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Pressendye GM/ES-047, with a twist

I’ve been having a good think, so please indulge me

Actually, I am a bit of an over-thinker TBH. I’ve only been involved in the SOTA programme for 11 months and some days. During this first year lots of things happened.

  1. I learned how to do HF radio again.
  2. I found a new love for the hills.
  3. I found new challenges.
  4. I got good at it and started to rack up lots of points*.
  5. I met amazing people on here and on the bands.

*(When I started this, I calculated that it would take me 10 years to get 1000 Activator points. After 11.5 months I’m sitting with 536 points.)

I’d started to look and see what others were doing. I marvelled at Colwyn @MM0YCJ and his 100% Unique record and thought that’s what I would do.

I started to put pressure on myself. And then I had a reality check, well two reality checks.

  1. Mo has been struggling with her health and can really only walk 6 miles max. and on hills with good tracks, preferably vehicle tracks. She has a spinal surgery in a couple of weeks, but is determined to keep as fit as possible, both physically and mentally. Then there will be the recovery from the surgery.

  2. I am lucky to live in an area surrounded by hills and mountains, some of them among the highest in the UK. These are hills that Mo and I climb every year, in all seasons - Mount Keen, Morven, Lochnagar, Ben Macdui etc.

Obviously me heading down the Unique only road would mean either re-climbing local hills without my radio or heading off for greater and greater distances every time.

This leads me to my challenges for 2022.

  1. Support Mo through the next few months or longer.
  2. Enjoy local hills and explore further afield.
  3. Try new things where possible.
  4. Aim for at least 3 or 4 epic hikes a year.
  5. Don’t learn CW. I have a CW trainer, but I really enjoy talking to people. CW is parked for a year or two.

With that in mind, so far this year I’ve activated these repeat summits…


2022 so far. Source sotl.as

…and had great fun on them all. I did a video on Gellaig Hill.
https://youtu.be/_4oLTBJnRnk

If you’re still reading, thank you. Now on to the report.

Thursday 13th January
Pressendye GM/ES-047 is so close to my house that I can walk it or mountain bike it from home. However, I’m trying to get my bike fitness back after a four month hiatus, so thought it would be fun to take in an ascent as part of a cycle to work. My first cycle to work in a while! It’s 30 miles by road and I also have a 40 mile off road route too.

0800 saw me set off on my gravel bike, with the minimum SOTA kit I could get away with, the minimum hill gear that I could get away with and a pullover for work. I keep spare clothes in my office, should I get the chance to bike in. Everything I needed for for summit was in the bladder back pack, the rest in a saddle bag. The bike wouldn’t be going all the way to the top.


MkI mast rigging. Held between the top tube and seat post using velcro straps.

As soon as I set off, the mast started rubbing my leg, however it wasn’t too bad. I cycled the 4 miles to Tarland and then up past Douneside House until I had to turn right off the road and up into a lovely strip of beech trees.

Douneside House and the surrounding estate is owned by the MacRobert Trust and they are very proactive about hill access, health, fitness and supporting the local community as well as their tenant farmers. The hotel is awesome too. It’s where we were married.


into the trees. I walked this section.

On the other side, an earthy track soon narrowed to a path, however I was able to ride on this until it joined a forest track that initially descended before ascending steeply into an open area. Here I dis-mounted, turning left up a grassy track that took me into another wood and onto another forest track, which was rideable.


The earthy track


Climbing up the edge of the woods


The sunrise at 0900 turning the heather red. Morven behind with little snow left after the big thaw.

When the track steepened towards the final summit slope, it got a good bit rougher. There was also a tree across it, so it felt like a good place to ditch the bike.


I remembered to remove the mast!

I walked up the last 600m to the summit, mast in hand. Journey time was 1 hour 20 mins and I was 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

There was a fair breeze, a decent summit shelter and fence posts! Such a rarity. So, in a rare act of forward thinking I decided to arrange the W3EDP wire at 30° to the line of posts, hoping that this would increase my chances of lining one up with the mast.


Pressendye summit

It worked! Thanks to that handy post and a lot of velcro, I was up and running in no time.


Velcro does the job

The tail end of my antenna crossed a faint track, so I tied a couple of spare guy pegs to it. They swung about, clanking in the wind. That would save decapitation any hill runners.


Anti-decapitation measures in place

I had some food and a drink. I then put a spot on 40m and from 0939 to 0959 I managed to work 29 stations. I think everyone knew there was a pileup and QSO’s were efficient, almost contest style. No remarkable DX, but from GM to EA and everything in between. It felt good!


On 40m SSB

I then sent a WhatsApp message to Simon @GM4JXP which met with an instantaneous call on 2m, giving him his Complete.

Having packed up, I jogged town to the bike. When it came to stowing the mast, I went for the MKII version, which was much more satisfactory.


MKII mast stowage

I wanted to head east, towards the top of The Slack, the name of the long incline that runs east out of Tarland towards Aberdeen. I knew there would be a way through the forest, but there wasn’t an obvious one and I didn’t have time to get lost. That meant a lot of descent, to almost the bottom of The Slack, before turning left on to tar to climb the hill and complete the last 24 miles of my journey to Westhill, which lies to the west of Aberdeen, and unfortunately is on a hill! The weather was so mild that I was cycling in a single layer before too long. It felt Spring-like today.

I made it to work at 1235 and had time to freshen up, change clothing and grab food before starting my shift at 1300.


Ready to face the public

Now, the only thing is this. My commute passes very close to three other SOTA summits, so I may well have started a thing.


Back on tar, around half way. Benaquhallie GM/ES-065 in the background. Could be the next SOTA commute

Thanks for reading and thank you Chasers for making it a great activation. :slightly_smiling_face:

73, Fraser

14 Likes

Thanks for the QSO today, Fraser. Interesting report.
What with your epic journey to work and Ben’s, GW4BML, afternoon run around the “Shrophire Five” I am feeling rather wimpish :smiley:
73,
Rod

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Sorry to hear about Mo’s problems Fraser. I hope all goes well for a full recovery - must be a worrying time though.
Great to talk to you again this morning and hats off for the long bike ride to work afterwards. Excellent report and photos.

All the best, Simon

1 Like

It’s an expensive way of playing SOTA. You are lucky as there about 95 summits in a 50km radius of your QTH ( I used Ballater as it’s near enough!) In my case the number is 43.

I realise that the points seem to matter when you aren’t at MG but after that they matter less and, for me, having a good walk and being the DX is all that really matters. I was happy to collect a plethora of 1 and 2 pt summits after MG. Adding to the unique count is fun as is collecting the completes but comes at a cost.

As for Mo and health, I hope all goes well for her. It’s so easy to take health for granted till it bites you. I have spent a bob or two on a decent hifi only to find my treble hearing dropping off a lot now due to age and misspent youth at rock concerts! Likewise, I have extra regular eye-checks being diabetic. I have some retinopathy but it’s age related myopia that is advancing fast, as fast as electronic components shrink in size. So you need to enjoy your ability to get up the hills as much as you can whilst you can.

Don’t forget the solar cycle improvements are going to bring a lot more fun. SOTA is huge compared to the last maximum, many more chasers and associations etc. You may find you need to spend considerable summit time to clear the pile ups such that you need shorter walks to give you more activation time!

You can add some spice by joining the “adults” by getting QRV on uWaves, 23&13cms. :wink: You have a few chasers local (Banff & Ellon) who would be pleased to chase you from the summits. And should you be able to align your activations when us (relative) Southerners can play, you’d find a few more people to chase you/ S2S with you. Remember you only need 1 uWave QSO per activation to boost the fun massively plus the usual run on HF etc. Qualifying on 13cms is particularly satisfying but not too common!

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Thanks for the contact today Fraser, I was very surprised to get through using 6w into a loft mounted fan dipole (@M0JCQ designed).

I hope it all goes well for Mo and fingers crossed we’ll catch you both S2S soon.

73 & HNY, Simon & Naomi (Nic)

PS: I think it’s inevitable that Mo will get licenced. Nic did, just to shut me up going on at her to join in… :slight_smile: :rofl:

2 Likes

Thank you Fraser. Best wishes for Mo. I’m waiting for a hospital appointment and in these difficult times they can’t be taken for granted. I hope all goes to schedule for her.

Having had the honour of talking to you on SSB, albeit from a location so close I was almost under your feet but it counted as a QSO and I haven’t washed my ears since. :slight_smile:

I’ve found CW very useful for chasing. You can still encounter CW pile-ups especially at the weekend but mid-week I’ve found chasing on CW much more relaxing. Listening in to an SSB activation can be very frustrating for an un-skilled chaser like me. But as an activator you can, as is often stated here, choose whatever mode you want, you are in control. So stick with the “phone” you will have no problem getting replies.

I envy your QTH. I am planning to return to the only local summit which qualifies for a winter bonus next week. We can only make the best of what we have available and I really enjoyed some 1 point activations last year. For example, the one I tried to qualify with QSOs on 4 different modes on 2m. I only managed 3 (FM, SSB and FT8) as 2m CW was a bit quiet. :slight_smile: I will try again!

73
John

2 Likes

Summit Kit
This is what I carried to the summit. It all went inside the Berghaus MTB bladder back pack. Surprisingly!

Radio kit
Guys, pegs, KX2, W3EDP, 9:1 un-un. LiFePO4, Ft-3d handheld and whip. 7m mast wrapped in sit mat (not shown).

Clothing
Really lightweight cycling showerproof. Rab down jacket. Gloves, Buff.

Food
1.5l water. 3 snack bars, two sandwiches.

Other
Notepad, first aid kit, head torch.

5 Likes

Thanks Andy. I pretty much concur with all of that. I will try new things. I’ve got the stuff to build microwave antennae, a CW trainer etc. Just not enough time to play about with these at the moment. So for the moment I’m keeping it simple!

1 Like

I wish all the best to Mo with her surgery and a full, smooth, prompt recovery.
You are very lucky having Mo with you. You have an enviable support from her and it’s clear you are enjoying so much SOTA because of that, either being with her or without her knowing that she is still supporting you on those activations. It’s now turn for you to correspond and give her back all that support.

I like very much your challenges 1 to 4. I’d have liked you to keep on working to learn CW, but I fully understand that’s not everybody’s call and talking on voice has things that CW doesn’t. Viceversa too, CW gives you things that voice modes don’t, but it’s your choice and I fully respect it.

Thanks for the nice report and pics.

73,

Guru

3 Likes

Good luck to Mo with the surgery, its been a while since saying hi (Knockhill in around 2019 maybe and Mo was busy having fun smashing car windows)

Well done on getting the 536 points, you will soon be at over 1000 points

I was surprised how quick I went from a few hundred to over 1000… OK, working from home helps and being next to the radios.

I don’t think boss/other team members would enjoy me answering CQ CQ SOTA calls from my desk in the office.

Keep it up!

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Headphones / CW - pretend you are listening to Spotify to help your concentration and tapping your fingers in time with the music :smiling_imp:

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Thanks for the contact Fraser. Lovely piccies. Was surprised to read you’d only been doing it for 11 months. I thought you’d been at it when the ARK set sail.
Best 73 to you and Mo

2 Likes

Arghh, don’t go there! If it does grab you, get a second callsign by forming a one man club so you can use one call to do repeats. :grinning: I can personally vouch that it is not only an expensive way of playing SOTA, but also a very frustrating one! I got hooked on Uniques in my first year. Thank goodness I do have a second callsign for repeats, but still the urge to experience new summits for me remains the prime SOTA directive. Even having a heart attack and a triple bypass hasn’t put me off.

I hope all goes well for Mo and that she is soon back walking those lovely hills with you. My wife suffers with back problems and can only walk a few miles. This has been exacerbated by her having had operations on her toes, so hill walking, particularly going downhill, causes her considerable pain in both her feet and lower back. Nowadays we keep to the flat, usually on the Northumbrian coast.

Yesterday I was on family duties so I missed your outing to ES-047, but it was good to catch you on ES-062 the day before. Many thanks for another great report and photos.

73, Gerald

2 Likes

You need 3 calls on the club licence form ISTR. Whether they are ever active using the club call is moot. But of course, a club cannot have its own account. So the QSOs get logged under your own account still.

However, all is not lost. You can submit all the activations including repeats in your account. The DB honour roll will show a unique count < 100%, worry not about that. If you want to claim MG All Unique then there is an option on the awards checker I wrote for Barry that only uses the points from unique summits. He clicks that and any points from dupes are ignored. The only downside is you can’t see your unique only score easily yourself but 10mins with your log and a spreadsheet should sort that out!

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As indeed I did! Also claimed for 2m/70cm only. :grinning:

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Therein lies the challenge - don’t tell others about this, it takes ages to filter the results!

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Gerald, Apologies for not acknowledging you on our QSO. I was managing a pileup with QSB and QRM and getting more and more grumpy as the time passed. Eventually I called QSY and disappeared up to 20m for a more sedate time of it!

73, Fraser

Well, it’s not as though I’m a regular caller… I seem to miss most of your activations! :disappointed:

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Ages now is much smaller than ages when Gerald claimed as your tool will do a fair bit of the grunt work. Think you still need to do a bit of jiggery-pokery to prove claim is valid. Now we know our Gerry won’t take the proverbial with any claim but we know there are some people who see MG on the awards available and just order one without researching the qualifying conditions.

1 Like

Happens on average twice a week - unsubstatiated claims, usually MG & SS but sometimes even Chaser or Activator 100 with no entry in the database