I woke at 0530 and was at Skipton McDonalds before 0630 for a bagel, porridge and coffee en-route to the parking place on the road from Thornton in Lonsdale. My plan was to activate Great Coum G/NP-011 and then Whernside G/NP-004.
The weather forecast was for high winds and risk of hail/snow later on. I was just passing through the last gate in the car when all of a sudden it started raining and this was followed by intense hail. I was ready to chuck in the towel before I’d even begun! I decided to scrap Great Coum straight away as I find the walk tedious and it would be miserable in hail and wind. I made the decision to wait for a while to see of the weather improved and then attempt to activate Whernside. I told myself that I’d sit out the hail for up to 30 mins in the car before calling the whole thing off. What a difference 10 minutes made! Whernside was go!
Besides the icy wind biting at my face, the ascent wasn’t too bad really, there was actually some bright sky to be seen at times. I had downloaded the entire collection of 100 watts and a wire podcast to my MP3 player, so I listened to episode 1 and the summit seemed to be gained in no time at all.
As in previous weeks, I erected the mast to only four sections, I guess around 4m / 12ft, I really didn’t want to risk putting the pole up any higher. I tried to get out of the wind by sheltering behind the hill but I only had limited success. I was perfectly warm inside my bothy bag, my down vest remained in the pack. I chose to use my second MTR, serial number 267 as I had upgraded the RX a while back and not actually tried it out yet.
I had one major problem, I could not hear my radio over the noise of the wind and flapping of my shelter. I struggled to hear my sidetone, let alone calling chasers. I apologise to all who thought I was being a Lid, it really was very difficult to make out calls despite good signals and most of the time I was sending ‘blind’ because I could not hear the sidetone! I didn’t want to miss anybody out so I persevered until I had no more callers an then went QRT.
When I emerged from the bothy bag, I was amazed to see the amount of ice build up on the mast and guying lines. The rime on the dipole elements was about 5mm thick! This after about 25 mins!
Ice remained even after winding up the dipole elements.
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9 points in the bag
I didn’t trust the effectiveness of my dipole for another activation, so due to a reflector topic by Phil G4OBK, I decided that if the weather stayed OK, I’d try an activation of Cracoe Fell G/NP-032 using my ‘in case of emergency’ FT-60 handheld. I had to take a minor detour to my usual route home, but the journey was pleasant enough.
I took the same route up Cracoe Fell as Phil G4OBK describes in his recent blog post. Just as I was leaving my car, I checked SOTAwatch on my phone and noticed that Simon G4TJC had been spotted on Cracoe fell on 28MHz CW. I kept an eye out for Simon on the ascent and kept my handheld switched on. As I was approaching the summit, I checked my phone and discovered that the spot for Simon was an error and actually he’d been on Sharp Haw G/NP-029.
I assume the hill in the distance is G/SP-005 Pendle Hill.
I managed to squeak out 4 QSO’s on 2FM using a 1/4wave whip, including a contact with Mark G4MEM/M who was heading towards Litton to activate Birks Fell G/NP-031.
Job done, 140pts away from Mountain Goat!
I’d got about halfway back to the car when I met Simon G4TJC on his way up. We had chat for a few minutes about CW rigs and then I wished him good luck and continued to the car.
First job after arriving home was to hang the dipole up to dry. My second job was to have a hot bath to try and warm up a bit!
I’ve thought about the low audio problem before on the MTR rigs, I came up with an idea for a self contained audio amp in an Altoids tin. The Altoids tin could also house the power source, a PP3 battery. Does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking of maybe a bog standard LM386 circuit with a potentiometer for level control. An Altoids sized unit would be very packable.