My attempt to activate the Old Man of Coniston, G/LD-013 (unlucky for some) early this morning was a wash out due to my transceiver setup. I had taken my backpack FT-8900R for VHF/UHF and a FT-817 for HF. It was clear on reaching the top that HF was going to be out - I was in the cloudbase with driving rain so needed to keep sheltered.
I attempted to use the FT-8900R which is mounted on a chopping board in my rucksack together with a 4S 5AH LiPo, buckconverter (to stabilise voltage to 13.8V) and backpack mounted Watson W627 (connected via a custom built antenna mount direct to the transceiver with an N-type connector). With the FT-8900R I had power problems - the buckconverter kept cutting out. It may have been my revised layout on the board, or issues with dampness.
I switched to the FT-817 but that was also experiencing issues with the built in rubber duck antenna which I have seen before on Snaefell in wet conditions. I transmitted a CQ on 145.500 Mhz but then was met with an S9+ receive on that channel, no audio. Switching channels stopped the RX, but moving back it was there again. On Snaefell I thought it might have been an interaction with the 2m repeater, but that can’t have been the issue on top of the Old Man of Coniston. By this point the FT-817 was soaking and I’d had enough, so no activation.
My question is what folks would recommend to keep transceivers waterproof, other than buying a waterproof transceiver in the first place? Regardless of what I decide to do on VHF/UHF I will need to keep using the FT-817 for HF. There is the issue of keeping the rain out whilst activating, and also during the ascent and descent.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that the backpack antenna just isn’t suitable for summit activation - 9/10 times you want to shelter somewhere out of the elements, which is precisely where you don’t want the antenna. I know what the obvious answer is - a waterproof 5w handheld and a flowerpot antenna to mount on a fishing pole. That, however is more expense.
Here are some interesting photos anyway - the old quarry is definitely worth a visit regardless of SOTA activity or the weather!
So to confirm a couple of things: wet clouds and radios don’t play well together, weather men are liars, waterproof clothes aren’t and as far as I can tell the pirates haven’t hidden the treasure in the old, disused mine shaft
73, Mark. M6VMS