Pen y Fan - GW/SW-001 Activation on 13-09-2014 - my first SOTA

My YL and me visited Wales for a holiday in September of this year. I brought along my KX3, a set of 8 Eneloop batteries, and a lightweight end fed wire antenna made out of a wire peeled from computer ribbon cable, with the plan to do my first SOTA activation.

While trying out the antenna, I was not satisfied with the performance, and instead changed it to become a 40m half wave dipole, fed with 5m open wire line made out of the same wire type, using pieces of Duct tape for the open wire spacers. For the antenna mast, I used cable ties to tie together my two walking sticks and the walking stick of the YL. Total height was about 4m.

After testing out the hiking pole mast contraption on Barmouth beach, we set off to the Brecon Beacons National Park. We decided to go up on Pen-y-Fan, GW/SW-001.We followed the route clockwise starting from the Cym Gwyddi car park, which seemed to be less busy than the popular route starting at the “Storey arms”, the downside of the route we chose is a scramble for the final 20 or so meters to the summit.

Views on our way up were magnificent, and after going through some clouds we could see the summit. I got a bit worried since it became more and more windy on our ascent, and hoped that the antenna would be able to cope with the wind.

At the summit, there was plenty of space to put up the dipole in the grass, and while the YL was enjoying the views the antenna was quickly erected which immediately attracted attention from the 50 or so people on the summit. After a quick tune up using the KX3’s internal ATU, I started calling CQ SOTA in CW on 7032.3. I made 5 CW QSO’s, with some interruptions to explain what I was doing to interested on-lookers. At that point, all clouds around the summit had disappeared, the wind calmed down and it was very enjoyable. After 45 minutes, I packed up the gear and we continued our walk towards the adjacent summit of Corn Du. After enjoying the views from the adjacent Corn Du and passing the Tommy Jones Obelisk on the way down, we further descended into the valley. After some hours we arrived back at the car park feeling tired but very satisfied. I think I may have attracted the SOTA virus now hi.

73, Wouter Jan PE4WJ

Ascent to the summit

MW/PE4WJ/P operating position, Corn Du in the background

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Hi Wouter,

Good choice for a first SOTA, glad you enjoyed the activation - I wish you many more!


How are you connecting those walking poles?
Cable ties?


Hi Pete,

Yes, I used cable ties indeed (approx 7mm wide). The two lower poles are tied together at their handles, the upper one is tied with its handle to the pointy end of the one beneath. Both joints use 2 cable ties spaced some 10cm apart. I used 3 guy wires and pegs to keep the whole contraption upright.
The cable ties I used can be undone by carefully using a small screwdriver to “open” the lock mechanism, in that way they can be re-used.

73, Wouter Jan PE4WJ