DD5LP/P – December 25th. 2015 – DL/AM-176 Rentschen.

Preparation:

While the weather has been unusually mild (12 – 14 degrees & no snow) my wife asked if we might go somewhere, where she could walk the dog while I operated radio, for a couple of hours. I had originally planned to try to access Ammerleite via a different, longer route, as the straight forward (still labelled as a public road on all maps) was closed off by the farmers as being a private – no access road the last time we went there. On the day however, I decided the best option would be to go to a known summit where access is easy and we had, had the dog (Bonnie) there before. So Rentschen it was, even though I had activated the summit twice this year already, I might just get it as a new 10m summit for the challenge.

The usual, reliable kit that I had used on many activations before would be used. The “two bag configuration”.

The Location:

Rentschen is well signposted (see previous reports) and is about 40 minutes drive from my home QTH. The road runs over the top of the summit, so it’s a matter of parking up and then walking a respectable distance away from the car, to ensure no support is being obtained from it, as required in the SOTA rules, setting up and away we go.

On the last two activations, I set up using a pile of cut down tree trunks to support the antenna mast, this time the pile of wood had gone, so I had to find an alternative and saw a small post further into the field. Unfortunately this was fairly close to some overhead power lines but luckily they caused no QRM (they were also high enough not to be a physical danger). The post was not very stable but as there was no wind was adequate to hold the base of the fibreglass squid pole that the OCF dipole was run from. Interestingly at the foot of the post was the Trig Point stone for the summit, so there’s no question of my location! I am slowly finding more and more of these stones that are used to mark the exact summit when no summit cross or other monument has been erected.

The Activation:

Once I had put the antenna up, laid out my small plastic sheet with the rig and the logbook on it, I immediately started calling CQ SOTA on 10 metres on 28.360 after checking the frequency was clear. I then spotted myself and after some time Jorge EA2LU came back to me but when I passed back over to him there were 2 or 3 other Spaniards talking on the frequency. Either I had coincidentally picked someone’s net frequency or these were other Spanish chasers discussing the fact that they couldn’t hear me (in Spanish), either way I move 10KHz up, re-spotted and completed the contact with Jorge. That was the only 10m contact for the day, I looked and saw that Peter OE5AUL was on another summit and manged an S2S with him on 40m. I finished off the activation five more contacts on 20m and then my wife was back with the dog and it was time to eat our picnic. So a short, but enjoyable activation for all involved. Finding an alternative route to Ammerleite (which is also quite close to my home QTH) is still on the list to complete.

Photos:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Spiderbeam Aerial-51 UL-404 off centre fed dipole.

5 metre squid pole.

Ramsey QAMP 20/40m amplifier and batteries (taken but not used)

Log:

activators log

Conclusions:

A nice day out with the family. Not a great number of contacts but enough to activate the summit and add one to my summit multiplier number for the 10m/6m challenge. Unfortunately as I had worked Jorge from another summit on 10m before, he does not count in the challenge any more.

As on Gschwandkopf there seemed to be a pipe on 10 metres into Spain, but very little else on 10m to be heard.

73 ’til the next Summit!

OE/VK2JI/P – December 19th. 2015 – OE/TI-690 Gschwandkopf.

Preparation:

Still looking for points in the 10m/6m SOTA challenge, I wanted to get out and add some six metre activator points to my score. Living in Germany I am not allowed to operate portable on 6 metres so a trip into another country is needed to make this happen. After activating Hohe Salve a couple of weeks earlier, I didn’t want to have such a long drive this time and so looked at the summits around Seefeld in Tirol. I found the six point, plus 3 winter bonus activator points Gschwandkopf (OE/TI-690) with its 4 seat, seat lift direct to the summit. As with many lifts in the alpine regions this lift had been out of service for maintenance and on the web site it simply said back in operation sometime early in December. Looking at the webcam on Thursday it was obvious it was not yet back in service. I sent an email on Friday asking when it would be back in service to get a reply saying they had just started service again that day. So the plan was set down to Seefeld the following day and up Gschwandkopf. I then heard that two CMEs were heading earthwards and could mess up propagation but how often have these not arrived or not had any effect? So I decided still to go and hope for the best.

Rather than risk taking the repaired but untested six metre lightweight beam I decided to make do with the Spiderbeam Aerial-51 UL-404 off centre fed wire dipole that I would be using for 10, 20 & 40m in any case. While it wont give any gain on 50MHz it is defined as working on six meters.

So I would in fact be using the reliable kit that I had used on many activations before. The “two bag configuration”.

The Location:

Gschwandkopf located above Seefeld which is about 10 minutes drive from the German/Austrian border on the road from Garmisch Partenkirchen to Innsbruck. Somewhat further than my usual German summits but not nearly as far as Hohe Salve. In Seefeld itself the Gschwandkopf lift is signposted but not at every turn, so it was good that I had mapped out and written down the road names in my planning. I also have a printout of the roads through Seefeld but did not need that – the list of road names was sufficient to get me to the valley station of the lift in 1.75 hours from leaving home, exactly as Google Maps had predicted.

Ticket prices are interesting on this lift – the cost to go up and down the lift was €17 with a €2 deposit on the re-usable electronic ticket. But the lift is also listed as requiring 4 points on a points card, so in principal, I should have been able to buy an 8 point card at €3 less than the simple ticket but I was then told that the points cards are only sold to those skiing, not to pedestrians.

Once I got to the lift, there was a separate section for pedestrians who had to wait until the half / full hour before they could use the lift. This was because they had to slow the lift down to load and unload those not on skis.

The Activation:

Once on the summit, there were two restaurants (only one open as the number of people skiing was not big) and a small hillock (the actual summit) which as well as some benches also had a transmitter building and mast from the Austrian Broadcasting company. While I thought twice as to whether I should set up so close to this station, it caused me no interference and this is a lovely spot with some great views. I could see this being a good site for a 2m FM repeater or some 2m SOTA simplex contacts but I was here mainly for 6 meters not 2 meters, so I set all the usual gear up and started calling CQ on 50.140 and tried to self spot. I had especially taken out an Internet package on my Vodaphone SIM, but this refused to work in Austria, so I fell back to good old Deutsche Telekom (I have two SIMs in my phone) and sent the required SMS code to enable Internet connectivity and this time (not like on Hohe Salve) it worked. There was no free WiFi on this summit as there had been on Hohe Salve.

I spent probably about 15 minutes on 6 metres calling and calling and calling, with not one response. SWR was fine, just propagation was not there. I then tried 10 meters and was happy to be able to get a total of seven contacts on 10 meters. The first 6 from Spain – good solid, easily readable signals. There seemed to be some propagation “tunnel” between me and Spain. The seventh 10m contact was with Karl M3FEH in Cornwall England and that was a difficult contact with very low signal strengths in both directions, but somehow we managed it. Thanks Karl.

Once it seemed there were to be no more 10 meter contacts I saw some other activations were on 20m – of these about half I could not hear , two I called could not hear me but in the end I did manage three S2S contacts – two on 40m and one on 20 metres. 14 chaser contacts on 40 meters completed the log. After the last contact an S2S, I had to hurriedly pack up the station to be able to get to the lift to go down on the half hour – otherwise I would have to wait another half hour before I would be allowed on the lift.

Photos:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Spiderbeam Aerial-51 UL-404 off centre fed dipole.

5 metre squid pole.

Ramsey QAMP 20/40m amplifier and batteries (taken but not used)

Log:

activator log

Conclusions:

This is a very easy access summit. I was surprised initially while planning as to why so few people have activated it, until I saw it had only been added to SOTA in October 2015. I expect a lot of people will now include it in their holidays to Tirol and in Summer, I expect the lift will take pedestrians without a delay.

The propagation on 6 metres was not there however there seemed to be a pipe on 10 metres into spain. Was the extra drive worth it – no I’m sure I would have been able to capture the 10m contacts from a German summit.

73 ’til the next Summit!