Welsh fun on 23cms and NW-043

I’ve driven up Cyrn-y-Brain who knows how many times, I’ve lost count of the time during the 90s when I used to contest from there. Sometimes in big groups sometimes just me and Brian G4ZRP. But I’ve never walked up, always driven. Well there’s always a first time and last Saturday was it. The original plan had called for Brian and me to do some 4m/23cms + HF activations from around NW. Unfortunately Brian couldn’t make it and so I spent most of the morning entertaining my mum. (She was glad when I left to play on the hills!) I dropped my sister at Cheshire Oaks (she was going to spend, spend, spend as the buying power of her Euros has rocketed and set off on the route I knew so well.

First problem, the beautiful weather changed to dark grey skies and some serious rain. Second problem was I got lost! The shame, it’s 9 years since I moved to GM and I had forgotten just where NW-043 is. OK so a slight diversion later and I was on the right road and soon pulling into The Ponderosa cafe. It was still drizzling when I kitted up again with 3 rigs. I was soon walking along the flatish part of the track in quite a stiff breeze. In fact it was windy enough that the wind was drying me as fast as the rain fell. I didn’t have too much time so I thought I’d wind the pace up.

And… whilst Anquet tells me it’s 43mins from the car park to the summit it took me 25. I was nice and warm as I sat in the shelter and setup the J-pole for 2m along with the VX-170. A quick CQ and I had a nice pileup. I’d alerted for 2m and 23cms so I emphasised that I would be QSYing later. After a very enjoyable 2m activation including a few lengthy QSOs I set up the new “killer” 23cms station. This consists of an ageing Icom X21AT handy ( 5W on 70cms and 1W on 23cms ) and a homemade double-quad. The double-quad is very forgiving of dimensional errors which is just as well as I had no means of checking the match when I made. I simply followed the sizes from a website. It seemed to be directional when I tested it in the shack on various noise sources. The proof of the pudding would be now.

My double-quad is made from some bits of hardline coax, a piece of copper PCB material, some 2m brass tube and a lunch box from ASDA. The whole station will fit inside the lunchbox and judicious use of bubble wrap (very light) keeps everything located when it’s packed away. I have a nice piece of flexible microwave coax (good to 8GHz I think) which connects to the hardline feeding the element. The last part of the station is an SMA female to BNC adapter to fit the ICOM. I’m not going to buy one when I have odds and ends of hardline and boxes of BNCs. I ended up with the antenna assembled, the handy hanging of my belt, the antenna in one hand and the speaker mike in the other.

1297.500 set on the dial and CQ SOTA. Bzaaap! An instant response. My memory goes hazy here, I can’t remember if it was Steve GW7AAV I worked first or John MW1FGQ. Anyway, the contacts flooded in. MW1FGQ, GW7AAV, GW7AAU, GW4HDR came in 59+ with me. My reports varied between 59 and 54. Next up was Gerald GW4OIG/p on NW-016. Again 59+ both ways. Finally Tony M0ATV is Stockport called in. That was when I noticed the handy wasn’t giving much power. D’Oh! I done the whole activation on 100mW not 1W. I was already grinning like a galoot having worked 6 on my 1st 23cms activation but to have done it on flea power was even better.

I didn’t get a contact with Mike GW0DSP on 23cms and I thought it would have been easy to work him. Nor did I hear Dennis G6YBC calling. Likewise Mike G4BLH didn’t make it but he later told me it’s a bad summit for him. Never mind there’ll be other times. A few others I worked on 2m were hoping for a QSO but weren’t worked either including Peter G8TSE.

15mins to walk down and have a banana then back to shoppingsville to collect my sister. My sister was still in cheap clothes heaven so I needn’t have rushed.

So what an excellent day again. First time I’ve walked up NW-043, another fun activation with simple 2m FM gear and enough contacts on 23cms to qualify the summit on my 1st 23cms activation. I was really delighted with how well everything worked on 23cms. The antenna was trivial to make and cost well under a fiver. The most expensive item was the 2mm brass tube and you can use 2.5mm wire from twin&earth if you want. I’ll put some pictures of the antenna and rig onto Flickr.

Thanks to everyone both on 2m and 23cms especially those who tried but didn’t get a contact. Next time…