DD5LP/P – March 24th. 2017 – DL/AL-169 Auerberg & DL/AL-179 Weichberg.

Preparation:

After failing on these two summits over the previous week, I was determined to bag them, before the winter bonus ran out. This was to be two “normal” activations, not trying for long path into VK and not trying out new equipment. So the standard FT-817 + home made amplifier + Aerial-51 OCF antenna (I used this antenna rather than the trapped dipole as that one still has the 60 metre extensions on it and hence needs more space for installation) were packed ready.

The Locations:

Please refer to the previous two blog entries.

The Activation:

These turned out to be two of the quickest activations that I have ever made, not because of the weather, although that wasn’t very pleasant with a constant wet mist hanging around, not because of a tight timescale, rather because after working about 8 chasers in 8 minutes on both summits, there were no more chasers!

The drive to Auerberg, the first summit of the day went well, although the last kilometre or so was at a snails pace due to the fog on what is a narrow road. When I arrived in the car park, I was able to calmly collect together the two bags of equipment and stroll up the hill and around to the back of the church where I had set up many times before. One bench had gone but the one still there made a satisfactory spot for the station. The fence posts gave their usual service as mast support and ties off points for the ends of the antenna.

Once up and running after a spot there was a pile-up of many of the usual chasers, whom I worked through and then after one last call, just caught Holger OE7HPI in the noise (too close for HF) but after that no more chasers, so I packed everything up and headed back down to the car.

Once back in the car, I decided to let the Navi tell me the route over to Weichberg – I would have normally simply headed back into the village and then taken the normal road between the two villages Bernbeuren and Rettenbach but the Navi decided to take me cross-country along narrow one-lane roads, past farm yards and other businesses, but it got me there. Next time I’ll take the simpler route which I suspect although longer, would have been quicker.

The weather didn’t improve by the time I got to the car park for Weichberg and the mud on the walking track up through the trees was worse than the day before, but still passable. On arriving, a group of what looked like builders were just leaving, having been into the small chapel on the summit. Some trees have been cleared over the last year from Weichberg, so it was good that I had brought my screw-in base to support the mast and again the Aerial-51 antenna was quickly up and the station laid out on the convenient picnic table and I was on the air. By this time 40 metres was a little busier and signals in general 1 or 2 S-points stronger than at Auerberg. After again eight contacts (some of them followed me from the earlier summit) the flow of chasers ran out and I decided as the weather was still cold and wet, to pack up and head back home arriving a good 1.5 hours earlier than originally planned.

I monitored the internal LIPO in the amplifier on both activations and all 4 cells appeared to discharge at about the same rate, so I’m not sure whether the problem that I had about a week ago was just a fluke or the alarm board that I had connected may have caused the problem?

Photos – Auerberg:

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Photos – Weichberg:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Aerial-51 OCF wire dipole antenna.

LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.

Modified QAMP amplifier (35W on 40m).

Thick plastic painters sheet

Log Auerberg:

Log Weichberg:

Conclusions:

Going back to a reliable band and using known equipment can ensure a quick and problem free activation. This is nice for a change but I’d still like to try the J-Pole antennas out again once the weather and radio conditions get a little better.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP/P – February 5th. 2016 – 5 Summits in a day.

Preparation:

The 10m/6m challenge finishes on February 13th. 2016 and I wanted to pack in some more 10m summit activations before it ended. Without travelling to a different country (e.g. Austria), an activation on 6m is not possible as portable 6m operation is illegal in Germany. I have already tried going to two Austrian summits and was unable to get even one 6m contact on either of them, so I decided to look at any local summits where I have not been able to get a 10m contact from during either of the two halves of the challenge.

I activated DL/AM-001 Peissenberg on January 26th, again with no 10m contacts, so I wanted to try that summit again – it is also one of the closest and easiest summits for me to get to. As propagation on 10 metres was absolutely horrible, I alerted the local amateurs to my activation plans in the hope that I could at least manage one ground wave / line of sight contact on 10m.

The other local summits that I had not activated on 10m in the challenge period so far, were DL/AM-178 Ammerleite (tried in December again without success), DL/AM-177 Kirnberg, DL/AL-169 Auerberg and DL/AL-179 Weichberg. Making five summits in all – with the drives between these summits and the walking times from where I will be parking my car, this will take a complete day.

With mixed weather, there was the real possibility that one or more of the summits may not be accessible. In this case I would try to activate it/them the following week.

As some of the summits required a fair walk, I took the small radio kit, but also packed the larger kit in the car in case I decided I needed it.

The Locations:

Peissenberg – DL/AM-001

About 45 minutes from home and a logical first summit for the loop of activations. This summit I last activated on January 26th 2016, and hence would not gain any activator or activator bonus points, but perhaps a 10m contact.

Ammerleite – DL/AM-178

About 30 minutes drive from Peissenberg but then with a 20 minute climb to the summit.This summit I last activated on December 31st 2015 and  hence would be able to gain both activator and winter bonus points along with another 10m summit point if all went well.

Kirnberg – DL/AM-177

About 20 minutes drive from Böbing where I park the car for Ammerleite. I have not activated this summit this year so as well as the hoped for 10m multiplier point in the challenge, I should be able to get the summit activator point as well as the 3 winter bonus points.

Auerberg DL/AL-169

The trip over into the Allgäu region takes a while from Kirnberg, around 45-50 minutes. Like Kirnberg as I have not activated this summit this year as well as the hoped for 10m multiplier point in the challenge, I should be able to get two summit activator points as well as the 3 winter bonus points.

Weichberg DL/AL-179.

Just up the road from Auerberg, this is the shortest drive between the summits about 15-20 minutes and again I have not activated this summit this year so as well as the hoped for 10m multiplier point in the challenge, I should be able to get the one summit activator point as well as the 3 winter bonus points if all goes well.

So there’s the plan – 5 summits, all of which I have activated before and hence know the best approach to each of them. A possibility of earning 5 10m challenge summit multiplier points, 5 activator points and 12 winter bonus points.

The Activation:

The planned day was on and then off a couple of times as the weather forecast kept changing. Friday the 5th. of February I set off expecting some rain showers but nothing much and that the snow would have gone from most of the summits. This turned out not to be true. The rain never came, but the snow was still there at all summits making access to Ammerleite, Kirnberg and Weichberg particularly difficult when climbing through snow drifts and sliding on wet, slushy ground.

Peissenberg, the first summit turned out to be horribly cold and after getting just one contact with Robert DJ2MKR (a local station to me here) on 10m using the loaded vertical on a tripod, I packed up while I still had some feeling in my fingers. If the weather was to stay as cold as this, it was going to be a difficult day! I also was not happy with the SWR from the vertical and so decided to use the usual 5m fibreglass pole and Spiderbeams OCF antenna on all following summits, even taking the 40m/20m amplifier and its batteries with me as well (but never using it).

The next summit was Ammerleite or rather Schnalz as the actual summit is called. I used the longer (official) access route following the closure of the road to the easier access point last year. After parking I picked up the two bags that contain the larger radio configuration and set off up the track. This is quite a steep ascent up a forestry track which in parts was like a river and in other parts very slippery. The final approach to the summit is across two fields which were still partly covered by snow drifts, making the ascent “interesting” as I was certainly the first person up this “track” since the snow had fallen. Once on the summit, setting up took a little longer than normal, this time not because of the cold but rather because of high winds. In any case once set-up, I was able again to get a contact with Robert on 10 metres (but with no one else). I then changed to the zoo that is 40m and made another 13 contacts before packing up. Although the short activation at Peissenberg had put me ahead of schedule the extra ascent time through the snow to Ammerleite had lost that time and I knew I would have to take the descent slower than I would like, so I was concerned not to lose any more time.

Once I was back at the car and had warmed up a little, I checked my route to Kirnberg and set off, eating a sandwich en-route. The distance from the parking spot to the summit at Kirnberg is not far but again, it was made difficult by the still laying snow as was the erection of the dipole antenna when I reached the summit. While Peissenberg had been very cold and Ammerleite very windy, Kirnberg turned out to be both very cold and very windy, with the result that I was eager to get the activation done and get on with the long drive over to Auerberg as soon as I could. Once again Robert on 10m was the first in the log but despite several calls I was unable to find anyone else on 10m. Rather than the zoo on 40m, I decided to try 20m this time to pick up the needed extra 3 contacts. In fact I got 8 more contacts before the chasers ran out, so I packed up again and slid my way back down to the car.

The trip from Kirnberg to Auerberg took a little longer than planned as I missed a turn off and only when I realised this when I saw I was approaching a different SOTA summit (DL/AL-170 Zweisselberg). So I had to turn around and back-track until I found a way through to the road that I should have been on. I had hoped that the Panorama Restaurant at Auerberg may have been open, so I could have got a warm drink, but unfortunately it wasn’t. It’s probably not worth them opening except at weekends at this time of year. Once I was set up behind the church on the summit, reliable Robert was there again on 10m for me but this time I also managed a contact with Michael DJ5AV near Lake Constance on 10m aswell. I saw that there were a few other activators on while I was at Auerberg and managed an S2S contact with Hans DL/PA3FYG/P but with the other three activators I called, I simply could not get through the pile-ups to them with just my 5w (with cold fingers, I didn’t try to install the amplifier to give me 25w instead of 5w and even with that boost I may not have been able to “break the pile-up”). I worked a total of 25 other 40m contacts from Auerberg in about 50 minutes. At this point, I was running behind schedule, so it was time to shut down and pack up again and see if indeed I could manage all 5 planned summits in the day and get home at a reasonable time.

Auerberg to Weichberg was probably the shortest drive of the day at about 15 minutes. The parking spot for Weichberg is not normally a long walk from the summit, but in this case no one had used the track up the hillside and I had to “break the track” through the snow to mark the way up to the chapel on the summit. The 4 or 5 people who came up while I was operating probably appreciated my marking the track – on the way down it was a lot clearer and easier to negotiate as it had been used more. Weichberg would have been a good summit to use the vertical on a tripod from as there is only limited places to install the fibreglass squidpole but as I had left the vertical in the car, I was not going to go down to get it and so the dipole went up as best it could. One call on 10m and there was Robert, reporting this was the weakest he had heard me but I still broke over the top of some S5-S7 noise he was having on 10m from some local installation. Apart from Robert, I worked a further 7 stations on 20m, with some weak reports. It was only after getting home that I realised that the FT-817 had switched down to 2.5w output from its maximum 5w due to the battery voltage dropping. I had a spare (charged) battery with me however on Weichberg, I just wanted to bag as many chasers as could hear me and then pack up and head home to a warm bath tub! So it was after 25 minutes of operating on Weichberg, I packed up for a last time, happy with the fact that I had managed to activate all 5 summits but glad it was over. The state of the paths and the fact that there was still quite a lot of snow around had surprised me as all snow at home had gone some days before.

Photos:

DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

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DL/AM-178 Ammerleite.

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DL/AM-177 Kirnberg.

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DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

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DL/AL-179 Weichberg.

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Diamond RHM-8B on tripod (used on Peissenberg only)

Spiderbeam Aerial-51 UL-404 off centre fed dipole on 5 metre squid pole (all other locations).

Log:

DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

Activator Log  DL/AM-178 Ammerleite.

Activator Log  DL/AM-177 Kirnberg.

Activator Log  DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

Activator Log  DL/AL-179 Weichberg.

Activator LogConclusions:

At this time of year, fives summits in one day is probably the most I could have achieved. In summer 7 may be possible as I drove past one summit (Rentschen) which I had already activated on 10m and activated this year and so would get no points for it and the DL/AL-170 Zweisselberg summit that I almost reached by mistake would probably also be a possible seventh candidate!

73 ’til the next summit! ….. or summits?

DD5LP – February 26th. 2015 – DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

Preparation:

Having not activated for over a month, the urge was great and as this was an especially nice, sunny (if still cold) day, I decided to reactivate a favourite summit – Auerberg. Actual preparation was simple for this summit; check the route, decide which antenna and mast I’ll use (and put the others in the car just in case). Take a sheet of plastic to cover the likely wet wooden seat outside the church and then set-off with my two “go bags”.

The Location:

Since moving last year this summit is now only about 40 minutes away from where I live rather than the hour plus previously. It is a really beautiful spot with the classic church dominating the summit and a restaurant walking distance down the hill from it. Unfortunately this restaurant and hotel is closed until the 3rd. of March as normally at this time of year they don’t get many visitors. Their busy time is spring through autumn when it is a favourite hang-out for bikers cruising the Allgau area that it sits in. I’d love to ride a motorbike up there, the long curved winding road is ideal for motorbikes. If someone wants to make a “SOTA holiday” this would be an ideal spot to stay.

The Activation:

I arrived at Auerberg almost an hour before my planned start time and despite the sub-zero temperatures when not in the sun, manged to quickly put up the mast and antenna (the aerial-51 asymmetrical dipole this time) and set myself up on the same seat that I used last year. This time however I needed to crack some ice off it and put the plastic sheet I had brought with me, on it. As it was still icy underfoot, I decided to add my clip on spikes to my boots, which was a very good idea in these conditions.

I intended to start on 20m with the hope of some late long path into VK, but it was too late. Then I saw that Hans PA3PYG was active on DM/BW-159 on 40m as DL/PA3PYG/P so I went over to 40m and after a couple of calls managed an S2S. I then went onto 20m and the contacts came thick and fast. When they dried up I went back to 40m and again got a lot more contacts there. QRM was not nearly as bad on these bands as I have experienced in the past and the Ramsey amp, seemed to give that little extra “punch” with reports being most 5-9 both ways. Once the flood on 40m ran out, I decided to try some other bands and got one contact on 15m with Jack OH3GZ (thanks Jack) but I could not raise one contact on 10m. On 15 & 10m I was only running 5W as my amplifier wont work that high but I also could not hear anything much on these bands so I guess the conditions were simply not there. I then had a final session back on 20m, picking up a couple of the regulars that I had missed before and then packed up, happy with the mornings efforts.

Photos:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND,

Aerial-51 model 404-UL asymmetric dipole.

6 metre squid pole.

Ramsey QAMP, modified to cover 40m & 20m (not used on 15m or 10m).

Green plastic sheet.

Clip on spikes for boots.

Log:

activation-log

Conclusions:

A very successful activation, however towards the end when the equipment had got really cold, the RF VOX switching in the Ramsey amplifier started “chattering”. I will need to increase the capacitance across the relay coil to stop this happening while not keeping the Tx on too long under normal temperatures.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – SOTA EUROPE – April 25th. 2014 – DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

Preparation:

As April 25th. was ANZAC day in Australia, it is a public holiday, so there may be some activators out and it is also one of only 3 days in the year when the AX prefix for Australia can be used instead of the usual VK prefix.

The plan for this activation was again to work chasers from VK and if possible also work Rod VK2LAX/P as a Summit-to-Summit contact. Martin DF3MC unfortunately had to work (as it is not a public holiday in Germany) and so could not make this activation either, maybe the next one.

Wx forecast – Sunny and fine.

Wx previous day – fine.

Wx forecast for following days – rain.

Actual Wx -sunshine but cool in the shaded area where I positioned myself.

Stats:

Total contacts: 44

Summit to Summit Contacts: 2 (both with Australia)

Contacts with VK/AX stations: 6

Total contacts 20m: 15

Total contacts 40m: 29

Time on Summit: 1.5 Hrs.

The Location:

Auerberg has easy road access with very little walking required. This is similar in some ways to Peissenberg with a church located on the absolute summit and a restaurant / cafe located next door. As my wife (who offered to come along) had twisted and badly bruised her ankle a couple of days previously, a summit with a lot of walking was out of the question.

Unlike the previous two summits that I activated, this summit has wonderful views for 360 degrees around it. The drive was just over an hour and I was set up and operational by 9am local (0700 UTC). This is a later start than my previous activations as I wanted to see how long the long path window to VK from DL was and indeed after about forty minutes the window closed and no more DX contacts were possible.

map

The Activation:

 This beautiful location of course attracts the public, but being a Friday morning, before lunchtime very little was happening. Around 11am a lot of motorcyclists and some more cars arrived, but by this time I was packed up and enjoying a warm drink at the cafe before we left. All in all a successful activation however band conditions on 20m were not nearly as good as the previous Sunday (they were exceptional that day). Once I switched from 20m to 40m, I was flooded with calls – a good pile-up for about 25 minutes. Remembering this was a Friday when many people are at work, I suspect an activation of a summit on a weekend could be quite a thrill.

I am also glad to report that my first contact was with Rod – AX2LAX/P a S-2-S contact as Rod had gone out to Mount Elliot (VK2/HU-093) to make some more chaser points. One more s-2-S and chaser contacts were made into VK all with more difficulty than during the activation the previous Sunday.

During the activation I was again faced with the situation where a station came up on frequency while I was using it. This time however I did not move frequency but rather kept calling and after two extremely strong Spanish and Italian stations called me for the SOTA contact the Eastern European stations (Rumania?) decided THEY should move. So a win for the little guy with the help of some high power chasers – thanks guys!

Equipment:

FT817ND

Ramsey QRP amp.

SOTABeams Linked dipole

Log:

log-1-of-2 log-2-of-2

73 ’til the next Summit!