DD5LP/P – November 1st 2018 – DL/AM-058 Hinteres Hoernle – or another success with the HF-PRO-2.

Preparation:

For a few days twenty metres has been performing surprisingly well (at least compared to the last year or so). November 3rd sees the annual NA-EU S2S event now renamed to the transatlantic S2S event as we had hoped some South American activators may join in. I had originally planned this summit for that event, however over the last week, because of high wind the seat lift has not been running one day and OK the next, so this was a risk for the big event and I chose to activate Hesselberg DM/BM-145 instead. As November 1st is a holiday in most of germany, I decided that one last test after changing the power supply box to no longer use the noisy “Buck converter” unit and building a new cardboard shade for the X108G’s – unreadable in sunlight – display, would be a good idea and if the seat lift is running, then why not Hinteres Hoernle?

The equipment would be the X108G and battery box and headphones with the standard 6m mast and two wire dipoles plus my tripod and the Kommunica HF-PRO-2. Also water and all the usual fix it bits. Normally this would go in a small rucksack and a photo bag but this time I decided that as I would be taking the seat lift one rucksack with anything would be a better idea. So I dug out my full-sized rucksack, that I know the photo bag fits exactly in its bottom section and everything else went in the top section. Everything that is apart from the 6m mast and the HF-PRO-2 which even when taken apart is still over a metre long. these went strapped onto the two sides of the rucksack. This has the advantage that the antenna doesn’t stick out “too” far above the rucksack.

Great idea I thought and all was ready for the next day, where I had planned a casual 1pm departure with a 1 hour drive to the valley station of the lift and then, I was thinking a 15 minute ride up the mountain and then a casual 15-20 minute walk to the summit, right ? … wrong! Read further.

The Location:

Hinteres Hoernle is located above the village of Bad Kohlgrub, from where you take the seat lift. Remember to take the small tab from your parking ticket with you when buying a ticket for the lift, as they rebate 50% of the parking fee, so that the lift (up and down) plus my parking cost only €10. The “Hoernle Schwabebahn” built in 1956 (and it shows it), takes you up from Bad Kohlgrub (very slowly – it takes the best part of 30 minutes) to the “Vorderer Hoernle” (front horn). From there you walk past or over the “Mittlere Hoernle” (middle horn) before you get to the highest of the three summits – the Hinteres Hoernle (Rear horn). In my memory this walk would take 15-20 minutes (I had activated this summit in 2015). The actual signposts on the track indicate a 40 minute walk – and that is without obstructions – read on …

The Activation:

Before I set off at 12:40pm I was having second thoughts about the large rucksack. It appears putting the contents of two bags into one bag makes that bag weight 50% more than the combined weight of the two bags alone – too late now, I’ll have to manage. The drive down to Bad Kohlgrub went without incident although a new bridge and some changed road junctions at Bad Kohlgrub may confuse some GPS Navis if they’re not up to date.  I arrived at the Bad Kohlgrub valley station of the lift at 1:30pm and managed to get one of the last free parking spots. it looks like a lot of people had decided to visit the mountains on this public holiday.

Well the journey nearly ended before it started. While getting into the moving seats I nearly fell but luckily the attendant grabbed me from behind, by the collar, and pulled me back into the seat and I then manhandled the very heavy rucksack onto the seat beside me. That rucksack was far too heavy! Later, on the trip down the attendant took the rucksack off me and put it in the seat next to me before the seat reached me for getting on. Getting off this lift at either the top or bottom is very simple – you just stand up and the seat splits in two and goes around you. What a neat system! Anyway, I’m now on the lift catching my breath after the near accident and looking at the time. I had forgotten to ask when the lift stops working – I know the last ride up is at 4pm, but what about coming down – I must ask when I get to the top… I forget to of course! The lift takes ages to get up the mountain but it’s nice saying hello to the people passing you going back down to the village having been at the restaurant at the top of the lift for lunch. It’s cold but sunny and getting warmer all the time – of course I have my thick winter jacket on, something that over time I will regret. Once we reach the top I disembark without any problems, exit the lift station and take a few photos before heading off in the direction of Hinteres Hoernle. I think I’m running late for my schedule and it’s only after walking for about ten minutes that I realise that I forgot to check when the last lift would be going down. Oh well, I’m not going back, I’ll just have to be back their by 4pm to be certain of a ride down – otherwise it’s an up to 4.5 km walk down the mountain depending upon the route taken.  I now see the signpost saying I have a 40 minute walk in front of me, so I press on, that is until I come to a fallen tree that is totally blocking the track. If I didn’t have the rucksack I could have climbed over or through the tree branches as I saw someone else do but with the rucksack with the antenna pointing out of the top of it, no chance. So I had to scramble up the hill a little then cross behind a copse of trees and then get back down to the track. I could see by the number of footprints, this is what many people had already done today.

In my usual style I kept pushing on, passing lots of people and only occasionally stopping to catch my breath on some of the steeper parts. The sign on the path says to always stay on the main path but as Hinteres Hoernle came into view it was obvious everyone was simply going straight up the side of it as the route is far shorter than the one I had taken a year ago, so I did the same. I had taken almost exactly 30 minutes from the lift to a flat patch just down from the Holy Cross on the very summit, where there was room to set-up without obstructing anyone as it was quite busy by this time. This was about 2:30PM. I decided initially to set up for 20 metres as that was the band I was hoping would be open and the fact that the tripod and HF-PRO-2 was the quickest antenna to set up and needed the least space. I had them set up and the rest of the gear unpacked in about 15 minutes.

I spotted and started calling CQ SOTA and to my surprise my first chaser was N4EX, Richard in North Carolina. More contacts followed and in the end I had two US contacts, one from Northern Ireland, one from Cornwall (south-west England), one from Sweden, one from Greece and two German station contacts, all in just over 10 minutes. 20m was playing good again. I might have bagged some more contacts but a couple with a dog came along and expressed some interest, so I bent their ears about Ham radio for about 10 minutes. Not the dog – he got bored and went off to explore on his own on the top of the “Hinteres Hoernle” mountain. By the time I finished that conversation, I put out another couple of CQ calls and as there was no reply, I started to pack up as I was running short on time to get back to the lift. I had everything packed by 3:30pm and was heading back to the lift where I arrived as planned right on 4pm to find they were still going to be operating until 10 to 5. Oh well! Time to settle in for a calm 30 minute ride back down the mountain and think about what had been achieved.

I was blessed with sunny weather, which as I had dressed for the cold meant I sweated a lot on the climb up with the heavy back-pack! I had forgotten how far the summit was from the top of the chair lift and that along with the slow lift meant my time on the mountain transmitting was limited but at the end it was a lovely day out.

Photos:

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Equipment:

Xiegu X108G and battery box.

Modified HAMA tripod.

Kommunica Power HF-PRO-2 loaded vertical antenna.

Thick plastic painters sheet.

New cardboard sunshade for the X108G display.

Other items taken but not used:

SOTABeams Band-Hopper linked dipole.

6 metre fibreglass “Squid Pole”.

Aerial-51 UL-404 OCF dipole.

Log:

Conclusions:

The Good: With the diodes dropping the voltage in the battery box in place of the buck converter there’s no more RFI from the box. Activation achieved with just the new Komunica HF-PRO-2 antenna – I did not need to put up the mast and dipole to get contacts.

The Bad: The new cardboard sunshade didn’t help at all …. but …. I found that standing the full-sized rucksack behind me (and so blocking the sun) did work and I could read the display. Now I don’t intend carrying the large rucksack to any more summits but perhaps I can work out some other kind of lightweight screen that I could set-up behind me using my hiking sticks (which would also have been useful on this outing but got left at home).

The Ugly: Me stumbling along with that rucksack – two lighter bags are better than one over heavy one!

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – September 17th. 2015 – DL/AM-058 Hinteres Hörnele.

Preparation:

I had been scheduling and rescheduling an activation over the last couple of weeks, between Hinteres Hörnle and Laber. I had not activated Hinteres Hörnele despite the fact that the bottom of the chairlift that takes you part of the way is less than an hour away from where I now live.  Hinteres Hörnele was equal first in the number of activations in the DL/AM region (now with my activation it will be the most activated). The inference is therefore that it’s an easy activation. It isn’t! The other top activated DL/AM is Peissenberg is literally a drive up to the car park, walk up past the church and set-up activation.

In past activations I had been trying to get a lightweight pack with a simple vertical antenna, partially as I was planning to activate this summit as I knew some amount of walking was going to be required. I did not have very much success with my lightweight antenna and pack tests and as band propagation continues to be bad, I decided to take the full standard (2 packs), including the OCF inverted-V dipole and fibreglass squid pole. Over 12 kilos in all, probably nearer 15 when food and water was added.

The Location:

Access to Hinteres Hörnele starts with a ride up on a rickety old chair lift for 20 minutes, from Bad Kohlgrub, rattling over each pylon as you go up – or you can take about 2 hours to walk up the 5Km track if you prefer. This then gets you to ZeitBerg or Vorderer Hornele from there it’s indicated as a 45 minute hike to the Hinterer Hornele, passing Mitlerere Hornele and its restaurant HörnleAlm on the way.

The Activation:

This summit is one of those that as you get closer, it appears further away because the track weaves around the hills. I don’t walk at the same speed as the sign posters calculated this walk, so for me I was there in under 30 minutes, but totally exhausted! This walk included moving several cows that were blocking the track. No danger, they’re used to the public – so much so that there are signs up asking you not to stroke them!

Once at the top, the views were brilliant and being enjoyed by about eight other people at the same time. A constant flow of walkers were approaching from the distance. So there was no way I could set up a fibre glass mast and the Inverted-V OCF dipole at the cross on the summit. The wind on the top was also blowing heftily, so if I had set up there, I suspect no one would have been able to hear me for the wind in any case!

So I headed back into a more sheltered wooded area, just below the summit and found a great little closed in hut with a bench – ideal for the station – out of the wind and away from the public. I then took 20 minutes to get the antenna up in between all the tree branches. Not ideal but all I could manage. I connected the FT817 directly to the antenna to hear lots of strong (read QRO) stations on the QRP calling frequency – why did I expect anything else?   So I searched around and found what sounded to be a clear frequency, started calling and also put up a spot, after a little while I managed two contacts but both with low signal reports for my signal, so I decided to pull out the Ramsey amp to boost my signal from 5W to about 25W, connected it all in, the fan started, the noise level on the rig went up and I hit the PTT key at which point the fan stopped telling me that the supply had been broken. This has happened several times before and it is usually a sign that one or both of the transistors in the amp have gone short and blown the fuse. So no “QRO” for me today! I continued on 40m for a while with just the 5w from the FT817 for a further six contacts before heading up to 20m and there Phil OBK and Don RQL came booming in. It seems that 40m conditions were not as good as I had first thought and 20m is still a better option at the moment. I then saw Hermann DL/OE5HFM/P spotted. Unfortunately despite several calls and others telling Hermann that he had an S2S calling, he couldn’t hear me, whereas Hermann was probably 5-4 with me. I guess this reflects my power and antenna again.

As it was, I was now running a little late and as well as the winds the sky was getting more and more black, so it was time to pack up and head back. The walk back seemed a lot shorter (OK for the most part it was down hill), probably 20 minutes. On the way I stopped twice, once to take my light weatherproof jacket off as the sun came out and then once to put it back on as the wind got up and some rain started.

I was a little afraid that the seat lift might be out of service or at least provide a worrying ride down in the winds but as it turned out, that side of the mountain is protected from the winds and all went well with the 20 minute ride back down.

A little unwelcome surprise was waiting for me when I got back to my car – a parking ticket. Normally at a ski lift the car park is owned by the company running the lift and the parking fee is part of the lift ticket. In Bad Kohlgrub it seems the local council own the car park at the ski lift and I missed the one ticket machine that was there. Oh well, it’s only a 10 Euro fine – could have been worse.

Photos:

 

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Aerial-51 OCF Inverted-V antenna.

6 metre squid pole.

Log:

Activator_log

Conclusions:

The Ramsey amplifier let me down again. At times where either propagation isn’t good or there are many stations on the band activating a summit with only 5 Watts is difficult. Without being able to self spot it would be impossible.

Trees seem to be becoming my enemy absorbing what little power I am emitting. Some summits really need a self supporting solution that is light and packs easily into one rucksack along with all the other gear.

73 ’til the next Summit!