Meikle Balloch GM/ES-082 - 17m moxon field test

Meikle Balloch is a gentle 1-pointer just East of the small town of Keith in Moray. I picked this as the forecast was for sun most of the day but windy - everywhere seemed windy, so staying low also seemd a good idea.
This must be the easiest 1-pointer I’ve done; there is a small Forestry car park at the base with room for about 10 cars and the well-maintained path up is waymarked from there and goes more or less straight up the hill. The map below from Walkhighlands shows a circular route, but I just went straight up and down. Strange it only had 5 previous activations.

View of trig point- path up and down is to the left

It took me 25 minutes to reach the trig point and the summit is reasonably flat, covered in heather and rough grass. It was sunny and warm as forecast (tee shirt and shorts all day) but the wind was pretty strong, which caused some issues setting up my Hyend-fed as inverted L. Both DxC masts needed double-guys on the upwind side (first set-up attempt blew down) and the topsoil was not very deep, resulting in much prodding around with the guy stakes. Having got the masts and wire up just ahead of my alerted QRV time (a record for me…) I decided to leave my new 17m moxon until later, in order to get the activation qualified in case the wind got stronger/caused more problems.
I picked up 3 quick S2S to start with on 20m followed by a spot which brought a decent run including 5 more S2S. I then took a look at 40m but unfortunately there was something about the end-fed set-up that had detuned things for 40, so I had an unusable SWR which was annoying as the band seemed very active. I therefore went back to 20 with another spot which produced some regulars, including Jak OH3GZ, Ricardo EA1DHB and Manuel EA2DT.
I found 15m open but a spot didn’t produce any chasers, just a nice QSO with Guran SM2DPS/EA5 who was blowing the dust of things in his holiday home near Alicante. Back on 20m I picked up a few more S2S and then decided it was time to put up the 17m moxon.
During the morning there had been a steady stream of walkers and cyclists visiting the summit and a few people came over to ask what I was doing, one nearly walking into a guy rope :face_with_raised_eyebrow: . A small dog also investigated my wrapped sandwich lunch. Given the number of visitors, some of whom loitered at the trig point eating sandwiches, it was good that the summit also has a few small trees to provide toilet break cover.

17m Moxon test
In order to accomodate the longer spreaders required, I have modified my 10m/6m moxon hub to take larger diameter fibreglass poles. Makes it a wee bit heavier but the whole thing is still manageable one-handed. It took 5 minutes to get it up on my aluminium mast, which I left unextended because of the wind so the moxon was only about 2m up. I then had problems with it rotating in the wind despite having a guy stake arrangment at the base to prevent that. Seems the jubilee clamps which hold the mast sections were unable to stop the upper section rotating in strong gusts. Have to think about a solution for that. Anway, despite it swinging around a bit I put out a spot, turned the output up to 80w and was rewarded with…one chaser, Dinos SV3IEG who gave me 57. Happy with that so far. I then got a 59 from EA5H, but no more chasers despite lots of CQs and a second spot. Decided to tune around and hearing an OM working lots of JAs I turned the moxon East. Immediately heard JI3DST/5 on Shodo Is IOTA AS-200 who picked me up first call - I gave him 57 and he gave me 59, but I took that with a pinch of salt as he was in “expedition” mode. Great to get my first JA on 17m though and a reasonably rare location to boot. I kept the beam East and tried another spot but had no further contacts from that. At some stage I did hear someone call S2S but they were very weak and faded out and the beam was probably pointing the wrong way.
General conclusions: the moxon seems to work well :grin:; need to solve the rotation issue; also had one spreader telescope in so in very windy conditions the joints probably would be better taped;not many chasers on 17m - pity, as the band was evidently wide open to JA. I also heard a pretty strong VK6. Later on lots of US stations appeared - see below.

View of moxon - leaning a bit by then. End of sloper in foreground

Back on 20m a spot brought a good run including a S2S with Guru EA2IF/P and my first ES S2S with ES/SQ9MDN/P. Took a lunch break and decided to re-configure the end-fed as a sloper to try and fix the 40m SWR problem. That worked, although the sloper was more a banana-shape in the wind. A spot brought a good run, with Mark M0NOM first in the log operating GB4LHR. A few regulars were logged - Alan 2E0AGB, M0JLA Rod, Bill G4WSB,Dave G0FVH and Dave G4IAR.

Banana sloper

The wind having dropped a tad by now, I went back to 17m,turned the beam West and heard a lot of strong US signals. A spot and a few CQs brought a nice QSO with KN4LIU, Danny near Chattanooga, then W4KCK James in S.Carolina, VA3DFG in Ontario and W4UW George in Tenn all giving me pretty nice reports, including 59 both ways with George.

Back on 20m I got the key out for a S2S with S5/F5MOG/P and then tried 15m again, working VA3VS, Bob, with a strong Scottish accent - (him not me) in Windsor Ontario.Back on 20m a spot brought a contact with W8OQ in Michegan who was pleased as he was running 30w to a wire antenna. Chris F4WBN was his usual 59. I finished the day back on 17m with WB6QEX (no, not Calif), Peter in Maryland. I went QRT at 1630 local as it started to cloud over and few spots of rain fell.

82 QSOs and 22 S2S for the day; ODX JI3DST/5 9000km. As usual, thanks to all chasers and activators.


Thanks for the contact Simon and thanks for piccies and report
Best 73

Impressive! By that I mean the construction, carrying, deployment and operating success of your 17m Moxon.

I like climbing and activating during the week when the hills are quieter, avoiding people and dogs.

Oh, it’s snowing on the Cairngorm tops today. The hills will be quieter when the weather turns.

Cheers, Fraser

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The telescopic fishing rods are designed to cope with bending forces produced by the fishes being catched, so applying tension to a sloper antenna wire produces the fishing rod being bent, but it won’t make any harm to it. The tensionned wire will not bend with the wind, unless it’s a very strong wind which overbends the fishing rod, thus minimizing or eliminating the sloper wire tension.
You can see my 10m long telescopic fishing rod bent by the sloper wire tension in my activation report of Mt. Baratxueta EA2/NV-068.
BTW, many thanks for the S2S. I copied you very well.


Hi Guru,
I was actually referring to the sloper wire being blown(curved) by the wind, not the mast. It would probably have been better to align the wire to slope into the wind. I am always amazed at how much bending a fibreglass mast will take, but I think I would be afraid to bend mine like you show in your photo. I did manage to snap a Sotabeams mast on my second activation by being stupid, so maybe I’m now too cautious. What brand is your 10m mast? I use DxCommanders.

73 Simon

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Yes, that’s clear. But the sloper wire having such tension as to get the fishing rod bent, means that the antenna wire will not get bent by the wind.
The 10m telescopic pole is made by DX-wire, but I’ve been using a Decathlon 7m long telescopic fishing rods for years and it has also been bent by the tension of my sloper wire as you can see in the following picture:

Fishing rods are extremely flexible.



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It’s interesting to see how well it worked being so low to the ground. Given you are working your way through the wire antenna designs and I know you have tried a 20m delta loop, have you tried a 17m delta or considered making a 17m Moxon but mounting it vertically on the pole rather than horizontal?

Hi Andy, yes I have a 17m delta loop which I used on GM/ES-080 but the band was not really open and I only had one contact. I plan to do a comparison with the moxon in the near future. Re a vertical moxon, I have tried that for 20m using 2 masts - I thought about a single mast version but decided that the required spreaders would be too much of a faff, particularly in wind. I couldn’t really say if it produced any better results than either my end-fed or the DxCommander vertical. What I really want from the moxon is directivity and it certainly seems to have that. On test in my garden I couldn’t hear any US stations beaming south but turned it west and there they were - my first contact after initial set-up and running 50w SSB was with K8II in W.Virginia - the antenna was at about the same height above ground as on Meikle Balloch and was firing directly into some large trees about 20ft away, so I was chuffed with that (see below).



That’s just the kind of info I wanted to hear.

Many thanks for the excellent report and photos Simon. I checked out the size of the 17m Moxon on an online calculator and thought about the practicality of building one for the Trans-Atlantic S2S event on 6th November. The spider is obviously the tricky bit and all things considered, I think I’ve got enough on at present. Maybe it is something for the future. The fact that it showed considerable directivity and worked so well at such a low height is impressive.

Being on the summit for 6+ hours, I did wonder whether you were in training for the S2S event. :wink:

73, Gerald

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Hi Gerald, once I had the bits and the hub design worked out it took me a couple of days to build and tune it. It is designed though to fit over the top section of my aluminium mast, which I consider light and have taken on most of my activations, but other folk may find that unacceptably cumbersome in comparison to a fibreglass mast.
Yes, I know the S2S party is coming up on 6 Nov but I may not be able to be active as I have a commitment now every Saturday. If the WX looks OK I’ll see what I can arrange - might do an evening run…

73 Simon


I started out in SOTA with an aluminium mast and still use it occasionally at the home QTH. For the S2S event with an extended stay on the summit it wouldn’t be a particular problem, but it was a bit of a bind on a multi-summit outing having to split the sections and strap them together each time. I can certainly see the benefits for supporting the 17m Moxon. Whether it would support a 20m Moxon is a different matter.

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