Gi/ah sota

We’re off to Larne in County Antrim tomorrow (New Year’s Eve) for a few days. We have ‘basic’ kit with us - HH/RDs, FT-817, 4.2Ah SLAB, SOTA Beams MFD (and boots, jackets and sacs). As it stands, we don’t plan to activate anything, but have the basics with us “just in case an opportunity arises to go for a walk”. That’s the best I dare push it with the XYL at this stage anyway!

So maybe on either Wednesday or Thursday (but definitely not both), we could get out and do one or two summits. I will SPOTlite at the start of each activation. Operation will be initially 2m FM, with 2m SSB and 2m CW deployed only if needed, or if an unlikely extra time window arises.

However, fret thee not; I can work GI activations S2S from G/SP-015 on 2m FM. Furthermore, five days activating in GI/AH is planned at Easter time, and these will be 40m CW/SSB priorities with 2m as back-up.

So over Easter 2008, I hope to offer several opportunities to chase GI summits, most of which I suspect would be uniques to many chasers.

Looking at a couple of 2-pointers - GI/AH-005 Agnew’s Hill and GI/AH-007 Slemish - neither of which will attract the 3 point Winter Bonus we take for granted with 2-pointers over here in G/GW.

Happy New Year,


I plead guilty to an offence under the Trade Descriptions Act.

Title of this thread? “GI/AH SOTA”. And what did we do? Just the one in GI/MM!

The priority function of the New Year trip was to check on Marianne’s dad after a very serious operation. Thankfully, he is getting stronger day by day, but did enjoy and benefit from the company of his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren for most of each day. So that harshly minimised the activating opportunities, as did the weather which was pretty bobbins throughout.

The good bit about spending time with Captain Jimmy (Jimmy M3EYP’s grandad - a retired sea captain) was watching his incredible proficiency at betting - five consecutive winners viewed on the ‘At The Races’ TV channel netting well over £1000, and a treble on the football on New Years Day bagging £400. The down side was enduring his new habit of chain smoking, which he seems to have picked up after the all-clear…

The nearest thing we got to a pass-out was the afternoon of Wednesday 2nd January 2008 when Marianne suggested I take the boys out for a drive. It was already nearly 2pm, so barely a couple of hours of daylight left.

So we motored from Larne into Belfast, across the city to the south side of Belfast Lough and in the Bangor direction. Our target was Cairngaver (silent ‘g’), GI/MM-017, quite close to the Northern Irish Assembly at Stormont. I had done this one before, but Jimmy needed it as a licence holder. He had been there with me before of course, so he directed me successfully to the tarmac road that winds its way up to a small car park.

A ferocious biting wind was blasting over the summit from the Irish Sea, so we left Liam in the car listening to Downtown Radio. Jimmy and I walked up to and beyond the trig point, and then across a few flat fields to try to find a good activating spot, but it was more hit-and-miss really. I initially tried 2m SSB with the SOTA Beams MFD mounted horizontally above by rucksack on my back. No joy here, so fixed the MFD on vertically and tried on 2m FM. With great difficulty and discomfort in the conditions, we eventually got four contacts each, taking a total of one hour and ten minutes. The desensing caused by the transmitter back near the trig point was severe, and left us asking for repeats of suffixes and reports. Perhaps the buffeting wind got to me, but I didn’t think to try 2m FM with the MFD horizontally polarised.

It had gone dark by the time we had returned to the car and were packing away the gear. We were back in Larne just after 6pm, and sitting down to a most welcome roast beef dinner.

No further opportunities arose, especially not with Jimmy and myself catching a stomach bug and suffering for the next couple of days, but I did buy an OS 1:25,000 hiking map for the Mourne Mountains, and worked out how to combine those hills for a series of expeditions in coming years.

73, Tom MI1EYP/P

It is looking promising for a GI/AH SOTA trip at Easter time. Jimmy and I will attempt to activate all eleven GI/AH summits.

For those that I haven’t activated in the past (and one that I have!), I could do with some ‘local knowledge’ from our GI activators. I am confident of my approach to six of them, but do we have any recommendations for the following?

GI/AH-001 Trostan
It looks like you can walk in on the Ulster Way from either the B14 at D190217 or a minor road at D153242. I guess it depends on where is best to park.

GI/AH-002 Knocklayd
Looks like an approach from D107348 (south of the summit). Anywhere to park near here?

GI/AH-004 Divis
From National Trust car park. Is this somewhere about J265742? Done it before via a different route, but before the opening up of the country park, so interested to try the ‘tourist route’.

GI/AH-006 Mid Hill
Not a clue on this one! Possible start/parking points at D180167 or by the reservoir at D192170, or another at D186135. Whichever way, it looks a long and boggy plod!

GI/AH-011 Cross Slieve
Done before, but only into AZ, not true summit. Wonder if there is any parking at the bottom of the track to the West of the hill D230306, and indeed any access onto the hill from the top of that track? Alternatively, Jimmy has noticed a path onto the lower flanks on the south side of the hill D238289. Again, can you park anywhere near here, and can you access the summit from here?

All information greatly appreciated. We intend doing 40m - me CW and Jimmy SSB with use of SPOTlite wherever we have coverage, 2m FM handheld also for any local chasers, and beam for 2m SSB carried as back-up. We will probably save the more difficult summits like AH-011 for a Saturday/Sunday morning, then we can try for 2m S2S to GM/CS or G/LD as well.

Watch this space.

Tom M1EYP & Jimmy M3EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom and All,

The G4MD clan are planning a similar expedition in August, would be very glad to share in any info forthcoming. May even venture into the Sperrins! (Although the OSNI 1:25000 Activity map of the Sperrins seems to be ex-catalogue at present, which doesn’t help!)

73 de Paul G4MD

GL with the trip Paul. Hopefully the GI crowd will be on here advising us in the coming months! I will certainly have all my information on my website before you set off. I have info for 8 GI/AH summits on there now from previous activations.

I have a OSNI 1:25,000 sheet for the Mournes, and really it is just bigger than the 1:50,000 sheet. There isn’t really a great deal more resolution or detail, not like what you get on the GB OS 1:25,000 sheets anyway. I am going to have to get the 1:50,000 Mournes sheet as well, for it covers a slightly largers area including a few more SOTA summits at the edge, which don’t appear on the 1:25,000 sheet, or any other 1:50,000 sheet. So you might as well get the 1:50,000, and keep an eye out for the 1:25,000 when you are over there.

Has Roxy made her SOTA debut yet? The 2008 SOTA Beams Challenge could be one of the most competitive contests yet with Roxy, Liam M3ZRY, Timothey 2E0KEA and Jordan M3TMX all in the running!

Cheers, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom,

Unfortunately I can’t provide any info about most of the GI/AH summits you mention because I haven’t been there yet myself! Your best bet is probably to email Colin, GI0RQK. I’m sure he will be happy to help.

The National Trust carpark at Divis is at approx J266741 and is easy to find. It’s signposted from the B38 (and perhaps elsewhere too). The walk up to the summit from there is very straightforward. As we have both experienced in the past, the difficulties begin when you turn the radio on! I don’t know if the desensing problems are any different on HF, and I will be interested to hear how you get on.

I can’t agree with your comments about the Mournes 1:25,000 map. I have it, and the corresponding 1:50,000 map open in front of me, and there is no doubt that my 1:25,000 map has a lot more detail and information. I have found it very useful. By the way, I’m referring to the 2004 version - there was an earlier one which may not be as detailed. However, you are right that you really need both scales to cover the region properly.

Fred, GI4MWA

All is looking well for our GI SOTA trip at Easter.

I am giving more thought to operating conditions, because I keep getting calls on the radio, comments on repeaters and emails that people will be looking for me, wanting to chase these summits.

I expect the combination of 40m CW/SSB and 2m SSB/FM should be a catch-all, although with such a tight schedule of multi-summit days, it may not be possible to offer all on every summit.

I would be interested to hear what people think the best chances would be for the first summit - Divis GI/AH-004. There is a significant M.O.D. installation on the summit, and the QRM from it last time was intense. There seemed to be some kind of ‘blocker’ that fired up a horrendous deliberate jamming signal as soon as it detected any VHF activity in the vicinity. We got the contacts on 2m FM with Belfast locals who were so strong that they could be heard over the blocker. Belfast is literally underneath this hill!

I can’t remember if we tried 2m SSB, but think that the same thing happened. Does anyone know if it would be likely to occur on 40m as well?

It would be a shame to kick off a much anticipated SOTA tour with a 4 x 2m FM local contacts activation! Any ideas?


In reply to M1EYP:

A lot depends on what you want. If your aim is to just qualify each summit, then 2m/70cms should suffice. If you want to contact G, GW, GM, and don’t have 5Mhz NOV, then 80m ssb/cw would be best. 40m ssb/cw will guarantee you a EU pile up and possibly some contacts in mainland UK, but depending on skip length.

In my limited experience, breakthrough and blockers are minimised when using HF. If using 2m, SSB with a horizontal beam is best to avoid breakthrough.

Good luck and enjoy your time in GI.

73 Mike

In reply to M1EYP:

If the data at Divis - Wikipedia
is correct, there would appear to be a lot of high-power VHF transmitters already up there. If there really is a “blocker” that can detect a few watts at 145MHz but ignore the QRO BBC/commercial output around 100MHz, it must be a very sophisticated device, and for what real purpose? Are you sure it wasn’t just receiver overload from the big signals around? I had a similar effect on St Boniface Down (Isle of Wight) when 80m was almost unusable due to the medium wave transmitter at the other end of the summit.

Good luck anyway with whatever bands you can get to work!

73 de Les, G3VQO

Good point Les. However, the TV masts are located a distance away from the M.O.D. complex, which is right on the summit, so a near-field device is still plausible. Colin GI0RQK was up there with me last time, and he thought it was a blocker. It definitely wasn’t receiver overload, and it definitely did fire up in response to my own transmitting.

Mike, the question wasn’t about operating conditions in GI generally, but specifically about beating the Divis QRM. The intention is to try to reach the interested chasers from all summits, and 40m SSB/CW and 2m SSB/CW should do that. I just wondered what people found was better at beating severe QRM hash, as that will inform as to what I set up first on Divis.


Checking on the map, I think the QRO broadcast transmitters are at J286751 (outside of the AZ), while the M.O.D. facility is bang on summit at J281754. The furthest I could get from it and remain in the AZ would be about J283756. I think I will set up for 40m around there and see what happens. I’ll then go to 2m SSB/CW on the beam and finish on 2m FM. I doubt I’ll have time to offer every band/mode combination I have on every summit, but I should build up an idea of which are the best ones to use during this first day.

Sleeper ferry is now booked, and we can’t wait!


Hmmm, decisons, decisions.

I have 13 summits to do in 5 days, so I will need an organised “plan of action” for each summit. All the interest in chasing these summits (and there is considerable interest) is from the UK, so I am keen to repay this interest. Hence 80m CW sounds good. However, Jimmy needs these summits too, so voice modes will have to be involved. The dipole is cut for the CW end of 80m; I haven’t tried yet to see if it will allow me to sneak some SSB be in just above 3.6MHz.

Maybe 80m CW followed by 2m SSB, and a blast of 2m FM on HH/RSS before leaving the summits would be a good strategy. Hopefully the first day will allow me to establish a pattern that is workable and achieves all the objectives. In the meantime, I will try to establish what I can do with 80m.

S2S on 2m FM/SSB/CW will be easy if anyone is activating in SS/LD/NP/SP/NW on any of the same days.

I will have with me:

80m CW & possibly SSB
40m CW, SSB
15m CW, SSB if band open
6m CW, SSB, FM if band open
2m CW, SSB, FM
70cm CW, SSB, FM

…but I will be hoping that just 2 or 3 combinations on each summit will be a sufficient “catch all”. Twenty days to go; I’m counting them down!