DD5LP/P – March 29th. 2017 – DL/AM-177 Kirnberg & DL/AM-178 Ammerleite.

Preparation:

With the winter bonus period coming to an end and some easy summits not yet activated this year, along with the weather being dry and sunny, I decided to grab the opportunity and head out and activate two summits I know from previous activations. I posted no alert on SOTAWatch. I decided rather to just self spot (in fact this worked on the first summit but with no cell coverage at Ammerleite I was happy to be spotted by a chaser on the second summit). No special equipment on these activations, rather the kit I know works reliably – the 817, Amp and Aerial-51 OCF on the LambdaHalbe 6m pole. All of which was ready to go following the previous activations. I always charge the batteries before putting the bags in the cupboard, so that I can simply “grab and go”.

The Locations:

Kirnberg is next to a farm called Gigersau towards the end of a fairly long single track road. Be careful where you park – one time here, I had to go and ask for help from the farmer to tow my car out of some boggy ground! No worries with that on this activation, but I still parked on the side of the road, rather than on the grassy patch in front of the notice board!

Ammerleite is above Böbing and on my first two activations, I could drive up to the same level as the summit and then walk about 50 metres across to the cross at the summit itself. That access road is now classified as farm and forestry use only and while in some areas the locals don’t mind, in this case, they can get quite annoyed, so the alternate parking spot (as described in detail in last years blog on the activation of Ammerleite (aka Schmalz)) is located just to the north of Böbing at a small hut. From here it’s about a 3 kilometer walk with a rise of about 1200 metres, so allow 20-25 minutes for this (each way).

The Activation:

My plan was to activate both Kirnberg (DL/AM-177) and Ammerleite (DL/AM-178) in one outing. Logically it made sense to do Kirnberg first and then Ammerleite.

Arriving at Kirnberg all went to plan – I set everything up, took some photos, spotted myself and then called CQ. The following 25 contacts on Kirnberg took just 13 minutes !  As I was packing up a walker appeared and asked what I was doing. He was from the north of Germany and staying at a “farm-stay” down the hill (I think he had just popped out, to get a break from the family) in any case we had a nice conversation and then as he left I kept packing up. I then realised my “short chat” had been nearly 20 minutes, meaning my hope of getting to the next summit an hour after I had gone QRT on this one was not to be. But the weather was nice and I had time, so I headed back down to the car – only a few minutes walk down the slope from the summit, packed everything in and set-off for Ammerleite.

As I was driving along I was thinking about the number and strength of contacts made and would have been happy with that success. Little did I know that this first contacts total would pale into insignificance when I had finished on the next Summit. On both summits I have to say I was bowled over by the number of chasers and their patience and persistence.

Upon arriving at the last spot the road at Böbing that is open to the public and parking up. I picked up my gear and set off up the track. This time the track seemed longer and steeper than I remembered and it wasn’t long before I started panting for air, so I slowed down a little. Around the next corner the track was blocked. A farmer had his tractor and trailer across the track, cutting and loading firewood. After a short conversation with him, confirming I was on the “approved” route up to the cross, I set off again. I was probably only about a quarter of the way up at this point. Suffice to say that when I got to the summit, the wooden benches there were put to good use while I took a drink of water and rested a while.

While setting up I got another farmer visiting me, he was collecting wood which had already been trimmed from the trees. I explained to him what I was doing and again he expressed interest and warned me that f I needed to use my cell phone, coverage was very patchy in this area. He was 100% correct and despite having two SIMs on the two main networks in Germany in my smartphone, I was unable to spot myself. After putting out a CQ however I had a couple of contacts and I asked Pietro I2CZQ if he wouldn’t mind spotting me – this he did and then there was just a wall of stations!

The pile-up was very impressive, I managed to work 52 chasers in 30 minutes and I know I missed a few – it really was a wall of noise – as witnessed by a passing local bicyclist who turned out to be a HAM – he had heard of SOTA but was blown away by the pile-up! I noted his call down but I must have got it wrong unfortunately. Perhaps I’ll meet him again on another summit?
So much for “bad” conditions HI.

While operating a couple of stations said my (compressed) audio didn’t sound right, so I turned the RF-Clipper off and noted that I needed to look into that when I got home. Following the battery problems with the amplifier on the last couple of activations, I had a monitor attached the whole time and at the end of the activation the four cells in the LIPO battery were all showing around 55-60% charge left. Interestingly this translated to 25-30% charge indicated on the battery charger at home. I wonder which indicator is showing the correct value? (The battery was disconnected before I packed the gear up, so it did not discharge the extra amount between the summit and home).

All in all, although about an hour behind schedule at the end of the day, it turned out to be two very successful activations for which I got one activator point and three winter bonus points for each summit.

Now I wonder if I can fit in another activation before the end of the month ….

Photos – Kirnberg:

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Photos – Ammerleite:

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Aerial-51 OCF wire dipole antenna.

LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.

Modified QAMP amplifier (35W on 40m).

Screw-in sun umbrela base

Log Kirnberg:

Log Ammerleite:

Conclusions:

Don’t trust band condition predictions. Things can turn out a lot better than you expect! Always be prepared to take some time to explain Amateur Radio to strangers who show an interest.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP/P – February 5th. 2016 – 5 Summits in a day.

Preparation:

The 10m/6m challenge finishes on February 13th. 2016 and I wanted to pack in some more 10m summit activations before it ended. Without travelling to a different country (e.g. Austria), an activation on 6m is not possible as portable 6m operation is illegal in Germany. I have already tried going to two Austrian summits and was unable to get even one 6m contact on either of them, so I decided to look at any local summits where I have not been able to get a 10m contact from during either of the two halves of the challenge.

I activated DL/AM-001 Peissenberg on January 26th, again with no 10m contacts, so I wanted to try that summit again – it is also one of the closest and easiest summits for me to get to. As propagation on 10 metres was absolutely horrible, I alerted the local amateurs to my activation plans in the hope that I could at least manage one ground wave / line of sight contact on 10m.

The other local summits that I had not activated on 10m in the challenge period so far, were DL/AM-178 Ammerleite (tried in December again without success), DL/AM-177 Kirnberg, DL/AL-169 Auerberg and DL/AL-179 Weichberg. Making five summits in all – with the drives between these summits and the walking times from where I will be parking my car, this will take a complete day.

With mixed weather, there was the real possibility that one or more of the summits may not be accessible. In this case I would try to activate it/them the following week.

As some of the summits required a fair walk, I took the small radio kit, but also packed the larger kit in the car in case I decided I needed it.

The Locations:

Peissenberg – DL/AM-001

About 45 minutes from home and a logical first summit for the loop of activations. This summit I last activated on January 26th 2016, and hence would not gain any activator or activator bonus points, but perhaps a 10m contact.

Ammerleite – DL/AM-178

About 30 minutes drive from Peissenberg but then with a 20 minute climb to the summit.This summit I last activated on December 31st 2015 and  hence would be able to gain both activator and winter bonus points along with another 10m summit point if all went well.

Kirnberg – DL/AM-177

About 20 minutes drive from Böbing where I park the car for Ammerleite. I have not activated this summit this year so as well as the hoped for 10m multiplier point in the challenge, I should be able to get the summit activator point as well as the 3 winter bonus points.

Auerberg DL/AL-169

The trip over into the Allgäu region takes a while from Kirnberg, around 45-50 minutes. Like Kirnberg as I have not activated this summit this year as well as the hoped for 10m multiplier point in the challenge, I should be able to get two summit activator points as well as the 3 winter bonus points.

Weichberg DL/AL-179.

Just up the road from Auerberg, this is the shortest drive between the summits about 15-20 minutes and again I have not activated this summit this year so as well as the hoped for 10m multiplier point in the challenge, I should be able to get the one summit activator point as well as the 3 winter bonus points if all goes well.

So there’s the plan – 5 summits, all of which I have activated before and hence know the best approach to each of them. A possibility of earning 5 10m challenge summit multiplier points, 5 activator points and 12 winter bonus points.

The Activation:

The planned day was on and then off a couple of times as the weather forecast kept changing. Friday the 5th. of February I set off expecting some rain showers but nothing much and that the snow would have gone from most of the summits. This turned out not to be true. The rain never came, but the snow was still there at all summits making access to Ammerleite, Kirnberg and Weichberg particularly difficult when climbing through snow drifts and sliding on wet, slushy ground.

Peissenberg, the first summit turned out to be horribly cold and after getting just one contact with Robert DJ2MKR (a local station to me here) on 10m using the loaded vertical on a tripod, I packed up while I still had some feeling in my fingers. If the weather was to stay as cold as this, it was going to be a difficult day! I also was not happy with the SWR from the vertical and so decided to use the usual 5m fibreglass pole and Spiderbeams OCF antenna on all following summits, even taking the 40m/20m amplifier and its batteries with me as well (but never using it).

The next summit was Ammerleite or rather Schnalz as the actual summit is called. I used the longer (official) access route following the closure of the road to the easier access point last year. After parking I picked up the two bags that contain the larger radio configuration and set off up the track. This is quite a steep ascent up a forestry track which in parts was like a river and in other parts very slippery. The final approach to the summit is across two fields which were still partly covered by snow drifts, making the ascent “interesting” as I was certainly the first person up this “track” since the snow had fallen. Once on the summit, setting up took a little longer than normal, this time not because of the cold but rather because of high winds. In any case once set-up, I was able again to get a contact with Robert on 10 metres (but with no one else). I then changed to the zoo that is 40m and made another 13 contacts before packing up. Although the short activation at Peissenberg had put me ahead of schedule the extra ascent time through the snow to Ammerleite had lost that time and I knew I would have to take the descent slower than I would like, so I was concerned not to lose any more time.

Once I was back at the car and had warmed up a little, I checked my route to Kirnberg and set off, eating a sandwich en-route. The distance from the parking spot to the summit at Kirnberg is not far but again, it was made difficult by the still laying snow as was the erection of the dipole antenna when I reached the summit. While Peissenberg had been very cold and Ammerleite very windy, Kirnberg turned out to be both very cold and very windy, with the result that I was eager to get the activation done and get on with the long drive over to Auerberg as soon as I could. Once again Robert on 10m was the first in the log but despite several calls I was unable to find anyone else on 10m. Rather than the zoo on 40m, I decided to try 20m this time to pick up the needed extra 3 contacts. In fact I got 8 more contacts before the chasers ran out, so I packed up again and slid my way back down to the car.

The trip from Kirnberg to Auerberg took a little longer than planned as I missed a turn off and only when I realised this when I saw I was approaching a different SOTA summit (DL/AL-170 Zweisselberg). So I had to turn around and back-track until I found a way through to the road that I should have been on. I had hoped that the Panorama Restaurant at Auerberg may have been open, so I could have got a warm drink, but unfortunately it wasn’t. It’s probably not worth them opening except at weekends at this time of year. Once I was set up behind the church on the summit, reliable Robert was there again on 10m for me but this time I also managed a contact with Michael DJ5AV near Lake Constance on 10m aswell. I saw that there were a few other activators on while I was at Auerberg and managed an S2S contact with Hans DL/PA3FYG/P but with the other three activators I called, I simply could not get through the pile-ups to them with just my 5w (with cold fingers, I didn’t try to install the amplifier to give me 25w instead of 5w and even with that boost I may not have been able to “break the pile-up”). I worked a total of 25 other 40m contacts from Auerberg in about 50 minutes. At this point, I was running behind schedule, so it was time to shut down and pack up again and see if indeed I could manage all 5 planned summits in the day and get home at a reasonable time.

Auerberg to Weichberg was probably the shortest drive of the day at about 15 minutes. The parking spot for Weichberg is not normally a long walk from the summit, but in this case no one had used the track up the hillside and I had to “break the track” through the snow to mark the way up to the chapel on the summit. The 4 or 5 people who came up while I was operating probably appreciated my marking the track – on the way down it was a lot clearer and easier to negotiate as it had been used more. Weichberg would have been a good summit to use the vertical on a tripod from as there is only limited places to install the fibreglass squidpole but as I had left the vertical in the car, I was not going to go down to get it and so the dipole went up as best it could. One call on 10m and there was Robert, reporting this was the weakest he had heard me but I still broke over the top of some S5-S7 noise he was having on 10m from some local installation. Apart from Robert, I worked a further 7 stations on 20m, with some weak reports. It was only after getting home that I realised that the FT-817 had switched down to 2.5w output from its maximum 5w due to the battery voltage dropping. I had a spare (charged) battery with me however on Weichberg, I just wanted to bag as many chasers as could hear me and then pack up and head home to a warm bath tub! So it was after 25 minutes of operating on Weichberg, I packed up for a last time, happy with the fact that I had managed to activate all 5 summits but glad it was over. The state of the paths and the fact that there was still quite a lot of snow around had surprised me as all snow at home had gone some days before.

Photos:

DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

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DL/AM-178 Ammerleite.

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DL/AM-177 Kirnberg.

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DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

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DL/AL-179 Weichberg.

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Diamond RHM-8B on tripod (used on Peissenberg only)

Spiderbeam Aerial-51 UL-404 off centre fed dipole on 5 metre squid pole (all other locations).

Log:

DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

Activator Log  DL/AM-178 Ammerleite.

Activator Log  DL/AM-177 Kirnberg.

Activator Log  DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

Activator Log  DL/AL-179 Weichberg.

Activator LogConclusions:

At this time of year, fives summits in one day is probably the most I could have achieved. In summer 7 may be possible as I drove past one summit (Rentschen) which I had already activated on 10m and activated this year and so would get no points for it and the DL/AL-170 Zweisselberg summit that I almost reached by mistake would probably also be a possible seventh candidate!

73 ’til the next summit! ….. or summits?

DD5LP – March 29th. 2015 – Two Ammergauer summits in half a day – DL/AM-176 & 177

Preparation:

Originally planned to be three summits to catch the last possible weekend for 2015 SOTA winter bonus points (the period finishes om March 31st.). After the second being very difficult due to hurricane force winds, I cancelled the third summit which was to be DL/AM-178 Ammerleite.

Preparation was only planning the activations to fit into my very tight weekend schedule, that I now have as I have a full time job again. Equipment used was the usual FT817, Ramsey QAMP amplifier, the Aerial-51 antenna and the 6m mast – all of which had had their batteries recharged and the tangles taken out of the antenna wire following the previous activation, so I was all set to go.

The Location:

The locations had already been activated and report from those activvations can be found here:

DL/AM-176 Rentschen

DL/AM-177 Kernberg

The Activation:

Although the weather forecast was for some showers, the winds were the surprise. At my first summit DL/AM-176 Rentschen, although a little cold, it didn’t start windy but by the time I packed up the winds were extreme. The other problem for both of these activations, was that there was some contest on, on both 20 & 40m covering all of the band with S9+++ splatter. I had hoped to possibly get an S2S with Gerard VK2IO who was planning to be on Mt. Elliot (my old local summit) in NSW Australia. Whether we could have made a contact without all the QRM, I suspect not as the conditions were probably not good enough but by the contest stations destroying the band we will never know if we might have been able to make contact.

 

Despite the winds at Rentschen, I decided to try for the next summit, Kernberg, anyway in the hope that the winds might die down, When I arrived it was not too windy however it didn’t take long for them to build up. Blowing my ruck sack off the bench at one point (and it is quite heavy). I struggled to even get the required 4 contacts at this summit. After the third contact the squid pole decided to drop down from 6 metres to about 3 metres but I didn’t think it worth fighting my way to the mast to put it up again, given that it probably would come straight back down again. Hence that Swedish contest station that was my forth contact had to realky work to hear me (despite that he still gave the contest standard 5-9 report!). Along with the winds and the contest QRM, I also had major problems with Rucksack Radio Tool, the application on my phone that I use to spot myself with and see which other activators are out. By calling and giving a contest station a point, I eventually managed the required 4 contacts. I may have done better if I had connected up the Ramsey amp on Kirnberg as I had on Rentschen but that would have been more equipment out to be blown away, never to be seen again!

Photos:

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It’s hard to tell from the short film however it was really windy on Kirnberg, so much so that if I did not fasten or hold everything down, it would have blown away!

Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND,

Aerial-51 model 404-UL asymetric dipole.

6 metre squid pole.

Ramsey QAMP (only used on Rentschen).

Logs:

Rentschen_activator_logkirnberg_activator_log

Conclusions:

It is always best to air on the side of caution. There were times on Kirnberg when the winds were so strong that it was dangerous. Going on to Ammerleite would probably, at the least, ended up with some broken antenna equipment.

The use of the Ramsey Amp does help getting through, especially when there are contests on.

Never assume everything will work properly. After working perfectly for many activations, RRT kept aborting meaning I had to try up to 10 times before I could get a spot out as the program kept failing. I think this was due to lack on 3G signal, but the program shouldn’t abort for that reason.

,73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – SOTA EUROPE – June 11th. 2014 – DL/AM-177 Kirnberg

Preparation:

In the hope of some more long path, early morning contacts into VK, I decided Kernberg, looked as if access should be fairly straight forward being not too far away from Ammerleite that I had activated the previous week. There were two possible issues. The weather and if the summit was actually on private land as seemed to be the case from the map and satellite photos, So I may not be able to get access. There was only one way to find out. I headed out, leaving at about 6:45am local time for a planned start at 8:30am local time (0630 UTC).

The Location:

hiking-map-approachThe drive was uneventful and I found the location easily, looking at the map above Kirnberg is actually at Geigersau, which is at the end of a, albeit single track, well maintained road. When I arrived at the location, rather than just heading up the track to the cross, I decided to go to the farm and ask permission, after searching a little I found the farmer at work in the cow shed and he immediately said there’s no problem, it is public access but thanks for taking the time to ask.

The Activation:

So I headed up the short track from where I had parked my car, to find the bonus of a seat next to the cross. The views in every direction were amazing and as the rain that had started before I left home, had stopped en-route, I was all set to go. I had brought the usual equipment with me (FT817, linked dipole, 6m squid pole and small amplifier), so I started setting up with the antenna running the direction I needed it for LP to VK and then someone approached the summit, also carrying various equipment – it was Martin DF3MC. This was a nice surprise, I had told Martin I was intending to activate this summit and he had simply decided to come along and give a hand.

After considering the best set up, we went with the extra power from Martin’s 897 running 30w and his taller mast but stayed with my linked dipole and my Yaesu microphone with built in speech compressor.which works with any of the 817 / 857 / 897 family.

As I was some 30 mins ahead of my schedule I suggested Martin start and as CW is his favorite he started on 20m CW and almost straight away got several VK CW contacts (Martin was once V3DAR). He was surprised, but was even more surprised 30 minutes later when we worked three VK chasers on SSB as well – thanks Matt, Paul & Ernie. Apologies to any other VK chasers that tried but we couldn’t hear. As well as the usual W-I-D-E stations on 20m, we also had pulse interference at S9+ level from the electric fences around where we were, so weaker signals were difficult to catch.

Even with the interference, I think Martin went away impressed at what can be achieved on the top of a hill with 30w and a dipole (even on SSB) if you activate at the right time. Of course getting “the right time” is difficult and appears to change from week to week, so at best arrive as early as you can and stay as long as you can.

We did exactly that and both decided at the same time around 10:30am local, that the conditions had worsened and the Sun was getting a little too hot and so we agreed to pack up and head in opposite directions to our homes. Both agreed this had been a very enjoyable and successful activation.

Here is a gallery of the photos I took of the fantastic views from the summit followed by a video that I have loaded to YouTube.

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Equipment:

FT897

SOTABeams Linked dipole

10m squid pole.

Logs:

DD5LP

Activator_logDF3MC

DF3MC-log1 DF3MC-log2

Conclusions:

A very enjoyable activation. I find it more pleasant when two are activating together. If nothing else it gives more time to take photos/videos.

This is a site than can be recommended to anyone wishing to activate a summit. It is not difficult to get to and the views from it are amazing. Shame about the electric fence interference.

73 ’til the next Summit!