G4YSS: Tal-Y-Fan, GW/NW-040 on 29-07-13

SOTA Activation Report for Tal-Y-Fan, GW/NW-040 on 29-07-13.

G(W)4YSS using GC0OOO/P. HF/ VHF. Unaccompanied.
All times BST (UTC plus 1).

HF & VHF QRO: ICOM IC706-2G with CW key 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 SOTABEAM for 2m-FM.
Jingtong JT208 H/H for backup and one QSO from summit to car.
1 x 13.2 Ah Li-Po for IC706.

This was the first activation during a 1 week family holiday in Llandudno. (See further reports for NW2 & NW1). Though it took some doing, Hazel kindly used her phone to put an alert on SOTAWATCH for me. I had to make the choice between callsigns; namely GC0OOO/P or the RSGB anniversary variation of GV0OOO/P.

This hill is not only very easy to activate but has a summit wall for shelter if required and is close to Llandudno. It overlooks the coast to the north and big mountains to the south and the grass, bilberry and heather top makes it very user friendly. I could see all of Llandudno and the windmills and gas rigs out to sea. Within the last three months or so, Tal-Y-Fan has been resurveyed and found to be a few inches over 2000 feet. A TV programme showed the work.

Forgetting to go via Castell, we took the gated road to Rowen (SH758720), which is a short-cut but a very narrow road with two gates to open. After Grandson Jack had explored the ladder stile, I set off walking at 11:36 while the family drove off to the zoo at Conwy.

The route up is via a grassy path through gorse and heather; easy to follow and not too steep. There were stiles to climb at the start and at SH 7278 7222 & SH 7272 7236. There comes a point where one must lose height but it’s only 5m or so. The trig-point is at SH 72945 72657.

Especially considering the hot, humid weather, the QRO pack seemed quite heavy but there’s not far to go. It was a sticky sunny day when I set off but a rain shower developed just after the dipole was deployed. I settled down on grass on the north side of the wall behind an umbrella.

Static Electricity:
After suffering a hefty electrical ‘belt’ off the BNC plug, I earthed the rig and waited for the rain to die down a little before making a second and less painful connection attempt.

TAL-Y-FAN GW/NW-040, 610m (2000ft) 4 pts, 12:02 to 15:41. 21 deg C. Sunshine/ overcast. Half-hour rain shower at first. 15 mph wind. Receiver static crashes on all HF bands. Orange (EE) phone coverage from road to summit. (LOC: IO83BF, WAB: SH77.)

1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s:
Using 100 Watts to the loaded dipole a phone call and spot from Roy G4SSH enabled a pleasing tally of four QSO’s on Top Band as follows: G4OBK; EI2CL; G4RQJ and EI7CC. Phil, Mike, Rob and Pete. Incoming reports ranged between 339 and 559 and Phil was 579 to me. Hidden behind the Pennines as he was, that is testament to the efficiency of his antennas and ERP. Because of the proximity of Wales to Eire, the Dublin stations struggled far less than they often do with my LD or NP Top Band activations.

A fifth station was received at 559. This was Geoff G6MZX calling in slow CW from Thornton in Craven but sadly I couldn’t get my report over to him. Nevertheless, what a brilliant start this first session was, though it was not made easy due to constant static crashes! Without the alert from Hazel and the real-time spot by Roy, this might have been disappointing.

3.557 CW - 3 QSO`s:
80m preceded 40m in case the skip was too long for the UK on the latter. It seemed that 80m wasn’t up to much, though better was to come on SSB. With the rig set to 100W, I worked Roy G4SSH, David G3RDQ and Gordon G4FGJ.

3.724 SSB - 14 QSO`s:
Initially 50W but for the most part, 100W of SSB brought in 14 stations in 25 minutes. Distances worked ranged from Lancashire to Cornwall with most incoming reports avaraging around the 57. Many stations had problems with the QRN which was obscuring individual words, callsign characters or RST figures. Nonetheless, 3.5 MHz was in fact working well which proves it’s certainly worth trying even at noon in summer.

7.033 CW - 8 QSO`s:
7.032 was in use but Roy spotted the alternative QRG. 40W was used to work the following: G4SSH; DK7ZH; HB9CIC; DL1FU; HB9AAQ; OE7PHI; DF5WA and HB9CGA. Incoming reports were down around 559 or less (with QRN) but all were good signals to me except Hans OE7PHI. My guess is that the QRN reported from Europe on my signal was down to static crashes as per the lower bands.

7.128 SSB - 19 QSO`s:
Skip was short on here. With the output set to 60 Watts, nineteen stations were logged in a leisurely 50 minutes. UK chasers G; GM and one GI formed the vast majority with just EA2CXX; PA3GGB and PE2GRT/P representing Europe. Once again the session was blighted with static crashes and having to ask for repeats of callsigns.

145.400 FM - 9 QSO`s:
After packing up the dipole, I set up the vertical 3-ely beam on a 2.5m mast. Without recourse to Roy for a spot, a 10 Watt CQ on S20 brought in Sue G1OHH in Lancaster. Other stations worked were: MW0NQZ Wyn in Anglesey, GD0VIK/P Dan S2S on GD/GD-005 Mull Hill; MI0GDO Rob; M6ANX Peter; 2E0XYL Karen; G4UXH Colin; G0NAJ John. (Many thanks to Karen for correcting my error in Wyn’s callsign and to Roy for a similar mistake in MI0GDO’s).

Using my Jingtong JT208 H/H to a rubber duck, I also worked Hazel MW6YLH/M on her way to pick me up and just before I left the activation zone. She was using my IC-E90 with 5 Watts to a 5/8 & magmount on my XYL’s car.

I had to make a very rapid departure from the summit folowing a phone call from my XYL. They had finished entertaining young Jack (5) at the zoo and were just leaving to pick me up. In the event I managed to pack up and descend the path in 18 minutes, beating them by 30 seconds at 15:59.

Walking: 235m (771ft) ascent, 3.2 km (2 miles) up & down.

1.832 CW - 4
3.557 CW - 3
3.724 SSB - 14
7.033 CW - 8
7.128 SSB - 19
145.400 FM - 9
TOTAL: 57.

THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and invaluable assistance from G4SSH for telephone liaison and spots from Sue G1OHH. This was an easy introduction to a three-summit SOTA week.

73, John G4YSS (using SSEG Club callsign, GC0OOO/P)

(See later reports for NW2 & NW1)

In reply to G4YSS:

One station logged remains a mystery. I have written down MWANQZ.
The particulars are: ‘Win’ in Anglesey who gave his grid square as
SH24 and IOTA EU124. An ‘A’ looks very much like a ‘4’ but QRZ.com
didn’t help so I might end up guessing the figure.

Hi John
I think MW0AQZ maybe the call you are looking for. It’s strange how your brain plays tricks and sometimes you can write down something entirely different to what you hear. I find it happens more in the cold or when I get very tired and then some detective work is required!

Thanks for the contact. Hope to work you again soon.


In reply to 2E0XYL:
Thanks for that Karen,

Thanks also for proof reading my report. It’s surprising how errors can creep in to the log and how mysteriously I couldn’t solve it with QRZ.com afterwards; though I tried. I must have been typing in various figures and preceding them with ‘GW’ instead of ‘MW’ - easy for me being an old timer. ‘M’ and ‘2’ are ‘new’ to me. When I was licenced all were ‘G’. It’s just one of many paradigms I can slip into.

I can’t use ‘tired’ or ‘cold’ as an excuse on this occasion, though I too find it harder to think in high wind-chill and the CW is even worse than normal at the end of a long multi-activation day.

Yes, thanks for the call. It’s always a pleasure to work you though your callsign is less recognizable without the usual ‘/P’ adornment - HI. That said, no doubt you’ll be back on the hills at the earliest opportunity, making the most of any good WX we are still owed.

Hpe CU S2S soon,
73, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John.


Yes, I find I can repeat back the correct callsign in the QSO and look down to find I’ve written something different or vice versa - Neil’s excuse is too much oxygen. (I even managed to give Neil’s callsign on 1 QSO and he has managed the same with mine - although those were on joint activations and I seem to recall rather cold ones!) HI.


In reply to G4YSS:

One station logged remains a mystery. I have written down MWANQZ.

For what it is worth, you might want to have a look at this:


I sometimes have difficulties to read back my activator logs, and this is my best attempt so far to detect errors. The program does its best to cope with the callsigns variations (especially UK ones). I welcome suggestions to improve it.

Another approach is to use the “Super Check Partial” feature of several logging software with the masterSOTA.dta file available from


The masterSOTA.dta file is updated daily.


73 de ON6ZQ

In reply to ON6ZQ:
Hi Christophe,

Thank you for that tip. I had no knowledge of what you point out.

I wrote the report before researching the callsigns, hoping to solve it later. I sometimes have to search the database rolls of honour using the ‘edit/ find’ menu so I think your first link could help me if I can get the hang of it.

The second link will not be useful to me as I don’t use a logging program - I only keep a log in Excel which is the program SOTA used (via email) before the SOTA database came along. I have kept this log up.

Basically, I have been searching any partly written/ inaccurate callsigns in my own Excel log, in the honour rolls and in QRZ.com but it takes time. In this instance only QRZ was of use.

When I get some time I will explore your method. Meanwhile 73 from me and thanks for replying to my report and for the information shared.

John G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS:

I think your first link could help me if I can get the hang of it

Basically, you need to open the file you intend to upload to the SOTA database with any text editor, then copy/paste the text to

ON6ZQ | www.on6zq.be and click “submit”.

If you need help, do not hesitate to contact me.

Christophe ON6ZQ

In reply to ON6ZQ:

Thanks Christophe. Very kind of you. I normally enter each QSO in the database individually then copy the list and convert it by hand to make my Excel log but the next time I do it the other way around, I will try your method.

73, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

You might also want to try others tools, and in particular the “SOTA CSV Log Editor for Windows” by G0LGS which makes the whole process a lot easier.

Details on ON6ZQ | SOTA related software

Christophe ON6ZQ

In reply to G4YSS:-

Hi John,
I was pleased to work you on 80m CW as my only antenna here at present is the 40m dipole. Would normally have tried to get you on 160m but that dipole fell down in the winter and I have not been able to get a line up over the tree that holds the middle up again.
Your write up has got me recorded as ‘Don G0RQL’ . I don’t think Don works CW but I would like to think that oneday he might be pursuaded to give the mode a try !!
Hope to QSO again soon.
73’s David G3RDQ.

In reply to ON6ZQ:

ON6ZQ | www.on6zq.be

ON6ZQ | www.on6zq.be

I also thank you for the links Christophe, I think they could prove very useful. Like John I currently “have been searching any partly written/ inaccurate callsigns in my own Excel log, in the honour rolls and in QRZ.com but it takes time” and then even Google if all else failed!

Karen 2E0XYL

(Your SOTA related software page also very helpfully gave me links to available Android Software - I’ve finally taken the plunge and am upgrading from my SE W595 to a Galaxy S3 which should arrive tomorrow!)

In reply to G3RDQ:
Hi David,

Sorry about that. The error is now corrected. Thanks for pointing it out in such a diplomatic way! There are three SOTA callsigns with G;R and Q in them and it doesn’t take much to confuse me! I would have loved to have worked you on 160m but it was a pleasure to get you in the 80CW log once again. Whether Don would risk it remains to be seen!
CU on the next one, 73 John.

In reply to 2E0XYL:
Hi Karen,
Yes, it’s great when someone comes on to impart knowledge (as they often do).

You’ve lost me on the ‘gismos’ but SE W595 sounds like a WAB square gone wrong. I am assuming that these are useful to you on activations, in which case they’d need to be water resistant.
73, John.

You can do PSK31 activations with a Galaxy S3 Karen! Fancy giving it a go? It does seem very much the “Marmite mode” though!

John, this Android phone is probably about as water resistant as the FT-817 - ie, not! But I find all my kit is waterproof as soon as I chuck the bothy bag over it (and me) as soon as it starts raining!


In reply to M1EYP:
OK Tom,

Thanks for pointing that out. I have yet to actually use a bothy bag though I carried one for a couple of years. Nice to see you well and back to normal,
73, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

Sorry John. I have moved out of the dark ages mobile phone wise. I have a Sony Ericcson W595 which has been dropped onto rocks, fallen off trig points umpteen times and still keeps going despite numerous soakings and much abuse. I also took all my SOTA photos with it and it did pretty well for such a tiny phone. However, it is not a smart phone and I texted my alerts etc using the number keypad which either resulted in me counting the key presses or getting my specs out. My arm is not long enough now to read an incoming text without digging out specs :wink:

So, I finally relented and ordered a Galaxy S3 Smartphone with virtual keyboard which has just arrived and already I’ve got stuck and had to do a factory reset HIHI (PSK might be a bit too advanced for me Tom!). Later I’m off to find screen protector, case, waterproof pac etc etc in attempt to make it reasonably SOTAproof. Goodness knows where I’m going to put it when SOTAing in shorts and T-shirt in a heatwave (nearly 3 times the size of my old phone)! I wonder how long it will last or how long it will be before I leave it somewhere because it can’t just be left in a small pocket and sat on?


In reply to 2E0XYL:

A ziploc sandwich bag will be waterproof enough!

The thing to remember with waterproof is that rain and streams is not detrimental to a electronics IF you remove the battery as soon as it gets too wet to work. When you get home, thoroughly soak and wash the device in clean, cold water. Then place it in an airing cupboard for 24hrs at least, 5 days is better before you even consider fitting the battery.

I did that when I went swimming in the pool in CT3 last year with my phone in my trunks pocket. After swearing when I got out, I put the phone in empty beer glass and filled it with water. Then washed and soaked the phone back in the room. Well it was nice by the pool as this pretty girl kept bringing me beer so it seemed a shame to leave just 'coz the phone was wet! I left it to dry on the balcony. It was working 36hrs later though it took a few days fully dry out the screen. I placed it in a ziplock bag with some uncooked rice grains to soak up the moisture.



In reply to 2E0XYL & MM0FMF:

Hi Karen,
I am the same Karen. I have to rummage for specs to see the incoming messages though I can manage simple outgoers. It’s so annoying, and you might as well forget it with waterproofs on. I wish there was a phone which could adjust to about five words on the screen. I have mine set to large letters but they’re still too small. The rest of my family have smart phones but I am not so sure I could get the value out of them. I only learned to text a couple of years ago. Good luck with your new one and finding all the support equipment and accessories which should of course come as std but do they ever?

Hello Andy,
Yes, that’s the secret. Whip the battery out within seconds before any electrolysis can start and don’t drop it in seawater! It reminds me of an activation of WAB OV00 in 1987. With tide rising fast, equipment had to be moved back to finish the activation. My Pentax ME was overlooked. I retrieved it after 6 hours under a max of 3m of water and it weighed a lot more than when I left it.

I removed the battery took it to bits including all seven lens elements and washed the lot in distilled water but too late. It only ever worked on 1/100 sec mechanical override after that - no TTL metering or auto anymore. I washed the film, hung it up to dry and sent it off. 34 photos OK, two with funny colours. I had to PTFE spray the focal plane shutter, which was actually rusty but I still used it.

No, our kit is no match for nature! A waterproof Garmin GPS12 failed on a Skiddaw activation, in storms with massive winds in 2003. Full of water!

73, John.

It looks like the new version of N1MM Plus will use .scp files instead of .dta.

The masterSOTA.zip file now also includes the SOTA activators and chasers call-signs in .scp format.