After the attempt for a 40m contact into VK from Peissenberg failed on the Wednesday, I decided that while the weather was good I’d have another go. With the confidence that the old gear was still working well, I decided to activate Irschenhausen which I had not yet activated in 2018 yet and hence would earn me 1 more activation point.
The equipment would be the same as for Peissenberg with the addition of the screw-in umbrella base as I know this summit hasn’t any convenient support posts.
Luckily, the day before the activation, I checked the route to find out that the connecting road from the Autobahn to the area where I needed to be was closed and would be closed for another few weeks as it was being upgraded and re-surfaced. I worked out an alternative route which would mean a drive of about 1 hour and 15 minutes rather than just an hour, so the alarm clock was set even earlier. the plan to be to leave at 7am local at the latest in order to be on the summit at the right time for the long path to Australia (around 0630-0730 UTC). My normal “partner-in-crime” for these attempts, Mike 2E0YYY in the UK would not be able to take part as he had his stall at the UK’s National Hamfest on this weekend. I contacted John VK6NU and Ernie VK3DET both of whom kindly listen (either from their homes or portable) for these attempts and Ernie was available, so maybe there was a chance?
I checked the contests calendar to see the only major contest was a RTTY contest and thought fine, they won’t affect the SSB part of the band … They did – see below!
As mentioned above the normal run from my home QTH to my parking spot would normally take about an hour but with the closed road and hence a different route, I was looking at an extra 15 minutes drive. Irschenhausen summit is located above the village of the same name just off the B11 road running north-south down the eastern side of Starnberger See – one of five large lakes near Munich. The walk from the parking spot takes about 20 minutes, first along a field track and then into the forest and keep going upwards at every junction until you find yourself at the highest spot. If you find the Trig Point stone, you’ve found the summit (see pictures).
The alarm was set for 6am but I was already up by 5:45am with all the gear laid out ready to be picked up and taken. I actually was able to leave by 6:45am rather than my planned 7am. On the run to the summit apart from the last small country roads the traffic was flowing very well and after parking and walking to the summit, I was already on the air by 0600 UTC (8am local). What did I find on 40 metres? The total bottom half of 40 metres from 7.0 to 7.1MHz was full of RTTY contest stations and above 7.1 it was busy as well – as those forced off the bottom half of the band had moved up into the top half. Add to this what sounded like an Over The Horizon RADAR station warbling up and down the top half of the band and the prospects didn’t look good!
After tuning around I came across a strong station and decided to call him to make sure I was getting out, despite the fact he had a pile-up going, who did he come back to? Yes me – with my 30 watts and a dipole! OK, so I was getting out fine.
I searched for a free frequency, double checked it was free and then spotted myself. Contacts only came slowly but there was a nice one from a special event station, probably only about 10-15 km away DL100BY celebrating 100 years of the state of Bavaria (or Bayern), which was being operated at the time by a local SOTA activator Rob, DL4ROB, from Munich. I put out special calls for VK & ZL a couple of times and had to move a couple of times as my frequency was stolen by a French net. I then got an email from Ernie, saying he couldn’t hear me on my spotted frequency, so I asked him to put out a “blind call” and I COULD hear him, not strong, probably 4-2 at best but he was there! We tried for about half an hour hoping the conditions might get better but at the end we had to give up as Ernie went back down into the noise.
Ernie was running 100W to a dipole at his home QTH while I was running 30W also to a dipole but out in the country on a summit and I think that was the difference. My noise level was practically zero once the OTHR left, while Ernie has Metro-noise to hear through. Had I been a CW operator, I think a contact would have been possible and any of the weak signal digital modes would have certainly got through. I see this as a positive experiment – the path (on 40 metres) is there with the long path as it is when 20 metres works – which at the moment with a MUF of 8.6MHz, an SFI of 66 and a K Index of 3 – it isn’t!
After this experiment with Ernie I went back to “normal” SOTA contacts and dropped another five into the log making a total of thirteen valid contacts for the day.
On my way walking back to where I had parked my car a small tractor with the farmer and his very young son came past me and I said good morning to them. As I was driving off, I could see the farmer waving to me, so I stopped and walked back, expecting perhaps a comment that I shouldn’t be there but it was completely the opposite. He was interested in what I was carrying and as I explained Amateur Radio to him (and gave him a German DARC brochure) he seemed genuinely interested and we chatted for about 15 minutes before grandad came by to say there was farm work to be done! That was a nice end to the activation. If he’s around next time I activate this summit, I’ll invite him up to see for himself. Who knows this could be a new radio ham in the making!
The drive back hit the Saturday morning traffic on the Autobahn and so took a little longer but I was back before 11 am (local) which was as I had planned.
All in all a nice activation.
SOTABeams Band Hopper linked dipole.
LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.
Modified QAMP amplifier (30W on 40m).
Thick plastic painters sheet.
Sun Umbrella screw-in base.
Although I did not achieve a two-way contact with VK, the fact that I could hear Ernie proves the path is there, perhaps a little more power from my side, a higher antenna – or it set up in a better direction, might just make the difference. Running FT-8 would work, I’m sure. A few more sunspots would certainly help!
73 ’til the next Summit!