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Winter Fun Evenings

In reply to M0EIQ:
If you find the beam is too strong to read a map i would think that a simple homebrew Light Diffuser could made out something like a plastic milk bottle (Cloudy white plastic) and just held or made to stay over the front of the light. Just a thought. Sean

In reply to 2E0BAX:

An excellent suggestion Sean, I may try it with something red coloured, I’ll keep my eyes peeled near the recycle bin :slight_smile:

However, having learnt the hard way to never travel anywhere without two torches, I’d still carry a spare so I might as well use it.

All the best,
M0EIQ

The weather forecast is currently not very encouraging but, if the promised heavy rain fails to materialise, I am considering a Tuesday Fun Evening activation of my local peak Leith Hill (G/SE-002) to coincide with the first hour of the RSGB 2m UKAC contest. Don’t expect a big signal if I actually get there, with just five watts to my whip, but, with clear views across London from the summit, I should manage a few QSOs.

HF is unlikely but you never know. It depends on the level of “fun”.

73 de Les, G3VQO

I am hoping to be on Shining Tor G/SP-004 for tomorrow night’s contest, but also, only if it is dry. Do you not have a SOTA Beam Les? I reckon a S2S on 2SSB (or 2CW) is quite doable.

Tom M1EYP

I saw a spot for you on 40CW upon my return Les. Don’t know if you tried any 2SSB or not?

Despite the torrential rain during my drive home from work this afternoon, things had dried up and the weather forecast suggested that the rain would move away during the evening. So I decided to go for it.

Unlike two weeks ago when I could ascend in the remaining dregs of daylight, my “2-in-1” halogen headtorch was needed from the start of the walk this time. The ascent took twenty minutes, and I carried out my “shelter assessment” upon arrival at the summit. The wind was coming in from the South-West, so I hunkered down in the corner of the wall. I sat on my mat on the ground and used the bench as an operating desk.

It was pleasant and comfortable to start with. Sheltered from the wind, I felt the benefit of the mild 11 degrees evening temperature. And the rain was continuing to hold off. By 9.05pm, I had made 31 contacts with 8 square multipliers. Best DX was Don G0RQL at 306km.

Although things were slowing down, there were still more stations and squares to be had, including a GM station. However, the weather turned quite nasty, with the wind suddenly swirling and strong, and heavy rain lashing down. Enough was enough, and I hurriedly packed the station away.

As well as the wind and rain, thick fog was now down on the hill, which demanded extra concentration and slower progress on the descent. I was in the car and dropping down the A537 towards the lights of Macclesfield by 9.50pm - with Danny Baker on BBC Radio 5 Live, and the heater on full-blast.

Overall, the weather was just about acceptable for a night-time activation, but I am hoping for better for the 70cms contest next week, which is one of my favourties.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

After a wet and windy day, just before dusk the rain ceased and the clouds started to appear less threatening. The omens seemed good, and I decided to proceed with my trip to Leith Hill. It is just about a fifteen-minute drive from home along country lines, and I was soon in my chosen parking place.

This is not a demanding summit, unless you choose it to be, and it was a gentle stroll up to the the tower through dripping trees. By now the wind had abated significantly and the temperature was a mild 16C. I selected a picnic table with a view across the Sussex Weald and set up. With the contest still some time away, I decided to start with 40m, but my first attempted transmission showed a high SWR. Fault-finding in the dark is not easy, but I eventually found a dodgy connection. With that fixed I commenced calling CQ on 7032.5. My first reply was from S58MU, who I see kindly spotted me on SOTAwatch, but I was then interrupted by a call on my mobile telephone. Returning to the radio a few minutes later found more patient chasers waiting, and a total of eight stations found their way into the log before the frequency again went quiet.

By coincidence the time was now perfect for a QSY to 2m. The band sounded lively, with several big semi-local signals to be heard. With just five watts and a whip antenna, I needed patience to gain the attention of the contesters, as any simultaneous callers were usually stronger than me. Undaunted, I persevered, and managed QSOs with six stations in three squares.

Having worked all of the likely candidates, I moved to the FM section. There were several chats taking place, but no obvious contesters, which was hardly surprising. I called CQ a couple of times on 145.5 without reply, and then returned to SSB for a final sweep of the band, before packing up around 2030 local.

It was a pleasant experience overall, with wonderful views of twinkling lights. By now the stars were shining brightly, and the myriad of aircraft weaving their way in and out of Heathrow and Gatwick added to the effect. By the time I reached the car the temperature had dropped to a still-mild 14C.

I hope to be out again next Tuesday for the 70cm event, but probably from a different summit (weather permitting, of course).

73 de Les, G3VQO

FB Les. A shame you didn’t have a beam for 2m. I worked a few stations in JO01 and JO02 from IO83 last night, and expect to do so again next week. What antenna will you have for 70cm?

I’m jealous of your twinkling lights and brightly shining stars. I had thick cloud, with the addition of high winds, heavy rain and thick fog towards the end! The only time I got a twinkling light was when the descent path was within 50m of the A537 Cat & Fiddle road, and I could see car headlights through the fog!

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Tom, I looked for you on 80m SSB this morning, no sign of you but I heard people calling you but no contacts, was 80 too long or did you have a problem?

73

Brian

In reply to M1EYP:

Once again, the antenna will be a whip. In the “Great Southern VHF/UHF Desert” there is no great incentive to improve the set-up, as the returns on the investment are questionable. It is really odd, looking down on the metropolis, knowing there must be hundreds of licenced amateurs within sight, and not working any (all of my contacts were dotted around Surrey, Kent, Berkshire and Hertfordshire). If I thought I could work a couple of dozen on each outing, I might consider purchasing a beam!

In fact, the only beam I own is a three-element for 70MHz. It used to be on the roof for cluster access, but is no longer needed in that capacity. It now resides in my garage, but is probably a bit too big to transport for SOTA purposes (especially in the dark)!

73 de Les, G3VQO

Les,

I can recommend one of G3CWI’s SB270 antennas. This is 3-el beam for 2m and a 6-el for 70cm. Very lightweight and slots on the fishing pole. Never mind the Great Southern VHF/UHF Desert - with one of those antennas you would be working easily into the Midlands and the North-West with 5w from a SOTA summit.

Brian,

I called in vain on 3.666MHz SSB, from 0614 to 0620z, and again from 0630 to 0632z. I didn’t hear any replies. CW was much better, with easy contacts and good signals between 0620 and 0630z. Perhapd condx on 80 were slightly down, but the CW was, as ever, reliable. I think I’ll start with the CW on Friday morning, as I am wasting too mcuh time trying to open with SSB. At the end of my CW contacts, I will announce an approximate SSB QRG.

Tom M1EYP

This Tuesday’s RSGB contest features 70cm. The current weather forecast for the south-east predicts rain, possibly heavy, for Tuesday evening, but they have been known to be wrong before!

So, subject to weather constraints, I hope to be active from another of the SE summits for a “Tuesday Fun Evening” operation. Exactly which summit will depend on various factors, such as how soon I get on-the-road and traffic congestion en-route.

Operation will be on 70cm (obviously) with a whip antenna (not had time to order a SOTAbeam yet!), and probably some 40m CW.

73 de Les, G3VQO

Yep, me too Les. If the wx holds and the XYL let’s me out… Shame, I’ll probably miss the S2S with you again if you don’t have a beam your side, but you never know.

I think I might kick-off on 70cm FM, and then go to SSB when things go quiet. Which shouldn’t take very long at all, though Steve GW7AAV is often found lurking on 433.500MHz.

Any extension of yesterday and today’s weather through 'til 11pm-ish tomorrow night would be very welcome. But perhaps unlikely :frowning: Is anyone else thinking of going on 70cm SSB tomorrow night, either as a chaser from their shack or out activating by torchlight?

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to G3VQO:
Les,
If you want to try a simple diy aerial for 70cms which will work much better than a whip, try this:
Cut two lengths of stiff wire to about 70 cms in length. Form them into loops and connect them in parallel with a bit of terminal block. Connect a length of 50ohm coax feeder to the paralled loops at the terminal block. arrange the loops of wire to form two delta loops, one above the other so the terminal block is centered between them. This arrangement will give you horizontal polarization and @ 4db of gain over your whip. You can, obviously use it for vertical polarisation by rotating to opposite plane. Match will be better than 1.5 to 1, and you can, if you wish coil a few turns on the feeder,near the feed point, to improve performance. Total time to construct is 30 mins!

73,
Frank

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom
Ill be looking for you on 70 and we should make it, if you use Horizontal polarisation and ssb/cw. No chance on FM!

73,
Frank

In reply to M0LMP:

The official “Fun Nights” have finished until the lighter evenings return, but there is no reason why a competent and experienced activator shouldn’t go out in the evening and activate a minor hill by a main road, or even spend a night on a mountain for that matter, if he so wishes. There is no copyright on the words “Tuesday Fun Evening”, you go out Tuesday night, you have fun, entirely on your own responsibility. SOTA can’t prevent you, the most we can do is advise, and advice on safety issues is offered on the website and in reflector threads. There has always been an element of anarchy, in the true sense of the word, in hillwalking and climbing, and it is only appropriate that SOTA in combining these activities with amateur radio should inherit a little of that anarchy!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G3RMD:
Or if you have any wire coathangers try this - http://homepage.ntlworld.com/lapthorn/coathanger.htm

  • it certainly works :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG

In reply to G4OWG:
Hi Roger, I used something like this a few years ago, I was on NP-002 Cross Fell on 144mhz, And the antenna was Borrowed from 2e0hjd, it did work vertical and horizontal, but I still prefer g3cwi’s sotabeam,

Steve m0sgb

Yes Frank, definitely H-polarisation from me. There might be a bit of FM right at the start of the activation, but mainly SSB. Not intending doing CW. If the activity gets cancelled by The Weather or The Wife I will advise on SW.

Rgds, Tom

In reply to G3RMD and G4OWG:

Thanks for the handy suggestions! I know that I have the necessary bits and pieces lying around the place, so I may give it a go. On the other hand, I’m not sure that a dark, and possibly wet, summit is the ideal place to try something entirely new. There is so little 70cm activity around here that I won’t have a chance to check the antenna before this evening - not even any 70cm repeaters within range of the home QTH.

73 de Les, G3VQO

The weather was looking awful, but the rain radar and Met Office forecasts indicated that the worst of it would be moving away to the East by 7pm. So as it was, G3CWI and I were going to wander up Shining Tor. However, by the time I had driven as far as the parking spot, the whole area was being battered and drenched in horizontal rain. It’s never easy to take that decision to abandon. Correction, it’s never NORMALLY easy. This was the easiest decision I’ve ever made - stuff that!

I continued my drive on a hundred yards or so to the lay-by opposite the Cat & Fiddle. I donned my full waterproofs just to erect the 70cm 6-el beam on the pole by the side of my car. I tried to call Richard to let him know my change of plan, but discovered that I was out of calling credit. I noticed a voicemail message from him - that I couldn’t access for the same reason, and assumed he too had thought better of battling the weather, or had turned up at the parking spot to find I hadn’t!

So, sorry to anyone hunting SP-004 on 432MHz, but there is a limit, even for me! Thanks to Steve GW7AAV for advising the situation on SOTAwatch Spots. My personal little “Winter Fun Evening” had to be cancelled - because there was no way it was going to be fun.

73, Tom M1EYP