Just getting back into playing radio after 3 years away from the hobby and randomly decided this morning to dust off the old portable kit and have a go at real easy summit to test gear etc before trying anything more adventurous. Tried 20, 40 and 80 and although the site was pretty quiet on most bands all I was hearing was just gentle static and virtually no man made noises at all, apart from some occasional loud Russian in a contest. Eventually after and hour and a half of trying I finally made 4 contacts so can claim the point (just!). Makes me think I really do need to get back to learning CW again or make some kind of portable data station for when conditions are bad!
Yesterday evening was brilliant for 20m SSB, but there were times when there was a lot of fading. Didn’t try 40m because 20m was so good.
Maybe check your antenna connections? I know I have temperamental BNC connections.
However, we are nearly at the bottom of the sunspot activity and I have had days just the same. 20m can be very poor during the day, 40m tends to be a little better but not always.
Don’t give up!
Band conditions are not the greatest at present; very selective with lots of deep QSB, but glad you made the 4 Q’s to qualify the activation.
Which one of our local hills did you go for?
If I had been aware of your outing, I would have tried to get a Chaser Point or two off you, hi!
Please post activations on here on SOTAwatch and we will all try to find you, hi!
I frequently find I need two and sometimes three bands to qualify on HF ssb these days. Unless I put up a spot or get lucky with a quick contact from a chaser who does it for me it can take a long time. CW is the neat solution as there are lots of chasers out there; however, I have yet to reach any sort of useful competence.
Today’s chases from home have been barely above the local S5 noise floor, so don’t let the present conditions put you off too quickly. I suggest a friend primed and ready to put up a spot as the quickest way to make a start.
Activity does tend to ebb and flow, but for me conditions have been pretty good recently - just for example, over yesterday and today I have so far made 129 chaser points, all SSB on 20 and 40. I have a very noisy location - S6 on 20 and S8 on 40, the rig is an FT857D and the antenna is just a G5RV at 9 metres high. I would suspect that something is amiss somewhere, or you just hit on one of those “ebb” intervals!
Probably time to check co-ax cables and connections to the antenna, and the rig (RF gain wasn’t turned down was it?). There’s plenty of SSB activity on 40 metres today and a fair amount on 20m as well. I’ve had 5 SOTA SSB contacts today despite being away from the shack most of the day.
QSB IS bad today though. I have had stations going from S5 to nothing in a matter of a few seconds. Just have to wait and keep plugging away.
There are a lot of Solar winds about to hit the earth tomorrow and Friday. These, as well as creating nice Aurora pictures, will raise the noise floor across the HF bands, so today was probably the best we’ll have it for a few days. Despite that I’m heading out tomorrow, so if you want to try to call from your home QTH or out portable, I’ll be very glad to hear your call.
I have posted an alert on SOTAWatch ( http://sotawatch.org/alerts.php ).
73 Ed DD5LP.
Ken I was on Cairnpapple GM/SS-254, just an easy 1 pointer and the closest summit to my home QTH. I didn’t have any data up there on my phone or I would have popped a spot on, and I haven’t registered my mobile with Andy so couldn’t do it with SMS either. Talking of which, I must send that email to himnow!
Good to see you on the reflector again Nick after a few years absence. Pity the timing of your return to SOTA has coincided with some of the most variable conditions that I have experienced in almost 50 years on the bands. At times it can look desperate, but contacts are still there to be made for those who are persistent. I heard VE2JCW work David GW3RDQ/P on 20m just after lunch time. A short while before that I thought someone had lowered a Faraday cage over my QTH. That’s how it is.
As Rod says, have the capability of being able to run several bands to take advantage of what conditions there are. A bit of power and resonant antennas certainly help. Pleased to hear that you managed to qualify the summit - you could probably have added a few to your log by using 2m FM.
73, Gerald G4OIG
I’m hoping it wasn’t the antenna or a problem with the rig. I took 3 antennae with me to test them out, as it was a 10 min walk from the car I wasn’t bothered too much about weight. I tried a doublet, a Sotabeams bandspringer and another W3EDP type I had made and all of them pretty much all of them were the same. I did update the firmware in the KX3 this morning before I went out, as that hadn’t been done in the last 3 years either, so maybe it has reset an option somewhere. Will investigate further… Still that’s why I did this as a test today so I wouldn’t completely waste my time spending hours walking for no reason!
And Gerald yes I wish I had taken my 2m handy with me, but as I hadn’t used that for 3 years either the battery is pretty knackered and didn’t want to take a charge this morning unsurprisingly. Time to order a new batt!
Yesterday evening I plugged my HF rig in again after using it in North Wales over the last two weeks. 20m was completely dead and I couldn’t even decode any WSPR signals. Then I realised I had selected the wrong antenna input on my FT817. Suddenly the band came alive! My WSPR signal was heard in North America and Australia. Still failed to make any FT8 QSOs though.
There were plenty of chasers hovering around today as Gerald and Bill were offering summits across the water. As I was working on a project I had RRT on all day monitoring what was happening on the bands. I think a lack of an Alert (can’t see one for you as the morning Alerts have slipped away on Sotawatch) and the fact that you were unable to spot was a big contributing factor. Sometimes an early spot (before you loose Phone signal) saying you will be QRV in x minutes alerts the chasers to the fact you are out there.
I would also add 60m to your antenna as this band is a saviour sometimes. As everyone has said the bands are not behaving and change rapidly as I found out on Monday so you need to be able to be flexible. See my blog and my logs for the two summits on Monday and how the bands worked differently during the day.
Hope this helps
73 Allan GW4VPX
last sunday I made over 60 ssb qso’s on 40 and 20m … on today’s activation “only” 40 qso’s!
i use a kx2 with 10w and a linked dipole! spotting yourself on SOTAwatch (I use APRS2SOTA) helps a lot
73 martin, oe5reo
Just to add a little to the mix: I did a few 5W QSOs on 40 and 30 m today. With a random wire in a tree, there was a huge variance in SNR according to RBN - some 30+ dB in ES and ON land from Munich, as well as many poor 2 - 4 dB spots where I typically get 10 dB or so with a similar setting.
I have to admit this was all CW, and QSB was heavy.
What surprised me was that on 20 m I got very good WSPR reports from several German stations less than 300 miles from my QTH.
And in general, the variation was really huge, as this excerpt from RBN documents:
ES5PC DK3IT 10117.7 CW CQ 3 dB 17 wpm 1220z 30 Aug
ON5KQ DK3IT 10117.9 CW CQ 6 dB 16 wpm 1220z 30 Aug
ON5KQ DK3IT 10117.9 CW CQ 7 dB 16 wpm 1215z 30 Aug
ES5PC DK3IT 10117.7 CW CQ 3 dB 16 wpm 1214z 30 Aug
ES5PC DK3IT 10118.1 CW CQ 35 dB 14 wpm 1159z 30 Aug
ON5KQ DK3IT 10118.3 CW CQ 36 dB 14 wpm 1159z 30 Aug
Same rig, same antenna, same power!
Sorry to rub it in Nick, but yes I managed to qualify CE-003 this afternoon on both 40 and 20m with 10W into an endfed wire. My signal reports weren’t exactly earth moving and there seemed to be a fair bit of QSB. Still much better than my last attempt on this hill - 0 contacts
Well Nick considering Cairnpapple is surrounded by cell sites that’s surprising, but it might have been the case that 1.8GHz was also suffering from the ‘doldrums’ ?
I mainly work in SSB modes and conditions of late can not be kind at all but spotting on the watch spot helps and getting ya self spotted also helps. Plenty other SSB Sota chasers out there but recently conditions are very variable indeed/ Keep plugging at it and alert on Internet where you can.
This morning was good.
Long Path was open to JA and VK, unfortunately, although I could hear them (super stations I expect) they couldn’t hear my 20w and a dipole. mangaed North Africa, Greece and Finland though, so not too bad!
apparently often the bands open prior to a solar event hitting the earth and a lot of Solar wind is expected to bring Auroras and bad HF conditions from this evening, so the longer path contacts this morning were perhaps because of the impending CME hitting this evening?
Just as well I’m out VHF contesting this weekend!