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Reflector :: G4YSS:G/NP-009; NP-016; NP-031, 28-02-13

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Post by G4YSS on 3rd March 2013 at 22:41
G4YSS: Activation Report for NP9, NP16 & NP31 on 28-02-13
Draft-2

G/NP-009 /6 BUCKDEN PIKE.
G/NP-016 /4 DODD FELL.
G/NP-031 /4 BIRKS FELL.

On 160-80-40-2m QRO & 4m QRP.
All times GMT on 28-02-13.
G4YSS using GX0OOO/P.
Unaccompanied.

Equipment:
IC706-2G; adjustable dipole; 5m mast; 160m loading coils (at halfway points in each leg).
One 8.8 Ah Li-Po for NP9 & NP16. One 13.2 Ah Li-Po for NP31.
IC E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with extended `duck` and 1.3 Ah integral battery for 4m-FM.
QRO pack: 11.5kg (25 pounds).

INTRO:
As usual when the winter bonus season has almost crept by unnoticed, I start reflecting on how little I have earned. I asked Will if he wanted to go to the Dales with me but it was too short notice.

NP9 ROUTE:
From the quarry parking place at SD 9455 7996 (413m ASL) walk a few metres up the tarmac, through a gate at SD 9454 8000, across fields then through a second gate at SD 9475 7979. The second gate was open today. A path across pasture land connects the two.

Follow a poor sort of path via: SD 9479 7975, SD 9486 7977 and SD 9507 7981 (at the latter point it is a quad track). Go up to a wall corner at SD 9516 7975 and then on to SD 9521 7966. Pass through a gateless gap in the wall at SD 9534 7954 and up steep ground to SD 9539 7951. Cross Cow Close Gill beside by the wall at SD 9546 7947, loosing a few metres here.

From the Gill crossing, swing right (south) to pick up the meagre path again at SD 9547 7936 and SD 9551 7933. Less than 300m later this wall-path joins the `main drag` coming up from Cray, at SD 9565 7921. The Cray path now takes you all the way to the top, via SD 9609 7885 in luxurious manner, being fully surfaced and stepped in places.

EXECUTION:
I left Scarborough at 04:30 for the 81 mile drive in moonlight, along icy roads to Bishopdale; arriving at the start point by 06:33 in dim daylight. While descending Sutton Bank at about 05:20, I called though GB3HG on 145.625 and got a reply. This was Andy M1SDE/ M in his Lorry on the way from Richmond to Maltby in South Yorkshire. We must have kept the QSO going for half an hour until Andy arrived at his destination. It made the over-familiar journey more bearable.

The elapsed time for the ascent which was started at 06:48 today was 45 minutes and route distance (one way) is around 2.4km. The required ascent, including renascent of 4m on the way up and the same on the way down, is 297m. Just one Lapwing was seen this year. I believe they are early nesters, which is probably why it got annoyed with me. There was tussocky, boggy ground to negotiate lower down but it was mostly frozen over. As altitude was gained the snow patches increased in size and frequency. Most of these were also frozen, which made for good walking.

The priority was to get into the camera, a taste of the stunning scene which greeted me. I was ahead of schedule anyway; once again too scared to alert early and get people out of bed for a reason that might not meet the time predicted.

I set up on the west side of the spine wall just beyond the trig point at SD 9609 7869 and I had the hill to myself for the duration. After stamping out a seat in the snow drift and lining it with my map case, I sat down for what I knew would be a lengthy activation. Unfortunately the sun was shining on the opposite side of the wall which was also the direction from which the stiff cold wind was blowing. You can`t have everything but it was minus 3C so I put on an extra layer; a Primaloft jacket.


BUCKDEN PIKE, G/NP-009, 702m, 6pts, 07:33 to 09:50. Minus 3 Deg.C. Wind NE at 15 mph. Bright sunshine. Patches of lying snow & wall drifts up to 2ft deep. Intermittent EE (Orange) mobile coverage. LOC: IO84XE, WAB: SD97.

Despite sending three text messages on arrival, phone coverage dropped to zero just when it came time to phone Roy. Murphy`s Law.

1.832 CW - 4 QSO`s:
Mark G0VOF was the first to answer me with a 579 report. Phil G4OBK (84km) gave me 599 at the end but in between were G3RMD Frank in Cheltenham (250km) and G4SSH Roy (105km) near Scarborough. There was no sign of Mike EI2CL but Dublin is a very noisy city. Not a bad start - 4 contacts on Top Band. The fact that Frank was easily worked as against the usual struggle or `no QSO` was an encouraging indicator of band conditions. Power: 100W (50W for G0VOF).

1.843 SSB - 6 QSO`s:
This time the switch to voice mode was remembered. It was worth it too. After reworking Mark, Phil and Frank three additional stations were logged: G8ADD Brian; G8MIA Andy and EI3GYB Michael in Knock, Mayo. The latter QSO was a bit of a struggle from Michael`s viewpoint but he got everything after a few repeats. Power was 100 Watts throughout and it`s a while since I experienced such good conditions on 160m almost 2 hours after dawn!

3.557 CW - 16 QSO`s:
As is often the case, Roy G4SSH was waiting and gave me a 559 in response to my 30 Watt signal. The two other Scarborough stations were next in the log; G0NUP Kevin & G4OOE Nick. After these I worked eight more Britishers who were mostly established chasers coming in at 599. In and amongst were overseas stations as follows: EI2CL; PA0B; DL1FU; ON4FI and F6OVQ. Most were 579 or better. With the 30 Watts offered to it, 80 was working very well inside and outside the UK. The reason for not `hammering` the battery was that I didn`t intend to change it prior to the next summit.

3.724 SSB - 13 QSO`s:
The use of 30 Watts was continued on here but this time the stations were exclusively UK based chasers with a few newcomers. I am not trying to `plug` the 80m band or anything (not much) but all were 59 to me. Incoming reports varied from 58 to 59+10dB apart from one; M0JLA - Rod in Hereford who gave me 47.

The Descent:
I started down at 09:51 arriving at Bishopdale quarry by 10:21. Next was the drive to Kidhow Gate which is at the end of the tarmaced section of the Cam Houses Road (some of it still snow-covered) where it meets the Pennine Way. The drive up Langstrothdale took from 10:25 to 10:45.


NP16 ROUTE:
Kidhow Gate; park near the gate at SD 8298 8339 and walk up the Pennine Way North. A minor path leaves the track at SD 8339 8434 but it`s not obvious. From there it`s steeply up via SD 8344 8435, crossing a beck at SD 8352 8432 and following a boggy track via SD 8364 8434, SD 8376 8439, SD 8386 8443 and SD 8397 8453 to the `moated` trig. The path is ill-defined a lot of the way and is easily lost. Dodd Fell may not be a remote summit but it`s relatively featureless and almost pathless. Good navigation is needed especially if you are descending in the dark.

The ascent start time for NP16 was 10:53. On this occasion I turned off the completely snow covered PW too early and found myself walking across a large snowfield on a sideways slope. Generally, the snow with soft grass underneath impeded progress and wasted energy, except where it had a frozen crust. Where this crust was thin you crashed through but it didn`t happen too often. The path was mostly hiding under snow near the top, making the tussocky alternative a real annoyance. Also the sun was melting this snow and weakening the crust.

I had thoughts of setting up for the activation somewhat short of the highest point but in the end, realising that the best of any meagre shelter from a stiff cold wind was close to the trig, I carried on. I need not have worried. The sun was climbing higher in the sky by now and it didn`t feel quite so cold.



NP-016: DODD FELL HILL, 668m, 4 pts, 11:25 to 13:51, 4 Deg.C, 15 mph wind. Bright sunshine. Large areas of lying snow. No EE (Orange) phone signal - unlike previous years. LOC: IO84VG, WAB: SD88.

There are just shallow depressions to sit in. At least by now it was 7 degrees warmer than NP9 had been. For the second time today I donned the jacket and stamped the snow down to make myself `comfortable.` That said, no matter how good the prep, there are always little bits of snow which mysteriously slide in from the edges of your sit mat with the obvious result.

Up to now I had not managed to get through to Roy on the phone, so once settled I erected the 2m J-Pole and called him with 50 Watts vertical on 145.400 to try to update him. No reply; only noise on the band which sounded a bit like data. Was this pager interference perhaps? If so, it was long range stuff.

3.557 CW - Nil QSO`s:
CQ`s from 11:43 to 11:45 with powers up to the maximum did not have the desired effect. Probably conditions were to blame and a flick up to 40m immediately detected `life.`

7.033 CW - 30 QSO`s:
Though no mention of 40m band operation had been made in the email I`d sent Roy the night before, he picked up my CQ 1kHz up from a busy 7.032, on the first call. Great, I knew he would spot me but after not doing any demanding CW for seven weeks, I also wondered whether I was up for the likely pileup his spot might produce.

Since the 8.8 Ah Li-Po had already provided one summit activation, I turned the power down below 20 Watts and hoped it would be enough for the more difficult QSO`s. In fact the band turned out to be in superb condition for both UK and overseas stations, the UK being noticeably louder on average.

After the three Scarborough ops, the following entities were worked: G; OE; ON; SP; DL; HA; GI; PA; S52 and CT. Outgoing RST`s were 599 apart from two. Incoming reports were mainly 579 to 599 with one or two in the range 539 to 569 and QSO`s came at the rate of one per minute.

Notable were CT1BQH followed by an S2S with S52CU/P Mirko on S5/RG-009. Gerald G4OIG who popped in to say hello with a strong signal. John G4WSX rounded this session off. If I remember correctly, I went in search of a clear SSB QRG and after a couple of minutes transmitted the QSY Frequency on 7.033. G4SSH, sharp as ever detected this and spotted the move on SOTAwatch. Without Roy things would have been much slower.

7.110 CW - 22 QSO`s:
Unless he was just `happening by` Roy`s spot must have been seen by G6TUH Mike in East Sussex who got the ball rolling. G6ODU Bob called in at the same time. I always try to acknowledge any callers no matter how many. If I were a chaser (which I`m not because it`s way too difficult for me) I would want to know if I`d been heard, even if I had to wait a few minutes to be worked. Obviously with a lot of callers, which was about to happen in this instance, the QSO rate has to be speeded up as much as possible.

Soon after working Bob, things went `off the scale.` I must have made a list of 10 callers when three or four S2S`s simultaneously descended on me. I also prioritised a mobile in case of traffic difficulties but later suspected he was `square wheeled` so to speak. S2S`s worked in short order were as follows: 2E0YYY/P on G/SP-013; MW0IML/P on GW/NW-056; G4ASA/P on G/NP-032 and MW6GWR/P on GW/NW-063. Phew!

With some concern regarding the battery, the following callsign areas were worked: G; PA; MW: EI and GM. When a list of fixed stations is being worked and there are delays, there are usually one or two casualties. In this case Pete EI7CC was one and G4AFI looked like being another until he tried again after 15 minutes or so. Generally speaking we all know how it happens. You call in, wait to no avail, then the XYL breezes in to announce. `I told you yesterday that we were going shopping.` Venus and Mars?

Near the end the power was reduced from 30W to around 10W. Ken GM0AXY had reported a little distortion on voice peaks as if the mic gain was set too high. I put this down to the onset of power supply under-voltage but soldiered on, thinking the battery would suddenly let me down at any moment but it never did.

A few people asked for the WAB square. Before discovering an error caused by printing an Ingleborough logsheet on the rear of a Dodd Fell one, I was giving out SD77 instead of SD88. Apologies for that but I heard later that the WABers had worked out the error and corrected it with all parties.

1.832 CW - 1 QSO:
Just one contact logged on here G4OBK with his wonderful signal. I didn`t even get chance to turn the power up so Phil was worked with 10 Watts and an incoming report of 569. Thinking of the battery again, I gritted my teeth and gave it a few 100 Watt CQ`s but heard nothing. From that I concluded that SSB would just be a waste of resources.

145.400 (.425 & .450) FM - 9 QSO`s:
With nil phone coverage today, I thought I would try to contact Roy on 2m-FM again. Upon selecting 145.400 MHz-FM, I heard a strong signal. This was G6HFF on G/LD-053 and Glenn was immediately worked. Other chasers on Glenn`s channel had obviously heard me so I QSY`d to 145.425 and worked G4WHA/A Geoff in Penrith; G1OHH Sue in Lancaster; G0TDM John in Penrith; M0IOC Ian in Shotton Colliery and G6XBF Walt in Leeds.

Walt told me that we were causing interference to a station in Barnsley so at this point I re-established on 145.450, working G4UXH Colin, G6LKB Dave in Ulverston and finally G1KLZ Doug in High Bentham. Power for all these (except the S2S - 25W) was 50 Watts to the vertical J-Pole on my umbrella stuck in a snow drift because the mast was in use for HF. Dodd is a bad one for VHF and I have `wept into S20` a few times using 4 Watts in the early days (2002-03). It was noticable how QRO helped here and amazingly the 8.8 Ah battery still hadn`t failed at the end of its second QRO activation!

Down Dodd:
It was time to go. The descent took 25 minutes mainly over snow, some of it soft by now. Again I cut the corner. Normally reaching the Pennine Way early would make for a faster descent but today it made little difference. On fell side or PW; either way it was snow and more snow. Of the three summits worked today, Dodd Fell had more than its fair share.

Back at the car by 14:16, next on the agenda was a battery change followed by the drive to Redmire for NP31. The only battery available was a 13.2 Ah Li-Po, which was much too powerful and a bit on the heavy side for one summit; particularly the one that involved the most ascent. The drive to Redmire was from 14:28 to 14:50.


NP31 ROUTE:
I have used this route since 2007-08 and it has the advantage of being a direct route to the SOTA recognized summit. The start point is Redmire Farm (SD 9365 7747) then through Kirk Gill Moor Wood before following up a grassy path beside a wall. Unfortunately (in snow) there is at least one steep section. For full details see: http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=2663#

For a previous activation I managed to park tight up against the wall and almost opposite the Redmire Farm entrance. Though it was a quiet time of day with perhaps 3 cars an hour, this is unadvisable due to the narrow road. Another time I parked 300m away at the bridge but today`s discovery; a wide part of the road at SD9356 7753 which is 100m west of the farm entrance, is preferable to either.

Best ascent time for this route was under 50 minutes but today it took an hour and twelve minutes from 15:03. The poor time was down to ankle bending tussock grass and steep ground with a snow covering but most of all, a lack of serious walking of late. It was a tiring journey and right into low sun. Even higher up the going wasn`t much easier and I felt somewhat downhearted. Higher still the path by the wall was beneath 2 feet of snow, which could not always support the weight of an activator and his QRO kit.

A further aggravation was when I realised I would have to pass the summit and activate at the remote side of the spine wall, due to the wind blowing exactly along the wall I`d followed up. At least the spine wall with its quota of pig wire on top, looked easy to climb due to the height of snow on both sides but I hadn`t bargained for shooting both legs down into soft snow up to my thighs while trying to traverse it. At the end of a hard climb, I begrudged the energy required for extraction but I was eventually over and out of the wind.

The dipole was set up at SD 9176 7638, just over the wall from the gate, the top of which was only just visible because of snow.



G/NP-031: BIRKS FELL, 610m, 4Pts, 16:15 to 18:26. 4 deg.C at first, falling to 1C after dark. Wind 15 mph. Low sun and sunset followed by low-cloud and snow. Areas of lying snow and wall drifts up to more than 2ft deep. EE (Orange) mobile coverage. LOC: IO84WE, WAB: SD97.

Should I just do 145 FM and 160 CW or stick to the plan of a two mode 80-160m activation? With a usable EE (Orange) signal for the first time since 07:45, it was time to phone Roy. Though I`d experienced it before on NP31, I voiced my concerns about the prospect of another 1300 foot dark descent. In my mind was the much repeated `heart versus head` battle between good Top Band propagation and a lower risk climb down before dark. If Top Band won, I knew that getting back to the car on this surface and route in the dark, though not actually dangerous, would nevertheless be no picnic. On the other hand it was yet a sunny afternoon with good visibility.

I decided to go for it; 80 followed by 160 and a dark descent. As a precaution, the headlamp was donned well in advance of it being needed.

3.554 & 3.547 CW - 14 QSO`s:
The first half dozen QSO`s took place on 3.554 with 50W but then interference forced me onto 3.547. Since the battery was oversize for the requirements by a factor of three, to make it easier for chasers I turned the power full up and left it there. Starting once again with the Scarborough threesome, I worked the following countries: G; GI; ON; DL; GM; EI and F in 18 minutes. All were recognizable as chasers and reports were between 579 and 599 from me, with the same incoming, apart from three; G4SSH 559; G0NUP 339 and DL3HXX 449. Gerald called in once more and Dan F5SQA rounded things off.

3.724 SSB - 20 QSO`s:
`SSB` sent a few times is the drill here. Roy picks up the signal and posts the QSY. Easy for me! Don G0RQL and G6ODU were there waiting once again so a `QRL?` was all that was required from me to be in QSO. Great work by the chasers and time saved for me!

20 stations were logged from a small pileup in 23 minutes. They comprised: G; GM; MW and DJ5AV. The latter; Mike had a lot of trouble hearing his report and must have doubted I heard his. However when he came in a second time a few minutes later, I was able to confirm `good QSO` which satisfied him. He usually works me in CW which is less difficult. After being initially lost in the flurry of callers, Bill G4WSB was worked as `armchair copy.` I dug him out from a tiny snippet of his south country accent; not even one full letter of his callsign being audible. Top band enthusiast dropped in here too and I was able to confirm `160 later.`

The sunset behind what looked like Pen-y-Ghent was a photographic treat but it got dark very quickly after that. Moreover, I could see the first clouds of the day heading my way carried by a brisk wind. With coils inserted and tuned, I switched on the lamp and put my head down for the final two sessions. The time for my favourite band had come at last and this was a good hour of the day to experience it.

1.832 CW - 8 QSO`s:
The Top Bander`s were there waiting and with 100W output the following stations were worked: G0VOF; G4OBK; G3RMD; G4FGJ; G4SSH; EI2CL; G4ISJ and G4BLH. Signals varied from usable to strong. It is always a pleasure to work Mike EI2CL, who (like Phil and one or two others) has been `with me` on this band from the start. He is constantly struggling against appalling noise levels but still manages regular QSO`s.

Phil and his brilliant station at G4OBK is of course the standard from which all signals are judged and compared. How many times have I heard, `I could only hear Phil 579 so I knew I had no chance of working the summit?` Several got their second 160m SOTA of the day but Phil was the only one with all three. Propagation had been kind to Frank G3RMD in Cheltenham today and of late. With no more answers to CQ`s and precious little time, I QSY`d. Not finding my intended QRG of 1.843 clear, I came back to announce a new one. I intended to go to 1.850 but that`s a VSWR value too far for my system and I was forced into retuning the coils. Being tired at this juncture, I may have sent some other freq or sent it badly.

1.845 SSB - 6 QSO`s:
After minor confusion about a good QRG, which were all noisy and a phone call to Roy, I found the lads waiting on 1.845. I had been up and down looking for a space but constrained by the aerial tuning. Lately I had been calling on 1.848. In full daylight this would not have happened; all channels would have been clear.

Once I got this sorted out we were away and the ten minute delay had further enhanced the chances of longer propagation. However the band noise had also increased with darkness and to a fixed station that increase was probably quite dramatic. Again with full power I worked: G4OBK; G3RMD; G6WRW; G8ADD; GW4EVX and GM4UAU. I was hearing these chasers 57 to 59 and in the case of Phil 50dB over 9! Reports on my signal were in the range 37 to 58 with a 59 from Phil. The session took 16 minutes and it took 3 or 4 minutes to work GW4EVX who I have worked many times on other bands.

Interestingly my son Philip G0UUU listened to this session via the internet on a remote receiver in Stafford (www.160m.net which he tells me is part of www.websdr.org). He described my signal (as heard on this receiver) as being, `Almost unreadable and below the noise level, apart from the odd word.` The chasers sounded much the same as I did, apart from Phil G4OBK who was 56 to 57 and Frank G3RMD who was coming in at about 33. This was not what I was hearing at all in my low noise `paradise.`


FINAL DESCENT:
The final descent started in full darkness at 18:26 but it wasn`t what I`d `signed up` for. After a perfectly sunny day, the rapidity of the transformation into thick low-cloud and windborne light snow came as a minor shock. Moreover the snow was the wet variety. After packing up and getting the headlight badly tangled in my coat hood, I re-climbed the wall, this time avoiding the snow trap. Soon I was head down and underway into wind without the coat but wearing mitts.

It wasn`t going to be pleasant so I walked as quickly as I could, mostly on the snow which was marginally easier than the tussock grass alternative apart from when you jolted through the crust. On the really steep sections the most efficient method was to half skip, half slide using the snow as a brake; the downside being wet feet from snow entering via the boot tops. Even that method became hazardous enough to force me onto the uneven grassy hillside, through reed beds and bogs.

At about 450m ASL, the headlight stopped bouncing back off fog and soon after this I was at the gate and into the forest. I could now stop worrying; it was just a routine walk through the dark forest and down to the road and car by 19:08.

It took from 19:13 to 21:12 to get home which was an hour later than the time given to my XYL before leaving. No update could be given until `civilisation` and a phone signal was reached. This entire area really is very poor for phone signals.


SUMMARY:

Total: 151 QSO`s, comprising:
13 on 1.8-CW.
12 on 1.8-SSB.
30 on 3.5-CW.
36 on 3.5-SSB.
30 on 7-CW.
22 on 7-SSB.
2 on 70.425-FM.
6 on 145-FM.
QSO Breakdown: 41 on NP9; 62 on NP16; 48 on NP31.

BATTERY UTILISATION:
NP9/ NP16: 8.8 Ah Li-Po 95% discharged (measured).
NP31: 13.2 Ah Li-Po 30% discharged (estimated).
Total power used: 12.3 Ah.

Ascent & Distance:
NP9: 297m (974ft) ascent / 4.8km (3.0 miles) up/down. 45U, 31D.
NP16: 94m (308) ascent, 4.2km (2.6 miles) up/down. 28U, 25D.
NP31: 390m (1280ft) ascent / 6.2km (3.9 miles) up/down. 78U, 42D.
Total: 781m (2,562ft) ascent 15.2 km (9.5 miles) walked.

Times:
Scarborough: 04:30 (81 miles)
Arr. Bishopdale: 06:33
Walk for NP9: 06:48
NP9: 07:33 to 09:50
Rtn. Bishopdale: 10:21

Drive to Kidhow: 10:24 to 10:45
Walk for NP16: 10:57
NP16: 11:25 to 13:51
Rtn. Kidhow: 14:16

Drive to Redmire: 14:28 to 14:50
Walk for NP31: 10:57
NP31: 16:15 to 18:26
Rtn. Redmire: 19:08
Redmire to Scarborough: 19:13 to 21:12 (84 miles).

Walking time: 4 hr-9 min.
Summit time: NP9: 2hr-17m. NP16: 2hr-26m. NP31: 2hr-11m. Tot: 6hr-54m.
Distance driven: 188 miles.
Activator points: 23.


OBSERVATIONS:
The general plan came together, albeit a little slowly. From the SOTA selection viewpoint, a certain amount of making it up as I went along seemed to reduce pressure on me. The WX was superb with sunshine combined with low temperatures throughout, apart from the walk down Birks which was demanding in the dark and fog. Generally conditions underfoot were not very good with much tussock grass and soft snow to cross in places. On the plus side in the morning on NP9, much of the snow was frozen, and capable of load bearing.

As is true of the majority of NP summits, the car with its resupply opportunities is never far away and accessible between activations. That means that you don`t need to carry a wealth of resources, unlike big rounds in LD. A day limited to three summits gave greater summit times and more relaxed activations than last year when four NP`s were packed in.

160m:
14 stations worked a total of 25 CW & SSB QSO`s on 1.8MHz. Considering we were well into the daylight period, Top Band conditions in the morning were very good, with good signal strengths combined with low noise. In the late afternoon signals were also quite strong but the band was noisier. Little was expected around noon and nothing would have been achieved had it not been for Phil G4OBK. SSB on this band seems to be getting quite popular but it will get harder from now on as the days lengthen. One op commented that he had just worked his first summit on 160.

Early and late, 80m worked very well indeed for both UK and overseas QSO`s but 40m did sterling service around midday too. Apart from 4m-FM (3W) I used QRO throughout but QRP with an associated lighter backpack would have fulfilled most of the requirements on 80 and 40 today. Unfortunately that cannot be predicted with any certainty and if conditions are really bad, QRP won`t work. Also 50 Watts was an advantage on 2m-FM from Dodd Fell, which is not a particularly good VHF location.

4m was tried from the first summit only (2 QSO`s) and 2m-FM was also underused. Again the old theory comes into play. Anybody who can work a SOTA on 2 could also manage it on 80 or 40 but 80 and 40 normally reach stations well out of VHF range too. In practice that may not always follow for closer stations because of gaps between the inner edges of skip zones and lines-of-sight etc. Apart from me, all three summits visited were deserted.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to the spotters: G0VOF; G4SSH; G4OBK; G6TUH and G4BLH. Thanks to Roy G4SSH for telephone liaison and listening out for QSY frequencies once again he did an indispensable job! Special thanks to the Top Band chasers and to Phil G0UUU for his remote receiver report.

73, John G4YSS.
(Using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call)


This thread is closed
Post by G4OIG on 3rd March 2013 at 23:11
In reply to G4YSS:

Thanks for another high quality, information and action packed report John. You can't be that unfit if you can get down from Buckden in 30 minutes and achieve all three summits in the time you did. I see Paul and I ambled down from Buckden in 46 minutes. Obviously we had too large a lunch. :-)

It was a real pleasure to get through to you on Birks Fell on 80m running the 857D at 60W out to my temporary low level horizontal vee 40m dipole. The local noise level was running at S8, so I was pleased that the band was in good shape.

73, Gerald G4OIG
This thread is closed
Post by G3RMD on 4th March 2013 at 20:51
In reply to G4YSS:
GE John,
Thanks for another interesting and informative report. I really enjoy reading them. Good to work you on Top Band at two locations. Sorry I missed you on one hill. I was coerced into a shopping expedition and got back just after you had QRT on 1832. Pity, I think we may have made it despite the hour. Your signals were good to excellent in Cheltenham. You were S9 on SSB by the time you had finished calling on your last activation.
Another exacting expedition completed with verve and dedication; well done John.
73, Frank.
This thread is closed
Post by M6RGF on 4th March 2013 at 21:32
In reply to G4YSS:
Good evening John, as yet I have not worked you but am very much looking forward to the day I do...enjoyed reading your report and felt compelled to come back to you when I saw the mention of Scarborough....My father lived in Scarborough with his parents at a guest house..No 102 Castle Road and went to a school opposite Boyes department store ( I think it was called Friargate or something close to that) My Grandfather also worked at Quartons many years ago..His name was Bill Gott...my Fathers name is John...we tend to visit Scarborough twice a year for events that take place on Olivers Mount (cock of the north etc)...Anyway theres a bit of history.......managed to work 4 of the stations you had S2S with but unfortunately didnt manage to pull you in..needless to say you are one of my priorities to make contact with..wish you all the best on future summits and keep safe.
Regards
Russ
M6RGF
This thread is closed
Post by G4ISJ on 4th March 2013 at 23:08
Thanks for the nice report John and the 3 contacts (2x80 1x160).
I was pleased to work you on 160 for a first SOTA on that band. Sorry to have missed the morning session but you'd moved up to 80 by the time I'd switched the rig on.
For your info, I was running the usual 5 watts into a 84' end feed, which is not very good for 80 never mind 160!

73 Pete
This thread is closed
Post by G4YSS on 5th March 2013 at 23:47
In reply to ALL:

Hi Gerald,
Thanks for the QSOs nice to work you. That aerial would be great for short skip. You were a good strong signal. The times on the last one were noticeably longer than usual but Buckden Pike wasnt bad. These noise levels in houses are far worse than we could have imagined 20 years ago. Everything leaking RF these days. Bet you cant wait to get on your next summit. 73, John.


Thanks Frank,
Didnt we do well with 160m? Good to have such good conditions. Ah, the shopping expedition. You never know, propagation may have been good enough. I only heard Phil but apart from him, its unclear if anybody else tried it. Doesnt usually work at noon though. Its strange to be talking of 59 over 250km on 160m. Thanks for coming up on there; your signals were easy to work. 73, John.


Hi Russ,
Thanks for posting here and your comments. I know Castle Road and also Friarage School opposite the back entrance of Boyes. The headmistress, on loan from there successfully sorted out a failing school in the area. I live in Irton, about 4 miles from Scarborough. Irton has a Garden Centre but when we moved here in 1978, it was a market garden owned by Quartons along with some of the fields around, including the one behind our house. Richard Parnell worked for Mr Quarton and ran it for him in those days.

Looking at your QRZ page I can see why you are interested in Olivers Mount. Beautiful Norton! Next time you can put it on the air; Olivers Mount is HuMP G/HTW-007 http://www.summits.org.uk/tiki-index.php?page=Olivers+Mount
Hope to work you soon, 73, John.


Hiya Pete,
Nice to know that you got your first SOTA on 160m. The opportunities are few and far between but its got better in the past 12 months with more people in more countries giving it a go. Hungarian SOTA ops seem to like it. 160 day and night are two entirely different bands but I use it mainly in daylight apart from a few early mornings, overnighters and late stays. In summer its harder.

Your signals were great especially considering your power and aerial length. Most of the difference between success and failure seems to be down to conditions; more than the aerial you use. Though 2E0YYY Mike had the right idea with a kite, you cant get a often get a good aerial up for 160m and most peoples efforts to get on the band from fixed stations is via some sort of tuning of an aerial they have for another band.
73, John

Thanks for all comments. Hope we can work again soon!

This thread is closed
Post by G0VOF on 6th March 2013 at 01:20
In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

Thanks again for the Top Band activations & for the superbly detailed report. I had no option of chasing from work so thanks to your alert of 0830z I knew that even if you were a little bit late I could still catch you on your first summit before leaving for the salt mine.

I gambled on being able to hear you on my 80m horizontal loop & with the local noise hovering around S6 you were easy copy when I heard your first V's just after 0800z just after I had got out of the shower. I answered your CQ & it was reassuring when you came back to me as with the noise as high as it was I can never be sure if someone else is calling you at the same time. In our first exchange you gave me 589 & I gave you 579, which given the difference in our power levels at the time (100W from me & 50W from you)would seem to indicate accurate reporting from both us rather than a simple 599 :)

I spotted you sometime during our QSO & followed the rest of your CW session. I was very pleased to hear you work as many stations as you did & also that I could hear most of them myself.

When you went over to SSB I was surprised at how well I could hear you, although as you were then running 100 Watts that now makes more sense. I could even hear a few of the stations that called you so the band was definitely in good shape, despite the time. I did chance a couple of calls on 80m CW, but you soon had quite a pile-up so I left for work.

Of course, I missed you on G/NP-016 but for once, my colleagues actually finished their bits of month end on time, so as my bit comes last I was very pleased to be finished by about 1645z. Much better than last month when I was still in the office at 1930z. I happened to check Sotawatch & saw you were QRV on 3546KHz CW from a third summit G/NP-031 & as I was now packing up my stuff I knew I could be home in about 15 minutes so I posted a spot to alert Roy G4SSH that you would at least have another relatively local Top Band chaser waiting for you when you did QSY to 160m.

I did make it home in 15 minutes flat & went straight to the radio & tried to find you on your last QRG, but it was quiet, so I went for 3724KHz SSB & found you straight away taking a short list, so I thew my callsign in & you heard me.

After 80m I listened for you on 1832KHz & straight away I knew that this was not going to be as easy as it was in the morning. My noise level was now S9 to S9+5, so it would require the band to be in very good shape for me to hear anything from you. Thankfully it was, & I could hear you with difficulty, & I sent you 559, although a true report would have been 2-399. No problem with your transmission, but my local noise made readability quite a challenge. This of course meant there was no way I could have worked you on SSB so I did some tests during the rest of your activation & found that I got the best receive intelligibility using my 50MHz dipole!

If I can't cure my low band noise problem I may well have to look into a separate receive antenna.

Thanks again for the two summits on 160m & I look forward to the next time :)

Thanks & best 73,

Mark G0VOF



This thread is closed
Post by G4YSS on 10th March 2013 at 13:40
In reply to G0VOF:

Hi Mark,
Thank you for the concise account of events on 160 at your QTH. Everybody hears it differently and in some cases entirely differently. 9+5dB of noise is pretty bad but going by memory of when I used to do 80 and 160 from home, it can be even worse. The last few days I had a theory that it was coming from phone lines but now I`m not so sure.

With the best will in the World, you may be reading too much into my reporting system. I do try to make a judgement myself for readability but signal strength can be deceptive unless there's time to look at the meter which there isn't always. The rig is not in front of me; rather to the side and half way down a long tube formed by the rucksack and its liner. At the time a new signal comes in I am usually attending to reading it and entering it in the log but I do look more often when on 160 but don't always get it right.

It's even harder in the dark. To save current, I don't have the rig's backlighting on and the headlight does not always show the entire display. Just the difficulties of activating with so much to think about and lucky if I get a fraction of a second looking at the meter, so focusing time then becomes critical. When it gets really busy on 40 and sometimes 80, I have to start caring much less about the accuracy of reports; just regarding the numbers as a mere formality and test for a good QSO. You will see from this that I dont find activating easy but its still not as hard as chasing.

I seem to be picking dates which coincide with your maximum workload. Good that your colleagues unknowingly cooperated though.

Interesting about the 50MHz dipole as a receive antenna. Its handy if you can switch between aerials quickly. If not its hard to be objective. The SSB went better than I thought it possibly could. After years of only just getting through with CW in daylight, I didnt give any other mode a second thought. Maybe we should try FM next. That might cut the noise down though it would likely be regarded as finger trouble when seen in the database or as a spot!

Its amazing that Top Band was used by mobiles decades ago until 2m came into use. Vehicle mounted monstrosities looking more like heating elements than aerials.

I now have a problem in damp; wet or icing conditions. I modified the coil connections so to make better entry angles for the antenna wires. The reason; I was getting over frequent antenna wire breakage caused by 180 degree rotation to connect the downstream antenna wire. Trouble is the connections are much closer together now and theres evidence that RF is taking intermittent short cuts in the wet which causes the SWR to shoot up and down. It seems OK in the dry though but it was happening on Cross Fell in January. I noticed that ice had grown across the connections in freezing fog. This had then become (or remained) wet which is when the trouble started. Someone cleverer than me could probably calculate the parameters of Voltage and current at these points, which might support or disprove this theory.

To try and cut down the breakages, I have also modified the aerial at those points with a section of extra flexible silicone insulated wire.

Looking forward to the next 160m activation; be it yours, mine or someone elses. Thanks for the 160m news.

73, John G4YSS
GX0OOO)
This thread is closed

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