I had initially set my start time for 11:00, but with delays on the trains, I pushed it back to 11:30. I arrived at Oxted station about 15 minutes late. I quickly set off on my Brompton cycle for Botley Hill. My chosen route took me up a track, through woodland, so I was soon off the bike and pushing. I arrived in the activation zone and set about finding a suitable spot to put up the 40m dipole. I had forgotten how long it is! After the fourth attempt I finally got the pegs in the right place and the pole went up and stayed up, though the wind was gusting alarmingly.
I connected up to the 817 and powered up, but got no signal indications at all. I double checked the aerial connection and tuned about and found an S9 CW signal. I was so used to the S8 of ADSL noise at home. I had forgotten what HF used to sound like!
A quick sending practice session, with no TX, to get warmed up before I send my first CQ SOTA out. I use a Bulldog key, held by magnetic base onto the 817 case. I make it through my first CQ call and get responses, but my mind blanks! I force myself to relax and concentrate and luckily a call is sent again and I understand it. I realise now I need more practice. I switch in the narrow filter and it helps, more calls are appearing on the pad in front of me. Now two walkers have stopped for a chat! Back to it and the wind is increasing, even with noise cancelling headphones I am having difficulty. The aerial is staying up though.
Thanks to all who worked me today. Sorry if I missed anyone, with practice I should get more efficient at this activation thing.
I did try 10m and 6m, but had aerial matching problems. I see that I did get spotted on 28.6MHz by a skimmer, but I didn’t work anybody. I forgot this was the QRP frequency and I should have been a few KHz away from this.
Anyway, I had great fun and learned lots of lessons for the next time. I’ll keep up the morse practice and try and get out on a hill again soon.