The WX forecast for Sunday was not brilliant which started to constrain the choices for a SOTA activation. This was further constrained by the time zone changes and the fact I was off to Wishbone Ash play in Glasgow. I knew I’d get back tired and then I’d wake up at 7am as usual but it would be 6am and I wouldn’t get back to sleep. This meant, depending on final WX, something simple. I have a few “must do an easy summit” choices here, Green Lowther, Culter Fell, Broad Law, Hart Fell & Tinto Hill and Tinto was the nearest and easiest to bag.
I arrived at the car park to find it had been much improved… I got bored counting when I reached 50 spaces. That should describe how popular this hill is. During the day I counted the people who arrived after me. Again I got bored when I hit 50 and that doesn’t include all those I met who were coming down. So Tinto is busy. That’s a lot of boots and in places the path is, shall we say, a bit damp. Not hard to skirt around but there are some wet bits.
The forecast was the odd shower and for low mist and 30mph winds increasing during the day. They were right. There was a shower on the way down and the summit was well in mist when I parked. You can’t get lost here as the path is enormous so the mist wasn’t a problem. I decided that as it was CQWW contest I’d try to keep to 60m and WARC bands. But as 10m was wide open as I listended over breakfast with lots of "CQ Contest " followed by every monkey in the zoo screaming his head off, I decided that I’d take all the antennas I could find. 80/60/40/30/20/17/15/12/10/2m!
It took me 1hr10m elapsed to get to the top and that included yakking to many people on their descent. The WX was windy but mild. Proper windy with strong gusts. Yet until I reached the mist about 50m below the summit it was warm enough to just sport a T-shirt on top. Even in the mist and wind, a single fleece and GoreTex jacket was plenty warm. I was unable to sit at the top by the huge cairn and use the fence running E-W as the wind was stupidly strong. So I crossed to by the trig and wandered down the lee side and set up there.
First up was 60m and Jack GM4COX was QSO #1. Jack lives close(ish) to Tinto so this was a mix of ground wave and NVIS. We discussed the up and coming inaugural Scottish Microwave Convention next Saturday. Jack has got the hots for some concerted and orchestrated GM SOTA 10GHz S2S sessions so it looks like I might have to finish off my transverter at last. After that it was a slowish start despite Jack spotting me. But in the end I managed 15 QSOs on the band including 1st time contacts with G3TXL, MW0ZAP & G0HIO.
With CQWW active I decided 40m SSB would be stupid and 40m CW not much better so I QSY’d to 30m. Richard G3CWI is out on his PP3 exploits a lot and I know he is stuck around 10.116, so I kept up above 10.118 to keep out of the way. 30m seemed really cooking, obviously with lots of non-contest people looking for somewhere clear of the maniacs! I managed 24 contacts here. DXCC including G, DL, OK, ON, F, SM, OE, LY, OZ, SP, HA. I was surprised at the strength of some of the G signals. Roy G4SSH was enormous for such a short skip of about 250km. I do like 30m as every contact was almost a new DXCC. LY5G was a loud too. I have to apologise to HA7UG, Laci for completly being useless trying to copy his call. I think I tried every possible 2 letter sequence before I realised “Ah, HA. Hungary. Oops!”. It wasn’t your sending, but my receiving! Sometimes I hear the call and just write it down. Then other times I miss a letter, ask for a repeat, miss something else and loose all confidence. The chasers today were quite well behaved, thank you.
After 30m went quiet it was 10 or 12 time. I set up the EFHW. It’s rigged as a vertical radiator of 5m with a counterpoise laying on the ground. The feedpoint is on the ground. I have no idea if this is optimal or not but I got across the pond on 10m last weekend using SSB. I called a few contest stations but I was too weak with their background. I heard JY4NE calling and calling and calling and he got my MM0 prefix but couldn’t get the rest. Another nice one that got away. I dropped to 12m and heard OH2BAD, Miika finishing and calling CQ. He came back 1st call and we had a pleaant quick chat for a new coutry for me on 12m. He gave me 59+ which was nice. During the conversation the wind blew the radiator off the pole. I only noticed because the SWR went up a bit. Miika didn’t drop in strength and so I asked him if my signal was still OK. “59+ still”. Then I told him my antenna was now laying on the floor. “Don’t move it, it’s working FB!” When I told him I was running about 4.5W he was well impressed. So was I
I worked 9A2YM and heard a PJ7 with a monster pileup working split. Boy was he upset when people called out of turn! I spotted for 24.903 and start calling on the key. I heard a weak SM3PV(?) and he was fading up when I saw someone coming to chat. Just when I thought I was going to get a SOTA chaser I was going to have to talk to a member of the public and explain. Except it was pleasant treat to meet with Robert GM4GUF (aka Mr. Tinto). He was out walking the dog with his daughter. We had a nice chat and agreed to talk more at the Scottish Microwave Convention. The SM3 QSB’d away in the end. Shame.
With over 2hrs operation under my belt I was now cool and windswept. The mist disappeared 45mins previously but wind had increased a lot. I had huge difficulty walking back up the hill to cross the fence. At the top I was barely able to stand up as the wind was so ferocious. I did an about face and descended as fast as I could. At times the wind was alarming but soon I was back down at the foot. Boots off, drive home (in the dusk) and back to top up the windscreen washer bottle which ran out and there was Mrs. FMF with a roast dinner that couldn’t be beat. Magic!
Distance driven: 50miles, total walked: 6.6km, total ascent: 478m
15 DXCC worked too. What an excellent day. I’m still smiling about that QSO with OH2BAD and the antenna laying on the ground.