G4YSS:PA/PA-006 with PA0HRM on 19-09-22

A Joint Activation of SIGNAAL IMBOSCH PA/PA-006 - 1 point,
on 19th September 2022; the Day of Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral
Issue-3: Title dates-2019 & 21 now 2022. 1:9 now 1:49 (Pse Rprt Errors)

Bands: 40m-20m-10m CW
PA/M1NNN/P John (aka G4YSS)
Bands: 20m CW & 40m SSB

Report by G4YSS / PA/M1NNN/P
All times: CET (UTC plus 2hr, UOS as ‘z’)

Palm Paddle CW Key
Fuchs Antenna: End-fed horiz wire 12m lg, Coax fed via 1:49 impedance matcher
Lidl ULTIMATE SPEED Powerbank Emergency Engine Starter - 8Ah

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M, 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier
Link dipole for 80m thru’ 20m on a 5m CFC mast with 1m end-sticks
Home-brew tunable loading coils for 160m
HRB 11.1V (nom)/ 5 Ah Li-Po battery (fully discharged)
J-Pole for 2m FM (not used)
Garmin GEKO-301 GPS

Turnigy 11.1V, 2.2 Ah Li-Po battery (3% discharged)
IC-E90, 4-band, 5W VHF H/H (not used)
Each op carried approx 9kg (20 pounds)

Hans PA0HRM and I activated PA6 together precisely three years ago to the day. I activated it again three days later on 22-09-19, though on that occasion it took a lot of driving round in circles to relocate the start point that Hans had shown me. After a third time-limited but successful solo activation on the 15th September 2022, I was keen to have the company of Hans once again.

My XYL and I were in Arnhem for a week staying at the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek for the 78th anniversary of operation Market Garden in WW2. Denise’s father Leonard of First Air Landing Light Regiment - Royal Artillery was involved in the mass glider landings at Wolfheze on 17th of September 1944 but the operation was mostly a failure resulting in an evacuation across the Rhine on the night of the 25-09-1944. As well as being landed a long way from the target, which was the Rhine bridge at Arnhem, one factor in the failure was poor radio communications, something Hans and I hoped to avoid today.

Hans PA0HRM is the SOTA manager for PA and also a volunteer at the Arnhem Bridge Museum along with his XYL Ida, so as in 2019, I had a good guide. He is very familiar with not only the the summit but the entire National Park. PA/PA-006 is one of only two SOTA’s in the entire Netherlands and it’s just 5km from Hans’ home. He sometimes walks from from home for his activations. I would be using PA/M1NNN/P today and Hans elected to show me a new route.

After making plans via email and a phone call, I drove to pick up Hans at his home in Rheden which is about 10km to the east of Arnhem and a little more from Oosterbeek. Hans took care to tell me which roads to use but trusting the satnav, which actually did contain the correct postcode, I set off. I was directed west from the hotel when I knew Rheden was to the east so my first mistake was blindly following like a sheep.

Driving on with my doubts I ended up on the A50, a busy motorway. I was very far from a happy traveller but at least now I was going east. After leaving the rat race – a roundabout, ‘Take the Third Exit’ said the machine. In England that means ‘Turn Right’ but of course in PA it’s left. Wrong lane and when I tried to change ‘toot toot’ from behind and a lengthy detour to get back on track. I did arrive at Hans’ house eventually but with slightly sweaty palms.

I was welcomed and shown around, including a well-appointed and unlike mine, a tidy shack. The aerial over the rear garden is a 12m long wire with an impedance matching unit that enables three bands to be used. As well as an FT990, in the shack was a pristine FT7 – a 10W HF rig of the late 1970’s. Like my late friend Roy G4SSH, Hans is an ex-merchant navy wireless op who just uses CW.

Today’s start point is about 1.5 km or about a mile to the east of the summit but less than 20m down from it in terms of ASL. There are other start points such as N52.03694 E5.99090 to the west where I parked four days earlier but this time a large layby at N52.03460 E6.01443 was the choice. The walk was going to be longer today too, otherwise this summit is too easy.

Hans donned his rucksack then surprised me by picking up a folding table and chair before adding a large umbrella. Apparently he had no intention of being uncomfortable and when you think about it we were hardly preparing to climb Scafell Pike so why not take some luxury. Light rain showers featured in the forecast so not only was the brolly a good precaution but also a reason for the clouds not to bother sending any rain; that in compliance with Murphy’s Law which we all have experience of. As far as the furniture is concerned, to my mind Hans was thinking out of the box but to him this was all perfectly normal practice. We walked away at 13:34.

From the layby you cross the road onto a bike track at N52.03468 E6.01340 and walk north for around 200m to N52.03605 E6.01305. At this point we took the wrong track due my guide being distracted by me talking too much! This added 1km of extra walking as far as N52.03865 E6.00857 and back. However as I said to Hans, no problem because there was plenty of time. Moreover, I needed as much exercise as I could get; hotel meals and lots of driving around had curtailed my daily walking routine of around 8km.

On with the route. Turn WSW to N52.03605 E6.01305, then walk roughly west on a sandy and ever widening track via N52.03509 E6.00859, N52.03572 E6.00439 and N52.03719 E5.99838 (the later point is where I did my activation) to the summit marker at N52.03825 E5.99877 (110m ASL) where Hans was going to be based.

Setting Up:
We walked to the summit marker together and Hans deployed his 12m long end-fed single wire antenna between the trees at low-height; only about 1.5m for most of it. This connects with RG58 coax to his FT817ND QRP rig via a 1:49 impedance matcher wound on a large ferrite ring and housed in a plastic box. Very neat, compact, simple and quick, all of which made me think. A system like that really comes into its own when you consider SOTA summit camps. No getting out of a nice warm sleeping bag in the middle of a freezing cold winter night just to change bands. That’s worth a lot!

I had the usual antenna with me, namely an 80m link dipole on a 6m mast but it’s not easy to set up in close tree cover which is why I backed off as far as the sandy track to deploy it. I am not at all accustomed to SOTA summits with trees on them, having only seen about three like it in twenty years of activating.

I also had the 160m coils handy but more in hope than expectation. Hope that with zero phone coverage somebody fairly close-by with a half decent 160m setup might just have seen my alerts and expectation based on previous failures especially in daylight. Darkness works much better for Top Band but no one is allowed in the forest after 8pm. There are animals such as deer and wild boar, the latter can be something of a hazard, especially if young are present. Luckily we didn’t see any, only the holes they dig at the sides of the roads.

SIGNAAL IMBOSCH, PA/PA-006, 110m, 1pt. 14:06 to 16:34. 17C, no wind, overcast/ sunny. Occasional spits of light rain. LOC: JO22XA. Poor or zero Vodafone coverage.

14.061 CW - 10 QSO’s (PA/M1NNN/P):
Whether it was the alerts that were seen and acted upon or just good fortune but my ‘CQ SOTA’ got a response on only the fifth attempt. After a little practice four days previously, my sending seemed a but more controlled today and quite soon there were several stations calling.

In the 20m-CW log: SM0CUH Ola; EA5JN Angel; US4IDY Igor; EA7GV Jose; HA1VG Jany; SV2OXS Chistos; PA0HRM/P Hans only 120m away from me; EA1AAP Fernando; UR5IRN Dmitriy and OE6STD Horst.

Power was 50 Watts throughout, conditions were good and all stations were 599 to me. I received five 599 reports, the rest were in the range 549 to 579.

There was one ‘gotaway. Was it F4OK?/P or did I hear OH8?? Goodness knows but it was a /P and likely a potential S2S. I was left intrigued about who was at the other end but he did try hard to make me hear. However there was QSB combined with a very weak signal and a bit of noise too. At the end I actually heard ’73 John’ which I took to be an end to the attempt to make a QSO. Strange how QSB always lets the uncritical bits through but not the callsign! Murphy’s Law again.

He was sending his call several times but he would have needed to send it continuously a dozen times preceded by ‘de’ each time for me to put anything useful together. That said, I can’t help feeling that a more experienced CW op would have managed a QSO. If this was a SOTA station, he may not have had the time to hang around but whoever you were; sorry.

How was Hans doing?:
A visit to the summit revealed that Hans, having logged eleven QSO’s on 40m-CW, had moved to 10m-CW no less! At the time he was trying to work a Canadian but the conditions weren’t quite up to it. After a few photos I returned to my QTH in order to indulge my interest in 160m, some 20 minutes later than advertised.

1.832 CW/ 1.843 SSB (PA/M1NNN/P): Nil QSO’s
After fitting and tuning the Top Band coils, I tried both frequencies alternately from 14:00z to 14:20z without result. The alerted SSB freq. of 1.846 had data on it. With the same setup in 2019, I worked SOTA chaser ON7DQ Luc (Ostende) from this summit with reports 589/ 339 but nothing this time.

7.085 SSB – 22 QSO’s (PA/M1NNN/P):
This wasn’t really planned but finding one of only a couple of clear frequencies, I decided to call CQ. It was unlikely that SOTA chasers would find me but a random person scanning up the band just might. A few CQ’s attracted the attention of GQ4JUN Vic in NE Wales. He was using a K2 and 100W to an inverted-vee he’d knocked up. The ‘Q’ in the callsign was for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. We chatted for well over 5 minutes by which time Hans joined me from the summit. He was packed up and ready to go but when several stations had tail-ended Vic, Hans re-deployed his folding chair and sat down to listen. 45 minutes later I was still logging!

Stations in the 40m-SSB log:
GQ4JUN Vic; G1PIR Dave; G7TYP Brian; IK2JTS Angelo; OM1AX Vlado; ON7TWA Geert; M0UOO Richard; 2E0AGB Allen; LA1KHA/P Kjell S2S on LA/TM-049; 2E0VDX Rob; S57ILF Franci; F5MMP Chris; EA2DT Manuel; EI4FR Declan; G0KYS Bob; ON7DQ Luc; ON5VR/M Rudi; F/DL1MP Martin; OK2KG Jiri; G5HOW Gavin; PE1OAD/ MM - Michel taking general cargo from Antwerp to Rotterdam and finally HB9CLT Tom.
Again power was 50W. The 5Ah battery failed on the penultimate QSO so the spare 2.2Ah was substituted. Reports on incoming signals were mainly 59 with the rest 56 to 57 and a 44 for the S2S. I got a 59 plus 20dB from Michel on the cargo ship and I was pleased with the QSO, having not worked a /MM for a long time. Coming back were mainly 59’s with the remainder 55 to 58. Finally the channel dried up and we were quickly packed and ready for away.
Hans offered to help me up as he could see how stiff I was after sitting in the sand for the better part of an hour. Nonetheless 40m-SSB had been as enjoyable as it had been unexpected.

The return walk took just twenty minutes to 16:54 and we weren’t rushing. I used the GPS to mark the position of the car before driving back to drop Hans off at home. You can’t drive back along the same road as some of it is one-way so I was shown a detour.

Hans told me that in order to further protect the wildlife of the park the roads we used today will shortly be closed to all but walkers and cyclists. Some roads will still be open but they won’t be as convenient if coming in to PA6 from Rheden in the south. I think it will still be possible to get to the start point I used on the 15th (see separate report).

ASCENT & DISTANCE (Start point estimated at 91m ASL):
Ascent 19m (62ft) / Distance 2 x 1.6km (2 miles in total)
Walking times:
Ascent: 32 min (inc +1km error)
Descent: 20 min
Summit time: 2hrs-28 min

PA0HRM Hans’ Log as follows…
40m CW: 11 QSO’s:
DL1FU Frid; ON7GO Philippe; PA7RA Rien; ON4ZD Leon; DL2MX Peter; HB9AGH Ambrosi; OE7PHI Hans; F/DL6CGA/P Peter S2S on FL/VO-011; DL2DXA Bernd; ON3UA Jurgen and DL7MA Klaus.
20m CW: 1 QSO with PA/M1NNN/P on the same summit PA/PA-006 (not S2S)
10m CW: 1 QSO with PA50PKZ Peter (PA2PKZ)

Total: 13
11 on 40m-CW
1 on 20m-CW
1 on 10m-CW

Total: 32
10 on 20m-CW
22 on 40m-SSB

The QSO count was better than I expected with 40m-SSB performing best. The RBN network helped both Hans and myself today, which demonstrates that it’s worth alerting for CW if there’s time. I had no phone signal today or on the 15th and Hans tells me that he has never checked for one. To be fair to Vodafone, I can’t be sure that my phone was set up properly after a SIM card change before leaving the UK.

Band conditions were pretty good apart from some fairly minor QSB. It was one of those days when 5 Watts would have been likely to bring in 90% of the QSO’s logged with 50 Watts. One disadvantage of using power in any situation is that QRP equipped activators are likely to hear you better than you can hear them. Assuming he was using low power, this happened today on 14MHz when I was unable to dig the caller out of the noise despite them apparently copying my signal reliably. Could this have been the SOTA station Hans worked – F/DL6CGA/P? From the few bits I heard at the time, it certainly could have been.

As well as 40m-CW, Hans used his key on 10m too; another thing that made me think. My antenna, at least the one I normally use for SOTA only covers 160m thru’ 20m, so I’m a bit of a sunspot low merchant. Maybe I’m missing some fun? Perhaps I should consider taking my ‘holiday antenna’ out to a SOTA summit once in a while as it covers the higher bands.

My HRB 5Ah Li-Po battery was fully depleted today but there are caveats. All QSO’s used the full 50 Watts. The same battery did 8 QSO’s on the 15th and wasn’t recharged after that activation. Also I spent 20 minutes calling CQ on Top Band without result and my QSO rate is significantly lower than most SOTA activators. In other words I talk too much, treating SOTA a little more like a social event rather than being workmanlike about it. The downside is that people may be kept waiting longer. At busy times I do try to acknowledge groups of callers and enter their callsigns in the log to be called back in order.

This summit is physically easy to do from the start points used today and on the 15th but it’s also quite easy to get lost while walking and possibly more so while driving. The trails in this forest are marked by posts which have route numbers, so some knowledge of the system would be an advantage. I think we made use of routes 27 and 57 today. PA6 is not an obvious summit. You could walk past it if you don’t pay attention and it can’t be recognized or even seen from a distance because of tree cover.

When driving the roads or walking on tracks in the Netherlands you have to be aware of bicycles. The rights of cyclists are enhanced in this country and there are a great many of them. In my younger days I was a keen cyclist and a member of Bradford Wheelers Cycling Club. Having been brushed and almost knocked off by a truck on the A64 near York, I think this can only be a good thing. Extra care is needed because it’s a natural tendency for a UK driver to look the wrong way when driving in Europe.

Hans told me that the Veluwezoom National Park was formed by glaciation during the last ice age. It’s a rare place in the context of the Netherlands which is mainly flat and home to a range of animals such as deer, highland cattle and wild boar This is the reason it’s closed after 8pm every evening so thoughts of going up there in the dark to put on 160m had to be suppressed. Hans suggested an alternative place for 160m with no restrictions but I didn’t have the time to take up that option. He also pointed out a GMA summit on the drive out.

To ALL STATIONS worked and to RBN hosts SE5E, EA8BFK; G4ZFE and DM5GG. Many thanks to Hans PA0HRM for his excellent company and guidance both walking and driving. The joint activation was a real joy and it delivered some good exercise too. This was certainly the highlight of my holiday.

73, John G4YSS
(Using PA/M1NNN/P)

Photos: 3-6-8-10-13-15-17-21-22-23-24-26-27-30

Above: Hans in the PA0HRM shack at Rheden

Above: Hans in his garden

Above: Leaving the parking place

Above: Route posts

Above: A notice on a path leaving the summit but not the path we used. Veepad: GEEN TOEGANG (NO ACCESS)

Above: PA/M1NNN/P (G4YSS) PA6 activation point

Above: PA0HRM/P activation of PA6 near the summit marker

Above: PA0HRM/P equipment

Above: Hans’ 12m long, end-fed antenna

Above: PA0HRM/P Hans’ 12m long antenna and 1:49 impedance matcher

Above: PA/M1NNN/P 160m coils. 20 minutes but no contacts


Great report John and Hans with fantastic photos. A very satisfying activation for you both. Well done. :+1:

Cheers to you both :beers:

Geoff vk3sq