Category Archives: FT817nd

SOTA vk3/ve237 Huon Hill 4th March 2016

Sadly, the last of the summits to be activated in my short VK ‘Road Trip’, Huon Hill turned out to be a whole lot of fun!

Driving across from Albury I was quickly at the start of the dirt road that would take me virtually up to the summit. driving past the new housing development at the bottom of the hill, I saw my first lot of kangaroos! (live ones that is, I have seen lots of dead ones at the side of the road!)
Did i mention I’m easily pleased? I got excited at the sight of 9 inch high penguins scurrying up a beach in Dunedin last week:)

Anyway, I digress, getting to the top, it was 37c in the shade, and i wasn’t too keen on sitting on one of the exposed viewing platforms that most other activators seem to have used. There is a picnic table, underneath a small roof that provided a little shade on the grass beside it. I didn’t have enough cable to run from here to the viewing platform, so i ended up velcro-ing the pole to the wire fence surrounding the small mast nearby. Discovering I’d left the pegs back in the hotel, i ended up just laying the ends of the dipole on the ground. . Not ideal.

bodged lash up of pole to the mesh enclosure

bodged lash up of pole to the mesh enclosure

In the shade, it was still showing 33c, but at least i was out of the sun!

Starting off on 40m, a range of vk chasers who had help qualify the previous summits did the same again, before drying up (well it was Friday evening, real people probably have better things to do!)

Switching to 20m provided lots of fun! 17 European contacts, one JA, one ZL and 2 further VK contacts ensued. Some of the European ones were particularly difficult to complete, so thanks to those who showed the patience to complete the contacts, it was appreciated.
There were, unfortunately some chasers who were just too weak, I could pick out the odd bit of audio, but not enough to get any details at all.
Half way through, a huge orangey-pink looking spider ran across the ground… no idea what it was, but having heard all about spiders here 😉 , I moved all the stuff up onto the picnic table :)

(Perhaps the spider was one of these Badge (Huntsman) Spiders Then again, maybe not, as they’re supposed to be nocturnal… I wasn’t going to ask it :)

shack on the table away from the scary spiders.......

shack on the table away from the scary spiders…….

Finally briefly back on 40m for any outstanding locals who missed 40m earlier, before packing up before sunset as i didn’t have a torch with me.

view from the top

view from the top

Time Call Band Mode Notes
06:28z VK2IO 7MHz SSB s57 r32
06:30z VK1AD 7MHz SSB s57 r57
06:32z VK4RF 7MHz SSB s58 r52
06:32z VK4HA 7MHz SSB s58 r52
06:41z VK2YK 7MHz SSB s59 r57
06:50z S57S 14MHz SSB s33 r53
06:51z I5FLN 14MHz SSB s55 r53
06:52z IW2NOI 14MHz SSB s32 r55
06:54z RA3PCI 14MHz SSB s32 r57
06:55z DF1YQ 14MHz SSB s59 r57
06:56z S52KM 14MHz SSB s33 r33
06:56z F1BLL 14MHz SSB s55 r55
06:57z HA6OB 14MHz SSB s34 r55
06:58z VK4RF 14MHz SSB s59 r59
06:58z VK4HA 14MHz SSB s59 r59
07:02z ZL2AJ 14MHz SSB s57 r53
07:04z SA4BLM 14MHz SSB s46 r31
07:08z DL1EBR 14MHz SSB s32 r53
07:17z UT5PI 14MHz SSB s44 r55
07:18z ON4BB 14MHz SSB s44 r44
07:19z IK1GPG 14MHz SSB s58 r55
07:20z SV1IZY 14MHz SSB s58 r54
07:20z VK6JON 14MHz SSB s57 r57
07:25z EA4DTV 14MHz SSB s44 r55
07:26z ON4VT 14MHz SSB s33 r44
07:38z VK3PF 7MHz SSB s44 r57
07:41z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB s59 r56
07:51z JA8RJE 14MHz SSB s57 r55

Many thanks to everyone who took their time to chase on all of the ZL and VK summits, it was greatly appreciated!

Equipment used 817nd, mp-817 amplifier and linked dipole

As an added bonus, driving back in the gathering gloom, I managed to take a pic of the roos too!

Real, live, kangaroos :)

Real, live, kangaroos :)

SOTA vk1/ac040 Mount Ainslie 3rd March 2016

After the successful activation of Mount Gibraltar earlier in the day it was down the Hume Highway before turning off down towards Canberra. Such a pleasure driving on roads that weren’t bumper to bumper! Only things I didn’t see, were kangaroos.. well, except the ones at the side of the road that had obviously come worse off when meeting cars and trucks :(
Time was getting on,so after I’d found the hotel and checked in, I drove backup Mount Ainslie, to the fairly large car park, with only one of two cars parked. Menacing clouds were starting to gather, and the distant rumble of thunder meant that I probably wouldn’t be on top of the hill too long!

40m into the linked dipole quickly rattled off 4 QSOs that meant, at least, that I’d qualified the summit, and had it as a ‘complete’ too, which was nice!
Switching to 20m provided another 2 QSOs on the linked dipole.

hf setup, ends of dipole in the trees

hf setup, ends of dipole in the trees

A further one qso back on 40m before I wimped out and pulled down the dipole, putting the 2m moxon on the pole for 3 further 2m fm QSOs

Tiny moxon antenna on the pole

Tiny moxon antenna on the pole

After numerous ground strikes from lightning, getting visibly closer, I hastily decided enough was enough and packed up, apologies if I missed anyone.

Time Call Band Mode Notes
05:22z VK3PF 7MHz SSB s58 r44
05:24z VK3CAT 7MHz SSB s59 r46
05:25z VK1MA 7MHz SSB s58 r34
05:27z VK3LED 7MHz SSB s57 r53
05:46z VK4RF 14MHz SSB s21 r41
05:47z VK4HA 14MHz SSB s21 r41
06:04z VK2IO 7MHz SSB s58 r57
06:20z VK1MA 144MHz FM s59 r59
06:29z VK2COW/M 144MHz FM s59 r59
06:32z VK1LWW 144MHz FM s59 r59

I would have liked to have stayed longer, but safety comes first!

angry clouds, bit like the UK, but with warm rain ;)

angry clouds, bit like the UK, but with warm rain ;)

Equipment used 817nd, MPP-817 amplifier, linked dipole (For HF) 817nd, moxon 2m antenna (for VHF)

SOTA vk2/il-001 Mount Gibraltar 3rd March 2016

Only a couple of days left before I leave the southern hemisphere :( so it was time for a couple of easy vk activations!
Both virtually drive on summits, so that was nice  first one, just off the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne, vk2/il-001, Mount Gibraltar, I drove past the gate to the many transmitting towers, so I did have to walk up to the activation zone. I was stopped by a couple of tourists who wanted to know where the viewpoint was.. they said they thought I would know as i looked like a “professional walker” ( Huh?. They’d obviously been out in the sun too long! Damned tourists…. oh.. yes… err… 😉 )
Anyway, there appeared to be a lot of work happening on one of the towers, installing another dish, so i kept out of the way, finding an old tree to bungy the pole to, one end of the linked dipole in a tree, the other wrapped around a rock on the ground.

MountGibraltar

pole bungied to the tree, rig on the ground being investigated by ants :(

The RF noise from the transmitters made things a little difficult in hearing chasers, my reports to most being significantly worse than the reports i received in return, however, all QSOs were successful in the end, 10 on 40m, and a further 6 on 20m.

It was quite ple:)asant, in the shade of the trees, the thermometer showing 32c, a nice change from 32f :)

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:29z VK2YW 7MHz SSB s33 r55
00:32z VK2IO 7MHz SSB s33 r55
00:34z VK2YK 7MHz SSB s58 r58
00:36z VK2UH 7MHz SSB s48 r58
00:38z VK3PF 7MHz SSB s44 r42
00:39z VK1AD 7MHz SSB s22 r57
00:51z VK5CZ 14MHz SSB s53 r53
00:57z VK5PAS 14MHz SSB s44 r57
00:59z VK5WG 14MHz SSB s33 r55
01:01z VK4RF 14MHz SSB s58 r55
01:01z VK4HA 14MHz SSB s58 r55
01:05z VK5IS 14MHz SSB s21 r52
01:13z VK3LED 7MHz SSB s47 r59
01:19z VK1AT/P2 7MHz SSB s22 r53
01:21z VK4RF 7MHz SSB s21 r55
01:22z VK2NP 7MHz SSB s45 r54

Quite an enjoyable time in the shadows of the trees,many thanks to all the chasers.
Rig was the 817nd, with the MP-817 Amplifier,into a linked dipole, not too far off the ground.
After close to an hour playing radio, it was time to pack up, and make my way down the Hume Highway again to Canberra

zl1/nl-076 Mount Parihaka 11th February 2016

After my last night in the Bay of Islands, it was time for me to drive back through Auckland to the Coromandel. A check on the sota mapping site threw up the possibility of activating zl1/nl-076 in Whangarei, just off my route, and virtually a drive on summit :smile:
I checked the location of the ‘car park’ using the app “what3words” and input them into navmii, the phone based GPS I’m using on holiday (I’d previously successfully used it to navigate to the parking spot for Kauri Mountain and found it to be excellent!)
Some hour and a quarter later I was indeed driving up the road to the car park virtually at the summit.
Only to be met with a sign “viewing platform closed” and another sign requesting “all suspicious activities to be reported to the police” I had visions of yet another run in with officialdom :wink: (apparently the suspicious activity is related to vehicle crime, according to numerous other signs regarding locking your car and removing everything from view)

Steps to the summit and numerous antennae!

Steps to the summit and numerous antennae!

Climbing the steps to the summit revealed the huge monument, and the viewing platform that was indeed, cordoned off due to workmen using power tools that were to prove rather RF noisy :frowning:

I wondered if the monument could be 'tuned' :wink:

I wondered if the monument could be ‘tuned’ ;)

I ended up bungying the pole in a haphazard fashion to one of the pillars in the stone wall surrounding the monument, and spotted myself. Almost immediately, Paul, VK5PAS answered and did sterling work in trying to drum up contacts.. not many came :frowning: taking best part of 40 minutes to get the required 4 on 20m

The incredibly low slung linked dipole!

Giving up on the linked gp antenna i strung the linked dipole up, tying the ends to a couple of handy trees. A few CQs on 40m gave… nothing.. hearing some faint activity on 10m, i gave several CQs there too… nothing, so back to 20m I went, holding out until UTC rollover, just in case anyone needed points.

My 'work' position

My ‘work’ position

Just before I packed up, some old dear came past and remarked that I was sitting in such a lovely spot to do my work… i guess i must’ve looked hassled or something :wink: I neglected to say that i didn’t even have a work permit :wink:

Needless to say, a big thank you to everyone who called, and to those who took the time to try and drum up contacts, it was all appreciated!

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:01z VK4RF 14MHz SSB s59 r57
00:01z VK4HA 14MHz SSB s59 r57
00:02z VK7CW 14MHz SSB s58 r54
22:47z VK5PAS 14MHz SSB s58 r55
23:00z VK2YW 14MHz SSB s45 r31
23:26z VK4RF 14MHz SSB s58 r58
23:26z VK4HA 14MHz SSB s58 r58
23:31z VK3PF 14MHz SSB s31 r31
23:40z VK7CW 14MHz SSB s58 r53
23:42z VK3PF 14MHz SSB s55 r41

zl1/nl-079 Kauri Mountain 9th February 2016

After a brief stay in Auckland, it was time to go north for a few days. I posted on the Australian and New Zealand lists that I was looking to possibly do 2 activations later in the day. However, a combination of a ‘dicky tummy’ (least said the better!) meaning I was later setting out, and completely missing the turn off for Moir Hill on SH1 :frowning: meant that it was only going to be Kauri Mountain, zl1/nl-079. Having previously looked at the details on various websites it seemed there were 2 options, one from the South, and one from the North. It appeared that the access from the North would be quicker, and not as steep :wink:
Well it turned out still to be rather steep! Although mostly on (steep) metaled private roads. Being part of the Kauri Mountain track, and part of a much longer national track it was fine to use these.

Sign at the small car park, just before the private road

Sign at the small car park, just before the private road

Start of the private road, it looked alarmingly steep!

Start of the private road, it looked alarmingly steep!

About half way up there was a sharp right turn onto a gravel road, and following the designated Orange markers eventually to the only part of the hike on grass (or it would appear, mud, when its wet!

Apparently there may be kiwi around... not in the daytime though.

Apparently there may be kiwi around… not in the daytime though.

After a few minutes walk in the bush, I eventually reached the trig, 35 minutes in total, as opposed to the 30 quoted on the sign, but that is probably for fit people :wink:

Not a fantastic amount of space, its the trig surrounded by trees. ..
Before starting I had to slap on a load more factor50. … and then untangle my linked ground plane antenna (reminder to self: make sure its not tangled up when you put it away)

The shack at the trig

The shack at the trig

Spotting myself on 20m I had 3 QSOs in 10 minutes, then… nothing :frowning:

Looking on sotawatch 15 minutes later I saw a request to try 18MHz, so I pulled out the links for the band and spotted myself, quickly getting the important 4th contact.
Nothing further on 18MHz so i dropped back to 20m for a final 3 contacts, including a s2s rom Rob VK2QR, who specifically moved from 40m to ensure the contact!.

Many thanks to those who contacted me, especially those who took the time to dig my signal out, the patience was greatly appreciated!

I finally packed up, and had a quick look around…. some fantastic views!

View to the South from the trig.. WOW!

View to the South from the trig.. WOW!

I glanced at the clock/thermometer, it said 51C (!) but it had moved out of the shadows!, My phone also decided to switch itself off, claiming that the battery was too hot! Perhaps I should make sure everything was in the shade next time!

After packing up, it was 25 minutes back down to the car and a further hour and a bit to the B&B up in the Bay of Islands.

 

Time Call Band Mode Notes
02:46z VK3AFW 14MHz SSB s59 r44
02:48z VK2IO 14MHz SSB s44 r31
02:56z VK5PAS 14MHz SSB s58 r22
03:17z VK3PF 18MHz SSB s58 r43
03:26z VK3LED 14MHz SSB s47 r42
03:29z VK3MEG 14MHz SSB s58 r53
03:34z VK2QR 14MHz SSB s58 r56 s2s vk2/sw-073
Track from the 'car park' to the Trig

Track from the ‘car park’ to the Trig

 

zl1/ak-016 Rangitoto 8th February 2016

Despite only about 6 hours sleep after the 30-odd hours in the air in cattle class, having woke early, by the time I’d sorted my stuff out I still found that I was going to be too late for the 7:30 Fullers ferry from Downtown Auckland and the short trip across to Rangitoto Island. As it was, after numerous cups of coffee, and putting an alert on sotawatch I just made it to the 9:30 sailing!
It became clear, there being standing room only, that a public holiday is probably not the best day to activate this…

View from the ferry

View from the ferry

At Rangitoto Wharf

At Rangitoto Wharf

Once the ferry had disgorged its passengers, it was clear that, thankfully, at least some were on the tractor ride around the island. There were however, still a significant number heading up the summit track. I held back for a while, not wishing to be overtaken by everyone :wink:

There still seemed to be somewhat of a queue though :frowning:

some of the queue on the summit track

some of the queue on the summit track!

In all it took me about an hour and five minutes to reach the crater viewing platform

View into the crater

View into the crater

Climbing the remaining steps up to the top it was obvious that stretching out a 40m dipole would be a problem. I estimated at one point there must have been 90-100 people there, climbing all over the fencing, trig and the shelter :frowning:
I ended up bungying the travel pole to the middle of the fence and sat in the corner, out of the way but able to keep an eye on anyone getting too close to the wire that wasn’t very high to say the least..

 URL Title Caption Alt Text Description Attachment Display Settings Alignment Link To Size Not an ideal position for an antenna


Not an ideal position for an antenna

I tried 40m for starters, but with both ends just about on the ground and sort of in the way.. the swr was unacceptably high, so 20m it was. 3 contacts quickly in the log from VK, followed by a 4th from the other side of Auckland, who was so loud, I dropped my pen :)

The few calls dried up, a bit early for contacts to VK I believe. Tuning around showed a lot of US activity on 10m, sadly there were no replies to several spotted CQs, and no replies to any answered calls.

I finished up on 2m, as I had a request to try a QSO, which was successful in the end, and another QSO with a local who seemed amazed to hear someone on 2m simplex!

Sadly I didn’t get to hear Warren on another summit as I had to rush back down to catch the ferry back!
The journey back down to about 50 minutes, but I did have to wait for several groups to pass, still on the way up to the top!

Slightly disappointed with the number of QSOs, but qualified nonetheless, so I don’t have to come back and do it again :smile:

27c on top, and cloudy by the time I got there so no real need for the factor 50, but hugely enjoyable. I did end up with a terrible sore throat, I put that down to the volcanic dust being kicked up from the many visitors!

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:14z ZL1RCC 144MHz FM s59 r59
00:22z ZL1SKL 144MHz FM
23:09z VK3AFW 14MHz SSB s58 r33
23:10z VK2IO 14MHz SSB s58 r55
23:12z VK7CW 14MHz SSB s34 r31
23:19z ZL3TE 14MHz SSB s59 r59

SOTA CT3/MI-004 5th February 2015

Thursday 5th February 2015. CT3/MI-004

I was going to get up early.. but decided, looking out at the weather, I’d go back to bed for a little while smile I’d had the Tracer Battery on charge overnight, even though it was only about 1/3 used..

After breakfast, a final check I had everything, I jumped in the car, driving towards the middle of Funchal, to find the road up through Monte, on the way to CT3/MI-004.
Lots of windy roads, hairpin bends, all good fun (at least with not much traffic about!) The higher I got, the more the amount of water running down the sides of the road told me it wasn’t going to be a very dry day!

Soon I came to the junction, signposted to Pico do Areiro, and turned off, held up for a few moments by some workmen doing some logging work. Around half the way along the road, the clouds rolled in, visibility dropped to about 15m, and the ICE warning lit up on the dashboard!The thermometer showing 3C…
Eventually reaching the top, I missed the car park sign in the mist and ended up having to drive around the roundabout at the end, and back down to the car park.
Being such a nice day (not!), I think there were 4 cars in the car park! I parked close to the bottom, in order to do at least some walking up the hill!

Up the steps, past the cafe building it was impossible to even see the radar dome! I had a quick wander about, up the wheelchair ramp, up the steps to the ‘trig’, looking for somewhere suitable for the ‘shack’
ct3-mi-004eThere is a radar dome there… somewhere!
Since it wasn’t too busy (I probably saw less than 25 people all the time I was there) I bungied the pole to the fence post mid way up the steps, by a nice ‘seat’, which was rather nice!
Again, I unravelled the linked dipole to somewhere between the 20m and 40m links, and wrapped the ends around the fence top. I decided to use the amp from the start, so cabled it all up.
ct3-mi-004cThe ‘shack’ looking like it’s at the end of the world!
Close to 12:30, I spotted myself on 21Mhz, and within 20 minutes, had 18 QSOs in the log.
However, there appeared to be a problem.. The amplifier appeared to be intermittently powering off and back on again, a bit of further investigation showed that the 817 was intermittently using the internal batteries. It looked like an issue with the Tracer battery…
I had a similar issue with one on G/WB-004 last year which I’d put down to the cold.. being rather chilly here, it could be the same, I put it in the back pack, and it appeared to solve the problem.
Dropping down to 14MHz I recorded a further 17 QSOs in the next 20 minutes.
Going to 28MHz, I then recorded 50 QSOs in just over an hour, including a s2s with 9H3BT/P on 9h/ma-001, which was a nice surprise!

ct3-mi-004d‘Spot the battery’…. it’s in the bag!

However, the battery problem appeared to have returned, meaning that I was sometimes running close to 50W, then dropping to 2.5W on internal 817 battery, then back up again.. Not ideal.
A bit of wiggling about with cables, seemed to have made things a little better, so I went to 21MHz and tried again..
A s2s with SP8RHP/P on sp/bw-003 ensued, followed by another 3 QSOs.. Finally going to 24MHz for a further 6 QSOs before taking a few pics, and packing up, once calls were being unanswered.
ct3-mi-004bView up to the highest point.

ct3-mi-004aThe path ‘PR1’, apparently to nowhere!

Thanks, once again to anyone who called in, and apologies if I missed anyone!

Time Call Band Mode Notes
12:27z G4WSB 21MHz SSB
12:27z EA2LU 21MHz SSB
12:28z ON4FI 21MHz SSB
12:29z HB9MKV 21MHz SSB
12:30z EI9GLB 21MHz SSB
12:30z OE7FMH 21MHz SSB
12:31z G8ADD 21MHz SSB
12:32z DJ6OK 21MHz SSB
12:32z OK1SDE 21MHz SSB
12:33z M3FEH 21MHz SSB
12:34z G6TUH 21MHz SSB
12:36z M0MDA 21MHz SSB
12:37z G0RQL 21MHz SSB
12:38z EB2CZF 21MHz SSB
12:38z DL8MLD 21MHz SSB
12:40z M6KVJ 21MHz SSB
12:42z OE7PHI 21MHz SSB
12:43z SV2OXS 21MHz SSB
12:53z EA8/PA7ZEE 14MHz SSB
12:55z G0RQL 14MHz SSB
12:57z GI4ONL 14MHz SSB
12:57z M6KVJ 14MHz SSB
12:59z G0HRT 14MHz SSB
13:00z DL3HXX 14MHz SSB
13:00z EA2CKX 14MHz SSB
13:02z DF5WA 14MHz SSB
13:03z PA0INA 14MHz SSB
13:04z AE4FZ 14MHz SSB
13:04z OE7PHI 14MHz SSB
13:04z EA1LQ 14MHz SSB
13:05z G0HRT 14MHz SSB
13:08z PE1RMO 14MHz SSB
13:09z G6ODU 14MHz SSB
13:10z OK2PDT 14MHz SSB
13:20z G6TUH 28MHz SSB
13:20z KB1RJD 28MHz SSB
13:21z KB1RJC 28MHz SSB
13:22z M0IML 28MHz SSB
13:22z G0TDM 28MHz SSB
13:23z M6KVJ 28MHz SSB
13:24z DL6ZG 28MHz SSB
13:25z DL2EF 28MHz SSB
13:26z KW4CK 28MHz SSB
13:28z M0MDA 28MHz SSB
13:30z DL6MST 28MHz SSB
13:31z AC1Z 28MHz SSB
13:32z W1OW 28MHz SSB
13:33z IK1GPG 28MHz SSB
13:34z UA3GJM 28MHz SSB
13:34z ON7DQ 28MHz SSB
13:36z F4HJP 28MHz SSB
13:37z DG5FEB 28MHz SSB
13:38z DK7DU 28MHz SSB
13:39z IK2ZEC 28MHz SSB
13:39z N2BTD 28MHz SSB
13:40z W8IZC 28MHz SSB
13:41z PA2BT 28MHz SSB
13:43z EI9JU 28MHz SSB
13:46z W4CLJ 28MHz SSB
13:47z DJ1SD 28MHz SSB
13:51z KI4AAU 28MHz SSB
13:52z R4FCJ 28MHz SSB
13:53z 2E0YYY 28MHz SSB
14:05z W4DOW 28MHz SSB
14:06z F6HFI 28MHz SSB
14:08z KD2FND 28MHz SSB
14:10z ON5SWA 28MHz SSB
14:11z HB9AGH 28MHz SSB
14:11z R2EA 28MHz SSB
14:12z N4EX 28MHz SSB
14:13z VE1WT 28MHz SSB
14:16z KV4WN 28MHz SSB
14:16z HB9BQU 28MHz SSB
14:17z M0DAZ 28MHz SSB
14:18z OE3GGS 28MHz SSB
14:20z M0JLA 28MHz SSB
14:20z RZ3AR 28MHz SSB
14:22z G3TJE 28MHz SSB
14:22z OE3JTB 28MHz SSB
14:23z 9H3BT/P 28MHz SSB
14:24z IK1VQY 28MHz SSB
14:26z G3ZKN 28MHz SSB
14:27z W5CL 28MHz SSB
14:28z DL3JPN 28MHz SSB
14:41z SP8RHP/P 21MHz SSB
14:45z VE2JCW 21MHz SSB
14:46z OZ4RT 21MHz SSB
14:48z DK7ZH 21MHz SSB
14:58z HB9AGH 24MHz SSB
14:59z HB9MKV 24MHz SSB
15:01z DK7ZH 24MHz SSB
15:01z WX4ET 24MHz SSB
15:04z OE5JKL 24MHz SSB
15:05z DL2BXE 24MHz SSB

Getting back onto the main road, I managed to miss a load of very deep potholes… except one…
Convinced that I’d probably blown the tyre, or at least bent the rim, I stopped and had a look.. I couldn’t see any damage, and thought I’d got away with it…
However, in the middle of what passes for ‘rush hour’ in Funchal, some nice YLs, whilst stopped at traffic lights began to attract my attention (no, not in THAT way…) and pointing to the front of the car.. yes… tyre was just about flat.. typical..
No problem.. I called the ‘helpline’ as instructed, to be told that they didn’t do punctures, despite what I’d been told, however, they would come out for around 100 euros.. umm… no..
Having replaced numerous wheels in my time, I’m more than capable of doing so, but didn’t relish the prospect of doing so in some narrow back street, on the wrong side of the road.. The nice people at Avis, sent one of their guys out, who did it instead smile
Only downside, was, since there was a small tear in the sidewall, it wasn’t repairable, and hence, I ‘lost’ the 100 euro excess… ah well, At least Filipe called me, and apologised for the attitude of the third party ‘helpline’

So, all in all, 2 days of good fun, gamboling around somewhat scary roads, 2 SOTA summits activated, if a little expensively!
Next time… can someone remind me to actually take my floppy brimmed hat with me to a summit please? Sunburnt ears apparently cause quite a bit of hilarity!

Wednesday 4th February 2015. CT3/MI-006

Waiting in hotel reception for the guy from Avis to turn up to take me for the hire car at 9am, hobbling around with very blistered feet from so much walking the previous day (not a great start!)… he never turned up… until 10am.. Marvellous.
So, eventually, by 10:30am, I should be on my way, Final word from Filipe at Avis, was “if anything goes wrong, even a puncture, just call the ‘helpline’ you are covered for everything” (more on that later!)

So, equipped with a paper map, and a copy of ‘locus free’ and an offline map of Madeira, I was off to CT3/MI-006, only nearly 2 hours late.. still it wouldn’t take too long to get there… would it?
The Locus Free ‘map’ showed that, more than likely, the road from Encumeda to MI-006 wasn’t open, although nobody could tell me for definite that it was.. So, I decided to drive along VR1 to Ribeira Brava, then take VE3/ER101 along to Ponto Del Sol, then the ER222/ER209 up to ER110 just along from MI-006 – easy!

Well it would have been if I hadn’t taken a wrong turn right at the start, and found myself in the middle of Funchal.. Never mind, soon on VR1 along to Ribeira Brava, where… ummm, I took a wrong turning, into the middle of town! After getting stuck behind 2 taxi drivers sitting in their cars next to each other, having a little chat, I managed to get back on the right road again!

Then, a little further along the road, missed the turn off onto ER222, and ended up in Arco Da Calheta, where I managed to pick up a road signed ‘Pico da Urze’ – That would do, not too far along ER110 from where I needed to be.
(This would have been a lot easier with a navigator! Then again, it’s fun driving around narrow roads with hairpin bends on holiday, on the wrong side of the road! smile )
I was held up some more by a tourist bus, obviously on a day trip, winding up the same, narrow road!

Eventually making it onto ER110, past the hotel at Pico da Urze, and to the cross roads, where it was made clear that, as suspected, the road through to Encumenda was indeed, still closed. Only a little further along the road, and I found the side road, along to the car park.

Finding the hill to be shrouded in cloud, I pulled on my boots, and started the relatively short walk.. Turning back after a couple of hundred yards as I’d left the camera in the car!

ct3-mi-006fTake a right turn through the woods!

Still, it took less than half an hour in all, along the track, right, through the woods, and left to climb up the hill, much as described in previous reports, and I was up the top..
There were probably another 10 or so people there, and the cloud was swirling around. The sweeping vistas from the couple of viewing platforms consisted of… grey clouds…. ah well.

I had a quick look around, and decided to bungee the 4m pole to the end of one of the fences, one end of the link dipole wrapped around the top of the fence, the other end chucked unceremoniously onto the top of a gorse bush. (Only unravelled as far as mid way between the 20M and 40M links as I didn’t think 40M would be very useful)

ct3-mi-006aNo need for a guying kit!

Looking at RRT, I saw that Carolyn, GW6WRW/p had just been spotted on 21Mhz, and set the antenna up for that, 5W from the 817nd saw her as the first contact, s2s, not a bad start!
I then spotted myself on 20M and attempted with the 5w, rapidly finding that attaching the amp would be a better option! So on it went. Quickly followed by 22 or so QSOs
Once they had dried up, 10M seemed to be very lively, so the antenna was dropped and the links changed to 10M. 34 QSOs later, and Mike, 2E0YYY came on, asking if I could drop down between 28.3 and 28.5 to enable US Tech chasers a go, one in particular, N2BTD, who was very patient as I struggled to get him in the log, but got there in the end, Thanks, Brian!

ct3-mi-006bThe extensive ‘shack’

A quick change to 12M saw another 8 QSOs, and a final change back to 10, saw a further 2, by which time, since all calls seem to have dried up, it was time for a couple of photos, and get packed up.
One last wander across to one of the viewing platforms allowed me to snap a peak above the clouds, just!

ct3-mi-006cAt last! A view, of sorts…

Walking back down, it appeared that I could possibly be able to take a pic of a Brocken Spectre..

ct3-mi-006eWas I going closer to the edge to take a photo? Absolutely not!

However, I thought it best not to get too close to the edge of the hill, just in case!
About 20 minutes later, I was back at the car, the only one left in either of the 2 car parks.

DSCF0402-aJust about ready to descend, clouds started clearing!

71 QSOs in close to 2 hours, many thanks to everyone who called in, and apologies to anyone who I missed.Getting back to the hotel, was a lot easier, drive along ER110 to the cross roads, turn left, and follow the road downhill until I reached VE3, then onto VR1 and turn right at some point before getting to the middle of Funchal!

Time Call Band Mode
13:31z GW6WRW/P 18MHz SSB
13:40z EA2LU 14MHz SSB
13:45z G6TUH 14MHz SSB
13:45z G0RQL 14MHz SSB
13:48z EI9GLB 14MHz SSB
13:48z EB2CZF 14MHz SSB
13:50z M0IBC 14MHz SSB
13:50z G4WSB 14MHz SSB
13:52z EA2CKX 14MHz SSB
13:53z HB9MKV 14MHz SSB
13:53z DL8MLD 14MHz SSB
13:54z GB2IWM 14MHz SSB
13:55z DK7ZH 14MHz SSB
13:56z G0VWP 14MHz SSB
13:57z EA2GM 14MHz SSB
13:58z OE7PHI 14MHz SSB
13:59z G0HRT 14MHz SSB
14:00z AC1Z 14MHz SSB
14:00z GW6WRW/P 14MHz SSB
14:01z OE5FSL 14MHz SSB
14:02z F6BKD 14MHz SSB
14:05z EA8/DL8NSB/P 14MHz SSB
14:09z ON7KJW 14MHz SSB
14:20z G6TUH 28MHz SSB
14:20z N4EX 28MHz SSB
14:21z DF5WA 28MHz SSB
14:22z HB9AGH 28MHz SSB
14:22z DL2HWI 28MHz SSB
14:23z DL2EF 28MHz SSB
14:24z M6KVJ 28MHz SSB
14:25z AC1Z 28MHz SSB
14:25z M0IBC 28MHz SSB
14:26z G6ODU 28MHz SSB
14:27z G0RQL 28MHz SSB
14:28z MW0BYS 28MHz SSB
14:28z OK2PDT 28MHz SSB
14:29z G4BLH 28MHz SSB
14:29z G4WSB 28MHz SSB
14:30z N0UN 28MHz SSB
14:31z W8ALP 28MHz SSB
14:32z OE5FBL 28MHz SSB
14:35z DL7JAN 28MHz SSB
14:36z N3CDA 28MHz SSB
14:36z DL8DXL 28MHz SSB
14:37z G4ERO 28MHz SSB
14:38z R4FCJ 28MHz SSB
14:40z IZ8OFO 28MHz SSB
14:40z UA6BNC 28MHz SSB
14:42z G0TDM 28MHz SSB
14:43z LX1KF 28MHz SSB
14:44z OE6WIG 28MHz SSB
14:44z OK1DPU 28MHz SSB
14:45z VE2JCW 28MHz SSB
14:46z DK4MO 28MHz SSB
14:46z DK7ZH 28MHz SSB
14:47z PD1HBW 28MHz SSB
14:48z OM1AX 28MHz SSB
14:50z 2E0YYY 28MHz SSB
14:52z G3MWV 28MHz SSB
15:00z PA0INA 28MHz SSB
15:06z N2BTD 28MHz SSB
15:15z G6TUH 24MHz SSB
15:18z DL3JPN 24MHz SSB
15:20z M0IBC 24MHz SSB
15:21z YL2TQ 24MHz SSB
15:22z HB9AGH 24MHz SSB
15:24z OK1SDE 24MHz SSB
15:25z M6KVJ 24MHz SSB
15:26z WX4ET 24MHz SSB
15:42z M3MVZ 28MHz SSB
15:44z M3FEH 28MHz SSB

 

Taking a rig and lifepo4 battery through airport security

Monday 2nd February 2015, and it was an early start, having booked a last minute (Like the previous Friday!) week away in Madeira, and the possibility of at least a couple of Sota Summits, having failed miserably 2 years since when, apparently, the baggage handlers decided to lay waste to my MFJ 971 travel tuner en route.. but never mind, new year, new opportunity!
Just in case, I decided to take my MXP-817 Amp as well as the 817nd, Tracer 8Ah Battery, no tuner this time, but my old linked dipole (10-12-15-17-20-40-60m), 4m pole from sotabeams, and with a couple of bungees, and a hastily cobbled together guying kit (just in case).
Backup ‘plan’, in case the Tracer battery didn’t make it past ‘security’…. Umm, AA Batteries in the 817nd..
Boots, socks, a floppy hat (not a SOTA one) and a couple of ‘seaflo’ lightweight collapsible hiking poles completed the ‘other stuff’ in the lightweight case.
In order to get through BHX ‘screening’ the Radio and Battery went in the hand luggage along with the ‘real’ camera, and tablet, loaded with a couple of DVDs worth of ‘Flight of the Conchords’ for in flight entertainment.
The queue(s) for the ‘scanners’ were already backed up to the main door, and about a 20 minute wait ensued. Once to the front, all my ‘junk’ took up 2 trays as I was upfront about what was in the bag, and they made me unpack it all… For once, I didn’t manage to set the alarm off walking through the gate, but my trays appeared to be causing quite a bit of consternation, staff were pointing at the screen, people behind, in the queue were ‘tutting’… Other more important staff were called across and stood pointing at the screen for about 3 minutes… the queue of passengers waiting to come though continually growing….
The first tray was pulled though and I was invited to explain what was in it.. Well, a battery, since that seemed to be the thing they were pointing at, mostly… Asked what it was for, i pointed to the radio “that radio”… He took the battery to one side, swabbed it, put the swab in his ‘testing equipment’ and scanned it once again, whilst staff stood and pointed at the image on screen…
That appeared to be OK – yay! So I could put it in my bag.
“What’s this then?” said the man inquistively pointing at the radio.. “That’s a Radio! That the battery will be used to power”
I was invited to take it out of it’s leather case, to be swabbed, and sent through the scanner again… (Still the queue of relatively unhappy passengers grew….)
Staff pointed at the image as it went through the scanner again.
“Is it a ‘Ham Radio’?” I was asked, by the guy who appeared to be rolling his eyes somewhat..
I explained that it was, I got asked where I was going, and on what flight, and they handed the radio to me.
“Do you have a camera as well?” He asked
“yes”
“Oh that’s fine, have a good trip!”
I thanked him politely for his attention to detail smile and hurried away from all of the held up passengers!.

It’s always wise to be aware of the latest regulations!

http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/LithiumBattery_PassengerFlyer.jpg

Since my Tracer LifePO4 battery is labeled as 96WH (It’s an 8AH one) it is within the 100WH that is allowed in hand luggage.

 

SOTA Wapley Hill (G/WB-016) 6th July 2013

Seeing how the day was nice and sunny, I decided to get out and do a SOTA activation. Looking at the summits page on sotawatch, I decided on Wapley Hill, in Herefordshire, which looked rather interesting, being the site of an iron Age Hill Fort.

Journey time from home was around an hour, even though I missed the turning off the B4362, and ended up having to turn back, courtesy of a roundabout on the outskirts of Presteigne! Being careful not to miss the turning again, I was soon in the car park, ready to go.

A fairly simple path using forest tracks soon had me close to the fort itself. A permissive path next to a rustic seat gave a nice short cut to the entrance.

Route up Wapley Hill

Route up Wapley Hill

Rustic seat with permissive path to the right

Rustic seat with permissive path to the right

End of the permissive path, the entrance

End of the permissive path, the entrance

I stopped for a few moments to read the informative sign! (Click to read it!)

The informative board at the entrance

The informative board at the entrance

Looking around, once inside, I decided to set up on one of the mounds. In hindsight, which is a marvellous thing! this probably wasn’t a good move, as it appears that everyone (and his dog.. literally!) is intent on walking around on top of the mounds!  Still, I hope I didn’t cause too much trouble :)

Operating position, possibly not a good one!
Operating position, possibly not a good one!

Centre of the hill fort, probably better for HF

Centre of the hill fort, probably better for HF

I primarily worked on 2M FM, although dropped down to 40M to gain a S2S near the end of the activation.. Perhaps the operating position wasn’t ideal, but the middle of the hill fort would have shielded 2M signals a little, maybe next time I’ll use the middle of the fort which has room for quite large HF antennas!

The following were all logged in a fairly laid back hour and a half:

Time Call Band Mode Notes
12:59z MW0IML/P 144MHz FM Barry on GW/NW-011 59+
13:00z MW6GWR/P 144MHz FM Ricky on GW/NW-011 59
13:13z G4ERP 144MHz FM Richard in Cheltenham
13:15z 2V0MDJ 144MHz FM Matt in Cheltenham
13:18z G0LGS/P 144MHz FM Stewart in Birdlip
13:26z 2E0UPA 144MHz FM Jan on SULA lightship, Gloucester
13:31z M0JLA 144MHz FM Rod in Hereford
13:36z G8CMU 144MHz FM Mike in Ross on Wye
13:38z G4WTF 144MHz FM Ian in Hereford
13:43z 2E0TLG 144MHz FM Duncan
14:15z MM0YCJ/P 7MHz SSB Colwyn on GM/CS-088
14:25z M0TYM/P 144MHz FM Alistair on G/WB-023

All in all a very pleasant afternoon in the sun, even if one walker did think I was calling in air strikes from nearby Shobdon Airfield!