What a thoroughly splendid day on Black Mount GM/SS-158 and White Meldon GM/SS-208

Some SOTA days are special, today was one of them.

  • Awesome weather, the first really sunny day for weeks
  • Successful initial testing of a Womble battery
  • First QSOs with a pair of QCX transceivers
  • I finally worked an EGxGURU station

I had intended to go North and do a “proper” mountain when I saw the WX forecast but I still wasn’t sure which, I wasn’t sure what the roads would be like (it was -4C at 165m ASL) and I spent too long in the arms of Morpheus and woke up late. So I picked a pair of easy summits nearby and decided to spend more time activating that driving.

I was away late and finally got to Black Mount’s parking place. Well it took me 3 passes and 10mins faffing till I realised the dark brown and very obvious track has seen little traffic and was now bright green. When I realised that I parked up, packed up and was off. I did the man’s ascent, along the track then where the streams meet, cross over and straight up to the top. 280m of ascent in 0.85km distance. Computer said 45mins and I did it 50mins, not bad as I’ve not been out since March 5th.

At the top there was almost no wind though it did pick up by the time I finished. Equipment was an 817, 4S LiFePo on its 3rd activation since last charge, 40/30/20m trapped EFHW as sloping inverted L with AA5TB style match box. Conditions were somewhat better than during the weekend :slight_smile:

10m: 4x SSB 0x CW, ODX = SV3IEG, S2S MM0VPM/P GM/SS-128
15m: 1x SSB 5x CW, ODX = US3LX
20m: 8x CW ODX = UR5IRM, AlsoEG2GURU (finally worked one!!!) S2S HB9BAB/P HB/ZH-015
40m: 15x SSB 8x CW, ODX = S57S, S2S EI3KT/P EI/IN-005

I owe an apology to Terry G0VWP. The 40m pile was quite intense at one point and having exchanged reports I moved on to the next chaser and never said 73 etc. to Terry. Sorry, the adrenalin was flowing.

Stuc a’Chroin GM/SS-010 and Ben Vorlich GM/SS-008 at 82km distance.

Stob Binnein GM/SS-002 and Ben More GM/SS-001 at 101km distance

Tinto Hill GM/SS-064

Culter Fell GM/SS056

Broad Law GM/SS-029 (Note Dr. Evil’s antennas can be seen on the top)

Panoramas from the trig point

It’s not everyday you really need sunglasses in Scotland. MM0FMF smiling before the descent/

The trig point continues to die very slowly. Most of the damage is vandalism to remove the brass OS features.

Descent was the reverse and I never realised how steep till I went down the slope quickly. My front thighs were on fire at the car though it only took 24mins :frowning: Can of diet Red Bull, Toffee Crisp, 2x 500mg Metformin and I was off to White Meldon.

This is about 20mins drive and I got the last place in the car park nearest to the start. I had more Red Bull and chatted to a couple with a wonderful Collie dog. Then it was over the fence and up. There are actually some half decent animal/ATV tracks so it was only 35mins to the top. And it was windy and cold but still sunny.

The next part was to try some QCX kits on the air. I bought an original QCX in 2017 and never found time to build it. I bought a 20m QCXmini when they came out and there there was all the problems with regulators and some counterfeit op-amps and so again, I never found the time to build. I bought a 17m QCXmini off someone (was that you Rod @M0JLA?) and apart from powering it up, never tried it.

Then I started being 3/5ths retired and I had time. Built the QCX original and it worked 1st time. I had to faff with the toroids but it works. Then I found no more BAMAtech cases :frowning: Talking with the local QRP radio expert (Colin @M1BUU) he told me the 17m QCX is a bit deaf though he was trying a T50-6 instead of a T50-2 in the RX mixer. I tried the 17m version and it seem OK but the power was only 2W. A quick (like 60secs) faff with the coils and we had 4.7W on 12V… that will do fine :slight_smile: After that I build the 20m QCXmini. It didn’t work first time, I thought that was pretty poor for someone who has been building stuff since I was 10 for my amusement and at work for 39 years. No power out but I can hear it TX on another radio. Remake resonant tank joints and we have RF. 15mins coil faffing and it produces 4.5W on 12V. Success :slight_smile:

After Colin’s comments I decided a 20/30 combo was more use than 20/17 as I have yet to source a case for the QCX original. So I bought some caps and reworked the 17 to a 30m item. It took much fiddling as I can’t see like I could 40 years ago but it too worked 1st time after rework. It probably needs 1 turn removing from L3 but it gives 4W on 12V.

As written elsewhere, I’ve been Wombling for batteries when dogging (Dogging, Wombling and free SOTA batteries.) and the main aim after reducing e-waste was to get some small batteries for the QCXs. Today, that first 3S2P pack was put to test.

Same antenna but I started with the 20m QCX. Well no. I don’t have my QRP SWR meter finished so I used the 817 SWR meter to set the AA5TB tuning. Then on to 20m with the QCX. Bu**er me it actually worked. S57S was 599! OK, I have an RF pickup issue. It sounds good on RX but on TX the audio is distorted. I reckon a 0.01uf across the paddle and phones sockets will cure that. I worked 14 QSOs with ODX again SV3IEG.

Onto 30m and a quick test showed Deutsche Wetterdienst on 10.100.8 at 59+++++++++. I worked 8 chasers with very short propagation for 30m M0BKV, GW3YQP, G4TQM and GW4VPX all being good signals. There was RF pickup on the audio again and it was capable of locking up the keyer. Switching VFO and back solved that. So some more decoupling needed. Theses are common QCX issues, I’ll read the QCX forum to see what else people did. Probably case grounding as well is needed. I had a final fling on 40m SSB as the 817 was sat there looking lonely :slight_smile:

It was now damn cold in the wind, windchill below 0C, a quick packup and some photos then back to the car. Boots off, more Red Bull, heated seats and steering wheel on and back home for tea!

The setup, QCXminis for 20m and 30m, Womble battery 3S2P made from recovered e-cig batteries. Also a posh pair of AKG HiFi headphones.

My QRP SWR meter. OK the 817 was in the big and has an SWR meter. :wink:

Dunslair Heights. The first hill I climbed in Scotland. I wondered if you could drive up and if it was a good contesting site. You can drive up by bypassing the poor fitted gates but as the mast supports a lot of Police, Fire, Ambulance infrastructure the site bristles with cameras. And you need a big pole for the aerial as there are 50ft trees everywhere.

White Meldon GM/SS-208 Summit and trig.

Panoramas from the trig.

I’m shattered now but so pleased to have worked a GURU special event station and proved the Womble battery and QCXs. The battery was driving one or other QCX for a total of 50mins and the charger said it needed 196mAhr to recharge it. A discharge test showed the capacity of my 1100mAhr pack at 1074mAhr. 1074/196 = 5.48, 196mAhr = 50mins operation, 5.48 * 50 / 60 = 4.5hrs SOTA operation. That will do nicely. :sunny: :smiley:

WX looks utter pish for the rest of the week, good to be out today.


Ha! "QRP expert’ :joy: I’m no expert, just a kit building enthusiast/addict.

Glad to learn that you got your QCXs working well and being put to use. The RF pickup issue is annoying, I’ve had a few attempts at trying to solve it but nothing seems to have worked. Dipoles are better than end feds in terms of QCX RF problems, but I still get issues. Running the 50w amp makes things even worse. :upside_down_face:

73, Colin

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Well. having ascended the steep way which took us 50 minutes (in 2014 when I was a mere youngster), Paul and I decided to avoid the steep return and bimbled around the long way on the way back, I think much to the amusement of Jack COX who we met up with at the summit.

It was good to speak to you on 40m SSB yesterday, a rare event indeed. I was a bit surprised that White Meldon was your second summit - I didn’t think it was so close. As I said, I assumed you’d be doing Broomy Law. So much for my overall view of the area. :grinning: Unfortunately I couldn’t get into the shack in the afternoon as we were looking after our latest grandchild, who at 10 weeks old took priority… ah, you’ve got this all to come. :grinning:

Well done on all the activity and getting those free batteries tested out. Pity the electricity to charge them isn’t free as well. Solar charging? :thinking:

73, Gerald


Thank you for the nice report!
Welcome to the QCX mini world! Adding a mini AGC board proved as being helpful.
If the conditions are good you can work the whole world. ODX here on 20m with the QCX mini is ZL1.
Antenna is a small vertical.
Enjoy your QCX!

Hope to work you QCX 2 QCX :slight_smile:



Thanks for the report and the photos Andy. I was working outdoors on an equally wonderful day here in Wales with sprints to the rig when alerted by my phone. Thank you for both summits on cw with excellent signals from your rig.

73 Allan GW4VPX

I see you have adapted well to the Scottish diet. That’s 3 of your 5 a day. Just the 20 Marlbro and a bottle of Glens vodka needed to complete your nutrients.


Google maps says 25mins but 310bhp says otherwise :slight_smile:

You’re 10years older than me so 10 years back puts us in the same ballpark but I don’t think you had had the Dyna-rod job done on your heart arteries then. If so, you probably could be been quicker! I was a man on a mission hence the steep descent, the front of my thighs are still complaining! If I wasn’t doing something else I’d have taken the horseshoe route to the small steep slope at the end of the track. It would have been nice walking the ridge on such a nice day.

Don’t undersell your skills/knowledge. Everything you’ve said so far has been accurate and useful.

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No, the road collapse and temporary road widening was in 2017 and the dual carriageways were installed the following year. I’m not sure when I started slowing up as it sort of crept up on me… the increasing number of pauses for photographic opportunites are apparent with hindsight. It was mainly manifest in needing to stop to rid my leg muscles of the build up in lactic acid. I’ve not suffered since the improvements and I rarely get any aches. Meall Buidhe did invoke some stiffness on my last trip after the drive back to Perth which was a real surprise. No such problems on either the first or last days even though the distance walked was considerably more. It would be interesting to ascend Black Mount again now to see how I would do, though attaining anything near hill fitness is proving difficult due to the infrequency of my activations.

I’m hoping to be up again around Easter on a single day 8 pointer trip. Best get in training… :grinning:

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bottle of glens? must be posh where you are! I thought most scots lived on tennants extra or lurgan champagne?? :smiley: :smiley:

Cheers - Alan


We’re in the Eastern side of the realm were consumption of Commotion Lotion is much reduced.

c.f. Buckie Triangle

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Is no longer a thing I’m afraid. It went the same way as Kestrel Super and Carlsberg Special Brew when minimum unit pricing came in.

I had to google that, although I had a fair idea it may be Buckfast. Yes, still available in select outlets. Pure magic. Get it doon ye’

When I moved back to Scotland I rented a flat in Coatbridge. A nice one, opposite West End Park. A lovely place for a stroll, especially on a Sunday morning when the Monklands canal would be full of empty Buckie bottles, just gently bobbling along, like some kind of living art installation.

ahh yes, we don’t have that problem in England… its still cheaper to buy a bottle of 9% cider than 4 cans of sensible ale! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Never heard it referred too as that! its quite apt mind…

Personally I prefer a nice single malt… preferably a speyside :slight_smile:

cheers chaps - Alan

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I can hear someone like Melvyn Bragg reviewing it in my mind now :rofl:


I am very glad you had a splendid day plus our qso for EG2GURU from my side.

Keep collecting those womble LiIon’s for free, and take the QCX’s more times to the wild…

Cheers, 73 Ignacio


It was a cracker of a day weather wise Andy, first day in a long time I had no lid (hat) and a light jacket, many thanks for the S2S from EI/IN-005 :grinning: