Oh deer, lightweight on the Pike

:open_mouth: OK so the day didn’t start off so well - in between Troutbeck Bridge and Ambleside a deer, crossing the main road, took a glancing blow off the back of the car. I’ve had several close encounters with wildlife in the Lakes over the years, but at 7:45am it was very late for them to be close to roads. Fortunately the deer was certainly still capable of running and apart from some scratches the car escaped the worst of it.

So on to Pike of Blisco. As usual I took the route from Wrynose Pass up via Red Tarn, although I descended on a path that I haven’t seen before - it runs directly from the Southerly summit back to pick up the main path.

Area Map

Pike O’Blisco

WOTA ID: LDW-086 Height: 705 m (2313 ft)
SOTA ID: G/LD-024 Grid ref: NY271042
QTH Locator: IO84KK Lat: 54.427854 Long: -3.123822

Summit Map

Andy @G8CPZ had set our WhatsApp group a challenge for lightweight SOTA, and this gave me the excuse I needed to finally put the Mountain Topper centre stage and my only HF rig for this activation. I took my FT1XD with stock whip for VHF. For antenna I used Nigel’s lightweight SOTABeams QRP trap trapped end fed antenna tuned for 20m, 30m & 40m with my 6m Decathalon pole for support and a guying kit with 3 pegs, a SOTABeams guying ring, yellow guy rope and three cleats. Total weight with SOTABeams antenna bag just short of 1.6kg (handheld excluded).

HF Kit

The route up was uneventful, 2 walkers passed, and my recently sprained ankle whilst grumbling held fast.

Red Tarn

Crinkle Crags on the left & Bowfell

The Langdales

Views as always across to the Langdales and beyond were fantastic.

6m Mast in the Distance with Windermere on the left

HF matching unit

I setup for HF 20m first and got Chris @F4WBN in the log very quickly. He was around 559 with me - not easy giving anything but a very approximate report with the Mountain Topper. Chasing is difficult with the model of Mountain Topper I have as well - I had to keep checking frequency when moving.

OK, so take a longer look at that first photo of the matching unit, notice anything wrong? Yes, that’s right, the antenna isn’t actually connected! So Chris’s contact was using the 6 inches of coax and the matching unit as an antenna. Crazy that he was able to work me, says something about the sensitivity of his setup!

Mountain Topper, 3 cell LifePo4, Palm Pico paddles and logbook

08:38 F4WBN 20m CW 559 599 Christian
08:50 SM5LNE 30m CW 559 539 Jan
08:52 EA2DT 30m CW 559 339 Manuel
08:53 EA2GM 30m CW 559 559 Javier
09:05 SA4BLM 30m CW 599 559 Lars
09:17 OV1CDX 30m CW 599 559 Frank
09:13 M0RWX/P 2m FM 55 55 Robert SOTA G/LD-012
09:37 ON7DQ 40m CW 599 429 Luc
09:45 G8CPZ/P 2m FM 59 58 AJ SOTA G/LD-053
09:52 G7CDA 2m FM 58 33 Douggie
09:54 G6AEK/M 2m FM 55 51 Dave
09:58 M0VHG 2m FM 54 53 Vince
10:13 M6GYU/P 40m CW 599 599 David SOTA G/LD-014
10:24 G8CPZ/P 40m CW 599 559 AJ SOTA G/LD-053

Probably unsurprising to HF CW SOTA operators that 30m brought in the most contacts. It was nice to get a S2S with David @M6GYU on Kirk Fell, he was very strong groundwave on 40m. After a 2m contact with Andy @G8CPZ on G/LD-053, and working several chasers in tandem, we also managed a 40m CW S2S later as my last contact.

My first activation of a summit with the mountain topper, I certainly appreciated the lack of weight on the way up and will consider the setup for some longer walks in the coming months.

Thanks for everyone who had the ears to hear my 3 - 5 watts!

Glorious Views

On the descent

Almost forgot the sheep


HF Contacts

All photos here.


The ‘heart’ symbol to like your post isn’t enough!

Well done Mark! This post pleased me a lot!

I didn’t even know that you had a Mountain Topper. You’ll get used to chasing, the easiest way is to use ‘DFE’. If you see a spot, just fire in the freq using the paddle key. Say a spot is on 14.0615, on the older MTRs, you can just send - dah dah-di-di-di-di di-dah di-di-di-di-di (‘T 6 A 5’, if you prefer). The newer MTRs with LCD screens don’t quite work in the same way, but still have DFE, just not with cut numbers. DFE can be entered by pressing FN and then RIT immediately after.

73, Colin


Thanks for the report and the photos of the LD looking its best. You have reminded me I must have another go with my 17m QCX Mini. I was unimpressed with its sensitivity on the first outing but I must give it another chance. :slight_smile:

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Really nice report, I do miss the lakes even if the weather can be very changeable. I noticed you had a 2100mAh LiFePo as your battery. I’ve found the MTR3b so efficient that I would be happy using a 1300mAh battery for 2 weeks on the road. For a day trip, 350mAh is more than enough.
73 de OE6FEG


Hi Matt, indeed I’m not used to requiring smaller batteries, so never had one!

I am very fortunate living up here, and know it, that I can pick and choose to a certain extent when to go out. Today was perfect, just warm enough not to freeze but with some cloud cover and bearable winds.

Next time I order something from HobbyKing I’ll go for a smaller battery - do you have anything specific you could recommend, I’m presuming you use LiPos rather than LifePos? I don’t think I’ve seen a 3 cell LifePo4 with a smaller capacity, but I could be wrong!

Regards, Mark.

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Hi Colin, thanks for the advice. I was going to familiarize myself with the manual again, but DFE looks to be an excellent feature. I do love that you can operate the rig purely by ear, I will have to keep practicing the CW for it to become second nature.

I did deliberately look at the views whilst sending CQ calls, and of course that is one of the beautiful things about CW - the complete silence of the activation - makes a change from my usual shouting!

I was thinking about your Ben Nevis trip on the way up today, what a long way to go for those conditions! I still feel very lucky to have had a good day on Goat Fell on one of my rare SOTA excursions outside the Lakes.



Unlikely. They don’t ship to the UK any more and have closed their UK warehouse.

This is the cost of getting a blue passport and our “freedom” back. Simple purchases from any EU member country and it turning up a few days later in the post with no taxes due has been replaced with most small companies not prepared to jump through hoops to sell to the UK. Well the cutting of our own throats will show those foreigners we mean business :person_facepalming:

I have a picture of my mates Honda S2000 after a deer was installed in the front wing. I’ll post it when I find it.


OK, well that’s a shock if not a surprise Andy. Crap. Hopefully someone in the UK will see a hole in the market, even though the prices won’t be the same for sure!

Cheers, Mark.

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[The Independent] “Blue passports could have been re-introduced without Brexit; Government admits”

It’s a myth [a lie?] – one of many - propagated by Brexiteers during the run-up to the Brexit referendum that we could not have kept or at anytime reintroduced the old-style blue UK passports. There is no EU directive insisting on the burgundy coloured one. Croatia has a blue one.

It’s sad that so many count this as one of the ‘freedoms’ we now enjoy post Brexit.


Thread meander…

@M0WIV I rebuilt my QCX-mini 17m several weeks ago, using a T37-6 core for the BPF / phase splitter. The rig seemed to align OK and seems to inhale signals. I don’t have an antenna at home, so I’ve been meaning to do a SOTA activation to test the QCX.

Since I did Ben Nevis, for some reason I’ve been feeling rather low, I’m not sure why. I have been wanting to test my QCX-17 but I just haven’t had the enthusiasm to get out for SOTA. I haven’t even had the enthusiasm to get out for my daily walks. I’d been doing 10,000 steps a day for a couple of months before Ben Nevis.

@M0NOM yes, it’s great to look at the views, if they’re on offer, whilst auto CQ’ing or just head copying the pleasantries. Part of the reason I haven’t done SOTA for a while has been the weather, even when it’s been sunny this month it seemed quite cold. Yesterday was a beautiful day for my son’s birthday, we went to Carlisle to meet the famous springer spaniels Paddy and Harry from Keswick. Kerry, the owner of the dogs, was the guest of honour cutting the cake for the 20th birthday of Great Northern Air Ambulance Service.

We also saw the Northern Belle train, pulled by Tangmere, a West Country & Battle of Britain class loco, bathed in glorious sunshine.

Whilst I was driving back, my wife got a message from her sister (my sister-in-law) to say that she’d just done Helvellyn (G/LD-003). Later yesterday evening I recieved a message from Alex @G7KSE saying that he believed that he’d met an in-law of mine on Helvellyn! I confirmed to Alex that yes, I did hear my wife comment that her sister had been on Helvellyn. Apparently my sister in law had recognised Alex’s activity and mentioned me and SOTA to him. Alex was able to piece together the information and identify me as the person alluded to! Seems like I missed a good opportunity to do SOTA yesterday, but I had a good day in any case.

Sorry for the thread wander… :slight_smile:

Hopefully some good weather will coincide with an activation opportunity soon and I’ll be back out in the hills.

73, Colin

Oh BTW, I’ve used Robot Birds for LiPos for the past few times, they always seem to have something on offer. I use one of their own brand 800mAh 3S lipos for my MTRs etc. https://www.robotbirds.co.uk/chargers-power-supply-leads/lipo-nimh/lipo-packs-3-cell.html


Well done for changing a toroid. For reasons which now seem silly I tried changing a QCX from 30m to 40m. There were not a lot of components which needed changing but I found the de-soldering a real challenge. I’ve only got a spring loaded syringe but getting it to reach the tight spaces was difficult. I had to remove components in a few places to gain access. If I did it again I would buy a new syringe with a smaller end, mine is a bit melted. :slight_smile:

Nice report- and thanks for the S2S with

Sad about the UKs Hobbyking battery supply stopping, I didn’t know that but was aware than many small/medium companies no longer import here now due to Brexit red tape, admin and extra customs charges. The Brexit vote was won on lies, supposition and political ambition and so many of the British people fell for it.

Thanks to Mark for the interesting Lake District activation report, and sorry to hear about the deer. I hope the car is not too badly marked.

73 Phil

Thanks for the writeup and excellent photos. Bad luck about the deer altercation. Here it is kangaroos and they can be a real hazard.

73’s Wal VK2WP

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Hobbyking do ship to the UK but from the Hong Kong warehouse. To send a lithium battery costs about £40.

For single activations the 370mAh is adequate:

The Turnigy Graphene 450mAh is very tempting:

That would last you a few days probably. When I’m overseas, I use 4 18650 cells and a buck converter. They can then be charged in one of those powerpack boxes off Amazon:

That said, I’ve never had to charge the cells, even once.

         73 de Matt
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You’re not alone. I spend a lot of time and effort on SOTA [I can as I’m a retiree] but sometimes I lose enthusiasm. Who knows why? Sometimes I think it’s looking outside at the gloomy weather [though I’ve noticed once I’m outside I usually enjoy it even in the rain].

Anyway, I’ve concluded this is normal human behaviour so just give it time, do something else for a while, and the enthusiasm will come back. Sometimes, reading someone’s activation reports [including yours] gets me fired for another trip.

Don’t apologize for going a bit off-topic – I do it a lot despite those who chide me and others for doing so. In my view critics can always skip over such posts. And someone will bring it back on topic if that thread has any more life in it. I often find the off-topic posts the most interesting bits.

P.S. Nice dogs


That’s the exact battery that I bought on 1st July 2014. I paid £6.50 for it, shipped. I still use the battery with my MTRs and I can confirm that it has plenty of capacity for an activation, in fact it can power several activations.

I got the 800mAh battery more recently because it was dirt cheap and to be honest, whilst it’s twice the size of the 370mAh battery, it’s still conveniently small.

800mAh 3S LiPo from Robot Birds

370mAh 3S Turnigy LiPo that I wrapped in orange vinyl - top right.


It is good to know there are alternative outlets in the UK for LiPo batteries.

For the most part now when operating QRO I will take the Ultramax 22AH LifePo4 rather than the HobbyKing 4200maH LifePo4s I have. The Ultramax has a carrying handle and I find it spreads the load a bit rather than it being all on my back.

In the UK yourfpv or hobbyrc may also be an option.



I find the same as you Andy. SOTA distractions - I will not allow the SOTA addiction to rule my life! As a long time retiree chasing from home this keeps me interested in SOTA generally, but other things take precedance to that, such as DIY work in the home, walking and cycling without SOTA, gardening, voluntary committee work for other organisations I am involved with and if there is a new band slot for the DXCC challenge active that I need to work, I ditch the SOTA chasing and concentrate on that.

I have little interest in activating in the UK now unless I am on a targeted holiday in that area where there are some uniques, but these are over 200+ miles away now for me, so day visits with 7-9 hours driving involved, walking/climbing/activating for several hours on top of that are getting too much.

I think from now on the majority of activating I do will fit around my holidays wherever I am.

73 Phil