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M1BUU/P - LD Weekend activations.

I really enjoyed the previous Lake District SOTA event in 2019, so I was keen to take part again this year, after last year’s planned event didn’t go ahead due to the pandemic.

None of the SOTA LD challenges set by Mark, M0NOM, fit my style and time frame particularly, but I thought I might casually try for some DX QSOs. I ordered a QCX mini 17m CW transceiver kit from QRP labs and built it quickly. I also built a 50 watt capable 17m low pass filter, my intention being to run the QCX mini 17m with the QCX amplifier that I built a while ago. Upon testing the system on the bench with the portable batteries, I was seeing around 30 watts of RF on 18MHz. I also put together a 20m low pass filter, so that I could run ‘QRO’ on 20m too, with my QCX 20.


New QCXmini 17m


Home brew low pass filters for QCX amplifier


Testing 17m QCX and amplifier. About 30w out from (portable) battery supply.

A window opened for me on Thursday morning (a couple of days previous to LD event) to test my QCX-mini 17m (barefoot) on a local hill. One of my nearest small summits is Hutton Roof Crags, G/LD-052, so I headed up there. I fired up the QCX-mini into my home made 5 band dipole and called and called, I didn’t even get an RBN hit. I’d checked the solar numbers beforehand and supposedly the bands were meant to be open. I heard some very weak CW and data, but otherwise it was very disappointing. Just for fun and for a comparison, I fired up a home brew RockMite 20, and I did work Gerhard, OE6GND, but otherwise even 20m didn’t seem to be doing much.

Given the fact that the WX forecast was going to be for warm and damp weather, I thought it would be quite tough to carry two QCX radios, an amplifier and assorted lipo batteries up hills all day, for potentially little reward. I made the decision to abandon my ‘QRO’ activation ideas, I use my lightweight QRP gear instead.

Saturday 11th September

My alarm went off at 0530 BST. I don’t know why, but even though I’d packed my bags the night before and got all of my clothes ready, it still took me just under an hour to leave the house. I’d doubled up my porridge ration, putting two sachets in my bowl. :slight_smile: The pint of coffee was also welcome. I was on the road by 0625 BST.

I parked up at around 0730 at the side of the A591 north of Grasmere, put my boots on and headed up Tongue Ghyll on the Patterdale bridleway. The WX was quite warm and it wasn’t raining but the humidity seemed high. I soon removed my fleece, leaving me in just a short sleeved t-shirt. I knew heat management would be difficult, and so it proved. I was thankful that I’d been out to Lancaster during the week to buy a hydration bladder for my rucksack. I’ve been thinking about getting a bladder for quite a while, with thoughts of being so warm, it was the push I needed to buy a bladder in the sale with an extra 10% off at Ultimate Outdoors (I’m a Yorkshireman!). Unfortunately as I neared Grisedale tarn, it started raining quite a bit, I’d been putting up with the drizzle previously, but I felt I needed to put my shell on. I also put my waterproof pants on.

I continued to the right of Grisedale tarn and up diagonally towards St Sunday Crag. St Sunday Crag G/LD-010 is the furthest summit away from the car parking spot, so I like to do this summit first, as the other summits are on the way back! To be entirely honest, at this point I was thoroughly miserable, I was hot and damp and the wind had picked up. I was questioning why I dragged myself up a hill on a day like that. The visibility was poor. I’d reached in my predicted time, so I was on the air at my alerted time of 0930utc (1030 BST).

St Sunday Crag G/LD-010

Equipment -
Home built KD1JV MTR-5B 5 band QRP CW rig
Home brew 5 band dipole
20+ year old Alinco DJ-G5 and 1/4 wave whip

35 QSO in total -
11 on 2m FM
17 on 20m CW
7 on 40m CW

S2S -
IK2LEY/P on I/LO-187 20m CW
SP9MA/P on SP/BZ-081 20m CW
HB9EVF/P on HB/TI-146 20m CW
HB9IIO/P on HB/VD-048 40m CW
EA2WX/P on EA2/BI-055 40m CW
G6WBS/P on G/LD-001 2m FM
M0JKS/P on G/LD-003 2m FM
G4OOE/P and G3TQQ/P on G/LD-046 2m FM
G1ZAR/P on G/LD-011 2m FM
G4IVV/P on G/LD-018 2m FM
G8CPZ/P on G/LD-056 2m FM

HF went ok, although conditions seemed fairly flat. I’ve not done much CW for a while, I don’t operate from home, and I seemed to be having an off day. I suffered a little bit of undesirable chaser behaviour, which resulted in the loss of an S2S on 20m, but thankfully the SOTA station found me on 40m instead where the path was much better. My mood was still fairly low, not helped by the constant stream of walkers taking part in an organised event wishing for me to ‘stamp their card’! Grrr

I’d taken a very old Alinco DJ-5 dual band hand held with me as I was a bit worried about my FT-60 having enough battery life for 3 summits. I’m not very comfortable talking on the radio, voice modes are not my thing, and my handhelds see very little use. The batteries on my FT60 seem to be suffering from lack of use and I could do with a replacement. The Alinco dates from the late 90’s and the original 9.6v ni-cad is still fitted! I was ready to leave the summit but I felt obliged to offer 2m FM, so I reached into my pack and the Alinco was the first rig I put my hands on. I had a couple of comments about a slightly intermittent signal, i decided that I’d use the FT60 on my next summits. A very long time ago, I’d had the misfortune to break off the centre pin on a BNC connector in the socket of the DJ-G5. I tried to carefully drill the pin out and I almost managed it, I had ‘one more go’ to finally clear the remains of the broken pin from the socket when I snapped the drill! I decided to buy a new radio, so me and my wife went to Blackpool rally and I bought a new Yaesu VX-150 (which was eventually to die from water ingress on High Street G/LD-011 during extremely wet October weather). At the rally I saw BNC socket connectors for sale and thought, hmmm, maybe I could try to replace the BNC on the DJ-G5. I did manage to successfully replace the BNC connector on the radio and it’s worked fine for years (decades). I checked when unloading my gear at home, and it appears as though the BNC socket is loose - I’m pretty sure that it is the cause of my intermittent signal.

Following the path back from St Sunday Crag, retracing my route, I then continued straight on over Cofa Pike towards Fairfield G/LD-007. Cofa Pike has a bit of a reputation for exposure - in truth I don’t mind it at all, but it really didn’t bother me one jot as it was so foggy, I couldn’t see anything, and my glasses were steamed up too! The walk to Fairfield wasn’t very remarkable, except for coming across a couple of walkers on the path, one of them waving his boot in the air. The sole from the newish looking Merrell walking boot had all but fully detached and was flapping about. I struggled to think of a way to help the guy, but I had nothing to offer unfortunately, I guess some duct tape would have come in handy. A box of elastic bands appeared, and the guy proceeded to wrap his boot up in them! Skipping ahead a bit, I did later see the guy on Fairfield summit with his re-imagined boot!


steamed up on Cofa Pike

Fairfield G/LD-007

Equipment-
Home built KD1JV MTR-5B 5 band QRP CW rig
Home brew 5 band dipole
Yaesu FT60 and 1/4 wave whip

23 QSO in total -
7 on 2m FM
16 on 20m CW

S2S -

SP9AMH/P on SP/BZ-047 20m CW
M0NOM/P on G/LD-024 20m CW
SO9TA/P on SP/BZ-028 20m CW
EA/DL1ASA/P on EA3/GI-035
M0FMF on G/LD-018 2m FM
M0JKS/P on G/LD-003 2m FM
M7BIA/P on G/SP-004 2m FM

I was just chatting to Sue, G1OHH, in Lancaster on 2m FM when I turned around and saw that the clouds were thinning and a beautiful view of Seat Sandal was appearing before my eyes. What a wonderful thing to happen, and at the right time. The rain had stopped and my mood was instantly lifted. I might just be able to successfully complete my mission. The summit of Fairfield is fairly featureless, it’s quite flat and rocky, it seems that lots of people get disorientated, indeed, earlier I had had a guy come and ask me where he needed to go as he was lost. The glorious view of Seat Sandal made it very easy for me to head in the right direction.


the murk was lifting

With a renewed spring in my step, I headed down the scree path off Fairfield back down towards Grisedale tarn. At this point, if you’re feeling tired, you can abort and follow the Patterdale bridleway back to Grasmere, going the way you came, or you can continue straight up the steep side of Seat Sandal. I was feeling much better at that point, the weather had cooled a bit, the wind had dropped and it was also dry. My waterproofs had been removed and it was much more comfortable to be walking with a fleece on.


Seat Sandal with Grisedale tarn to right

Seat Sandal, G/LD-022
Equipment-
Home built KD1JV MTR-2B 2 band QRP CW rig
Home brew 5 band dipole
Yaesu FT60 and 1/4 wave whip

10 QSO in total -
4 on 2m FM
6 on 20m CW

No S2S.


My view whilst operating on Seat Sandal

By now it was getting late in the day and I guess most of the Sotari were heading down off the hills, thinking of refreshments and warmth. I did 2m FM first, but couldn’t find any hilltoppers. It was nice to work Sue, G1OHH, she gets the award for working me on all three summits. I called on 20m CW and managed to work six staions using my MTR-2B Altoids tin radio, which weighs 80g and I’d taken it for ‘insurance’. I thought the little rig deserved it’s chance for a bit of action. BTW, huge thanks to VK3ARR, the RBNHole spotting tool work flawlessy, with no incorrect spots (none that I saw anyway).

The walk back to the car was slow and steady due to the nature of the path. I was listening to music via my smart watch to keep me going. My hydration bladder had proved to be a worthwhile investment and I’d only used half of my additional Sigg bottle during the day. I reached my car at 1800 BST. In a new experience for me, I had a ‘shower’ at the side of the road! I’d stowed some water in my car and a towel along with some shower gel. Unfortunately the water was quite cold, but I definitely felt much better after a wash and change of clothes. The target was to be at the Brookside Inn to meet fellow LD activators at 1900BST, but I knew that I wouldn’t quite make that. I still needed to eat, so I headed to Ambleside. I intended to get a curry take away, but then I saw a man carrying a pizza box and it smelt lovely! I never can resist pizza, so I looked up and saw the pizza place at the side of the road. After eating the pizza in the car park, it was only a short car drive to Windermere and the Brookside Inn, I parked up outside at about 1945 BST.

I’d just got inside the pub when John, G3WGV, stood up to give his interesting talk about the gestation of SOTA and the factors that brought it to fruition. It was great to finally meet John, in my 17 years of SOTA, we’ve never seemed to cross paths. I stayed at the pub longer than I intended (drinking soft drinks :frowning: ) and I eventually got home at 2345 BST.

My watch recorded just under 14 miles for the day and 34,000 steps.


my Galaxy smart watch, my birthday present this year

Thank you to Mark, M0NOM for organising another successful Lake District SOTA event. I think Mark’s only failure was not booking the correct weather! (I did tell Mark this.)

73, Colin

E&OE
(Errors and omissions expected!)

18 Likes

Hello Colin,

Whilst descending the wet slippy rocks into Threshthwaite Mouth on Saturday morning I heard voices and on turning a corner found a group of lady walkers with one of them having their knee cleaned up by an older couple who had been walking ahead of me. As they tried to find a plaster big enough I casually mentioned I had some insulation tape, in case they wanted to strap it. The others immediately became very happy and excited - not the reaction I expected from a roll of electrical tape :grinning: Turned out that one of their shoes had fallen apart and so they happily bound it back together and went on their way.

Nice to meet you in the pub on Saturday,
Jonathan

2 Likes

Note to self: add to emergency kit

2 Likes

You can wrap duct tape neatly around a Sigg bottle (or any other bottle I suppose) for an emergency, so I guess there’s nothing stopping you doing this with electrical tape.

Thanks for the excellent report Colin. Seat Sandal looks lovely in your picture.

73, Fraser

3 Likes

Hello Collin, thanks for interesting activation and photos report. Well done!

Cheers, Geoff vk3sq

1 Like