Plan A was to mosey on down to Englandlandshire again. Park across the border and wander up Peel Fell G/SB-004 whose AZ straddles the border. Then work a G summit with a GM call and watch the fireworks!
Except it was all a bit damp. The WX forecast was rain to clear by mid-morning. So a 1000am start and midday arrival should be dry and pleasant. A good plan as I arrived at Deadwater at 1000am. The rain was monsoon like. Not the heavy drizzle predicted but strong gusts of wind driving the rain horizontally. Well 80miles of driving meant I was going to wait a bit to see if the WX cleared up.
I sat and caught up with The Archers (good to see David and Elizabeth friends again and Mike and Vicky sorted on the baby). Still the rain came down. I listened to The Reunion and at 1145am decided that the rain had not been told it was meant to have long since stopped. On the way down the WX was much better only a few miles north of the mountains where I was. So I set off home with the idea of putting Plan B into action.
Plan B was to activate 1 or more unique 1pt summits. Except I forgot the maps saying where the summits where I knew I’d passed Rubers Law on the way down but couldn’t remember where Sell Moor Hill, Hownam Law and Black Hill were. Grr! I did know where Eildon Mid Hill was and Belling Hill. Belling Hill is a joke walk, 10mins, and it had an L shaped wall. Eildon has no shelter. With the chance of showers Belling’s wall looked the best choice. Also Belling Hill is delightful. I can’t say why in particular other than it has something really nice to it.
I managed to cancel the alert for Peel Fell and parked at Belling Hill. 10mins after locking the car I climbed over the wall at the summit and set up. I decided I wanted to do some equipment tests as I’d remade the vertical’s loading coil and had some new batteries to try. The WX was really nice. No rain, no clouds, very strong gusts of winds but I was behind the wall. I could see there were plenty of icky clouds around, some coming my way and most still over Peel Fell to the south.
Loads of 3g meant I could spot for 18.086cw and by the time I was set up and called CQ SOTA, Rich N4EX was waiting to pounce. QSO made and another successful cross-pond QRP QSO. This was followed by QSOs into Russia, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Spain, and a new one for me on SOTA, Israel. Qualified on 17m, smiles all round. Spot sent for 15m and onwards I went.
The WX was alternate sunny spells and heavy showers driven by the strong wind. But the wall kept my nice and warm and dry. Bona! 15m is a band I don’t use enough and my 1st call was answered by US3LX. Before I knew I had qualified on 15m with OM7DX then Rich N4EX calling and being 59++++++ and Phil(?) VE1WT being the 4th. Rich was stunningly loud on this band.
Then over to 20m CW. Now I don’t if conditions were good or if SS-244 is wanted badly but it was mayhem. I really couldn’t make sense of any calls and I have to say a few chasers were not being sporting in any way. So time to lay down the law. I announced there were “MNI LIDS” and decided now was the time to learn how to operate split for the 1st time. RX and TX freqs selected and CQ SOTA DE MM0FMF UP1 was sent. Silence. CQ again and HA7UG was bagged on a lovely quiet freq. I collected a few more before the pack realised what was happening. But still the mayhem from earlier did not reappear. All I can say was running split worked like a charm, probably because the chasers could here my QRP signal without trying to filter the wall of chaser chatter.
After that I fancied a bit of SSB so a spot for 14.285 was sent and to my surprise I worked another 19 stations. What was a real pleasure was to work a lot of chasers who I have only worked on CW before. Hearing their voices was a treat. Lots of 57 reports for a shortened vertical with loading coil (lossy) and single elevated counterpoise and at best 4.5W up the flue. 1hr30 passed in no time and so it was photo time and time to leave. The walk out took 6mins!
The equipment tests consisted of the revised loading coil and batteries. The coil fly leads had broken twice before. Now they’re made from the screen from RG58 flattened out. It’s wonderfully flexible and should not break as the old fly leads did. Also I extended the leads about 5cms each side. I felt the old radiator was a bit short and lengthening these made the antenna tune easier on 20m where it could be pig in the past. The batteries were some home brewed 3S1P LiIon cells I’d assembled. I picked up 12x LiIon 18650 sized cells at a radio rally for less than Â£1 each. The flying leads are soldered to a wee bit of Veroboard (perfboard) and a JST connector is soldered on. This lets me charge them with my existing LiPo charger. I have a JST to Tight-On adapter that lets me connect my existing Tight-On connectors to these. The cells are rated at 2200mAH.
Observations suggest the internal resistance must be higher than my RC LiPOs as the voltage on load (817 display) is lower than I’d expect for a freshly charged pack. However, 1 pack powered my operation happily. Lots of CW CQing and SSB calling. The voltage was 12.2V when I started and is 11.1V now. Just about discharged I think. But at about Â£3 for a pack that weighs 150gm and can be made to fit inside an 817 with a new battery compartment lid, well I’m happy with the performance. Especially as this was just one pack of the 4 I have and the cells are new but from a batch which was pulled for quality issues. Yes, I’m happy with that performance.
At the end of the day I’d proved the new battery, the revised loading coil and worked 51 QSO, 18 DXCC and 3 continents. Qualified the summit on every band/mode combo. That’ll do me for a day where many UK activators were rained off.
One observation about Belling Hill. Part of the forest was harvested a few years back. This makes it trivial to get to the summit. Last year I didn’t notice the seedlings. This year the harvested section was covered in trees about 5ft tall. I guess you’ve got 10 years to bag Belling Hill before it becomes a real challenge again!
Some pics in the Flickr pool.