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Mission Tidy

Everything now is focused on the planned April activation of El Teide EA8/TF-001. So far, I have been unable to successfully activate with the initial intended set-up of end-fed with Z-match & HB1B (40/30/20 CW). Tuesday 17th February 2015 was no exception.

A day out in the Dark Peak with Marianne and Liam saw us climb Mam Tor from Mam Nick car park, walk the ridge to Heron Cross and then into Castleton for lunch. The circular route was completed with a walk up the old A625, finally closed in 1979 after a long history of landslips, and now seemingly beyond repair.

Having got into my stride, I went out again almost as soon as I got in. To The Cloud G/SP-015 - for a change. After the headphones-fail of the previous attempt, I wanted to set up the intended EA8 system again and ensure success. I did - but then the HB1B wouldn’t turn on. I wouldn’t mind, but I definitely charged it up a couple of years ago… Oh well, another activation needed to be planned for the following day (not the end of the world), and I packed all the stuff away again.

Now nobody leaves empty-handed; well I certainly don’t. So CQ SOTA on the 2m FM HT, and two contacts to record an activation. Returned home to chorizo and sweetcorn pancakes, followed by Nutella pancakes. One presumes it is Pancake Day.

The other aspects to “Mission Tidy” (apologies for the awful pun with ‘Teide’) are to tidy my shack this week (not much of a start yet) and tidy the fat around my middle before Tenerife. 8 weeks of much increased walking (including to the train for work most mornings) and abstention from alcohol. Next drink in the departure lounge on Marianne’s 50th birthday. Not a bad start on that - plenty of walking done already, and no booze since Sunday…

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Mission Tidy - Update - 19/2/2015

I haven’t been to the main PC at all over the last couple of days. This is because the PSU for the monitor failed. A trip to the local Currys / PC World proved frustratingly fruitless: “Oh we don’t sell anything like that, you could try searching for it on our Partmaster website and ordering it to be delivered with 7 to 10 days blah blah blah”. That wouldn’t do - I’ve got the 80m CC CW contest tonight - and I need a screen!

So it was necessary to cancel a hoped-for day on the Ponderosa Pair today, and instead drive up to Stockport to pick up a new PSU from Maplins. No worries though, as it rained heavily all day until mid-afternoon, so it would have been a miserable day on the hills anyway. At least the technical issues in the shack meant that I found myself sorting through piles of stuff looking for other stuff, and transferred a couple of tons of recycling from the shack to the grey wheelie bin. The shack is still a disgrace - it’s going to be a big job to make it presentable.

Onto the main priorities of “Mission Tidy” - successful testing of intended radio kit for El Teide EA8/TF-001, and losing some weight. Well, into my third day as a temporarily reformed teetotaller, Kinder Scout G/SP-001 was the target for Wednesday 18th February 2015. I fancied trying a completely new route for me, which would be the eighth access I would have used.

The starting point was the lay-by at SK091824 on the Sheffield road out of Chapel-en-le-Frith. I passed through the Pennine Bridleway gate at the end of the lay-by, but immediately away from that track, to follow a concessionary footpath parallel to the road. This took me to the start of the Chapel Gate track (marked as a by-way) at SK093825. I followed this wide track gentle uphill. The entire width of the track was filled with deep snow, and so I had to make my way atop the steep bank on its right-hand side. After the gate at the top, things were much easier - initially at least.

I followed the track as it turned left (north), signpost as “Edale via Barber Booth”, but left it quickly as it curved right. I now followed a faint trodden path in a NNW direction, marked as a dotted line on the OS 1:25000 map. From this point, the line of the path was usually easy to see on the groun, but usually needed to be avoided, as it was in (or had formed) a trench, that was mostly full of water, or snow, or both. Some particularly boggy bits needed to be negotiated carefully, and then care taken to pick up the line of the path again.

This seemed like a long and rather lonely walk in featureless, rather desolate terrain, and in limited visibility. The only thing on the horizon was the brick structure marking the top of an air shaft for the Cowburn railway tunnel passing beneath. When the land in front of me began to gently rise again, I hoped I was approaching the summit of Brown Knoll, 569m. Therefore I was more than satisfied when the trig point came into view. I had to cross a tricky bit of bog to get to it, but I did for the photo. And as I realised that I was within 25m of TP1707, I thought about activating it for the WAB Trig Points award.

Well I didn’t have an SSB rig with me, so I couldn’t do the honours with the net on 7.160MHz. Instead, I took the selfish approach of getting a QSO on 2m FM with the HT, so I could tick the trig as activated myself! Arthur G0OHY answered the call; no-one else did, and I got on my way. I took a compass bearing, which confirmed that the way I was instinctively heading was correct and ambled downhill.

Very quickly, I picked up a good path made out of old mill floor flagstones, typical of many of the maintained paths on this part of the Pennines. So it was now very speedy progress down to the Pennine Way at SK080861. Now it was just the familiar Pennine Way path to ascend the final 100m (vertically) to Kinder Low (TP4216). I found a nicely sheltered spot immediately beneath the trig point and began to set up the end fed antenna.

Having made sure the HB1B was fully charged the night before, I was looking forward to using it again. However, the HB1B was not getting on very well with the Palm Cube external keyer. I couldn’t find a way of solving this, despite spending an hour trying to do so! Still, it was a good rest (and I did manage to solve it after getting home). The flask of spicy chorizo soup get me going, but when that ran out, I started to feel the cold. I decided to qualify the summit of 2m FM with the VX7R, which I did with 5 QSOs culminating in a S2S with M0OAT/P on Great Coum G/NP-011.

The return walk was uneventful, aside from veering too far to the left after Brown Knoll. It turns out that there are two parallel “paths” about 100m apart - and I was on the wrong one. When I noticed that the land to the left was dropping away more steeply than it should, I corrected my mistake by angling right and making for the highest point on the horizon. Within a couple of minutes, I was back on the right line, and soon after on the better defined tracks and by-way back to my car.

So, in terms of radio preparation for EA8, I wasn’t there yet. In terms of my physical condition, I was still avoiding the beer and had put another long walk in. I then backed this up by visiting the leisure centre with Liam for a gentle half mile swim. I’ll try to successfully deploy the EA8 kit before the end of the week, then I can start testing the proposed set-up for Jimmy M0HGY!

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Mission Tidy continues to go well. I’m still off the ale and keeping up the exercise. And on Friday 20th February 2015, I actually managed to execute a successful activation with the EA8-intended kit of HB1B with internal batteries and ultra-lightweight end-fed antenna.

Liam and I picked up Richard G3CWI at 8am in Macclesfield, and set off west down the M56. Just over an hour and a half later, we were pulling in at the Ponderosa Cafe, and a few minutes later, so did Rob G0HRT. Rob would be doing Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043 first, but Richard, Liam and I set off over the road for Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042.

The initial climb of Moel y Faen at the start of the day is always a bit of a slog, but the rest of the day’s walking is then easy and comfortable. Richard tore off ahead into the mist, and was set up by the time I reached the summit. Liam was being uncharacteristically slow for these days, reminding me of when he was much younger!

40m CW: 4 QSOs including F5UBH/P on F/NO-049
30m CW: 2 QSOs
20m CW: 4 QSOs including S2S with HB9BCB/P on HB/FR-036
2m FM : 2 QSOs, both S2S with GW4TQE/P on GW/NW-073 and GW0HRT/P on GW/NW-043

Liam set off back to Ponderosa as soon as I started packing up, and this time he kept the pace up and I never caught him. The three of us took the traditional between summit lunch at the cafe, which for Liam and I was the always fabulous steak & kidney pie, chips, peas, carrots and gravy. We kitted back up again for the second summit, just as Rob reached the cafe after descending Cyrn-y-Brain. I chatted with Rob for five minutes while Richard and Liam walked off ahead.

Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043 is a very easy walk for the second one in the day, and as I discussed with Richard, much easier to do them this way round. I had a mind on going the extra half mile or so to the trig point, 1m lower than the true summit, but still in activation zone. I had never been to it before, but had a thought of activating the trigpoint in the new WAB scheme.

First though I set up the normal kit by the shelter at the summit true. I activated while Liam played on his Nintendo 3DS games console. We also shared a small flask of hot chocolate. Richard had disappeared somewhere around the back of the transmitter compound.

The walk across to Sir Watkin’s Tower and the trig point was enjoyable, albeit briefly but trickily boggy in the middle. From this point I offered the SOTA summit and the trigpoint TP2713 on 2m FM.

40m CW: 9 QSOs
30m CW: 7 QSOs
20m CW: 6 QSOs including S2S with HB9BCB/P on HB/FR-036
2m CW : 5 QSOs including S2S with GW8XYJ/P on GW/MW-002 and GW0HRT/P on GW/NW-042

The drive home was unusual in that I drove past and ignored all those lovely little country real ale house around Corwen, where usually I would stop for a little refreshment. Still, if I can get in shape for El Teide, it will be worth it!

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Good report Tom, I have always wondered where the Trig point was up there.

Not at the summit!

indeed thats why I wonder :wink:

Start at the end of the vehicle track by the BT tower and building, the large section square tower with large building at the far end of the ridge from the access track. Follow the track for 150m then go due North for 370m. There it is by the ruins of Sir Watkin’s Tower.

You can see the ruins and trig point on the horizon to the left of the track in this photo taken from the wind break/shelter near the BBC mast (the big one with all the cross-polarised Band II antennas).

And here is the view back to the BBC tower.

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So, with M1EYP’s EA8 set-up verified as functioning correctly, it was time to attend to that of M0HGY. “Will you test it for me dad? It’s too cold for me to go out” he asked. Bless, little lad’s only 22. Anyway, that gave me an excuse to go out again on an otherwise “nothing” Saturday - Marianne and Liam were at the X Factor Tour in Manchester, Macclesfield Town didn’t have a game, and I didn’t have a gig.

It looked like there was a decent break in the weather mid-afternoon on Saturday 21st February 2015 - on the Met Office forecast at least. It wasn’t bad, but was more eventful than expected! I parked in the usual spot opposite the main path up to Gun G/SP-013, then plodded through the gunge to the summit.

I set up the end fed wire antenna on mini pole as usual, and was about to connect it to Jimmy’s FT-817 - which for some reason I seemed to recall had a problem on HF, even though it was fine on his usual 2m. However, my attention was drawn to a distinctive opaque wall to the north west of me, contrasting sharply with the crystal clear blue skies and sunshine elsewhere. As the wall advanced, and I began to feel a few pings on my cheek, I quickly got inside my bothy bag before considering my next move.

A very heavy hail shower followed, and I decided to sit it out and wait before connecting the radio to the antenna. Ten minutes later, I was on air, and everything seemed fine with the 817’s receive on HF SSB at least. I found the WAB net on 7.161MHz SSB and called in to offer SJ96 and the trigpoint TP3538. I did also mention the SOTA reference G/SP-013, but nobody on frequency seemed particularly interested in that.

It was a struggle with constant heavy QRM from EA stations on very close frequencies, but I did manage to successfully work six on the WAB net. I then retuned the ATU and the 817 for 20m, and experimented with sending a programmed CW CQ SOTA call to see if it would generate a spot. It wouldn’t; presumably the CW skimmers only listen on the CW frequencies.

Five stations were worked on 20m SSB, including KB1RJC in New Hampshire. That was enough of phone! I had done my duty and verified that everything was working properly in terms of HF SSB on Jimmy’s FT-817, and used successfully in conjunction with the end-fed antenna and Z match (SOTAbeams Micro Z).

I swapped the 817 for the HB1B and went to find a QRG on 20m CW. Aargh! BIG CW contest in full swing. I found the narrowest of gaps and called, and to my slight surprise, I was picked up by a skimmer despite all the competition. A further eight QSOs were added before I packed everything away. And after doing that, one more came courtesy of 2m FM on the HT.

Feeling like a little more walking, but thinking that it was too late in the afternoon to do anything effective in terms of the WAB trigpoint award, I drove across to The Cloud G/SP-015 and walked up the longer way around the back of the upper farm. The rucksack was left in the car; I just put the VX7R and logbook into my coat pockets for the stroll up.

At the top I noticed how cold and windy it had become, and was glad I would not be stopping long. I sat by the trig point using the obelisk as a shelter and backrest. Several calls on 2m FM and a self-spot on SOTAwatch elicited just one response - Dave M6RUG from Crewe. Still, that made for another SOTA activation, so that was just fine. I returned to the car by completing a circular walk, going down the more usual route.

Two of the stations that I worked on Friday had signals so poor on 17m that they got T-7 and T-5C from me. I wonder if they will have logged them accurately?

I have a fear that Jimmy will wimp out in EA8. Too high, too hot, too far from beer…

Don’t think it will be too hot on the summit of Teide at over 3700m ASL. I think we will be lacking heat - and oxygen!

Hi Tom,

We visited the Gun & Macclesfield earlier today.
First stop was Derby to pick up a child carrier [ebayed] and then the plan was to visit the Peak district.
As soon as we reached Ashbourne, we saw all the snow and said “see you later” to the planned Kinder Scout or Shining Tor.
We decided to turn towards the Gun and Cloud.
Made it to the top of Gun at 12.00z - windy and cold.

With the TH-22 FM HT and a Diamond RH771 whip, we only managed to work Dave M6RUG too!
We descended and went to pick up a MFD from Richard.
The “young one” went for a long nap - so decided to give The Cloud a miss and go back.

Ref. Teide and your question earlier in the week.
We did not try Teide, but did Guajara TF-002 instead.
VOACAP online shows 20m is not good for midday - and we experienced that too. Managed to make it but only the chasers with “better ears” were able to pick us up. If the flux goes down, it might be better. Good luck in TF. The National Park is absolutely brilliant.

73 Angel /P
Ps. I am training too, but for a different reason. I will go tomorrow for my Sunday 5mi round trip around Walton and Clent.
http://thewolfrun.com/ [mission mud!]

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Thanks Angel.

I will be able to do 10m / 12m, and possibly 15 / 17 with the antenna system and Jimmy’s 817 should it become necessary.

Early start now for G/SP-002…

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Hey Tom if you have irlp coverage on 2m from the mobile on the way to G/SP-002 call me on node 6865 I am killing time in my shack by the air con.
ian vk5cz …

Hope you got back from Black Hill all right Tom. The Derbyshire trans-Pennine routes are all getting blocked by snow this afternoon.

Simon

Yeah, been back three hours thanks Simon. It started snowing about halfway through the return drive. Hope Marianne is OK; she’s just set off to work in Chinley!

So Sunday 22nd February 2015 saw an activation of Black Hill G/SP-002. With Marianne due out to work around 2pm, and Jimmy and Liam firmly intent on their weekendly lie-in, I sensed an opportunity to get out into the hills providing I was early. I would also need to be early as decent weather was forecast for the first few hours, but with heavy snow coming in before lunch.

I set the alarm for 5am, but was wide awake at 4.30am in any case. The flask of soup (butternut squash and sweet potato) was prepared and I got on the road. I was soon engrossed in the BBC Radio 5 Live “Non League Football Show” on 909kHz MW, and one of the studio panel expertly tipping Macclesfield Town FC to win the Vanarama Conference. I hadn’t given much thought to the route, until I reached Chadderton on the M60. “Better exit here and double-check” I thought to myself. Good job I did; I should have exited two junctions earlier. Fortunately the junctions come thick and fast on this section of the Manchester outer ring, so I had only lost 5 minutes or so. Which was good, because I soon missed the left fork to Mossley and wasted a few minutes more in Stalybridge.

I reached the parking spot on the A635, opposite the Pennine Way, just as the first hints of daylight started to appear. It was still pretty dark and gloomy, but enough light breaking through not to require the headtorch. It was pretty windy though, and very very cold! I set off, looking towards the dim red lights on the Holme Moss transmitter mast.

Walking onto the Pennine Way, I soon found that things were not going to be plain sailing. The stone flags of the path were iced over and utterly treacherous. The Pennine Way “pavement” normally affords rapid progress across otherwise desolate boggy moorland, but not in this state. Wherever possible, I walked on a thin grassy stripe immediately to the side of the flags. Where this was not possible, I planted my feet on the flagstones with great care and proceeded slowly and with considerable caution.

The two stream crossings were negotiated easily, and I was pleased when I eventually reached the slight increase in gradient. For this marked a respite from flagstones, and a more “rustic” path surface of dirt and stones - and much more friction between boot and ground.

At the summit, I identified the exact point I would sit beneath the trig point to get maximum shelter, and began setting out the antenna accordingly. Being an end-fed aerial, this process starts with a peg right beside where I will be sitting. Pegs don’t go into flagstones, but more worryingly, neither do they go into hard frozen earth between flagstones either it seems! I prodded around randomly, and found a bit of soil at the bottom of the trig point base structure that would take the peg.

I intended starting on 40m, but as soon as I tuned across the band, I was reminded of the French HF contest - “Coupe de REF” - which was very busy. It was too cold to be patiently seeking out suitable QRGs on 40m and 20m, so I decided I would do just 30m for the main activation. The SOTAbeams Micro Z tuned the antenna nice and quickly, and I was QRV on 10.117MHz CW - after my first couple of helpings of delicious butternut squash and sweet potato soup.

31 QSOs were made on 30m in not many more minutes, as I alternated my attentions between the logbook and the flask. My clock indicated a temperature of exactly 0 degrees Celcius, and my hands felt very cold. I started to think about putting my gloves back on, but then noticed that my hands were gently warming up with all the CW sending!

After packing away, I called on the 2m FM HT and added four more QSOs to the activation log. I began to walk off the summit on my descent and whoops - bang. My feet had gone from under me on the ice and I was in a heap on the ground. It had got me, for the first time on the walk. Sadly, it got me again about 15 minutes later as well.

I was surprised to hear the sound of local (Halifax) GB2RS newsreader requesting a clear frequency for the news in my left ear. It seemed I had left the VX7R turned on, but that was fine. It was quite a lengthy news broadcast, and it kept me amused for much of the return walk. After the end of the news I called into the end-of-news net and exchanged a few remarks. Soon I was back at the car, and was pleased to have made it without any more than the two tumbles!

On the drive home, the forecast heavy snow seemed to come in somewhat earlier than expected. I listened to the footy chat on TalkSport 1089kHz MW and was back home in Macclesfield around 11.30am.

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Great to see the pictures of my old hunting ground, I grew up with a view a Kinder downfall from my bedroom window! The top of Kinder scout and Bleaklow moor, happy memories! And I love those selfies on top of a hill - huge grin - I doubt we’ll ever meet but I bet we’d get on, there’s a man happy on a hill!

Much much before lunch ! by 9:00 AM It had hit me on Titterstone Clee so hard I could barely stand. Hard weather day indeed.

Tuesday 24th February 2015 - 6m RSGB UK Activity Contest.

I returned to the summit of The Cloud G/SP-015 for this one, albeit somewhat “last minute”, resulting in my first QSO being timed at 2008 UTC. Conditions were very poor, and little to the North - or indeed the South - was heard! The “middle” locator squares of IO81, 82, 83, 91, 92, 93 and JO02, 03 were worked, as well as IO64 (GI) and IO74 (GD). Frustratingly though, none of the south coast squares were worked, nor anything in Cumbria, Northumberland or Scotland.

65 QSOs made in total, all SSB apart from one in CW. Here is a map of the contest QSOs:

http://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/vhfresults.pl?kml=2015/lFP0v5mFZiAzdjOsGf6R5J0yrqSIjHr

Darn, I never remember when these things are on these days. I could have been qrv. Clive (gm4vvx) often emails me and I go on to work him and then a few others. IO83 should have been easy enough to where you were.