GW/SW-020 Shambolic activation 20220723

I was asked a couple of days ago what actually went wrong. As apparently there were quite a few chasers who failed to make contact I feel they may be entitled to an attempt at explanation.
The short answer to the direct question is “I don’t really know.” and this in spite of it being my 1332 nd activation!
Why could I not hear the numerous responses to my calls? I don’t know. Had I turned the volume down too much? Were my headphones connectors not making contact? I did establish that the headphones in use were in working order by using them at home.
After complete failure on 60m I changed the aerial links to 40m and tried again. Just as I sat down I had a phone call from Ben GW4BML and a text from Allan GW4VPX. These pointed out that I was being heard. I spotted for my 40m frequency and tried again. Faint replies came in - indicating that I was unworkably weak. Except that is for Don G0RQL and Paul G4IPB who gave me 5x reports before I lost contact with them too.
There had been trouble with SWR on the aerial and I had put it down to rusty croc clips on the links - parts of the Scottish trip were a bit wet. A quick waggle seemed to cure the problem.
There was also a problem of feedback or distortion even on the handheld speaker/mike. As by then MW6BWA/P had done 2m and 70cm and was ready to go I decided to stop flogging a dead horse.

A day or so later with the aerial in the garden I tested it and all seemed to be well. In the meantime I had cut off and replaced two of the crocs, soldering the rusty ones back on because it was not rust causing the problem. The snag with the DX wire I have used is that it is very strong indeed so when the wire inside the cladding breaks (as it had at the exit from the protective heat-shrink) the aerial remains intact. I notice there is another thread referring to this type of problem so will leave it at that here.

However, the tale does not end there. On Saturday 6th August we went to Bredon Hill G/CE-003. Mainly to count flowers but also to explore a different path and to do a fairly quick activation with the prospect of an s2s or two. (That bit went well - 4 s2s contacts on the HH with stick aerial before I dropped the rucksack.) I carry a T1 Auto AMU so that I can quickly change band without changing links. This is good for chasing s2s when a new spot appears. I avoid leaving it in circuit unless I am changing band. This time I tried it and got no match at all - 1:9 SWR after much relay clicking - so have I found a further complication?

I don’t yet know the answer to this either as I have been away checking paths, gates and stiles in the Devil’s Bridge area and snatching a quick 2m activation of Pen-y-Garn GW/MW-004 by a route I actually enjoyed. So more on this problem in due course.

Very sincere apologies to all those who heard me but were not able to make the QSO.


I tend to think of antennas as RF components, but they are also bits of wire. Most faults that crop up can be located with an ohm meter, which can be used on the bench without stretching out the wire. It is easy then to observe the reading whilst gently moving each joint or termination. (Check for shorts on feeder etc as well)

Forgive me for explaining egg sucking etc, but it took me a while to realise this when investigating a mobile vhf antenna on a mag mount some time ago. The mechanical joint between whip and mag mount was quickly found to have a resistance of 10 ohms or so. Much simpler than pushing RF into it and interpreting results.

Good luck with it anyway, and hope to work you again soon. At least it didn’t let you down a long way from home!
73, Adrian

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I quite agree Adrian and that is how I found the breaks on this occasion and on several others in the past. The RF test in the garden was to make sure (as far as possible) that there was not something else wrong. I failed on this because it did not occur to me that the T1 or its connectors might be defective too. I should have realised as I had had the odd incidence of very high SWR when trying out end feds before our GM trip.
Hope to catch you again soon but noise here is now normally around S 5.5 so chasing has got really difficult.


I use the dx wire at home and it is incredibly strong, but on a couple of occasions I have found that when it failed it was physically in one piece but not electrically… it is still really good stuff and has survived being in trees in horrible weather. I use the cheap, thin sotabeams wire on an activation- at least when it fails it is really obvious … it is in two parts!

You were a perfectly readable signal into Durham when I worked you, but the band was not brilliant. Good luck fixing whatever it is….

I think shambolic is a bit OTT, problematic maybe, Shambolic would be lugging a mains battery charger up the mountain instead of the battery or perhaps walking along with the front aroma of coffee to discover the lid was not on the flask and everything… logbook, sandwich’s spare clothes are all now wet with a coffee flavor, or of course going QRT as the dog lead is wrapped around my arm and I can no longer write…

Paul….(Putting Amateur back into Radio???)


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