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What items of kit do you tack with you on a activa


#1

What items of kit do you take with you on a activation ?

Hello all
As a newbie to Sota i thought i would ask the fellow members about what items of kit they use and take with them on an activation
and what items they would surgest ive managed to do 3 local summits in my area but the real points are further away from my qth and i was wondering what kit is best and what to avoid.

I know safety is the main issue and this iam ok about as not new to the hillwalking just sota

your veiws and comments are most welcome

Gordon MM3XGP Glenrothes,Fife


#2

In reply to MM3XGP:

Hi Gordon, you say you are an accomplished hill walker, so you will be aware of clothing/footwear/safety gear/food etc, so I presume you are more interested in what radio equipment to take on an activation.

I am not the best qualified to offer advice, but here’s what I take with me…

The most important item/s in my opinion is suitable antennae for the band/s you are going to operate. Try and avoid the dreaded rubber duck for VHF/UHF. The sotabeam, details available on this site, is excellent, it is ultra lightweight and is mountable either vertical or horizontal on most poles.
I would recommend buying the sotabeam complete kit including a guying kit for your pole, plus three ground pegs and the coaxial feeder, plus a little bag with spares.
For HF, build yourself a linked dipole, resonant on the frequencies you use, see John GW4BVEs antenna on Flickr, dimensions are included.

You want a good telescopic fishing pole to mount your antennae on, I buy mine, the 6.7 metre one right at the bottom of the page, model 1056 700 at just £8 each, from www.jims.org.uk/fishing/poles.htm
You will need suitable feeder for your HF antenna.

I always carry at least two elasticated bungees for mounting my pole to a fence or trig.

I carry insulation tape, scissors and pliers and spare fuses as an emergency repair kit.

Some type of log book and at least 3 pens/pencils.

Batteries. Most activators seem to opt for the SLAB type of battery, these are great and can be carried without fear of chemical spillage. I take two with me, both 12v @ 7ah, one stays in the car as back up.

Radios, take what you wish, the FT817 is a common choice, it’s very versatile and offers up to 5 watts output from a SLAB, it also has an internal battery which is a handy back up.

Foldable headphones, very useful on crowded summits or in windy conditions.

If you intend to operate cw, the palm paddle is superb, very light and the paddles retract into the body of the paddle for safe transportation.

I always take a groundsheet of some description, great to sit on and keep equipment of the ground. Also carry a few plastic bags, these are used to protect equipment from the rain.

Pack all items in a good, comfortable rucksack.

Optional is a camera to record the event and share the images via Flickr and a portable gps device, keeps you on the right route, also useful to determine height within 25m vertical rule.

Hope this helps.

73 Mike GW0DSP


#3

In reply to MM3XGP:

Hi Gordon,

Welcome to the highly addictive SOTA programme!

Mike is spot on with his recommendations, all I would add is a small closed-cell foam pad (I use one intended for gardeners to kneel on!) to provide a warm waterproof barrier between you and the rock you sit on, and a few large cable ties for attaching pole to posts etc.(plus a pair of sidecutters for removing them - remember to take the bits away with you!)

As you get more experience, you will fine-tune your kit to your own preferences.

Final thought - make yourself a check list and make sure all equipment is in your pack before you set out. Even the most seasoned activators have been caught on a summit with nothing to connect the antenna to the radio :wink:

Good luck, look forward to working you

73 de Paul G4MD


#4

In reply to G4MD:

and a few large cable ties for attaching pole to posts etc.(plus a
pair of sidecutters for removing them

Alternatively, releasable cable ties must be amongst the most useful things you can carry relative to their weight and cost.


#5

In reply to M1MAJ:

Alternatively, releasable cable ties must be amongst the most useful
things you can carry relative to their weight and cost.

Quick release bicycle toe-clip straps are also a useful and durable alternative.


#6

In reply to GW0DSP:

Try and avoid the dreaded rubber duck for VHF/UHF.

Agreed. But sometimes a handheld antenna is very convenient. I like the Diamond RH-770 telescopic dual-band antenna. When collapsed, it is no longer than most rubber ducks, but fully extended it’s a pretty decent antenna.

A non-obvious item that Caroline and I find incredibly useful is a Karrimor crampon bag. We got ours for next to nothing at a YHA shop closing down sale, but they’ve proved so useful that I’d have happily paid the list price. I use mine to carry small antennas for the handheld, pens and pencils, the waterlog and general notebook and a few other small bits and pieces that would get lost in the rucksack. It has internal elasticated pockets which keep such things under control - I’ve no idea what they’re intended to be used for! I carry it on the chest strap of my rucksack, so everything is immediately to hand if needed. You can even get a small handie in - very useful for grabbing quick chaser contacts when out in the hills.


#7

In reply to M1MAJ:

A non-obvious item that Caroline and I find incredibly useful is a
Karrimor crampon bag…(Deleted for clarity)… I’ve no idea what they’re intended to be used for!

There is always a clue! Maybe for putting your crampons in?

Don’t forget your ice axe! :0D

Regards Steve GW7AAV


#8

In reply to GW7AAV:

(Deleted for clarity)

Erm, no - “deleted to change the meaning”!

There is always a clue! Maybe for putting your crampons in?

Not the bag! I was referring to the small elasticated pockets within the bag.

Maybe I just don’t know enough about crampons. Anyway, as the top England activator with no winter bonus points I would have no use for such things.


#9

In reply to M1MAJ:

Not the bag! I was referring to the small elasticated pockets within the bag.

I would guess for other useful stuff like sunglasses (for the glare off the snow)or in my case reading glasses :0)

Regards Steve GW7AAV


#10

In reply to GW7AAV:

I would expect the pockets to be used for spare crampon straps and a spanner or other tools to adjust them. Also possibly to keep the point-protectors in whilst using the crampons.

73

Richard


#11

In reply to G3CWI:

I wonder whether anyone has used crampons during a SOTA activation, either here in the UK or elsewhere.

I was just looking down my checklist and doing a comparison with Mike’s list and find that even in “summer” I am still carrying the bothy bag, the reflective waistcoat and the foil blankets… and with good reason I think.

Paul suggested using a dense foam rubber pad - a similar item can be obtained from Gelert (and no doubt other manufacturers) which is a fold up seat pad specifically for sitting on the ground. It certainly works and keeps the backside from being frozen by cold rocks. I slip mine into a poly bag before putting it into the backpack as the surface tends to stick to other items as it is slid in.

I’m sure Gordon will perfect his kit over the coming months. I sometimes wonder why I take so much… then no doubt the day I leave something out, will be the day that I really do need that item.

73, Gerald

P.S. Mick (HJD), having refined my kit list, I no longer take the foot spa and sandwich toaster…


#12

In reply to G4OIG:

I have used my crampons once during SOTA activations (very rare indeed). Also see:

http://www.qsl.net/g3cwi/themint.html

73

Richard


#13

In reply to G4OIG:

In winter I carry a pair of small 6 point instep crampons - I think theyre called spiders. Ive only worn them on about 4 activations, the main one that springs to mind being the devils kitchen approach to Glyder Fawr which was a sheet of ice at the time. I steamed past many “cramponless” people - one of the rare occasions I overtake people going uphill hi. A very useful addition to the winter activators equipment for what little they weigh.


#14

In reply to G1INK:

http://www.fieldandtrek.com/product.asp?pf_id=29675&cat_id=


#15

In reply to G1INK:

You are able to obtain 6 point instep crampons from Cave and Crag in Settle, cost around £25. They are similar in appearance to 10 pointers but are just secured around the instep of the boot. The main danger is that they can be attached to the boot in the incorrect way causing them to work free and hence pose a danger. They are not a substitute for full crampons, but they do the job they were designed for and quite a large number of walkers carry and use them as appropriate. Personally I prefer nailed boots, yes you can still get them made.

I last used these little crampons descending from Fairfield last year when the rain fell and frooze on the surface of the snow. They did the job and kept me upright whilst others were tobogganing on their backsides. But remember to arrest a slide you really need an axe.

MYKE


#16

In reply to G4OIG:
“I wonder whether anyone has used crampons during a SOTA activation, either here in the UK or elsewhere.”

Absolutely essential kit on the higher GM summits during winter (by present conditions, anytime between September and August!). Even on some lowly 4 pointers they save the dignity on icy rock or grass. Ice axe ditto…
In other words: used very regularly on activations.

New subject: If my ascent of ES-067 on Saturday, my first 1 pointer, is anything to go by I am going to stick to easy 10 pointers - it was steep, with shaggy knee breaking heather then loose rock and to put the icing on the cake, covered in low and old Caledonian Pine trees with regular wood ant mounds to sit on…and, HF conditions were poor!

73

Barry GM4TOE


#17

In reply to GM4TOE:

New subject: If my ascent of ES-067 on Saturday, my first 1 pointer,
is anything to go by I am going to stick to easy 10 pointers - it was
steep, with shaggy knee breaking heather then loose rock and to put
the icing on the cake, covered in low and old Caledonian Pine trees
with regular wood ant mounds to sit on…and, HF conditions were poor!

Quite a few 1 pointers involve far too much effort for the point gained! More so if they aren’t popular as a “nice Sunday afternoon’s stroll”. At least the big stuff have decent paths and the bits to be avoided are well documented.

My SOTA gear fits into 2 large ASDA plastic food storage boxes. One contains the antenna legs and feeder, the other holds the 2m endfed, mic, power cable, small screwdriver, cheap leatherman clone, clock with alarm, pencils, mast guys, 2x 2m length 4mm nylon rope for lashing masts to posts. The FT817 lives in a softcase and that and the log then goes in a large bubble wrap bag. The other SOTA items are the 2.8AHr SLA, some tent pegs and a 90p Tesco gardener’s knealing mat. That fits down the back of the rucksack and gives you good dry and insulated seat.

Plus usual hill walking gear: compass, map, whistle, survival bag, penknife, suntan cream, Avon Skin So Soft (summer only), hat, gloves etc.

One item I didn’t think about taking at first was to have a clean T shirt back in the car. There’s a Monty Python sketch featuring a David Attenbourgh parody and the Walking Tree of Africa. As Attenborough walks about he sweats profusely till in the end he’s like a fireman’s hose at full tilt. Well I’m the same when walking, so having a towel and a change of shirt makes for a much more pleasant drive home.

Andy
MM0FMF


#18

In reply to MM3XGP:

I’ve noticed all the recommendations for 7 or 2.8 AH SLA batteries. I know I’m an unfit wimp, but I do find my 7AH batteries to be VERY heavy - even though they do last a long time with the 817…

I’m going to try a pack of 10, 2.7AHr AA batteries, on my next activation (it’ll probably be Tosson Hill, in Northumberland, in the very near future). They are very light, compared to SLA and should last at least 2 hours - probably more - with an FT-817. I’d be interested in any comments on use of high capacity AAs.

I haven’t actually checked the weight, but two sets of AAs are much lighter than a single 7 AH SLAB, and have at least 60% of the capacity (in theory).

Rob (G1TPO)


#19

In reply to G1TPO:

They work fine with an FT817 Rob. My pack of 10 Sanyo 2300mAH AA cells weighs in at 320gm (compare with a 7AH SLAB at 2.7Kg !!!) I use it as a backup now I use a LiPo pack as my main battery. I recommend the Sanyo batteries - available from Strikalite - a bit more expensive but worth it in the long run. Chargers are available to charge them as a pack, so you don’t have to remove them from the pack and put them in a standard domestic charger.

73 John GW4BVE


#20

In reply to G1TPO:

Well the database says I’ve done 38 summits since 2/12/06 but like you I don’t consider myself fit. I do very little FM activation from here so I find a 2.8AHr SLA has more than enough capacity for me on HF SSB with an 817. If you do intend to do lots of FM actitivity you may run out on a long day with a 2.8AHr. I have a set of 1.8AHr NiMHs in the 817 which are kept charged to act as a standby supply.

You may already be aware that the AHr capacity of a battery is a complicated rating based on discharge rate. That means a 2.8AHr battery will not provide 2.8A for 1hour but will provide the following.

140ma for 20hours
250ma for 10hours
480ma for 5hours
1700ma for 1hour
5300ma for 15mins

Those are for continuous discharge. My SOTA activations tend to last around 40mins, so you can see that a 2.8AHr SLA will be fine for possibly a max of 3 such activations using an 817 on SSB (400ma RX, 2A TX peak).

ISTR that you cannot get AA cells with a capacity exceeding 2.2AHr using the type of change in capacity versus discharge shown above. People selling cells with a greater capacity are often supplying 2.2AHr cells but quoting a different discharge rate. Or worse, not quoting the rate at all. You might find that the cells have a significantly lower capacity than you expect, especially when pushed a bit.

Of course, there a significant number of variables with battery life involving the particular battery, its age, how it has been treated in the past, temperature and discharge rate etc. So the AHr rating should not be taken as an absolute but more as an indication of what typically can be expected. You should really try a battery and see how it lasts in practice rather than relying on absolute theory.

Andy
MM0FMF