Yesterday 1/3/2015 a window of good weather was expected between 10:00 and 17:00 UTC and thus, we -Marcial EA2BDS, my 10 y.o. son Oier and me- were ready for a new activation. Our goals were activating a new referenced summit, Belabia EA2/VI-062 OpenTopoMap - Topographische Karten aus OpenStreetMap If there were not rain, we were planning to activate Jaunden EA2/VI-042 too, but Cruz EB2EBX pointed us that this last could be problematic, as there was a lot of snow and small place for setting the poles. So, finally we chose to make only the first.
After arrival to Markinez, a small town in Araba, we saw a pretty beautiful landscape. Belabia EA2/VI-062, was not at sight, as it is some 3 km away. The path was easy and beautiful. During the hike, we could see some natural caves and rocks around making weird figures. Last part of the path was sometimes covered by snow patches, but the very summit was free of it, and dry enough to place all comfortable. Oier was unusually allowed to carry his tablet to give us a bit more longer activation.
Marcial and Oier ready to start the hike
This was also going to be my first field test of my HB-1B QRP transceiver. The plans were using only the internal batteries, but I’ve also carried a 4 Ah 3S1P LiPo battery as backup. The antenna was a linked dipole, to avoid the use of antenna tuner. Back at home, I saw (RBN) that it worked pretty well on the transmission side, comparing my signals with Marcial’s FT-817 @5 watts. That was the good. The bad, Marcial told me later that my signal had been clearly listened, no matter which band we both were, either receiving or transmitting. Again a clear difference with the FT-817 behaviour.
EA2/VI-062 Belavia summit, patches of snow but good temp
On the receiving side, audio was good enough (perhaps a bit low with the earphones I carried), but a lack of isolation was easily perceived. Everytime I put the mobile phone close to the rig, strong noises could be listened. It was necessary to put it no more than half a meter away, but it is a lot more compared with the FT-817 immunity.
Back to the activation, it started with a 145 FM S2S QSO with Iratxe EA2DNO and Alberto EA2DCA who were at Orisol EA2/VI-014. Oier made his 4th S2S with her, and the first QSO ever made from this summit. (He has been told that after his 10th, he will be allowed to carry the SOTA cap)
Marcial was using also a linked dipole and the FT-817 with good results. However, the propagation was not too good, with low signals all over Europe and no traces of DX’s on any of the worked bands.
Once the pile-ups dried out, we had some sandwiches, chocolate and bananas for lunch, and, seeing that the weather seemed to be stable, cloudy but anyway rainy, we finally decided to activate another new one, San Formerio EA2/VI-063 OpenTopoMap - Topographische Karten aus OpenStreetMap It was only 30km away from Belavia, and we later saw that it was a drive-on summit. So we packed all quickly, and even with a bit of sun, we made the route back.
Caves and stone formations on the path back
Just a 30 min drive put us at St. Esteban de Trevino. From here, a paved road climbs to San Formerio, where a sanctuary of the IV century stands. There is also some tables around, with a wide zone to place our rigs and antennas.
EA2/VI-063 San Formerio summit, Marcial operating position
There were also strong winds, that later caused the fall of Marcial’s fishing rod. That was the reason why our activation was several times interrupted, as we tried to fix it. Later, the antenna showed an unusual SWR ratio, it could be the antenna, the balun, the line, the connectors… these obliged us to use my Elecraft T1 tuner. Unfortunately, this one also failed (with no apparent reason, as today it works happily again). But as it is said here: “There is not two with three”. The Palm Cube rear connector decided also to give us something to be concerned about.
In other cases, this all would be enough to give up the activation, but, having heads harder than stone, the SOTA fever gave us strength enough to go ahead!
my new basic rig, ready to support both operators
So, finally we decided to use only my equipment, HB-1B and linked dipole, wich again made it well enough to fill some log sheets.
Marcial EA2BDS operating from surviving station
beautiful landscape from the summit
And that was all, at last two new references activated, and some homework checking all the bugs around. Thanks a lot to the chasers being there waiting, and suffering our sudden disappearances.
73 de Mikel & co.