G4YSS:GM/NS-107,11-09-13 (WAB OV00 Note)

G4YSS: Activation Report - GM/NS-107, 11-09-13.

(See Foot of page for OV00 Information.)

This report: BEN HORN - GM/NS-107 - 2 points.
GM4YSS/P and SSEG Clubcall GS0OOO/P.
HF - QRO on 40m; 20m & 2m.
All times: BST (UTC plus 1hr UOS as z).

Second SOTA in the series GM/NS-082; NS-107; NS-071 & NS-089 from Dornoch Hotel Sep-13. (See other reports).

ICOM IC706-2G - HF & VHF QRO with spring-loaded CW toggle switch in mic.
Link dipole for 80m thru 20m on a 5m CFC mast with 1m end sticks.
Home-Brew tuneable loading coils for 160m.
Vertical J-Pole for 2m FM. (Not used)
2 x 4.3Ah Li-Po`s in parallel.
IC-E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with 7.4V /1.3 Ah Li-Ion detachable battery & rubber duck.
QRO pack: 12.8kg (28.2 pounds) including 0.5 litre drinks, Primaloft jacket & light umbrella.

This expedition was the first during a 7-night self-drive/ four SOTA holiday at the Dornoch Hotel from 9th to 17th of September 2013. (SOTAs worked in chronological order and separately reported: Beinn Dhorain NS82; Ben Horn NS107; Carn a Choin Deirg NS71 and Ben Griam Mor NS89.) NS82 and NS107 were afternoon only activations. NS71 and NS89 occupied full days.

Ben Horn was a new one for me on 17th February 2005 - see report. Yahoo | Mail, Weather, Search, Politics, News, Finance, Sports & Videos See also 2005 photo from the summit at View from summit of Ben Horn © John Earnshaw cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland. The same scene today shows windmills. In 2008, three years later to the month, NS107 was activated for a second time, on this occasion by Clive M1YAM.

This is an easy 2-pointer having a grassy top with a small cairn overlooking Loch Horn and a wind farm. The two previous activations produced a total of 44 QSO`s and though 21 of these were made on the 40m band, it would seem that not a single overseas SOTA op had ever chased Ben Horn. Neither had CW been used from this summit. Speaking for myself, I think this was because in 2005, I mainly used SSB on the HF bands. Also the number of countries in SOTA at that time were far fewer than nowadays. Whatever the reason, as far as continental European and other more distant SOTA ops were concerned, this might as well have been an unactivated summit.

I already had a GPS route for this one, marked in 2005 and knew the start point which I uploaded to the satvav. Circumstances had left me with just the afternoon again, so my primary targets of NS71, NS89/91 and possibly NS14, were put on the back burner; this time due to a drizzly morning. So for the second day running I was forced to chose an easy summit close to the Dornoch Hotel.

The drive via the A9, turning left in Golspie to Bridge-of-Horn, took about 25 minutes to 12:40. I parked beside a track which forms a loop with the road at NC 8001 0474. In the windless conditions prevailing here, midges were active. I ladled on some Avon Skin So Soft and set off walking as soon as I was ready at 13:08; leaving the bugs behind when the breeze picked up with altitude gained.

Initially the route is easy to follow and just a matter of walking up a forest track between trees, which incidentally I noted were about 1 metre high in 2005 but are now appreciably taller. At NC 8026 0506 you pass a small reservoir which is basically just a big water tank with a gauge on the side. After a turn to the left, a tall gate appears at NC 8023 0532 and beside it, tucked out of the way well to the left, is a ladder stile for crossing the deer fence. Climbing the gate and taking to the open fell just after at NC 80219 05337 just after the gate, I headed E then NE as far as NC 8039 0542; NC 8048 0554 and NC 80586 0566. There is not much of a path, merely the suggestion of quad tracks in places.

After this I headed north passing via NC 8060 0572; NC 8062 0578; NC 8057 0592; NC 8058 0599; NC 8058 0608; NC 8060 0616 to NC 8059 0625 after which the path (if you can call it that) bends east and passes via NC 8065 0633 to the summit cairn which I GPS`d today at NC 80724 06329. The marked position of the cairn in 2005 was NC 80724 06329; the disagreement being 22m. As the summit is approached, the path’s definition increases.

Apart from the section up the forest track, I wouldnt claim the above to be a good route to GM/NS-107. The path is at best, fickle and non-existent much of the way. However, after two visits it seems to be the best of a bad job and at least gives a possible basis for improvement in the future. In 2005 I followed the forest track further up to where it ended at NC 8017 0551, then made off NE finding a path at NC 8051 0574 but this way wasnt really any better.

BEN HORN - GM/NS-107, 521m, 2 pts, 13:52 to 16:49. Wind NW 10 mph. Temp 13 deg C. Overcast with intermittent low-cloud. No midges. Reliable Orange EE phone coverage. Hazy views at times. LOC: IO78XA, WAB: NC80.

I set up the dipole at the small summit cairn; the only shelter available. Unlike in February 2005, I was not facing nearly four hours of desperate windchill but because I had carried an umbrella up, I thought I may as well use it as a windbreak. It seems I didn`t anchor it down too well; more of that later.

7.158 SSB (WAB NET) - 14 QSO`s:
This time it was Brian - G0BFJ (Huddersfield) who ran me down a WAB net which was larger than the day before. Callsigns logged: G0FVH; G7BTP; G1PIE; G8XTJ; GM8UPI; G4JZF; 2E0GBK; G0GWY; G4TSQ; G0CQR; M6KVJ/M; G7BGA and G0RQL. Power was 70W. Here was another flying start courtesy of Worked all Britain.

7.032 CW - 40 QSOs: 40m CW excelled itself today with 40 chasers worked in 45 minutes. Power was mostly 100 Watts with some QSOs at 60W. G4SSH was first in the log after cold calling him on the frequency with the message, “Just a little one today - Ben Horn, NS107.” My CW is far from perfect and he initially got the summit as Little Big Horn. Unusually but probably because of the slight confusion caused by my CW, Sake PA0SKP pipped Roy to the spot on this occasion. After a short time I was getting the dreaded single joined-up note for 10 seconds but the considerable pileup was gradually unravelled.

Countries worked were: G; DL; PA; OM; F; HB9; SM; MW; I and OK. Yesterday half the callers were UK based but today the ionosphere seemed to be favouring Europe who had two thirds of the QSOs. Despite this I had no trouble working Ken GM0AXY in Edinburgh with 599 both ways. When it comes to CW, I am easily confused. This time it was SM6DER/7; the 7` being the problem. After embarrassing requests for repeats, this callsign went into the log; the subject figure must denote region.

7.113 SSB - 9 QSOs: G4SSH and SOTAwatch obliged once again but what a poor showing after the CW session, with only nine stations worked as follows: G7VEM; M0MDA; MM0USU; M0BHG; M3XIE; MW3PZO; G6ODU; M0IML and MM6BJJ. It was indeed fortunate that 14 WABers had been logged on 40m phone earlier. Power was 50 Watts.

Umbrella delay:
At the end of the SSB session Roy called in to discuss tactics and QSYs. After a minute, the umbrella which had been weighted down by rocks on the cairn, decided to make a bid for freedom. I shouted into the mic, then dropped it and ran. Too late; the 10mph wind had taken control of my favourite black brolly and it was trundling nonchalantly towards the southern edge of the hill. I wouldnt say I was in hot pursuit because of the danger of turning an ankle on the lumpy surface but at first I thought I could catch it. Tantalisingly close, it started to gain on me and I was left standing at the lip of the hill, cursing the thing as I watched it roll down at least 200 feet of steep ground. At first I accepted the loss, then the Yorkshireman kicked in. I would have to buy a new one! It took a good 10 minutes to retrieve it before I could start the next session and the recalcitrant item remained furled for the rest of the activation.

1.832 CW & 1.843 SSB - nil QSO`s:
Despite a spot by Roy G4SSH, I called CQ with 100 Watts on these two frequencies from around 14:50z without result. Had there been any callers, I would have been very surprised but maybe they got fed up of waiting while the rogue umbrella was dealt with.

14.052.6 CW - 8 QSOs: A QSY to 20m and the application of 60 to 100 Watts, brought in HB9AFI (Kurt); HB9BCB; F6ENO; N4EX; G4FGJ; DJ5AV; N7UN and F5OZJ. It was great to get the USA onto this summit for the first time as well as some locals` who had missed it on 40m.

145.575 FM - 2 QSOs: There was just sufficient time for 2m so long as there was no pileup. Not much chance of that this far north. With 25 Watts to the half-wave vertical J-Pole, on a short mast in the cairn I worked GM6JUU - Jim in Elgin and GM0SFQ - John in Alness (IO77UV). From Jim, who was using an FT897 to a vertical, I received 50 plus 40dBreport and from John I got57. John knew Yorkshire well as he had spent time at Catterick - probably doing military training. I told him about my XYLs neice who is in the RAF and also lives in Elgin.

Its always a pleasure to work 2m-FM especially in GM. For one thing, it proves` your location and for another, as a visitor, you may just pick up some useful information.

The walk back to the car took 32 minutes to 17:21 and I was back at the Dornoch Hotel by 18:00.

ASCENT & DISTANCE (Start point at 220m ASL):
300m (984ft) ascent / 4.4 km (2.8 miles).

Left Dornoch Hotel: 12:15 (via A9 to Bridge of Horn)
Parked: 12:40
Walk started: 13:08
GM/NS-107: 13:52 to 16:49
Returned to Car: 17:21
Drive: 17:35
Back at Dornoch: 18:00

Walking times: 44 min up / 32 min down. Total: 1hr-16 min.
Summit time: 2hr-57 min.
Time Car to Car: 4hr-13 min.
Gross time Hotel to Hotel: 5hr-45 min.

40 on 40m CW
14 on 40m SSB (WAB)
9 on 40m SSB (SOTA etc)
Nil on 160m CW/SSB
8 on 20m CW
2 on 2m FM
Total: 73 (QRO)

Despite a poor path, NS107 is another reasonably easy 2 pointer which really ought to get activated more often. This was a much more benign experience than in the winter of 2005 and it was nice to revisit an old friend. 40m band conditions were the best I have experienced for a long time which was encouraging knowing that QRP would be utilised if the remote NS71 was to be activated later in the week.

No other summit activators called in during this actvation. Once again I had seen no other walkers and in fact that was true for all four summits activated this week.

ALL STATIONS worked. To G4SSH and PA0SKP for spots with a separate thank you to Roy G4SSH for his invaluable telephone spotting Service.

73, John G4YSS
Using GM4YSS/P and Scarborough Special Events Group Club call - GS0OOO/P.

Note-1: GM4YSS/P will be used in the SOTA database.
Note-2: This is the fourth and last in a series of four GM reports in non-chrono order.

RARE WAB SQUARE OV00 from 06-Oct-13:
Further to a request from members of the 40m WAB net on 16-09-13, I am planning a recce of OV00 which is one of the UK’s least activated OS grid squares.

The condition of the direct route built in 2006 is unknown so I hope to repeat a route (walked 2002) from Hayburn Wyke on Sunday 06-Oct-13 (fallback date is 20th Oct). I hope to attempt an activation if I can get along the 2 miles of rocky foreshore and back and if ALL conditions are favourable.

Low tide is at 11:40 BST (10:40z) and I hope to be operating at least an hour before and an hour after this time but if I QRT too late the tide will cut off my retreat.

The main WAB frequency is 7.160, but I hope to try 3.760, 14.263 also and possibly 5MHz USB - channel FE or FL? I will be using the usual clubcall of GX0OOO/P (G4YSS/P if using 5MHz). This square has only been activated once since 1998 so there must be a few who need it by now.

If anybody would like to collect this rare item, seldom offered on the air, the drill is to call into the WAB net on 7.160. When they have run down all stations already on the net, they will ask for checkins. That’s the time to call the controller. If you can’t hear 7.160 try another freq.

I hope this comes off on 6th October (or if not 20th October?) but it’s a difficult square to put on being non existent (ie submerged completely at high tide.) The approach is along 3.2km of large slimy rocks. Chances of a no-show: 30%. Chances of shortened activation: 50%.

Best guess schedule:
6th or (20th Oct) 2013 Time BST
High Tide 6th&20th Oct 05:10 (5.9m)
Hayburn Wyke (Leave) 07:40
Herbert Hole 08:05
Petard Pt 08:41
OV00 Arrive 09:10
Survey & Photos to 09:40
Deploy Station 10:00
On The Air 10:15
Low Tide 6th&20th Oct 11:40 (0.9m)
Pack up station 13:00
OV00 Leave 13:15
Hayburn Wyke (Arrive) 14:35
Car (Nr Hotel) 14:50
High Tide 6th&20th Oct 17:35 (5.8m)

For further details and updates see:

Also for info about OV00.

I hope nobody minds me adding this to my SOTA report but I know many SOTA ops are also WABers.

73, John

Post Script:
The Expedition to WAB square OV00 was a success with 111 QSO’s.
Report: Yahoo | Mail, Weather, Search, Politics, News, Finance, Sports & Videos

…back to SOTA, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

Thanks for the interesting report & for the WAB contact with OV00, I’m just waiting for approval to join the Yahoo group then I can read your report :wink:
Thanks & best 73,

Mark G0VOF

Thanks for the report John. I looked at doing Ben Horn on the same day that we gave GM/NS-125 (Beinn Lunndaidh) its first activation, but we decided to do more bands on GM/NS-125 instead to give more people the chance of grabbing a unique.

Thanks also for the other NS reports and for the S2S when we were on Fairfield. NS reports noted for the next time we get that far north…


In reply to G0VOF M3ZCB:

I have only just seen these inputs. Many thanks to both.

WAB OV00 was extra special fun as it always is even after all these years and 24 activations. It doesn’t matter what you do down there, that lower 100ft cliff always shrugs off the puny efforts of man given time. It is the main barrier. This time it just meant a long walk over rough foreshore and it looks like the recce part of the sortie paid dividends with the discovery of a significant improvement to the route. (Ref a future WAB Mag).

Back in the 1980’s, WAB taught me most of what I know about HF/P operating and it always gives me a real thrill to go back and visit them now and again - so to speak. They are such a friendly lot - just like SOTA.

Anyway, it was really nice to work some summit chasers from down there, if a little surreal being at zero feet ASL whilst overlooking an exposed shipwreck. About as far from a mountaintop as you can get. So thanks for calling in.

73, John.

You did the right thing. A new summit needs maximum exposure on as many bands as possible and it looks like you certainly did that efficiently. Ben Horn can wait another day. The latter is a friendly one, unlike your undertaking of NS125 which looks from the map like quite a difficult one for its size.

Yes, it was great to work you S2S on 7MHz while you were on a summit I like - Fairfield which reminds me I haven’t done it this year and probably won’t now.

Glad you got something from the reports. The main intention is to impart route info for future activations. I should put this on the website like you have done but I never seem to get around to it. By the time I have written the report and done all the other things, I’m drained!

73, John.

Thank you for your responses - much appreciated.

In reply to G4YSS:

Glad you got something from the reports. The main intention is to impart route info for future activations.

Likewise John, but it is not absolutely necessary as a trawl through the reflector posts should bring up the information. I’ve done a search on several summits and have found reports by Andy FMF, but there was nothing on the summit pages. Of course there are other sources - the Scottish Hills website is an excellent source for hills north of the border.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:
Hi Gerald,

Thanks for the tip on that website. I like Munro Magic too but I haven’t actually joined any of them. It is certainly essential to find out all you can before travelling to the wild ones north of the border.

If I had to back post info on SOTAwatch I fear it would take me months. If I’ve done a particular summit there’s usually a report. That is apart from the really early activations with very short reports and little detail. Searching under my callsign brings them all up on here but it’s a bit messy for earlier expeditions as those reports are on the old yahoo reflector which is not as easy to handle.

I don’t know about you but I am a bit slower than the youngsters when it comes to putting stuff on the net. Added to that is the fact that the aim is to make it a reasonable standard before I let it go; add proper captions to any photos etc and it eats up loads of time. It’s nice to be able to edit later. (Yahoo, for one, doesn’t seem to have an editing facility.)

73, John.