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Kite Antenna Activation G/SP-004 Shining Tor

Within the SOTA programme, there are good summits, there are great summits, then there are the truly great summits. I’ve been asked on numerous occasions why I activate Shining Tor so often. The simple answer, G/SP-004 is a truly great summit. This summit has a take-off on both VHF and HF that must be amongst the best in the UK.

Ive activated G/SP-004 using all sorts of rigs and different types of antennas such as bits of wire, dipoles, beams, CB antennas, fishing poles, the list is endless. After well over 50 activations, still this summit never ceases to amaze me. Today, it was the turn of the kite antenna with the emphasis on Top Band. On my last visit to Shining Tor with a kite, the HF bands were rubbish and I really struggled, however, today was a different story, there was a nice breeze (bitterly cold, -3c, I might add) and no hang gliders to worry about. Pegging out the kite antenna or any antenna for that matter is a doddle on Shining Tor. Unfortunately, Id misjudged the amount of wire I had brought with me and the kite looked to be near 140ft in the air than the 200ft, I had planned on. Ah well.

Before starting on HF, I spent 50 minutes working through the 2m pile-up. As luck would have it, found Mark G0VOF the Top-Band king and listened to his advice.

Time for HF.

After tuning up on 1.845, I noticed the band was very noisy and therefore, wasn`t too hopeful about making any contacts. A self spot followed by a CQ, and a couple of minutes later, Mark G0VOF came booming in. Bob G6ODU was next although not so strong, followed by G6WRW Carolyn who was a good signal. Frank G3RMD in Cheltenham made contact number 4 followed by M6RGF and finally Tom M1EYP. Six contacts was way better than I was expecting for that time of the day.

Did I leave the kite antenna up or did I turn to the fishing pole?

Stay with the kite!

A quick tune onto the 40m Band produced 36 contacts with a lot of inter G. It was now after 1200z, time to QSY to 20m, as this is when the Stateside chasers start looking toward EU. My first port of call was 14.285 where SV1KYQ/P was up on SV/AT-006 and working a pile-up. Sadly he was too weak for me to work, however, I heard Bill W4ZV working him. Bill was a huge signal and worked SV1KYQ/P easily. When Bill finished his contact, I quickly asked him if he would QSY up 5 KCs if he wanted another summit. Bill went straight up there and we completed the contact. Bill very kindly spotted me and Barry N1EU and Rich N4EX were hot on his heels followed by W6UB in TN. A total of 37 calls on 20m including VA, KB and a S2S with Inky in GM land.

A further tune up on the 12 and 15m bands was to prove disappointing with only 2 contacts on 15m and just one on 12m. There was nothing else for it but to try the 17m band. Once again the kite antenna turned on the magic, with 16 contacts into the log including the best DX of the day KI6EAB in Santa Cruz CA.

A fine days radio with total of 163 contacts logged including 12 S2S, a good start for the new award.

To sum up, the kite antenna is a lot lighter than many of the more unorthodox HF antennas I`ve worked with and certainly no slouch at sniffing out DX. I’m convinced the kite has a lot more to offer and intend to conduct some further experiments in the near future.

A big thanks to all the chasers today, especially Stateside, for making such a wonderful effort so early in the morning.

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hello Mike,
Thanks for the report on kite operation. Just one question, perhaps a stupid one. Was the wind changing in direction and if it was how much impact did it have on your receive, rather than chasers reception?. I heard some people say “kite qsb”.

“…I’m convinced the kite has a lot more to offer and intend to conduct some further experiments in the near future…”

I think you are right :sunglasses:

Thanks
73
Mike G6TUH

In reply to G6TUH:

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hello Mike,
Thanks for the report on kite operation. Just one question, perhaps a
stupid one. Was the wind changing in direction and if it was how much
impact did it have on your receive, rather than chasers reception?. I
heard some people say “kite qsb”.

Yes Mike, this is a problem which seems to be caused by gusts of wind. How much of a problem is difficult to say. The kite can move up and down and change direction quite quickly. I’m on the case and may have come up with a partial solution. I’m using a 1.7 metre power sled kite, which seems reasonably stable and in a stiff breeze and can cope with quite a load.

For the most part, DX chasers were armchair copies on 20m and passed on good reports. I can`t remember if the QSB was more of a problem on 20 or 40m bands?

Next time I use the kite, I plan to get 200 feet of wire in the air and at the same time, take a hard look at the counterpoise system where I think there`s certainly room for improvement.

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Hi Mike,

Sorry for the late reply.

Thanks for the compliment, but “Top-Band SOTA reporter” would me far more appropriate, I haven’t done anywhere near enough to be “King” of any band :wink:

However, Thank you very much for the contacts from Shining Tor on Saturday morning, especially on 160m SSB. You were not your usual strength on 2m FM, for reasons you have given above & when I first tuned up on Top Band earlier in the morning the noise level was about S8, so I too was not hopeful of making contact with you, despite Shining Tor being only 67k from Blackburn.

Later, once you had closed on 2m FM, I had been monitoring around 1843KHz, as that is the frequency you had mentioned in your post the previous evening. I saw your spot (1845KHz, just to confuse me I’m sure :wink: )& listened for a while & could tell your voice was there but wasn’t sure if you were working someone or not. Once I thought it was clear I called you & low & behold you came straight back to me. Your first calls must have been in a QSB trough as when you called me you were a good readable signal with my local noise having dropped to about S6. You were not “very” strong, but you were moving my S-meter up above the noise & were 100% readable from our first contact until the end of your spell on Top Band when you QSY’d to 40m SSB.

The kite antenna worked extremely well, as even with your 50 Watts, a short distance like 67km is a challenge using SSB in the middle of the day as you are competing with the myriad of noise sources most Top Band chasers have to put up with, myself included.
While QSB can be an issue on 160m, given the time of day I would say that any fading was due to the movement of the kite relative to the ground, rather than changes in wind direction. 120ft is a bit short of being a 1/4 wave on 160m but 200 ft would be pretty much a 3/8 radiator, giving you more radiator higher above the ground for the same angle of line. I am assuming that the antenna wire was also used as the kite line, but I could be wrong.

If the antenna wire is used as the kite line, one thing you could try that would improve things would be to guy the kite so that you can put about 33 ft of the antenna wire vertically upwards from the radio/feedpoint with the rest of the kite line being a more open “Inverted L”. More radials will definitely help, but for a SOTA activation, you need to bear in mind your time constraints, as well as possibly causing a trip hazard for other users of the hill.

You really are in pretty uncharted territory now Mike, as you will see from the database that there have only ever been a handful of activators who have dabbled with Top Band. It is very challenging, especially so if you don’t use CW, so if you have a station that works, don’t be surprised if others follow you.

Congratulations on the first activation of Shining Tor on 160m & doing it in style with 6 Contacts!

I wonder if you managed to take any photos of the kite antenna, if so, please could you post them on Flickr, or send them direct to me mark@brownhill.demon.co.uk

PS, On the subject I mentioned during our 2m QSO, It was later discovered that the bogus officials that visited my elderly neighbour that morning had taken a substantial amount of money :frowning:

Thanks again & best 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to G0VOF:

Hi Mark,

Sorry for the late reply.

Thanks for taking the time to reply…

Thanks for the compliment, but “Top-Band SOTA reporter” would me far
more appropriate, I haven’t done anywhere near enough to be “King” of
any band :wink:

Well, your knowlege of Top-Band puts me to shame …trust me :wink:

However, Thank you very much for the contacts from Shining Tor on
Saturday morning, especially on 160m SSB. You were not your usual
strength on 2m FM, for reasons you have given above & when I first
tuned up on Top Band earlier in the morning the noise level was about
S8, so I too was not hopeful of making contact with you, despite
Shining Tor being only 67k from Blackburn.

Yes, I agree about the 2m dipole, although it worked reasonably well (I have to say that cos I built it ;-) However, its certainly no match for the colinear.

I called you & low & behold you came straight back to me. Your
first calls must have been in a QSB trough as when you called me you
were a good readable signal with my local noise having dropped to
about S6. You were not “very” strong, but you were moving my S-meter
up above the noise & were 100% readable from our first contact until
the end of your spell on Top Band when you QSY’d to 40m SSB. pulling me out so quickly

Tell you the truth, I moved up a couple of KCs as it just sounded a tad better.

Well done on pulling me out so quickly, I was pleased you managed to find me, giving you the first Top-Band chase on a summit that has seen no less than 13k chases!

The kite antenna worked extremely well, as even with your 50 Watts, a
short distance like 67km is a challenge using SSB in the middle of the
day as you are competing with the myriad of noise sources most Top
Band chasers have to put up with, myself included.

Having had little experience of Top-Band, I was surprised at the noise in the daytime and noted this on my self-spot.

While QSB can be an issue on 160m, given the time of day I would say
that any fading was due to the movement of the kite relative to the
ground, rather than changes in wind direction. 120ft is a bit short of
being a 1/4 wave on 160m but 200 ft would be pretty much a 3/8
radiator, giving you more radiator higher above the ground for the
same angle of line. I am assuming that the antenna wire was also used
as the kite line, but I could be wrong.

I was tempted to use the antenna wire as the kite line, however, with such strong winds I used a kite line too. With hindsight, maybe not such a smart move. I did in fact take the kite to G/SP-013 Gun today, however, the wind was just too ferocious and it would have dissapeared in seconds the same way my dipole did today :frowning:

If the antenna wire is used as the kite line, one thing you could try
that would improve things would be to guy the kite so that you can put
about 33 ft of the antenna wire vertically upwards from the
radio/feedpoint with the rest of the kite line being a more open
"Inverted L". More radials will definitely help, but for a SOTA
activation, you need to bear in mind your time constraints, as well as
possibly causing a trip hazard for other users of the hill.

You make a very good point about safety issues when activating with a kite. Not all summits are suitable for this type of antenna for the reasons you have stated.

You really are in pretty uncharted territory now Mike, as you will see
from the database that there have only ever been a handful of
activators who have dabbled with Top Band. It is very challenging,
especially so if you don’t use CW, so if you have a station that
works, don’t be surprised if others follow you.

Well Mark, once the WX improves, I`ll be delighted to have another go, maybe early one morning or perhaps later one evening. Sadly, not everyone has the room for Top-Band antennas.

Congratulations on the first activation of Shining Tor on 160m & doing
it in style with 6 Contacts!

I was very pleased to work Frank G3RMD down in Chetenham. A 90 mile hop was most unexpected! If you`re reading this Frank, once again, many thanks.

I wonder if you managed to take any photos of the kite antenna, if so,
please could you post them on Flickr, or send them direct to me
mark@brownhill.demon.co.uk

OK Mark, I did take some photos and Ill get them off to you shortly.

PS, On the subject I mentioned during our 2m QSO, It was later
discovered that the bogus officials that visited my elderly neighbour
that morning had taken a substantial amount of money :frowning:

I`m very sorry to hear that :frowning:

Thanks again & best 73,

My pleasure…

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Mike

90 miles in the daytime on 160m is not really that spectacular.

This chap has managed 450 miles SSB mobile to mobile in the daytime:

http://www.wireless.org.uk/mobile.htm

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

I`ve no intention of rising to the bait, Richard. I never claimed the contact was spectacular. The antenna is purely experimental.

The kite contact with KI6EAB was a nice contact and much further into the States than many activators have managed using CW.

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Good luck with the experiments Mike. You indicated that you were unfamiliar with topband and so I thought that you might appreciate knowing what is possible. That will inform your experiments perhaps?

I am guessing the KI6 was not on 160?

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

I am guessing the KI6 was not on 160?

No need to guess Richard. If you had taken the trouble to read my first posting, it clearly states which band the contact was made.

Anyhow, I`m now done with this thread.

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to G3CWI:

I am guessing the KI6 was not on 160?

Even if you had the use of the LF antennas at Skelton or Anthorn, a KI6 in daylight on topband would be impressive. :slight_smile:

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to 2E0YYY:

The kite contact with KI6EAB was a nice contact and much further into the States than many activators have managed using CW.

The Database indicates that a UK activation has worked a US call area 6 station on 22 occasions, in CW mode, but only 15 times on SSB. From my own experiences, using 5 watts QRP and simple lightweight homemade wire antennas, my best on SSB tends to have been the Eastern seaboard, while on CW I have worked S2S into the W6 (California) association.

There is no disputing that the kite contact with KI6EAB is a fantastic one. I wonder what would be possible with the same rig, power and kite antenna if using CW?

Tom M1EYP

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hi Mike,
Pleased to work you on Top Band. You were quite a good signal with me given the time of day. Sorry about my protracted transmit/ receive routine. I had difficulty in hearing you on my inverted L transmit antenna, so was manually changing to my K9AY North facing loop for receive. You were easy copy on the loop with it’s low local noise floor.
Look forward to your next foray on 160M.
73,
Frank