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Going to try an FT8 activation...

Hello all, back after a long hiatus - life gets in the way again!

Will find myself in North East Lincolnshire on Wednesday 12th Feb, so thought I’d have a try at an FT8 activation of Normanby Top, G/TW-005 - not sure how successful it’ll be, but worth a try I thought.

Will be giving 2m ssb a go too, and probably some HF ssb if there’s time & it’s not blowing a gale! Have to be over on the east coast before lunchtime, so may not be the longest of activations, but we shall see.

Looking forward to more activations in 2020, feels good to be back planning some trips to the hills - even if Normanby Top is a bit flat by SOTA standards :blush:

Hope to work some of you over the coming months,

Cheers,

Bob

Good luck Bob. If I don’t get booked for any teaching work tomorrow morning, I may try to get out on a local hill to attempt FT8 S2S with you.

BTW, any tips on where to activate from on G/TW-005. I’m yet to find anywhere where I feel particularly comfortable!

Thanks Tom!

Drew my setup inspiration from yourself - managed to get hold of an Acer tablet + ZLP interface :slightly_smiling_face:. Nice compact setup that works fine for me (in the comfort of the kitchen anyway!).

Will look out for you tomorrow in case - as for tips, never been to the summit before, but understand it’s a bit of a plateau?

I’m going to try and ask for permission to get to the trig point, I think I’ve tracked down the farm who own the land, (seems the farmer is ok provided permission is sought beforehand), so will be calling there just before the activation. If I’m not successful, it’ll be a random verge / bridleway / footpath within the AZ, seems like there’s a few to choose from.

Doesn’t seem to be a summit to make a trip out of, due to it’s nature, but handy for me this time as I have to pass quite close by on my planned route anyway!

Cheers,

Bob

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I ran VOACAP propagation software, and it is a chance to make contact from Northern California on 7.074 around 18 UTC. 19:30 UTC may be a little late for this. Anyway, I will try FT8 if will not sleep :slight_smile:

The alerts are for 0930 UTC, not 1930!

These look interesting: https://www.hb9zhk.ch/

Morning Tom, just to let you know, have revised time for activation, now 10:00 UTC, still maybe +/- 30 mins tho! :slightly_smiling_face:

Cheers,

Bob

At parking spot and about to ascend.

Any advantages over existing interfaces like Wolphilink or G4ZLP MiniProSC? I didn’t spot anything in particular on my first (very brief) glance just now.

Any joy Bob? Never saw you on WSJT or the SOTAwatch Spots.

20 m opens to Europe here in Midwest at sun rise time or about 13:00 UTC.

https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html

73, Jaakko ac1bb/oh7bf

Anyone know what’s happened to Bob?

HI Tom

No idea what happened Tom. I went bi for him and made a few FT8 QSOs on 2m about the time he was due up this morning. From here I can just work the 5 watt 2m FM stations on TW-005 if they have a half decent omni antenna, so I should have seen Bob on screen had he been on. There were a few stations calling CQ around the likely time of his activation. Thanks for the FT8 contact on 80m earlier by the way.

73 Phil

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Firstly, apologies to those awaiting my activation - as you may have gathered, it didn’t go as planned, so chalking that up as a fail…

Had the same issue as you Tom - clock wouldn’t sync to within a second, further investigation needed, as it did from the house WiFi :thinking:… possibly an issue with the tethering from my mobile?

Rewind to the beginning… Got stuck in roadworks on the outskirts of Lincoln to start with, so was pushed for time before I started, then couldn’t find anyone to ask permission to get to the trig point, so attempted the activation on a wide verge on a road nearby over looking the drop off to the west (lovely view, but ever so slightly exposed!) - bad idea! The wind was horrendous, both in strength and chill-factor :cold_face: and my poor antenna pole was flexed almost to a C’ shape several times!

After several setting up the antenna and several attempts to get the clock synced, I started losing feeling in my hands (& yes, I had gloves!) and didn’t want my pole to snap either, so decided to admit defeat, and pack away to thaw out in the car.

This meant I was running behind for my appointments in the wilds of Lincolnshire and the Fens - which would account for not having much of a signal anywhere I stopped! - and literally went from one to next, even foregoing lunch :flushed:

Typing this on the sofa, suitably fed and now pink again, instead of blue :joy:

Not put me off though, and will be trying again with FT8, and some voice activating again soon.

Thanks again for the support!

Bob

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This! :+1:

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:grin: Thanks Andy!.. guess I’m just a stubborn so-and-so, but failing just makes me want to succeed more! - and understand why I failed.

I’ll crack it, and hopefully avoid turning in to an ice cube too :joy:

Bob

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Many (including some experienced activators on here) will tell you that FT8 activating is easy / trivial. All those people have something in common - they too, have yet to pull off a successful FT8 SOTA activation!

It took me several attempts before I finally made it all work from a summit! One of the early issues for me was also time syncing. I now simply set my tablet clock manually just after powering on. I use my LF 120kHz clock to do this, or if that isn’t receiving a signal, I go to the time.is website on my smartphone. By manually restarting the clock on my tablet while keeping an eye on either of these two resources, I get within 0.5s of actual time, which is perfectly sufficient. It takes seconds, is extremely simple - and free!

Good luck next time, and if a joint activation would be useful, please let me know.

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It’s a pity that there is not an app that characterises the time drift of a PC/tablet over a period or time and can then apply off-line corrections to help keep the internal clock a bit more accurate.

Thanks Tom, always good to have the experience of someone who’s already done it! A joint activation would certainly be useful, and depending on the logistics for me, may be a possibility too…

Back to the drawing board for now :slightly_smiling_face:

There may be something out there Richard, certainly worth a bit of Google time I think…

I’ve also been exploring other ways of syncing a pc / tablet clock, and there does seem to be some options. Using a GPS module is one, and I have seen a program called Frequency Lab (iirc) which is basically a version of an SDR with some extras, and that has a sync pc clock option, which might work in tandem with the MSF time signal…

Seeing as we’ll always have a receiver at an activation, it made me think about using the FT817 as the source, via the ZLP sound card, and trying that out :thinking: - probably from the comfort of the kitchen first :grin:

As ever with our fascinating hobby, there’s always plenty of avenues to explore, and with the ‘hive mind’ of the Reflector, anything is possible, given enough time & energy!

Bob