The best laid plans etc etc. If something could go wrong on an activation, this one had to take the biscuit. Arriving at the parking spot in reasonable time, I decided (rather foolishly) to carry far too much equipment. The customary FT 857, 20Ah SLAB, 10m fishing pole antenna, X-300 collinear, Antron-99, 2 poles for the antennas and just for good measure, another “just in case” 9Ah SLAB slipped into my coat pocket. I set off following Andy MM0FMF directions. I hadn’t gone 300m when I realised, something had to be jettisoned, quite frankly, Hercules would have thought twice about carrying this lot.
If I dumped the fishing pole antenna, this would have meant no 40m and as a result, a possible contract being taken out on my life by the unique chasers, especially after posting on the alerts, I would be working 40m. Couldn’t dump the collinear as that would put an end to VHF, so it had to be the A-99.
Second (and worst) mistake , I decided to wear trainers instead of boots for the ascent and this decision would come back to haunt me later. After taking a wrong turn, I found the the “tiny” cairn which marked the summit of the hill, I walked about another 250m along a very muddy path to were there was the remains of a large felled tree, ideal for bungeeing antennas.
After wringing out my socks, I set up the 2m antenna and called cq… and called cq… and calling cq. This was really hard going. After about 20 minutes I eventually got a call from GM4PKJ located between Aberdeen and Dundee, he was followed by G1XYS in Newcastle and finally MM3LSO who wasn’t a million miles away, I carried on, hoping to activate the summit on 2m, but alas, it wasn’t to be for reasons which will become apparent later.
QSYing to 40m was almost alien to me, I haven’t worked below 17m for about a year, IIRC. To make matters worse the SWR was far too high and even the auto tuner was struggling to cope with it. However, this was the least of my problems, as trying to find a clear frequency was proving a nightmare… so I did what any reasonable ham operator would do under the circumstances and crashed someones net.
Turned out, they were mostly WABers and were delighted to relieve me of NT61, a new one for three of them. Bade my farewell and found a clear frequency, spotted myself, called CQ worked a couple of chasers, only to have the frequency hijacked by some Italian station running a lot more power than my meagre 10 Watts.
Mark G0VOF came to the rescue and I QSY’d up a few Kc’s where it was clear and worked the pile up. Mark was brilliant, he stayed there until I QSY’d to 15m and then took the trouble to spot me. In the meantime, my wet feet were getting very cold and operating had become uncomfortable, however, I decided to tough it out. I worked the 15m pile-up for about an hour before, my by now, two frozen feet were causing me to rapidly lose interest in any form of radio. I worked one token station on the 12m band and two on the 10m band a couple more on the 15m and 40m band before I’d had enough and went QRT.
On breaking down the 2m antenna, I noticed the two elements inside the collinear, had rather frustratingly, parted company, a real sting in the tail! The decent was made in the company of a very experienced hill walker, who had completed over 1100 of the marilyns (sorry Andy, looked in my log and it was over 1100 not 1200) he was fascinated to hear all about SOTA and was really keen to look at the web site.
To sum up… 2m and the collinear from Belling Hill, well the jury is still out, until I try it again with the antenna connected properly, maybe next year.
I was hoping for a big score from this summit and if everything had gone to plan, may have got one but the radio gods decreed otherwise.
After wasting far too much time on VHF for just three contacts, about 85 contacts were made on HF in a shade over 2 hours, before I went off the rails a bit. Anyhow, 95 contacts for the day was OK, I suppose. Highlight of the day, apart from a couple of calls from the USA, was somewhat rather Ironically, in view of my frozen feet, a call from Iceland, a first for me on a SOTA activation.
BTW, for the activators who like views, this summit is for you. Even I must admit, it’s pretty spectacular, you can see so many hills from here, it would take about ten minutes to count them all.
Also, my apologies to Brian G8ADD, for not recognising your call straight away, really nice to work you and to Mark G0VOF, for renaming him Steve. Let’s just put it down to my cold feet
Thanks to all the chasers.