Mount Keen GM/ES-014

Scotlands most boring Munro?

Firstly - apologies to the chasers on 40m SSB. I had reports of a strong signal but poor quality audio, a roughness - feedback even. I must investigate, although the only thing I’ve changed is adding a 9:1 UnUn to the end of my W3EDP and a couple of metres of coax back to the tuner. I’d planned on taking a spare mic. but turns out I didn’t have one with that connector on.

So, Wednesday was my day off, and my wife was getting her first haircut since November (we’ve been in covid lockdown since Christmas). That gave me a morning pass.

I climbed the hill from Glen Tanar, mainly because I live at this side of the hill, but also because a spring morning cycle or walk through the ancient Scots Pine forest of Glen Tanar cannot be beaten. Today it was by bike. Soon enough I was through the forest, into the upper reaches of the glen and got my first glimpse.

I was at the top in under two hours and decided to set up the W3EDP and also the 2m beam before I started to operate. Summit conditions were brilliant, with no wind, blue skies and sunshine.

There’s a sketchy phone signal up there but I got my spot in and quickly worked three stations on 40m ssb. Thank you G0RQL, G0VWP, G4WSB and sorry Manuel EA2DT, I think I’ve got you in every summit log but as I said earlier I was having real problems.

I did wonder if it was the end fed/UnUn/coax arrangement, so decided to switch to my 20/40m linked dipole, which feeds straight from the radio. Except I’d forgotten the BNC adaptor…

I decided to plug in the 2m beam and beaming south, I called CQ on 2m ssb. I really am keen on 2m ssb, given that it’s a mode I’ve never used at any of my four QTH’s since I was licensed. I didn’t expect too much however…

I was wrong! Stations were looking out for me calling and I soon had a reply from GM3YEW, Dave in Abernethy. This was followed by GM4MOX, Jack in up Tain (back of the beam initially), GM8PKL Brian, in Edinburgh and MM0XET/m Gary in Dundee, who’s signal faded very quickly. Most of these guys worked me through verticals IIRC.

I flipped to FM (and vertical polarisation) and called on 145.500Mhz. I managed to work GM4GUF Robert in Biggar and surprisingly, (contact of the day) M7DUN Richie, who was running 10W from Redcar in NE England, some 180 miles south of me.

In all, ten minutes on 40m and half an hour on 2m ssb/FM, where the QSO’s were more relaxed and a bit longer. Eleven contacts in all, which I’m delighted with, considering the initial problems experienced. Really, really pleased to work stations on 2m ssb and I will endeavour to use this band & mode as much as possible going forward.

I’d cleverly (or stupidly?) pushed my bike a good way up the hill, so I was back at the car park an hour after leaving the top and home for a (late!) lunch.

Radio kit carried today was:
Yaesu FT-857d
W3EDP long wire/counterpoise and 9:1 un-un
LDG Z-100plus tuner for the W3EDP
6m mast
2m mast containing “100g” 4 element yagi
LiFePo4 battery
Waterproof paper/pencil for logging
Power was 50 watts on 2m, 25 Watts on 40m.

Anyway, if you watch the video, you’ll see that Mt.Keen is not Scotlands most boring Munro. I give that title to Ben Chonzie near Crieff.

Finally, I’m open to suggestions as to where to start digging into my audio problems. Thank you. :slight_smile:


The Mounth is not to everybodies taste but Mount Keen looks attractive in your photo, pity I’ve never done it!

1 Like

That route from the North looks nicer than mine was from the South. And I did it on a Sunday so Glen Esk car park was heaving and Glen Mark was like Piccadilly Circus with people. I had to setup some distance from the trig to leave room for the walkers.

Your problem sounds like RF feedback. If it wasn’t happening before then it’s unlikely to be direct pickup in the radio or mic unless you have changed mic/mic lead. So the culprit is going to be the change to the feed. Probably the length / position of the earth/counterpoise/radial needs adjusting. Or alter the coax length. EDIT: Or add a common mode choke in the coax.

Never had RF feedback/pickup issues with link dipoles. 1/4wave GP etc. There again I nearly always use just 5W.

My outboard speech processor gets clobbered when on 80m though.

1 Like

I’m not an expert, and don’t own an ft857, but I seem to remember reading that they don’t behave well on low voltage - could it be a slightly high resistance battery connector, or a tiring battery…?

Enjoy reading your reports BTW, thanks!


1 Like

Thanks! It’s a new lipo4 4s and it sits at 13.2v, however I may look at the cheap battery monitor I plugged into it…

Yeah, although I was there early, I did the same. Soon after there was a steady stream of walkers coming up from Glen Esk. I saw a few coming up from Glen Tanar on my way back. Felt like a weekend, but it is the school holidays.

As for the feedback problem, I think you’re spot on. A shorter coax link with a common mode choke is the next step. Or just use my dipole, although the long wire seems to bring in more DX.
I like the end fed in poor weather, as it allows me to operate from the summit cairn and have all my aerial rigging off to one side, keeping it out of the way of other walkers too.

Hi Fraser,

Congratulations on your latest activation.

I don’t know why it does not work in HF on the four you made, I never heard you or very very weakly, what is the reason?

Not the propagation because I manage to contact Simon (SSB CW) or Gavin (CW) with good signals!
Surely the wire antennas that I use at home !

Time to try CW and you never need a mike again :wink: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

GL es 73


1 Like

It may just have a radiation pattern that has lobes in many directions unlike the dipole .

I’m (slowly) learning! :grin:


I’ve come to appreciate it more since coming to live in Aberdeenshire. It’s stunning in winter and has many hidden gems, such as Glens Callater, Clova, Doll and Caenlochan. But, yes, not much in the way of “pointy bits”.

Hi Fraser,

Thanks for another activation and a nice report.
Shame that I missed you when you activated on 40m, but I wasn’t QRV at that time unfortunately. Next time, hopefully…

Regarding the rough modulation issue on HF 40m, I’m with those suggesting a RF pickup problem. That’s my guess too but it needs to be confirmed though.
I remember having similar problems in an activation I did in CT when the endfed antenna wire was crossing my FT-817ND microphone cable. Just changing the position of my microphone cable to have it away from the antenna wire cured the problem. I was running 5W at that time.
You’ve been transmitting with quite a high power. I’d firstly try to reduce power and ask someone to give you a report before and after that output power reduction.

Once you had managed to prove that RF pickup was the problem, you could try getting your microphone cable away from the antenna wire as much as you can. In case this is not enough, then try to increase the shielding of that microphone cable and the microphone itself. Adding chokes is one other thing to try, as you already pointed in your earlier post.

By looking at the picture, it seems to me like you have the last meter or so of your antenna wire on the ground and that’s something I don’t like too much. Why don’t you add a few meters piece of cord to nearly the end of your antenna wire and tie the other end of the cord to a bush/branch/stone in a way that you can have the whole antenna wire fully extended and up in the air, never touching the ground.

Good luck!



Yes, that’s a good idea. Before I was using the 9:1 un-un, the aerial was fed directly from the back of the tuner using one of these:


Everything was working fine, but then the tuner started to struggle to match the aerial and that’s when I intruduced the un-un and coax.

Trees are a scarce commodity on most Scottish summits, but there are plenty of rocks!

Anyway, thanks for the input and it gives me something else to try.


Great activation report Fraser. You were down into the noise with me on 40m. I was using the ranger 9 on the car so not ideal. Great to get you in the log on 2m. I was sitting at the top of the law in Dundee. looking forward to a good summer of activations

1 Like

The rocks are the problem. I’m not joking, rocks aren’t very conductive so draping a “counterpoise” wire along them provides almost no path to real earth. The counterpoise is necessary to provide the other half of the circuit, otherwise no current will flow into the antenna to create fields between the antenna and ground. Solution may be to add more ground wires, (or just use a complete antenna like a dipole or doublet, sorry can’t help adding that).

This rock conduction problem often causes antennas to stop working, when they were working real well back at home (on a nice moist lawn) or in the park (with good conductive soil all around). This issue causes most of the variability in efficiency and usability of end fed antennas, IMHO.

You can’t get current to flow into an open circuit.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH


Garry, Being a Dundionian (in exile) myself, I feel that Dundee Law should be a SOTA summit. :wink:
I’ve never worked radio from there, having left Dundee many years ago, but it has a great take off in all directions. I do recall being able to see Schiehallion from the top on a clear day.

You faded quickly on ssb, so I switched to FM. Didn’t find you but did find a few other stations, as you will have read.

Cheers, 73.

Andrew, Thanks for the comments. I will try a few things differently next time out, including raising the end of the aerial as well as taking account of rocks.
I’m also looking at a vertical for 20m, with the summer coming. Just need to find the best design for my needs!

Cheers & 73


Elevation: 174 m
Prominence: 78m
Going to need to borrow a mechanical shovel and either lower the surrounding land or add a lttle to the top :innocent:


Firmly tongue in cheek, but then didn’t the laird at Ben Lawers build a huge cairn on top to try and attain 4000’ status?

I tried using a bike to access a summit for the first time yesterday (HEMA activation). At times I wondered whether trying to pedal a bog standard mountain bike uphill with 10kg on my back was worthwhile. I did have to push the bike on some sections, but all that was forgotten on the descent! I somehow doubt I will be investing in hi-tech pedal power, but using a bike is now certainly on my radar. :grinning:

Absolutely. From summit to the car park in under an hour for me on Wednesday. It’s a 3.5 hour walk and a long grind at that, any time I’ve walked it, which is around five times in recent years. Wife doesn’t cycle.

I do agree that hauling a bike plus radio kit plus hill gear up a mountain is sometimes a toil!

As for bikes, I have four as I really enjoy cycling. Many hillwalkers just have an old scrapper that they ride up the Land Rover tracks and then dump in the heather at the foot of the climb.

Bike and hike opens up some more remote locations as day trips, such as Ben Alder, and as GM0GAV demonstrated on Stob an Aonaich Mhoir GM/CS-062 last weekend.
I used it to turn Mount Keen from a big day out into a half day. Plus an hour or two. :wink: