VERY LITTLE ! Having heard from Tony VK3CAT at about 1pm that he hoped to activate a summit in France (where he was on holiday) at around 3:30pm, it was a very quick pick up equipment and go activation. I have a couple of planned activations (as regards practical approach to summit and Google Maps route to get to the area) and Ammerleite was one of these. It’s also the last “close” summit that I haven’t yet activated, so I’ll have to start going further afield for new summits in the future.
So the standard equipment (FT817, 6m squiddy, SOTABeams linked dipole, small amp and LIPO batteries) was grabbed from their storage space and I set off.
Ammerleite is across the valley from Hohen Peissenberg, one of my first activations since moving to Germany, so three quarters of the route I knew. The last part involved turning off on a small (single lane) unmarked road to go up through a small village and onto the summit area. The summit is actually known locally as Schnalz and was well signposted once I got onto the smaller roads. This seems to be part of two or three different walking or biking tours. Given the view from the summit, I can understand why. I wondered if I was going to hit the issue that I hit at Auerberg with the road being marked as farm and forestry traffic only, but it wasn’t. (NOTE As of 2015 this road is now CLOSED to all motorised vehicles with no alternative – you now effectively have to walk the 2km (1200m vertical) from the village to access this summit). I simply followed the road out of the hamlet of Holzleiten taking the route that climbed upwards and soon I came to the junction where I knew I needed to park and walk across the fields to the summit. Finding a spot to park off road so that I was not blocking the road wasn’t easy and if people in two or more cars were to be going to Ammerleite at the same time it would not be possible for them to park.
The walk across the fields gave me a great view back across the valley to Hohen Piessenberg, which can’t be seen when you get to the summit due to trees blocking the view in that direction. It was probably about a 300 – 350m walk at most up to the Summit, where as well as a very impressive cross with a piece of shaped glass in its centre also has two banks to sit on and (a little way down the hill) a panorama photo, showing the whole area of the Alps that can be seen from this side of the summit.
On the way Tony had texted me to say that he had been delayed and his revised expectation was to get to the F/VL-010 (Roche Aigue) summit by UTC 14:30 or 4:30pm local time. This gave me some time to set-up and indeed install the amplifier to give a little extra punch to the signal and today it was needed! Twenty metres was dead so forty metres was the best band for the afternoon activation and it was full! with many very loud and (in the FT817) wide stations. I don’t have the optional narrower SSB IF filter in the FT-817 yet. In Europe it is definitely needed!
I found a reasonably clear spot on the band and started calling CQ SOTA and spotted myself. I guess the noise from an otherwise quiet area awoke the (four-legged) locals and it wasn’t long before I was having to repeatedly chase them off to stop them licking the antenna guys and rubbing their noses on the Squid Pole mast! (see photos below).
As the afternoon passed, I tried finding some of the other activaors who were out and while I could hear some of them as soon as I was ready to call, some local station came splattering at S9+ across the frequency and I had to give up trying to contact another summit. Later I gave 20m a try but with no great success and then I got a text from Tony saying he was setting up. At first we hit the same problem of heavy QRM but then I decided we should move right to the band edge at 7.199 (remembering we are using Lower Sideband) and there we managed an S3 / S4 contact. It was only after the contact that I realised that I had probably worked tony off the end of the dipole rather than the ideal side-on direction. Both Tony (in France) and I (in Germany) could see storms approaching, so neither of us stayed active much longer. In my case, i hit the storm about half way home. I was glad I wasn’t still on the summit.
Ramsey QAMP amplifier
SOTABeams Linked dipole
Overall a very enjoyable and successful activation, showing equipment and operator readiness at short notice, which is one of the reasons that we are involved in portable operations, to be ready if needed in the case of a natural or other disaster. I also have a “to do” item on my list now and that is to get the 2.3KHz wide IF filter for the FT817. Perhaps I can get one at a discount price at the big hamfest at Friedrichshafen which is at the end of the month. I also realised on this activation that if i use a different hole on the SOTABeams dipole centre piece (one that is not meant for this purpose) I can get the dipole to sit on the top section, rather than slipping down to the second section, giving the aerial about another 50cm in height.
73 ’til the next Summit!