I never learn

…and this is why.

As per usual, I had a sniff of a very quick 20 minute Cloud G/SP-015 activation in-between running errands. And as per usual, I didn’t prepare anything, check anything or even really think about anything. I just assumed my rucksack was good to go with everything in it, that my battery had charge, that propagation might be there on 20m, that the aerial wasn’t broken and all the other usual sloppiness.

The thing is, much more often than not, I get away with it. The evening of Tuesday 26th September 2017 was another such occasion.

I ambled up The Cloud by the light of my headtorch on a pleasantly mild late September evening, and set up my 20m groundplane antenna. In terms of value and efficiency (talking more practical concerns than scientific definition here), this is my favourite antenna. Light as a feather (the SOTA Pole will account for most of the weight of the antenna system), 5 minutes to set up, 3 minutes to pack away.

As usual, I didn’t have long to operate, so I hoped for some conditions on 20m. If not, then I would just have to make the activation “good” by making a VHF contact or two on the handheld.

Called CQ on 20m CW. First reply - a big signal from ZL1BYZ. That I was not expecting - but as I say, I hadn’t done any research so I might well have just hit the greyline for all I knew! That was the first of 10 contacts I made in 16 minutes of operating. The others were 6 x USA, 1 x Canada, plus SV and DL.

So, as quick low-effort, unprepared activations go, this was a rather good one! 5 watts and a few bits of wire cobbled together - satisfying!

Inspiration to be more vigilant with my SOTA preparations in future? None whatsoever… :wink:


Now Tom,

Presume you are working a parallel universe which is one day ahead of this universe and there is a Sun max? :smile:

Now then I was in this universe on Tuesday 26th working 13cms in the UKAC from SS-174 and having fun. Though I don’t know if the spiders that inhabited the trig point and normally come out to play at night were having as much fun with me taking it over? Not for the arachnophobic Activator type me thinks?



The problem Tom is you did not fail to prepare. No you failed to prepare to fail. There is a difference! :smile:


At least you had the year right :slight_smile:
73 de Geert PA7ZEE

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I guess so Andy, but there is no way of knowing in advance which of the two you are failing to prepare for…

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Good going considering you were only using some cheap wire for an antenna.

Empty house so listening (very loud) to Messrs. Coltrane, Fuller and Morgan demonstrate that they came prepared to blow up a storm. A 60year old recording that sounds better than so many modern recordings. By heck that Rudy van Gelder was a master at recording music.

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Is that the classic “Blue Train”, Andy?

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Here are you listening in? :ear:

It’s a 1999 compilation “Trane’s Blues” which includes tracks from his album Blue Train along with tracks from albums where he was a side man. The actual track at the time was “Locomotion”. “Blue Train” has just started and Trane’s :saxophone: first solo is sublime. I’ve just nudged the volume up a bit more.

You get a gold star for picking which Coltrane, Fuller and Morgan tracks it was likely to be.

Off topic alert: for a masterclass in recording (and many other things) check out Moscow’s “Leonid & Friends”.

Some 40-odd years ago I more or less wore that record out learning how to improvise. Trane’s solo was gob-smacking but TBH I learned more from Fullers solo, which was less frenetic and easier to follow! None the less, I reckon that for about six months I sounded like a cheap cardboard copy of Coltrane before I found my own way! Incidentally my return to track is “My Favorite Things” from the Berlin gig!

Sorry about the hijack, Tom, Andy pushed a button!

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I saw Curtis Fuller play in the Jazz Bakery, Los Angeles April 2001. Just magic and I think Harold Land was the other name with him. Followed by the scariest trip in a taxi across across LA at night with a psycho taxi driver who was high on something and it certainly wasn’t life. I remember checking if I had any ID on me so the LA PD could identify the body the next day. Still, lived to tell the tale. Sorry Tom, back to your stunning lack of preparation :wink:

Oh, go on then. 6.5 years on, and I’m still partial to a spot of laziness / sloppiness.

It was 2m FT8 contest night last night (Wednesday 1st May 2024). Last time I put them in the car, the laptop and the headtorch were fully charged. When did I put them in the car? Er - not really sure - and therein lies the problem!

Anyway, got to the summit and found Greg M0TXX and Adie M0PAI up there attempting some 10GHz stuff - unsuccessfully as it turned out. I set up my elderly SOTAbeam SB5 and got cracking. Plenty of charge in my cheapo Lenovo notebook (from Currys - this has turned out to be an excellent buy - perfect for my WSJT / SSTV needs, and also an emergency scorewriting solution at soundchecks - great VFM). But - as I would later discover (when it was getting rather dark) - zero charge in my headtorch. I guess I need to be more vigilantly charging that up immediately prior to intended use.

Now, operating on FT8 was no problem in the dark with everything showing up on the screen. I knew that an ADIF file was being created too, though I was able to manage to compile a paper log too (useful backup as sometimes an incoming report or gridsquare doesn’t seem to make it through to the auto-compiled ADIF file).

The more significant challenge came when dismantling the station and packing up. There didn’t seem to be a flashlight app on my iPhone 7 so I grabbed one from the Appstore. Packing up on summit by the light of a smartphone flashlight was a pain, and was done carefully and painstakingly! Descending down the hill by smartphone flashlight was just as easy as by headtorch. Number of hands required was the determining factor in the ease of said activities I think!

Anyway, 34 QSOs made on 2m FT8. DXCCs worked: G, GW, EI, GM, ON.

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As I do many fewer activations I have more time to prepare. Case in point… the recent trip to Blackpool and 4 possible activations. Now all of my LiFEPo batteries are upto 4 good activations with the KX2. But this was to include Craiglee GM/SS-150 which has beaten me before so I decided I have at least two fully charged packs. If conditions had been better I could have been much longer on the 1st three activations and that would have been putting a great chance of running out of power on the fourth. As it was I only had to swap the pack for a fresh one for the last summit.

In your case you dont want to be charging up after every activation as you’ll stress the batteries, you want to run them well down before charging and I can see why keeping track becomes a problem. Perhaps we need an app that hooks into database logs so that it can suggest you need to charge stuff up based on where and when you were activating ? :wink:

As it is I now carry a 3x18650 emergency LiPo pack with me along with a 4Ah LiFePO. It’s only good for 5W on my KX2 but that’s not an issue TBH as I managed for 17years with a 5W FT-817. 10W probably makes no real difference.


I have a sticky label on my batteries (mainly used in model boats) and I write the date of the latest charge on it. No technology required :innocent:


In my Write In Rain SOTA paper log book I add notifications when stuff has to be done to my SOTA kit. The latest from last week’s 13cms S2S’s with Andrew G4VFL (25th April) was to ruggedise my homebrew 3 x 18650 LiPo pack leads (basically heatshrink the DC feed tags - takes the strain/flexing off the leads at the tag terminations). Done yesterday and ticked off in my log. Simple!



I only carry the head torch as a backup (It is a small petzl) and I have jammed a bit of plastic in the battery pack so it doesn’t get turned on by mistake…
I have noticed a weird side effect - as I have retired I now have more time, but have found that if anything this seems to result in me being less well prepared. Is it that trying to squeeze activations between family and work forces more organisation than I now need?