SOTA + Ham Fair Friedrichshafen 2023
This is a two man short-pedition. I have asked Ignacio EA2BD to add some words in my report to get his point of view.
My last visit to FH had been in 2010, when I was active in VHF, Top band and participated in the big HF contests, enjoying also with the fine tuning of our contest station…
After several attempts in previous years, I have finally returned to visit the Fair thanks to my good radio friend Ignacio, EA2BD, who accepted to join with me for the trip. The expectations were very high and in my case, a personal challenge because since we started to design the trip one of the objectives would be to activate two SOTA summits. This was an absolute novelty for me as I had never operated out of Spain before, and even less from a SOTA summit.
We decided to fly Bilbao - Zurich round trip with the company “Edelweiss”.
A good choice because of their punctuality and excellent service on board.
As the trip would be by plane, the SOTA setup had to be very small and respectful of airport security control limitations.
EA2LU setup: my choice was easy, I wanted to run only CW using Ignacio’s EA2BD MTR 3 which I housed in a small case together with the Li-Ion batteries, and an adaptation of Martin’s DK3IT “Tiny SWR Meter” made by me.
The antenna was an Endfed with traps, for 40/03/20M with balun transformer and a single 4m counter-antenna wire. The mast is a very light Caperlan “Lakeside 5 Travel” 5m carbon fibre fishing pole from Decatlhon, three cord winds and plastic spikes (only suitable for soft soil) to support the fishing pole alone if it would be the case. The writing tablet has space for the BamaKey and is used to roll up the antenna + counter-antenna for transport. Everything fits in two “Zipper Bags” and fits comfortably in the hand luggage or backpack accepted by the airlines.
EA2BD setup: I planned to run SSB only. I took my very small (tr)uSDX rig and 3 x 18650 Li-Ion cells, inside a power bank to avoid any trouble in the airport control. Antenna was a short trapped EFHW as well, coil loaded for 40m, but I planned to run 14 MHz only. I took some rope to hold the mast, also another 5m carbon fiber fishpole that fits all right in the hand luggage. Jorge lend me some spare plastic tent pegs that doesn’t look harmful under X-ray.
Hochsten DM/BW-854, 23 June 2023
Starting from Zurich, with a rented VW Taigo car, Ignacio at the help of the GPS was adjusting the route as we encountered some road closures and thanks to MariMar (Ignacio’s wife) safe driving we arrived within the scheduled time to the parking at the summit, as this one is an easy drive on.
After walking around the area, we decided on the positions to set up the stations.
With Ignacio’s help we installed my antenna and I set up the rest of the station using a bench that was right there.
Since the conditions did not seem to be good and to be sure to find chasers, with some excitement, I started on the 30m band, and after my first call a great surprise to copy Alf EA4R calling me completing my first QSO with Spain from “DL”, then EA2DT Manuel, F5UKL Andre, followed by the usual chasers from Central Europe, then QSY to 40m where I was hunted, among others, by Bernd DL2DXA, Bruno HB9CBR both very strong and at the end when I announced QSY at 20m, almost at noise level I heard my friend “EA2GM” and we completed the QSO, prize to the patience and experience of a great SOTA operator like Javi EA2GM, who had a station set up in his usual workroom for the occasion. This contact fulfilled all my expectations considering the minimal resources we were using on both sides. After a quick stay on 20m and one QSO with SP6BOW, I went QRT, with very little margin to have our lunch.
I dismounted the station, with a great feeling of happiness for the contacts made with my colleagues in Spain and grateful to all the stations that called me in the course of the operation.
EA2BD: I moved a bit further on the flat and wide summit to use another comfortable bench to install my gear. It was easy to raise a spot on Sotawatch on my phone and I ran for some minutes on 14 MHz SSB. I logged some frequent spanish chasers as well as a number from EU, including a call from DL/HB9GVW/P for a quick S2S and also Ed DD5LP/P who wasn’t on a SOTA today.
Luck was on our side, as at a short distance from the summit we found a magnificent place to eat and celebrate the good result of the activation…Prost!!!
SOTA dinner and full Saturday on the Ham Radio Fair
This deserves a separate mention, which I hope to do soon. Just a few words to thank Joe OE5JFE for the organization of the magnificent dinner, as well as all of you who greeted me with so much love and kindness, especially Jorge CT2IQK, Roman DL3TU , Heinz OE5EEP , Bruno HB9CBR, Silvya OE5YYN among the large group present at the dinner and the SOTA booth in the fair …
Irchel HB/ZH-014, 25 June 2023
On Saturday evening we decided to have a farewell dinner in a typical restaurant near our hotel in Tettnang with a delicious dish of breaded pork cutlet, accompanied by a fine home-brewed beer.
During dinner we planned our return on the morning of Sunday 25 June to Zurich airport with enough time to make our next SOTA activation.
We left early from our hotel in Tettnag and arrived on time at the car park, but the access was closed due to a mountain orienteering competition:
So we parked the car in the village and from there we started the gentle ascent to the operation area through a wonderful forest that protected us from the sun, we could check the good conservation and indication of the trails with recreation huts with space for barbecue. Congratulations for your order and education colleagues of HB9!!
Once in the activation zone, we located a large clearing and set up the stations there. As always, Ignacio helped me to put my antenna first.
This time we couldn’t stay too long for the activation and our goal was to make the necessary QSOs to validate the summit. Again the “little marvel” called MTR 3 made it possible in 30m working first Ambrosi HB9AGH, once again Javi EA2GM, Manuel EA2DT followed by EA1AAP, F8DGF, EA2BO. In 40m Hans DL6UHA and final in 20m S2S with Jarek DL/SP9MA/P and last QSO UR5ZEP, again a feeling of happiness for the good development of the activation picking up my station.
EA2BD: I was a bit nervous this time because my phone wouldn’t run in HB9 (my hone company has no network access in HB9). As I planned to do a SSB only activation, I was afraid I could not spot myself. The day before I sent a message to EA2DT asking him to try finding me operating between 14.295 to 14.310 MHz so that he would be in charge of assisting me with an Spot. Hey, it’s not RBN but Manuel has big ears.
When I started the activation I found a contest in progress, doh!
I did a quick qso with a very strong polish station then qsyed to search for a clean frequency. To my surprise I found Manuel calling another SOTA activator, and when he did the chase I asked him to QSY 5 up. He said yes! Wow, it was great to find him so quickly and he raised a spot for me, thanks!
Then I started calling and had a pair of quick qso but then I noticed the frequency was occupied and had to move a bit further up.
This time Jorge was my oartner to raise a spot for me, as he approached to see if my activation was okay; his phone did the deal and I could progress. I logged 11 stations being 4 of them S2S contacts,great for this short activation.
Here both activators happy after their successful activation.
On our way back to the car we climbed a small lookout tower with spectacular views of the valley.
Back in the car and after a short drive through picturesque and narrow roads we arrived at the airport parking with enough time to do all the formalities before boarding and have a real Swiss style lunch!
After a pleasant flight we landed in Bilbao and arrived at our QTH in Pamplona without any problems of any kind, thank God.
In terms of radio, I would like to thank Ignacio for the planning of the activations and that everything went perfect. Then despite the big differences with my KX2, I must admit that this little jewel that is the MTR 3 has surprised me by its performance and audio quality, perhaps due to the earphone used it perfectly suited to the range of my ears. At first, due to the low noise level, it may seem “deaf” not at all. Proof of this is how I could copy Javi EA2GM in 40m. Also more relaxed here at home with a very high noise level in the bands has received the same signals compared as my Yaesu FTDX101D… An equipment to take into account for a SOTA station adapted to hand luggage for air travel.
In the human aspect of the trip, first of all I would like to thank my dear wife Esther for her great patience and understanding with my activity as a Radio Amateur and for her encouragement for me to make this trip, then my travelling companions Mari Mar and Ignacio EA2BD for the good moments and all the attention they gave me during the trip and finally to all the great SOTA “family” for their closeness, camaraderie and human warmth they have transmitted to me.
All these circumstances, inspire me to rethink a new stage as a “chaser” more calm in the future. We will see … We hear each other in the bands
EA2BD Final words:
Jorge proposed going to Friedrischafen a few times in the past years, as he had been there before and knew this Ham fair would be interesting for me.
I refused because I was busy at work and wasn’t easy to ask for permission. Nevertheless this year I planned it in advance and my boss allowed me taking one day off for this trip!
My main motivation was to visit the fair, to see a bit of this interesting area and moreover, to meet first time many SOTA frequent activators or chasers.
I enjoyed the beauty of the area, good weather, lovely Konstanz lake, green forest and plants…
It all went really fine, and it was a joy to say hi to the SOTA friends in the dinner or at the booth!
Concerning the Sota activations, both were easy ones with limited time, but anyway it’s rewarding to greet friends on air being thousand kilometer far from home…
Jorge, I’m grateful you stick proposing this trip and I was confident with the organization as you planned the flight and accommodation so well. The food recommendation was excellent and you know that I enjoy with our friendship.
Thanks also to my wife who joined us and drove the car, waiting during our radio activation. The weekend, despite the short time made me feel like I was on longer holidays.
Trip is over. When a new plan together?