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Wireless Set No 19 on a Summit

Before commencing on the report I would really like to thank the chasers for their superb operating skills during this challenge, as I am sure it wouldn’t have been remotely possible otherwise. I was also impressed by the quality of the modulation from (I presume?) modern radios.

The Vintage Electric Handbag weekend opened an opportunity for something I really wanted to try for a long time. I originally planned to do this next year when the opportunity for gaining points on the summit of Hope Mountain came around once more. This is a rather special hill to me, some of my best DX has been worked from the mountain and also being my first SOTA experience.

My Dad 2W0KGP, a VMARS member is a prolific restorer of Vintage electronic equipment. I hold my interests in the other end of the spectrum within modern electronics, using all homebrew for my activations.

Dad - 2W0KGP Connecting power.

The 19 Set is fantastically clever in design that came about by a young engineer in his 20’s. We have been fortunate to put two 19 Sets into action over the years. One of them is an ex “REME base 52” Radio that was probably put on the surplus market in the 1960’s. This is used with the MKIII Power Amplifier for joining in on the Saturday morning VMARS nets. The other, is a slightly tatty tropicalised set that sat in the shed of a local amateur, unused and unloved for many years. It had been chopped about quite a lot and was really only suitable as an AM receiver when we acquired it. Luckily the ‘Tropicalisation’ which involved using PVC covered wiring instead of the usual cloth, and vast amounts of poisonous gunge to keep out the jungle humidity had kept it in reasonable condition. The set is denoted with a large yellow “T” on the front panel. The main object of the exercise was to use it as an ‘Outward Bound’set with its standard 12 foot whip and counterpoise and get a feel for how this wonderful workhorse of the WW11 British army actually worked in anger. SOTA has presented a terrific opportunity to do precisely this.

Tuning Up

The Activation itself had two challenges, one technical the other operative. Power consumption was difficult to estimate. Plenty of time was in hand to work stations. But the power consumption of the 19 Set meant it wasn’t going to last long on a single 12Ah battery usually used with the homebrew Minima Trx. We needed more power, two 105 Ah service batteries actually borrowed from my dads motor boat provided this. Although I closed the activation on 10.5V the meter was more accurately reading 11.3V (sideways glance), QSB from the contest was the main issue.

Wireless Set No 19 , British twin Dyno, Roller tuner (Rare!)

On the clear brisk morning of the activation I was still in thought about antennas discussing various options with Dad, should we use the whip or the more sensible option of a sloping long wire down to the roller coaster tuner seemed to be the best solution. The 19 Set had recently had its case powder coated and it was looking like new !. The 35 Kg batteries took some bringing up with both of us carrying one at a time, as well as the accessories for the 19 Set. The wind was pretty fierce (30 knots plus) – even by my standards. Once everything was assembled the first thing to try was to tune the Tank on 80M and load up the long wire. Unfortunately this did not tune with either the variometer or the much sort after roller ! The whip was the only option – or so I thought. Setup was behind a slight hollow to shelter from the wind, slightly down from the trig.

Keeping that carrier steady

Operating time. I must apologise for the shouting!. There is something about a 19 Set microphone that makes you think your modulating it harder, not true really. You will notice I am using my laptop at the side of me with Hack Green loaded. This was a godsend of a tool. I could see when some inconsiderate contester splattered over the top of me so I could QRG, and I could exactly align the carrier. I could also see people missing me with their transmissions. Without hacking the 19 too much with temperature compensation, they drift by design. Thus I had to keep moving it back on. Also the Tank circuit needs retuning every so often as the LT falls. It really is a challenging set to operate, but by god is it fun!!

First station to call was G6MZX* on 80M, brief contact was made but soon lost. G4AFI was in the log on 80M, but this was soon proving challenging. I occasionally tapped some CW out “CQ” “CQ” to try and help get people centred. Then some inspiration came from Mark G0VOF* to move to 40M. I had dismissed this originally as being impractical due to the contest, but with Hack green to hand I could keep scoping out new locations – this worked brilliantly. Now what made the real difference shocked me, sometimes all that theory you learn in a degree about Z matching would tell you that attaching the long wire to the variometer with the whip still attached would throw the tank tuning out making an even worse match and no better signal – WRONG. The wire attached one call and wham, the callers came back in force. One of the reasons I love radio, you never stop learning.

I honestly wasn’t posing for this one !

G6WRW followed by a stream of other chasers soon entered the log. I got attacked by more contesters so I moved down a little to 7060. To my delight I worked Simon G4TJC who I had recently did a joint activation with, again with excellent modulation. Brian G8ADD also made it into the log which pleased me.

QRV on 40M

In the end nearly 20 contacts in two hours where worked, not bad for a radio set designed in the 1930’s and a 12ft Whip. Clearly a better antenna would have made life easier with the condx !

Wrexham Behind

So from what seemed like totally ridiculous idea at first, turned into a fantastic challenge. A Pint in the local pub whilst the sun set completed the day. It really makes me proud to see the enthusiasm, patience and skill of SOTA operators. Well done indeed!

Jonathan.

7 Likes

Splendid.

Not only did you push the Vintage Electric Handbag Event to a level I didn’t think anyone would but you also probably now are the first person to activate a summit using valves (tubes for our American readers).

Your pictures capture the sublime sillyness of having a 19 set and a laptop on the hill at the same time.

Much respect.

1 Like

Hi Jonathan

Congratulations on a successful 40m am activation, an impressive setup.

I know we completed our exchange ok but I’m not sure you got my location. I was operating mobile just to the north of Spalding in Lincolnshire. I heard many people calling you and waited patiently for your signal to become audible out of the qrm and then pounced.

Carolyn

Hi Jonathon,
Hearty congratulations to you and your father not only for lugging the heavy gear up the hill and having a successful activation but for having the cunning idea of monitoring the band. Congratulations to your father for his restoration work and the photo’s he took of the action.

I’m afraid i reneged on my plans to take a klunker out. Three SOTA Saturdays in a row would have caused some local QRM.

73
Ron
VK3AFW

Hi Carolyn.

I copied that you where near Lincolnshire OK. I didn’t copy that you where mobile though !. I was impressed with your mod very clean. I am sure you must have put /m on your call though, that is my fault for recognizing the call and not listening entirely.

The exchange of reports was good. So I put that down to a mistake on my part.

Thank you very much for the contact. I was so impressed by the response.

Thanks Andy. First activator to use Valves - Wonderful the mighty 807 lives on.

Jonathan.

Hi, Jonathon, I was unable to hear you on 80 but you were a good signal on 40 with that unmistakable 19 set sound - not poor modulation, just distinctive! I was very pleased to make it with you on 40 as I was using the FT-817, 1.5 watts of AM carrier, 111.3 km according to the summit page. Not bad, even though I was using a 102-foot doublet!

Dare I ask when the next outing for the 19 set is? I’ll be there with my boots blacked!

Brian

Great pics Jonathan.

The thought of the batteries alone makes me shudder!

My wife says it looks like “a proper Action Man setup”!

73, Simon

1 Like

Hi Jonathan,

What a mamouth effort, well done! I am pleased that I was able to work you on AM, which I haven’t used in years. The main problem I had was QSB - one moment you were 57 and then next down in the noise. Superb photos …

73 Andrew G4AFI

Hello Jonathan,

Excellent. Thanks for the report and great photographs.

Well done.
Mike

Hi Jonathan,

I’ve carried some pretty heavy kit up onto summits over the years, but you win hands down.

Fine activation, you certainly worked hard for your point.

73 Mike
2E0YYY

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Those Batteries are as heavy as they look Simon. I kept thinking - I hope Dad doesn’t have a heart attack here. Andy has a point with the laptop its strange looking at the old mechanical drive tuning and then glancing back at a laptop…

I just wish I had sorted out a better antenna as it may have been stronger, It has a strange 35 R - (Something) J output impedance that makes matching to long wires and other crude end fed antennas difficult. The fact that I manged to work a station in Ireland was amazing. And G8ADD on 1.5W !

When I think back Mike (G6TUH) I think you where using too much carrier in your signal. With the waterfall you can see the ratio between the modulation and the carrier, when it is set too high it suppresses the modulation, I would have worked you a lot sooner as you where a very strong signal, I had to offset the 19 with the NET switch engaged to allow enough mod to come through so your speech was recognizable. Not to say I was putting a particularly good signal out, could do a lot better here.

Brian, Your more than welcome to join in, you would probably be a lot better at using it then myself. I hope we can do something like this again. I am sure if the VMARS members knew about this they would come out with the clansman sets and join in the fun.

I may do a Boxing Day or New year activation of Foel Fenli with the 19 and some LiPo power this time, may have improved my CW skills by that point as well, going from iambic to straight feels strange at first.

Its not the radio I am impressed with, its the SOTA community for their skill and patience, certainly something I wont forget.

Jonathan.

Hello Jonathan,

I think you are most probably right about the carrier/mod ratio. The radio I use nearly 98% is the Flexradio where I can ‘see’ everything, all settings, on the screen. I got back home saw that you were active, booted the computer which for some reason did not want to play so no Flex.

Onto backup Yaesu 897D. Fiddled around with the sub menus,gave up … oh well :wink: Great skills required by you driving the WS19.

Cheers
Mike

It was by far the strongest signal there, and if anything it almost certainly helped drive the QSB away with the contest, soon as you had worked me I started having issues with QSB.

It was so “action” packed, the concentration required was immense. Once I had finished the activation I just lay on my back staring at the sky !

Jonathan

Hi Johnathan I am mos impressed with your determination and well done for perseveering. It would appear you may have my callsign wrong my callsign is G6MZX not MSX.I felt sure you had it correct on 40 meters can you confirm 73 Geoff G6MZX

Report corrected Geoff, Logs correct, typo in Report thankfully. Thanks for working me on both bands.

Jonathan.

Hi Johnathan Thanks for that.Wish I had a 19 set I can remember when you could hardly give them away.There was a shop near me that had loads of them and they all went for scrap.Hind sight. 73 Geoff

What a fantastic report! Love it.

Count me in for Foel Fenlli. I’ll carry some kit.

73
Gerald
MW0WML

Fantastic - the effort you went to, the photos and the results. Very impressive.

I just wonder though, how did you answer the inevitable questions from other site visitors?

73 Andrew vk1da

Glad you Like it Gerald, Andrew

Plans are now being made for a monster LiPo pack to power it. But yes come along. I shall PM you when it is going to happen. Its quite an experience to use, as you can tell !

Didn’t get any Andrew fortunately, as I couldn’t pause at all. Hope mountain is pretty flat at the top bar two peaks. The trig point is surrounded by private farm land, and most visitors go to the beautiful park at the back.

Its about 10 mins from home, brilliant for VHF, HF etc.

Jonathan