Over the last few weeks I’ve attempted my first HF CW activations (and my first for a year).
A few weeks ago I attempted Cracoe Fell (G/NP-032) but had to abandon it due to thunder and lightning.
Over the last couple of weeks I was on holiday in North Wales and activated Mynydd Bodafon (GW/NW-071) and Holyhead Mountain (GW/NW-069). I used my FT817ND and 20/30m link EFHW with homebrew matching transformer. These were successful with plenty of contacts on 20m including the USA and a couple on 30m. My CQ calls resulted in a mini-pileup so I was very happy.
Today I activated my local summit of Rombalds Moor (G/NP-028). As well as the 20/30m EFHW I also took a half wave for 40m and set this aerial up first. My CQ resulted in 3 contacts in 10 minutes including an S2S. But the fourth was elusive. At this point I heard a local station calling on 2m on my handheld so I managed a couple of FM contacts so the activation was in the bag. I then found the 40m end fed also has a low SWR on 20m (as you would expect) but my CQ SOTA went unanswered, so I switched to the 20/30m wire and put new batteries in my FT817. Still no response to my CQs on either 20m or 30m. I did manage one contact on each band though.
So the trip was successful in that I proved the 40m end fed works and I got the point, but it wasn’t as good as when I was in Wales. So I wonder why things were different.
Was it a difficult day for everyone?
Is the take off from Rombalds Moor poor?
Was I just lucky in Wales? - perhaps the proximity of the sea helped.
Well done with the CW - mine is still very much a work in progress… Not spent long on the air today but from what I heard conditions were not good. Could not really copy EI/G0AZA on 60m - and struggled with F/G4WSB/P in 40m - he has been a good signal most of the week - but not today. Beginning to wonder if it is an antenna or a resistor connecetd to the rig!
“Don’t panic Mr Tomlinson”…the bands were dreadful. Although I made 27 contacts today on GW/SW-001 Pen y Fan the HF bands did not contribute much to the numbers of contacts, the majority being VHF/UHF. You are welcome to view my log to see how few HF contacts I made although some were nice s2s. Thanks to all the chasers today
That’s good to hear! With such a small sample of activations it’s always difficult to know where I am going wrong. Anyway, it was a beautiful day today so being out on the moor with all the views (Leeds and Bradford one way, the Dales the other) was great. It’s a shame my sitting spot was rather midgie!
40m is certainly very poor at present, with no support for NVIS, so contacts at distances <500km are poor or non-existent.
At NP-028 there is plenty of space so a full size dipole on 80m is readily erected and a G5RV or ZS6BKW doublet is even easier. Using 80m is the best solution to the 40m blues, especially in a relatively densely populated region such as the UK and northern Europe. It works well enough to make the missing contacts in SE VK where there is only one active ham in an area the size of the UK (well, almost) so would be a pushover in EU. 80m will restore many of the close-in contacts (<500km) you are missing from 40m and fill your log very readily.
20m is currently the equivalent of 10m in terms of reliability. Contacts happen but you can’t rely on it. 40m is behaving poorly and you have to work at making the contacts. Self spotting is vital.
Good luck on your next activations and congrats on using CW.
I don’t use 40m much and never during the day so I didn’t know what to expect there - I was glad to prove the new antenna works. But I was expecting better results on 20m as that is usually a reliable daytime band.
There is certainly space on Ilkley Moor for an 80m aerial but it’s not usually a great daytime band here at home. I’ll have to cut a 40m wire - it should work as an end-fed on 80, 40 and 20. Now I’ve realised it only takes me an hour to walk from home to the summit I’ll have to activate it on a regular basis - a great place to try out different aerials that won’t fit in my garden.
As someone who has made self-spotting easier with a few of the services I run, I feel at times I may have made things both worse and better. The great advantage that spotting and alerting brings is it allows people to do other things and come to the radio only when there is a spot/alert they are interested in. The downside is fewer people spot you, there seems to be a trend of waiting for RBN or self-spots. Another downside is fewer people tune about the bands, you need to be spotted. I see it as a necessary evil to allow activators to drum up chasers.
That said, in today’s rubbish HF conditions, being spotted is essential. A spot tells people you are on the air and allows them to tune to your spotted frequency and listen and keep listening if you are not audible at first. The activator can always tune about and work anyone that can be heard. But I do SOTA not only to get out into the hills and enjoy the countryside and exercise, but also to have regular and repeated contacts with the chasers who make activating more fun.
Conditions definitely are bad! I’ve been operating from home today and 20m has been much quieter than normal. I’ve managed a few QSOs but the QSB has been pretty deep. I also went on 40m (partly because 20m was so bad but also because I need to try it out during the day). I had a great rag-chew with a German station and then I answered a Belgian’s CQ which was booming out at 599+++. By the end of the QSO he was barely audible.
Been quite suprised activating on 80 - the lack of noise on a summit seems to help - running 30W to a dipole on Saturday Morning (9 ish so not too close to dawn) managed contacts across Uk plus Germany and Belguim, however it does take some time to roll up the antenna and a big quiet summit is needed!
I activated Great Whernside (G/NP-008) today and what a difference! 7 CW QSOs on 40m and 6 on 20m including 3 S2S. I’d qualified it in 5 minutes. Plus 10 on 2m FM with another 2 S2S. If I’d had time I could easily have sat at the summit for longer - it was another beautiful day. And I had a nice chat with a walker who regularly visits Great Whernside and says he’s seen aerials up there 3 or 4 times in the last few months.