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SP Activations - Planning


Getting one’s rucksack, water, soup, clothes, boots, coat, batteries etc ready, even for some local activations, is time-consuming work. Doing it times three is exhausting stuff. At least Jimmy sorted out his and Liam’s clothes which saved me a job, and also put the SOTAwatch Alerts on for me.

But it is done, and I have flopped down at my PC in my shack with the last can of Stella in the house, and looking forward to a bit of SOTA tomorrow. The weather will dictate working conditions. If it is OK, we will do 40m - me on CW then Jimmy on SSB, aided and abetted by SPOTlite. S2S with the ON team would be good. If the wx is not OK, we will do 2m FM handheld, but should be at least with the RSS.

Five points will be a relative bumper haul for me these days! Jimmy should cop for seven. He was amused when putting on the Alerts that we were scheduled to do SP-013 at 1300 and SP-015 at 1500. I suggested that we get up at 0200 and do SP-004 at 0400, and have a rest in between. His amusement suddenly ended abruptly; I can’t imagine why.


Well, we had a good day. The main objective was to see if Jimmy could activate on 40m using SSB, QRP and SPOTlite. The answer was yes, although it didn’t work out on the third summit of the day. Dusk was approaching though, there were no gaps between the contest stations, and they themselves could no longer hear our QRP as the skip started to get longer. But considering that we wanted to test these working conditions in order to have a better chance of qualifying Kisdon G/NP-026 (and others with poor VHF take-off) the next time we go there, it was good to confirm that we could either nominate a frequency (or be spotted) on SOTAwatch via SPOTlite, or answer the contest stations if an event was on. This all worked fine before 4pm.

We kicked off with a cooked breakfast at the big Tesco in Macclesfield - bacon, scrambled egg, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash brown, beans and pot of tea. We then parked in the usual spot just short of the Cat & Fiddle pub on the A537 and walked to Shining Tor G/SP-004.

Although the temperature was rather mild (varying between 9 and 11 degrees), the winds were strong again all day, adding significant windchill. We were able to get comfortable in shelter. We found this huddled at the foot of a wall on Shining Tor. Unfortunately, the 40m dipole and fishing pole remained exposed to the conditions, and collapsed several times during the activation! This problem did not repeat itself on the two later summits, which are of course both a good 500 feet lower than this one.

I made a few contacts on 40m CW, and Jimmy some on SSB. We made S2S contacts with Luc ON6DSL/P and Klaus DF2GN/P, both on 40m SSB. After quite a long stop on summit, I sent the lads down with my car keys, and volunteered to pack everything away alone. When I returned to the car, Liam was inside it, but Jimmy wasn’t. “Where is he?” I asked. Liam told me that he was “over there somewhere looking for a geocache”. He returned, triumphantly, a couple of minutes later.

We now headed along the lanes via Bottom o’th’ Oven, Forest Chapel, Wildboarclough, Wincle and Danebridge towards Gun G/SP-013. The walk up was simple enough, and somewaht less waterlogged than a visit a couple of days earlier. The wind was at our backs on the ascent, so we continued on the path beyond the summit to set up a few metres lower on the other side. This time, establishing one’s own QRG was more challenging, but Jimmy was able to pick up his contacts by answering the contest calls. Unfortunately, one DL contest station refused to work him - I had already worked this station, and he said to Jimmy “Already in the log”. Jimmy replied “No, you worked M1EYP/P, I am M3EYP/P, a different station”. The DL station replied “Already in the log, no QSO, 73”! Hmmm - maybe the matching suffix idea was not one of our best after all!

Time was getting on, and we were at least an hour behind our published SOTAwatch Alerts schedule. Straight on with the ten minute drive across to Cloudside, and up the steps to the summit. We set up the dipole and dropped the feeder into the “hole”, which provided excellent shelter. Unfortunately, it was a waste of time, for the skip was now lengthening, and the contest was dominating. Jimmy now found that he couldn’t make himself heard in answering the contest stations, and the strongest of those were now from Russia and Ukraine, as opposed to the earlier Belgium and Germany. I was called by Fritz DL4FDM on CW, but the QRM rendered things impossible there too, and the QSO was not completed.

In the end, we admitted defeat on this one and packed the HF antenna away. We then activated in rapidly failing daylight by the trig point using the Yaesu VX-7R handheld with RSS, so all on 2m FM.

Overall, a good day, rounded off with a good meal with the XYL up at The Highwayman at Rainow - now more of an a la carte restaurant than a pub, but still serving Thwaites Lancaster Bomber - heaven!

73, Tom M1EYP


I took a drive out to Gun G/SP-013 first thing this morning, accepting an invitation from Richard G3CWI to join him on his 10G activation. It was very interesting stuff. The S2S contacts we both had with Richard G4ERP/P, on Worcestershire Beacon G/WB-009, were so easy that I was suspicious! The FT-817 read “432.200MHz”, so perhaps Richard had forgotten to switch the aerial socket and was going straight into the SOTA Beam, instead of the transverter, and it was a 70cm SSB contact! Had G4ERP’s frequency not been drifting slightly, I might have interrogated further!

At least two other 10GHz operators were out looking for activity. The path from Gun was obstructed in those directions, so Richard CWI didn’t work them on 10GHz, only spoke to them on the talkback frequencies around 144.175MHz SSB. However Richard ERP did work them, and with his two contacts with us operators on Gun, that gave him four, and qualification of a SOTA summit on 10GHz. Good stuff.

Richard CWI went off to his regular contest site Merryton Low, and made several 10GHz contacts from there, while I went to pick the kids up from my mum’s, where they had stopped overnight. I was getting hungry, and was successful in my mission to blag a breakfast from my super duper mummy. Eggy bread - delicious, and a taste of my childhood!



Eggy bread - delicious, and a taste of my



A regular treat here Tom and not just for breakfast.
My granddaughter loves it and also egg omelette sandwiches.

Roger G4OWG (I think an eggy bread supper is called for)


4pm Sunday afternoon, and Jimmy’s moaning, groaning and general self-pity had Marianne stealing yet more of my Jim Beam, which was a Christmas present from my mum. “Can’t you take him out for a walk or something? He’s driving me to despair” said my exasperated wife.

I bundled Jimmy into the car and hatched a plan as I drove. We would need torches to cover the inevitability of walking in darkness. We preferred a mostly sheltered route, having been blown mercilessly around our local hills the previous day, and a route short enough to do in an hour or so, but long enough to walk the stress out of Jimmy M3EYP!

We headed through Congleton and onto Timbersbrook. I parked on Tunstall Road, at the botton of the steep Eastern flank of The Cloud G/SP-015. We ascended the steep muddy steps at the first stage, and made a mental note not to try and descend them in darkness! Then there was an access track to follow around, and then a choice of four paths through the wood and out onto the summit. I never normally approach this way, so this was good fun - and a better walk, all things being equal.

What with the impromptu nature of the decision to come out for a walk, I hadn’t alerted, and my phone was charging up in the car! Nonetheless, my experience told me that early evening on a Saturday or Sunday was typically a busy time on 2m FM in this area, we would have plenty of contacts, one of which could well be a chaser who then spotted us. Alas not. The band was silent except for the GB2RS newsreader warming up on 145.525MHz; not even the repeaters were in use.

A few calls on S20 eventually brought up fellow Maxonian Andy M1BYH, following whom we both spoke to Kath M1CNY. No-one tail-ended, and there was no further response on S20, so we stood up from our trig point perch and commenced our descent. The torches were now on, necessarily so we could see where we were putting our feet. Soon it was completely dark, and we enjoyed the views of the lit-up towns in Cheshire as we curved around the edge of the escarpment.

The walk back through the woods, down the track and eventually the road, was good fun and a welcome breath of fresh air and stretch of legs. And it worked. Jimmy was good company, significantly cheered up and expressed how much he had enjoyed his little outing. Until he got home, when seemingly at the flick of a switch he reverted to Mr Misery Guts. I tried!