So thanks to John @M0WIV for his write-up, I successfully managed my first ever SOTA activation today My wife Sue and I decided to follow the same route up with the simplest climb and this was really a big challenge as Sue is registered blind with very little sight left. So we arrived at the Gospel Pass car park at around 9:30 - there were only 4 cars here then. We made it up the steeper first bit OK and pressed on along the ridge to Hay Bluff trig point, settling into a routine with me describing the path to Sue and her guide dog Tara helping round any obsticles. Once we had made it to the trig point I was quite confident we would be OK so set off to join the Offa’s Dyke path and up to the plateau.
We decided to stop just before the top, after the “steps” (Sota Goat app was showing us 5m below the summit, which is good enough even allowing for GPS inaccuracy). Sue with guide dog Tara at the activation point:
I setup the Chameleon MPAS Lite vertical just off the path, using 6x 4m radials instead of the single counterpoise that it comes with. This was tuned with a T1 tuner and the IC-705 was running on internal battery at 5w. I need to get a larger day pack, so for now had to carry the radio outside my pack and found that it just fitted nicely into one of my camera bags, a Billingham Hadley Small along with the T1 and mic:
Switching the radio on I immediatley heard James @M0GQC operating from GW/SW-001 so I was able to start my first activation with a s2s call (I may have sounded a bit enthusiastic at this point!) and James was also kind enough to post a spot for me as I hadn’t been able to get a phone signal when I first arrived. However once i had sat down, I did get enough 4G to be able to self spot from that point on.
I worked 15 stations on 20m SSB including another s2s John @G4TQE on GW/MW-013 and MM5DWW from Orkney. I couldn’t keep Sue waiting too long, so switched for a few minutes to 17m and worked another 6 including my best DX of OH3GZ with excellent signals both ways. Just in case there was any SpEs around I quickly checked 6m - loads of loud FT8 so I spotted and worked Rod @M0JLA in Hereford, but nothing else. A final quick go on 40, where I know my antenna isn’t great, but worked EA2CE to bring the total up to 23 - very pleased for a first attempt. Sorry to anyone I couldn’t copy, it got a bit busy on 20m at times and I’m sure there was a 4Z4 station who I heard calling but the QSB got the better of us.
We then packed up and made our way back to the campervan, just taking our time on a lovely day to be out in the hills, Can’t wait for the next one!