My first activation of 2022

I lived in the Worth valley, around the village of Haworth (famous for the Bronte family) all of my life until 2018. At the back end of 2018 we moved the family to Bentham at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Unfortunately Bradford Council had no suitable education setting for my son and we eventually won a funded place at a school near to where we live now. It simply was not sustainable to travel the 40 miles each way to school.

Rombalds Moor G/NP-028 was my nearest SOTA summit when I lived in the worth valley, so I believe I’ve activated that summit more than anybody else. (I think I’m up to 66 activations now.) I remember years ago that there used to be an informal activation day around New year’s day and I would activate G/NP-028 to take part. Over the years G/NP-028 has traditionally become my first summit of the year. (Although there has been deviation!)

I work for an organic farm shop as a delivery driver, delivering to home addresses in Lancaster. Due to Christmas and New Year holidays, the main supplier was not able to deliver on the normal timetable this week. This meant that the order packing process would be upset. There was an idea that we would deliver one day out of sync, but then it was thought to be too confusing. The end result was that I didn’t have to work today :slight_smile: I didn’t want to ‘waste’ my unexpected day off, so I thought I’d kick off my 2022 SOTA score.

My wife’s best friend lives near Bingley, just off the edge of Rombalds (Ilkley) Moor and my wife had a Christmas gift for her that we’ve not been able to get to her. It all seemed to tie up nicely. I dropped my son off at school near home and then headed to Bingley to take the Christmas gift to my wife’s friend. It took about an hour to reach Bingley, the A65 was a bit scary looking with icy patches but I managed without incident. The speed camera van was out zapping motorists again - Happy new year!

I was right on schedule as I reached the parking place near the mast. The road up to the mast was quite icy, I was very impressed by the car though, it seemed to be very sure footed. I’ve only had the car for two months and haven’t used it in slippery conditions yet.

I put on my boots and headed along the flagged path to the trig point. It was very icy but I think my recent ice skating experience in Lancaster gave me confidence so I was OK!

First time on skates!

The path, looking back towards the parking area.

I set up just a bit away from the trig point, using my home made dipole. I made the dipole for my MTR-5B, but as I tuned it with my NanoVNA, it’s the best antenna I have in my gear store. I chose to run only 30m today.

I was pleased with my 44 QSOs, including an S2S with Jürg DL/HB9BIN/P. After 49 minutes my brain was fried, so after one round of CQ after the pile up had diminished, I pulled the plug.

A great day!

Thanks to all chasers and HNY to all.

73, Colin


Well done Colin! Great activation & seizing an opportunity.

Back in my teen years I was a volunteer on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. I thought it was an amazing place. I’ll bet you never even noticed it, with it being on your doorstep.

73, Fraser


Thank you for the report and photos. :slight_smile:

I had a QCX Mini for 30m but blew it up trying it on a QCX 50W PA I built - or not built correctly! I’ve now got a replacement kit for 40m but I’m dithering over whether this is the best band. I’ve got the components to make it for 17m which given the increase in sunspots might be a viable option. Like 30m it’s a no contest band. Decisions, decisions…


Hi Fraser!

Yes, I noticed the KWVR! I was a volunteer waiter on the evening dining trains as a teenager. My family was friendly with a solicitor who did lots of work for the railway. I rode the solicitor’s horses and also ended up doing stuff on the railway too.

My stepfather’s garage business was literally at the side of the track in Haworth. In fact in was so close that the (new build) building was designed to be sympathetic to existing railway buildings.

Before I moved house, I was the Haworth Parish warden, working for the parish council tending the flower planters, sweeping leaves, litter picking, just general upkeep of the Haworth area. So yeah, I knew of the railway :slight_smile:

73, HNY



Only certain parts would have actually blown up if the problem was the input impedance to the amplifier. Usually it’s a good idea to have an attenuator between the two devices when testing, that way the tx gets a good enough load that it doesn’t “explode”, really just a few PN junctions being punctured in the tx transistors, and the amplifier gets a trickle of power to test with while its input impedance is checked etc. then when all is working the attenuator is removed. Only needs to be 3db or so to provide some protection.


I was given a non working QCX mini 40 for spare parts. I didn’t have the heart to break it up so I fixed it. I bought a 17m QCX-mini kit last summer for some SOTA event but either the propagation was bad or the radio is somehow low on receive. I need to test it some more.

I have two of the amplifiers, they work OK. Some of the components are rather close to the case though, I used Kapton tape for a bit of reassurance!

73, Colin


The symptoms are the main ATMega processor has died. When I can get round to it I’ll try and buy another chip and re-flash it. The damage occurred when the power supply to the amplifier was momentarily disconnected then reconnected. QRP Labs stuff has been reported to suffer from “hot plugging” incidents.

I’ve built one of the 50W PAs for 20m and fitted it into the case of my QCX+ and it works well although I haven’t tried it from a summit yet.


I was going to suggest that maybe you’ve ‘hot plugged’ and taken down the 5v line. Sounds like you suspect that too. I have a spare chip with T1.07 firmware, if you would like it? There will be other damage probably, not just the microprocessor.

73, Colin

Oh, that’s nothing like what I expected. Yes, serious damage internally seems likely. Sorry to hear that. Good luck with the replacement.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH


That’s a very kind offer but my worry is what else has gone wrong? There are several other surface mounted ICs and one or more of these may have gone as well. There was no “magic smoke” when it happened so there is no obvious signs where it has failed. I’ve just looked and you can get a new 328 chip for under £5 so I may try this route.


Price != availability. There is a worldwide shortage of chips now, people may give a price but there is no guarantee they have stock :frowning:

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Check the regulator is working BEFORE plugging in a new semiconductors. If you total the regulator and get above 9V on the chips you’ll have killed the Si5351 synth.

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The QCX was working perfectly before and had its own 12v power supply. The exploding amplifier (with smoke!) somehow sent an over-voltage either back down the RF coax or probably more likely down the PTT cable. These were the only connections between them. The amp also had its own power supply.

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You can’t just buy a replacement chip, it has to be an original QRP Labs chip containing the correct EEPROM file.

I’m sure that your QCX could be brought back to life, it would probably be a fun challenge :slight_smile:

73, Colin


Hi John,

sorry to hear about your trouble.

Would suggest reading through the QRP Labs forum. Very likely there might be more than the main chip that is damaged. Some parts of the kit work with 5V others with less. This gives potential for more damage when appling higher voltage.

The forum is very helpful as there are some hams helping others to sort similar problems. Best would be to post your problem there and get detailed feedback how to approach the problem… Be aware the amount of postings per day is very high.

For the start please see Troubleshooting
you will find more links there that are hopefully helpful.


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Thank you, I’ve used the QRP Forum and posted a short thread about this incident last year. I fear if one of the surface mounted ICs is damaged I will probably stop at that point and offer it to Colin as a “project”! :slight_smile:

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Hans will send you the file if you ask nicely.

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