freeze. It’s why I’m always harping on about the comparative skill levels required by activators and chasers. Chasing is far harder and if you get it wrong it’s ten times more embarrassing.

As an activator I make errors almost every QSO in CW but chasers either don’t notice or don’t care. It’s all masked by the desire to get the summit. They need a lot more skill to dig out low signals in higher noise. The diametrical opposite of the situation enjoyed by the activator.

Yes, there was a lot of noise, QRM and QSB. I was noticing it big time at my end and it would be worse at yours.

Never mind, it’s only a hobby and there’ll be plenty more chances, even Top Band. Thanks for reading and your reply,

CUAGN, 73, John

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You bet I was “Right Chuffed!” John. The 40m loop was acting as a capacitive top hat for the (shorted at the bottom) ladder-line feeder which worked as a vertical antenna - all tuned against an Earth spike. It works - sort of, but is VERY precise on tuning and after a while it went off tune and the 300W Amp decided to shut down - no damage, just shut down.

My longest contact on 160m so far. I am lucky to be somewhat out in the countryside here - there’s no way I would have heard you, had I been in Munich!

Thanks for the contact John.

73 Ed.

Hi John
Thanks again for the top band QSOs. I was out while you were on 80m so I was hoping my setup would work on 160m. My antenna is a doublet thrown over the roof. There’s about 45m of wire but with about 5m at both ends folded back. It’s not very high but seems to work quite well for 80m NVIS - at the weekend I casually entered the Scandinavian Activity Contest and worked plenty of Finnish, Swedish and Danish stations late on Saturday. Just after putting the aerial up at Easter I tried it on 160m FT8 and worked 3 stations but the received reports were quite poor so I just assumed it wouldn’t be much good on CW or SSB. But it appears it’s usable - later on after working you I worked a DL although I think I must have faded right out. Perhaps this winter I’ll try some more.
73 Richard

G0FEX
Hi John Many thanks for all your activations, very much appreciated on my side, Martyn is GD3ZZN as the portable station on IOM, and F4VS is G6LKB David at his holiday home in France.
Cheers Ken , Always a pleasure to catch on a summit.

It’s a funny old hill South Barule - last time I was there (attempting to impress a technically minded local with my 2m and HF setup) I really struggled to get anything on HF at all, and all my 2m contacts were into Northern Ireland.

I’d like to try it again sometime, but it would have to be in the evening also and I’m not sure October is the month to do it when I am next on the island for a week. If I’m going to freeze myself in the pouring rain, which is the most likely weather, I’d rather go for 10 points with a quick dash up Snaefell where at least some shelter is afforded!.

Apologies for missing your activation - I did see the alert but I was otherwise engaged at a prize evening for my eldest daughter and I know better than to put radio before such events!

Regards, Mark. M0NOM

Well you must be doing something right at that end Ed. As you say, it is fortunate that you’re located out of the city or my 33 would have been reduced to 11 or even 00. While you have quite a bit of wire high up, I’m afraid my antenna system is rather poor. As Frank G3RMD once said and he’s right of course, ‘You’ll mostly just be heating up the ground.’ With the wire half as long as it should be and only 5m up, I could do with more height but there’s the weight penalty. I made a new mast section recently, to give me an extra metre but broke it on Snaefell.

Mark G0VOF has worked 160m from Easington Fell using a full sized half-wave dipole on a 10m mast.

Great contact. I will have to try to arrange some more and see if we could fluke it again!
All the best,
John

The current set up is a very bent 40m dipole with traps plus 5m extensions. The traps upset the 40m tuning, but I can deal with that by the use of the ATU. Unfortunately the system doesn’t work well on 60m. More work required.

Health-wise, I am back to 90%. Signed off from Papworth, heart given an MOT which it passed with flying colours. Now building up my chest muscles, but already able to carry a 10kg backpack at 3 months post op. More “training” planned on some GM HuMPs later this week. Still aiming for GM/WS-001 next spring.

73 and many thanks for the rare (for me) 80m chase,

Gerald

It sounds like you’re on the right track with that aerial Richard. Your garden is a similar length to mine it would seem. I used to have a dipole for Top Band over the top of the house on a 16ft mast and to trees at each end. We Scarborough lads managed to work UK to Cyprus (100W of CW) though we had to wait until dead of night in winter. G4SSH Roy and me in our front room with a long coax extension and Nick G4OOE at the Eastern Sovereign Base. I have never worked that far with SOTA 160. Most times it has been a dark ascent in the morning or delaying until dusk on the final summit to bring in mainly G’s but sometimes DL’s, but I do like overnighters for 160. Well, not exactly ‘like’ as they cause serious discomfort.

Let’s hope you can test your system again for another 160m chase.
73, John

Hi Ken,
That is very informative. I got the GD call of Martin a bit wrong but I’d half picked up that the Frenchman was really a G. Now I know it was our friend Dave. I didn’t recognize his voice and had no idea.
Thanks for coming up to work me on the hills and also on the WAB/M run which I enjoyed.
Thanks for the latest WAB mag. also.
73, John

Thanks for the reply Mark,
You’re probably right. October can be cold, wet and windy but on the other hand… We just have to play these things by ear, which is why we can never give much notice.

I found the same on 2m from GD2. It greatly favoured GI but I enjoyed a chat with them over the water.

Couldn’t agree more about the prize giving. We’ve got to know our limits. I still don’t know how I managed two GD summits on my 43rd wedding anniversary. Must have had brownie points in the bank from some long forgotten good deed.
CU SN, 73, John

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A pleasure to work you Gerald,
Great to hear that good report on your post-op state. With some steady workups you should be ready for Ben Nevis. It may be a tourist mountain but it is the biggest and I just love being there. Going up there in the early morning is not so bad and operating from it is magic, weather permitting of course. It’s just that descent. I forget every time that it’s such a long way so just leave something in the tank for that.

I once built some traps using double-sided PCB for the C but 100W of key down forced them clean out of the band due presumably to heating. Still got that failure hanging in my garage. Better making coax ones I think.

You never know, you might get a quiet evening and do a chase on 160.
Just keep improving but take it steady.
Best regards, John

“Up 5” usually works but calling on the same frequency is usually tolerated provided the stations qsy.
I tried & tried to work GD that evening to get a fourth country but it wasn’t to be - would have loved a SOTA though, makes shouting yourself hoarse worth while :slight_smile:

Hi Barry,
Yes, I should have tried that ‘up 5’ business. It works but with the rotten luck I sometimes have, you can land right on somebody else. It’s easier on HF but beams pointed this way and that on V-UHF make it more tricky. If you were using real power in comparison to my 20W, there’s a very good chance you would never have heard me.

Still I deeply regret not trying to get you in the log now, a SOTA colleague. I didn’t know the situation so it would have been a real boost to provide GD and a SOTA, plus a contest exchange.

I had no idea or didn’t remember that you did the contest evenings and that you were so well equipped so to do. Hope I can do better next time, whenever that may be but I’m a rather average operator and not very quick these days!
73, John

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