So after 12 months of 2M FM activations, I thought it might be time to branch out and have a go at HF. At least, I thought it might help with the minor summits that can be a bit of a sticky wicket on 2M FM.
Thinking that an old style proven rig was the way to go, I bought an FT-817ND off eBay. I am very pleased with it, it is like new and works 100% (even the replacement Ni-MH battery). I paired it with an end-fed and un-un built and tested in my suburban garden.
Three HF activations in, I have discovered some things I never knew (well I am a bit of a noob amateur as well as SOTA-ist).
Out in the sticks I get S1 or lower noise on 40M !!!. That is compared with S8 at home that I thought was normal
40M is still a bit touch and go for intra-G NVIS at the moment, especially in the mornings. Lets hope it picks up as the sunspots multiply.
Even in poor conditions, it’s hard to find a free frequency on 40M. Even when you do some **** comes and sits on top CQ’ing (but oddly getting few replies)
5W is enough to work around Europe on 40M and 20M SSB
It’s hard to get S2S contacts on HF SSB, unless some kind soul clears the pileup by announcing “please all stand by he’s trying for an S2S contact”. Thanks !!
Why can some chasers not manage to follow the QSO sequence and just shout their callsign continuously ? Sorry, if you do that I’m going to actively ignore you.
HF /P is actually good fun (so far)
Finally, if you don’t get a call from @G0RQL your equipment is broken. Thanks, Don !
And Manuel @EA2DT ! Someone left a comment on one of my YouTube videos the other day - “No Manuel?” (Don’t forget Chris @F4WBN & Lars @SA4BLM too).
Of course, SOTA is a team sport and there have been a few times that these guys have got me my points on a rain soaked, wind swept mountain top, with poor band conditions. They get through when no one else can and they’ll come to their radios any time of the day to work you.
It’s a bit less chaotic here on the west coast of the USA. The majority of my summit DX is with Japan, and they are generally courteous and patient. When I did some activations in Iceland last year I could not believe the pileups! Frustrating at times, but overall it was very fun!
Hi Rick, on the NVIS question - the key point is the critical frequency of the ionosphere and while this reading (sometimes called Fof2, sometimes fxl - the latter reading is more accurate) often gets up to 60m, as you say 40m is rarer.
To watch out for this there’s a great site run by Jim bacon G3YLA here: PROPquest | Graphs Chose Fairfield or Chilton, whichever is closer to you.
Yes, that’s a great resource that I use daily but didn’t need for SOTA till now. FoF2 is touching 7MHz most days recently, but often not till 14:00 UTC. Big new sunspot group on the way, things are looking up …
This is often commented on. There is an element of pushing to the front but also, as Guru pointed out, people just not listening. I can understand not hearing a chaser but you should at least listen to the activator, if only to work out if they are contacting someone you cannot hear. Today I responded to a CQ and the activator came back repeating my callsign and gave me an RST and then immediately someone jumped in with their callsign before I could reply. This was in CW but it happens in phone modes too of course. I just take a chill pill and avoid any rise in blood pressure.
Its not uncommon for 60m to be working when 80m and 40m are hopeless. Incidentally I monitored 5.362 for a couple of hours this afternoon while working on something (a new ATU) and the frequency was rarely silent.