January 26th. is Australia Day. One of the three days in the year when VK stations can change their calls to start with AX rather than VK (the other two days are Anzac day and International telecommunications day). As John VK6NU had said he would be out late enough VK-Time (late afternoon) to hopefully catch some long-path contacts into Europe, I decided to go out to a local summit (early morning here in Germany) to try for an S2S contact back to Australia.
I managed to complete the move of my Ramsey QAMP from it’s flimsey plastic case into a die-cast aluminium case the day before and testing it, it actually still worked apart from the fact that the power LED that I had added didn’t light up (swapped its leads around and even that then worked!).
I had made contacts both to chasers and activators via long path from DL/AM-001 before, but not at this time of year. In any case, if you don’t try you’ll never know.
I also hoped to get some 10 metre contacts for the current challenge as no one has activated this summit on 10m before.
Peissenberg is a drive-up summit with about 300 metres from the car park to walk to my comfortable operating position. I have been to the summit on several occasions before so I needed no map to find it. The views are fantastic, especially early morning and with the luxury of toilets on-site this would be an ideal summit for someone new to SOTA to have as their first summit activation. In my case it’s one of a few summits that are less than an hours drive away from home and as such suitable for early morning activations.
After a non-eventful drive down, I started to set-up my gear on the usual bench and strapped the 5m fibreglass mast to the railings as normal using “Bongo-ties” (these are great things – rubber bands with a small wooden toggle on them (that looks like a miniature bongo drum, hence the name)) so that you simply wrap them around objects and clip the ends back into each other. You can of course tie two together to get extra length, which I have done. While sorting out the rig and log book I suddenly saw the mast tipping over as one of the ties had released itself and fired off down the mountain, never to be seen again. I normally have a spare with me but could not find it, so I then had to re-arrange the base of the mast so that it would be held sufficiently well with just one double bongo-tie. With that problem sorted I started to unwind the dipole sides and the small spool that I use to wind the wires on fell apart and in the process knotted up the wire and cord. This of course took a little while to untangle sufficiently for me to be able to install the antenna. The day was not starting well and all of this in under zero degrees temperatures my fingers were already feeling frozen.
Despite these couple of problems, I got on air at my alerted time and started putting out a CQ on 10 metres and self-spotted. Nothing! I tried for 15 minutes, still nothing, so I moved to 20m put the amp in circuit and started calling there – again no replies. I wondered if the antenna was simply not working, but the SWR looked OK. I tuned around and found a Swedish station activating a WWFF park, so gave him a call, got through and got a report – so I was getting out! Some more tries and spotting on both 10m and 20m resulted in one chaser call on 20m. I then saw the spot for John VK6NU in Australia but couldn’t hear a thing from him. The conditions on both 20m and 10m were horrible. So in order to at least qualify the summit, I moved to 40m and the difference was immediate – pile-ups despite the fact that Peissenberg is only a 1 point summit, it seemed the whole world (or at least all of Europe) wanted a contact with it!
So at the end of the day a successful normal activation, unfortunately with no VK or 10m contacts though. Better luck next time?
At least the QAMP worked without issues in the field!
Spiderbeam Aerial-51 UL-404 off centre fed dipole.
5 metre squid pole.
Ramsey QAMP 20/40m amplifier
Unlucky with the 10m and 20m band conditions (10m improved later in the day).
January is not the month to try for Long Path SSB contacts into VK.
73 ’til the next Summit!