M1BUU/P Buckden Pike G/NP-009

Each year I feel compelled to attend the Remembrance service held on Buckden Pike. I have no particular reason apart from it’s the service that I choose to attend and for a bonus I can throw in some SOTA too.

I always have difficulty choosing which bands to offer or rigs to take. I’ve started a bit of a personal tradition where I do 160m first in order to try to qualify Buckden Pike G/NP-009 on top band. The rememberance service starts just before 11am, at the memorial cross, about 20 to 30 minutes walk from the trig point. With an early start, its possible to do a couple of hours activating before heading to the memorial cross.

I’m not a seasoned operator on 160m but I’m lead to believe that once the sun comes up, propagation starts to fade as the D layer comes in effect. Sunrise was given as at around 0730 this morning, so I wanted to be on air before then if possible.

Back in January, I built a home brew RockMite for 160m, not sure why really, I just fancied the challenge! It was a bit of a fight to get enough frequency shift between RX and TX but in the end I managed about 560Hz shift.

RockMite 160 in a salvaged case, hence the Buzz sticker!

I thought it would be fun to try the 160m Rockmite as my Top Band exciter this year, but knowing how different it can be to get contacts, I decided that it would be good to use an amp. The only amp I have that is set up for 160m is my tuna can amp! My tuna can amp ‘Tuna Topper’ provides around 10dB of gain, so I get around 9 watts output when it’s driven by the RockMite 160m from a shared 3S lipo. 9 watts is marginally better than the 5 watts that would be provided by my FT817.

I could’nt be sure of qualifying on 160m, so I needed a back up plan. Sara @MW7SRA suggested via Twitter that I should take a 30m RockMite too. I chose a home brew K1SWL style RockMite 30 in an Altoids tin that a former colleague brought me back from America. The RockMite is quite special in that it has a proper MV1662 diode fitted, which was a gift from Joel N6ALT in Oregon.

My alarm went off at 0400 and I was driving my car away ftom home by 0430. I made good time on the road, arriving at my parking place at around 0530. The forecast had suggested a foggy start, but thankfully it was clear. My headtorch picked up some cattle in it’s beam they seemed to be curious, but not really bothered, by my interruption. I did my best to pick my way through the herd with minimal disturbance. I reached the trig point at around 0625.


The weather forecast had promised a cloud inversion and cloud free summits - ha! I struggled to see my antenna as I was putting it up in the dark but I finally got it into position. Using my KD1JV Altoids tin digital SWR meter, i did my best to tune the 80m dipole with G4YSS inductors in each leg but it took lots of faffing. I got the SWR down to 1.4:1 and figured it was close enough. I initially thought I’d be on air early than I had alerted for, but with the faffing with the antenna, I put out my first CQ just after 0700. First in the log at 0709 was Phil, @G4OBK with a very nice signal. The contact with Phil was the first ever QSO with the rig. My second contact at 0728 was Chris, G3YHF, in Birmingham, I sent 579 and received 339 in return. I then called for quite a while, as daylight started to creep in. At 0750 GW3YQP answered my CQ and it was 579 both ways. Phil G4OBK called me again at 0757, which was reassuring, giving me a signal report of 569 now, at least I was still getting out! I’d already decided that I would call until 0800 and then move towards swapping the station over to 30m. At 0759(!) Paul @G4IPB saved the day and gave me my prized 4th (unique) QSO! Thanks Paul!

Home brew RockMite 160m and tuna can amplifier. NESCAF filter unit also, although I didn’t turn it on.

I put all of the 160m station away and got out my 30m home brew RockMite. I could’ve used the tuna can amplifier, as I’d put in a 30m LPF in my bag at the last minute last night, but operating on 30m was just purely for fun now as I’d already got the 4th QSO.

Running barefoot (~400mW) I managed another 26 QSOs, including a nice S2S with Kurt F/HB9AFI/P on F/JU-076. At just after 0900, my brain was pretty fried after almost 2 hours of CW. I was amazed to see that my puny signal had been picked up over the atlantic!

I carefully packed everything up and then walked to the memorial cross. I was grateful for the heat that the walk provided and the promised sun still hadn’t put in an appearance! I arrived at the memorial cross at about 1020 and not so long afterwards some air cadets from Skipton ATC arrived. As is usual, we all stood around eating our sandwiches and snacks! The mood soon changes though as 1100 draws closer. The period of silence is very poignant as the wind blows through.

I counted 24 persons present in all, myself included. Soon it was time to say goodbye to all with ‘see you next year’. It strange really, I don’t know any of the people who go to the service, but it’s the same faces, and same dogs, each year.

73, Colin

(My solidarity badge had become rotated unintentionally)


A really great report Colin for which many thanks. I saw your spot early today on 160m but I was focussed on the datamode event. I have made an antenna for 160m which I tested on Dartmoor earlier this year and had a QSO with Don G0RQL on SSB. This was pre-arranged but I would be happy to give it another go using CW at some time. It needs two masts to hold it up!



Short YouTube film of Colin @M1BUU calling CQ at about 0800z this morning on 160m, it was well daylight. Buckden Pike is 52 miles over the hills from my QTH, so not so far in a direct line. The FT8 SOTA QSO Party started up soon after with @M0WIV/P on G/DC-003 on 20m FT4.

73 de Phil
M1BUU/P 160m G/NP-009


…actually Colin you can thank dog #2 (Jet) who for some reason ( perhaps he fancied an activation ) decided to get me up rather earlier than planned. After the short walk and a coffee I glanced at my phone and saw your spot, arriving in the shack about 20 seconds before I called you. Apologies for my rubbish morse, I was not very organised but thought you might appreciate the contact. 73 Paul


Really great that you managed to get 4 QSOs on 160 m, but I must say I’m relieved that you got so many on 30 m. I would have felt bad for suggesting it otherwise! :slight_smile:


An interesting report Colin given that you also managed to attend a Rememberance Day memorial service as well.

Thank you Jet!

Ha! We’ve slipped in to the old Morse cliché. :slight_smile:
Genuinely your Morse was totally fine, I understood your call sign and I understood my signal report, without having to request a repeat - how else could that be improved upon?

I’m grateful for the contact which qualified the hill on top band for me.

73, Colin

1 Like

I go every year David. The SOTA activation is secondary, but I do like to the claim the 6 activator points.

The rememberance service is held on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday because the air cadets attend their main service on the Sunday and can’t be in two places at once.

73, Colin


Hi Colin. A great report of an interesting activation, as always. I’d seen your alert earlier in the week and wondered if you’d got the wrong day - I didn’t realise that the service on Buckden Pike was on the Saturday.

73 Richard

1 Like

I’m finding 30m to be an excellent SOTA band. I often start there and get plenty in the bag. At the moment if I could have only one band on an activation it would be 30m and if I could only have one more I’d choose 12m.


That and the fact it’s the only band that’s consistently busy from my QTH (when I get my radio out to play) is why I suggested it. :slight_smile:


I haven’t tried 12m for years, I’ll have to give it a go!

Over the last few activations I’ve worked into Arizona, Alabama, Michigan and New Mexico so it’s worth trying. 10m can also be good (I worked Argentina with 3W CW) but can also seem to be closed when 12m is still working.

1 Like

I can understand why because 12m was always dead when I used to check it in recent years.

But I’ve noticed this year that all the top end bands are pretty lively - I put it down to the new solar cycle ‘kicking in’ at last.

During the recent transatlantic S2S party I got - in 30 minutes QRV (before getting rained-off) with my 10W CW and 1/4-wave vertical - 4 US contacts on 12m and 15m including 1 S2S on 12m. Those top end bands are going to be the focus of my attention on the next few SOTA activations.


Buckden Pike G/NP-009.

Gosh, it’s that time of year again! As in previous years, I attended the Buckden Pike Remembrance Service today.

My alarm went off at 4.15 am and I was heading out of the house before 5. The journey to the start of the walk seems to take an age and feels counterintuitive as the route takes me up to Hawes and then back down again. I parked my car up at around 6am and set off walking in pitch blackness. There was the tiniest sliver of a moon and the stars were shining bright but it was extremely dark! I reached the summit just as the sun was coming up.

Given my fun on 15m last weekend, I decided to concentrate on the band this morning too. I was hoping for some juicy propagation to somewhere far away. My MTR-5B auto CQ was pressed into action and I left it going for quite some time, calling on 15m from just after 0700. I gave up after a while and went down to 17m. 17m was a bit more productive but then the QSOs dried up. I reckoned that 15m was worth another shot and I eventually worked JG0AWE and JH1MXV. Switching back to 17m brought some more callers but only a handful. 20m was a zoo, I was struggling a bit if I’m totally honest, my brain was turning to mush. I managed to muddle my way through before changing on to 40m. I deliberately left 30m out as I had planned to use my 9v battery powered RockMite 30.

I removed my ancient PP3 battery from the pocket in my fleece where it had been keeping warm and I connected it to my 9v radio. There was a bit of a crackle and then nothing. :frowning_face: I wiggled the power lead a bit and the radio crackled again. I soon found a broken wire. I tried to jam the wire in the battery snap after using my penknife to strip some insulation but the radio didn’t want to work. Eventually I admitted defeat. I feared that I’d damaged my radio but thankfully the radio sprang to life at home when I tried it using croc clips to put power in to the battery wires. A new battery clip will be fitted under warranty. :slight_smile:

The weather was absolutely beautiful and I took my time walking across to the memorial cross.

I was soon joined at the memorial site by others and we took part in a simple ceremony paying our respects to all those caught up in conflicts, historical or current.

73, Colin


Great report and images Colin @M1BUU - was good to make a S2S with you on 21-CW :+1:

73, Ben

1 Like

I was rather surprised when you called in, I didn’t expect 15m to support a QSO, but then that band has surprised me before with short distance contacts. Propagation has seemed funny to me recently, with short skip on bands you wouldn’t expect.

Thanks for the QSO, not often you get S2S at that time in a morning! Great to get S2S with M0MZB too.

73, Colin

1 Like

Thanks for the report and the fine photos, Colin.
I’m glad to read that the activation with the MTR-5B went well and resulted in some nice DX contacts. At the same time, I’m sorry to hear that the 30m RM didn’t come to life due to a broken wire, but I’m certainly glad to see the 10,120MHz crystals in place. :slight_smile:

73, Roman