Chasing European activators

 

I am on holidays at the moment, which means I can stay up a little bit later when I choose to.  And I did that over the weekend, working a few European SOTA activators on both the long path and the short path.

On Saturday evening (10th January 2015) I spoke with Pablo EA1QL, on 20m on the long path.  Pablo was on the top of SOTA summit, Monxagre, EA1/ AT-204.  Pablo was kind enough to send me an email with some photos from the activation (see below).

The Monxagre summit is 662 metres ASL and is worth 2 SOTA points.  It is located in the Spain (North West) Association, and the Asturias Region.

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Map courtesy of google maps.

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Image courtesy of http://www.wikiloc.com/

Pablo was running a Kenwood TS-840, about 50 watts, and a home brew monoband Delta loop antenna.  Pablo was powering the radio with a 12v 8 ah battery.

It was a challenge to get through to Pablo, as breaking through the European ‘wall’ of SOTA chasers was quite difficult.  But once I did, Pablo and I were able to hear each other ver well.  I know that Andrew VK1NAM has mentioned previously, the issue of many European SOTA activators not listening for further afield.  I have felt the same frustration, but I have found that perserverance generally pays off.  Not always though!

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Mount Lofty VK5/ SE-005 and Cleland CP

After our little activation at the Belair National Park, Larry VK5LY and I headed over to the nearby Mount Lofty summit.  I have activated Mt Lofty many times before as it is very close to my home, but this was Larry’s first time to Mt Lofty, which is also located within the Cleland Conservation Park.  So this was a ‘double whammy’ activation for both SOTA & the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.

Mount Lofty is 727 metres ASL and is worth 4 SOTA points.  Mount Lofty summit is located in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’, and is just a 20 minute drive from the city of Adelaide.  Each year more than 350,000 people visit the summit to enjoy the breathtaking and panoramic views of the city of Adelaide.  There is a restaurant and a cafe at the summit, and also a visitor information centre.

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Mount Lofty was first climbed by a European, when in April 1831, explorer Collet Barker climbed the peak.  This was almost seven years before the city of Adelaide was settled. The summit was named by the famous explorer, Matthew Flinders, on the 23rd February 1802, during his circumnavigation of Australia.

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View of the city of Adelaide from the summit (Photo courtesy of WIkipedia).

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

We set up in my favourite spot on the eastern side of the summit, away from all the tourists at the restaurant and the lookout.  It can be really busy there.  The advantage of the eastern side of the summit is that there is also a lot of shade under the tall gum trees.  And it was a warm afternoon, with the temperature reaching 35 degrees C, and any shade was appreciated.

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We set up my 40m/20m linked dipole, inverted vee, using the 7 metre squid pole.  Larry and I brought 2 radios with us for this activation.  The Yaesu FT-817nd for the local contacts on 40m (running QRP 5 watts), and the bigger Yaesu FT-450 with a bit more power (running 30 watts), for trying our luck on 20m with the DX.  But with the FT-450, also came the heavier load.  Because this is an easy summit, it was not so taxing, but still involved lugging the extra kg’s into the activation zone.  Nethermind, both Larry and I agreed that we needed the exercise.

 IMGA0034_2      IMGA0038_2

Larry started off on 40m on 7.090, and was soon welcomed with a pile up.  Larry’s first contact was with Richard VK5ZRY who was still portable in the Ramsay-Way Conservation Park on the Yorke Peninsula.  This was a great start to get a ‘park to park’ contact for the VK5 Parks Award.  Many of the ‘normal suspects’ called in from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, to say ‘g’day’ to Larry.  Conditions were very good, with excellent signals from all parts of the country.

We also worked a Summit to Summit with Doug VK2FMIA, who was portable on VK2/ NT-008.  This is an un named summit in the Northern Tabelands region of New South Wales.  The summit is 1,456 metres and is worth 10 SOTA points.  Doug (who is a very keen Parks activator) had a very nice 5/6 signal coming in to Mount Lofty.

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Larry’s backside was starting to get numb, and he wanted to stretch his legs.  So this was a good opportunity for us to swap operators, and to venture over to 20m.  We saw a SOTAWatch spot for Klaus DF2GN, who was portable on a summit in Germany.  In fact Klaus was sitting on the top of Rainen DM/BW-042.  Both Larry and I worked Klaus (a genuine 5/9 both ways).  Klaus’ signal was very strong all the way from Germany to the Adelaide Hills.  This was Larry’s first ever DX summit to summit.  I also worked Klaus and this was another first….my first ever DX summit to summit.  Larry and I were both very excited about this contact.

Rainen is 1,006 metres above sea level and is worth 10 SOTA points.  It is located in the Bathe Wuerttemberg region of the Low Mountains German Association.  It is near the little village of Schomberg.

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We then chose a quiet spot on 20m and started to call CQ.  I say ‘quiet’, but it didn’t stay like that for long.  The 20m band was very busy, and it was only within a minute or 2, and we were getting QRM from nearby stations.  However, not much we could do, and we continued to battle on calling CQ.  We soon got a pile up going from Europe & the UK and worked stations in England, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Slovak Republic, and the Czech Republic.  We were also called by Gerard VK2IO who was mobile with a very strong 5/9 signal.  Other VK’s to call in included Matt VK2DAG, Andrew VK2UH, and John VK6NU in Western Australia.  It is always nice to get a VK6 in the log, because they are a long way away from the rest of Australia.  For anyone reading this outside of Australia, it is nearly 4,000 km from Perth in the west, to Sydney in the east.

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Larry and I then saw a spot for Mike 2E0YYY, who was portable on Shining Tor G/SP-004 (559m ASL & 2 SOTA points).  Mike was my very first ever SOTA contact a few years ago, so I was very keen to work Mike.  I had spoken to Mike a number of times whilst he was on a summit.  But that was while I was at home.  Never whilst I was sitting on the top of a summit.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.walkthehills.co.uk

So Larry and I headed off to 14.328 and there was Mike, with a nice 5/6 signal.  We gave him a call and got through first time, with a 5/5 signal report being returned by Mike.

Whilst operating we had a few interested onlookers.  Some of those were even brave enough to approach us, to find out what we were up to.  This included a couple of British tourists who were extremely interested to hear that we were working all the way back to their homeland.  We also had a young lady out bushwalking with her children, and they were very interested in what these 2 strange guys were doing in the bush with a squid pole and talking strange lingo.  It is always pleasing to have a chat to people and passing on information to them on this unique and very interesting hobby.

After working Mike 2E0YYY, we ventured to 14.323 and called CQ again, working a further 12 DX stations in the USA, England, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands.  And not forgetting Paul VK2KTT who was a very strong signal.

It was starting to get a bit late, heading towards 7.00 p.m. local time, and we had strict orders from our wives to be home by 7.30 p.m. for dinner.  Yes, we are good husbands !!  It was very frustrating, because we still had European & UK stations calling us.  But it was time to pack up and head home to the girls, a few bottles of red, and home made lasagne.

Larry and I had a total of 55 QSO’s in the log, including 2 S2S DX, and 31 DX contacts into the USA, Europe, & UK.

The following stations were worked by Larry:-

Richard VK5ZRY/p; Peter VK5KPR; Ian VK5CZ; Roger VK4YB; Glenn VK3YY; Adam VK2YK; Steve VK3FSWB; Rod VK2TWR; Tony VK3CAT; Peter VK3PF; Peter VK3FPSR; Marshall VK3MRG; Matt VK2DAG; Matt VK1MA; John VK2YW; Andrew VK2UH; Ian VK1DI; Doug VK2FMIA/p (summit to summit); DF2GN/p (summit to summit); and Mike 2E0YYY/p (summit to summit)

The following stations were worked by me:-

Richard VK5ZRY/p; Doug VK2FMIA/p; Klaus DF2GN (summit to summit); G6TUH; VK2DAG; VK2UH; VK6NU; G0RQL; G4UXH; VK2IO/m, DL1DVE; EA2CKX; EB2CZF; EA2IF; EA2DT; ON5SWA; OE7FMH; OM1AX; ON2JF; OK1SDE; OE7WGT; 2E0YYY/p; KD7FMC; G6LUZ; G4OBK; G3XQE; IK1GPG; M6NNA; HB9MKV; EA2LU; DL3JPN; G0LGS; EB2JU; PA0SKP; VK2KTT; and EA4GJT.

Some more DX activators

On Sunday night, 19th January, 2014, I stayed up a little late again to work some DX on 15m.  And when the 15m band went quiet I decided to venture over to 20m to have a listen.  And I am pleased I did.  I managed to work some more European SOTA activators on the short path, and also two more WorldWide Flora and Fauna activators from Europe.

My first contact was with Mike, OE4MXB who was portable on SOTA peak, Geschriebenstein, OE/ BL-001 and Irott-kö, HA/ ND-001.  Why 2 summits ?  Mike was on the Austrian and Hungarian border.  This is the highest mountain of the Koszeg Mountain Range.  It is 884 metres above sea level according to Austrian sources, but Hungarian references mostly place the summit at 883 metres.  SOTA shows the OE/ BL-001 summit to be 884 metres ASL and worth 2 SOTA points, while HA/ ND-001 is shown as 882 metres ASL and worth 8 points.  Either way, it is the highest mountain of Western Hungary and of Burgenland.

The summit’s former names were Fenyőhegy and Szálkő.  Its present name (Írottkő in Hungarian, and Geschriebenstein in German) can be translated as ‘written stone’.  It is believed this is derived   from border stones with inscriptions between the properties of the Batthyany and Esterhazy  families.  On the summit, there is an observation tower built in 1913 which stands exactly on the border between Austria and Hungary.

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The photograph below, is of a stone located within the lookout tower.  Its left side is in Austria (denoted by the Ö for Österreich), while the right side is in Hungary (denoted by an M for Magyarország, cannot be seen in the photo).

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Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Since December 2007 the Austrian-Hungarian border can be crossed without formalities as Hungary joined the Schengen Agreement.  The closest towns on the Austrian side of the border are Rechnitz and Lockenhaus.  On the Hungarian side of the border, the closest municipality is Velem and the closest town is Koszeg.   

Mike was very strong with a genuine 5/9 signal coming into VK on the short path.  With such a great signal, as you would expect, Mike had quite a big pile up.  But I persisted and got though and received a 5/7 signal report from Mike.  Mike was running 150 watts, from a Yaesu FT-857 into a mono band vertical.

Below is a video of Mike’s activation…..

My second contact was with Jana DG5WU who was portable on SOTA peak, Wank, DL/ EW-001.  The summit which is pronounced as vanjk, is 1,780 metres above sea level and is worth 6 points.  It is located in the German (Alpine) Association and is in the Estergebirge/Walchenseeberge Region. It is situated in the Loisach valley, near to the Austrian border in the southwestern Ester Mountains range.

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Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The summit can be reached via a cable car system called the Wankbahn which generally operates during the summer season, or via an extensive network of paths.  Construction of the cable car system commenced in 1928, and commenced service in 1929.  It is 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long and rises from 740 metres (2,430 ft) to 1,750 metres (5,740 ft) above sea level.

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A 1930 poster of the cable car.  Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The mountain has a grassy summit, that offers spectacular views over Gamisch-Partenkirchen and the surrounding region.  A cross can be found at the top of the summit which was established in July, 1904 by the Werdenfelser Heimat Partenkirchen Society.   Nearby is an observatory and the Wank-Haus, also known as the Alois Huber Haus, which is a mountain hut built in 1911, that provides accommodation and meals for visitors to the summit.

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The summit is a popular destination for paragliders.  The paragliding enthusiast take off from the summit plateau and fly south into the Gamisch-Patenkirchen valley or to peaks in the Wettersteingebirge.  The thermals make the summit particularly popular, as they enable paragliders to make exceptionally long flights when conditions are favourable.

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I had actually heard Jana before Mike, but unfortunately Jana’s signal was very low and she was working a big pile up from Europe.  I tried calling numerous times but just couldn’t get though.  And Jana was that low that I wasn’t quite sure if I could get a signal report back from her anyway.  After working Mike, I decided to go back and have another listen.  Jana’s signal had come up a little and I was more confident this time that  I would be able to receive a signal report from her.

Jana was still busy working lots of Europeans, but I patiently waited for a break in the callers, and snuck in my call sign.  To my surprise, Jana called me in and gave me a 5/7 signal report.  Sadly Jana’s signal was still 3/3 (an honest signal report).  But I could hear her, and that is all that mattered.

My third contact was with the Silesian Amateur Radio Group, operating as SP9YFF for the World Castles Award at Rabsztyn Castle WCA-SP0832 and for World Wide Flora & Fauna (WWFF) at Krajobrazowy Orlich GniazdSPFF-093.

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Translated to English, Krajobrazowy Orlich Gniazd means Eagle’s Nest Landscape Park.  It is a protected area in south western Poland, consisting of 597 km2, and was established in 1980.  It covers much of the area of the Trail of the Eagle’s Nest.  The trail passes by some 25 medieval castles called the Eagles’ Nests, built on large tall rocks by the order of King Casimir III the Great (1310-1370).  This includes Rabsztyn Castle.  The area is visited by approximately 400,000 visitors per year.

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I got through to SP9YGG first time I called which was really encouraging.  The club were using 100 watts, and a multi band dipole at 8 metres from the ground and had a very nice 5/7 signal.  I received a 5/9 signal report.

My fourth contact was with Juergen OE4JHW who was portable on OE/ BL-001 and HA/ ND-001.  He was doing a dual activation with Mike, OE4MXB.  Jueergen had a beautiful strong 5/8 signal and I received a 5/9 signal report back.  I had a good chat with Juergen, who then called for any other VK Chasers.  Sadly there weren’t any.  This is the second time that I have now worked Juergen on a summit.

And my final portable contact was with Levi YO2MNC who was operating portable as part of the WWFF program in Drocea de lângă, YOFF-258, in ROMANIA   I had stumbled across Levi by accident.  I heard him asking if the frequency was in use and when he started calling CQ I gave him a call.  Levi’s response when I called him was priceless.  When he heard me call he said, “Oh my god….Australia”.  Levi told me that I was his first ever VK from a WWFF activation.  He said “I am very very glad”.  I was really pleased to get Levi in the log.

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Photos courtesy of YO2MNC

During the evening I also heard SOTA activators OE5RTP and OE5IRO from AUSTRIA.  But they were working an Italian station who was portable for the Italian Abbeys award, and then QSY’d, and I could not find them after that.

I also heard EB2GKK who was portable on a SOTA summit in SPAIN.  But I didn’t call him as his signal was so weak, that I didn’t think we would be able to exchange signal reports.

Chasing European SOTA activators

Last night I had a case of insomnia, so I headed to the ‘shack’ to hopefully work some DX.  What happened was beyond my expectations and sent me off to bed some 4 hours later !  I managed to work a handful of new countries for particular bands, and a few new USA States for particular bands.  I also managed to work a couple of European WorldWide Flora Fauna (WWFF) activators in Poland.  This is never easy because of the European pile up, so I was really happy to get the contacts in my log.  But the cream on top of the cake for me, was bagging 5 European SOTA activators.  And it could have been a few more.

My equipment was a Yaesu FT-2000, with a Heil Pro 4 headset, 100 watts, and a Hy Gain 3 el yagi @ 16 metres, on a small tower in my backyard.

My first SOTA contact was with Zoltan, OM/HA5CQZ/p on top of Velky Inovec, OM/ NR-001.  This peak which is located in the Nitriansky region of the Slovak Republic, is 901 metres and is worth 4 SOTA points.  Translated to English, Velky Inovec means Big Inovec.  The summit is located in the central part of the Pohronsky Inovec mountains and is the highest peak of the entire mountain range.  Pohronsky Inovec is volcanic in origin and is composed of the volcanic rocks andesite and rhyolites.  The southern portion of the mountain range is covered in deciduous forest, predominantly oak.  There are very good views of southern Slovakia from the summit, including the Danube River and the mountains beyond.  Below the summit is the Grand Inovec tourist lodge.

24540307Courtesy of http://www.panoramio.com

Photo courtesy of 2005_01010015

Photo courtesy of http://carovidieku.blogspot.com.au

I saw Zoltan spotted on SOTAWatch, so I tuned to his operating frequency on 20m, and there he was.  Zoltan had quite a good signal coming in on the short path.  Because it was early in the morning here, the noise floor on 20m was very low.  No plasma TV noise or solar inverter interference.  Heaven !  Zoltan  had quite a few European chasers calling him, but I perservered and got through (5/3 sent and 5/7 received).  Zoltan was QRP and he was using just 5 watts and a simple dipole antenna.

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Photo courtesy of Zoltan, http://www.flickr.com

My contact with Zoltan spurred on my enthusiasm and I kept a close eye on SOTAWatch, whilst I kept tuning across the 20m band working a few DX stations.

My second SOTA contact was with Franz, OE5FSM/p, who was on Hohenstein, OE/ OO-134, at about 1400 UTC (12.30 a.m. SOuth Australian local time)

Hohenstein is 526 metres ASL, and is located in the Oberosterreich region of southern Austria, and is worth 1 SOTA point.  It is located neat Wilhelmsburg.  According to Peakery.com, Hohenstein is the 454th highest mountain in Austria.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.panoramio.com

Again, Franz had quite a few European chasers, so I was patient, and waited for an appropriate spacing between all the callers, to slip in the VK, in the hope that Franz would hear me.  It took quite a few attempts, but finally I made it (5/2 both ways).  I was Franz first ever VK contact during an activation.

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Courtesy of Franz OE5FSM QRZ.com page.

I then saw a spot for Eloy, EA1IEH who was portable on a summit in Spain.  Eloy was actually stronger than Zoltan and Franz.  He was about 5/4 and perfectly readable.  But he had a really big pile up from Europe and it was impossible to break through.  Sadly, Eloy QSY’d to 40m before I was able to work him.

However I was called by Manuel EA2DT, who had heard me trying to get through to Eloy.  Manuel tried calling Eloy, but he had already gone.  Thanks for trying Manuel.

My third SOTA contact came as a bit of a surprise.  It was following my chat with Manuel, that I received a call from Vlado, OM1AX/p, who was operating from Devinska Kobyla,  OM/BA-004.  Initially I didn’t realise that Vlado was on a SOTA peak, because he had such a strong signal.  Vlado was running 50 watts and a dipole, and was a solid 5/5 signal.

Devinska Kobyla is the highest peak in the Devin Carpathians, which are part of the Little Carpathians mountain range.  It is located in the Bratislavský region of Slovakia.  The summit is 514 metres above sea level and is worth 1 SOTA point.  It is a treeless summit and contains an abandoned military rocket base.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.com

From the top of the summit there are open views of Bratislava, Austria, Hungary, the Danube River and Morava River.  There is a 4 km instructive path that leads through Devínska Kobyla, with one significant area called Sandberg.   This is one of the most important palaeontological localities in Slovakia.   The yellow faces of the old sandpit has remnants of rocks of the tertiary sea with horizontally deposited layers, and there are still fossils of sea fauna to be found there.  The age of these rocks is estimated to be between 14 to 16 million years old.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.com

My fourth SOTA QSO was with Miro, S52ON/p on Gora Oljka, S5/KS-051.  Again I had seen Miro spotted on SOTAWatch at about 1530 UTC (2.00 a.m. South Australian local time).  I had just finished working a European pile up on 20m, when I saw Miro spotted.  Fortunately for me, the callers had ceased, so it was a good opportunity to slide up to 14.290 and have a listen for Miro.  And to my surprise again, I was able to clearly hear Miro’s signal coming into South Australia all the way from the top of a mountain in Slovenia.

Gora Oljka is 733 metres above sea level and is worth 2 SOTA points.  It is situated in the KamniÅ¡ko – Savinjske Alpe region of Slovenia.  Gora Oljka translated to English means Olive Hill.  Standing at the top of the summit is the Church of the Holy Cross, which was constructed in the middle of the 18th century.

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Courtesy of http://www.siol.net

Miro’s signal was not strong on the S meter on the FT-2000 but he was perfectly readable.  I called him and got through almost straight away (5/3 sent and 5/9 received).

And last but not least, I had a QSO with Roberto, EA2DXY/p on Murugain EA2/ SS-030.  I had just finished a QSO with Norman ZS5JY in South Africa, when I saw a spot come up on SOTAWatch for Roberto.  This was about 1550 UTC (2.20 a.m. South Australian local time).

I tuned to 14.288 and heard Roberto coming in with a 5/3 signal with his QRP operation.  Although not strong, he was perfectly readable.  Again, I waited for an opportune time and gave Roberto a call and got through (5/3 sent and 5/5 received).  Unfortunately, IZ0UYB came up in the middle of our QSO, just 2 kc away, calling CQ DX with a very strong signal.  This made things really difficult.  Fortunately Roberto was in the log.  I was ‘unlucky’ 13th Chaser for Roberto on this peak.  Not so unlucky for me !

Mururgain is 778 metres ASL and is worth 1 SOTA point.  It is situated in the Gipuzcoa region of Spain.  Gipuzcoa is a province in northern Spain and a historical territory of the autonomous community of the Basque Country.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.panoramio.com.

Prior to heading off to bed I saw a spot come up for Jon, N7AZ on W7A/ MN125, so I headed up to  the top part of 20m to have a listen.  Although not at all strong, I could hear Jon coming in to VK5 land on the short path across the Pacific.  It was not easy…it was a struggle.  Jon’s signal report was 3/3.  I heard him working USA Chasers and tried getting through, but couldn’t make the journey before Jon went QRT, on his way to his next summit.  I thought about hanging around for another 90 minutes, waiting for Jon, but tiredness got the better of me.  And after all, I do need my beauty sleep !

Although I have worked European SOTA activators before, this was the first time that I had worked so many in the one day / night, and especially on the short path.  I thank all the SOTA activators who took the time out of the pile up to listen for my signal from down here in Australia.  This was a really good fun night and well worth staying up into the wee hours of the morning.

References.

Panoramio

Wikipedia, http://sk.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veľký_Inovec

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pohronský_Inovec

Wikipedia, http://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC15W4H_velky-inovec?guid=a9d92329-e2eb-4202-9d8d-6075d7dc3969

Peakery, http://peakery.com/hohenstein/

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dev%C3%ADnska_Kobyla

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gipuzkoa

European and UK activators

Last night (Monday 23rd December, 2013) I was on the 7.130 DX Net on 40m, and the goat bleated on my iPhone on the SOTA Goat app, to advise there was a SOTA activator out and about.  So I checked the phone and saw that it was Jana, DG5WU operating portable on Wildalpjoch, DL/ MF-075.  It was just starting to get dark outside, so things looked promising with the grayline.  I tuned to 20m and I could just barely hear Jana, but certainly not strong enough to work.  And there was a constant pile up.

So feeling a little dejected, my goat bleated again a few minutes later, and I saw a spot for Patricio EA2EX who was portable on Ilso, EA2/ BI-050 in the Vizcaya region of northern Spain, not far from the French border.  I tuned a few kc away from Jana, and there was Patricio.  Not all that strong, but audible all the way down here in South Australia.  So I eagerly picked up the mic, and I tried calling Patricio, but couldn’t make the grade through the European pile up.

But I kept listening and remained patient, and to his credit, Patricio called for outside Europe, and I was able to make contact with him.  Not flattering signal reports either way, but a contact nether less.  We were able to hear each other.  All the way from a mountain top in Spain to the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.  And all on Patricio’s 5 watts.

Patricio was using a Yaesu FT-817, 5 watts, and a ground plane antenna.

Patricio is ranked 9th in the EA2 Association as a SOTA activator.

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I then saw another spot for Col, F/MM0YCJ, on 20m, on F/ AB-204.  Hoping that I might get lucky again, I tuned to his operating frequency.  But that wasn’t to be the case.  Sadly I could not hear Col at all.  I could clearly hear the Chasers, but not Col.

I have now worked a total of  22 DX Activators in 14 different European SOTA Associations on SSB (20m & 10m).  I have my Bronze Mountain Hunter certificate (currently 9 different Associations with QSO’s with at least 2 different summits).  I have 11 Associations where my count is 1 summit. So I need just 1 more contact to qualify for Silver Mountain Hunter.

I am yet to make contact with a US activator.  I must polish up on my CW skills and give Morse a go and I would probably have more success !

As I have found out myself, as a SOTA Activator, it is possible to make good DX contacts all the way to Europe, the UK, & the USA, on QRP power.  It all depends on the conditions, your antenna, the Chaser’s antenna, good listening skills, good operator practise, the time of the day, and of course GOOD LUCK !

In closing, I just wanted to say thank you to those European & UK SOTA activators that take the time to have a listen out for us all the way down here in Australia.  It seems that more & more interest is growing in getting Europe – Australia SOTA contacts, thanks to the recent efforts of Andrew VK1NAM, Ed VK2JI, & others. Ian VK5CZ (the VK5 SOTA Assoc Manager) made contact with a station in Poland on 10m just a few nights ago.

So thanks for listening for us Aussies.  There is a core group of us SOTA enthusiasts down here that would be more than happy to get you in the log.

European/UK summit contacts

During the past couple of weeks, a number of VK amateurs have been aiming for Summit to Summit (S2S) contacts with European & UK SOTA activators.  Andrew VK1NAM has been leading the charge, and has been very successful in bagging some great S2S contacts and also along the way some general DX QSO’s with SOTA Chasers in Europe.  Check out Andrew’s WordPress site at…..

http://vk1nam.wordpress.com

As a result, Andrew’s enthusiasm has rubbed off on me, and my interest in keeping an eye on SOTAWatch for European activators has increased (from the comfort of home at this stage).  In the past week I have worked 5 x European/UK SOTA activators:-

  • Steve, G1INK/p in ENGLAND
  • Klaus, DF2GN/p in GERMANY
  • Dinos, SV3IEG/p in GREECE
  • Csaba, YO6PIB/p in ROMANIA
  • Don, M0HCU/p in ENGLAND

My first ever SOTA contact was actually with a DX station.  That was back in December, 2011, and was with Mike, 2E0YYY/p, who was portable on Moel Famau, in WALES.  What an introduction to SOTA.  I would go on to work Mike again in May 2012, and May 2013.

In between time, I had worked a few other DX activators…..

  • EA3EGB/p in SPAIN
  • EA1/M0UOK/p in SPAIN (my mate Barry who was on holidays)
  • OK/SQ9SHR/p in CZECH REPUBLIC
  • HA5MA/p in HUNGARY
  • HA5LV/p in HUNGARY
  • G7TAS/p in ENGLAND
  • SP6KEP/p in POLAND
  • S57MS/p in SLOVENIA
  • HA3LV/p in HUNGARY
  • SV3GLI/p in GREECE
  • OE4JHW/p in AUSTRIA

HA3LV365

So, on Saturday (23rd November, 2013) I saw that Andrew VK1NAM and Al VK1RX were heading to Mount Taylor, VK1/ AC-037 to see if they could work some DX summit to summit QSO’s.  Surprisingly I could barely hear Andrew & Al on 20m from Mount Taylor.  Normally they both have thumping signals on 14 mhz, but this day their signals were really low down (almost unreadable).  But to my surprise I could hear the SOTA activators in Europe that they were working.  So there was some hope that I could work a few from the comfort of my shack.

I tuned across the 20m band, but sadly could not find any of the European activators, so I headed up to 10m, which is my favourite band, hoping to work some DX.  And much to my surprise, I found Steve, G1INK/p, who was on SOTA peak, Kinder Scout, G/SP-001.  Steve was one of the activators that had previously worked Andrew and Al on 20m.  Activity was pretty quiet, so I called Steve who came back to me (5/4 sent and 5/7 received).  Steve is the leading activator in England, and is currently sitting on 1,011 summits activated, with a total of 4,081 points.  Not a bad effort at all.  I think I have a bit of catching up to do !!!

Below is a photo of Steve…..

Nordhelle_2

Kinder Scout is 636 metres above sea level, is worth 4 SOTA points, and is situated in the Southern Pennines Region of ENGLAND.  It is a moorland plateau and National Nature Reserve in the Dark Peak of the Derbyshire Peak District in England.  It is the highest point in the Peak District, the highest point in Derbyshire, and the highest point in the East Midlands.  During excellent weather conditions, the city of Manchester and Greater Manchester can be seen.  Below is a photograph of Kinder Scout plateau as viewed from the south…..

800px-KinderScoutPlateau

Steve has a terrific You Tube page with lots of videos.  Click on the link below to have a look…..

http://www.youtube.com/user/g1ink

A week later, on Friday afternoon (29th November, 2013), I saw that Andrew VK1NAM was heading to the hills again in the hope of getting some more European S2S activity.  And he succeeded.  Well done Andrew.  And this time I could hear Andrew well, so I gave him a shout and bagged Mount Taylor, VK1/ AC-037.  He was using a Yaesu FT-857d, 50 watts, into a 20m/40m linked dipole.

I then hunted around the 20m band, hoping to find some of the European SOTA activators.  I managed to track down Klaus, DF2GN/p, who I had heard working Andrew a little earlier.  Klaus was portable on SOTA peak, Hummelsberg, DM/ BW-228 and had a very strong 5/8 signal into my shack.  I received a genuine 5/9 from Klaus.   He was using an inverted L antenna.  Klaus is ranked 16th as an Activator in the DM Association.

Hummerlsberg is located in the Low Mountains in the Bathe Wuerttemberg Region of Germany, and is 1,002 metres above sea level.  It is worth 10 points.

sota_df2gn_05

On Saturday afternoon (30th November, 2013), inspired by working Klaus the day before, I had a listen again on 20m.  I had seen a few Alerts on SOTAWatch from European activators indicating that they would be looking for VK Chasers, so this was very promising.

My first contact was with Dinos, SV3IEG/p, who was portable on SOTA peak, Pergari, SV/ AT-033.  Dinos had a very nice signal and I got through first time to him (5/7 both ways).  Hats off to Dinos, because despite having lots of European Chasers, he regularly stopped and called for VK and outside Europe.  Pergari is located in the Attica Region on Greece and is 1,108 metres above sea level.  It is worth 4 SOTA points.

5358427078_cb2b5ea6e6_m

My second contact was with Csaba, YO6PIB/p who was portable on SOTA peak, Clabucetul Taurului, YO/ EC-145.  His signal was down a little bit, but still he was very readable.  (4/3 sent and 5/3 received).  Clabucetul Taurului is located in the Eastern Carpathians Region of Romania.  It is 1,520 metres above sea level, and is worth 8 SOTA points.  This was the first time the summit had ever been activated.

Csaba has a Blogspot.  Click on the following link to have a look…..

http://yo6pib.blogspot.com.au

Below is a photo of Csaba operating on a SOTA peak (not YO/ EC-145).

IMG_1927

And finally, I saw a spot for Don, M0HCU, who was on SOTA peak, Titterstone Clee Hill, G/ WB-004.  Initially Don was very weak and I was struggling to hear him through the noise from the neighbour’s plasma television.  And when his signal did come up, it was a struggle to break through the European Chaser pile up.  But eventually I did, and got Don in the log (5/3 sent and 4/7 received).  I was Don’s first ever VK SOTA contact.

Don has a website.  Click on the link below to have a look…..

http://m0hcu.co.uk

The summit of Titterstone Clee which Don was sitting on, is bleak and treeless.  It has been shaped by decades of quarrying.  Many of the quarrying structures still remain, and these lend to the ghostly atmosphere of the hill top, especially during the prolonged winter fogs that descend over the hills.

lmashhol_03

I have worked quite a bit of DX since becoming a SOTA activator in March this year.  But I have never had a DX S2S contact.  I would imagine it would be a real buzz when you receive a call back from someone sitting on top of a mountain overseas.  As Andrew VK1NAM told me, it took him 3 days to come down off his high after getting his first European S2S.

I have now worked 17 different SOTA Associations.  I am now just a few contacts away from qualifying for my Silver Mountain Hunter certificate (2 different / unique summits in each of 10 Associations).

  • DM – 1
  • EA1 – 1
  • EA3 – 1
  • G – 3
  • GW – 1
  • HA – 2
  • OE – 1
  • OK – 1
  • S5 – 1
  • SP – 1
  • SV – 2
  • VK1 – 24
  • VK2 – 29
  • VK3 – 134
  • VK5 – 21
  • VK9 – 1
  • YO – 1