Pleasant climb, ugly summit
Firstly, Apologies to the Chasers on 40m. If I’d known conditions were going to be that bad, I would have cancelled
I’d not been out for a wee while due to poor WX, but I’d not been idle. In my rucksack was a newly made 49:1 autotransformer and about 67’ of wire - AKA a 40,20,15,10m EFHW and I was keen to test it.
I finished work at 1230z on Tuesday. 1345z saw me parked in Braemar village and gearing up for the short 3km hike to the summit of Morrone, @ 859m but with a starting altitude of 360m.
The best place to park is in the car park beside the duck pond at the top of Chapel Brae. It’s never busy as no one knows about it. NO14296 91079
The duck pond
The walking was initially pleasant, along vehicle tracks and well made paths up through woodland, before breaking out on to moor and a much rougher, stonier, steeper path. Half way up I realised that I’d left all my food in the car. At least I had a litre of water.
It took me almost an hour to reach the summit. Not a place to linger nor to set up a radio station. The views are extensive however.
left hand tower is for Mountain Rescue Team Comms. (There is also a MRT helicopter pad and refuelling facility in the village)
It was also fairly breezy, so I decided to set up on the south side of the summit, which had sheltered pockets and much grassier slopes than the north side, making use of the 25m AZ allowance.
I set up the EFHW in Inverted V fashion (7m fishing pole) and hooked up a 2.5m length of wire to act as a counterpoise. The feed point was 1m up on a fully extended walking pole stabbed into the turf. No guys needed. 5m of rg58 (because I’m rough and always standing on feeder) connected this to the KX2.
Spotting was problematic. No 4G this side of the summit and barely a phone signal on O². Thankfully I’d checked band conditions before I left. Not great, but I’d had success previously with worse numbers.
Calling CQ on 40m ssb actually got me three contacts (France and two England) in about five minutes. Yes, there was fading, but at one point it looked like things were improving. The SWR was flat and the EFHW seemed to be doing the job.
Then nothing. Nothing for about 15 minutes.
I retuned the radio to 20m but that was full of static crashes and the only station I could hear was running 900 watts from Spain. The SWR was bouncing around a bit on 20m, so this needs further investigation.
I’d brought the 40/20m inverted V so decided to give that a go. This would kill some time as well as let me see it the alternative aerial performed any better. Unfortunately this meant taking the entire mast down and moving it about 10m over to my position.
I could hear more stations now on 40m and unsurprisingly the band was packed. I did eventually find a space, got an SMS spot away called CQ - fruitlessly for ten minutes.
Then I brought out the amp. I never bring out the amp!
QRO 45 watts
Nope. I was starting think that I’d be stuck with three and would have to come back. Then I had a thought…
My Motorsport marshaling mate Charlie lives in Braemar. He only does 2m mobile and uses his radio as a chat channel/backup for the sometimes ropey 81Mhz Rally radio. I picked up my HT and wandered back over the summit and dropped down the north side slightly. I took out my phone.
"Charlie, are you in? Can you go outside and turn your radio on? I’m on Morrone above your house. I’m doing summits on the air. Bands are dreadful and I need a fourth contact ".
“MM6CHN from MM0EFI portable, do you copy?”
“MM0EFI MM6CHN reading you 5’s Fraser”
Job done. Not pretty, but activation complete and four points gained.
I quickly packed up the HF kit and then had a pleasant 45 minute jaunt back town to the car in the evening sunshine. I found an emergency snack in my sac, which was just as well…
Descending to Braemar vilage
…because the chipper in Braemer was closed when I passed it.
A straightforward hike, 3km up and return the same way.
Ascent 500m over decent path giving way to rocky eroded hill track
Summit cairn is right beside the masts, so probably not advisable
Ascent one hour
Summit time two hours
Descent 45 minutes
The EFHW needs further testing. In my unscientific opinion I don’t think there’s much difference which antenna is used for SOTA. Any bit of wire I’ve strung up on a summit seems to bring in the same stations in the current band conditions (today excepted).
Hardly a satisfactory afternoons work but it’s another hill I’ve never climbed before and another one ticked off for SOTA.