Mike 2E0YYY contacted me suggesting that we might try for some long path contacts into VK/ZL as conditions had improved a little from the horrible state they had been in for the last couple of months. This would mean me chosing a summit that I could get to by 8am local time, which rules out several nice summits as they need the cable car lift to get to them and they don’t start running until 9am or later.
I looked at the summits that would be accessible and realised that I hadn’t activated Irschenhausen for the last two years and I had made a contact into VK from there. So Irschenhausen it would be. I would use the usual kit – the FT817, my small modified Ramsey amplifier to take that up to 20 or 25 watts, feeding the SOTABeams Band hopper linked dipole on a 5 metre pole. I would also take my screw-in base as well, as I have found that it’s easier to carry that than look for a suitable post or small tree.
I have moved my home QTH since my original activation of this summit, so the drive to my parking spot has increased to nearly an hour. Irschenhausen is located above the village of the same name just off the B11 road running north-south down the Eastern side of Starnberger Sea – one of five large lakes near Munich. The walk from the parking spot takes about 40 minutes, first along a field track and then into the forest and keep going upwards at every junction until you find yourself at the highest spot.
The alarm was set for 5:45am and all the gear laid out ready to be picked up and taken. I actually woke at 5:30 am and was able to leave by 6:30am rather than my planned 7am, which worked out well as I missed most of the heavy traffic en-route. The weather forecast was for a dry morning, but rain to appear in the afternoon, however as I planned to be back home by 11am, this didn’t concern me. On getting to the turn off from the B11 to Irschenhausen, I saw half the road was blocked off with a barrier and a sign saying that access was only possible up to the restaurant in the village – not knowing where that was, I decided to try in any case but as I got into the village, my next turn-off was also half closed with a sign that said access only possible up to the road works and no further. Again not knowing how far up the road the road works were, I decided to try anyway – it might just mean some more walking. As it turned out, despite a trough cut all the way up the road, that had been recently filled in (but not fully up to the road level), I managed to get all the way to my parking spot. I had been lucky.
Once I got the gear out of the car, I started my walk, which seemed longer than I remembered but indeed it did take just over 20 minutes to walk to the summit. As I set off I saw a wind turbine that hadn’t been there at my last visit and I hoped it wasn’t on the summit – in fact it turned out to be much further away and caused me no issues at all. This summit has a forest all over it – which I believe may account for some of the problems that I was later to have on the bands. In any case, on arrival at the summit I screwed the sun umbrella base into the ground and dropped my 6m fibreglass mast into it. After running the dipole out and setting up that station on the ground on my faithful painter’s thick plastic sheet, I started by listening around 20 metres. It was very quiet and it was hard to find more than one or two stations on. To add to the problem the local cell phone networks were playing up meaning that getting a self spot out was very hit and miss. It seems that although Vodaphone indicates a 4G Internet data link from this summit, it doesn’t always work and Telekom’s 3G link often dropped to “edge” (slow) speeds.
To start with there were a lot of late season mosquitos – most of which I flattened before they could bite me, but I did go away with a few “souvenir” bites. I was surprised to find these so late in summer and so far away from water but I guess the forest creates a damp climate for them.
As the main reason for the activation was to try for a long path contact into VK or ZL I continued trying on 20m and just by tuning around found a couple of interesting contacts. One contact was with Jesus, EA9ACF in Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in Northern Africa. He was booming in. After a while my self spots got out and I managed contacts with a few of the usual chasers but QSB was a real problem. Later I heard a Japanese station JA8COE, Tako at a true S9 and then what appeared to be an Italy – Australia net where a station in NSW and one in Queensland, Australia were getting through at about 5-5 or 5-6. I had no chance of getting into the net or through Tako’s pile-up but the path was definitely open. I also listened for some other SOTA activations in Europe that had been spotted without success but thanks to perseverance from Christos and Stavros (SV2OXS and SV2RUJ), I managed an S2S with SV/MC-089. Once I decided 20 metres wasn’t improving and while I had alerted, I would operate on 40 metres as well as 20m, I decided to take down the antenna, adjust the links and switch the 817 and amplifier and try 40 metres. It was like chalk and cheese. The band was full! Finding a free frequency was difficult and after one SOTA QSO would normally become unusable from the splatter of other stations, so I was constantly moving and re-spotting (when the spotting worked). After a while I decided that time was short as we were to visit friends in the afternoon and I had to first get home and ready for the second trip of the day. Pack-up and return to where the car was parked and no sign of road work blocking my exit, so it was back home before the traffic got worse later in the day.
SOTABeams Band Hopper linked dipole.
LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.
Modified QAMP amplifier (35W on 40m).
Thick plastic painters sheet.
Sun Umbrella screw-in base.
Whilst band conditions were difficult on 20 metres the trip out was worth it as the fact that I heard a Japanese and two Australian (presumably super) stations, does mean band conditions are getting better.
I suspect the trees on this forested summit may have been part of the reason that I did not get out very well. The use of a vertical antenna may have been better for DX but it would have suffered even more from the tree landscape.
For just one point, there has to be a reason to come to this summit (for me it was the activation time) there are several just as easy to get to later in the day better summits.
73 ’til the next Summit!