Having moved to Somerset at the end of Aug ‘21, I was curious to find out if playing radio could be combined with exploring the county and this is how my interest in SOTA was born. I had worked /P before but not at any significant height. A search of the SOTA website revealed there were twelve summits to activate and G/SC-003 Beacon Batch was selected as at +325m, it was higher than the Mendip transmitting station that dominates the skyline around here at night time with it’s stack of red lights.
After a beautiful drive through The Mendips, finding and parking adjacent to Ellick House was quite easy considering the number of walkers and cyclists that were there milling around on our arrival just after noon. The area proved to be very popular and there is a well beaten path to the summit so, I was confident that there was little chance of us not finding it or getting lost.
With this being my first SOTA outing, I didn’t know whether I had too much or too little gear with me and once there, the gear was laid out to get myself up and running. On reflection it was too much but my son was with me to carry the picnic which he began to tuck into.
The ground is very rocky and the earth rather shallow so I resorted to holding the 4.1m telescopic pole (with 2m Slim Jim attached) between my legs and hooked it up to the FT-817. Not having worked a SOTA summit before I had three sets of batteries with me and was eager to try them all out: the internal batteries, a homebrew 3s Li-Ion pack and the Zippy 8400aH Li-Fe… knowing that the Zippy would be the only pack to deliver the full 5w output from the 817.
So on internal batteries, calling CQ on 145.500 was quickly replied to by M6AIX who was only about 10miles away Weston-super-Mare. With little effort, another four QSOs were made with the furthest being Birmingham some 95miles away with just 4w as I hadn’t needed to swap any batteries over yet. The other QSOs were to Cardiff, Newport, Stroud & Gloucester so I seemed to be generally working in a NNW to NE direction.
As mentioned before, this summit is very popular and after 40mins I was done and also slightly bemused at the number of people that would allow their loose dogs to ‘bother’ me or who insisted on coming over and asking me whether I was fishing! I’m not quite sure whose levels of intelligence were being displayed here but needless to say, I was happy to pack up and finish off the picnic with my son before he finished the lot.
All in all, this proved to be a very easy summit to activate and a great introduction to SOTA for me but not the tranquil setting that I had imagined. On to the next one…
73 de Lea M0XPO