The Cloud 2014

Sunday 15th June 2014. Liam was up at the strangely early time of 10.30am to give me a Father’s Day card. He was clearly intent on getting me to take him to the Congleton Food Festival. For the next few hours we gorged on goat burgers, Tibetan stew and dumplings, paella, mushroom stroganoff, cheese, pates, and Caribbean plantains and fried dumplings.

That lot needed walking off, so The Cloud G/SP-015 was the next stop. The summit was popular with families today, despite it looking like it would tip it down at any point. However, it did not, and that was what the weather forecast had said, so maybe everyone else had done their research as well.

The midges were present in number, and bothering. Hence it was another less-than-pleasant activation, and I wasn’t even QRV for an hour. Twelve contacts were made, all CW, with 5 on 20m, 6 on 40m and 1 on 30m.


In reply to M1EYP:
Thanks, Tom, for our first SOTA QSO.
I hope the midges didn’t suck too much blood out of you and you’ll keep enough energy for future activations, :wink:
Best 73 de Guru - EA2IF

Just as I was anticipating a summer evening stroll and 2m contest activation on Tuesday 1st July 2014, plans needed to change. Jimmy arrived home from work feeling very ill and needed me to take him to the doctors. Fortunately, diagnosis and prescription was straightforward and quick, and I was back home in time to grab some food and get out for the intended activation.

Jimmy, unfortunately, felt he needed to go to his bed rather than the shack, so the Tall Trees contest team were one man down for the evening. However, I am happy to report that he is now on the mend! I drove to The Cloud G/SP-015 listening to BBC Radio 5 Live’s superb coverage of the Argentina - Switzerland World Cup 2nd round match. The commentary was gripping, so I flicked the Yaesu VX7-R onto 909kHz MW so I could continue listening during the ascent.

I hadn’t even reached the bottom of the long staircase when Barcelona’s Lionel Messi netted Argentina’s winning goal, two minutes from the end of extra time At least I could turn the radio off wupon reaching the summit and concentrate on setting up the SOTAbeams SB5 antenna, rather than a penalty shoot-out!

I was relieved to find a lively breeze whipping around the summit, enough to keep the midges away. Later on, stations in nearby IO83XG, including one on the summit of Shining Tor G/SP-004, were reporting some serious midge swarm attacks as well.

Cloud summit was unusually quiet for such a light and warm mid-summer evening. One family and one group of teenagers were up there, but no sign of the usual masses of evening strollers, mountain bikers and running clubs. Perhaps they were watching the footy!

My 2m contest effort resulted in 75 QSOs, 3 on CW and 72 on SSB. 16 multipliers were recorded, these being IO64, 74, 75, 76 (new one for me), 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 91, 92, 93, 94 and JO01, 02. Conditions to the south were poor with nothing at all worked in IO70, 80, 90 or JO00, or indeed from the continent, but conversely, the other direction was lively with six stations and five locators worked into GM.

At the end of the session, 10.30pm BST, I immediately and quickly got packed up. At 10.38pm I flicked BBC Radio 5 Live back on, on my HT, and listened to the USA - Belgium game. It seemed it was yet another cracker in the 2014 World Cup, so it also accompanied me on the car radio during the drive home between 10.45 and 11.10pm.

By then, it was half-time within extra time, so I grabbed a quick shower before watching the conclusion of the game. On reflection, a disappointing 2m contest performance, but an enjoyable evening overall.


There was life in the s/w Tom I heard you and called you to qsy but you missed me.73 Don.

Wednesday 16th July 2014 was the penultimate RSGB Club Contest of the year, and the final SSB leg. It looks like the Tall Trees Contest Group, of which I am a member, is now too far out in front to be possibly caught, but our Contest Manager Reg G3TDH remains very keen to have as many members out participating in each event.

Jimmy M0HGY (who is also a TTCG member) and I can “double-up” on this event with me going out operating portable from a SOTA summit and him staying at home and using the shack. The only drag then is that I suffer being a very small 5 watt fish in a very big pond.

Anyway, from The Cloud G/SP-015, I made 37 contacts in the event, so that should be around a couple of hundred normalised points going towards the club score. After the contest we had the usual TTCG after-contest net on 3.645MHz SSB, and then I remained on that frequency to receive any calls from chasers. Finally I tried for a few minutes on CW, just adding two more contacts there. The total for the activation was 44 QSOs.


It is a while since I posted an activation report. There hasn’t been much to report in all honesty. A regular weekend gig in Blackpool has significantly limited SOTAing opportunities and continues to do so.

Nonetheless, I have been up The Cloud G/SP-015 a few times. All for zero SOTA points of course, but always pleasurable.

Tuesday 26th August 2014

6m UKAC, using the new SOTAbeams SB6 - compact 6m beam antenna, rotatable on a standard SOTA Pole. For years I had been trying to persuade Richard G3CWI to design and produce a lightweight, packable 6m antenna that would be directional and able to be sat on a SOTA pole and rotated armstrong fashion from the base. Well, here was the yearned-after product.

It certainly worked well. Three of my first four stations came in from Finland (OH), and the rotation - which was way quicker than repegging a delta loop - enabled me to rack up the multiplier squares much more easily. A new design of guying system was anchored much higher up the pole than the old version, and used a clever little idea to enable smooth and easy rotation from below. Anyway, I ended with 65 QSOs - 6 on CW and 59 on SSB.

Tuesday 2nd September 2014

2m UKAC. Not a new antenna for this one, but the out-of-production SB5 (5 element beam). I did take the new design of SOTAbeams guying system though, as it was much better for frequent and rapid antenna rotation, as needed in a contest.

I had a decent contest with 90 QSOs, all 2m SSB, and a very healthy number of multipliers. Plenty of distance in the QSOs too with good numbers of GM stations as far north as Aberdeen, and several south coasters as well.

Tuesday 9th September 2014

Another week, another Tuesday, and another RSGB UK activity contest, this time the 70cm event. I was on summit with an hour to spare, so did some 20m CW first for a bonus 31 contacts, including several USA, one Azores, and a huge signal from Matt VK2DAG despite the late hour.

In the 432MHz contest, I managed 64 QSOs. The multiplier count was healthy again with several Scottish squares available, and all four JO squares. And so the total for the activation was 95 QSOs. I briefly considered thrashing out a further five on the HT, but decided against, and went home.

Saturday 20th September 2014

The skies were damp and grey above East Cheshire, but the instinct was that it wasn’t going to rain. Indeed, it didn’t. Jimmy and Liam accompanied me for a short walk up The Cloud. I left my coat and jumper in the car. In fact I left almost everything in the car, and just took my 2m HT, notepad and pencil, which I carried in my hands as I walked up.

I had no intention of sticking around that long as I had things to pick up in town before going to the Macclesfield v Southport match at the Moss Rose. Jimmy and I took turns in being on air on 2m FM. In a short stay on summit, he made 5 contacts, while I got 6. Interestingly, my logbook did not contain a single fully licensed amateur. My six QSOs were with four Intermediates followed by two Foundations.

Macclesfield then thumped Southport 3-0, so it was a good day!

Tuesday 7th October 2014

2m UKAC on The Cloud G/SP-014

Yaesu FT-817, 5 watts, SOTAbeams SB5

83 QSOs into 20 multiplier squares (IN99, IO64, IO73, IO74, IO80, IO81, IO82, IO83, IO84, IO85, IO86, IO91, IO92, IO93, IO94, IO95, JO00, JO01, JO02, JO03).

Weather: Chilly, breezy, but dry. Very bright full moon.

Tuesday 14th October 2014

70cm UKAC on The Cloud G/SP-014

Yaesu FT-817, 5 watts, SOTAbeams SB270 6-el beam for 432MHz

54 QSOs into 13 locator squares (IN99, IO64, IO74, IO81, IO82, IO83, IO84, IO85, IO91, IO92, IO93, JO02, JO03). Contest QSO map: Google Maps

Weather: Mild, still, dry. Prior to the VHF contest, I did a bit on 20m with the “SOTAbeams optimised” version of the 20m GP, as constructed in the session at YOTA UK in July. This netted 21 CW contacts, mainly Europe with one each from the US, Canada and the Azores Islands.

Until next time…

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Tuesday 28th October 2014

6m UKAC on The Cloud G/SP-015

Yaesu FT-817, 5 watts, SOTAbeams SB6 Moxon for 50MHz

61 QSOs into 11 locator squares (IO64, IO70, IO74, IO80, IO81, IO82, IO83, IO91, IO92, IO93, JO03). Contest QSO map: Google Maps

The weather was bobbins. All my prior research had led me to believe that the contest period would be bone dry, even if it might be a little damp during set up. In reality, it rained heavily until 9.30pm. Only then could I throw off the bothy bag and rotate my antenna more quickly and beneficially. Unfortunately, the bothy bag got saturated, so the inside was wet as well, and I needed to take care at all times to keep the damp inner surfaces well away from my gear.

Conditions were bobbins as well. The North hardly appeared at all. Nothing was even remotely detected from IO84 or IO94, and Scotland did not exist. Even in the better directions, deep QSB made several normally trivial contacts into drawn-out and tedious affairs. Still, I suppose it’s the same for everyone…

G3CWI and I watched the rain radar on the telly in the pub on Friday, while quaffing hot mulled cider and seasonal real ales. A small isolated streak of rain passed over Cloud summit around 6am - according to the BBC rain radar. The wind looked pretty intense though.

“Not for me” remarked Richard. I was up for it though. And after curry-themed date night with XYL Marianne, I needed to walk a few calories off on Saturday morning. The wind howled around EYP Towers as I made my flask of coffee. I was very much in two minds, and wondered if going back to bed for a big lie-in might be a more sensible idea, what with having a gig that night as well.

I am nothing if not predictable, and it will be no surprise to learn that thirty minutes later I was parking up on Cloudside. It was still well before sunrise, but there was the first dim glimmer of meagre light, enough to make the ascent without switching on the headlamp. It was breezy and cold at the top, but I set up the 10m GP nonetheless. Would there be any excitement as suggested by Brian G8ADD the prevous day, when he advised of the high SFI?

Not for a while there wasn’t. Slowly, Eastern European stations dribbled into the logbook, but nothing to excite. I did earwig an SSB QSO between ZS6IDL (South Africa) and S01WS (Western Sahara), but when they completed, both disappeared, so I didn’t get the chance to work whichever of them was running - presumably S01WS, who was very loud. I must say I did enjoy a bit of a ragchew with Razvan YO9IRF, a chaser who had tracked me down via SOTAwatch.

I did enjoy my breakfast of Co-op “Turkey and all the trimmings” sandwiches and the flask of coffee though!

The Russians, Eastern Europeans and a few Gs continued to call in, in dribs and drabs, with UN (Kazakhstan) being the only thing that could technically be considered as DX. Just before packing up, I heard a CQ call from D44TWO, Cape Verde. I called back and got Harald first call. So a nice finish to the activation at least. It wasn’t a nice pack away and descent though, in heavy rain and buffeting cold wind.

17 QSOs, 3 on SSB and 14 on CW. DXCCs: D4, E7, G, HA, LZ, RA, UN, UR, YO, YU.

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A pleasure on my side as well, Tom. Looks like you had a great time, man battling nature forces and radiowaves, that sort of thing :slight_smile: . The 10m challenge might require some extra planning as the band is not open in the early hours, at least now in the winter.

PS: Great promo picture of the 817.

Razvan YO9IRF