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Hardown Hill G/SC-011 - 2m Activity

I activated Hardown Hill G/SC-011 this morning and for a bit of variety I attempted it using 2m only and using 4 different modes: SSB, FM, CW and FT8 digital mode.

The weather forecast was good for December and on the hill it was better than expected as the fresh breeze forecast was not felt. But it was cold for Dorset at about 8C to begin with warming up just one degree to 9C at the end. :slight_smile:

I started on 2m SSB with a 5 element Diamond 144S5R Yagi hung from a 6m mast although the antenna was only a little above 3m from the ground.

Calling CQ on 144.300 first in the log was Tony G3PFM from close by near Poole. He was followed by Damian M0BKV from Bude area in Cornwall after I posted a spot on SOTAwatch for 144.250. There were no other responses on this frequency so I went back to 144.300 and found Patrick F0DBU in Normandy. Patrick struggled to hear me until I remembered in which direction France was and he then gave me a 57 after I pointed the beam at Normandy. My excuse was it was very hazy and I couldn’t see the sea. The photo above was taken as I was dismantling everything and the sun was trying to shine. France is somewhere in the distance!

Things then went quiet so I set up for 2m FT8 not expecting much activity but I was wrong. Three more French operators were contacted then Damian M0BKV again. The last FT8 contact was Don G0RQL. Afterwards, I realised I had not altered the settings in WSJT-X and had been sending out M0WIV not M0WIV/P and the grid reference was for my home QTH. This has messed up the SOTA log somewhat as Don has recorded me correctly as M0WIV but as my submitted log was under M0WIV/P the two don’t match up. I’ve tried submitting two logs, the second having all the FT8 QSOs under M0WIV but the system didn’t seem to like it. I think I may ask Don if he will resubmit his log to show my callsign with the /P. Frustratingly, I saw Phil G4OBK calling me during the FT8 session but I couldn’t get WSJT-X to swap over to his callsign. This is something I need to work out and fix as it has happened before. I may also try FT4. Andy MM0FMF has said he saw one of my FT8 calls and has put it down to aircraft scatter. With FT4 it might almost be possible to complete a QSO this way! :slight_smile:

With the antenna still horizontal I had a go at 2m CW on 144.050 after putting up a spot but without success. I did hear one station but they were weak and I don’t think they were trying to contact me and they were too fast for me anyway!

Finally, I changed to vertical and tried 2m FM. This was very rewarding with three S2S. Viki MW6BWA/P on GW/SW-006, Shane G6WBS/P on G/SP-006 Shining Tor at a range of 285Km and then Ben GW4BML/P on GW/SW-009. There was a lot going on on FM which I couldn’t hear and my choice of frequency of 145.450 wasn’t very clever as others were trying it. I need to choose something a bit more obscure next time.

Using Mark’s M0NOM’s clever ADIF mapping tool this is what this morning’s activity looks like. See the Afternote below for why there was probably only one contact to the east.

I didn’t expect to make 11 QSOs on 2m from this part of the UK so it was a successful activation from that angle. I would have liked to have made it with four different modes but to succeed with 2m CW probably needs someone stood buy listening. It might be easier to do in HF using SSB, AM, CW and Data - but then AM is a minority mode as well. :slight_smile:

As always very many thanks to all those who contacted or tried to contact me today. I had planned to go on to do another summit afterwards but I was getting very cold. Is it too late to write to ask Santa for a thick insulated jacket? :slight_smile:

Afternote: Parking is limited near this hill but there is what passes for a lay-by at SY408942. From there walk north about 200m to where the path starts. There are no signs other than one saying “Private land”. Ignore this other than as a marker, the path is to the right of this sign. Climb this path and where it meets another near the summit turn right. Follow this path until you reach the much wider path, almost a track. Turn left here and walk towards the copse where you will find the bench. This is where I set up as it is free of gorse. The take off is good from the bench to the south, west and north but worst to the east. You probably need to move to the other side of the hill to work in that direction. The summit is very flat.

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Nope. Go for it. A nice rab or North Face one if you want something you can wear down the pub/Tesco as well as on the hill. Alternatively go for the Mountain Hardman look with a Buffalo or Montane smock. (You’ll get stared at with one of those on in the pub.)

Nice activation BTW. Great use of 2m. Maybe you should have tried CW for a Full House (other modes are available).

Fraser

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Nice one John. I’m pleased to see more 2m SSB SOTA activity. There used to be an avid group of SOTA chasers using the mode on 2m, but there are very few by comparison nowadays. Still, if you don’t try, you don’t get and when high pressure provides good conditions it can make for a very rewarding activation.

73, Gerald

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Gerald,

I was very pleased with the way things went today. It was only 3 QSOs on 2m SSB but I did start quite early in the day. It might have been even better on a Sunday. I will try again! I went through a period of writing off 2m down here - but I now know it can be done. :slight_smile:

John

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Hello John, thanks for your activation report and photos. well done. Tell me, were you happy with the Diamond 144S5R Yagi? Any thing that you found with its use; did you put it together yourself?

regards Geoff vk3sq

Geoff,

Performance is good I think with very low SWR. It has a 1:1 choke built in which probably accounts for the low SWR.

It folds up quickly and is equally quick to assemble. The only element which detaches is the radiator, all the others just swing through 90 degrees after you have slackened the wing nut. The only weakness is it is a bit fragile. I doubt it would survive the mast falling over onto hard ground. It also wasn’t drilled for mounting vertically but that was easily solved. I clamp it to a short section of plastic pipe which slides over the mast, which you can see in the photo below. Since the photo was taken I’ve made a bag for it which is useful as it protects it when pushing through bushes and under trees and ensures no nuts are lost if they work loose.

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Time was when I’d be on a summit at 08:00 and the 2m Breakfast Club would convene. I do miss those times, but still get a great kick out of what can be achieved. Last Friday I worked Cornwall, Devon, Cardigan and Lancashire from a summit 30 miles north of Perth. :grinning:

73, Gerald

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Hi John, log now corrected to /P sorry I missed you on 2ssb but got the ft8.
I always log what the activator posts. 73 Don.

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One of the benefits of my (continuing) weight loss is that I can now wear my Buffalo again without looking like the Xmas turkey in a nylon strait jacket :laughing:
Hard to beat a nice down jacket though for packability (though at a cost).

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Don, thank you. I must admit I was surprised to see you calling on FT8! I think I’ve now worked out how I could have submitted two logs, one for the M0WIV/P and the other for the M0WIV only QSOs. I uploaded the original log as an ADIF file and when I realised the error I deleted it and tried to upload two files instead. This caused a problem with a warning about duplicates. As I had deleted the log this threw me but I think the issue is the first log created 3 entries in the S2S table. I should have gone in an deleted these as well and then I think it would have worked.
73
John

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No! Upload one log - you can mix and match callsigns within the CSV file. It’s one activation, it should have one log only.

When deleting logs uploaded via ADIF or CSV, use the Manage Uploads feature, which will delete all entries from the file (S2S, chaser, activator)

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Fraser, that Montane smock looks excellent and for your part of the world would be ideal when it gets very cold. I like the way it can cope with getting wet too but here in the “soft” south something with a full length zip might be better. Go Outdoors have a down jacket from Mountain Equipment on sale but it won’t like getting wet and in my experience no matter how carefully you have it cleaned, down is never the same afterwards. Something with a man-made insulation would be more practical.

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I wear my cosy North Face down jacket so infrequently that I’ve only had it cleaned once in 20 years. I sent it to a specialist cleaner in Sheffield, along with a rab sleeping bag. Both items came back like new.

Most times in the UK you’ll not be ascending in a down jacket but they come very handy for operating.

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I’ve just started using my Mountain Equipment down jacket on activations. I’ve had it for years but haven’t used it very much (until now). It’s made the last few activations in cold weather very cosy. I wouldn’t want to use it if it was wet though. The biggest problem is it’s tricky to get it back into the stuff sack so I tend to stuff it in the top of the rucksack.

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Good for you Andy. They are a slim fit! I love mine but will generally wear something under it when it’s below 0°C, so I’m not a Purist! I invested in the detatchable hood a couple of years back. It’s amazingly cosy.

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I have a pair of insulated jackets for SOTA. One is a genuine Down filled Berghaus that is a special made for Cotswolds Outdoor Shop. It squashes down well but is not waterproof and has no hood but is seriously warm. The other is a Haglofs Barrier II Belay jacket. This is Pertex outer and so somewhat waterproof with a man made insulation. It is warm and very light. It weighs 380gm and squashes to a tiny volume. It does have a hood and as it’s a belay jacket, the hood will fit over a helmet. It’s not as warm as the Berghaus but is a fraction the weight and size. I only wear them when at the summit and operating as they are too warm for me to wear when walking.

About 10 years back I bought Mrs. FMF a pure white Mountain Hardwear Down 3/4 length coat. As it says Mountain Hardwear on it, it wasn’t cheap. She wore it all the time and as it’s white it would soon show signs of grubbiness. Once or twice a year, the removable hood is removed and it goes in the washing machine with some non-biological washing power on a gentle program. It gets a gentle spin (400-600 rpm) and then is allowed to drain in the machine. Then another a gentle spin then a gentle tumble dry where it is taken out of the drier, given a good shake and continued.

Every time it comes out looking as good as new and still lofts. So you can machine wash Down jackets etc. at home if you take some care about the process.

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Hello John

It was good to get an unexpected 2m FM s2s with you yesterday from a (very cold and windy) GW/SW-006 Fan Gyhirch west of the Brecon Beacons. Sorry I didn’t recognise the call sign but I did tell you that I was delighted to make the contact as it gave me a complete. I don’t chase from home so I need a s2s to get a complete - and I don’t very often get as far as SC with my 5w signal - or no-one is up there when I do! BTW I still need to chase SC-004, 9 and 13 so let me know when you are going there! I think there may have been a bit of a lift on as I did hear French a couple of times but not well enough to try to get in.

It was very easy to get cold on a summit yesterday with a gusty E wind. Don’t know whether you have thought of it, but putting on overtrousers when you get to your activating position is a good idea even if there is little likelihood of actual precipitation as it give you another layer on your legs (which will soon cool down after the walk up). I hope you have the sort with long zips at the side so you have some chance of getting them on without having to lie flat on the ground and heave - but keep tight hold of them in the wind or they will be halfway down the hill in no time … but you will soon warm up chasing them!!

I think you started on the SOTA bandwagon about a year ago and asked how well you would do on VHF from the Devon/Cornwall area and I replied with (I hope) encouraging noises. I ended the message by hoping for a s2s before too long - well we have made it now and I’ve only just realised. Well done and thank you very much. Please try 2m fm more often! I am not surprised you had difficulty keeping 145.450 as an operating frequency as it was a very busy day (/saturday) on the hills, good conditions, lots of locals in their cars on Welsh hillocks out for a chat and some regular nets. It is usually safer to go below 400 to look for a frequency and I certainly ended up on 145.375 for the second summit GW/SW-010 as the airwaves were even busier. I look forward to the next s2s!
73 Viki M6BWA

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Viki, it was good to make contact at last. I’ve still 3 summits to do in DC which I’ll probably do mid-week sometime and use HF. But there is a group of 3 summits near Minehead which are well within VHF range from GW and these would be a good weekend project for using VHF and even UHF if things were arranged in advance. I have a 70cm Yagi but drew a blank the only time I used it, which was in the Lake District.
Let us hope for some settled weather in the New Year. I take your point about dressing correctly. I do use waterproof overtrousers to keep the wind out but on Saturday I misjudged how cold it was going to feel and hadn’t even put on a proper base layer. Another lesson re-learned! :slight_smile:
73
John