Activation report ‘RSGB President works a SOTA pile up in style’ from the SOTA summit of Divis GI/AH-004
Thursday 2nd January 2024
John @GI4BWM (GB4RS)
It was back in late September 2023 when I travelled up to the Outer Hebrides to activate some unique SOTA summits. When reaching my first target, Seaforth Island GM/SI-192, I put a call out on 7-SSB, and the first station I managed to work was John GI4BWM, the RSGB President. I decided to invite John to join me on a joint activation when I was next over in GI. John took me up on my offer and said he’d join me.
As a family, we had a holiday booked to see the new year over in GI. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to catch up with John and plan our big day on the hill! A few messaged were exchanged, and a date was agreed - I was looking forward to this activation.
The SOTA summit chosen was called Divis GI/AH-004 - Divis is a hill and area of sprawling moorland north-west of Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. With a height of 1,568 ft (478 m), it is the highest of the Belfast Hills. It is joined with the neighbouring Black Mountain, and in the past they may have been seen as one. Divis transmitting station is on the summit. The mountain extends north to the Antrim Plateau and shares its geology; consisting of a basaltic cover underlain by limestone and lias clay. It was a nice gentle stroll on tarmac road to the top. Route taken follows:
We began our circular walk at Divis Lodge car park, where we had both parked up for the morning.
Unfortunately the mist was hovering above our heads for the first mile, so the views were non-existent.
Just as we were approaching the top, the sun decided to show itself and the sky briefly cleared so we could see the City of Belfast for a short period in the distance. The BBC transmitting towers that were just in front of us also decided to jump out and say hello.
After stopping to take a few images while the sky was clear, and have a sip of water. We soon continued our walk and reached the top. Again the mist had crept over us, so we had to accept that we were going to be activating without a view - that didn’t matter at all, the company was great!
John helped me set our station up on top, our working conditions were as follows:
Elecraft KX2 transceiver pushing 10 watts
40/20 SAW EFHW antenna
6m Carbon pole
3m RG174 coax cable
11.1v RS Li-ion battery
External Elecraft microphone
Palm Pico keyer
I started the morning off by putting a CQ SOTA call out on 7-CW - the reply was amazing! I managed to work 18 stations rip rap, a lovely controlled pile-up. Out of those 18 stations, 3 were S2S contacts - thanks go to Esther @GI0AZA who was operating as GI5ALP/p (quite an interesting call sign to look up), Ian @GI0AZB who was with Esther on the same summit, and finally Matt @MW0KAX who was operating in GW/SW.
Now the warm up act had finished, it was time for the main. John took the microphone and was going to use the very unique call-sign, especially to the SOTA scheme, the RSGB Presidents call ‘GB4RS’. He flicked the VFO on the SSB mode of 7MHz to find a free frequency and put a call out. The first two contacts he made was with Stewart G3YSX, the RSGB Board Chairman and Board Director, and Stephen GW4SHF, the RSGB Company Secretary - a great start being supported by the board!
At first I don’t think John knew what had hit him call-signs were coming in very thick and fast! But, I must say after John had made about 5 contacts, he was starting to get in the swing of things. Please note: his smile on his face was growing larger after every time he de-keyed the mic - he was really enjoying himself and worked the 45 stations in total like a pro!
Out of the 45 stations John worked, 6 of them were S2S contacts - thanks go to Mal @GW6OVD, Ian @2W0IWM & Matt @MW0KAX, who were out activating in GW/SW and Esther @GI0AZA, Ian @GI0AZB & John @GI4OSF who were on there home turf GI/SM & GI/AH.
Not only did John stop there - once he’d had a drink of water and helped me take down the radio gear. We both walked across to the trig, and he pulled his hand-held out and began working 145-FM. After working a further 9 stations, 3 being S2S contacts, we decided to call it a day… The wind was pretty chilly by the trig, we had no shelter, so it was time to go before we both froze!
At this moment in time, the sun showed itself again - what a great end to a fantastic activation!
John and myself descended talking all the way - John was on a high, what a great job he had done. To finish off this great activation, we called at the cafe below where our cars were parked and had a really nice hot chocolate with a home-made chocolate brownie - great times
I’d personally like to say a massive thank you to all SOTA chasers who managed to work John on this activation - he was very happy with the outcome and agreed to do another summit with me in the future! Thank you to all the S2S stations that called in and also went to the great efforts on going out for this occasion.
Until next time - keep those mountains alive with the sound of CQ SOTA
73, Ben & John
GI4BML/p & GB4RS (GI4BWM)