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Windy start to the year on Gummer's How

It was clear from the moment I reached the summit today that I was going to struggle to get the SOTABeams 10m Compact Travel Mast to stay vertical.

The forecast was for 50-60mph gusts on summits, easing during the morning. It took me six attempts to get the SOTABeams Band Hopper IV in the air, and I was only successful after I employed a technique I’ve never used before.

The mast kept collapsing until I guyed it first (on the ground) and then raised it until the guy rope was tight. This meant the guy rope was at a much shallower angle than deploying the guy rope in hand and then feeding it out and pegging it afterwards.

That worked and I didn’t have any more trouble, until I came to take it down and sections took some real working to get undone. Fair dues to the mast however, it survived for another activation!


Parking Location


Woods on the ascent


Highland Cattle & Calves


Summit from the path


Lakeside


Clinging to the benchmark!

It was windy enough when I reached the top that I was struggling to stay upright. I picked a spot that I use a lot which keeps me out of the South-Westerly wind but the mast is still on the plateau.

This was the first time out for the IC-705. I ended up cutting a couple of holes in the Manfrotto camera case that has become its’ new home. One hole takes the microphone lead and the other a switch I have included inline between the LifePo4 4200 mah battery that sits in the case below the 705 and the rig to provide 10w power.

I was a little unsure of the IC-705 as an activation rig but I have to say usability is first class and it was a real pleasure to use. Moving between activator frequencies when attempting S2S was really easy and I appreciated the waterfall in finding a free frequency both on HF and on VHF FM when the channel I was using was suffering from QRM.


Manfrotto case and IC-705


Microphone lead and power switch in the front pocket


Mast with lowered antenna


Lots of visitors

With the antenna finally stable I found the bands to be very lively with lots of activity on both 20m and 40m. Inter-G was working well on 40m (getting contacts with UK operators) which probably explains why 60m and 80m were quieter. Only one S2S with HB9FUE in this first batch.

TIME CALLSIGN BAND MODE RST RSR OPERATOR SIG REF
11:04 DK1RU 20m SSB 14 59 Olaf
11:07 S57S 20m SSB 59 59 Alexander
11:07 SA4BLM 20m SSB 59 59 Lars Markus
11:08 OK1SDE 20m SSB 59 57 Dalibor ( Borek ) W
11:08 OE3GGS 20m SSB 59 59 Gustav Gambs
11:09 EA1DHB 20m SSB 59 59 Ricardo Pena
11:09 EA7GV 20m SSB 59 51 JOSE L. MENJIBAR
11:10 OH3GZ 20m SSB 58 59 JUKKA " Jack " KOVA
11:10 SQ9MDF 20m SSB 59 57 Leszek
11:10 SQ9NOT 20m SSB 59 57 WIOLETTA
11:11 EA2DT 20m SSB 57 52 Manuel
11:11 OE6RCD 20m SSB 55 54 ROLAND ROBIC
11:12 IK2ECC 20m SSB 59 57 CARLO CIPOLLA
11:13 SQ9FMC 20m SSB 59 59 Artur Kesik
11:14 DL2HWI 20m SSB 53 53 Dietmar Falkenberg
11:15 HB9FUE/P 20m SSB 55 55 Patrick Oberholzer SOTA HB/AR-008
11:21 G0RQL 40m SSB 59 59 DON ROOMES
11:22 GM0AXY 40m SSB 59 59 Einar Kenneth (Ken)
11:22 PE1RMO 40m SSB 59 57 Jan Keus
11:23 G6NHW 40m SSB 59 59 Pete
11:24 G0FEX 40m SSB 59 59 Ken
11:24 G4OOE 40m SSB 59 59 Nick
11:25 GM4YMM 40m SSB 59 59 Christine
11:25 M1TES 40m SSB 59 59 James
11:26 M1DLS 40m SSB 59 59 Joe Wharton
11:26 G1OCN 40m SSB 59 59 Dave
11:27 2E0FEH 40m SSB 59 58 Karl Kruger
11:28 PE1OAD/MM 40m SSB 59 59 Michel Haver
11:29 SP8LEP 40m SSB 57 59 ARTHUR LOPUCH
11:28 PE1PIC 40m SSB 59 59 KeesJan Colmer
11:29 G4OIG 40m SSB 59 59 GERALD PECK
11:30 DH4PSG 40m SSB 59 57 Peter Schlüter
11:30 GI4TAJ 40m SSB 59 59 Joe BINGHAM
11:30 F4GYG 40m SSB 59 59 SAM LEULIET
11:31 G4OBK 40m SSB 59 57 Philip (Phil) Catte
11:32 IK1DFH 40m SSB 59 55 (ROBY) ROBERTO MART
11:33 GI4SZW 40m SSB 59 57 Shamus
11:33 M7GNR 40m SSB 59 58 Barry Ashcroft
11:34 G7SQW/P 40m SSB 59 59 Andy Woods WWFF GFF-0262
11:35 F4ISZ 40m SSB 59 54 Franck VALENTIN
11:35 M0DXT 40m SSB 59 59 William Tinnion [BI
11:36 MM1HMZ 40m SSB 59 57 Brian Allison
11:37 G7KSE 40m SSB 59 59 Alex Hill
11:37 SA6PIS 40m SSB 59 57 Paul Svensson
11:37 DK3RV 40m SSB 57 55 Walter Wilke
11:38 DF2QZ 40m SSB 59 55 Hartmut Braun - 'Ha
11:39 2E0AOO 40m SSB 59 59 Rob
11:40 SP4SHW 40m SSB 55 55 “JUREK” Jerzy Wydra
11:51 M1TES 60m SSB 55 55 James Crawford
11:52 GI4OSF 60m SSB 59 57 John McNiece
11:52 GW6OVD 60m SSB 57 55 Mal
11:53 G0VWP 60m SSB 59 57 Terry Sayner

Having worked all the HF bands I returned to 20m as there were several SOTA activators spotted and had a nice run on 7 S2S contacts into Europe.

TIME CALLSIGN BAND MODE RST RSR OPERATOR SIG REF
12:01 DK1ZX/P 20m SSB 59 55 Alex Zuefle SOTA DM/BM-010
12:04 OE6ADE/P 20m SSB 59 58 Andy Andreas Domani SOTA OE/SB-163
12:11 LA5WNA/P 20m SSB 59 57 Odd Harald Holumsne SOTA LA/OL-184
12:13 S56LXN/P 20m SSB 55 55 Bojan Stembal SOTA S5/BR-012
12:23 SV2RUJ/P 20m SSB 53 53 Stavros Triadafyllo SOTA SV/TL-061
12:25 OE1UHU/P 20m SSB 51 30 Stefan Hutter SOTA OE/ST-265
12:26 OE3TBU/P 20m SSB 51 30 DI Thomas Buchta SOTA OE/ST-265

A few on 80m before I dropped the antenna and attached the Spectrum Communications Slim-J for some 2m contacts including two at the end with @G7CDA Douggie and @G1OHH Sue using DSTAR DV point-to-point.

TIME CALLSIGN BAND MODE RST RSR OPERATOR SIG REF
12:30 MW0OFA 80m SSB 57 55 Frank
12:31 GM4WHA 80m SSB 51 41 GEOFF HARPER
12:32 2E0FEH 80m SSB 51 44 Karl Kruger
12:39 G1OHH 2m FM 59 59 Susan Griffin
12:43 G7CDA 2m FM 59 59 Douggie Lancaster
12:45 G0LWU 2m FM 59 59 Andrew Charles Scar
12:47 G6AEK 2m FM 59 59 David Molyneux
12:50 M0SSD 2m FM 59 59 George
12:52 G4ZRP 2m FM 55 55 Brian
12:54 M1DHA 2m FM 59 59 Alan
12:56 G7CDA 2m DSTA 59 59 Douggie Lancaster
12:58 G1OHH 2m DSTA 59 59 Susan Griffin

A final run of S2S brought the activation to an end for a total of 76 contacts of which 13 were S2S.

TIME CALLSIGN BAND MODE RST RSR OPERATOR SIG REF
13:01 OE7MPI/P 20m SSB 55 55 MICHAEL PACHER SOTA OE/TL-042
13:01 OE7MPN/P 20m SSB 55 57 Monika Pacher SOTA OE/TL-042
13:05 DB7MM/P 20m SSB 51 44 Dr. Michael Multere SOTA DM/BM-065
13:07 HB9GKR/P 20m SSB 57 57 Ralf Doerendahl SOTA HB/TI-136
13:11 HB9HCS/P 20m SSB 55 52 Stefan Kirchhofer SOTA HB/BE-089

The highest S2S contact today was the last one with Stefan @HB9HCS who was on Elsighorn HB/BE-089 at 2341m, although there was some good efforts all round for this time of year!


HB9HCS/P on HB/BE-089

One other contact to highlight: PE1OAD/MM was on his ship north of the Netherlands. He must have one of the coolest callsign locations ever!


Inter-G contacts

Thanks for all the contacts today. Even though it was fairly mild for the time of year the wind chill was wicked and I still don’t feel like I’ve fully warmed up yet!

15 Likes

I was almost blown off a summit in Scotland last year. Had I known what the conditions were going to be like I would have taken my MP1C vertical. It would have been a compromise but would have been more likely to have stayed upright than my mast did. But hindsight isn’t much use! :slight_smile:

A great report, many thanks.

Thanks for the comments John. Same here - I looked out the window (always a foolish thing to do in the Lake District when attempting to judge the weather) and didn’t think the wind was too bad. I keep having to remind myself that the MWIS LD forecast has been very consistent and is usually spot on (as it was today!)

In hindsight the Chameleon MPAS2.0 I bought recently would have been a much better proposition and most likely on the air in 5 mins using the substantial ground spike.

It needs a tuner for 40m but I have built a Phoenix Kits Pocket Transmatch which should bring 40m & 80m into play (the Chameleon is resonant on 20m, 30m and 60m). I suspect performance on 60m and 80m is fairly rubbish both due to it being a vertical and also a compromise antenna on those bands. With inter-g working so well today however 80m wouldn’t have been a great loss.

As this was the first SOTA activation with a new rig I wanted to keep as much else the same as ‘normal’. Next time!

Regards, Mark

2 Likes

Many thanks for the excellent report and photos Mark… and of course the New Year’s present of a Complete. For me Murphy’s Law has always dictated that I would be either out of the shack or propagation would be poor or the activation would be 2m only when an activation was being undertaken on Gummer’s How. Finally I can strike this from my wants list. :grinning:

73, Gerald G4OIG

2 Likes

Hello Mark, thanks for a great activation report and photos. Well done. :+1:

HNY and cheers to you :partying_face: :beers: :beers:

Geoff vk3sq

1 Like

Inter G wasn’t working for me. I tried a few times to get you. It was a windy one on Shining Tor too, but I perceivered with the linked dipole. However for some reason I couldn’t get it to work on 40m! I need to check it. I should have used the SuperAntenna, in these conditions it never disappoints.

Great report as always. A mine of information!

Martin 73s

1 Like

Hi Martin

I heard you a couple of times calling S2S to other stations I was monitoring (maybe on 20m?), so I think we could have worked, I did mean to try and find you on an activation frequency but I think you were mostly search and pounce. Good work on the 2,500 S2S - I’m around the 2,370 mark and will definitely put in for a certificate when I hit the 2,500 ticket! It is definitely a very specific award for perseverance and persistence on a summit, not to be sniffed at!

Regards, Mark

3 Likes

After many very windy activations in GM/SS, G/LD and G/NP [the wind capitals of the world?] trying not very successfully on my own to hold the mast up with antenna wires flapping about and getting entangled whilst pegging out the guy strings, I too found reversing these steps the best technique for high winds. I already know the approximate distance from the mast where the pegs (with guying strings attached) need to go, I find it helps to have the O-ring [to which the 3 or 4 guy strings are attached] loose and up the mast a bit and let it drop down into its final position between two mast sections as I raise the mast around it. The guys are usually a bit loose when done this way so I move the pegs out a bit to make the strings taut.

This is always a nightmare. It seems to be worse when the mast and my hands are wet. I get visions of having to carry a partly-extended mast down the mountain. But persistence has always won the day.

Wow! Your first photo [of the GH road], I’ve never seen the on-road parking that bad [busy] but then I’ve never been brave enough / daft enough to go up that lovely but very popular summit on New Year’s Day.

Great report and photos as usual.

P.S. We all missed the obligatory sheep photo [I know there’s none there so you need to take your pet one]

Happy New Year to all,
Andy

1 Like

It has been a fun target. I am still pondering what to do in 2022. As I do a lot of commuting for work driving long distances doesn’t always appeal, so it works for me.

Hope to catch you soon!

Martin

2 Likes

I resorted to banging some of the sections down. The SOTABeams 10m compact mast is very hardy and doesn’t seem to suffer from rough treatment, although clearly I choose not to do this unless the alternative of carrying a partly collapsed mast looms large.

Highland cattle I feel are an adequate substitute :laughing:

2 Likes

Maybe you could try my patented technique:

Bare hands for assembling the mast.
Thin grippy palm gloves for collapsing it.

I found this out the hard way on Beinn a’Ghlo in November, when the mast rimed up with ice after only being up for 15 minutes. I barely managed to get it down after the first summit, and then employed this technique on the other two with no issues.

1 Like

You know I have a pair of those gloves, bought specifically for mast work, and probably had them with me. Blame it on summit brain!

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I wear a thin pair of cycling gloves which allow me to paddle keys and do my pencil and paper log but they don’t help when I have difficulty collapsing the mast when it’s wet.

It’s yet another reason why I prefer to take my HF vertical in bad weather - its 5.2m (17ft) telescoping metal whip always extends and collapses without problem.

The only thing it won’t tolerate is being stood on. I’ve carelessly done this twice in the back garden causing multiple cracks in several sections rendering them unusable. Fortunately SOTAbeams sells [or did sell] replacement sections individually making my one fully serviceable again.