DD5LP/P – November 1st. 2016 DL/BE-093 Buchberg.

Preparation:

Following the success of the VK-EU S2S SOTA event on Saturday October 22nd, a similar one for November 19th. was planned but this time for EU-NA contacts. Having only ever managed one S2S with NA and that on 15m, I decided to build a 15m halfwave, coax fed end-fed vertical (aka J-Pole) antenna. After several attempts to build one using the dimensions given by the same calculator I used to build the 20m one that I tested on Weichberg, I eventually managed to get the antenna resonant by using a frequency 800 KHz lower than the required frequency. After getting this working in the garden, I found out why the calculator appeared to be giving the wrong lengths – my thin coax that I thought was foam insulator RG-174, with a velocity factor of 0.735, was actually RG-179 with a velocity factor of 0.700! As I had got the antenna resonant in any case, my activation of Buchberg, which surprisingly I hadn’t yet activated in 2016 would serve to test the antenna and to see if communications across the Atlantic are even possible with the current propagation conditions.

15m-antenna

The best time for EU-NA contacts is between 1330 and 1530 UTC at present. As we have just put our clocks back an hour for Winter, this equates to between 2:30pm and 4:30pm local time, so this would be a nice afternoon outing. In case I wasn’t successful with the new antenna, I also took the trusted linked dipole and the 20 metre vertical (and the unreliable 10 metre pole) along. As it turned out, thankfully, I did not need these.

The Location:

Buchberg is located near to Bad Tölz in southern Bavaria and is a favourite spot for walkers to come out to from the town (as I found out). My new “Navi” in the Chinese car multimedia unit, to which I have loaded the SOA DL & DM summit kml file, did a great job of directing me the correct way to the nearest place to park for the summit. Unlike Google maps which routes you up a private forestry only road (see report on my first activation of this summit).

The Activation:

On arriving at the parking spot, I saw the field had several cows in it (no bulls as far as I could see) and an electric fence around it. I looked for another approach but then decided to sling my bags under the electric rope and duck under (as all the walkers did in the following couple of hours). I asked whether this was OK and was told, no problem the farmer allows access (which I know from talking with him on my previous two visits) and it’s just to keep the cows in, not people out. It was turned on however as became obvious when I later turned the rig on. But it was at a bearable level and QSOs easy to make despite the slight “clicking”.

I talked with several of the walkers who were interested in what I was doing and once I got down to operating, things kicked off very well with four North American contacts – all 5-9 plus in the first 25 minutes. The first one a “search & pounce” by me, competing with other callers, the other three in quick succession after 20 minutes, in response to my spot on SOTAWatch.
The contacts were:
Henry, N1HEN in Maine,
Luther, N4DA in Georgia,
Phillip, VE1WT in Nova Scotia, Canada,
and
Walter, NE4TN, in Tennessee
After these four however getting contacts via spots or using Search & Pounce was difficult, there were a couple of special DX stations booming in from Guadeloupe (Jule, FJ4NN) and Curaçao (Pete PJ2/K8PGM) as well as Fahed A61FK in Abu Dhabi but all of these had so many callers, I couldn’t break through. I then checked the amp and it appeared not to be switching on to TX – I have an LED that shows green on Rx and Red on Tx. No red light – so it’s possible that instead of my expected 20w, I was only running 5w output, possibly even on the first contacts.

I had just about given up and then Carlos, CT1HIX kindly gave me a call and we exchanged 5-9 / 5-5 reports – which is what I would expect with 5w output.

Upon arriving home the amp was taken down to the workshop to get looked at and it turns out one of the two power transistors has blown taking out the main fuse and effectively switching the amp out of circuit. This failure appears to have happened on the last activation, meaning all of todays contacts were with just 5 watts!.

Following this activation I think I can say, that 15m band conditions to North America are quite good at the moment!

Photos:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Modified Ramsey power amplifier ( in circuit but not working ).

CO-AX fed half-wave end-fed 15m vertical.

LamdaHalbe 6 metre fibreglass mast.

Log:

ativator-log

Conclusions:

The antenna worked. I will need to check out what is wrong with the amplifier and sort that out before the 19th. The chaep 6m mast is far, far more reliable than the expensive DX-Wire 10m mini mast. If I have to take 20 metres along, I’ll possibly just take the Inverted-V dipole rather than a vertical. First of all, I need to decide on a summit ….

73 – until (hopefully) the 19th. November 2016 for the SOTA EU-NA S2S activity event.

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DD5LP – August 13th. 2015 – DL/BE-093 Buchberg.

Preparation:

  With the 10m/6m challenge coming to an end, my score as an activator (only on 10m as 6m portable operation is not allowed in Germany), was looking a little “sad”, so I decided to activate another summit to get some 10m contacts. I had originally intended activating Zwieselberg above Bad Tölz however after my problems on Breitenberg the previous weekend, with the heat over midday, I didn’t want to repeat the same problems, rather chosing an easier summit where I could carry both bags of equipment to cover all needs.

During the previous week, I had been doing some testing using my existing Sotabeams linked dipole, using it set to 30m with some extensions to operate on 10m. Indeed I had tried this configuration out first at a local GMA summit DA/AV-071 Gagl-Berg and later in my garden, to get the extension lengths correct. So my intention was to take this configuration to Buchberg, but also have the Aerial-51 404-UL (OCF) dipole antenna along as a back-up.

I had planned on taking a set of end-fed half wave wire antennas along as well, as these are very light and pack up into a very small space, however I got so many different readings from the antenna analyser, I decided to leave them at home, until I can find what’s going on.

The Location:

Buchberg is also located near to Bad Tölz and hence an over 90 minutes drive from my home QTH. The route I knew from the last time I activated the summit in 2014, however this time rather than taking the shortest route suggested by Google (which required me to travel along a road displaying signs saying access only for forestry and farm vehicles), I decided to take the route that I had previously left the site by – via Bad Tölz, past the golf club. While this route is longer, it is a tarmacced (although only wide enough for one car for much of the route) road.

The Activation:

The activation went well. I found the location easily and managed to park off the (single track) road to avoid any issues with traffic. When I went across to the field, I say a path went directly across the field to the cross. I had expected to have to walk around the edge of the field as one normally does to avoid damaging any crops, however as there was a well worn track in place I took this to the summit cross. I suspect this track has been created by the mountain bikers that the farmer had complained to the previous activator about. Indeed during my activation a mountain biker, came up to the cross using this track. I suspect someone has created a cycling tour route via the cross. I can understand the farmers displeasure at this. At the moment the field is fallow, however when he wishes to grow a crop in it again, what will happen then? I had no visit from the farmer this year, I had met him last year when I activated the summit.

I deliberately started on 10 metres and as I checked my alerted frequency to make sure it wasn’t already in use, back came Karl M3FEH before I had even spotted myself. Karl was a booming signal, conditions on 10m were good. I managed to work 10 stations on 10m, the latter ones with some QSB coming in. Once the contacts on 10 metres ran out, I saw Kostas (SV2HJW/P on SV/MC-076) spotted on 20m, so went there and got a summit-to-summit contact with him and Christos(SV2OXS/P) who was on the same summit. I was just about ready to pack up when I saw that Luc (DL/ON7DQ/P) was up on DM/NW-026 on 40m, so down came the antenna again – in went the links and back up it went for another S2S. One last check on 10m – no more contacts but Jim EI9GLB kindly let me know that my 5w was still getting out well into Ireland, so conditions were still.OK and then I decided to pack up as I had chores to complete at home.

This turned out to be a very pleasant and satisfying activation. Nothing rushed, good conditions and all the equipment working as it should. I was especially happy with how well the 30 metre dipole with extensions worked on 10 metres.

 

Photos:

 

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

SotaBeams Linked dipole, 30m secton modified for 3rd harmonic use on 10m.

Ramsey QAMP linear amplifier on 20 & 40m.

10 metre squid pole.

Log:

activator_log

Conclusions:

While this was not a lightweight activation, I still need to sort out the EFHW antennas so that I can use them on future activations where there is a lot of walking involved. In all this was a pleasant activation, with a good set of contacts on 10m and no stress. All went to plan.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – July 19th. 2015 – DL/BE-094 Irschenhausen.

Preparation:

After several planned activations being aborted for different reasons, I decided to activate the one semi-local summit that I have not yet activated in 2015 in order to test out both my now modified again (addition of cooling fan) Ramsey QRP Amplifier and the SOTALogger Android app, spotting function.

I had activated Irschenhausen in April of 2014 while I still lived in Andechs where we had rented a flat while looking for a house to buy. The summit is now almost exactly an hours drive away (if there are no road delays) to where we now live as opposed to 30-35 minutes. Interestingly my planned route would take me directly past my other local summit Berndorfer Buchet (DL/AM-180) but I have already activated that summit this year. Irschenhausen has good memories as last year after tramping up it through the remainder of snow and mud, early in the morning, I managed to activate it with 4 contacts back into VK (two of which, were Summit to Summit contacts). That would not be the case again however as the activation was planned for the afternoon, so just local European contacts this time.

Both Irschenhausen and Berndorfer Buchet are located in forests with limited views and both are possible removals from the SOTA scheme in February 2016. Despite being “interesting” to reach in winter, neither have a winter bonus as they are relatively low in height.

The Location:

map The Irschenhausen “summit” is in the cente of the forest alongside the village of Irschenhausen which in turn lies just off the B11 south of Ebenhausen-Schäftlam. Simply turn off the road in the centre of Irschenhusen to the right (signposted to some Hof) and then keep taking the road that climbs higher until you come to a fork where the left hand side is restriced motor access and the right hand fork has a “dead end road” sign. Directly between these two roads is a parking place (next to the doggy plastic bag dispenser) for two cars. Park there are walk up the left hand road and take the left fork off it up into the forest. Keep right in the forest, taking the tracks that take you always higher until you reach the “summit”.

If you could see it through the trees, you would see that Irschenhausen overlooks the Autobahn 95 that runs from Munich to Garmish-Partenkirchen and the easiest route to Irschenhausen is by taking exit number 5 to Schäftlam from the A95, go through Schäftlam over the railway, turn right and then after about 2 km turn right again, back over the railway line and into the village of Irschenhausen.

The Activation:

Expecting delays on the roads as the holiday season is starting, I actually got a good run through, taking almost exactly an hour which was 30 mins ahead of my allocated time. Once I had parked up, the walk up and into the forest was pleasant however I had the feeling that I may have taken the wrong route as the track seemed better than in the previous year. However I kept going always taking the track that seemeed to take me higher. At one point I decided to leave the main track to head up a smaller one towards what I though was the summit (and later trned out indeed to be the summit as I actually found the trig Point when I was packing my equipment up. I believe I did end up at the same point as the previous time and simply the fact that there was no snow or mud around made the route look different. On my way back down after the activation, I realised I had taken a different route and this might have been the route I used on the previous activation.

Band conditions have been difficult for some time and this day was no different. After I got set-up I took a tune around and could hear plenty of stations on 40m but only a few on 20m. I decided to start on 40m and after spotting myself, the chasers flooded in as usual. Once I had worked all the chasers I could hear on 40m, I switched to 20m – tried out the spotting function in the Android SOTALogger app – in the process typing in 14.085 instead of 14.285MHz (thanks Mike G6TUH for picking this upand putting out a corrected spot). The amp had also been operating fine up to this point, the only issue being that I lost the label off the switch I have to switch low pass filters, so I had to best guess that. On 20m, I was getting a very limited response, which later I realised was just bad band conditions howeer in my investigations, I also found a bad contact on the coax. The Aerial-51 404-UL OCF dipole has a PL-259 plug supplied on the cable, so that I have to go through a SO-239 to BNC adapte before I can connect it to the amp or directly to the FT817 (I use the front connector on the 817). To make things worde, the Ramsey Amp uses Phono/RCA plugs (!!) for RF in and out, so I have Phono to BNC adapters on these to be able to use standard cables. Somewhere on the output side of the amp there was a intermittent connection affecting receive (and no doubt tranmit). I managed to locate the cables so that the connection was good but I will need to look into this. Most likely I will cut the 259 plug off the Aerial-51 antenna lead and add a BNC plug and then I will try to replace the Phono sockets with BNC ones, if I can find PC board mountable sockets at a reasonable price otherwise I may simply solder the Phono-BNC adapters to the Phono sockets.

The day so far had been very pleasant, well shaded from the hot sun in the forest and no sign of rain (although a shower or two was forecast). It then got cold and a wind started up. I decided to give 10 metres a quick try (for the new 6/10m challenge) and then pack up. 10m was dead but Manuel EA2DT managed a contact with me and then I decided it was time to pack up and get back to the car before the rain. It was when I was reeing in one side of the dipole, that I saw a stome on the ground witth TP on the side of it. Of course I thought TP – Trig Point but then I thought, hang on, that would be in the UK not in Germany. After clearing small braches from around the bottom of it I took several pictures of the stone (see below) one side does have a tri-angle on it and after researching when I got home, I found Trig Point or to give it, it’s correct name “Triangulation Point” in english is “Triangulation Punkt” in German, so that was indeed the top of Irschenhausen – I was at the exact summit.

On returning to the car, the wind stopped the temperature went up and no rain came – typical. In any case the purpose of the actication had been met, the amp works, but needs some work now on its connectors. The latest version of SOTALogger’s spotting function works OK.

Photos:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Aerial-51 model 404-UL asymmetric dipole.

Ramsey QAMP linear amplifier.

6 metre squid pole.

Plastic painters sheet.

Log: Activator logConclusions:

The replacement transistor and addition to a fan in the amp, seems to have successfully got the amp through this activation. There was some “medical” smell for the first 5 minutes of so. I suspect this was the heatsink heat transfer compound that I used (meant for PC CPU chips) “burning in”. I will need to look at finding a better solution to reduce the number of adapters in the coax or atleast resolve the bad connections.

The SOTALogger spotting via 3G function worked fine but I forgot to try it’s SMS option, so that still need to be tested.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – SOTA EUROPE – May 21st. 2014 – DL/BE-093 Buchberg

Preparation:

Having some time available and a good weather forecast, i wanted to get out and activate a summit again. If it could be close enough to where I live, I might even get some long path contacts back into Australia again..

I decided to take the standard equipment and stick to 20m SSB. So the FT817 (LIPO) battery was charged up, as was the 5Ah 3S LIPO that I use to run my small Ramsey amplifier, which I haven’t started my planned mods to, even though the parts arrived a couple of days before. Better to leave things working as they have been rather than change things with no fall back option!

The hill chosen is about an hours drive away and I had intended doing a “reccie” on the previous Sunday however I was quite ill that day and so I decided I would have to simply go by what I could see from Google maps and its satellite pictures.

The Location:

Buchberg is located not far away from Bad Tölz and across the road almost from the skilift up to the base of Zweisselberg, another SOTA summit that I would like to activate at some point.

The plotted route had me turning off the main B472 road on an unsignposted road and then running along the edge of a forest to the village of Buchberg and then taking one of several walking tracks to the summit. On looking at the layout, my fallback position would be to operate from within a forest just down from the summit as it is still within the AZ. DL-BE-093_Buchberg-map

The Activation:

 The morning started well with sunny weather and not too much traffic. Of course I drove past the un-signposted road off the B472. For others intending to activate this summit, the road is about 200m before the Gastehaus Wiessweber, which is just before the big lake (called Hinterstauau).

The road off the B472 is a single track road but with a proper surface. On getting to the point where I should turn off on the track along the edge of the forest, I was faced with a sign that said access is restricted to farm and forestry vehicles only.. Not wanting to get locked up for trespass, I started to look for an alternative route.

At this point the farmer from the farm across the road came along with his dogs and I decided to ask him if there was another route to Buchberg. He immediately said ignore the sign, everyone uses that road and it’s not private. On that basis I decided that rather than calling off the activation I’d risk it. The track was a little rough however no where near as bad as several tracks I have driven along with my low clearance Peugeot 308 in Australia and now I have a Ford Galaxy family van which has at least twice the road clearance that the Peugeot had.

At the end of the track I came into the village of Buchberg which is actually just a farm. On the other side was the track that runs half way up to the summit but it was clearly marked as no through road and it looked as if I would not be able to turn around when I got to the end of it.

I decided therefore to go to my backup position near the forest which was on the road going out of the other side of Buchberg. This turned out to be a narrow however properly surfaced road that I used when I completed the activation. It ran down the hill into Bad Tölz passing the Golf Course and Buchberg Clinic and the on the way. For future activators this would be the way to get to Buchberg if you don’t want to risk the forestry track. Take directions in Bad Tölz to the Buchberg Clinic and then after the clinic turn left (there is a sign to Buchberg on this junction) go past the golf club and keep on winding up the road for probably about 5 kilometers and you will arrive at Buchberg..

Back to the activation site. I parked up off the road near the forest and looked around for somewhere to set-up. I could not find anywhere that looked like I could fasten the squiddy to and have the antenna clear of the trees without being definitely on a farmers land or right next to the (narrow) road. I then looked up to the summit itself to see a large wooden cross that the squiddy should be able to be strapped to without any great effort. So that was the choice, no secondary option, i would activate from the very summit. Given the cross being there and the footpaths listed to it on  the maps, this “should” be public access. I walked up the side of the field and across the top to the summit (you should never walk directly across a farmers field as you can damage the crop, whereas the edge of a field is often considered waste land). On arriving at the summit I found there was even a bench to sit on – LUXURY!

So I started to set up all the equipment as usual, trying to angle the antenna to allows a NW/SE radiation towards VK long path. Just down from the summit and not visible until you get to the summit is another farm / residence and after a while I got a visit asking what I was doing by a gentleman from this farm. After a few minutes discussion he was happy I wasn’t going to damage or steal the cross and so all was OK.

Now at last, time to start the activation….

I started on 20m trying to call some OE activators who were already on the air but I simply could not get through the pile ups. Even after one chaser kindly told one of the stations that they had a summit-to-summit call, they still could not hear me. With the mixture or QRM and deep QSB that was the story of this activation. I did manage one S2S contact into Spain but most other activators simply could not hear me. Later I found out that they were all running 100W RF while I was down in the noise with my 5-8W.

I called a couple of times specifically for VK chasers with no success however looking at all of the chasers I did work around Europe, I shouldn’t complain. Apart from the S2S into Spain, the other highlights were contacts with The Azores and Denmark, Norway & Sweden. The full log is shown below.

The real success of this activation was getting out in the fresh air and again enjoying some unbelievable  views. I have put together a gallery of some of the best views below.

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Equipment:

FT817ND

Ramsey QAMP amplifier

SOTABeams Linked dipole

Log:

DL-BE-093_Buchberg-log

Conclusions:

A good activation. it would have been better if I had managed a long path conrtact back into VK but with the band conditions, that just wasn’t going to happen. I think the next time I try this however I will start earlier which would at least avoid some of the heavy QRM from such a busy band. Perhaps next time I will have a 17m antenna made up so that I can switch to that (quieter) band.Unfortunately many of the VK chasers can’t operate on the WARC bands, so maybe 15m as well would be a good idea.

73 ’til the next Summit!