Conditions were very humid when walking up the Skirrid (GW/SW-016 - Ysgyryd Fawr) from the rather large new car park (£3 unless you are a NT member) on Wednesday. When we (M6BWA and M0JLA) got up onto the long ridge the top of the Black Mountains and the Sugar Loaf were covered in cloud and the view was very hazy. There was a light breeze which was very welcome but no sign of sunshine. I set up the dipole just below the summit cairn and listened round on the 2m band at just after 1000 UTC.
On 145.350 a conversation was being held in French - perhaps I would have an interesting activation! I tried unsuccessfully (not surprisingly with only 5w from the VX-7 and no beam) to join in but then started calling on 2m fm. Within 2 minutes I had qualified the hill and reached the Gloucester/Cheltenham area and Ilminster across the Severn. However, in the following 15 mins I got s2s with G/SP-014 (G7OEM/P) and G/TW-002 (G4OBK/P) also, Oldham (M0CQE), Hatfield, Herts( 2E0BKF) and Camberley, Surrey(M0KWY). A brief trip to 70cm raised contacts in Glos/Cheltenham and G6ZIM/P on the Quantocks (on a handy and rubber duck). Back on 2m contacts in Dudley and Brownhills were not so unusual but a 3rd s2s to G400E/P and M0PYG/P on G/NP-011 was particularly welcomed as M0JLA had come to join me briefly and this was the only NP hill he hadn’t chased. Thanks Nick and Geoff. 15 2m contacts in 45 mins from this 1 pointer near Abergavenny would have been noteworthy even without the 3 northern s2s and the visit to the SE. The snag, of course, was that I kept losing my frequency to stronger stations and had to keep finding a new one.
Time was limited so we had to leave and go to the much flatter Garway Hill (G/WB-013) just over the English border where my calls from 1300 UTC were answered more slowly with 10 in 55 mins (and 7 70cm). However I did reach G0GNE/P Hindhead (Surrey), M6YAS on the Northants/Warks border and 3 Welsh contacts (unusual from that location) so there was still some lift around.
These were the best conditions I’d found in more than 620 2m fm activations. Where did other people work (with higher power) … and when is the next lift going to be??
If someone can tell you that with great certainty then ask them for next week’s lottery numbers too!
Excellent stuff Viki. I did have a listen for you on 70cm, but nothing heard of you here in Northampton. I missed your 2m session, but had I thought to check back there, a contact may have been a possibility given the distances you worked. Unfortunately I was walking the 5 miles into town to collect my car from the garage when you were on Garway, so I missed that completely.
It is always pleasing to have something different in the log, so when do you add the 25W linear and 5 element yagi to your kit?
73, Gerald G4OIG
It’s in the car, usually.
I have some sympathy with that approach Rod. Carrying the power pack to supply more watts out is the issue. When activating summits north of the Glasgow - Edinburgh line, I do weigh up whether it is worthwhile taking the linear and beam and they are sometimes left in the car. The 817 barefoot to the Moxon has been the base level activation kit, but often I have regretted not using the beam instead. The Moxon is excellent when it is wet as there is no set up involved. Maybe when I simplify the connection to the beam, I will opt for that as a matter of course…
73, Gerald G4OIG
Geoff M0PYG and I were delighted to work you and Rod s2s from Great Coum. Conditions were very good and we easily qualified Dodd Fell Hill later in the day which can sometimes be difficult to qualify on 2 metres. On Tuesday 6th September we worked GI4ONL and MI0RTY on 2 metres from the lowly Dufton Pike and last week I managed a qso with G0RQL in Devon from Snowdon on 2 metres.
Having watched the tropo maps for a few days, I took the opportunity to do a VHF only activation on Tuesday. The tiny FT-90 and X-300 colinear were packed and carried up G/SP-004 Shining Tor. From the start of this activation, I had reservations about activating this one, because at about 1850 feet ASL, I could easy to find myself above the ducting.
I’ve worked plenty of lifts on 2m from SOTA summits and have learned that the FM mode can produce spectacular results, in terms of both numbers and DX.
Here is an activation from Gun G/SP-013 last year, during a massive lift and on reflection, Gun is where I should have been on Tuesday.
Amazing 2 Metre Lift Conditions! - Activation Reports - SOTA Reflector,
I was QRV at 0635z and put out a CQ and after a listen around the FM section of the band.The absence of any French repeaters, was a clue that I may be above the ducting or the predictions were too optimistic. Nevertheless, in a couple of hours, 62 contacts were logged, the best of it a 200 mile hop with Don G0RQL in Devon.
For a very early, midweek activation, in terms of numbers, this was still a good result, but certainly a disappointment on the DX front.
Predicting tropo is something of a lottery, however, when there’s high presure about, I tend to follow this site, which can give a reasonable indication, although I wouldn’t bet my house on it.
Well done Vikki!
I went up Walton Hill G/CE-002 on Wednesday evening and although much of the lift had apparently gone, I did manage to work someone in Kent (report 59) using 5W on FM 2m. About 150 miles.
More of that please.
Perhaps time for some VHF…
Good tropo last night on 6m. Nothing spectacular, but consistently strong signals into The Cloud G/SP-015 from right across the south coast with massive enhancement on the sigs from IO80 and IO70.
86 QSOs, all 6m SSB, Squares worked: IN99, IO64, 70, 74, 75, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 90, 91, 92, 93, JO01, 02, 03. Also heard IO63 and JO00 but didn’t get to work either of them. Didn’t manage to find IO72, 94 or 95 anywhere.
What do you use for an antenna on 6m Tom?
SOTAbeams SB6 (Moxon type design). Been out of production a while though.
Ah, I think I remember you writing about it a while back. I really must concoct a 2m Moxon, I’ve had a run of good 2m FM contacts with Robin GM7PKT over the last few activations. On some the path has been quite improbable but has worked and this has woken up a lingering interest in doing a bit more VHF work, especially now the LF and HF bands are very variable. A lot have just been using the VX-170 and its duck, occasionally a 1/4wave telescopic and a few times I’ve unrolled the J-pole. But something pointy is probably worth investing in.
I remember back in June 2005 having an enjoyable summer afternoon activating g/tw002. I used an alinco dj195 HT and the sotabeams 3 ele beam on top of the mast they used to create that went on top of your trekking pole. The best contact that day was with mw0idx/p on NW002. Very good for VHF I thought. Other s2s that day according to the log were NP004(x2),sp005(group of 5 activators),and sb009. When my ft817 arrives 2m SSB is one of the first things I’m going to try. Never done 2m SSB.