I hope to activate one or more summits on New Year’s Day. As it will be my first attempt, I am keeping it local starting with Leith Hill G/SE-002 then Botley Hill G/SE-005 and possibly one other (possibly Ditchling Beacon G/SE-006 or Detling Hill G/SE-013).
For a first go with a standard FT60 / rubber duck on 2m FM is two or three a wise choice or am I better off sticking with one and concentrating on that? I’m led to understand that the SE UK can be a bit of a challenge on VHF.
I’d be interested to hear peoples thoughts please.
Welcome to SOTA. I like your style Lee…starting on the first of January.
For your activations I would recommend that if possible you use a better antenna than a rubber duck. I appreciate that time is limited to get something built, but even a simple vertical dipole fed with a few metres of coax mounted on something like a garden cane would be an improvement.
I hope you make some good contacts. Happy New Year and 73,
Go for the three or even four summits if you have time. I remember activating those summits in 2015 and finishing off Ditchling Beacon, G/SE-006 in the dark as it is a drive on summit. I would agree with the comments made by Gerald G4OIG. You would be fine qualifying these summits with your rubber duck if they were near the connurbations of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds etc but down in south east England it’s a risky proposition and you may be setting yourself up to fail by using a rubber duck on its own.
73 and all the best for you in SOTA for 2022, it’s a great pursuit within a great hobby,
Good luck with your first activations Lee! As others have commented, it can be a bit slow going on 2M FM in G/SE, so any improvements you can make on the stock antenna will help. Hopefully as it’s the holiday season they’ll be some more ops around to work you.
One thing to bear in mind if you find yourself struggling to get enough contacts, is that whilst repeater QSOs don’t count, it is ok to solicit contacts on a repeater and then QSY to a simplex frequency if you’re both within range.
I had a rummage through the bits box and made myself a 450 ohm ladder line Slim Jim. Unfortunately, the only coax connector I had was a PL259 and I have just found out that the SMA converter I have is an N type! Oh well, back to the rubber duck it is then!
Well, a good day was had for my first foray into SOTA. I started on Botley Hil G/SE-005 at just after 1100 and I received a reply to my call almost immediately. A second contact came soon after but then it went quiet. After almost an hour, I was about to move on when I had a third contact. Sadly, it stayed quiet after that so no points on this occasion.
I drove down to Ditchling Beacon. The car park was full and there were lots of people out enjoying the day. I parked in a layby about a mile further down the road and walked back. I didn’t get any luck calling CQ so had a scan around and found a couple of people chatting on 145.300. Their chat was coming to an end but another ham joined and I managed to contact him. He was an absolute Gentleman as he nipped back to the calling channel and tried to get people down to the frequency that we had met on. That was sucessful for one further contact. He then put a call out on his Whatsapp group to rustled up some more interest which yielded another contact. After a bit more time a third and final contact was bagged.
So, no points this time but two summits activated and I have learnt a fair bit with regard to what would be useful to have for next time. Once I get the correct SMA adapter for my home brew Slim Jim, a telescopic GRP pole and some bungee cords I shall be having another go.
Many thanks to all that responded to my CQ.
EDIT - Not sure how to remove the Pre Planning flag…
Thanks for the report, Lee, and well
done for getting out there and giving it a go. Sorry you didn’t get enough contacts to get the points, but as you say, it’s all learning. Hope you get some more next time! I wonder where and when you’re planning to go next?
Sorry to hear you only managed 3 on each summit.
I think I managed to get 4 on Ditchling the same way as you did - jumping on the end of the local net at 9pm! The operators down that way are really helpful and they did the same for me - posting on their local Facebook/WhatsApp groups. Hopefully with a better antenna you’ll have no problem next time.
I don’t know what the weather was like where you were today but here in South Devon it was quite misty and my attempts to make contacts from my home QTH using 2m FT8 were a dismal failure. Only a few very close stations on PSK Reporter were hearing my signal. I can only put this down to the mist in the air reducing the signal strength, visibility was poor. When conditions are good I can be heard down to northern Spain and Ireland.
I’m not saying this explains your experience today. My only summit I’ve been on in that area was Chanctonbury Ring where I drew a complete blank on 2m despite using a Slim Jim. I did hear a couple of people talking and now know I should have found an opportunity to politely break into their conversation - exactly what you did.
Thank you. Not sure yet. I quite like the idea of going to Leith Hill G/SE-002 and operating at the top of the tower although I’m not sure that will go down to well?
It was pretty murky by the time I activated Ditchling Beacon. Looking at the locations of the contacts that I made yesterday, the best signal - a solid 59 - was very nearly the furthest at 21Km approx. whilst one at about half the distance was a 53. Just depends on the day I guess!