Heatwave on Lambrigg Fell

Nigel M5TUE and I ventured up Lambrigg Fell today G/LD-046. I arrived at his house dead-on 8am local and after the usual deliberation of what to take and what to leave behind we decided to take the lucky anvil but leave the kitchen sink. The walk up Lambrigg can be done direct from his QTH.

With drizzle on the drive through I knew that we were in for a ‘Lake District Scorcher’. How these weather-people can sleep at night is beyond me. The forecast heatwave was in reality a mixture of low cloud and drizzle - at least the latter escaped us for the most part, but Nigel’s DD Magic Carpet XL came in real handy with the incessant Southerly wind. It was warm enough out of the wind, but it would have been decidedly less pleasant in it.

Band conditions had clearly eased since my last outing on Saturday. Later finding out we were faced with a spotless sun it made sense, but at the time much head-scratching was done - equipment or conditions?

If anyone had been daft enough to climb Lambrigg today (and they weren’t) they would have been impressed by the amount of antenna in the air. Firstly the Arrow ‘don’t buy get the lighter one’ Alasaka on guyed tripod was up, pointing South and catching MW0NLG on Snowdon GW/NW-001 - with his self confessed challenge of getting 100 contacts in a single activation, then Tom 2W0TGI/P on GW/NW-004 worked after they’d exchanged S2S.

Lake District Heatwave in full force

Nigel’s excellent QRP trapped end-fed was up and running fairly quickly - much easier to guy the pole with two on the job and his expert knot tying saving all sorts of gizgmos I have to rely on.

I jumped in and out of S2S on my pink-wire special 5 band linked dipole which survived the wind. Sergiy @SO9TA had remembered our QSO yesterday and it was great to get him S2S from SP/BZ-055.

Finally remembered the tripod guying kit

Nigel wasn’t having a great deal of luck with the bands and his QRP rigs and we just couldn’t work out what the issue was. I suspect it was primarily ‘sink hole’ deep QSB causing 59 signals to fade to nothing on 20m. Regardless he worked 10 HF SSB stations.

Eventually I persuaded him to bite the bullet and do an activation on 20m CW, FT-857 set at 30w and my Palm Pico Paddles used in his preferred side-swiper configuration. Without the aid of SOTA ‘for the weak at CW’ Spotter references he worked through one chaser contact and four S2S contacts. Nicely done Nigel. Not easy on the first attempt at working a pile-up, unlike my G? G8?, G8C?, G8CP? monotony that sorts out those who really want the points from those that don’t.

Two for HF, one for VHF

In the meantime Allan @GW4VPX was booming in 59 from GW/NW-028 and we caught G6WBS/P on Dale Head G/LD-030 with a real nice 59 both ways groundwave 20m contact.

Having experienced another break at one of the PowerPole connections on my dipole (resulting again in having to ditch two of the connectors to get bare wire to join 30m link - I’m regretting using PowerPoles now) I eventually got QRV on 40m for some more S2S and then QRV on a spotted frequency to give the chasers a chance.

Around 11:30 local we started seeing a few glimpses of the fell more than 100m away and visibility steadily improved, although never to result in any views to the Lake District fells to the West.

In the end I was 13 S2S up and 27 QSOs in the log. With an agreed-ish departure time long overdue we packed up all the gear and headed back down.

Regards, Mark.


Been there today. :slight_smile:

Mark, many thanks for the QSOs and for the S2S points!

Two mistakes in that callsign. I’m sure it’s just a typo, and you have it correct in your original paper log :wink:

I could have told you that based on far too many years in the electronics industry. I’ve still not found anything better than the 2mm RC connectors for QRP antenna links.

Thanks Tom, as it happens I have MW0NLG logged. He did specifically say he didn’t want recording as a /P, ah not sure that’s the best approach to logging however.

Thanks Sergiy, looks like you were my longest contact of the day.

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Noted thanks, happy to take advice on alternatives. I think the fundamental issue is the lack of strain relief at the base of the crimped connector, and the fact that the antenna wire is fairly stiff, so when the connection is bent (probably most of the time whilst wrapping/unwrapping from the winder) it tends to bend at the crimp point.

I will persevere for now and add strain relief, I’m in no mood to change all 16 connectors, but noted in future to try alternatives.


Ah yes, been there but on a smaller scale. I’ve used several pieces of heatshrink, a narrow diameter piece that is a tight fit on the wire when shrunk, then larger diameter pieces to build up the strength. I’ve had one joint to the 2mm connectors fail in 300+ activations so the multiple layer method works. But I may be extra careful when winding. i.e. wind fast and oh, here’s the link, carefully wind then wind fast again.

I have some heatshrink with glue inside that gets activated by the heat and that is good for this kind of job.

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Thanks, I use that kind too. The only ‘new’ failure mode using this technique is high SWR on the SOTABeams Band Hopper IV with croc clips where the electrical connection has failed but the connector remains in place due to the glued heatshrink. In that case it is fairly easy to identify the culprit by clipping/unclipping with the radio set to 80m with the volume turned up. When I don’t hear a crackle/change in the noise I give the connector a good tug and it usually comes away. Once again with croc clips stripping the failed connection allows the clip to grab the bare wire and on you go.

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You should log the callsign he used.

I personally think it’s a shame that /P is not used in this case, as /P has become a great tradition in UK and EU SOTA, but it is not mandatory to use it and is the activator’s personal choice.

A tip from when I was a lab tech about 45 years ago.

If you don’t have the right size glue lined heatshrink sleeve, or ran out, you can shave thin slices from a hot-gun glue stick and slide it into the sleeve before heating. Use enough that it squidges out of the ends as the sleeve shrinks, it comes off easily.


Interesting to see how Solar Cycle 25 changes the definition of DX on HF :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

No problem with this arrangement and the wire is PTFE coated which makes for easy winding. I do have a PVC coated wire dipole which is still good after more than a decade, but it comes off the winders as a zig-zag and needs straightening, otherwise there is noticeable sag in the antenna by the end of the activation. :grinning:

I did try croc-clips, but they are dreadful in cold weather when my fingers are numb and I cannot apply sufficient pressure to open them.


I can recommend Adams suggestion:

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The simple solution to this is to equip yourself with a very short piece of wire with a PowerPole on one end and croc clip on the other. That way you do not have to sacrifice the connector that didn’t break.

But like others, I too gave up on PowerPoles for this job and switched to the 2mm connectors. I still carry croc clip wires just in case one fails; obviously I now need two, and of course the pair could double up as a croc-to-croc jumper if I ever need one.

By the way, I see lots of people using fairly chunky pieces of solid plastic for the insulators at the links. I find it entirely satisfactory to use a short loop of nylon braided cord. This is much less cumbersome when winding up the antenna because it can bend.

Martyn M1MAJ