Morrone GM/CS-060 Not my proudest SOTA moment

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.

initial slopes

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.

Cheers, Fraser


Hi Fraser,

I basically agree with this statement.

There is no need for an additional counterpoise, since your coax acts as that, but this doesn’t really matter.

To me, your setup looks absolutely fine. Even if your coupler is not efficient, this should not stop you from making lots of contacts.

I assume your TRX worked correctly and you were on the frequency you successfully spotted.

Since you also struggled with the dipole, and even with QRO, I would just blame the band conditions and not enough chasers.

73 Stephan

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Sorry Fraser I missed that one, 'cos even in bad conditions I always hear you just the same as I always hear Colwyn. An6yways you stay safe and best 73

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Park at NO152882 and make a round trip of it. Even better take my son with you, he makes excellent bacon sandwiches and real coffee while you operate.
Must agree though, not the most exciting summit - and when I was there there was only one mast

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Walkhighlands describe the round trip from the village centre. I was time limited, but looks like a nice round.

The phone mast is pretty new and shiny. Unfortunately it didn’t help me get my spot away! Probably EE.

Cheers, Fraser

Interesting - I did a couple of activations on hf yesterday and thought it seemed slow-going. Glad it wasn’t just me!

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I quite Three after using them since 2008 for EE last month. It’s probably 50% more expensive than Three but Gordon Bennett, their signal is everywhere. I’m very pleased with the change.

You keep writing about your ascent speeds and I keep eyeing up this spare anvil I have which I need to hide in your bag to get your speeds back to normal rate :slight_smile:

I’d been on EE for years, however at £26 a month and looking at this going up a tenner because I needed a new phone.

The Tesco colleague deal gave me a Galaxy A12 for £70 and a sim only deal with 6GB data for £7.50/month. I knew the coverage wouldn’t be so good, but couldn’t refuse the offer.

Well I was on an unlimited minutes/texts and 4GB for £10.30 SIM only with Three. Part of the move was to get all the 4G features (VoLTE, Wifi Calling) activated that Three do not support on phones they didn’t provide. I put an EE PAYG SIM in and rebooted the phone and all the hidden features started working.

I bought a £10 pack which gave me 100mins unlimited texts and 4GB. The data will roll over to the next month. I was used to using lots of minutes so I just sampled the water with this pack. The next will have 400mins, unlimited texts and 2GB but I’ve got about 3.9GB to roll over. A bit of judicious selection and I can have nearly as good a deal as Three for the same price. But oh man, the coverage is so much better and I was never particularly upset with Three’s coverage but this is orders of magnitude better. But it does cost more. If I want the same unlimited mins,texts and 4Gb it’s £15. So 50% more than Three.

I’ve set it up to do rolling renewals on my credit card so I have the equivalent of a flexible SIM only contract without the contract period and flexible in what I get. Seems like a win-win-win deal. If you use more data then maybe it is expensive and Plusnet or the other EE MVNOs maybe better value but I don’t think they have VoLTE yet.

You pays your money and you get unreal coverage.

Arghh, it’s all about timing! I was doing various jobs around the house and came in to the shack to see your spot. Quick tune to see whether you were there… nothing heard, tentative call. Zilch! Darn it, missed you and I suspected you’d be doing a quick activation seeing this summit isn’t exactly out in the sticks.

Head down, sitting in front of the rig I got on with doing a bit of activation planning. Head up…arghh, you’re now spotted on a different frequency and I’ve missed you a second time. I didn’t swear, honest, but FFS describes how I felt. :frowning_face_with_open_mouth:

I honestly don’t think you would have heard me. No one else did!

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Hi Fraser. You did well in what you achieved and learnt a lot I would say. But the conditions on the bands is the real issue. We all have to cope with that.

73 de Geoff vk3sq

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Hi Fraser
Thanks for the report of GM/CS-060 still waiting for a return trip around that area with work to get this activated, glad you got a clear day along with great views from the summit, very exposed on a windy day.

Have you thought about a BT Family Sim pack on a 12 month contract it’s only available if you have BT broadband and comes with double data if you have BT HALO. For three SIM cards with 15Gb (30GB with halo) of data it costs around £37, BT uses the EE network.
Been using this with work as a dual sim with a VF SIM card, the BT preforms better for data connections and the VF is better on calls around the west coast of Scotland and islands.


Was meant to ask before is that similar to the route you took?


I will have a look at that when my contract is up. We only get 2MB Internet at home, so using EE through a BT router could be the way to go.

Thanks for the suggestion, very useful. :slightly_smiling_face:

Here’s a 12 minute video of the trip and activation shenanigans.