SOTA NEWS – SEPTEMBER 2008
EDITORIAL By Roy G4SSH
Propagation during the month of August continued to be very variable both on the HF and VHF bands. There were quite a few days when VHF activators struggled to make the minimum four contacts to qualify a summit and HF conditions suffered from similar fade-out conditions. Activators using QRP found conditions particularly difficult, but on the HF bands it was encouraging to see many stations moving up a band from 40 metres to 30 or 20 metres, which boosted their signal-to-noise levels sufficiently to allow them to make more contacts, so delighting many chasers.
Thank you to all who have contributed to this issue. I am particularly pleased to welcome Dave M0DFA who is providing a regular SOTA SSB report, which helps to even the balance between SSB and CW.
My thanks also to:-
Barry GM4TOE, Les G3VQO, Tom M1EYP, Roger F5LKW, Norby LX1NO and Phil G4OBK.
SOTA AWARDS ISSUED. by Barry GM4TOE, SOTA Awards Manager
The following awards have been claimed since I took over and most have now been
SHACK SLOTH TROPHY
Seven trophies in one month is some sort of record, the engraver is having to work really hard to keep up!
DL1FU Friedrich 10000 points ALL CW
G3OHC Graham 5000 points
SM6CMU Ingemar 2500 points
M3VQB Janine 250 points
G3OHC Graham 1000
SM6CMU Ingermar 500
G0RQL Don 500
M3ZCB Caroline 100
G0TDM John 100
G0HDX Roy 250 points
2E0RCS Scott 100 points
S57XX Jure 100 points
TWO NEW SOTA ASSOCIATIONS JOIN ON THE SAME DAY
A reminder from Les G3VQO that Lebanon (OD), our first Asian Association, joined on the 1st September.
We also welcomed Netherlands ¶ with 4 summits, on the 1st, with first time activation of PA-005 by Age PA0XAW and planned activations of PA002 and PA-003 due on the 6th September, by Luc ON6DSL. Hans PA3FYG reports that access to PA-004 is not permitted due to it being designated a wild-life park, so it remains to be seen whether only 3 PA-SOTA’s will be possible.
Hello dear SOTA Friends.
JIMMY BECOMES FIRST TO ACTIVATE THE FOUR UK NATIONAL SUMMITS
Jimmy M3EYP became the first to activate the respective highest peaks of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland when he operated from Ben Nevis GM/WS-001 on 4th August 2008. He beat his father Tom M1EYP to the landmark by a few minutes! Jimmy has also activated Scafell Pike G/LD-001, Snowdon GW/NW-001 and Slieve Donard GI/MM-001 in 2008. Jimmy needs just Snaefell GD/GD-001 in order to activate the five associations’ highest peaks in the British Isles.
Roger MW0IDX has stepped down from his post as treasurer and awards manager on the SOTA Management Team, in order to concentrate on the arrival of a baby this Autumn. The SOTA Management Team is delighted to announce that Barry GM4TOE takes over as treasurer and awards manager with immediate effect, and would like to express its sincere thanks to Roger for his excellent work, and very best wishes to Roger and Sue for the exciting and busy times ahead.
SOTA TALKS AVAILABLE FOR YOUR RADIO CLUB
Tom M1EYP and Jimmy M3EYP continue to provide talks and presentations about Summits on the Air to radio clubs in the North of England. In recent weeks they have provided talks for the Macclesfield, Oldham, Sheffield and Blackpool ARCs, with further talks being booked in several locations. Details should appear in Radcom and on GB2RS News. If you wish to book the talk, which consists of PowerPoint presentation, videos, audio, displays, equipment demonstrations and Q+A forum, then email Tom on email@example.com
EI REPORT By Norby EI/LX1NO
Just a quick report since we have free WLan access on this B&B site in Kinsale.
I’m pretty aware of the fact that being close to the UK, contacts are very difficult. Furthermore, neither the MP1 nor the dipole generate big signals with 50W. The fact that some references could not be done after dinner as planned because of family commitments also adds to some lower Q numbers. This won’t change for the rest of the trip. So, the “working class” will not be able to chase some references.
I uploaded the logs and give you a brief summary of the activities.
Quick decision since about 2h earlier at ferry than expected. WX overcast but ok. 40m on dipole and 30W. Wanted to keep half a battery for IE-068. I understand that some people had problems to hear me but that’s still no reason to call on top of others if I call somebody else. This selfish behaviour took place three times by well-known SOTA chasers. Only G was G4ELZ and it needed quite some effort from his side.
No luck to do this one on the 23rd since it’s been raining all day since arrival. In the morning, sunshine. Decided to do it now before starting the cultural part. Used MP1 and 40W. This time, no selfish clients but bad QSB on my signal proofed by several report re-transmissions. Only G was G4CMQ. Am I that much too close to the UK?
Wanted to do IE-064 after dinner but gate closes at 1830 which means no access at all. Will come back next day if no rain. WX pretty unstable.
WX was so-so, so decided to do 64 on the way north to Kilkenny. One would probably have a nice view, if there would be less clouds. Quite windy but could secure the MP1 on a small pole. Not many Qs but finally some more Gs.
After dinner in Kilkenny and after a glance at the time, decided to go for 53. Some poles around inspired to give the 40/30 dipole a try but without much success. Pretty windy in that area. It’s been either the late time or the distance to mainland that led to a low run. Too much CQing.
We were ahead of time after visiting the Mitchelstown Cave and a quick look on the laptop revealed IS-089 to be a nearby reference with good access. Steep ascent through hedges/gras about 2 feet high. Only choice was MP1. Although a good time for mainland for the general working class, too many CQs remained unanswered. Signal must have been weak, despite running 50W. 30m proved to be the better band.
SOTA ON A PUSHBIKE by Phil G4OBK
I fancied tackling two fairly high summits in late August in the North Pennines, and I wanted NP-002 to be one of them. This is Mickle Fell – a place with restricted access due to the MoD controlled Warcop Ranges nearby, which when firing is taking place makes stray bullets on Mickle Fell a possibility. The webpage ACCESS quotes the access days, usually one or two weekends each month. You can also ring Freephone 0800 7835181 anytime to check the access situation.
I’d read on the reflector about other prolific activators such as G4YSS, GM4COX, G1INK, G3CWI and G7KXV who have activated by bike, but read little about how the cycling part went, so I fancied a go myself. My SOTA “Mentor” John G4YSS offered me some advice. He told me that I could cycle part way up Mickle Fell from Grain’s O’Beck, park my bike up when the track got rough and steep, and then walk the rest of the way. He also added that if I wanted to venture down Swaledale afterwards en-route back to Pickering, I could tackle Rogan’s Seat NP-014 on my bike entirely as the hill is rideable to the top if I start out from Dyke Heads.
I don’t have a proper mountain bike and to cycle to 2205 feet up Rogan’s Seat NP-014 seemed a tall order to me, however I thought I would give it a go on my best bike which has fairly chunky tyres and tougher rims (700x38c) than my normal shopping bike. I have a saddlebag and a handlebar bag. The heavy gear like the FT-857, lead acid Battery and my water was carried on the bike, with the lighter ancillary equipment in the rucksack.
The bike was carried in my hatchback car with the back seat down and with the quick release front wheel removed. So I left NY 872211 a parking spot for NP-002, and rode the 4 miles uphill to my parking space at NY 833234. A couple of steep hills meant I had to push the bike, but I would estimate 90% was ridden and 10% walked on the fairly well graded tracks that serve the small scale quarry, the shepherds and the shooting parties. I gave up riding sooner than I needed to as I met a young chap called Rob who was walking to High Cup Nick without a map and had got misplaced. He had slept out in a bivvy-bag. Rob was glad to see me and made good company for the remaining 2.5 mile walk up to the summit. I could have ridden another mile to the gate at NY 829243 in effect, but I abandoned and locked up the bike at NY 833734. At the summit Rob spent 10 minutes scanning and memorising my 1:25K map, bade me farewell and then set off with his Pennine Way guide book in his hand to his intended destination, putting his misfortune down to the unintended diversion he had to make the previous day when he encountered the red flags flying on the range, barring his direct route to High Cup Nick.
The weather was superb and I soon had 87 rubber stamp QSOs logged on HF CW/SSB in 73 minutes from the 7 Ah battery. Towards the end of the activation SOTA President John G3WGV called in from just down the valley - 599+ needless to say! Mobile signals on Vodafone from NP-002 were good and I was grateful to Roy G4SSH for alerting my activation. Time to pack up now and walk back to the bike, one hour to there on foot, bike safe and sound, batteries and rig repacked into the bike bags, helmet on, and then a swift ride back to the car. Maximum speed attained was 29 mph on the straighter moderately steep section, with a maximum of 15 mph on the stepper rough sections where bends necessitated heavy use of my brakes. It was swift as I only needed to get off once and push, as I approached Fish Lake. I reached the car at 12:15z. Total distance by bike and foot was almost 13 miles and a climb from 1285 ft up to 2585 ft.
After the exhilaration of the activation I wanted more, so after lunch I drove to Gunnerside to tackle NP-014 Rogan’s Seat, which is climbable all the way by bike. So said G4YSS: “It will test your fitness though”.
John was right, this one is harder work but you can ride to the top. I reckon about 75% ridden and 25% walked. Total time getting to the top was 63 minutes. It was just over 4 miles. Once again the weight was packed into the bike bags, including a 13 AH Battery and I had little on my back. Three land rover vehicles containing men came towards me on the track, on their way home from a shooting party I guessed. I was right. An hour later my activation was spoilt, but not curtailed, by the Gunnerside Estate Head Gamekeeper who spotted my pole and ran across the moor to see what was going on. He felt that I should not have erected my fishing pole on the Moor without permission. He also made his views known about the “right to roam” legislation in no uncertain terms. The incident was reported to the SOTA Management Team for comment as the Gunnerside Estate now expects activators to ask for permission to operate in the future. After my chat with the tweed clad fellow the 40m CW pile up had subsided. A few more QSOs were made making a total of 39 rubber stamps in 30 minutes on 40m CW. No Vodafone mobile signal was available on this remote hill so I could not alert G4SSH to ask him to spot me. CQing on 5 MHz and 10 MHz were tried at the 100w level to no avail, and I went QRT at 1610z.
The bags were repacked and I enjoyed a roller coaster wide back to Dyke Heads in 21 minutes! That including stopping to take two photographs of Gunnerside Gill and to open a gate. Amazing, and one reason why I found doing SOTA on a bike attractive. It was a rough old track but 28 mph was achieved on one fairly smooth straight downhill section. Total mileage on this hill was 8.5 miles with the start level being 977 ft and the summit level 2205 ft, making a height gain of 1228 feet, almost as much as on Mickle Fell.
No damage to me resulted, I gained 10 points on HF in the day, a personal best for me, but there was slight damage to my bike. This was metal fatigue on the bracket that supported my front light. The excessive vibration on the lumpy track down Rogan’s Seat snapped the bracket into two pieces.
To sum up, what a great experience. I’m now looking for more summits in the NP and SP areas that lend themselves to cycling – I would like to do more of this. I couldn’t have activated both these summits in the day had I not used my bike. I reckon it’s not worth riding up a summit unless it’s at least a six mile round trip. If the climb is not too steep and can be ridden up for the most part, then it’s probably worthwhile cycling up.
73 Phil G4OBK
LACK OF CONFIDENCE by Roy G4SSH
Regular readers will know that I frequently visit my daughter in Cornwall, where I keep an FT-897 and indoor vertical antenna in order to casually collect SOTA chaser points as G4SSH/A when I have some spare time.
Last April I was shocked to discover that the rig would not switch on after working perfectly the day before. It was returned to the dealer who diagnosed “a dry joint in the start-up circuit”. Unfortunately, the same rig displayed the same symptoms last month. This time it was “an open circuit start-up supply diode”. The rig is powered from the companion Yaesu FP-30 power supply tray beneath the rig.
There was no charge for repair in either case but I am afraid that I have lost all confidence in the rig and will probably part exchange it for a different model. I do not want a rig that causes me to shut my eyes every time I switch on, and for this reason it would be too much of a risk to take if activating a summit.
HILL OF THE MONTH By Tom M1EYP
For Tom and Jimmy, M1EYP & M3EYP, it has to be Ben Nevis GM/WS-001 this time around. After all, it is the highest mountain in the UK at 1344m ASL, and the father-and-son pair from Macclesfield activated it for their first time on Monday 4th August 2008. The “Tourist Path” up Ben Nevis is a straightforward route with little in the way of technical or navigational difficulty - for a fit experienced walker in good weather! It is not so straightforward for those lacking fitness or experience - as proved by ill-equipped people seen still struggling up the mountain at 4pm having been on it for most of the day. Neither is it trivial at other times of year, when snow can cover the route making navigation more difficult, and other dangers such as cornices and subzero temperatures provide significant challenge.
There are three main start points for the Tourist Path. One is the car park outside the Ben Nevis Inn at Achintree, one mile from Fort William. Another is the Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis, and a path also leads up from Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. All converge beyond the Ben Nevis Inn, and follow a stony path which zigzags sharply up the initial hill. Because you are starting at near sea level, and climbing to nearly 4500 feet, there is much ascent to be done. You will not be much more than 1000 feet ASL near the end of the first hour; most of the mountain is still above you!
Some respite comes after the first set of zigzags, with a wide sweeping track around by the footpath restoration contractor’s huts. The path then ascends gradually passing a waterfall, before settling into the main series of long zigzags that climb most of the rest of the way. When the path turns more directly East, and the gradient eases, and the tall stone cairns start to appear every few yards, then you can breathe a sigh of relief and feel satisfaction that you are nearly at Great Britain’s highest point.
The summit is uniquely characterised by the trig point and ruins of the observatory and hotel. In the tower part of the observatory, now sits an emergency shelter into which one can climb and then shut the door on the elements outside. The rooms of the hotel are still standing, but nothing remains of the floors, roofing, windows or furniture, let alone the hospitality. Hostility is probably a better description in most weathers for most months of the year!
With this summit located in the North-West part of the Scottish Highlands, the 40m band proved a reliable way to communicate back to England and Wales on both CW and SSB. In fact there were also many stations worked from all over Europe - and one from Edinburgh! There are other routes up this summit - including an arete route linking to other SOTA summits, for the more adventurous and technically skilled/experienced. Not for Tom though. Tom doesn’t “do” exposure!
The town of Fort William has many accommodation options, from holiday flats and cottages, B&Bs and large hotels to caravan & lodge parks and camp sites. Eating out options are plentiful, but tend to be much more expensive than England, even the takeaways. Families should note that pubs and restaurants are far less relaxed about having children in - even when dining - than the hostelries in the Lake District, for instance.
HF SSB ACTIVITIES by Dave, M0DFA/G6DTN
Following successful treatment for a sudden angina attack last October, I am now back on the bigger hills. A bit slower, perhaps, but still able to match Naismith on most hills. The rig is an FT817 (what else?), but it has been suggested that 5 watts is really not adequate for the 80M band. For hf I use the stepped dipole as described elsewhere by John, GW4BVE.
July started off on the 4th with Glasgwm, GW/NW-015, which I approached from Cwm Cywarch. Please go to the summit details for a route description. Although mobile phone calls were OK, Spotlite, on both T-Mobile and Vodafone networks, was a bit hit and miss.
Chasers on 80M were all affected by QSB. However, QSO’s with G0RQL (a QSO on 40M as well), GW4BVE (who successfully chased on 40M and 20M) G0NES, G4JZF, and GW0DSP qualified the summit. Moving to 40M only added DF5WA, but 20M brought in SM6CMU, DJ5AV, DL3JPN, DL7RAG, DL9KI, S51ZG, HB9AGH, OK1AOV and S53X. Only one ‘got away’ – I was unable to complete a QSO with DK4MO.
What I had hoped to be the ‘big bang’ ended up as a damp, very damp, squib. We towed our caravan to the Lake District, and set up in the dry near Troutbeck (the northern one). Then the drizzle started and continued on and off, accompanied by strong winds on the summits, most of the time we were there. The only day good enough for a bigger fell was July 13th, but with a major contest on ssb and cw that weekend there was no chance with QRP HF SSB. In the end only 2 summits were activated, both on the14th.
A stroll up Great Mell Fell (G/LD-035) resulted in QSO’s on 80M with G0TDM (40M and 20M as well), GW4BVE, G3OHC, GW4MD/P (S-to-S on Mynydd Carningli, GW/MW-033) GW0DSP, M0JDK and G4JZF, with general reports of QSB. No additional QSO’s were to be had on 40m, but 20M added F6HIA, OE2EGL, DJ5AV, and HB9AGH.
After lunch we moved on to Little Mell Fell, where 80M brought in G0TDM (40M and 20M as well), G3RMD, GW3XHG, GW0DSP, M0JDK, G3RDQ, GW4MD/P (S-to-S on Frenni Fawr, GW/MW-028), 2E0PXW, MM0FMF/P (S-to-S on Meall nan Tarmachan, GM/CS-015) and G4OBK. 40M only added G0RQL, but 20M was alive with DL2DXA, DF2PI, DF5WA, DJ5AV, HB9AGH, and 9A4MF. The one that got away this time was 9A7W.
I had no problems accessing Spotlite on T-Mobile, but didn’t try on Vodafone.
Two other downs : ‘white van man’ damaged my off-side door mirror (a motorised, heated job, so it could be an expensive replacement) and I bought a new pair of Brashers in a darkly named store in Keswick, only to find, having worn them for a dozen or so miles, the largest outdoor equipment emporium in Ambleside was selling them for £30 less.
Back home, end of holiday, and the weather improves. 24th July saw us on Pen Pumlumon Fawr (GW/MW-001). We parked in a lay-by on the A44 at about SN805839 and walked up via the old mine workings at SN797857. A word of caution here. The gate at the start of the path shown on the 1:25000 sheet (and the OS website) at SN797840 has been padlocked and the prow sign has been damaged. We were directed to join the path by going through the site, between the guest house and a barn. Whether this is an official change I have no idea. The dogs are still there, barking themselves hoarse. Spotlite was fine by T-Mobile. All bands seemed to be in good condition. This time it was GW4BVE who had QSO’s on all 3 bands (instead of mowing the lawn, HI). 80M also had GW0DSP, G3OHC (40M as well), G4OBK, GW3BV, G6WRW and M3YHB. 40M added G0BFJ, M0JDK (20M as well), F/G4DWP/P (S-to-S on Mont St Michel de Brasparts), G0VWP, G0TDM (20M as well), G4JZF (20M as well), G0TRB, 2E0PXW, G4BLH, GW1LDY and 2E0HJD. 20M was very busy, adding DL2DXA, DL8YR, HB9DAX, PA3CWG, HB9AGH, DJ5AV, F6FNA, SM6CMU and DL8RJ. We descended south along the ridge to the forest and then east, past the disused mine to the road. Moorland stabilisation work is in progress on the ridge and several new fences have been installed, with new styles on the line of the path as shown on the map. The direct route using the track is only available from the style at about SN787846
SSB REPORT - August 2008
With the exception of an outing onto The Wrekin (G/WB-010) to try a home-brew 7-el Yagi for 70cm, the first outing of the month was on 14th August to Aran Fawddwy (GW/NW-007). I used the same starting point as my earlier activation of Glasgwm, and ascended via the NW flank of Pen yr Allt Uchaf. The first half-mile or so was like a stream, but the rest of the path to the cwm at SH875206 was OK. The cwm itself, surprisingly, was no wetter than usual and a little care saw me on the ascent to Drysgol with dry socks. The final approach from the fence crossing at SH861216 through the rocks onto the ridge was slow going and partly in cloud. A quick visit to the trig point then I set up the antenna just to the SE. A sudden and heavy shower delayed things for a while, but it went as suddenly as it came and the rest of the activation was rain-free but only just below the cloud-base. The battery in my T-mobile phone decided to sulk, but the Vodafone was fine for self-spotting. 80 Metres brought QSOs with GW7AAV (40M as well), G4BLH, 2E0NLG, G3OHC (40M as well), G0RQL, G8ADD and G0TDM. Changing to 40M added G0TRB, G4JZF and G3RDQ. 20M added only 2E1FPZ, DL8YR, DF5WA and DL7RAG. I believe these are the first recorded 20M QSOs from this summit. I descended along the fence in a generally SW direction, and once I was on the levelish section it was very wet. Some of the duckboards were under water, most we soaked and extremely slippery. By the time I reached the area at the bottom of the descent route from Glasgwm, my socks were no longer dry!
The weather then conspired to prevent further outings until 23rd August, when I drove over to Capel Curig for Moel Siabod, GW/NW-010. An early start enabled me to secure a place in the car park at SH720582, just across the bridge from the PC and the Pinnacle Café. A short walk along the A4086 past the Plas y Brenin centre to SH716578, down to the footbridge, south through the woodland and along the edge of the woodland to SH713565 and open country. The obvious path continues uphill along the flank of the ridge, across a boulder field to the summit cairn. An alternative route, which is quite wet in places, can be started at Pont Cyfyng (SH734572), passing several lakes and old workings to reach the bottom of the east ridge just past Llyn y Foel (SH 714547) for a pleasant scramble to the summit. The summit was just out of the cloud and windy, but I found a relatively sheltered area to the NE with room for the 80M dipole. The T-Mobile was fine on text, but refused to self-spot. The Vodafone could be persuaded to self-spot, but only from a limited area. 80M brought G6WRW, G4JZF, G3OHC, G0RQL, G0NES, G4ELZ, G0TDM, M3YHB, G0TRB and G8ADD. Changing to 40M only added GW0DSP and MW0IDX, but 20M added (after Roger advised a slight change of frequency and spotted me) DL2DXA, SM6CMU, 9A7W, OE5HCE, DL3JPN, 9A4MF, DL7RAG, DL3VTA, OK1SDE and a local, GW4BVE. Total time on the summit was about an hour. A fast descent was followed by a large mug of tea and a piece of caramel slice in the café.
The weather forecast suggested a reasonable day on the Bank Holiday Monday (25th August) but with cloud below 900 metres and windy. Cyrniau Nod (GW/NW-034) was my target, parking at SH946273 for a straightforward walk along the track to the summit area. The gate at the start of the track has long-since gone, but there was a new barrier, tied in with baling twine, at about SH93285. A previous use of this approach suggested that some-one else’s 4WD could be used to get to the operating area, but some repair work has been done and I might have been tempted to use my own. Due to the very wet summer we’ve enjoyed (?) so far, parts of the track were covered in deep water. The SOTA operating area is quite large on this summit, and I stayed close to the track where rising ground afforded some shelter from a strong and increasing wind, with the cloud-base below the summit area from time to time. Once again, my T-Mobile phone wouldn’t pick up a connection for self-spotting, despite allowing text messages to my XYL: self-spotting was via Vodafone. 80M brought G0RQL, GW4BVE (with comments about intermittent low Tx levels and poor audio quality), G3OHC, G3RQD, G4CPA, G0TRB, G4OBK, 2E0BYA, G6MZX, G0TDM (40M as well), G4ELZ, G0NES and G4BLH. Despite visual inspection and using the FT817 PWR and SWR indicators, I didn’t find any reason for the intermittent low output reports. The change to 40M brought a high SWR reading. Having checked the insertion of the angled PL259, and the security of the Power Pole collectors on the antenna, the SWR indicator returned to a nil indication. 40M added DF5WA, SM6CMU, GW0DSP/M, 2W0PXW/M, and DJ5AV, but conditions were poor. A change to 20M only added OK1AOV, GW4BVE (again) and DH3IAJ. I heard 9A4MF calling on 40M and 20M, but unfortunately we couldn’t complete a QSO on either band.
Once again, the Met Office suggested that 29th August would be a good (by 2008 standards) day. The venue this time was Cadair Berwyn, the nearest 8-pointer to my home QTH. The approach by road was from the village of Llanhaeadr-ym-Mochnant (SJ124261), and another of those narrow lanes where drivers may need to demonstrate their reversing skills! I parked the car at SJ076294, where the stream runs alongside the car-park (free) and excellent for quenching feet on a hot day. At the end of the road there is a PC and a small café. Walking back along the road to SJ080291 accesses a path going up the flank of the hill on an initial bearing of about 310 degrees and continues to SJ076298 where the right fork is taken. The path continues steadily uphill along the flank of Cerig Poethion to stream crossings at SJ076310. This area is wet and soft but can be negotiated dry-socked with care. The path then turns E and ascends the grassy ridge above Llyn Lluncaws, then gradually to bear N along Craig Y Llyn below Moel Sych. This part of the route is a little exposed, but in my opinion is much preferred to trudging the sludge along the route from the top of the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall and over Trum Felen. The ascent is just about over, it remaining only to walk along to the highest point of the ridge. The weather was better than forecast, with cloud mostly above the summit of 827M, and a light breeze. The inverted V stepped dipole was set up on a bearing of 20 degrees E of N. Opening up on 80M brought ON4CAP, G0RQL, G4RQJ, G0TRB, G0AOD, G3OHC and M3RHJ. Changing to 40M added ON4ON, DL8YR, DL2EF, F6GEO and DL9SWXX. Switching to 20M added 9A7W, M0EAF, DG4VD, OK1AOV, G0NES, F6FNA and DL7RAG. Just for fun I brought out my Kenwood TH-K2 Handie, and having said I would never try operating with only a rubber duck, worked M3IWN/P on Helvellyn (G/LD-003), using MW0DFA/P, that way. Slapped wrist, but I may go back with 2M and 70cm later in the year and activate the summit again as MW0DFA/P. On the way back, I left the summit ridge at about SJ069321, where a path heads along the flank to the fence along the Moel yr Ewig ridge. At about SJ073321(5) I dropped down towards Llyn Lluncaws, but keeping to the NE of the lake to avoid the really wet areas, soon joined the ascent path I used. Mobile phone coverage was good from the summit, both T-Mobile and Vodafone being used for self-spotting.
SOTA CW REPORT – by Roy G4SSH
The summer season draws to a close, students and children are back to collage and school this week, the light evenings are getting shorter and winter bonus is just around the corner. September to November has traditionally seen a reduction in the amount of SOTA activity, but with the steady increase in the number of new CW activators and chasers this may not be so marked this year.
A warm welcome is extended to the following 17 new activators heard using CW for the first time during August:- Hartmut DF6PW, Gerhard OE9GWI, Ingemar SM6CMU, Walter DK1BN, Milan S58MU, Hasse SM3JBE, Jean F4CMC/P, Lada OK1FRT, Zolt HB/HG4UK, Anton S50NV, Walter DK1BN, Tomaz S52QM, Fried DK1EI, David OK6DJ, F6EFI, DF9TS, OE6MY and Special Event Station DK0CEU.
SOTA is becoming a victim of its own success as the number of chasers in the CW pile-up’s continues to increase. There are now regular chasers from most of the European countries and recently 9A and IK stations joined in. Some popular activators, such as Jirka OK1DDQ attract so many chasers that it is taking up to an hour to work through the number of callers. Unfortunately this often results in undisciplined behaviour as chasers attempt to get in and out as soon as possible.
Jirka is an excellent operator who refuses to be rushed and always closes a contact with “TU 73 DE OK1DDQ K” before listening for calls. I listened in despair as the alligators continued to send their call over the top of this transmission for more than 30 minutes during a recent activation. Unbelievable.
On the morning of the 31st there were 7 activators on the air at the same time between 1015-1045 UTC, all transmitting between 7030-7034 KHz. The red “Recent spots” lines went off the bottom of the screen as activators jousted for position, which involved many minor QSY’s and it was difficult for the chasers to keep track.
However, many CW activators during the month made a determined effort to avoid the pile-up’s on 7032 KHz. Norby was commencing around 10118 KHz and Kurt, using HB10DX, started on 14032 KHz, whilst other stations transmitted on 7028 and 7029 KHz.
The 20 metre band is now being used on a regular basic by some SOTA activators. Heard around 14058 KHz during August were:- HB0/LX1NO, S52FR, S57XX, DF2GN, DH8DX, DL5WW, DL2DVE and S51ZG. Janez S51ZG often uses only 14055 KHz for HF contacts
Following the example of G4OBK, Hasse LA/SM3JBE was heard working split, by transmitting on 7032 KHz and listening 1 up on 7033 KHz, which initially puzzled some of the chasers, but most callers soon got the idea. Initially it caused some problems to another activator slightly higher, but this was soon resolved, and the procedure was repeated 10118-10119 KHz where it worked well due to their being less congestion from other stations.
30m continued to sharing some of the popularity of 40m, with the following SOTA stations heard using 10118 KHz:- HB9CMI, DH8DX, DF2GN, OE5EEP, S57XX, S53X, S57ZG, SM6CMU, DL/LX1NO, DL1DVE, OE8GBK, DK1BN, S58MU, DL5WW, F/G3VQO, S50NV, S52QM, F5VGL, G4OBK, OK1DDQ,
Unfortunately a new commercial RTTY transmission commenced operations for extended periods on 10118 KHz during the month, forcing many SOTA activators down to 10115 KHz.
Norby LX1NO delighted many chasers during the month by activating from 5 DXCC countries in the shape of HB0, HB9, F, GW and EI.
Other cross border expeditions heard were heard from S5/OE8GBK, ON/PA0HRM, DL/O0K1NF, DL/LX1NO, LA/SM3JBE, DL/HB9BYZ, F/G3VQO, OK/DL6UNF and DL/OK1CYC.
Dan DH8DX, a regular CW activator with a powerful signal, included an SSB spot in his regular activations during the month, to the delight of many SSB enthusiasts.
Chasers woke up to quite a shock on the 27th to discover that our reliable and trustworthy SOTA Watch had crashed. I was fortunate in so much that I always do a printout of Alerts last thing at night and so was able to catch S52FT, F5VGL, OE5EEP, OE9GWI, OE6WTD, DL3VTA, DJ3AX and OK1CYC who were all active during the down period before Jon came to the rescue around 1000. We come to rely so much on SOTA Watch that we often omit to undertake basic fail-safe precautions.
Phil G4OBK made a telling comment in one of his spots when he commented that dozens of chasers had worked a particular CW station but nobody had bothered to spot the activation. I find that chasers fall into 3 categories – Those who will regularly spot an activation, those who refuse to spot at all and those who spot occasionally. I regard spotting as a way of contributing something to SOTA, so I will spot any activity I hear for the benefit of other chasers and especially during a change of mode to SSB.
However I know that some of the most prolific chasers who are always quick to respond to a spot never contribute. It could be that they do not have access to SOTA Watch of course, however, I smiled to myself the other week when I sent a spot but accidentally gave the wrong name of the op. As a result, two of the most powerful chasers who never spot suddenly appeared, worked the station and said thanks to the name I had entered. I suppose it is all down to human nature.
The SOTA policemen who sit on 7032 KHz and challenge any station who dares to call CQ were as vigilant as ever during the month. Comments such as “Keep the QRG clear for SOTA” and QSY HR SOTA Freq” do nothing to enhance our reputation amongst the general amateur fraternity.
Tom M1EYP finally achieved his personal mini-ambition of qualifying a summit activation exclusively through use of 2m CW, when he did so on Gummer’s How G/LD-050 on Saturday 26th July 2008. Tom has used 2m CW on several previous activations before, but either made less than 4 contacts, was already established on another band/mode - or it was on The Cloud G/SP-015 and therefore a zero point activation (for him!).
Tom M1EYP and Jimmy M3EYP did some activating with a difference at the end of July 2008. The vast majority of SOTA activations involve approaching in a car to the nearest public road point, and then continuing to the summit on foot. Tom and Jimmy did 3 days and about 30 miles of walking, taking in six SOTA summit activations (High Street G/LD-011, Stony Cove Pike G/LD-018, Red Screes G/LD-017, Fairfield G/LD-007, St Sunday Crag G/LD-010, Place Fell G/LD-027) in the Lake District without use of a vehicle. In fact, their route only crossed a public road on two occasions in the entire circuit! Nicely warmed up, the 'EYP duo then remained in the Lakes for two more days doing five more activations (Hallin Fell G/LD-043, Scafell Pike G/LD-001, Watch Hill G/LD-054, Great Mell Fell G/LD-035, Gummer’s How G/LD-050), by the more conventional car-then-hike method!
LIST OF CONTESTS DURING SEPTEMBER:-
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.
6th only 0001-2359 Russian RTTY contest
6th-7th 1300-1300 European SSB Field Day
6th-7th 1300-2359 All Asia SSB contest.
13-14th 0001-2359 Worked-all-Europe SSB DX contest
20-21st 1200-1200 Scandinavian CW activity contest.
27-28th 0001-2359 CQ World-wide RTTY DX contest.
SOTA News 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 to firstname.lastname@example.org. by the 25th 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, and your input will be most welcome.
SOTA News Editor