2m FM is a low price and low weight option, so it is by definition very inclusive. The Lake District, being a fairly compact area is very compatible with the range afforded by this band/mode.
Having said that, one of the things I was most struck by for the 2019 event was the variety of bands and modes used.
I am very happy that you are suggesting modes and bands that will be monitored during the event. I suspect there will be some more 6m and 4m activity this time round as well, given recent conversations.
2.3GHz is worth considering. Buy the SG-Labs transverter (£200) and use the provided PCB antenna. It will work with a HH for FM, you don’t have to use SSB. True SOTA kit, you don’t get far in the valleys !
When back at the home QTH you now have to core of a QO-100 station. With a Satellite dish just add a patch antenna, a LNB and RTL-SDR dongle to work 1/3 of the globe, however you will need SSB for this.
The SG-Lab 23cms transverter is a steal. One of those at about £160 and whatever you are using for 2m gives you the same modes on 23cms at 2W. It is a significantly better buy at that price to give all modes 23cms than a used Alinco DJ-G7 that gives triband FM with just 1W on 23cms.
The 23cms transverter uses 144MHz IF. Their 13cms (£200) and 9cms (£240) transverters use 430-440MHz IF.
Viki @M6BWA has been championing 70cm for some years, and each time we have worked S2S, it has almost always followed an initial contact on 2m.
Reports exchanged have usually been better on 70cm than on 2m, when using a hand held and rubber duck setup.
I suspect that this is mainly because the antenna is more efficient on 70cm, and is also higher above ground (in terms of wavelength).
Most HHs these days are at least dual band 2m / 70cm, but 70cm doesn’t seem to have caught on in popularity - maybe the Flavours challenge in July will give it a boost…
I agree 100% with everything you have said Adrian - we should definitely do more 70cms and it has always been a pleasure to work @M6BWA on 70cms, even more so because of her BBC-perfect accent and wicked sense of humour
My limited experience of 70cms is that it often works better than 2m when bending round mountains, but I have no solid evidence to support that theory!
Hi Adrian, does the data support that? I guess Viki could tell us.
I would have thought the increased free-space attenuation at 70cm would more than counter those factors. My limited anecdotal experience of working a station on 2m shortly followed by 70cm is that reports are usually not as good.
However, I’m nearly always 70cm QRV so would also be happy to see more activity on that band.
Just an impression from my experience, which is of course nothing like as extensive as Viki’s! Most of our contacts will have been in and around GW and G/WB, so up to 100Km ish, and many a good deal less.
I’m sure you are right that other factors come into play, I suppose as the path length increases, then the greater free space loss will tend to become the dominant factor.
Worth considering, though, especially if a radio has dual watch (can monitor both bands at the same time) and already has a dual band antenna…
Yes, I have indeed been working summits on 70cm fm for many years now and would particularly like to thank fellow activators who inwardly wince when they hear ‘any chance of 70cms, please?’ as they often have a pile-up/ haven’t yet qualified/are cold and wet and want to scarper (sometimes all three!) but grit their teeth and reply ‘shall we try now?’ and off we go straight to, usually, 433.475. From my point of view this is marvellous as it not only gives me, usually, the s2s but alerts all his queue (and mine) that I am going to 70cm and I can often qualify my summit on the chasers that follow us down. Job done!
Giving a quantitative answer on the relative excellence of 2m and 70cm signals would take some time to discover but looking at s2s (I think the answer may be different for summit to shack) contacts recently the most common reason for lack of 70cm s2s after a successful 2m contact is that the activator doesn’t have a suitable radio with him (or aerial) as not everyone carries a handy as a back-up or he/she is too busy with other bands to spare the time - very sensible reasons. Sometimes it can be that they don’t believe a grotty h/h and rubber duck will actually make the contact - but it sometimes does! (The same applies to chasers who grabby the handy and rush into the garden and are confounded when we exchange 59s over considerable distances.)
Looking at more like for like s2s G4AZS is one of my most frequent (and helpful) contacts:
me GW/SW-041, AZS G/WB-003 2m: 51/55, 70cm 55.58
probably because 2m was very congested and we were probably sharing (even if we didn’t know it) while we had sole use of 433.475:
me G/WB-004, AZS GW/NW-043 2m 56/59, 70cm 55/59
we’ve got mast at both ends and I was using the new 2m filter as I was amongst the ‘balls’ - partly to test it. In my experience, 70cm is now being affected by some masts when it used not to be (also some industrial installations especially in the SW valleys ? computer controlled lathes??)
me GW/NW-043, G8CPZ/P G/LD-058 2m (using the filter) 56/57, 70cm 42/57
I was amazed that 70cm worked as far as Arnside Knott
me GW/SW-013, GW4TQE/P GW/MW-013 2m 56/57, 70cm 59/59
probably a better signal on 70cm with ‘sole’ use, I was just on the stick aerial
me GW/NW-022, M3ZCB/P G/SP007 2m 41/57, 70cm 31/41
surprised to get the 70cm from Fairsnape Fell on to Moel Elio!!
I have omitted all the fairly local s2s where there was usually no difference in signal strength between the 2 bands. I have to admit that I am not good in predicting which 70cm contacts will succeed and I get some surprisingly successful ones and others, which I think will be easy, I hear nothing at all but that can be because the other activator wasn’t actually calling on the frequency I was listening on at the same time - for a wide variety of reasons - including incompetence on my part fairly often! Also they can be drowned out by other contacts calling from their shack (often not chasers) who don’t realise I am hoping for a s2s and are just delighted/stunned to hear someone on the frequency. Pile ups on 70cm certainly do happen and to avoid this I usually call people in when I QSY from 2m to 70cm as this is usually quicker. Just looking at the 2m and 70cm splits from activations this year in SW/WB area:
2m/70cm : 13/10, 9/6, 16/6, 10/8, 16/6, 13/10 (where I pulled the plug on 70cm as it was getting late and cold on Titterstone Clee Hill).
One contact I was suprised by was from GW/SW-011 the Sugar Loaf near Abergavenny to G6BPC Nick in Stroud with 2m 58/58 and we both doubted that 70cm would work until 54/54 was exchanged! 70cm likes travelling over the sea so GW/SW-014 near Brynmawr to G4KPM in Portishead was 52/51 (OK 2m was 59/59 but i don’t know if Malcolm was using the same power on both bands). Mine is 5w into a dipole from a VX7R - and i don’t always manage to get 4 contacts on 70cm, especially during the week and on a small hill and I am often helped, as mentioned, by other activators especially during the winter season!
Lastly some quick statistics my longest s2s contacts that I have noticed E&OE:
154 km Old Man Coniston to Moel Siabod
160 km Scafell Pike to Glyder Fawr
161 km Cyrn y Brain to Red Screes
173 km Slieve Muck (Mournes) to Elidir Fawr
277 km Corndon to Slieve Croob (Mournes)
291 km Kirk Fell to Fan Brycheiniog
309 km Skirrid (Abergavenny) to Cringle Moor (N York Moors) - I heard France on that day but failed to contact!
Excellent work Viki, an incentive to the rest of us 70cm-enabled folk to try that band more often.
I’m not surprised, the 130km path for our 70cm S2S hugs the coastline with little high ground in between. I regularly get contacts into north Wales from Arnside Knott (my ‘local’ and near-daily dog walk) and other summits (even modest Wainwrights) on the south side of the Lake District, albeit on 2m. Not only S2S but summit-to-shack, Steve MW0ISC at his QTH near Mold being a regular chaser.
I was more impressed by our recent 2m/70cm contact, me at home near Arnside (collinear ~30m ASL) but you to the north behind ~35km of LD hills. That’s the fascinating aspect of point-to-point VHF/UHF comms in a mountainous area: if one or both of you has great line-of-sight (due to height) or exploits some handy reflection, that gets through despite the odds.
The other factor is that tropo enhancements are more frequent on 70cms than they are on 2m, and for me in Brum it only takes a small lift for the near continent to come up. Also if you dump the rubber duck, an antenna with gain is a lot more compact on 70cms than it is on 2m. A simple two element HB9CV can be packed assembled and used handheld and IIRC gives 3.5dB gain, but on a roach pole a 7 element ZL special gives 11.5 dB of gain and is only 70 cms long so it could be strapped on the back of a rucksack. Ordinarily a simple handheld and its basic antenna may be adequate for activations but for the 70cm “flavour” the more stations that you work, the bigger the multiplier.
Just an update relating to the LD weekend and COVID-19.
It would be interesting what potential participants are thinking in relation to social isolation? I can see where travel via public transport (including plane obviously) or a hotel or Bed and Breakfast is involved it is unlikely to remain a possibility.
At the moment I have no intention of cancelling the event (and indeed this would only be a personal recommendation anyway, I can’t stop you coming to LD!) but it may well end up being limited to SOTA members who can drive from their home to the Lake District. It is unlikely that a Saturday evening meeting will be recommended or possible. Joint activations will be discouraged based on current social isolation guidelines.
We are all grown ups and should act responsibly.
The planned Friday activity on Pillar Rock will not happen based on social isolation rules.
I welcome everyone’s thoughts, and indeed my thoughts are with those at risk.
Due to the changing circumstances I’ve already cancelled two Sota related holidays for April and May. I have also booked a week to be within a reasonable shouting distance of LD for the weekend so that will be carefully monitored. We are in for a long haul on this pandemic and I think the UK is only at the beginning of the journey. My two sons are now working from their homes with their respective companies having set up IT systems for them to do so.
For the first time in months the sun is out in this part of Wales and I hope the dry spell will continue. 2m VHF is picking up around here and a group of us have resurrected our 8pm net and meeting up every night. A couple of nights ago we were asked to qsy as our normal frequency was in use…indeed there were nets on several frequencies…2m is alive and kicking