Spotted by the DX, perhaps this could be entitled Does Rich N4EX ever sleep?
The WX forecast wasn’t brilliant for these parts. The Borders looked better than The Highlands which was a shame because I’d discussed a route for Farragon Hill with my multi-Munro completist chum at work and was intending doing that. He did it on Saturday and texted me from the summit to say it was a top-notch walk. But as it was forecast for silly winds I went South instead. Farragon can wait.
Looking at something to do I happened upon The Wiss SS-122 and Turner Cleuch Law SS-140. Both are in IO85KL on opposite sides of the B709. As there was no ice this weekend I felt happy driving on such nonce roads especially after almost totalling my car and seeing another crash last weekend. It’s 4 1/2 years since I last did them so I thought 10pts on offer and a different route would make them worth a shot. It would put me 3 points from Goatdom which meant my planned finishing summit worth 7pts would hit the mark. Given the poor WX I decided on Turner Cleuch Law first as it’s just a bit more than trivial. I could do a smash & grab there and then do the longer walk to The Wiss. Or brave out Turner Cleuch Law with a longer activation and then wimp out and go home and watch Liverpool in the Carling Cup final.
The WX was dismal-ish. Very low cloud, quite a few times the cloud was down to the road. As I drove in, little of the ridge to The Wiss was visible. I checked for parking places though already having decided that I wasn’t doing it unless the cloud lifted. This was possible as there had been some sun near Peebles about 18 miles away. The views from The Wiss were good so doing it in dreik was just not appealing. The access looks good, down the road to Altreive Farm, cross the bridge, then turn off the farm road and walk around the paddock, then up round the back of the farm and onto the ridge. This negates the need to walk through the farmyard. Noted for next time.
I followed Colwyn’s recent route for Turner Cleuch Law. It’s on the summit page and is 110% spot on. Loads of parking at the start of the track. Follow the track to the junction (not on my map) and then follow the track that swings back and climbs up. Within no time I was at the viewpoint. Nothing to see in the cloud Stand with your back to the viewpoint sign and the route up is obvious in front of you. Just go straight up the firebreak. At the wall turn left and seconds later you can see the gate to the summit. 35mins from locking car to summiting including a comfort break and answering the XYL’s text as she was swanking about with her new cell phone. Her old phone was 9 years old so this one has a lot of new toys. I did suggest I add the line to the manual “Women, when in doubt ask your husband.” But that suggestion was not well received. Women, who understands them hey?
It was mild at first but misty. The WX got worse whilst there. The wind got quite strong, the temp dropped and the mist got thicker. I was sure now I would do a longer activation here and will have to bag another summit so my Goatdom finish summit is the one I want. Onto 60m and trade was good and brisk. I had a good natter with Richard GM0OGN on Barra and Mike G0BPU down Ipswich way. Also Don G0RQL helped me get a report to Bob G6ODU. Bob has noise problems like many on 60m and with the QSB could not get my signal report. From experience there is no point sending Morse numbers to non-Morse people and anyway the keyer is set too fast and I wasn’t going to start pigging about with it. So I just sent dots for the report, with Bob needing no more than counting them up. Easier said than done as one of the callsignless band-police added his helpful comments. He was told in no uncertain terms what to do. It was contrived. Was it a valid contact? Ask the people who were listening. I’m happy with it.
After 60m I QSY’d to 20m. Sometime back I made a clone of a Buddistick for 20m/17m. I never was able to get it easily setup on higher bands, it was far too variable. But I have an EFHW that weighs 50gm for 15/12/10 carrying 2 antennas is not a pain. I made it out of steel tape measure metal as I had some left over from make a 2m DF Yagi. ( http://www.kc0tks.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=34&Itemid=42 ) The idea being the flat thin radiating elements would have a broader bandwidth than using wire and the large surface area would make up for the lower conductivity. It certainly works. It works well but it is a right pain to setup in wind. Wind is something there is no shortage of on a summit. Also it’s starting to rust from having been out in the rain. So I made another using cheapo twin core speaker wire that I picked up at a rally. [OT: I bought some new HiFi this week but I declined on the speaker cable it was demonstrated with as that was over £700 for the 2 lengths. How much was the HiFi? I’ve been saving for it indirectly for 12years is all the answer you need. ;-)]
So the new lightweight Buudistick clone went up and I started calling CQ on 14.0613. Zap, OM1AX came back quickly, nice QSO and next who was it? Well it was the USA’s version of Roy G4SSH. I can only assume Rich N4EX never sleeps and has ears the size of an elephant because whenever I play on 20m from a summit, there he is copying my peanut sized 4.5W QRP signals into oddball antennas. Give the man a trophy! Not only did he hear me, he spotted me aswell causing the pack to descend. Being spotted by the DX before the locals is guaranteed to impress the heck out of me. DL6KVA spotted me within the minute and was 3rd in the log. From then on there was the usual bedlam, but well behaved bedlam. Oddest contact was G4OBK. I heard G4 and thought don’t be daft that must be D4 but D4 what? D44 Cape Verde ? No, it was Phil and he 59+++. He gave me 339. You tell me the propagation method for that contact!
This antenna is meant to work on 17m and despite now being shiveringly cold I thought… why not. Loading coil shorted out, radial reduced in length. SWR 1:1 which is better than 20m where I couldn’t better 1.5:1. 17m seemed busy and I was trying to recall the bandplan. Then I thought… 17m SSB worth a try. I worked a 9A special event station who said I was 59+, then an Italian special event station who gave me 57 (and I bust his pileup). So I found a clear frequency and spotted myself expecting nothing. I ended up working 12 stations including Jack GM4COX/p for his 499th S2S contact on SS-254 and VE1WT. So I’m concluding that this antenna works for SOTA. It’s easier to setup than the metal tape measure version and weighs less. Tape measure antenna removed from bag.
I had to stop, I was shivering and the log paper was full and starting to disintegrate with the mist soaking in to it. So it was a quick take down and back to the car in about 20mins. Then back home to watch a football match that had to go to the very last ball to decide the winner. Good result but my heart took some abuse
This is a simple summit and if the WX plays along, the views are good of the lovely Borders countryside. No Mars bar for me, not enough exercise but I did see an Otter run across the road and jump into the river. A real wild Otter, stunning stuff.
Total walked: 3.3km, total ascent 201m, total driven: 110miles.
DXCC 60m SSB: G, GM, GW, GI
DXCC 20m CW: OM, N, DL, HB9, EA, OK, OZ, S5, SP, OE, OH, G, VE, HA
DXCC 17m SSB: 9A, I, S5, EA, OM, UR, OH, DJ, GM, OE, VE, E7
Fun? Not half!