We have got all the maps, lots of warm clothing (but suddenly discover that the forecast says ‘sunshine and 22C’ next week in Kelso!!) and mountains of radio equipment so it must be time for our Scottish 2021 SS tour. This time we shall be based near Kelso for the first week and hope to visit (some/all?) of the remaining 7 summits in that area - and possibly visit the town walls (and swans) in Berwick on Tweed. Then we travel west to just north of Dumfries and encounter a new area of little dumpy hills where the problem is to decide which are the best ones to attempt with our current limited fitness (and possibly a few midges on the lookout for new victims)… but we are avoiding Glen Trool! We finish with 3 nights up near Wanlockhead and the Lowther Hills.
Why these choices? Well, as mentioned, we aren’t fit enough for the more challenging hills further north and the drive is yet longer and there are all these uniques just waiting to be visited… so why should we drive past? However there are downsides of choosing smaller hills - will anyone be able to hear my plaintive calls on 2m fm (and 70cm?). After taking advice, M0JLA (Rod) has been putting some local repeaters into the VX-7 in the hopes that this will alert a few more people. I would like to get at least one contact on VHF from as many hills as possible and I actually need 4 more summits before I can claim 500 VHF uniques. So I am asking that people in the area listen out for us. Rod will be using HF when possible but I gather that isn’t doing too well at the moment.
Our change-over day is 11 September (oops not the December I originally typed!) when we travel west and we have alerted at 1115 on GM/SS - 274 (See Morris Hill) in the hopes that we can gain a few s2s on LD SOTA day. Please swing your beams in our direction! I hope that we will also manage some sightseeing as well staggering up and down hills but have noticed that everything seems to ask for pre-booking which is not easy when you don’t know how long your morning activation will take but if that is our only problem then we will have been very fortunate.
Hope to hear from you during our trip.
Viki M6BWA (who may forget where she is yet again and be calling MW6BWA by mistake!)
Apart from some of the SE Lakes summits, it will be a doddle. The commercial tower on the summit (known by the alternate name as Riddingshill) was a main link on the old Post Office UK microwave backbone from 1959 onwards. Chosen to link Carlisle into SW Scotland and up into Southern Uplands using old “deaf” 60 year old microwave links, it is well sited and has a good view of many of the Lakes summits. The microwave link replaced earlier TV microwave links and became the main route from BBC television centre through Carlisle, Riddingshill, Green Lowther (another SOTA summit) to the first TV transmitter site in Scotland at Kirk O’Shotts and then on further North. It also fed the TV transmittersat Cambret Hill (next door to Pibble Hill, a SOTA summit) and then went on to provide links to Belfast.
I didn’t have any HF interference issues when there but didn’t try VHF etc. Jimmy M0HGY didn’t report any issues when he activated earlier this year.
What 2m or 70cm antenna will you be using?
WRT the SOTA LD W/E event 11-12th September, checking my logs I see I worked G/LD chasers at their QTH or S2S from GM/SS summits, including Tino GM/SS-064 (3 QSOs to Cumbria) and Grange Fell GM/SS-249 (2 QSOs to Cumbria) using my 5W 2m FM handy and Diamond 1/2-wave telescopic antenna.
I will be using my Yaesu VX7R handy plumbed into an overflow water pipe dipole erected about 2m high but will also probably have to use a Sotabeam filter, eventho’ others report no problem, as the VX7 is the proverbial ‘barn door’. I am thinking about actually taking a fishing pole and trying to get the dipole higher but this usually ends up with a disaster (probably because I don’t get the joints tight enough) - as does using a beam but we have one in the packing. The same aerial works for 70cm (as long as I remember to remove the 2m filter).
I can well believe you got Tinto easily as it has good take-off but we will be a lot nearer which should help. Thanks for your encouragement.
Well, that should be handy if we have rain.
There’s a whole topic discussing use of 2m bandpass filters somewhere on this reflector and some well-travelled activators identified some offending summits. I’ve never experienced problems with overload from commercial transmitter stations using my Yaesu FT1D although I did get random short digital bursts on Kirkby Moor G/LD-049 which I put down to the giant wind turbine about 100m away from the summit.
I have a roll-up J-pole for 2m and 70cm which I use with a 2.8m pole (especially in situations where I want to get out of the wind by sitting in the heather or behind some rocks but have the antenna out in the open. I get excellent reports with it, it’s quick to deploy and pack away, and it rolls up into a jiffy bag.
2m FM desense noted on East Lomond last Monday, (GM/SS-198) caused by the comms station below the summit. I was using one of the cheap Yaesu FT-65 handhelds which I wasn’t dependent on as I was mainly HF. Hiding behind the top of the summit 5m down helped.
Same problem noted with my FT65 on GW/SW-019 this week. Was M0JLA calling me ? - I got a few snatches between bursts.
I think it’s mostly PMR backhaul in the 153-156 MHz region now rather than pagers. Out of interest I looked at that range using my SDR and home base antenna and got S9+40dB signals. I never checked on a summit with masts but it must be far higher still !
No problems with breakthrough etc noticed on Linton Hill, GM/SS-263 yesterday - 2m and 70cm both qualified. Lots of different services so hard to see what was not there. Cattle rather pervasive - but it is their home
No, he was not - sorry, Rick - been too busy to keep much of a lookout for chasing.
Rod, nice to get the S2S with you and your Memsahib on Hownam Law yesterday on both 2m and 70cms. Only 70km and not some kind of torturous path so it should work. I made the effort of throwing the 817 rubber duck into my bag just for Vicki.
You both gave 54 reports to me on 2m for 5W on the handy+rubber duck and 52 for 70cms. The difference was I was standing so the handy antenna was about 5ft AGL and sitting with the 817 on the ground. I wasn’t at the high spot either in an attempt to avoid the Mongolian Hordes of other walkers.
Thanks for S2S and complete.
S2s contact very much appreciated, Andy. Just off to Rubers Law to try our luck on a weekday.
Indeed, but you just tell the matriarch “No” in a stern voice. Worked for me.
Great - it wasn’t you wasting their time, but I’m sorry for whoever it was
Hope your trip is going well
Will you meet each other on Meikle Says Law GM/SS-148 today I wonder, Dave, Vicky and Rod? I was there last Tuesday…
Last time I was there I found the wind farm was a major source of QRM on the higher HF bands. ISTR 30m and down was OK but 20/17/12 were badly affected but pulsing noise.
The QRN (static interference) was very bad on 60m last week when I was there. I couldn’t see the turbines until I looked back on the way down when the scotch mist had lifted. Nothing built there for miles around except the wind farm so the QRN must have been from those turbines. Its not often that the chasers can “out hear” the activator! Some of them are RF quiet and some aren’t, it seems. I’ll see what Blaeloch Hill and Corse Hill are like when I go there next week.
Info added 1230z: Just worked GM4ZAO/P Dave GM/SS-148 on 5354.5 good sigs 579-589. Not so many takers. Be interesting to hear Dave report on how he found the noise level on 60m.
It used to be silent up there. Then I returned after a few years during the 12m challenge and found a) 12m was open and b) the wind farm made operation on 12m impossible
From experience Blaeloch and Corse were RF quiet. Good view to Ailsa Craig from Blaeloch Hill. Corse Hill is a flat walk, no real ascent to speak off. You could probably skateboard there
We met at the car park and then again at the trig. We had finished a not very busy activation before David was intending to begin so we had a good chat before descending a rather disrupted path. A length has been washed out and it is quite difficult to unite the two ends. We lost it on the way up and again on the way down. The vehicle track on the ground diverges from the version shown on the map before becoming a faint path. Others evidently use a different route.
Spartleton was much better for radio - perhaps there is some effect from the Meikle Says Law windfarm but with 160 relatively close turbines clearly visible to the NE (and still building?) one would expect Spartleton to be worse affected
Too tired and weather forecast too warm for another today - Dirrington Great Law Thursday morning, probably.
The wind farm near Spartleton is much older. The reason for so many turbines in this area is the 400kV supergrid runs nearby to Torness Nuclear Power Station which is due to close in a few years. Rather than build something useful like another 1.6GW nuclear station that works 24/7 we have to suffer interminable numbers of bloody windmills and a national grid that wont be fit for purpose.
I think I went the same way as you did last Tuesday Rod. My GPX track is on the SMP for those brave enough to use it!