DD5LP/P – October 14th 2018 – DL/AM-180 Berndiorfer Buchet.

Preparation:

As the opportunity came up to get to Berndorfer Buchet as part of an action to drive the wife somewhere and while I had just managed to match the Antron A-99 (CB/10m) vertical on 20m I decided this would be a great opportunity to try everything out before the following Saturdays UK/EU <> VK/ZL/JL S2S QSO Party. To support the Antron antenna, I have a large surveyors tripod so it would need to go along as well. to avoid having to struggle up the steep and slippery last part of the track to the actual summit will this extra weight, I did some research to see how far the activation zone extends and where possible find a spot with less trees as the vertical antennas do not perform well between trees.

In fact simply walking further along the access track brings one to a more open spot with plenty of space away from trees.

Of course I would pack the linked dipole and mast “just in case” something doesn’t work or 20 metres is dead and I need to go onto 40m (which the Antron can’t cover even with matching components.

A nice coincidence was that the 100 Watts and a Wire “FALLOUT” event was also going to be on, so I would take part in that as well by mentioning the group on-air as part of my CQ calls, and explain it to anyone who asked.

What I was to find out there was another, not so nice, coincidence in that the Scandinavian Activity contest was taking place also up until 1200 UTC and the bands would be full of crocodiles taking part in it (big mouths little ears). It’s especially a shame when these stations operate in the “non-contest” parts of the bands but no matter which contest it is, no one seems able to take action against these bad contest operators (note not all are bad, mainly it’s the wanna-bees – the top operators are no problem).

My timing would be about 0900 to 1000 UTC so too late for any hope of any contacts “down under” this time. So lets see how the equipment works out ….

The Location:

As mentioned above actual set-up location on Berndorfer Buchet was changed because of the heavy vertical antenna but the access is still the same track as is the parking spot on the road down to Kerschlach from the Weilheim to Starnberg B2 road.

The Activation:

As I carried all of the extra equipment to the different location, the ideal spot in the grassland seemed to be being worked on, there was a reel of cable there and some other item, so rather than set-up there only to be moved on if the workers came back (unlikely of course as it was Sunday), I decided to set up at the end of a small track, which was certainly better for the vertical antenna than if I had set up by the trig point stone in the forest on the actual top of the summit. after un-packing, I first set-up the Antron A-99 in the Surveyors tripod (pictures below) and then connected up the gear on the laid out painters plastic sheet. As it turned out this was NOT going to be an easy activation!

I experienced the following problems:

  1. The sunshine! – the display on my Xiegu X108G Chinese HF radio is totally unreadable in sunshine, I set up a lot of things to try to create shade and I had to strain my eyes to get on the right band let alone frequency!
  2. The voltage regulator board in my (2x 4S 5000maH LIPO) battery box decided to become a wide band noise generator across 20 & 40m. I’ve had this problem before but thought I had it fixed – it’s back.
  3. Even my Cell phone checking in to the cell towers managed to get into my headphones lead to cause audio problems.
  4. I set up the Antron A-99 vertical antenna initially to see how it performed but it picked up nothing but noise. Some of this was from the battery box but I think there’s something else on this summit that is also creating electrical noise, (perhaps something underground that was being worked on with the cables on the ground about 10m away from me) which of course vertical antennas are more prone to hear. I didn’t have this problem when I tested the antenna in my back garden.
  5. After taking down the Antron and putting up my fibreglass mast and linked inverted-V dipole, I found the BNC plug or the BNC to PL-259 adapter has an intermittent contact, so so careful positioning was needed to get this to stay connected.
  6. CONTEST TRAFFIC – both 20 & 40m was full with crocodiles – in principal for a test a contest can be useful but not when a contest station doesn’t even acknowledge you calling and later a station from the same part of the country gives you a 5-5 report – so the contest station can only be bothered with 5-9 signals it seems!

DESPITE ALL THAT, I did manage eleven contacts including 4 x S2S contacts (see log below) in just over an hour, by which time it was time to pack up and go and collect my wife.

Photos:

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Equipment:

  • Xiegu X108G Chinese 20w HF transceiver “outdoor” model.
  • Antron A-99 vertical antenna with capacitive matching circuit for 20m.
  • Surveyors tripod.
  • SOTABeams Band Hopper linked dipole.
  • LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.
  • Thick plastic painters sheet.
  • Sun Umbrella screw-in base (not used).

Log:

Conclusions:

I suppose it was too much to hope for that a newly organised antenna would work in the field without problems on my first attempt however as this model is used to great effect by 2E0YYY from the UK, I was hoping for better than what I got from the Antron. I don’t expect that I will take this antenna for next Saturdays S2S event. It needs some more “normal” activations before it can be trusted to work correctly.

I have had a look at the battery box and cannot see anything obvious why it should start and create so much noise on the bands. It did appear to be radiating from the board (over the air) rather than down the power cables, so this will need some work this coming week to try to resolve.

The SOTABeams linked dipole “saved the day” again and deserves a new BNC connector on its cable if that’s where the connection problem is – that’ll get checked and replaced if needed.

73 ’til the next Summit!

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DD5LP/P – April 8th. 2017 – DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet.

Preparation:

This activation would not earn me any new activator points as I have already activated this summit in 2017. It is however the closest to me at about 35 minutes drive from home. The day before after discussions with Karl M3FEH, who was planning to go out, I decided to go out early this Saturday morning as well. The main aim was to see if indeed a long path contact into VK or ZL was possible on 40 metres as 20 metres has not been performing so well in the last weeks. Also with an SFI of about 118 and K index of 1 – conditions should be good, right? No – in fact from Friday to Saturday the SFI dropped to 66 – the lowest it had been for several years and the K Index rose to 3, sometimes 4. I didn’t know this was going to happen of course and only found out after returning home, making what was achieved even more interesting.

No experiments with equipment – the FT-817ND plus amplifier and the 6m portable mast to support the Aerial-51 OCF dipole were prepared for the early start. The OCF having the advantage of covering both 20 & 40m. My sun umbrella support was also put with the two equipment bags and all was set.

The Location:

As mentioned above Berndorfer Buchet is the closest SOTA summit to my home QTH. It is on a hill above the village of Pähl south of the Ammersee lake in southern Bavaria. As you will see from the photos, the summit is completely wooded, which is not the best situation as they de-tune antennas (especially vertical), but I have made contacts into VK from here before, albeit when radio conditions were somewhat better than they are at present.

The Activation:

An early start – away before 7am local time (now 0500 UTC) and a clear run down the country roads across country to the summit. I was half expecting to see snow as I approach the summit however there was (thankfully) none to be seen. What I did see however was the sun rising through the early morning mist – it looked like a large orange ball. If I hadn’t been driving at the time I would have taken a photo of it – it was impressive.

The weather wasn’t bad but the temperature was down at 0.5°C and stayed that way for a couple of hours until the sun burnt through all of the mist.

The set-up of the mast, as you’ll see from one of the pictures ended up as a combination of a “natural” support and the sun umbrella base. The antenna went up without any major problems and the station got set up on the painters sheet on the ground. I started by tuning around 40 metres and indeed I coul hear some VK fixed stations in conversation as well as some US stations. But in the couple of opportunities I took to call them, I got no response, being flattened by far more powerful stations with larger antenna systems I expect.

After self-spotting, I got some european chasers but they were not as strong as normal. I suspect the skip distance on 40m was long at this time (just after 0600 UTC). I gave 20m a try and was rewarded with a call from John, ZL1BYZ but this was a difficult contact – especially from John’s end. Without John great antenna systems, I don’t think this would have been possible. Certainly an S2S with VK/ZL on 20m would not have been possible today. Later when I found out that the SFI had dropped so far, it was no surprise that contacts were difficult on 20m. The purpose of the activation was to check out 40m for DX so I switched back to that band and did some “search and pounce” operations, getting a few more contacts including the TM100VIMY special event station. Following that there was a run of the usual chasers and the conditions on 40m continued to improve on 40 metres for inter-Europe contacts (so the skip was getting shorter I think), these stations were still not as strong as usual, but better than earlier. One more trip to 20 metres was rewarded with VK1MD calling me along with a few European chasers. At this point I replaced the battery on the amplifier which had drained without the monitoring device saying anything – it showed down to about 90% and then simply stopped working (all 4 cells were actually at 0% as I found out when I got home). One final run on 40m, which was now back to european stations only, no NA or VK DX and then it was time to pack up and head back to the car.

All in all a good test. I could hear the VK stations on 40 metres at between 5-5 and 5-8. One was actually working portable with a dipole but admittedly running 300 watts, while another home station, again with a wire antenna was running just 95 watts. I think given possibly 50-100W and ideally a better antenna than a dipole, arranged S2S contacts between EU – VK and EU-NA early morning (EU time) would be possible. So as we continue down to Solar minimum perhaps we need to look to larger stations with more power on 40 metres for long path contacts to VK/ZL?

Unfortunately, although I saw Karl M3FEH spotted on SOTAWatch, I didn’t manage to hear him from this activation.

Photos:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Aerial-51 OCF horizontal wire dipole UL-04.

LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.

Modified QAMP amplifier (25W on 20m, 35W on 40m).

Thick plastic painters sheet

umbrella screw-in base.

Log:

Conclusions:

I have replaced the LIPO monitor unit with a second one that I have – unfortunately, this one doesn’t have such a big display but perhaps it will be more accurate! I think 40m EU-VK S2S contacts will be possible if both ends can run more power. As this will involve heavier gear and batteries, this would perhaps need to be an activation with more than one person and larger flatter summits would probably make things easier to install that small high peaks.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP/P – March 4th. 2017 – DL/AM-180 Burndorfer Buchet.

Preparation:

The purpose of this activation was to find out what the current time for the Long Path propagation opening was so that it would help my planning for the VK-EU S2S event on March 11th. Propagation conditions of late had been horrible and the chance of a contact into VK/ZL/JA on this activation would be rare but I might hear some of the QRO stations from VK or ZL and that would tell me what time I “might” get a contact the following weekend.Based on that information, I could calculate what time I would need to leave home to get to my chosen summit DM/BW-484 Bussen which is just less than 2 hours drive away.

In principle I would take exactly the same equipment that has got me contacts into VK from AM-180 previously, with one addition… Normally I strap the fibreglass mast to the side of a tree as there are no other supports available at Berndrfer Buchet however this means the antenna wires are close to the tree branches and probably de-tune because of this. Some years ago I bought a plastic, screw in the ground sun umbrella base. This I used with my aluminium mast when operating in VHF/UHF contests in Australia. I had never tried to use it as a base for the SOTA mast. If it worked, it would enable me to install the antenna away from direct contact with the trees. So another 2 kilograms was added to the equipment to be carried.

The Location:

Berndorfer Buchet is a one point, low summit but it is the closest to my home location, needing 30 to 45 minutes to get to the parking spot and about 15 minutes walk along a forest track and then up the reasonably steep final ascent to the summit. The summit overlooks Pähl and the Ammersee valley.

The Activation:

I had a good run down arriving at the car park about 35 minutes after leaving home. For the first hour there was nothing but I mean NOTHING on 20m – just noise. 40m was packed full with contest stations but I popped down there and grabbed 4 contacts that I need to have to get points for the activation – interestingly two of the four contacts on 40m were not SOTA chasers, just people who were tuning around and gave me a call. Thumping great signals out of (and into) the UK from here on 40m this morning – almost all 5-9 or 5-9+ both way contacts! As well as 20m & 40m I tried 15m – NOTHING – a waste of time … up to 0800 UTC at least…

Although conditions were not good enough to get a response from them, VK3YFD came out of the noise to a good signal from 08:10UTC and VK3MO was 5-9+ at about 08:35 – both were still there at 0900 UTC – so from that rough estimate, I would say the Long Path window here is only opening at about 0800 UTC at the moment – which is good for me for next Saturday’s activation as I’ll have time for the long drive to the summit I want to use. The two VK3 stations are “super stations” with enormous antennas and lots of power, so they get through on marginal conditions, but are still using the long path propagation.

As I transmitted for so long (calling CQ to no response on 20m mostly) I also had to test both of my back-up LIPO batteries for the FT-817 (internal 2500maH) and the amplifier (1700 mAH internal and 5000mAH external). All worked fine, however I managed to run down the Internal 1.6Ah LIPO in the amplifier too far (see conclusions section below).

The screw-in the ground plastic mast base worked perfectly. I’ve had it for some time (bought in Australia) but never tried it on a SOTA activation before – it’s going to get some kind of bag – as it gets dirty – and then will be a standard part of future activations. It’s really meant to hold up a sun umbrella but works fine as a mast base and avoids having to look for some other support on the summit.

I think I got the best of the weather, there was actually some SUNSHINE! On returning home the temperature has dropped and there are grey clouds around.

Photos:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Aerial-51 OCF inverted-V dipole.

LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.

Modified QAMP amplifier (25W on 20m, 35W on 40m).

Thick plastic painters sheet

Screw-in mast base

Log:

activator-log

Conclusions:

One should watch the voltage on LIPO batteries. The internal amplifier battery could not be recharged after returning home, however a replacement was only €18, so it’s not the end of the world.

The screw-in base was a success and I will take it to Bussen next week.

Although (as expected) I made no contacts into VK/ZL/JA, it was obvious (almost like a light switch) that 0800 UTC is the current time that Long Path propagation becomes available and it is lasting about an hour. This was the purpose of the activation, to find this out, so with the (one) activation point, this was a successful activation!

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP/P – August 7th 2016 – DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet.

Preparation:

On the SOTA reflector, there was a suggestion to get out onto SOTA summits and activate on 2 metres and as Sunday 7th. August has the 70cm & 2m sections of the “Bayerisches Bergtag” this seemed a safe option, that would be activity around. This section of the BBT only runs from 09:30 to 12:00 UTC so that pretty well defined my planned operating window. For equipment, I decided to take my 2m Moxon antenna and a short (hand-held) mast along with the FT-817. I would also take along the normal HF kit ( Squid pole, OCF, small amplifier etc) in case I got no contacts on 2m.

My plan was to activate Irschenhausen DL/BE-094 as I hadn’t activated that (local) summit this year yet to get its one point. As you will read below however, plans changed and I ended up back at my most often activated summit Berndorfer Buchet DL/AM-180.

The Location:

Berndorfer Buchet is the hill overlooking the village of Paehl which is at the bottom of the Ammersee (one of five lakes near Munich). It is at worst 45 minutes drive from my home QTH near the town of Landsberg am Lech it was on my route to Irchenhausen, about another 20 minutes drive via Starnberg.

There is a car park on the side road to Kuflatsch and then there is about a ten minutes walk along the forest tracks and up the side of the mount to the summit. The views from the summit are limited as it is a wooded summit, so lots of trees block what would otherwise be some nice views.

The Activation:

It was a sunny day (at last) and the wife asked if I could drop her off at the lake side on the Ammersee and pick her up on the way back. This was basically on my route, so no worries there. After dropping her off, however the problems started. One bottleneck in my route is the town of Diessen and on THIS particular day, they had decided to run a flea market! The combination of the heavier than normal traffic because of the good weather and this flea market with no adequate parking arranged, mean that the town was blocked. There were also trucks trying to get through. Needless to say my available time quickly drained away and I threaded my way through this mess. Then I heard in the radio that a section of the autobahn near Starnberg, which I had planned to use was blocked and to allow an extra 35 minutes for journeys. While I could have taken back roads and avoided the autobahn, others would be doing the same. So the decision was quickly made that once I got to the end of the road up to Berndorfer Buchet, I would not drive past it but rather down it and activate from DL/AM-180 once more.

Once I arrived at the summit, the Moxon got unstrapped from the rucksack, attached to the small pole and set up provisionally in a tree stump while I unpacked the FT817, plastic ground sheet, log book etc. Checking Sotawatch via Rucksack radio Tool, I saw some SOTA activators already spotted but on HF not 2m. I decided to first of all try 2m. I tuned around and indeed there were a couple of BBT contest stations on. Luckily I had foreseen the possibility that I might have to fall back to Berndorfer Buchet and had noted down its Maidenhead locator as well ass that from Irschenhausen, so I had the data I needed for a contest QSO. I worked a very strong contest station, so I knew the equipment was working and then found a free frequency, self-spotted on SOTA and called CQ SOTA on and off for 10 minutes, without a single call. I then saw that Luc ON7DQ was spotted as active in LX – I listened for him, but heard nothing. Going by the contest stations I was hearing in DL, OE, OK & I – the propagation may have been there but only if Luc had been beaming in my direction and I in his. I trid some calls on 2m FM on 145.50, also with no takers.

I then carried on to work a few more SSB contest stations before packing up for my return journey including an extra 10km to avoid the traffic jams in Diessen.

Photos:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

PAR antennas 2m Moxon beam.

Short aluminium “holding” pole.

Log:

activator log

Conclusions:

The activation showed me how easy it is to set up on 2m compared to HF but from a SOTA point of vew if the BBT contest had not been on, I would have got no contacts at all. The propagation was there – the 2m chasers were not.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP/P – May 18th and 23rd 2016 – DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet.

Preparation for May 18th:

A week before the first activation, Andrew VK1MBE contacted me to ask if we could set up a Summit-to-Summit contact at some point as he needed a second DL association S2S contact for his Mountain Hunter-S2S award. Of course, I was happy to oblige. I had actually given Andrew his first DL S2S contact from Peissenberg about a year ago. A both weather and radio conditions have been poor of late, I wanted to get out and try for a new Long Path contact into Australia – after all my call sign is DD5 L P  HI. I checked and saw to my surprise, that I hadn’t activated Berndorfer Buchet yet this year (it is the closest summit to my home location) and I had made contacts into VK from there previously, so we agreed a date in the hope that there would be a break in the continuous rain we’d been having and all was set.

 I packed my bags the day before the trip. In fact it was more an un-pack of what I no longer needed. I was taking my home made amplifier along, however I had made some modifications since last time I had it out. One modification was to install an internal LIPO battery in the case. I did this for two reasons, firstly to avoid having the weight of carrying the external battery bag which has two 5000 mAH 3 cell LIPO batteries (one as a spare) and an inverter to take the 11v from the batteries up to the 16v that I now run the amplifier on and secondly to avoid the RF noise from that inverter, which runs quietly at 13.4v output but not at 16 volts. I had also added an extra relay so that the cooling fan (brushless fan, that also creates HF “hash”) only comes on when we are in transmit mode.

IMG_20160518_182119

The homebrew amplifier with the lid off the case – note the small 1600 maH 4S LIPO battery running across the case in the lower part of the picture.

  I also chose to take the SOTAbeams linked dipole as I only intended to operate on 20 metres, so there would be no need to lower and raise the antenna to change bands and the SOTABeams antenna is lighter than the Spiderbeam OCF dipole that I normally take as it has no need for a Balun.

Preparation for May 23rd:

With the WIA AGM being held on Norfolk Island, a few SOTA activators are present who plan to activate the (relatively easy to get to) VK9/NO-001 Mount Bates SOTA Summit. Indeed both Paul VK5PAS/VK9PAS and Peter VK3PF/9 planned an activation around the time that long path to Europe could be open on the 23rd. of May.

Given the successful activation on the 18th. (read details below), and with the hope that the forecast heavy rain would hold off, I put out my SOTA gear ready, planning the same equipment and location as had worked on the Previous Wednesday.

The Location:

Berndorfer Buchet is the hill overlooking the village of Paehl which is at the bottom of the Ammersee (one of five lakes near Munich). It is at worst 45 minutes drive from my home QTH near the town of Landsberg am Lech.

There is a car park on the side road to Kuflatsch and then there is about a ten minutes walk along the forest tracks and up the side of the mount to the summit. The views from the summit are limited as it is a wooded summit, so lots of trees block what would otherwise be some nice views.

The Activation May 18th:

A fairly early rise to get to the summit for 0630 UTC when we expected radio conditions to be at their best. The weather looked good as well and indeed it turned in to a sunny day, if still cold while I was on the summit. As normal I arrived earlier than planned for the activation but then was delayed by something as silly as the support cord on the end of the dipole tangling itself up while I was trying to find the best place to tie the inveted-v antenna off to.

Once I had the equipment running I put out a call for Andrew on our agreed frequency of 14.310MHz and got no reply – but I was still 30 minutes early at 06:00 UTC. The planned contact time was 06:30 UTC. So I put out a CQ and spotted myself – no answers. I started to wonder if I was getting out or whether there might be a bad connection somewhere. Tuning around I found Paul RZ6BR in Labinsk, Russia. He was calling for DX but after a couple of calls with no response, I called him, apologised that I was not DX but could he please give me a report. No problems he gave me a 5-9 report with deep QSB. We had a short chat and then I left him to his calling and I went back to 14.310 and put out another CQ SOTA. I then heard a quite faint but understandable VK4RF – Rick in Queensland, Australia. Unfortunately when I passed it back, he didn’t come back to me. Well at least I knew now I was really getting out. In fact Rick tried a couple more times over the next 30 minutes, until we finally made the contact – thanks for persevering Rick! On my next CQ SOTA call I heard “summit to summit” and it was indeed Andrew VK1MBE/P on Mount Ainsley VK1/AC-040 and we exchanged 4-2 reports both ways. The contact was possible because we both had low or no, noise level at each end I think. That being said 15 minutes later (at 06:30 UTC) Andrew was up to 5-4 or 5-5 strength, so the original planned time would probably have been the ideal time for the contact, but we made it – which made for a succesful activation. I also had calls from two other Russian, one Bulgarian and one Greek chaser all at 5-9+ strength. My last contact was with Pedro EA2CKX at nothing like his normal strength, so I think the skip distance was long, blocking out most of western europe for me.

The Activation May 23rd:

I woke up even earlier for this activation than for the previous one, expecting that Norfolk Island may become accessible earlier than the ACT being somewhat further East. I had a good run down to Berndorfer Buchet taking just 35 minutes to drive there. One more trudge up the hill, all the time hoping that the rain would hold off. The skies were threatening but often that can be the case and no rain comes. I was set up and operational by 05:30 UTC (7:30am local). Although the VK9 stations had been spotted I could not hear anything – it was a little early for long path, only expecting something possibly from 06:00 UTC onwards. So in the meantime I put out a call made a contact or two and then went back to monitoring 14.310MHz where the VK9 stations were operating on. From time to time I could hear “something” in the noise but not at a workable strength. I heard a few VK chasers working Peter VK3PF/9 but I could not hear Peter. Mike 2E0YYY was also out in the UK on this “VK9-hunt” so I had a quick conversation with him and then I went back to listening for Norfolk Island (NI). I even put out a couple of “blind calls” with the hope that the NI guys might be listening and hear me. Unfortunately the radio conditions were not there on the 23rd. and apart from Mike working Ernie VK3DET who was about 3-3 with me and Mike, there were no long path contact to VK this day.The inter-Europe contacts suffered from very deep QSB at times, so it seems the band was really unsettled.

On my drive home, the rain started and continued for over 24 hours solid, si at least in that factor I had been lucky. After this rain, Berndorfer Buchet will be difficult to access. So if I get another chance of an NI S2S contact on another day, it will have to be from a different summit.

Photos 18th. May:

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Photos 23rd. May:

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Equipment (both activations):

Yaesu FT817ND.

SOTABeams Band Hopper linked dipole.

5 metre squid pole.

Homebrew 160m – 15m amplifier (30/20w)

Log 18th. May:

Activation log

Log 23rd. May:

Activator Log

Conclusions:

The first activation was a success. The equipment worked as it should and I managed the contact into VK with about 20 watts. Would it have been possible with just 5 watts? I think so, but it would have been a harder job for Andrew!

The second activation, while not managing the desired contact into Norfolk Island, proved the kit again, having had its batteries charged after the first activation, I could simply grab the bags and go and everything worked. I am getting very close to being able to take ONLY the camera bag on these activations.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – August 14th. 2015 – DL/AM-180 Burndorfer Buchet.

Preparation:

  Following my activation of Buchberg the previous day where there were many 10m contacts, all easy to hear and work, I decided to fit in another activation before the 10m challenge finished. I would only need one 10m contact from this summit to increase my multiplier and overtake my friend  Martin DF3MC, who was currently at the top of the DL activators table in the challenge. At the start of the day, I had more 10m contacts than Martin but as he had made his contacts from more summits, he has a higher multiplier and hence more overall points.

For HF contests if you don’t run a system around the various multipliers you can get you will never be in the top 100 in the contest! I’d prefer contests (and challenges) to be scored on the number of contacts and possibly the distance of the contact (if VHF/UHF/SHF) and not have the tricks that come with scoring multipliers.

As this was going to be a known summit, I did not have to set up a cut-down pack – rather I decided to take my two standard bags (one photo bag & one small rucksack). I would also take both squid poles and decide when I arrive at the car park which to take up the hill.

The Location:

Berndorfer Buchet is located above the village of Pähl, about 30-45 minutes away from where I currently live – the closest SOTA summit to my home QTH. I had already activated the summit, in the snow earlier in the year, so I would get no activator points for it, but this was just to get a point increment on my challenge multiplier so the one activator point was not so important for me.

The Activation:

The activation this morning wasn’t as simple as I expected it to be. I arrived at the car park probably 15 minutes earlier than I expected and started the walk up the track into the forest. What I didn’t realise was that the relatively large track that I have taken three times before, is now somewhat overgrown and I missed it! No matter I thought as I kept heading higher – this track will take me up the back side of the hill – it did to a certain extent but then there was no way through to the summit and the path started to go down the other side of the hill. I didn’t want to go all the way back down and start the climb again so I headed back to an area where it looked like I might be able to “bush bash” a way through to the summit. There I was, not in boots, rather just in training shoes, and in shorts with bare legs, fighting my way through brambles and nettles. Part of the way in, I wasn’t sure of direction, but always to head upwards was the best idea and eventually I came to the track that I had used on previous activations.

My intent was to get some contacts on 10m so I set up the same modified linked dipole, with the short extension on the 30m section. I self spotted and then called CQ. No response, then I saw Matt was spotted in VK1 on 20m, so I  took a listen with the antenna still set up for 10m and I could hear him quite well, so down came the mast, links were changed in the antenna and the mast put up again. I installed the Ramsey amp in circuit to get me up to about 15W output instead of the 5W from the 817 and called and called and called and eventually after all the super strong Italian, Russian and other European chasers finished Matt heard me and we had a short contact.  Then it was time to head back to 10m. Down came the mast, out of circuit came the amp, spotted again and started calling CQ with no response until Martin DF3MC called me. Martin is the amateur who is currently in first place in the DL 10m activating section of the Challenge. I felt a little bad that it would be the contact with Martin that would mean that I would go into the lead in the challenge before the break until November when it starts again however Martin said he was going out in the afternoon, which he did and bagged five new 10m contacts in bad conditions and ended up deservedly in the lead in the challenge as we go into the break.

After Martin I heard Jorge EA2LU call me but unfortunately we didn’t make the contact – I thought it was simply that my 5W wouldn’t make the distance, but later in a contact on 20m he told me that there was heavy QSB plus other stations from Italy and Russia (them again!) on the same 10m frequency that I was on, so a contact may have been possible had I switched to another frequency. After calling and calling and getting no response I decided to rotate the dipole from it’s N-S orientation to E-W and tried again. Still no calls and I was running out of time. I then decided to go onto 20m and spotted myself and picked up calls from Jorge EA2LU and Vladimir EU2MM before having to pack up to leave.

During the last session on 20m, I realised that the fan in the QAMP was not running and I could not hear the relays going over. I had also started to get some receive noise when I power the amp on – which on low signals can be annoying, although I can turn off the amp by hand when on receive. The signal level on receive even with the amp turned off has also started “crackling”, so I suspect the Phono-BNC adapter connection on the input to the QAMP has gone faulty. So all in all, I need to do some investigation and repair work on the small portable amplifier.

I took my normal path back down the hill and then saw why I had not seen the track on the way up – while passable on foot, it was nothing like it was last year when I suspect it was regularly used by the forestry people with their trucks

Photos:

 

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

SotaBeams Linked dipole, modified for 3rd harmonic use on 10m.

Ramsey QAMP linear amplifier.

6 metre squid pole.

Plastic painters sheet.

Log: activator log

Conclusions:

The aim to take over the lead from Martin in the DL section of the 10m activator challenge was not met, but without the contact from Martin, I would not have been in the lead for the few hours that I was – it’s all in fun in any case!

I shouldn’t complain – although I only had 4 contacts, one of those was an S2S with Australia, one a contact on a totally dead at the time, 10m band and two good contacts on 20m with Spain and Belarus!

One can forget how amazing it is to work around the world on just 5W and a wire antenna and that on SSB.

The Ramsey amplifier will need a major service before it’s next outing and I am still seeking that lighter, simpler set of equipment that I can take to more difficult summits than this one.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – March 13th. 2015 – DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet.

Preparation:

Andrew VK1NAM contacted me via email earlier in the week to ask if it would be possible for me to get out on Friday morning my time as he was looking for a second contact into the DL association to count towards his Mountain Hunter award (he already had one DL contact and just needed the second). I had already planned an activation on the Saturday from Peissenberg but gladly agreed to head out on Friday instead. As this had to be an early activation to catch the long path window I decided on my closest summit Berndorfer Buchet. I already knew the summit from activating it in 2014. Being only 30-40 minutes away from home this was the best option (or so I thought). Given the difficulty of access due to the remaining ice and snow, Peissenberg (with it’s winter bonus) would have been a better choice. Heinsight is a fine thing but I chose Berndorfer Buchet. I’ll need to try to “knock off” the easy summits with winter bonuses next week before the period ends, or leave them until December.

I decided to take the 10m squid pole this time instead of the 6m one, but apart from that the usual equipment was packed up ready to go the night before.

The Location:

Berndorfer Buchet is in the middle of a forest on a hill overlooking the village of Paehl, just south of lake Ammersee. Probably an hour’s drive from Munich but only just over 30 minutes from where I live. This is an easy summit and as such only gives 1 point even in winter.

The Activation:

There were a few surprises and not just the band conditions. AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet is a small hill, not very high when compared to the alps, because of this it doesn’t get a winter activator bonus. While most snow and ice has cleared around here (including on many of the lower summits that get the winter bonus points), it hadn’t from the approach (walking) track to AM-180. Luckily the last 30m vertical climb had cleared of snow otherwise I may not have got to the summit at all.

What looks like snow in the pictures below, is snow with a layer of ice on top of it and where the forestry vehicles had been, it’s solid ice and very slippery! Although sunny, I doubt the temperature got over 0 degrees even in the sunshine, while I was there.

As soon as I had set up, I saw a spot for Andrew and could hear him about S2 or S3 and tried calling for 20mins but I was swamped by the stronger chasers. I then spotted myself on 20m and qualified the summit with a bunch of the usual chasers.When I returned to Andrew’s frequency I couldn’t hear Andrew any more. The 20m band was not as good as it has been. I then saw an OE portable station spotted and went to see if I could get an S2S but due to the proximity (skip distance), I couldn’t hear him at all. Still hopeful of catching Andrew I went back to his frequency and thankfully, conditions were back and the wall of chasers calling had gone down in number and we managed the contact!

After this I decided to go onto 40m and give a call. It was crazy – lots of callers most at S9+. 40m was really “popping”.

Just as I was about to pack-up with bitterly cold fingers, I saw a spot on 20m for Mike (2E0YYY) and Dave (G4ASA) so called them and had an easy contact to complete the activation.

Photos:

 

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND,

Aerial-51 model 404-UL asymmetric dipole.

10 metre squid pole.

Ramsey QAMP, modified to cover 40m & 20m.

Green plastic sheet.

Log:

activator-log

Conclusions:

Just beacuse most of the area is cleared of snow, do not assume that the summit you want to activate is! I raved in the last activation report about the clip-on spikes for my boots and how valuable they are. I needed themon this activation but left them at home!

73 ’til the next Summit!