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The Cloud at Christmas

Standy by for lots of activations from this summit over the festive period.

At present, it appears that there will be six activators from the Macclesfield & DRS up there on Christmas Day morning, possibly including a live link-up with Canalside Community Radio 87.8MHz. Furthermore, four to six activators should be up there on Boxing Day.

By the way, this is not a club field day type operation. People are just going out for a walk with family, and the likely operating will be handheld 2m FM, and only within a short time-slot.

Merry Christmas,

Tom M1EYP

A couple of intended participants were running late and had to cancel, but Greg 2E0RXX and newly licensed son Liam M3ZRY arrived at the Cloudside parking spot just a few seconds after I did with Jimmy M3EYP and Liam.

Greg and Liam got things warmed up, using the FT-290 and working several stations. Jimmy, Liam and I pottered around taking photographs, and then facilitating a live link-up with Canalside Community Radio 87.8 MHz. The on-air presenter Nick Wright interviewed me on air as I described what it was like up on Bosley Cloud summit this cold and foggy Christmas morning, and then quizzed me as to the amateur radio activities. One of Greg’s QSOs - with Mike M3XMC - went out live on air as part of the feature!

We heard Dave 2E0BYA/P with a very strong signal from Brown Clee Hill G/WB-002 and each took our turn to make the summit to summit. Liam M3ZRY got his four contacts for his debut SOTA activation, and after descending and working me (still on summit) from his dad’s car, totalled 3 chaser points also.

I had a go on 2m CW and got GW0DSP, and a go on 2m SSB - and got nobody! After Greg and Liam (1), and Jimmy and Liam (2) departed the summit, I set up to work everyone on 2m FM. I realised that many regular chasers were still hunting for SP-015, struggling to keep up with the frequent changes of operators, bands, modes and operating styles! This brought a run of 18 stations in short order. Jimmy by this stage was sat in my car on Cloudside, and monitoring on his handheld radio. In fact, he was one of the 18 contacts, as were Liam and Greg as they drove back to Macclesfield.

Thanks to everyone for the contacts and the exchanges of festive greetings. A great way to spend Christmas Day morning/midday.

Right, off for the Traditional Christmas Curry!

MX 73 TU E E

Tom M1EYP

The original intention was to be QRV at 1100z, and link up S2S with alerted activations by Nick G0HIK/P on Gummer’s How G/LD-050 and Steve G1INK/P on Shining Tor G/SP-004. This plan was necessarily altered by my mum announcing that she and my brother would be calling round with presents at 11.30am! Eventually, Jimmy and I were able to set off sometime approaching noon, after I had been editing the alert time later in 15 minute increments all morning!

At least the roads were clear - but the parking at Cloudside was not. We got the last space, and later after descent we found the roadside lined with cars for a fair distance as well as the parking area still at capacity.

It was unusual to be ascending in daylight up this one after a series of early morning and after-dusk torchlit ascents recently. At the summit, we were surprised to find it to ourselves given the amount of cars parked along Cloudside. We didn’t have to wait for the first walkers to pass across though, and from then on it remained busy, with many stopping for a chat about amateur radio.

From the spots, Jimmy advised that Dave 2W0BYA/P might still be QRV on 3.666MHz SSB from Beacon Hill GW/MW-009. We tuned in to a massive signal from him, and were delighted when he reported an equally massive one back to Jimmy’s first interjection. With it being a S2S, I naturally tail-ended, and Jimmy and I both had a Christmas activator contact in the bag.

Upon completing with Dave, I advised that Jimmy would be QRV on 3.660MHz SSB, where Mike GW0DSP was waiting for him. That headed up an excellent run of 14 QSOs for Jimmy on 80 SSB, with everything from our mate Sean M0GIA up the road in Macclesfield, to Luc ON6DSL over in Belgium.

The antenna seemed to be working wonders, so I was confident that 80 CW would be even better. It wasn’t. I advised a QSY to 3.557MHz CW, but found the frequency in use. Never mind, I thought, I’ll just call on the vacant 3.558MHz and hope to be found. Result. I was answered, first call, by Roy G4SSH. FB Roy, how do you do it? In fact, it is uncanny how often GW0DSP is the first contact for Jimmy when he appears on 80 SSB, and Roy is the first for me on 80 CW! Here we go … or not.

To my surprise, and in contrast to all recent activations, there wasn’t other stations lined up to work me. At 3 minute intervals I worked EI7CC, SM1CXE and DL6KVA. And then nothing! We noted on the spots that Roy had spotted me as 3.557MHz, not 3.558MHz, so I checked on that frequency. I waited for a quiet moment and mentioned my call, but there was no-one there either. So it looks like everyone who did want me, did find me on 3.558MHz. It was just that there were only four of them hi!

We packed up, tummies rumbling and anticipating the curry. I made a call on 2m FM, and worked Mike GW0DSP, Sean M0GIA (these two had earlier worked Jimmy on 80 SSB) and Mike 2E0MAS. Jimmy then called QRZ on 2m, but was unanswered. We hurriedly descended. Too hurriedly in fact, for we lost 3 minutes searching for the bung which had jumped out of the pole!

Drove back to Macc, shower, change, and up to the Weston Balti Raj, now with Marianne, Liam and my mum Kate in the party. A superb special Christmas dinner of Lamb Kurzi awaited us - and now we’re all rather full!

Many thanks to all callers in what was a most enjoyable seasonal activation. It was a kind of “upside down” activation, in that normally, I cruise through many QSOs on CW, while Jimmy struggles to achieve his quota on HF SSB. Today, it was very much the other way around, and Jimmy was the star of the show. But that was fine, I guess it was a touch more special for the Christmas best wishes to be exchanged by voice, even if I was restricted to the rank of listener for the most of it!

Special thanks to Roy G4SSH and Mike GW0DSP whose immediate replies to first calls on CW and SSB respectively were most reassuring and very welcome.

Merry Christmas one and all.

Tom M1EYP

“The Cloud at Boxing Day”. Company, whether in person (joint activation) or via amateur radio (S2S contacts, or chasers) would be very welcome.

I really like playing with this greyline thingy, and it’s even better at this end of the year when it’s around 'til later in the morning - and I don’t have to go to work!

It will probably be on 40m CW, unless I can successfully administer another “Mr Motivator” stunt on Sean M0GIA and his super duper 20m vertical.

All the same, I can’t be bothered with travelling up to Morecambe for the footy tomorrow, so a good activation would really help make my Boxing Day.

73, Tom M1EYP

Awake at 0520z, so thought I might as well get out of bed. Considering that very early start, I did then dawdle over breakfast etc, and was only on the summit by around 0715z. It was very cold - about 0 degrees - and so the bothy bag was deployed behind the topograph. 30 contacts were made on 40m CW, including a S2S with Aage LA1ENA/P on LA/TM-101. Vy thanks to HA7UG for advising me of this opportunity when he worked me. 40m seemed exhausted by 0855z, and by 0900z was swamped by CW contest stations.

Again, I took a small flask of strong coffee, and this provided several welcome rest and warmth breaks in between the operating. Despite the band seeming to be dead, I had a go on 15m CW. The band was indeed dead, and I made just one QSO, groundwave with Richard G3CWI/P. To wrap things up, I went onto 40m SSB, and made 5 contacts there.

I packed away, called on 2m FM, and wasn’t answered. I then relaxed as I admired the stunning views on this cold crisp morning, enjoyed the blue sky and sunshine, and finished my flask of coffee. A group of three walkers were also pouring their coffees at the trig point, also producing a box of mince pies. In the true spirit of the season I was offered one to go with my own coffee. In the true spirit of the season, I accepted and had a natter with them. For the first time this week, I was not asked about my activity, but only how the weather compared with the previous two days.

Another pleasing activation, but probably the coldest one of the week so far. The bothy bag was a wise addition to the pack this morning. Thanks to all callers.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

I listened for you but you were inaudible here on both CW and SSB, Tom.

73

Brian G8ADD

40m is the wrong band for that distance. Catch you on 80 soon I hope.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP and M3EYP:

It was verry difficult to copy Jimmy. RST for him was only 4-4 with QRM and QSB. I think he was QRP. I’ve received from Jimmy 5-8. Thx QSO Jimmy . Hpe Cu Nxt.73

Luc ON6DSL

Hi Luc,

I was only running 5 watts from the summit of The Cloud G/SP-015, which is the highest power you can on an FT-817. Anyway the highest power I’m allowed to use is only 10 watts because I only have a Foundation licence. I don’t have a full licence.

Jimmy M3EYP

In reply to M3EYP:

Hey Jimmy,

That is the same as my son Nick ON3DSN. He has also a foundation licence and should only use Max.10 W on the HF bands in Belgium. But you see … it works well @ QRP. I made some outsite Europe QSO’s with 500 and 50 mW in Phone - SSB HF.
73
Luc ON6DSL

In reply to M1EYP:

Hello Tom.

It was nice to work you this morning. Your signal was very, very weak and I am happy we made the QSO.

73 & HNY, Milos S57D

Double points tonight - yes a big fat whopping TWO to those who want to chase them. I’ll get double zero activator points…

I will monitor broadcast radio just before midnight to ensure I get the date change right! Now, will I, at last, be able to find a way of being comfortable to that bothy bag?

If you think you will be looking for the summit on 2m FM before and/or after midnight, please say so in this topic, so I can look for you as well. Whether getting on 80m SSB will be feasible, I don’t know. Might need a “big gun” to help me get a slot in the band!

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:
And i thought you was joking in the pub! If im around i will help but its doubtful. Sean M0GIA

Around? I assumed you were coming out with me after I’ve collected the leaflets for tomorrow. CU later. I would be pleased to have you call me on CW.

Tom

In reply to M1EYP:

A superb special Christmas dinner of Lamb Kurzi awaited us…

Loosely related mountain oriented factoid… One of my first rock routes at Tremadog was called “Christmas Curry”. Anyone else know it?

Anyway, seasons greetings to all and hope to catch you from a couple of summits (or more) in the South on Monday. Top Banders warm up your gear as I may be QRV just before sunrise. It depends how well my 27m doublet with the feeder strapped and fed against a 40m counterpoise works.

73 Marc G0AZS

In reply to G0AZS:

Christmas Curry - done it. Nice hand traverse if I recall correctly (long time ago).

73

Richard
G3CWI

Activation report - The Cloud G/SP-015, Saturday 27th December 2008

We had been over to Horseshoe Pass, the Ponderosa Cafe, and the summits of Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043 and Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042. In the pub on the way home, I told Sean M0GIA, Greg 2E0RXX, Liam M3ZRY and Jimmy M3EYP that I would be doing a “double” activation of The Cloud later that night. It turns out that none of the former three thought I was serious. Jimmy knew me better of course.

By the time I had driven over from Macclesfield, ascended by starlight, set up the antenna and settled inside the bothy bag, it was 2340z. This time, I actually managed to get comfortable in the bothy bag, so like I discovered with HF wire dipoles in the past, practice does make perfect!

My initial CQ call on 80m CW was answered by Marc G0AZS, and I had worked seven by the time 3.557MHz fell silent at 2352z. I went over the 80m SSB, and to my surprise, there was my son Jimmy M3EYP answering me from my shack! “I thought you’d be in bed after the long day out activating” I told him. “Yeah Dad, but I knew you’d be on” he replied in his matter-of-fact manner. He went on “Can I work you again after midnight?”. “That’s the idea son” I replied, and soon enough it was midnight.

Tom M1EYP

Activation report - The Cloud G/SP-015, Sunday 28th December 2008

So Jimmy M3EYP was my first contact of the new activation, in my logbook at exactly 0000 UTC. No-one followed him on 80m SSB though, so I went back to 3.557MHz CW. Here I was immediately called by Roy G4SSH, who had also worked me before midnight.

The I got a scare. Roy and I had only just commenced our QSO, but were nowhere near completing. I was startled by the sound of growling and barking dogs just outside my bothy bag. I couldn’t see anything other than the yellow inside of the bag, so my instinct was to call out “Is everything OK?”. “Yes” replied a girl’s voice, “This one’s on a lead”.

I lifted the bothy bag up over my head and said hello the the young couple in their 20s, with torches and two dogs. One looked terrified by the sight of the illuminated yellow bag with dots and dashes eminatin out of it. I suppose the couple must have been a touch bemused as well. It was five past midnight, but as the legend goes, “You’re never alone on The Cloud”.

I bid the couple goodnight, and called G4SSH de M1EYP/P, hoping that Roy would still be there. He was, and he headed up a run of six 80m CW QSOs, four of whom had also been worked before midnight in “yesterday’s activation”. After packing everything away, I worked two locals on 2m FM.

Then I descended, finished the coffee in the car, went home, and was in bed by 2am. Great fun.

Tom M1EYP

On Monday 29th December 2008, I was back in the routine of an early morning activation. After ascending in darkness, I set up both the 40m and 80m dipoles on the pole, and then settled with my flask of coffee in the bothy bag. Several G/GW stations, plus a SM and a DL were worked on 80m CW, followed by just two contacts - OK and S5 - on 40m CW.

The activation concluded with six worked on 2m and 70cm FM, after I had dismantled the main station. Even at 10.30am, I was home before the rest of the claim had surfaced from their pits!

Tom M1EYP

After my long day walking and activating in the Northern Pennines, I was questioning my own sanity on Tuesday 30th December 2008. And that was nothing compared to Marianne, who grumbled “You’re freaking me out” when I announced I was going out to walk up The Cloud, at 10.30pm.

However, after feeling tired while driving home from Aye Gill Pike G/NP-023, I was now feeling alert and refreshed, and up for another cross-midnight double. I was QRV by 2344z on 80m CW, and making 8 contacts on there, plus two local QSOs on 2m FM, with Jimmy M3EYP in my shack at home, sneaking in there just before midnight.

That took us into New Year’s Eve, Wednesday 31st December 2008, and Jimmy exchanged reports with me again at 0000z to claim his chaser point for the new day. He was followed on 2m FM by Mike GW0DSP, and later by four other callers on VHF. Back on 80m CW, I was worked by seven stations, five of whom had also called me before midnight.

This was an enjoyable activation. Despite the outside temperature of -5 degrees, I was perfectly comfortable inside my bothy bag, and enjoying the regular sips of coffee, as well as the radio fun. I was almost tempted to ‘bed in’ for a while longer, and try to chase the JAs on 80m.

Sensibly, I decided to pack the station away and go home, but not until after a brief interlude of personal relaxation and reflection. With everything safely stowed away in my rucksack, I poured my last cup of coffee from the flask. I stood by the topograph, turned my headtorch off and stared deep into the magnificent galaxy above my head. It was a nice way to finish off, before heading down to the car.

Tom M1EYP