SOTA NEWS JULY 2012
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the July 2012 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Skip K6DGW, Wayne VK3WAM, Mark G0VOF, Jim G0CQK, Ignacio EA2BD, Peter OK1EQ, Colwyn MM0YCJ, Martin DF3MC, Mike DJ5AV, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ.
1st of July adds some more summits to the database with 66 additions in Norway - LA and 17 additions in the VE7 call area of Canada. Also there is a update to the GI summits lists with several changes to location references and some name changes in line with the Database of British Hills.
73 Jim G0CQK
SOTA AWARDS JUNE 2012 - Barry GM0TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
June was much less active for awards claims; no doubt the very poor weather has affected activity but some notable achievements anyway. Congratulations to F6HBI on achieving Mountain Goat and to KC3RT and MM1AWV on being confirmed Sloths! Two other firsts this month as well, VK3WAM is the first claimant from “Down Under” as an Activator and VK3PF as a Chaser; congratulations to both of you.
F6HBI - Gerald Tosan
KC3RT - Gene Patterson
MM1AWV - Robert Lynch
DB7MM Dr. Michael Multerer 500 points
VK3WAM Wayne Merry 100 points
SQ9OZM Marcin Bajer 100 points
G3XQE Ken Brown 5000 points
G4AFI Andrew Cheetham 2500 points
MM1AWV Robert Lynch 1000 points
2E0CTW Jonathan Hobbs 1000 points
G6TUH Michael Morrissey 1000 points
SQ9OZM Marcin Bajer 500 points
PA9HR Herman Romer 100 points
DF1AI Armin Irlacher 100 points
VK3PF Peter L Freeman 100 points
AC0A Bill Freeland 100 points
G3XQE Ken Brown 1000 summits
G4AFI Andrew Cheetham 500 summits
M1CNL Peter Tew 250 summits
PA9HR Herman Romer - Bronze
M6BRM Derek Cotton - 10th Anniversary GD Chaser
M6BRM Derek Cotton - 10th Anniversary G Chaser
Well I did comment last month on the rush of claims towards the month end and several of you had obviously read my ramblings and submitted your claims earlier. Thanks to all of you and, for once, no disasters causing me to be slow in producing awards! It is very noticeable the growing number who claim their awards to be sent by email, obviously not produced on the gloss (or semi gloss) material of the originals but just as effective in many cases. I can’t comment on other printers but the Epson I use to produce certificates has a facility to print right to the edge of the paper (borderless) and this does result in a better appearance for the printout (IMHO), however, if you are going to put your certificate in a frame then printing the conventional way leaves a border around the print (if you “Fit to Paper”) and you lose none of the information.
Propagation on the HF bands has been absolutely dire in the last week or so (living this far north makes it worse too) and whenever I have had a chance to sit at the rig and try to chase it has been practically impossible to hear any stations at all. All this talk of Summit to Summit from Europe to the antipodes makes my mouth water, however I would settle for a home QTH to a European mainland chase; no luck however.
I would like to thank those individuals who sent donations in addition to paying for their awards. This is always a help especially as now more people are choosing the email way of obtaining certificates (which seems to benefit Paypal rather disproportionately!).
The impact of the ridiculous postage increases seems to have also affected the distribution of magazines (SPRAT from the GQRP club and VHF Communications being two that immediately spring to mind) This does mean that it is cheaper to order merchandise to travel with awards rather than separately – a sticker fits into the package for a trophy, the bumper sticker will go into a certificate envelope and certificates can travel with shirts (yes they still are protected by a board envelope). Yes, that was a blatant plug for SOTA merchandise!!
Finally, this coming month marks the 10th Anniversary of commencement of SOTA in Scotland (GM – 1st July) and Northern Ireland (GI – 13th July). The last in our series of commemorative certificates will be introduced and will be available for delivery by email after the qualifying dates. Just in case anybody has not noticed, each certificate features a picture of the highest summit in the relevant Association most of which have been taken by SOTA activators – this is, in fact, a feature of all of our certificates with the photograph on our main certificate the handiwork of G3WGV Joint Founder and President of SOTA. A small competition – who can identify all the locations shown on our various certificates (it is possible to view the images on the shopping site. First name out of the Presidential hat with the most correct answers will win a prize of inestimable value (email to sota-awards “at” btconnect.com by the end of July). Hint: there is the main certificate, the Mountain Hunter/Explorer (8 locations) and the Anniversary G, GW, GD, GM and (shortly) GI certificates.
Enjoy yourselves on the hill; the rain will surely stop sometime!
Barry Horning GM4TOE
SOTA News also congratulates:-
Mike DL3VTA on gaining his Mountain Goat Award
Petr OK1EQ for also gaining his Mountain Goat Award
Ricky MW6GWR for gaining Shack Sloth status
Liz M6EPW for gaining Shack Sloth in just under 10 months, on the 10th June, including 116 unique summits.
Vlado Z35M for being featured in the June CQ Amateur Radio magazine, with 5 pages of his involvement in QRP operations and SOTA activations.
Welcome back to enthusiastic chaser Ambrosi, HB9AGH, who has been without an HF antenna since March. He is now chasing SOTA stations again and is 5th station on the Honour Roll with more than 50,000 chaser points. With just 100 Watts and vertical aerial he needs and shows more skill than others to get nearly every SOTA station during daylight hours.
NEW MOUNTAIN GOAT - Peter OK1EQ
I´m glad to announce that my Mountain Goat award was achieved today, 18.6.2012, on the summit of OK/KA-002, Bozidarsky Spicak, with the 4th QSO, in accordance with rules, with Janez, S51ZG.
Thanks for all QSO‘s to all dear friends chasers.
I will continue activating SOTA summits and I can also be heard as OK3EQ and OK7EQ.
Hope cu again on some next summit.
NEWS FROM THE “ON” ASSOCIATION
A reminder that on Sunday the 1st of July 2012, the Belgian SOTA association will celebrate its 5 years anniversary. A unique certificate will be rewarded to all SOTA activators who activate at least one of the 14 Belgian SOTA summits that day.
As we go to press there are at least 14 activations scheduled on the Alerts page
SOTA FROM MALTA- 9H3BD - by Ignacio EA2BD
I’m writing to announce that I will be travelling to Malta in July for the first time, and - of course - I’ll carry my trusty FT-817 and batteries. I have already purchased a compact fishing pole to be fitted in my luggage, and my air carrier has already given permission for me to carry the batteries without any problem.
Hopefully I’ll try to activate 9H/MA-001 and if possible (not sure) 9H-GO-001 as well.
I have received the 9H licence and I will be using 9H3BD.
I will try activating not only for SOTA but maybe for some WFF or ARLHS if I can, although I will make sporadic use of the radio and always QRP.
I’m nowadays checking some other alternatives as for activation, like Lighthouses and WFF spaces. I’ll try to be active mainly as /P as I don’t really know if I will be able to be active from my QTH there.
I think I’ll have some WIFI available to be able to add an Alert before the activations.
It’s been difficult to gather data from these summits; no GPS track available and little information, although I don’t expect many problems as the SOTA’s are not very prominent (round 200m a.s.l.).
I’ll keep you updated as we approach our departure date (scheduled on July the 13th),
Take care and all the best
NEWS FROM SOTA-DL
In June activators could be heard from summits in 8 of the nine regions of the German Alps. Several of the higher summits were activated for the first time and even some 10-point summits could be reached.
Many SOTA Chasers and Activators visited the HAM RADIO exhibition in Friedrichshafen and came together on Friday and Saturday at noon. It was nice to meet the friends in person after many contacts on the air.
Several visitors were active from the summits in the days before and after the exhibition.
(Martyn has provided a link to photo’s taken at the rally at the end of this news - Ed)
CANADA / U.S. REPORT by Skip K6DGW
June in North America saw a marked increase in SOTA activity.
Total Activations: ………………34……109
Total Activator QSO’s:…………1,472…1,257
Unique [reported] Chasers:… .90………90
Total Reported Chaser QSO’s:1,056…719
Activations were up by 25, the number of unique activating station
doubled, and the number of unique summits activated was up by 23. The
number of unique chasers reporting stayed the same. Unfortunately I
don’t know that means they’re all the same stations, however the number
of reported chaser QSO’s was way up for June.
There were 416 unreported chaser QSO’s, that is QSO’s reported by activators
with no chaser report. That’s 28% of all activator QSO’s for June that
were not reported to the SOTA database, but way down from May when
almost 43% of activator QSO’s were not reported by chasers.
By band and mode, 20 meters actually increased as the go-to band despite
quite a bit of conversation on the group about using 30 and 40 meters
more to improve things for the more close-in chasers. SSB gained a tiny
bit over May and the modes now are pretty much split evenly.
June May June May
28MHz: 0.0% 0.0% CW: 50.2% 52.0%
24MHz: 0.0% 0.0% SSB: 48.9% 43.8%
21MHz: 2.1% 6.3% FM: 0.8% 1.9%
18MHz: 1.7% 2.8%
14MHz: 87.0% 72.9%
10MHz: 0.4% 0.6%
7MHz: 8.0% 13.8%
After several rounds of discussions, we seem to have finally arrived at
a destination for NA SOTA Day … the second Saturday in September.
There are a large number of competing factors in choosing a date, one of
the biggest being weather. North America is moderately large as
continents go and across all of it, temperatures and conditions can
vary dramatically on any given day. Earlier in the summer is pretty
tough for those in the W5, W6, and many parts of W7 where temperatures
can climb to 120F [48C], bordering on “this isn’t safe.” As Mike,
KD9KC, has been heard to joke, “El Paso Texas has two seasons … Summer
and Christmas.” On the other hand, get much later than September and
other parts of the continent are getting cold with rain, hail, and snow.
We also wanted to avoid major contest weekends when competition for a
frequency with 1.5KW stations would be very tough. Second Saturday in
September sort of fell out as about the best compromise for all the factors.
We just completed the Western States Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to
Auburn last weekend [not me, but around 100 hams, including me, provide
emergency communications for it]. It was the first of the ultra-runs,
starting in 1974 and is 100.2 miles [161.3km] long. The parking lot at
Squaw is at an elevation of about 6,500ft [1,900m], the summit is at
8,900ft [2,718m], and the runners will climb a total of 18,000ft
[5,487m] and descend a little over 21,000ft [6,400m] before the finish
at Placer High School in Auburn at about 1,300ft [400m]. The route is
over the historic Western States Trail that connected Sacramento and
Salt Lake City, and passes by and around a number of the summits in the
new W6 ARM.
The winning time, a new record, was 14:44:46. Finish in under 24 hours
and you get a silver belt buckle that reads, “100 miles, one day. You
get a bronze one if you can finish in less than 30 hours. Tim
Twietmeyer, who is the WSER Board VP, KG6UHV, and has 10 finishes
"1,000 miles, ten days”] got real interested when I described SOTA to
him during a short break in the activity at net control. Who knows,
Fred, KT5X, could get a little mountain-running competition.
I’m a little short of time this month, so that’s going to be it from the
New world. I hope to get some more SOTA opportunities myself in July,
June has been a bit used up.
Canada/US Reporter Dude
VK REPORT by Wayne VK3WAM
At the date of writing there have been 41 summits that have seen at
least one activation, with some summits seeing 4 activations. The Queens
Birthday weekend gave VK SOTA Activators and Chasers a buzz with several
stations activating and a good number of summit to summit QSO’s. Prior to
June there had only been one VK s2s.
The bonus season in VK3 has started and so far there have been two
activations, at Mt Richie VK3/VC-003 and MT Donna Buang VK3/VC-002, both
activated by Wayne VK3WAM. The Donna Buang activation will go down in
history with the first ever SOTA s2s VK/DX contact with G0PEB/p on
G/SE-008. June also saw a second VK3 operator, Allen VK3HRA achieve a DX
contact with ND0C.
Ian VK5CZ made a trip to Melbourne to spend time looking at summits for
a future VK5 association. So far around 300 summits have been
identified, with a comprehensive survey around all of the state. There
are some summits around Adelaide, many in the Flinders Ranges, some in
the Eyre Peninsula and a large number in the north west of the state.
Some of these areas are very remote, but could make for memorable trips
in the best traditions of a DXpedition. Something to look forward to.
Some VK5’ers are actively chasing VK3 activators, and we look forward to
VK5 joining the SOTA family in the not too distant future.
We welcome a new activator, VK3AFW, and chasers VK3AFW again, VK5PAS
(worked 2E0YYY in May on Shining Tor), VK3YY, VK2UH, VK3AZZ, VK3TPH.
Wayne VK3WAM will be presenting on SOTA from a VHF and up perspective at
GippsTech on July 7. Hope to see some of you there.
VK SOTA Reporter
SOTA ON TOP BAND - Mark G0VOF
Hello everyone & welcome to this month’s edition of SOTA on Top Band.
With June having the longest daylight hours of any month here in the Northern hemisphere, the chance of enjoying good conditions on 160m is quite slim. That said, two activators did use the band during the month with varying degrees of success.
The first activation took place on Friday 1st June when John G4YSS wanted to air the Scarborough Special Events Group callsign with the “Q” prefix celebrating HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee from G/NP-009 Buckden Pike. As this activation took place on a weekday I was otherwise engaged, but John’s CQ call was picked up at around 0830z by Roy G4SSH, closely followed by Phil G4OBK. Both stations are pretty reliable chasers from Northern England on Top Band, despite Roy only using a non-resonant ground mounted vertical. Phil’s 160m station & signal are somewhat bigger & it is his signal that most Top Band activators in the North use to gauge band conditions. After two contacts on 1832 KHz John then QSY’d to 40m CW followed by 40m SSB & 20m CW to give more chasers the opportunity to work GQ0OOO/P.
As John’s activation took place well into daytime conditions, 160m was never going to be easy, so a tally of two, (which would have been three if I had not been at work) is not too bad.
John’s excellent activation report can be found here:
The next activation was little different as it took place towards the end of daylight conditions when Zoli, HA2PP/P activated HA/KD-003 Középsö-Hajag on the evening of Saturday 2nd June. This activation was very successful & quite unusual in that no other bands were used, with Zoli only using 160m! A stunning total of 27 QSO’s were made, all using CW, with stations from many parts of Europe. This certainly shows how the band does improve as darkness approaches, but that would be a superb tally at any time & demonstrates that Zoli’s confidence in only using Top Band was justified.
Well done both for activating on 160m this month.
At the time of writing, those were the only Top band activations during June that I am aware of, if I have missed any others please let me know.
On the 1st June, John G4YSS (using GQ0OOO/P) activated G/NP-009 Buckden Pike, & achieved 2 QSO’s on 160m, using CW.
On the 2nd June, Zoli HA2PP/P activated HA/KD-003 Középsö-Hajag, & achieved 27 QSO’s on 160m, using CW.
Thanks to both John & Zoli!
As always, If you do have any suggestions on things that you think should be included, or if you wish to contribute tips, ideas or anything else that you think may help others on the band please email them to me at email@example.com
Until next month,
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH - 42 by Rob and Audrey G4RQJ
A new, novel method of sending CW. Whilst eating some prunes (soft and juicy, their words) I heard a CW call from Tom EYP on Blake Fell, rushed to call him and found the paddles sticking to both thumb and finger, resulting in even more rubbish sent than usual. He came back to me! So had to struggle through, sorry Tom. Key and fingers cleaned afterwards.
Monday 4th June, Black Combe.
Jubilee Beacon night so we decided to give the previous Sunday a miss and to visit the beacon for the celebrations. We climbed this one for the Silver Jubilee and the Golden Jubilee and I (Rob) have always promised to do it for the Diamond version.
We decided to make this a cut down activation of 2m FM only, in view of the darkness and the other expected visitors. We had already activated the summit under winter bonus this year so null points for us. The WX was perfect for the event and we climbed from the usual Witcham Church car park and were surprised by the lack of other walkers. The Silver Jubilee was very busy, met a chap walking up at about our pace and had a pleasant chat on the relentless ascent, the sun was setting and the views spectacular.
The large pile of pallets was clearly visible on the final ascent and we were greeted with drinks and cake by the organisers as the first walkers to arrive. They were beginning to worry that no one was going to turn up. People began to arrive steadily, mostly young farmers on quad bikes. The final total was about fifty people, twenty or so being walkers. We operated with just the handheld and our 2 element folding telescopic beam on the short mast that folds out from the walking pole also handheld.
There was much interest and favourable comment from the others on the summit and we worked about ten chasers, all regulars including one other Beacon station down in Ormskirk, GQ0OXV/P Keith, unfortunately not SOTA on this occasion.
At about 2215 local time, beacons began to appear in the distance, the one on Coniston Old Man being very prominent and soon about fifteen were visible, some far off in the Pennines. The flames from the Black Combe offering were huge, the best part of 30 feet in the air and we all had to stand very well back and hope that the wind did not take a sudden turn. The moon rose huge over the Pennines and made the descent a pleasure and we were able to see the fireworks on Douglas promenade over in the Isle of Man. Head torches were only needed during the last few hundred feet where the path enters a gully not lit by moonlight. All in all a very memorable trip.
Tom EYP climbed the hill in the morning and found the soil still warm from the night before. A word about Black Combe summit, which is our local bigger one. The summit plateau is huge and prone to sudden bouts of creeping mist which make it a very disorientating place. The final climb from the tourist (best) route from Witcham church can be done in two ways. 1) - follow the main track which contours the summit, past the arrow in stones on the ground to decant you about 200yards short of but directly west of the trig. This last 200yards is virtually pathless, obvious in the clear but not if the mist creeps up. 2)- In clear weather from about SD134854 a path of steps on grass takes you directly to the summit plateau but is not well defined and on descent is best done on a GPS or compass heading when cloud is about. This can be a very confusing place.
Sunday 10th June, Claife Heights
We have heard that lots of logging had been going on this little hill, so wondered quite what we would find. We started as usual from the small free car park at Red Nab which is to the north of the summit and right on the lake shore. The final track (not the minor road) to the car park has become very rutted so beware it your vehicle has low ground clearance. At the start of the ascent, immediately to the south of Bell Grange, the track is almost blocked by a fallen tree. The tree has its source in the garden of the grange so may well soon be cleared. The pleasant climb through the woods is paved (sort of vertically) and can be very slippery in almost any season if wet. Once out onto the logging road it is a nice wooded stroll to the top. A lot of logging has obviously gone on but so far has no impact on the approach from the north. Close to the radio site we were watched by a stag in full antler with two of his harem in tow, there are often deer around in this part of the woods. The summit area is untouched at the moment and the bracken is growing rapidly. On the air 5 MHz was sulking but lots of contacts on all our usual others.
Sunday 17th June Muncaster Fell.
Yet again the forecast for the higher fells was not promising so we decided on little Muncaster for a nice Sunday stroll. Parked at the car park for the Castle, a super tourist attraction for those not keen on the hill climb. The car park is free and they don’t seem to mind the odd non-visitor. They used to have an honesty box that we were happy to contribute to but latterly it has vanished. The walk is simple and obvious on a cart track a few hundred yards east of the car park but take care on the road which is quite fast and busy and the pavement is on one side or the other but
never both. The track is a steady plod but eventually opens out beside a very pretty little tarn with loads of water lilies.
Pass the tarn on your left and a gate leads out onto the open fell with the target visible ahead. This hill is notorious as a hard one to get out of on VHF so we had high hopes of HF saving the day. Wrong! Conditions were dire on 5, 7 and 10 MHz and an hour of effort produced no contacts! So on to 2m and SSB produced just two QSO’s Liz and Colin in Frizington. They kindly spotted us, but no further stations appeared so we were down to our last card, 2m FM and after a slow start it came up trumps, just 10 contacts in over two hours, but job done, Thanks everyone. Looking on the
spots when we got home Mark VOF could hear us, carrier only, and asked for 2m CW which would have been possible but unfortunately neither of our phones is clever enough to let us know, sorry Mark.
See in the reflector that folks having trouble breaking the pile up when trying to make a summit to summit QSO, particularly on CW. Still think it would make sense to have a simple abbreviation that would work internationally and be easily recognised. QSS springs to mind as an unused code group that we could acquire for the job, suggested this before some time ago with little response but the pileups are much bigger now.
We missed the last Sunday of the month, as by the time you read this we should be active from the Isle of Man and getting all the kit wet just beforehand did not seem like a good idea. We should be active on all our usual bands plus 20m CW if the new trap dipole works ok. It looks fine when tested close to the house etc. but the WX has not allowed a full test. Activations will be as the weather and inclination decide, but we hope to do all five tops a couple of times with probably some evening activity, even taking the 4m rig. We will have internet access at base so we should be able to
post, but nothing mobile, so would appreciate spots
Sorry this is a bit short this month due to WX restrictions (have the management considered a summer bonus for this part of the world?) Meanwhile take care out there.
73 Rob and Audrey,
SOTA OBSESSION ON GM/WS-006; Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan by Colwyn Jones MM0YCJ
Late afternoon, Thursday 16th February 2012 saw me out on the highest mountain in the UK which has not yet had a summit radio broadcast. The remote Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan (1143m) some 40 miles west south west of Inverness. It would already be dark over large areas of Europe favouring short wave propagation.
The name Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan is problematic for non Gaelic speakers, and has been lazily christened Chrysanthemum by many linguistically challenged hill walkers! It translates to “Peak of the Quarters” referring to the large areas of land it rather confusingly divides with its five; not four long ridges.
The name is pronounced Sgurr nan Keravan (SOTA ref; GM/WS-006) and is found at the head of Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands (Latitude: 570 15 17N, Longitude: 50 13 22W. Grid Reference: NH057228, QTH Locator: IO77JG).
Walking in from Loch Affric in the east, rather later than planned, I had decided to go up the linked Corbett; Sgurr Gaorsaic first (Sota ref; GM/WS-158; 839 metres), which translates as Horror Peak; not sure why!!! The logic being this would allow a break in the overall climb and that the fresh westerly wind would be at my back for the return journey; which indeed proved to be the case. The land rover track from the end of the road in Glen Affric follows the river Affric to the youth hostel at Alltbeithe. From there a footpath continues for about a kilometre to a right fork up Gleann Gniomhaidh, where a footpath crew had been upgrading the surface. Head directly for the summit when you reach the 320m contour (NH056200) where initially there is a handy fence to follow, or use as a banister. Sgurr Gaorsaic is completely encircled by higher hills; Munros over 914m (3000ft in imperial units) so there is no line of sight to anywhere making VHF contact unlikely. Therefore, I started calling CQ on 40m, from the large flat summit, just after 14:00 hours and made 14 QSOs in 25 minutes. Most were in the UK but one was in Holland, Ireland and another in Switzerland.
I quickly packed and despite the rising wind (my insulated foam seat blew away when I stood up), set off for the main summit buoyed by the speed and number of QSO’s on the first hill. I had to use crampons and ice axe on some steep, icy snow but reached the mighty top less than 2 hours later and set up the 40m inverted dipole on the lee side of the summit cairn. By now, late in the day, it was snowing, which with the wind meant activating in a blizzard. Despite calling for just over 30 minutes I made only 2 contacts; one in Ireland (GI8SKN @ 16:57), the second in Surrey (2E0DBJ @ 17:16). The overseas stations blasting in swamped my 5 watt QRP output. I finally accepted it was time to change frequencies and try to speak with some locals who might have arrived home by now. I reluctantly came out from under my bivvy shelter and looked for the small kit bag with the stubby 2m whip for my FT817. Alas, it was nowhere to be found and I can only assume it had blown away taking a couple of coax leads as well. There was little point searching because of the vertiginous 500m drop just a few metres downwind.
All was not lost as I could still use the rear port for my 3 element VHF YAGI, but I soon appreciated that the wind was too strong to safely assemble it. In fact I was impressed that the inverted V dipole was still in one piece! The hour was late, I was in danger of benightment on the top of the highest and most remote mountain in the area, and I was cold. Discretion is the better part of valour, according to Falstaff, so it was time to accept the bitter taste of defeat and enjoy the sweet flavour of retreat; maybe I was also thirsty and hungry!
As evidenced by the appearance of this article, I got down safely, although it was dark for most of the descent, but I usefully used the time to do two things; first review the order of the hills I had climbed that day (maybe the wrong sequence, although I had activated one unique summit) and second to calculate the length of a home brew ¼ wave antenna to replace the commercial aerial. A bit of stiff copper wire and a BNC plug should do the job; maybe even add a counterpoise wire! Or so I thought. First thing was to work out the length of the wire; the lost antennae being about 20cm long.
300 X 106 /145.500 MHz = 2.0162m for wavelength
2.0162 / 4 = 0.50405m for ¼ wavelength
0.50405 x 95% = 0.4788475m as speed of signal is 5% lower in copper.
However, a 47.9cm whip antenna is more than twice as long as the FT817 stubby antenna and the answer is that the commercial whips (rubber ducks) are “normal mode helix” antennas.
A helical antenna is a conducting wire wound in a constant parallel spaced helix or spring. In most cases, helical antennas are mounted over a ground plane and that was me with MY FT817; essentially humans are a bag of isotonically salty water and are useful as a ground plane for hand held gear.
Helical antennas can operate in one of two principal modes: normal mode or axial mode. In the normal mode or broadside helix, the dimensions of the helix (the diameter and the pitch) are small in comparison to the transmitted wavelength. The diameter of my lost whip being less than a centimetre and the pitch but a few millimetres. The antenna acts like a whip and the radiation pattern is omnidirectional, with the maximum radiation at right angles to the helix axis. The design is reported to be efficient as a practical reduced-length radiator when compared with the operation of other types such as base-loaded, top-loaded or center-loaded whips. They are typically used where reduced length is important.
In contrast the axial mode helix uses helix dimensions at or above the operating wavelength. The antenna produces radio waves with circular polarisation and the radiation pattern is along the axis of the helix. They are often used where the relative orientation of the transmitting and receiving antennas are unknown or cannot be easily controlled, such as in spacecraft. Just make sure it is a compatible right or left handed helix!
So, with my home brew whip antenna should I head back up Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan for a second attempt?
Yes, the return match was inevitable and 9 weeks later, despite no winter bonus points being available, at 11:00 hours (10:00 hours UTC) Sunday 22nd April 2012 saw me back on the summit.
That morning the weather was better than forecast by the Met office. I had even bivvied next to the car in Glen Affric (no midges and the stars had been out overnight, a fantastic show as there was no light pollution). The early morning cycle to Athnamulloch (8km) had been undertaken before I was properly awake. A dog walker staying in the cottages accused me of being out ‘rather early.’ I wish I had hinted I was a poacher (as he was implying), but as usual these ripostes only occur to you well after the event, usually in the car on the way home!
The second section of undulating track to Alltbeithe youth hostel has been recently improved, but there was still a lot of dismount and pushing, before hiding the bike near the YH and the junction with the stalkers path (NH080201), which heads up to the ridge then on to my stubbornly unique summit and the cloud. Deer proof fencing to encourage natural regeneration of the native woodland is working well. I left the stalkers track at the 650m contour to aim for the summit directly and shorten the ascent. It was about this time I realised I was still wearing my cycle helmet!
Despite my 06:30 (05:30 UTC) start and the excellent path, I didn’t reach the snowy summit until 10:30 (09:30 UTC). The recent snowfall meant that there was no sign of my lost kit bag, but I had ample time to erect the 40m dipole for the FT 817 and the 3 element YAGI for the VX7, while listening to Jon, GM3JIJ in Stornoway broadcast the RSGB news. Although cold, thankfully there was only a moderate breeze on this occasion and I was able to kick a large temporary shack in the 3 feet of snow beside the summit cairn, so nothing slipped off down the hill this time!
When invited I identified myself after the broadcast and had the pleasure of activating the peak with Jon and the 5 others in the cluster on 2m; the pressure was off!
There was even a viable phone signal (perhaps last time I had sheltered on the lee side with no phone signal) and a spot on 40m @ 11:15 (10:15 UTC) hit the pile-up button. Typically I struggled to keep up with the QSO’s, but atypically I raised my eyes just as the cloud cleared; I try to avoid using the bivvy shelter if possible. The sunshine on the searing white summits all around gave an astounding view.
WOW! I can’t recall to whom I was talking at the time, but I just had to tell everyone how beautiful it was. 17 QSO’s in as many minutes and a stunning view to match. Using SOTA to get me onto the hill is my motivation, but the occasional view that leaves you speechless (not that good for SOTA activators!) is my reward.
It was chilly on the summit, despite my rude, improvised shelter, and as I packed the 40m rig away, I heard some activity on 2m and finished the activation with a new contact MM6BIP in Stornoway and a more established contact GM7PKT/P on a summit 2 summit on GM/WS-283; Sidhean na Raplaich, 551m.
I dallied on the summit, not wanting to break the spell of what was a perfect activation. Helpfully, nature intervened when a bank of cloud rolled in prompting my departure. I even had my uphill tracks to follow down the snow. In descent I took a direct line cross country back to the glen (didn’t help my knees) and later spoke with the warden outside Alltbeithe youth hostel which had opened at Easter; the only person I met all day excepting the grumpy dog walker; although his bitch had been friendly enough! In addition to being in a delightful place, Alltbeithe youth hostel would be an excellent base to stay while activating the many hills nearby. Interestingly the warden didn’t ask why I was hillwalking in a cycle helmet; I guess it takes all types!
The cycle back to the car was leisurely, although there seemed to be less pushing involved. Maybe I was more used to the rough track, or just tired and took more risks! Or maybe it was just downhill! The roads south were quiet, and with a short stop for a decent coffee and alfresco cream scone on the Osprey sundeck at the Letterfinlay hotel on Loch Lochy, I was back home in the central belt for supper. Mission accomplished.
Thanks to Bob GM4UYZ, Campbell MM0DXC, Adrian MM0DHY and Andy MM0FMF for their unwitting, but essential help, in inspiring this report.
FRENCH SPECIAL EVENT.
(Although not a SOTA event, this information has been forwarded to me for the benefit of readers who may be interested in contacting this special event station, which is being activated from 300m above ground level – Ed)
This year 2012 is the 70th anniversary of the FRENCH ARMY SIGNAL CORPS .
Starting July 12th until July 15th, in Paris, among the festivities of the French 14 Juillet, will be held a special ham event from a very rare location .
From the 3rd floor of the Tour Eiffel (about 300 m over ground), some Hams, all Servicemen, will be active, 24h a day. The crew consists namely of : Philippe/F5SKW, Dimitri/F5SWB, Freddy/F5IRO, David/F8CRS and Yves-Michel/ F5PRU. Some of them were operators in the past at TO4E or FT5GA.
The callsign claimed is TM70TRS, but it could be also TM70TE The activity is scheduled on CW, SSB and RTTY, HF & VHF bands ( Grid Locator JN18DU). A special QSL card to confirm your QSO’s will be available from the F6KHX ARC or from Didier/F5OGL, both either direct or via the French bureau.
Special notice for those who are able to receive the French TF1 TV Network programmes:
A French TF1 TV Network technician’s team managed by the journalist Anne-Claire Coudray, has made a movie, showing the operators when preparing the station, for the operation, on last June 19th. This movie will be included in the July 14th, morning (utc+2) French Forces parade on the Champs Elysées, TV report.
CW REPORT FOR JULY 2012 - by Roy G4SSH
The midsummer month of June resulted in very poor propagation on 40m, with some days when the band appeared dead for hours on end, heavy QRN and heavy QSB. The higher frequencies did not suffer quite so badly and 18 MHz and above began to carry SOTA traffic.
The weekend of Friedrichshaven resulted in increased activations as SOTA visitors took advantage of the trip and activated summits in the vicinity. The improving weather also produced many other expeditions and holiday activations.
On the 15th Bert DJ2JK jumped over border to activate a summit in DL and OK to give 2 x 6 pointers
On the 16th June there was a SOTA first, when Robert G0PEB on G/SE-008 and Wayne VK3WAM on VK/SE-002 completed the first ever G to VK s2s on 14062 KHz.
On the 17th Frank DJ2FR also operated on both sides of the DL/OK border, and later Gerald F6HBI and Bob F5HTR operated in France and Italy.
On the 21st Bob F5HTR and Roger F5LKW activated 5 x 10 pointers in the F/AM region in one day.
On the 21st Lutz DJ3AX and his XY (with Benny) commenced a SOTA holiday, activating SOTA’s for the following week and Norby LX1NO on a holiday tour in DL activated 14 DL summits between the 22nd and 28th.
On the 30th Marjan S51RU, Luk DD1LD and Uwi DK4TN all crossed the border to operate in Germany and Austria.
On the 28th Karl DL2XL operated from Austria, then back into Germany.
There were many other out-of-the-ordinary activations during the month, including Roger MW0IDX operating as GB10SOTA from the summit of Snowdon; Heinz OE5EEP operating from HB0/LI-007 in Lichtenstein; Dan OK1DIG operating from I/SI-302 in Sicily, Robin 9H4RH operating from GO-001 on Gozo Island, YO9CB from the Middle Carpathians in Romania and Rob and Audrey G4RQJ from the Isle of Man .
I always look forward to an alert by French activators because I know that they will use multiple bands, so giving chasers every opportunity to make a contact. On the 10th June Gerald F6HBI was active from F/AM-472 and (as expected) his QRP signals were totally inaudible to me on 7 MHz, but I could relax knowing that he would use every HF band available. However, I was amazed when he was audible on 10, 14, 18, 21, 24 and even 28 MHz. Apart from a ground wave signal from TA-004 I have never before had a six band HF SOTA!
On the 17th Kurt F/HB9AFI resorted to listening one up on 7032 KHz in order to clear a big pile-up of chasers.
Karel OK2BWB for his excellent procedure in using 14062 KHz many times during the month (often 4 or 5 times in a single day) and posting a self-spot to alert chasers 30 minutes before each activation.
For the over-enthusiastic chaser who never reads the second line of Karel’s tip-off’s (in 30 mins) and proceeds to work a “phantom” Karel on 14062 KHz 30 minutes before everyone else.
Tip: Beware any chaser sending double calls, it is usually a good sign that they cannot hear the activator.
Heard active above 40m were:-
28 MHz: F6HBI, DL9MDI, EA2EA,
24 MHz F6HBI, F5UKL, EA2EA,
MQ1EYP, M0CGH, G4ASA,
N1EU, K7ATN, NE1SJ, NE1ST, NM5TW,
F6HBI, F5UKL, F5VGL,
F6HBI, F5UKL, F5VGL, F6ENO, F5LKW,
DK6YM, DL6AP, DF3MC, DK4TN,
EA1/HB9AFH, EA1AER, EA2/F5UKL, EA4MY
F5UKL, F6HBI, F5VGL,
GQ0OOO. G0PEB, GW0PEB, M0CGH, MM3BRR, G4ASA, M1EYP,
HB9IAB, HB9BRJ, HB9IAB, HB9HVK,
OE5EEP, OE/DK4TN, OE3KAB, OE/DL4MHA, OE/S51RU,
OK2BWB, OK/OM4DW, OK2BDF, OK/OM6TC, OK1CZ,
OM/OK2SAM, OM3CUG, OM4AA,
S57X, S51RU, S57XX, S53XX
KJ6NHF, KG7E, KI0G, K7ATN, KE5AKL, KX7L, KQ2RP,
NG7A, NM5S, NE1SJ, N6ZA, N3SW, N1EU, NS7P, NS0TA, NM5TW,
WS0TA, WG0AT,W3PO, WH6LE, WO6M, WA2USA,
VA3SIE, VA3QV, VE2JCW, VA2VL, VA2OTA, VE2PID, VA2SG, VE2/N4EX,
DK1DU, DL6AP, DD1LD, DL4MHA, DK7MG, DF3MC, DJ2FR, DK7ZH, DK4TN, DL/LX1NO, DL/GW0DSP, DL/HB9BIN, DC7CCC, DL/OE5EEP, DL8RO, DD1LD, DL7VKD, DL1AKP,
F6HBI, F5UKL, F5VGL, F/HB9AFI, F6ENO, F/DJ5AA, F5HTR, F/DJ5AA, F8AAB, F5LKW, F/DJ5AA,
GQ0OOO, GX0OOO, MQ1EYP, M0CGH, G4RQJ, GD4RQJ, GW0HIO, G3RDQ, M1EYP, G4AFI, G4ASA,
HA7UL, HA5MA, HA5LV, HG4UK, HA6QR, HA6OY, HA2PP,
HB9BHW, HB9CGA, HB9BQU, HB9DST, HB9DGV, HB9BQB, HB9CGT,
IK/DK7MG, I/F5HTR, I/F6HBI,
LA1ENA, LA8BCA, LA1EBA,
OE5EEP, OE8SPK, OE/DK4TN, OE3KAB, OE/DJ2FR, OE8SPK, OE5CHC
OK2BWB, OK1DVM, OK1FFU, OK1FRT, OK1CZ, OK2HIJ, OK/OM6TC, OK2QA, OK2SAM,
OE1EQ, OK1DIG, OE/DJ2FR
OM/OK2SAM, OM3CUG, OM/OK1DIG,
S51RU, S57XX, S53XX
Also thanks to the stalwarts who enthusiastically continue to activate on 80 and 160m:-
3.5 MHz N6ZA, GX0OOO,
1.8 MHz GQ0OOO, HA2PP 1.830 HA/KD-003 2ND June
Heard active on expeditions outside their own countries were:
DL/HB9BRJ, DL/HB9BIN, DL/OK2QA, DL/LX1NO, DL/S51ZJ, DL/OE5EEP, OE/DL2XL,
F/HB9AFI, F/HB9AFI, F/DJ5AA,
IK/DK7MG, I2/PA0HRM, I/F6HBI, I/F5HTR
OE/DK4TN, OE/DJ2FR, OE/DL2XL, OE/DD1LD, OE/DL4MHA, OE/S51RU,
OK/OM4DW, OK/DK2JK, OK/OM6TC, OK/DL8DXL, OK/DL8WJM,
OM/OK2SAM, OM/OK2BWB, OM/OK1DIG,
SP/DL6UNF, SP/OK2BWB, SP/OK2VWB,
Note from editor:- The above listings are simply a representative sample of SOTA CW activity for the month, copied from my own SOTA CW QSO’s and information on the Spots page of SOTA Watch. It is a one man job and I cannot note every single call, especially as I am often away from home in summer, operating as G4SSH/A. I receive a few e-mails from activators every month, after publication, asking why their calls were omitted from the list; this is not deliberate and your call will be added after publication should you wish.
CONTESTS DURING JULY 2012
The following scheduled contests are expected to cause severe QRM to SOTA activity, especially on the 40m band. Activators should plan accordingly with alternate spots / bands. This is not a complete list of contests.
7th-8th 1500-1500 Original QRP contest CW.
7th-8th 1100-1100 DL-DX RTTY contest
8th only 0001-2359 SKCC Weekend sprint CW
14th -15th 1200-1200 IARU World Championship CW and SSB
21st-22nd 1200-1200 DMC RTTY contest
28th-29th 1200-1200 RSGB IOTA contest CW & SSB
SOTA News is normally published at 1200 UTC on the last day of each month and can only be as interesting as the items submitted. If you think your particular field of interest is not being covered then please submit an article by the 28th of the month. Have you a favourite SOTA? favourite mode? favourite rig, antenna, or favourite band? How did you find your first day / month / year as an activator or chaser? Your comments and experiences will be read by SOTA enthusiasts all across Europe and beyond, in a total of 24 different countries. Your input will be most welcome.
I receive many e-mails during the month containing details of activations, milestones reached and general SOTA news. Unless advised otherwise I will use this information in the next edition of SOTA News. It is important that you advise me if any information is not intended for publication.
SOTA News Editor
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