SOTA NEWS - JUNE 2015 - Part one of two
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the June 2015 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Skip K6GDW, Allen VK3HRA, Mark G0VOF, Kevin G0NUP, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, John G4YSS, Jürg HB9BIN, Paul HB9DST, Geert PA7ZEE, Dick PA2GRU, Nick G4OOE, Colwyn MM0YCJ.
The May edition of SOTA News was viewed 800 times.
SOTA AWARDS FOR MAY 2015 - from Barry GM4TOE, SOTA Awards Manager
May has been another surprisingly quiet month for awards although merchandise has been much in demand. Congratulations to Mountain Goats HL3QBN and W7JET and Shack Sloths VK3TKK, VK3ARR, HB9JOE, AE7AP and OH2NOS. Elliott K6EL continues to surge ahead and is now on 20k Chaser points (and his Activator score is good too) and N6KZ has reached the 1000 unique summits chased total.
Well done to all claimants this month, your awards are either “in the post” or are waiting for despatch this weekend.
HL3QBN Jason Vlasak
W7JET Brian Betz
VK3TKK Peter Watkins
HB9FPM Eva Thiemann 500 points
CT1BWW Manuel Alberto C. Marques 250 points
VK3ARR Andrew Ryan 100 points
K6EL Elliott M Pisor 20000 points
VK3ARR Andrew Ryan 2500 points
M0TVU Paul Swingewood 1000 points
HB9JOE Andreas Thiemann 1000 points
AE7AP Robert Kingery 1000 points
OH2NOS Saku Metsala 1000 points
M0BQD Elizabeth Lee 500 points
K7HLN Bob Solomon 250 points
W4KRN Karen Russo 250 points
K7HLN Bob Solomon 100 points
N6KZ James Zimmerman 1000 summits
DD0VE Ralf Mantyk 500 summits
Summit to Summit
AE7AP Robert Kingery Red
HB9JOE Andreas Thiemann Silver
HB9FPM Eva Thiemann Silver
VK3ARR Andrew Ryan Silver
VK3TKK Peter Watkins Bronze
I would like to remind all participants that it is a requirement to enter your log onto the SOTA database in order to claim awards. I have had two instances this month of paper logs being submitted and I cannot provide awards based on this information and I neither have the time nor the inclination to enter this information into the database for you. If you need help there are people out in SOTAland who will be only too willing to assist if asked; just put a request for help on the Reflector.
Luckily this month has not been too demanding but I notice a distinct pattern in ordering of both awards and merchandise and this can, when I am busy, cause problems. There is an upsurge as soon as the monthly news is published and another surge when Roy puts the notice on the Reflector asking for contributions to the news. Mid-month is usually very quiet.
There is a facility for local Associations to promote and issue their own awards (based on the SOTA General Rules) to celebrate some particular local activity. The Management Team actively encourages these awards and will always assist in any way possible to facilitate this; whether it is advice on the local award rules to providing high quality images, such as the logo, then all you have to do is ask. I have not offered the facility before but if you would like to have a local awards page on the awards shopping site I am happy to assist.
We are rapidly approaching the time of year when the Management Team hold their annual meeting and it is usual at these event to review the awards and merchandise that we currently offer and at the same time consider other awards and trophies that we might make available. If you have any ideas or proposals then I would like to hear from you before the end of June – email to me at gm4toe “at” btconnect “dot” com (changing the obvious) and I will ensure your ideas are put forward.
That is all for now; this has been the coldest May I can remember and it doesn’t look as if the weather is going to improve any time soon – fresh snow on the mountains round here (even the little ones). My SOTA ski cap is getting full use to keep my follically challenged cranium warm!
Stay safe on the hills
SOTA Awards Manager
REMINDER FOR THE HAM RADIO FRIEDRICHSHAFEN
- SOTA Session: Friday, 26 June 2015, 2:00 to 3:45 p.m. in the “Schweiz” room.
With this session, we are organizing for the first time at Friedrichshafen a place where everyone can share their experiences about SOTA. You can ask your questions about any aspects of SOTA in either English or German, and the following member of the SOTA Management Team along with some frequent SOTA activators will respond and lead a discussion: Andy Sinclair, MM0FMF, SOTA MT UK; Dr. Jürg Regli, HB9BIN, Association Manager Switzerland; Paul Schreier, HB9DST/AA1MI, VP of the Swiss SOTA Group; Peter Kohler, HB9TVK, Webmaster of the Swiss SOTA Group.
After interacting with the audience and responding to their questions, we will offer some or all of the following short presentations (depending on available time and what the audience would prefer to hear about):
The pros/cons of the AlexLoop compared to the EndFedz end-fed dipole – an analysis of measurements using the RBN (Paul Schreier, HB9DST)
The product range and latest introductions from Palm Radio – an overview by a company insider and the Swiss distributor (Hansjörg Baur, HB9DWS)
Using the free BaseCamp software from Garmin as a tool for planning moutain excursions (Jürg Regli, HB9BIN)
Computer logging during SOTA activations using an OpenPandora Linux handheld PC (Peter Kohler, HB9TVK)
The pros/cons of the KX3 compared to the FT-817ND (Jürg Regli, HB9BIN)
- Visit HB9SOTA at the USKA booth anytime
HB9SOTA, the Swiss SOTA Group, is the guest host at the USKA booth (Union of Swiss Shortwave Amateurs). We will have a display case showing a few popular SOTA rigs and will be there to answer any questions newcomers or experienced activators/chasers might have. In any case, we would be delighted to have you drop by and say hello – at least one member of HB9SOTA will be at the booth at all times.
- Ideas for local activations
While at Ham Radio, many activators take the opportunity to visit a local summit. There are numerous possibilities, but two that Paul HB9DST would like to recommend can be found in these reports:
Pfänder OE/VB-512, Hochberg OE/VB-511 and Hirschberg OE/VB-509
The Hegau volcanoes (DM/BW-086 Hohenhewen, DM/BW-085 Hohenstoffeln and DM/BW-101 Hohentwiel)
Paul Schreier, HB9DST/AA1MI
and Jürg Regli, HB9BIN.
LAKE DISTRICT EXPEDITION
John G4YSS will be on his travels again this month, activating summits in the Lake District from the 1st to the 4th June, using GX0OOO/p.
ADVICE FROM Dick PA2GRU Veron Coördinator IARU Monitoring System
Hereby I send you the report of IARU about intruders.
Maybe you could give attention in the June SOTA news about:
-Don’t use 14.280 since there is a carrier all the times and sometimes a voice from Ukraine.
-Stay away from the emergency QRG 14.206 MHz now in use in Nepal.
73 de Geert PA7ZEE
Van: Dick van Empelen, PA2GRU [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Verzonden: dinsdag 12 mei 2015 15:07
Aan: Dick van Empelen, PA2GRU
Onderwerp: Fw: IARUMS R1 News 4-2015
Hierbij het maandrapport van Regio 1 van de IARU Monitoring System over
Aandacht voor de punten 1, 2 en 5.
Radio France International met splatters op 7005 KHz
Strong Russian noise floor on 14 MHZ, covering 13960-14260 KHz. Door
mij afgelopen weekeinde gehoord en bij de contest goed storend. Locatie:
14205 KHz Nepal Emergency Frequency disturbed.
73, Dick PA2GRU
Veron Coördinator IARU Monitoring System
LIMPY ARNOLD. A simple, cheap and transportable SOTA antenna for 2- and 6 m - from Geert PA7ZEE
PORTO SANTO EXPEDITION REPORT - by G4OOE - 11th & 12th May 2015
Last year I first visited Madeira with the Ryedale Walking Group that included good friend Phil G4OBK and we activated four CT3/MI summits on our free days. It was a great thrill to work so many familiar calls from the island. While I was there I did wonder about visiting Porto Santo to do some CT3/PS summits but there simply wasn’t enough time available. However, this year I was back in Madeira with Eva (xyl) and Fiona (sister-in-law) for two weeks so I had more time to squeeze in a visit to Porto Santo.
Porto Santo is a comparatively small island 11.4 km x 6 km about 42 miles from Madeira with an approximate population of 5,000. The island has five listed SOTA summits. After discussing options with the family we opted to catch the Porto Santo Lines ferry at 08:00 Monday 11th returning to Funchal at 18:00 Wednesday 13th. This would give me two days for doing SOTA and a day with Eva and Fiona.
The 2003 built ferry, Lobo Marinho was very well equipped with restaurant, café, bar, shops etc. The journey took about 2.5 hours and went from Funchal around the eastern side of the island giving great views of the Funchal airport runway on stilts and the Desertas Islands (a nature reserve) and arriving at Vila Baleira, Porto Santo at about 10:30. The hotel staff were very accommodating and they let us check in early. I was able to get some information from a hotel receptionist about the summits, this was her assessment: PS-001 Pico do Facho – The radome is fenced and it is not clear if the summit area or activation zone is accessible. PS-003 Pico do Concelho has a path but is very dangerous and PS-005 Montanha do ilheu de Baixo is on a very small island just off the southwest of Porto Santo that is a nature reserve with access controlled by the Portuguese Navy. This led me to go for PS-002 and PS-004. However, after later getting more opinions from other locals it seems that PS-001 may be accessible after all.
I wanted to get started as soon as possible so I phoned for a taxi to take me to the end of the road as near to PS-004 Espigao as possible. I was somewhat surprised as we drove past the higher summit of Ana Ferreira, 283 metres high according to my Freytag & Berndt map but not a SOTA summit although it looks to have the prominence. After 15 minutes the driver drove me to the end of the road and I followed the obvious path through the trees on to the rocky summit plateau. After about an hour, taking time to take photographs and walk around taped areas placed to protect plants, I scrambled up to the summit trig point listed as 270 metres on the map but 275 metres according to my GPS device. It was a bit windy so I came down about 5 metres and set up my 14, 18 & 21 Mhz dipole with the FT817 with external LiPo battery. The activation went very well with 50 contacts logged. According to my watch the temperature in the sun was 29 C and it certainly felt very warm but I enjoyed my two hours or so on the summit. I walked back down by the same route and I had intended on calling in to one of the rural bars to have a drink and phone for a cab back. Unfortunately they were all closed so I walked back to the hotel very slowly in the heat!
Tuesday, after a leisurely breakfast and another 15 minutes taxi ride I was at the well signed footpath to PS-002 Pico Branco. After about 1 hour 10 minutes walking along the footpath I arrived at the 450 metres summit. I used the same three bands of 14, 18 & 21 Mhz and this time made 35 contacts in 90 minutes. I felt a bit of an intruder at this quiet place that was home to numerous lizards. They were getting a bit too friendly climbing over my boots and one of them jumped into my plastic bag containing my fruit. I did manage to coax it out and by giving the lizards an apple core and part of a banana I was able to keep them away from me. The walk back to the road took about 40 minutes and at the due time the taxi picked arrived to take me back to the hotel. I was well chuffed with the two new summits activated and if anyone wants any information and tracks about these Porto Santo activations please send me an email. Thanks very much to all the chasers and I hope to go back again next year.
My first S2S QSOs from HB to the USA, Malta and VK by Jürg HB9BIN
Using the SOTA reflector, Gerard VK2IO and Robin 9H4RH proposed that activators in VK and EU try to make S2S contacts on Saturday 25 April. The planned activity was to begin at approximately 05:30 GMT. In addition, on this weekend the Australian stations used the special prefix AX.
Despite a poor weather forecast, I was keen to participate in this event – in my almost five years of SOTA operating I had not yet been able to make any S2Ss with VK. On Thursday, at the last moment I decided on Niesen (HB/BE-087) as my QTH and, with much luck, was able to book the last of the eight rooms at the summit hotel. Niesen, with its cable car, seemed ideal for my purposes because I planned on bringing a great deal of radio gear in a 60 litre backpack as well as a suitcase on wheels.
I went on the air on Friday 24 April at 14:31 GMT with a KX3 at 5W and using my Buddipole as the antenna. To help that antenna achieve high efficiency, I purchased as many additional telescopic whips necessary to extend the dipole to a true half wavelength. By doing so, I did not need the coils as originally intended. Although my antenna looked like a weeping willow tree, one visitor who was not terribly bright asked me if I could use it to go fishing in nearby Lake Thun.
During the gray line, at 17:42 I worked my first S2S QSO from Niesen with Bob AC1Z, who was on W1/HA-029 and was calling CQ on 15 metres. Although my Buiddipole was tuned for 20 metres, Bob gave me a report of 559. In an e-mail, he later wrote: “I am glad, I tried calling many times with QSB but the signal came up and I heard you fine. My antenna was a wire inverted vee only about 12 feet off the ground among thick forest. I was using a FT817ND with 5 watts. Ham radio is fun!” Following this success, I wrapped up my radio operations for Friday evening, enjoyed the spectacular sundown and the delicious meal in the mountain inn. During the night, I was awoken by loud snoring from another guest in the adjacent room because of the thin wooden walls. I forgot to put in my ear plugs, but thankfully I had some sleeping pills with me.
On Saturday 25 April I started operating at 04:53 GMT, again with the Buddipole but this time running 100W. To be sure I could make some S2S QSOs with VK, In addition to the KX3 I also brought a Yeasu FT-857D to the summit along with a total of three powerful LiFePO4 batteries. The best of them had a capacity of 24 Ah and each of the two others were rated for 10 Ah. The decision to bring a 100W transceiver paid off because, in addition to activators, this special event also attracted numerous chasers such as DL1FU and others who likewise wanted to make a QSO with a VK station. My first two contacts were on 20m CW with US6AQB and Jean VE2JCW who is a well-known chaser, and I have already had 76 QSOs with him. After 14 minutes, I finally did get my first S2S QSO with VK when I worked VK2AFA/P. There were then three additional S2S contacts in CW with VK3JBL, AX2IB/P and a SSB QSO with an operator using the special call VK100ANZAC. At 05:46 I also was successful in getting my first S2S QSO with Malta on 20m CW by working Robin 9H4RH/P. He was on the rare summit 9H/GO-001 and, as mentioned earlier, was one of the hams who initiated this event. All the signals from VK were very weak, but to compensate my joy as a DXer and SOTA fan was equally high.
As the following table shows, the total opening to VK on this Saturday morning lasted roughly 2½ hours. When it was done, I enjoyed the lavish breakfast buffet in the mountain restaurant. Overall, from Friday to Saturday I made 214 QSOs from Niesen, and of them 33 were S2S contacts.
Date Time Call Ref. Summit QRG Mode Points
24. Apr 15 17:42 AC1Z W1/HA-029 Hersey Mountain 21MHz CW 1*
25. Apr 15 05:07 VK2AFA/P VK2/HU-093 Mt Elliot 14MHz CW 1*
25. Apr 15 05:46 9H4RH/P 9H/GO-001 Ta’Dbiegi 14MHz CW 1*
25. Apr 15 06:24 VK3JBL VK3/VC-016 Mt Beenak 14MHz CW 4
25. Apr 15 07:10 AX2IB/3 VK3/VE-165 Mt Granya 14MHz CW 4*
25. Apr 15 07:25 VK100ANZAC VK1/AC-040 Mt Ainslie 14MHz SSB 1*
I hope we will repeat such a meeting between activators in VK, USA and EU agn! Tks to Paul, HB9DST, for the translation.
73 de HB9BIN, Juerg
SUMMITS ON THE AIR, WALKING ON THE WATER!
GM/WS-340, Beinn a’ Bhaillidh, Eilean Shona, Ardnamurchan.
by Colwyn Jones MM0YCJ
Occasionally and unexpectedly, you experience a day out that ticks all the boxes. You end up feeling like you could walk on water. This is an account of one such day. The summit GM/WS-340, Beinn a’ Bhaillidh (Peak of the bailiff or magistrate) is on the beautiful island called Eilean Shona, but it is not a Scottish island radio summit. The island classification is perhaps questionable and I had already check and found that low tide was at 11:55 hours; an important influence on the day as you will discover. No previous radio activation was recorded, the geography looked interesting but on this particular day, the weather did not. As the peak is on an island a kayak was brought along just in case.
Eilean Shona sits in the mouth of Loch Moidart just off the West coast of Scotland. The Ardnamurchan peninsula is to the south, the islands of Eigg, Muck and Rum to the west and Skye to the north west.
The Eilean Shona website states that until the middle of the 18th century, Eilean Shona was populated by crofters, with the main house a small hunting lodge. It was owned, in the middle of the 19th century, by a seafaring Captain Swinburne who had an intriguing pastime of collecting pine trees on his travels and established what became one of the most diverse Pinetum’s in Europe. Robert Lorimer, who planned much of Edinburgh’s New Town, was commissioned by the island’s owner, a Mr Thompson, to remodel the main house, doubling its size at the end of the 19th century.
In the 1920’s the author J.M. Barrie rented Eilean Shona for the summer as a holiday home, where he was joined by Michael Llewelyn Davies and some friends. Michael, along with his four brothers, had been the inspiration for J.M. Barrie’s characters Peter Pan, the Darling brothers and the Lost Boys. Barrie is thought to have written both the screenplay of Peter Pan while on Eilean Shona. “A wild rocky romantic island it is too”, he wrote enthusiastically to his secretary Cynthia Asquith, “it almost taketh the breath away to find so perfectly appointed a retreat on these wild shores……. Superb as is the scene from the door, Michael, who has already been to the top of things (the summit of Beinn a’ Bhaillidh I assume), says it’s nought to what is revealed there – all the western isles of Scotland lying at our feet.”
The Island seems like a natural haven for wild life, plants and the website mentions the many rare trees brought from distant shores over a hundred years ago. The island is criss-crossed with a network of secluded paths winding through acres of woodland and over the heather covered hills; If only I had known this before my visit! This island is free of cars (no metalled roads helps, but I did see a quad bike with a trailer).
Castle Tioram, which lies just south of Eilean Shona, was the traditional home of the Clanranalds and a key strategic asset in the Lord of the Isles defences. The castle ruins can be seen from the island and the peak may have served as a strategic look-out post in case of seaborne invaders, later perhaps used by water Bailiffs to prevent poaching, or where the Lord of the Isles perhaps undertook a role as magistrate.
Apparently, the Island abounds with wildlife: seabirds, deer, seals, otters, nesting sea eagles, red squirrels and pine marten. Although I didn’t see any notable wildlife during my short visit.
My approach was by the A830 from Fort William to Maillaig, and at Lochailort I turned south onto the A861. At grid reference NM673744 at the locked gate, take the land rover track down to the North Channel of Loch Moidart. Parking is a problem, but a 4X4 helps get you off the carriageway.
We reached the ford marked on the 1:50,000 OS landranger map (sheet 40, NM670740) which at low tide, was a dry causeway allowing pedestrian access to Shona Beag which is joined by a narrow spit of land to Eilean Shona. We all walked across the tidal causeway, simply because we could, then I was abandoned to get on with it alone, racing against the incoming tide.
Wikipedia reports that there are 17 tidal islands in Scotland, and perhaps Eilean Shona is the only one which hosts a radio summit? On reaching Shona Beag, I opted to contour just above the shoreline along the northern coast where a variety of animal tracks led me close to the neck of land leading to Eilean Shona. As is often the case, the plastic detritus making up most of the jetsam in the coves and inlets on the shoreline was an unwelcome spectacle.
The flat dead bracken from last summer gave easy walking, but later in the year new growth would be a major impediment if using this approach. On 16th May 2015 it was a beautiful flat walk, with some minor undulations through the blossoming reawakening, deciduous woodland. There had clearly been an excellent attempt to remove rhododendrons from across the island, but small seedlings are starting to appear so further remedial work will be required to rid the island of this infestation. It all made for easy walking so early in the year.
My enthusiasm to achieve the summit, activate the peak and get back to the ford before the tide flowed back in, meant I tried to take a short cut across a large area of seaweed and mud north of the neck of land, not a wise choice in my lonely circumstances and I was forced to retreat back to the rocky shore from the innocent, sucking mud. Staying close to dry land I finally reached the main bulk of the Island and following a track passing Sawmill cottage at grid reference NM658738, then reached the main track running around the north of the island. The Eilean Shona website promises that if you rent Sawmill Cottage, “you will be disturbed by no one.” From a distance, no one appeared to be in residence and I discretely continued above the secluded spot, trying not to spoil the tranquillity, or any tenants wilderness experience! I crossed the main track perpendicular to its direction of travel and attacked the wooded hillside directly heading due west. I emerged above the treeline and shortly arrived at the very windy summit GM/WS-340 (Beinn a’ Bhaillidh, 265m) with its sizeable cairn and adjacent triangulation station. The summit would provide ample space for a portable antenna of any conceivable description.
The cairn seemed like it would provide adequate shelter and I assembled a temporary shack on the lee side. The 10m Summits on the Air challenge had started the day before so I fired up the newly minted inverted V, supposedly resonant, dipole and got started. There was some activity on the band so initially I was optimistic. However, this early enthusiasm was misplaced and, despite constant calling and spotting myself, all I had to log was a single QSO at 12:18utc with IK2SOB (Fabio). SWR proved to be a bit high so success might follow some fine antenna tuning. While trying to hail contacts on 10m a few antenna flattening squalls passed over discharging the alternative, frozen type of hail, accompanied by very blustery winds.
This was my first outing with the FT 817 powered by a new shiny lightweight LiFePo4 battery which had arrived earlier in the week. No SLAB meant that my rucksack was noticeably lighter than previously, the new battery worked as planned, and on this particular summit got me into the lead on the 10m challenge. Five days later I see that my single 10m QSO point means I am still top of the Scottish challenge activator league, something that will surely change now that I have been foolish enough to highlight this early success!
Back on Eileen Shona during the next lull in the weather I changed the 10m antenna for the 20m option and quickly reached three Spanish stations and an Austrian contact 12:35 (EA2AJO), 12:36 (EA2DT), 12:37 (OE7WGT, Karl) and at 12:43 (EA2CKX). Three local stations on 2m, GM3ZRT, GM7PKT and GM4COX finished the session and I hurriedly packed, then scampered off back down the hill racing against the incoming tide. It was a refreshing (?) certainly novel change to have the activities of my day dictated by the immutable forces of nature.
I was surprised that the tide had progressed so quickly and it was already flowing strongly as I retraced my steps past Sawmill Cottage again. On the return I found a good footpath directly across Shona Beag with a bit of a climb back through the middle of the island and back to the ford. A line of electricity poles off this minor summit proved to be a good indicator of how to get back to the tidal crossing point.
The causeway was already covered by the rising tide, with a significant current, but a bold approach with submarine rock hopping got me safely, if damply, back across to the mainland. Once there I sat down on the northern bank in a welcome spell of sunshine and enjoyed my late lunch as the tide swept past, the kayak stayed firmly lashed to the roof rack and the grin stayed on my face.
GM/WS-340; Beinn a’ Bhaillidh, altitude 265m. A lovely, surprising, and highly recommended SOTA summit; but a lot of effort for a single activator point. You have a choice of whether to frantically cross the tidal causeway / ford, activate the summit and get back before the tide has turned, or take a more leisurely 12 hours, between two low tides, to explore this enchanting island. Having only just succeeded with the former, my recommendation is to enjoy the unique circumstances and situation of this fine summit and adopt the longer, leisurely option.
FM on 20m ? - by Roy G4SSH
In a discussion on the Reflector about the value of test spots and how some chasers never read the second line of a test spot but see a frequency and a callsign and immediately start calling blind on that frequency, the advice was “If I send a test spot, I always put the edge of the band and a mode that won’t usually be used in that part of the spectrum. i.e. 14.000MHz FM is quite good as it can be seen quickly as edge of band and how many amateurs would be using FM on the 20m band?”
I had to smile, because that was sound advice, but as at noon today (31st May 2015) a check of the SOTA Data Base shows 61 activators and 137 chasers claiming points for FM contacts on 20m !!!
A timely reminder that it pays to check up these impossible bands/modes to see if your callsign appears. There is input from many familiar Activators and Chasers.
Speaking of finger trouble. I was delighted to be the first ever CW Chaser to appear in the log of an M0 station who was calling CQ SOTA at about 15 wpm into an almost dead 40m band on the 26th May. He was a bit nervous using CW live for the first time and unsure of the procedure, but I lowered my speed to match his and his Morse was perfectly readable and a credit to him.
One small error - my callsign appears in his log as G4SSS, but he did ask for a repeat of my call and sent it correctly at least once. Ten dots in the first callsign to reply to a first CW SOTA call in poor conditions was always going to be a bit of a challenge. The band deteriorated afterwards and he was last heard calling CQ SOTA without reply. He did qualify the summit on SSB.
***********************CONTINUED IN PART 2 ***********************
SOTA News from North America
SOTA Report from Australia
The View from the North
Top Band Report
Extracts from data base 6m & 10m for May 2015
SOTA News contacts