The Cloud 2011

In reply to G0VOF:

Congratulations indeed - a clean sweep!



In reply to G0VOF:

Well done Tom. Now for CQWW CW?



Don’t think so Reg. As much as I enjoy 2.5 or 4 hour VHF contests, I still haven’t got the bug for all-weekend HF contests. Without doubt, I will make lots of contacts on CQWW CQ weekend, but all in the pursuit of improving my scores in the G3WGV UK CW Table, as well as my own all-time DXCCs per band. But I don’t expect to be filing an entry!

Thanks for the congrats all.


The weather forecast for the evening of Tuesday 8th February 2011 indicated clear skies for the first half of the 70cm activity contest, but strong winds and heavy rain thereafter. It was accurate!

I was a little later setting out on this occasion, so by the time I had ascended to the summit and set up, there was only four minutes left before the contest. Thankfully, the system was all working properly, so I could use that time to enjoy a coffee from my flask.

The first half-hour was excellent with 36 stations in the log. Another ten were added before 9pm, but then things really slowed down with just another 13 between 9pm and 10.30pm taking me to 59 QSOs on the activation. With 9 multipliers squares worked, I was probably one short of where I needed to be, so I rued the fact that I had missed IO81 and anything from GM.

As the night became unpleasant and stormy after 9.30pm, I was forced into the inside of my bothy bag. This was effective in keeping the cold and the wet out, but ineffective in keeping me comfortable and seriously limiting my ability to direct my beam to full advantage.

After descent, I actually didn’t fancy a beer or a meat pie, so drove straight home. Thanks to any chasers that worked me - I don’t think there were that many.


In reply to M1EYP:

Well done, Tom, I couldn’t hear you, I’m afraid, and only managed five contacts - mostly because I am too close to G8OHM and his 400 watts which boomed in from all points of the compass!

I think all activity nights should be QRP but under the circumstances I suppose my outlook is a little jaundiced…



In reply to G8ADD:

You should try and find a Band IV/V TV PA that is being retired because of the digital upgrades and use that to scare him off the band. The Lichfield one should be surplus once switchover happens. That station is 100kW ERP so the PA probably runs about 10-15kW. You wont hear Tom, but nobody else will either and they’ll certainly hear you! :wink:

Well done again Tom. I think you’re going to put a few noses out of joint by having the unfair advantage of going up a hill to operate.


In reply to MM0FMF:

Interesting Andy!

It does seem that a bit of walking can give you an advantage in the 10 watt category, when it didn’t when we were all in the 100 watt section.

This isn’t definite of course. There are locations where you could operate from a car and be competitive in the 10 watt section - Merryton Low for instance - but it is nice that the walking/SOTAing aspect to my contesting is having a significant positive impact to my results.


Where did my speed go? I used to be able to get up at 6am, and be QRV on The Cloud before 7am. This morning, Thursday 10th February 2011, I set the alarm for 5.30am, with the intention of investigating earlier propagation on 80m. But I still only made it to the summit and set up by 7am. Must do better.

It was actually a rather horrid morning, but I fancied the walk regardless. So I walked up from Cloudside, with my headtorch illuminating every drop of fine drizzle before my eyes. Work has been done on the steps. They have been cleaned and cleared of mud and debris at the sides, making them effectively 50% wider. Also wooden posts and rails have been installed on the right hand side of the path as you ascend. I first noticed this on Tuesday night, but they were only halfway up then. Now they are nearly to the top of that section, where two more posts have been installed either side of the path, as though a gate is going in there.

Despite the constant drizzle and puddle hopping on the ascent, I rather enjoyed it, and was soon at the top to begin setting up. The 80m dipole is tricky to set up in the dark, even with a good torch, so it takes a few goes and iterations and improvements on each dipole leg before it is up properly. The problem is, you just can’t see more than about 15 feet, so you are judging by the feel of the pole whether a wire has got snagged or not!

The activation was quite interesting with nine stations worked on 3.512MHz CW. Seven DXCCs were OE, G, EA, DL, S5, LA and GM, so that was a pleasing return for 80m. By 0720z, things were getting quiet on frequency, and the rain was getting heavier. I had plenty of time left in my before-work activating window, but I decided to reallocate that time to my breakfast!

Pittshill Oatcakes in Chell provided that bacon, mushroom and cheese double oatcake that completed another of my bizarrely enjoyable commutes to work. Thanks to all the stations that worked me, and Mark G0VOF for the spot.


In reply to M1EYP:
For info Tom.
07:00 to 7:10 inaudible
by 07:14 (when I worked you ) 449
by 07:20 599
Seemed to coincide with available light :-)_

Roger G4OWG

In reply to G4OWG:

I concur Roger.

I had been monitoring since 06:30 & apart from a couple of earlier strong CQ call’s from Europe, I first heard Tom at around 07:03. He was very weak compared to normal & I had to listen very carefully to be certain it was Tom. Within a couple of minutes his signal was sufficient for me to copy him so I called him. It took three or four goes for Tom to copy me running 100 Watts & we exchanged 339 when I finally worked him at 07:06z. I spotted Tom & noted that he was not too strong here, however he was 599 in Northern Spain.

Over the next 10 minutes his signal got progressively stronger until he was 599 (Genuinely S9 to S9+10 on my meter) here in Blackburn when he went QRT at around 07:20z.

Certainly it seemed that the band was working ok for long distances earlier on, but it took a bit of sunshine to wake the band up for short distance inter-UK working Hi!

PS I heard you work Tom & you were also 599 here in Blackburn at the time.


Mark G0VOF

Despite a late night, I was up at 0530 on Friday 18th February 2011. With a family dinner invitation at Chateaux de M0TGT that coming evening, after what was expected to be a typically intense game of staff 5-a-side, I was aware that I was most likely burning the candle at both ends. We will see if I can keep going!

Anyway, here was the opportunity to make a prompt start on The Cloud G/SP-015 for my pre-work dawn activation, and I was pulling into the parking spot by 0635. Sean M0GIA hadn’t turned up, despite his positive noises the previous evening. Ah well, to be fair, he would be at the end of his working “day” (night) in contrast to myself.

The new wooden posts and railings are now all the way up the stairs on the right hand side, and commencing their journey down on the left. I am a little perplexed by their actual worth or purpose, but I guess it’s all part of some masterplan or other.

It was a cold morning with a touch of damp in the air, as revealed by my headtorch. Dawn was just starting to break as I arrived on summit. Drat - I wanted more ‘dark’ time to investigate than that! Some stupidly early mornings will now be in order if I am to properly play greyline with the MM20.

I set up the 40m dipole and hunkered down, as usual, using the topograph to shelter from the wind, which was, unusually, south-easterly this morning. I made 25 QSOs on CW using the 7.031 and 7.032MHz QRGs. Ten DXCCs worked were HA, DL, S5, HB, SM, I, OK, EA, OE and F. I then switched to 7.112MHz SSB and listened into the activation of F/ON8OO/P on F/VL-025. I tried a few calls and a few "Summit to summit"s, but WFF was also in play and the pile-up was monstrous. I elected to leave it as an SWL log, and get myself to work on time instead!

Many thanks to all who called in to work me.

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom,

I had booked today off work & performed my usual trick of being up much earlier than I would be on a work day. Maybe it is easier to wake up when all you have to do is enjoy the day :wink:

I saw your early alert & did monitor 7.032 & thereabouts but the first CW I heard was other stations working you on 7.031. I listened intently for at least 15 minutes but I didn’t catch a whisper of RF from the Cloud this morning.

until next time,


Mark G0VOF

Disaster. Monday 28th February 2011, and Marianne said to me “You can’t do your contest tomorrow night because I’m going out”. She tried to look stern but I’m sure there was a glint in her eye. I took it on the chin and accepted my fate, although nonetheless probably had a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp. I really didn’t want to lose my lead in the 2m UKAC AL section as early as March.

Time to invoke Plan B. My brother owed me a favour, so I enquired as to his babysitting availability. The excuses were so tenuous that I suspected he actually didn’t want to. So, where does every man turn to in times of trouble? His mum. And mine didn’t let me down. I felt so glad that I had taken her to the Weston Balti for a slap up birthday meal on Sunday, and that she had really enjoyed it!

I took great joy in sharing the excellent news with Marianne as I returned home from work on Tuesday 1st March 2011, and enjoyed observing her feigned pleasure that I could still do my contest. It was nonetheless a frenetic and coordinated last minute preparation to have all the pre-requisites in place. I bought coal and kindling from the shop, caffeine free cola and dark chocolate from another, and went to pick my mum up. I motored to the Cloudside parking spot flicking between BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Stoke and Frank Sidebottom’s 5:9:88 album, recently on CD for the first time ever.

There is something about those new wooden posts and stair-rails that flank the concrete stairway up to the National Trust land that makes me climb faster. Don’t ask me what it is, I cannot explain it. But I’m not complaining, especially when it was in my interests to have a spare couple of minutes to my set-up window.

And that’s all it was. My radio controlled clock displayed 19:58 as I plugged the microphone, paddle, feeder and power cable (from 7Ah SLAB) into my FT-817, having just assembled the SB5 and raised it to 4m AGL. Things got off to a real flyer with me running on 144.315MHz SSB and reaching the end of one pade of my waterproof notepad (21 logs) by 2013z. By 2100z, I was up to serial number 048, which was probably my best ever first hour performance. Going into S&P mode, the multiplier locator squares began to build up, and eventually totalled a satisfactory 15, even though IO82 proved elusive until given to me by a SOTA chaser 2E0XTL at 2149z.

At 2129z I worked G4JED for my final contact and serial number 100 - my first venture ever into a three figure serial in a VHF contest. This was pleasing, and testament both to the extremely healthy activity levels in the UK activity contests, and the SB5 antenna, for which I thank Richard G3CWI for the loan.

I didn’t bother with a nightcap at the Harrington Arms; I had a mother to run home and she was expecting me at 11pm. In the event, I arrived home at 11.05pm and found that Marianne had already driven her home 15 minutes earlier.

A super night, cold and dry on the summit, and loads of radio - excellent! Thanks to all the SOTA chasers that appeared in my log as part of their own contest participation and/or SOTA chasing. Recognised chasers included 2E0MAS, G8HXE, M0LMP, GW4EVX, G0VOF, 2E0PHJ, M0TGT, 2E0TDX, 2E0XYL, G4XPE, G0LGS, M3WDS, 2E0XTL, GW7AAV, 2E0BMO, M0COP and G0TRB. Cheers all.


Exactly seven hours and fifty minutes after descending those stairs, I was climbing them again. The last thing I expected to be doing on Wednesday 2nd March 2011 was waking up, fresh and alert, at 0615z. Especially not after going to bed at 0130z the night before, after entering all my contest logs!

Still, waste not want not, and I decided to use the opportunity to take another wee stroll. The mornings are getting lighter very quickly, and the headtorch was not even considered as I arrived at Cloudside at 0650z. Still feeling limbered up from the night before, I cruised up the stairs and onto the hill, for a really enjoyable, if short brisk walk.

I opted for the same south-western facing side of the topograph as I had used the night before, and conducted the very fast set-up of the 40m dipole. 25 minutes operating brought 19 QSOs into 8 DXCCs - DL, E7, HA, I, LA, OK, S5 and Z3. Many thanks to all chasers.

Then I descended and drove to work, a little apprehensive that my late night and early morning exertions might not have been ideal preparation for a lesson observation by my line manager scheduled for the morning. But then, perhaps it was, as it went well. Maybe I should make a habit of doing an activation before an important day at work.


Thursday 3rd March 2011, and I was up early again. It was a beautiful bright and sunny morning, if a little cold at -4 degrees Celcius. The walk up flew by although I could feel the fatigue from a game of squash late the previous evening.

I had the summit to myself, with no early morning dog walkers or exercise regimists passing over the hill. A reasonable run on 40m CW amounted to 13 contacts into seven DXCCs - DL, F, HA, LA, OE, S5 and YL, which I think is a new one for me on 40m for this year.

I packed away and descended in good time, and was able to drop into Pittshill Oatcakes on the way to work, for a bacon, sausage, mushroom and cheese oatcake for breakfast. I reasoned that with all the walking and squash I had been doing this week, that it was a luxury I could afford.


Only one Cloud visit in the week - Tuesday 8th March 2011, and the RSGB 70cm UK Activity Contest. Cutting things fine as ever, I was set up and sat in position by 1950z, with just ten minutes of slack time. Opening up on 432.220MHz SSB, I enjoyed a reasonable run of contacts before reverting to mainly S&P style operating.

The SB6 (6 element 70cm beam assembly from the SB270 product) was fed with Aircell 7 cable from my Yaesu FT-817 running 5 watts. In February, I came a very close second to my friend Simon M0TGT. On that occasion, I had 9 multipliers in the log, whereas Simon had 10. But with me having a much higher QSO rate than him, the margin of defeat was only 86 points (out of about 37,000) - hence I figured that ekeing out the elusive tenth multiplier would be crucial, and I tracked them carefully during the event.

With IO94, IO81 and IO74 in the log relatively early, I had a decent start. The usual ones of IO83, IO93, IO92, IO91 and JO01 came in without difficulty. IO82 eventually arrived, somewhat later than usual, so that matched the previous month’s nine. But where was that all-important number ten going to come from? I heard fleeting weak QSB-affected signals from two stations in JO02, heard GM4JR/P working other stations but not running, and suspected David GI4SNA in IO64 would be about somewhere, but never found him. Ultimately, after a few failed attempts to work G0AJJ/P in JO02, I did manage to contact G3PYE/P in the same square.

The final reckoning was 64 contacts into ten multiplier squares, and as I write this, currently leading the AL section of the contest. Furthermore, it seems my biggest rival, Mr TGT, did not enter this one, giving me a free shot at the 1000 points for winning the section!

Nightcap at the Harrington Arms, Gawsworth, was the Robinsons “Hannibal’s Nectar” ale.


In reply to M1EYP:

We (G3PYE/P) were having a difficult time. The linear failed to cooperate and so we were down to about 20 watts and the pre-amp psu blew it’s fuse at one point too. Flossie and her 20m mast helped offset that somewhat (and kept us nice and warm). We are almost always around on a Tuesday evening but I think this might only be the second time we’ve managed to work you.

Glad to give you the extra square.

Colin G8TMV (with Rob M0VFC and Lawrence M0LCM)

Didn’t realise it was you Colin. I would have slipped the SOTA reference into the exchange if I had. In any case, the contact is valid for G/SP-015 if you wish to add it to your chaser log.


In reply to M1EYP:

In any case, the contact is
valid for G/SP-015 if you wish to add it to your chaser log.

It wasn’t me on the mic unfortunately.


So, to Tuesday 12th April 2011, the RSGB 70cm UK Activity Contest, and my 401st activation of The Cloud. Driving down my road, I felt sure I had forgotten something. Fortunately, I was barely 200 yards from my front door when it dawned on me that my headtorch was still in the shack!

Arriving on Cloudside, and there was Mickey 2E0YYY. We had arranged to meet so he could give me some RG58 for use at the school and for a couple of other jobs, and I could pass him three of the new SOTA car stickers. Never one to miss a ‘pointless’ SOTA opportunity, Mickey joined me for the ascent on which we had a good natter.

I set up the SB6 70cm SOTA Beam by the topograph, while Mickey strapped a pole, with a SOTA Beams MFD slotted on top of it, to the trig point. He got cracking with a 2m FM activation, assuring me he would go QRT at 8pm if it caused me any QRM ten feet away. It did not, and we operated simultaneous for over an hour before Mike packed away and descended.

I finished with 63 QSOs and 11 multipliers - which would have won me the session in January, February or March - but now G4HGI has dropped into the AL (10 watts) section and providing stiff competition. He thrashed me in the 2m the previous week, and sounded like he was going better than me in the last hour of the contest this time. Maybe time to start investigating a beam with more elements, but without making things too cumbersome for SOTA.

It was horribly cold by packing-up time, so I was less than impressed that the midges were still bothering. It was straight to the Harrington Arms for a pint of Robbies Ginger Tom, and a free-help-yourself invitation to two trays of sandwiches and pies, left over from a funeral wake held at the pub. The barmaid remarked “He wasn’t as popular as they thought he was…”!

Thanks to all callers.