Has anyone else found the bands to be very quiet today?
I wanted to try out a new antenna ahead of my trip to the Lake District next week, so decided to attempt a double activation of a couple of smaller local summits today…Bredon Hill (G/CE-003) & Cleeve Hill (G/CE-001).
The antenna on test was a “Thunderbolt” from Hawkins Radio…basically a 5/8 for 2m mounted on my 7m Spiderbeam mast.
Starting on Bredon Hill I decided to have a go with my normal EFHW for 40m before going on 2m, so I put a spot on the SOTA website.
I got a call from a familiar callsign (EA2DT), then nothing but static. Manuel did say that the band was very noisy at his end.
I decided to try 20m & got one call from M0JLA, then once again I was left with nothing but static.
I’d normally expect to be doing much better than that on HF!
I then went 2 meters FM which generated a small run of contacts but nothing like what I’ve had in recent weeks.
The highlight of the day was a S2S from G1HAX/P on Snowdon (GW/SW-001).
Moving on to Cleeve Hill I decided to forgo HF & just go straight in with 2m FM. This resulted in an uphill struggle to generate contacts. It was a refreshing change to be able to rag-chew without worrying about having a pileup waiting but it did become a little frustrating. I finally ended up with 6 just contacts from the second summit.
The antenna seemed to be working as all of the stations that I spoke to were giving me a good signal & returned good signal reports, so I think the antenna was getting out ok but nobody was talking.
I’m not sure if the conditions were just very bad or if people were at work (as it is mid-week).
Has anyone else struggled to generate contacts during their activations today?
Yes! Just like you I set out to do some testing. So this morning I set out for Botley Hill G/SE-005 I only managed 9 SSB contacts on 60m before things went quiet. I switched to CW which didn’t work to start with due to a dead external keyer. After switching to my trusty backup ATS3B I managed 3 QSOs before the band went quiet.
So I moved on to Detling Hill G/SE-013 and discovered the band was worse! (very quiet). I managed 3 SSB QSOs on 60m then switched to 40m and managed 4 more on SSB including the highlight of the day a S2S with I/OE7RDI/P on I/AA-217 . Next was 40m CW but high noise levels and deep QSB (and speed merchants) meant I only managed 5 QSOs.
Well I had a rest day in my bothy today with ft-8 running all day on 6m. I could have made the odd contact if I really tried, but there was no real sporadic E propagation in the north of Scotland today.
Different band I know, but doesn’t the E layer enhance 20m too? I stand to be corrected. Propagation still mystified me after 15 years an amateur.
On Tuesday I was testing a new antenna (Super Antenna) on Shining Tor. Finished with 40 QSOs today with the same antenna on a Hema activation I got 3! Like you I did get Richard on Top of Snowdon to save the day.
No SOTAs but I activated three WOTAs (Wainwrights On The Air) this morning (between 0830 and 1000 UTC) on 2m FM and propagation conditions seemed normal and with no unusual background noise.
They were modest hills (~250m ASL) overlooking Lake Windermere but I got GW and GM contacts using just my 5W FM HT to a Diamond RH770 ½-wave telescopic whip.
I know that feeling!
Sounds like I’m not the only one that struggled.
I was much later in the day (between around 1300 & 1700 local), so might be that there just weren’t many people on.
I think that’s half the fun and the challenge because it’s not the same every time. One day you can’t work a given SOTA then with sporadic E, tropo-scattering, or reflection off a hill or plane, you get the contact. Just moving your position a bit can have a significant effect due to multi-path interference especially on 70cm.
One regular 2m chaser with a lot of hills between us initially gave me a 4/2 this morning. So I stood up and stepped on a rock [getting the radio about 2m higher] and his report was then 5/3. That’s amazing.