My First SOTA Activation

With current HF conditions being very poor I was looking for something radio-related to give new challenges. A superb article by Tommy Read M1EYP in the August 2015 Practical Wireless on the Summits on the Air (sota) programme really grabbed my attention and excited me. I won’t explain SOTA in detail – look here http://www.summits.org.uk/tiki-index.php?page=SOTA+Chasing+for+Beginners or here http://www.sota.org.uk/AboutSOTA  But HF amateur radio, open-air, mountains, pile-ups – what’s there not to like!

I purchased the very capable mobile Yaesu 857 rig, a Tracer Power http://www.tracerpower.com/tracer-lifepo4-battery-packs.html powerpack (which comes with a powerpole connector – very convenient), and some antennas and light-weight antenna supports from www.sotabeams.co.uk . My nearest sota summit is Wendover Woods G/CE-005 in the Chiltern Hills near Tring which is at a massive 267m ASL (lol) – http://www.sotawatch.org/summits.php?summit=G/CE-005

So last Saturday I drove to the woods and parked in a convenient lay-by near the mountain bike centre. It was a beautiful sunny day – lovely to be in the open air playing radio! A short walk to the trig point and I set up the antenna and rig – after some adventures trying to guy the sotapole I eventually just secured it to the trig point with bungee cords.

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I started out on 40m with a bandhopper two dipole antenna and conditions were actually very good. I used the sota goat app on my iPhone to spot myself (self-spotting is acceptable and recommended for sota) and the hamlog app on the iPhone to log contacts as I had forgotten a pen or pencil!). I worked stations in England, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Scotland – see full log below. I then switched to 60m using a half-wave end-fed dipole and had another few contacts. 60m conditions were much noisier and difficult compared to 40m which was quiet with most calling stations being 59+. You need 4 contacts to officially activate a summit.

 

 

Here’s the log:

08/08/2015 0929 7.191MHz   SSB DL0SY/P
08/08/2015 0939 7.191MHz   SSB M3FEH
08/08/2015 0940 7.191MHz   SSB G0FEX
08/08/2015 0942 7.191MHz   SSB G8MIA
08/08/2015 0942 7.191MHz   SSB GW4CQZ
08/08/2015 0943 7.191MHz   SSB M0MDA
08/08/2015 0944 7.191MHz   SSB DL2EF
08/08/2015 0945 7.191MHz   SSB DK7ZH
08/08/2015 0946 7.191MHz   SSB DK5WL
08/08/2015 0947 7.191MHz   SSB MW0URC
08/08/2015 0948 7.191MHz   SSB M0TVU
08/08/2015 0949 7.191MHz   SSB ON7DQ
08/08/2015 0950 7.191MHz   SSB PC2B
08/08/2015 0951 7.191MHz   SSB G4AFI
08/08/2015 0956 7.191MHz   SSB GM4COX/P
08/08/2015 0958 7.191MHz   SSB PA7ZEE
08/08/2015 0959 7.191MHz   SSB PA3CDN
08/08/2015 0959 7.191MHz   SSB G0RQL
08/08/2015 1000 7.191MHz   SSB M0SGO
08/08/2015 1001 7.191MHz   SSB M3ZCB
08/08/2015 1002 7.191MHz   SSB M1MAJ
08/08/2015 1047 5.3985MHz SSB GW4BVE
08/08/2015 1055 5.3985MHz SSB G0RQL
08/08/2015 1058 5.3985MHz SSB G8ADD
08/08/2015 1100 5.3985MHz SSB G4WSB
08/08/2015 1101 5.3985MHz SSB M0VCM
08/08/2015 1102 5.3985MHz SSB G0TDM

The scenery around the trig point is very beautiful – here’s a few more pics. Unlike the actual Wendover Woods centre, which was packed to bursting with picnicking families and activities, the trig point field was empty – a solitary walker and two mountain bikers were the only visitors in over two hours.

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NA MF Season Starts

The NA MF season has started again here in London after the Peruvian dominated LA/SA summer season closed. 0400 07 August 2015 was the best time and date last week and here’s how some common east coast power houses were sounding: 1660 WWRU NY, 1700 WRCR Rockland NY (new station), 1560 WMFE Family Radio NY and 1510 WMEX Boston MA.

There was nothing much evident below 1200 kHz but lots of carriers above that as well as audio from the more powerful stations. X-band in particular had carriers/audio on every channel.

Equipment was usual Perseus SDR plus 10x4m Flag antenna but I have replaced the home-brew binoc balun with the updated FLG-100 low noise Wellbrook pre-amp/balun. Playback was via the new 5.0a Perseus demo. Jury’s out on whether it will be worth paying for the updated V5 software when released. Perseus and FM+ are being heavily discounted now. From £699 plus £299 for the FM+ at Martin Lynch you can now pick up for £549 and £199 – looks like Elad is taking Microtelecom to the cleaners…

BTW no NR was applied to the playback – why some MF dxers insist on distorting audio with inappropriate use of noise reduction I’ll never know!

Peruvian MF stations heard in London

The LA MF season is well underway and here’s how three Peruvian stations were sounding in London Tuesday morning just before dawn 16 June 2015. Radio Santa Rosa 1500, Capital Radio 1470 and Bethel Radio 1510 from Lima on Perseus SDR/10x4m Flag antenna

And no, Horatio, without the Perseus these would not have been dxed live 😀

Stuart

6m Squares Worked

This is a great website (http://wg7j.reinalda.net/gridmapper/gridmapper.php) that enables you to display the 6m grid squares that you have worked. Actually you can display for any band, mode etc but I use it to show the 6m squares as think it’s really interesting to see where the Es cloud have formed.

Below is a picture of all the 6m squares I have worked (224) since being licensed (click to see large picture). A red square means the QSO is unconfirmed in LOTW whilst green is confirmed.

6m squares

Band I Italian STL

Tuesday 16 June 2015 saw a big Sporadic E opening in the UK. I managed to work SV2RJO on 6m cw which was confirmed on LOTW – super fine business! He’s a distance of 2,154 km from me which is about the furthest I’ve worked on single hop Es. Last night we had some interesting short range Es and I worked F2DX in Sorges France which is a distance of 704 km – two 6m single hop extremes!

I’ve almost achieved my very modest goals for this season which was to get to 60 DXCC on 6m (achieved with Macedonia and Greece) and 225 locator squares (1 to go).

On Tuesday I checked for Italian STLs on Band I and found:

52.60 Radio Radar, Castel di Casio/Casola (bo)
54.37 Simply Radio (tivoli) (rm)
56.50 MEP Radio Organizzazione (P. Net), Rieti/Frazione Campoforogna (Monte Terminillo) (ri)

http://www.fmlist.org/fm_logmap.php?datum=2015-06-16&omid=2121&band=ALL&target=ALL&rxin=ALL

No sign of the two Jonica Radio outlets or AFN on 48.50.