DD5LP – June 28th. 2014 – DM/BW-349 Aacheck

Preparation:

This activation was planned by Phil G4ODK and Nick G4OOE like OE/VB-512 the day before. This activation was planned for the afternoon of the second day of the Friedrichshafen HAMRADIO event. In fact two summits were to be activated by Phil & Nick and I asked if I could follow them to the first one (Aacheck) but not the second as I had an appointment in the evening that I needed to get back in good time for.

Aacheck-map

The Location:

Access to Aacheck is through the village of Betenbrun up a small road that then becomes a track up the side of a field, before getting steeper and rockier as it goes between two rows of trees to a plateau that is the summit.

The Activation:

Upon arrival we decided to park before the rocky track and walk as we could see the summit about 25m metres above us and about 250m up the track.To avoid interference we each took a different band Phil-30m CW, Nick 40m-CW and I took 20m-SSB. We each then headed to a different corner of the plateau. I found a useful seat alongside a stone road at the far side of the plateau and started to set up there. I knew the internal LIPO battery in the FT-817 would not be fully charged as I had not charged it since the activation on the previous day. I also knew that the QRP amp was not working, so I planned to set up the FT-817 running barefoot, powered externally from a 5000maH LIPO through a “battery booster” that takes the voltage up from 11v to 13.8v. After putting up the antenna I unpacked the rest of the equipment and connected it all up …. NOTHING! No power was getting to the 817! Rather than fault-find on the summit, I rewired my connections to avoid the battery booster so that the 3C LIPO connected directly to the external power socket of the 817. Upon inspection later, I found the input power lead into the battery booster, inside its box, had come off and when reconnected all works again. These power issues on the summit had cost me time however, so it was time to get going. Searching around 20m to find a free frequency was almost impossible as the “King of Spain” contest was apparently on and everyone was using which ever frequency they could find and all were so strong so that they appeared to be splattering over 25KHz each side of the frequency they were centred upon. The best frequency I could find had a humming carrier on it that was S5 with me but that was all I could find, so I spotted myself and started calling CQ. This activation took longer to get contacts than any I had done before!

On 20m I had only got 3 contacts when Phil & Nick packed up to go to their next summit. As they had vacated the other bands I switched to 40m as the rain started to come down, after some more calls and self-spotting Mike G6TUH came back to make contact number 4 and to be safe Heinz OE5HDN came back after Mike, which made the activation successful. I now packed up as quickly as possible trying to avoid getting the rig or log book wet. When all was packed up and I set off back across the field, the rain stopped of course. Well that’s SOTA. I was lucky to get this activation in as it replaced the activation of DM/BW-088 Rangenberg that I had planned for the following day but was washed out by constant heavy rain (15 litres of water fell per square metre for pretty well the whole day!).

Here are some photos from the activation –

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Equipment:

FT817ND

SOTABeams linked dipole

6m Squid pole.

Log:

Activator-log

Conclusions:

A difficult activation with the power problems, the King of Spain contest and then the rain. It would have been a shame not to have achieved a qualified summit for one last contact, so thanks to Mike and Heinz especially for their contacts.

It would have been good to have the 2.3KHz roofing filter (purchased the previous day) in the FT817 to limit some of the QRO station problems. I have now installed it, so we’ll see if this €110,00 purchase does help or not.

Lessons learned –

Don’t assume equipment is working just because it has worked on several previous activations. Always be prepared to run a simpler configuration if needed after all it’s better to get on with a weak signal than not to get on at all.

73 ’til the next Summit!

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