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?

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DD5LP – March 21st. 2015 – DL/AM-001 Pießenberg & DL/AL-179 Weichberg.

Preparation:

In the hope of bagging a couple of VK contacts and taking advantage of the fact that most of the snow had cleared, I planned these two activation of 1 point summits before the end of their winter bonus period. After the previous problems with activating Burndorfer Buchet a couple of weeks earlier (this is a simple, no winter bonus, summit) becuase of a fully iced over track, I was hoping not to meet similar conditions on Auerberg and Weichberg. These activations would have to be strictly time controlled as I had to be back home for an appointment at noon.

The Locations:

I have already activated these summits a couple of times. They are easy to access, with just the last section needing to be walked in. For fuller detail on the summits and access, please check my reports on this website from last years activations.

The Activation:

I’m glad to report no snow or ice related issues in getting to Peißenberg. The traffic was heavier than expected however I still arrived and set-up ahead of my planned activation time. I started on 20m hoping for long path into VK as I had managed from Peißenberg before, but no luck. Even other European summits that had been spotted, I could not hear. I spotted myself and started calling. It took a little while but I managed two contacts into Finland and Bulgaria with good signals in both directions. When I switched to 40m however, it was a completely different story. A “wall of noise” of chasers that went on for a solid 15 minutes, by which time, with my tight schedule, I had to pack up in any case to move on to Weichberg.

On arriving at Weichberg, the access track was a little muddy but apart from that no ice or snow problems. I tried to quickly set-up however I was joined by some inquisitive walkers, an 85 year old with his 80 year old wife, so once I had explained what Amateur Radio is about, I was getting to my planned activation time before I finally go on. Given my experience on Peißenberg, I decided to start on 40m and again ran straight into a pile up that lasted again 15 minutes. I then decided to try 20m quickly before packing up. Conditions on 20m were no better than earlier and I only managed 3 contacts on 20m this time.Marko from Finland again and two Spanish stations.

So it was only a matter of untangling the antenna after taking it down and packing up as quickly as I could with frozen fingers (yes it was still very cold on both of these summits) and then head home and out to my appointment, which I “just” made on time.

Photos:

 

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND,

Aerial-51 model 404-UL asymmetric dipole.

6 metre squid pole.

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

Green plastic sheet.

Logs:

Peißenberg

Peissenberg-log Weichberg.Weichberg-log

Conclusions:

Propagation is a fickle partner, especially a couple of days after a major CME has hit the earths atmosphere, one should always be prepared for more than one band. The Aerial-51 is fast becoming my “go to” antenna for SOTA operations replacing the SOTABeams linked dipole as it appears to perform just as well but it is a multi-band antenna that doesn’t need to be taken down to change bands. The Ramsey amplifier also now appears to be operating reliably, it’s a shame that it only gives me 15W output on 20m (25W on 40m is a nice level). This is probably due to the design running the transistors under their preffered voltage.

Try not to plan SOTA activations into a tight schedule. I was lucky this time, but it could have been that a delay on the summit could have caused me to be late for my appointment.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – June 26th. 6 Dec. 4th 2014 – DL/AL-179 Weichberg

Preparation:

With the intention of catching some S2S contacts with SOTA activators on their way to the HAM RADIO event in Fredrichshafen (or already there). I sought out a summit that I hadn’t activated yet, where I could travel to from home and then return home, before driving myself to Friedrichshafen the next day (Friday 27th. June).

Weichberg with its small chapel is very easy to access, in the middle of a farming area that appears to have adapted itself for holidaymakers wanting to hike the local hills with holiday homes, cafes and one souvenir shop in the village of Rettenbach which is at the bottom of the Weichberg hill. There is a car park for about 5 cars and then a short path up through the trees to get to the chapel on the summit. Access is easy.

Weichberg

The Location:

I drove to Weichberg on the preceeding Monday (June 23rd.) to check-out the location and test for radio noise as there is a TV and Radio transmitter mast behind the chapel on the hill.

Weichberg is easy to find – take the B472 out of Schongau in the direction of MarktOberdorf and after about 10km Rettenbach is clearly signposted as a turn to the left. After going through the small village of Frankau continue on to the centre of Rettenbach where Weichberg is signposted to the left up a road called Dolce. Follow this road to the point where the road is restricted for forestry worker access only and at this point there is the official (signposted) car park and the start of the track up to the chapel. After walking up the track (it takes about 3 minutes) I did find some RF noise with my portable shortwave receiver but could not say if this is coming from the tower or elsewhere. In any case the level was not bad enough to block out all signals. At the chapel on the top of the hill there is a grassed area with some seating banks, a cross and some small trees. To the north of the grassed area a large forrest starts and to the south, the land drops off quickly to local farm land. This is a good area to set up the station in.

The plan was set – bring both bags of the usual equipment. Set up the dipole NE to SW in the hope of perhaps capturing the last of the long path window into VK at the 0730UTC planned start time. Then settle in for some DX and S2S contacts.

The Activation:

The activation went to plan, the weather, although starting off foggy cleared en-route. It was warm in the sun, but cold out of it. I set up using the wooden log table and banks and ran the dipole NE-SW (incidendaly end-on to the TV & radio tower a few hundred metres away – I had no problems from the tower). I was hoping perhaps to catch a VK chaser but it seems I was probably a little late for the long path window even though I arrived 30 mins earlier than planned and was operational by 0700 UTC (9am local). After working several chasers on a busy 20m band I switched to 40m and managed to contact Nick DL/G4OOE/P for a summit to summit contact. I also manged two S2S contacts into Austria. With a total of 40 contacts all up, this was a good activation.

 The site is very easily accessible, so for anyone looking to do a holiday style SOTA activation, this is a nice spot. The views are glorious and the small chapel on the summit is very neat and tidy inside. Quaint without being over done. The door on the chapel has an electric lock, simply press the button to allow the door to be opened. watch your head if you decide to go upstairs, the concrete roof is unforgiving which my wife unfortunately found out.

Here are some photos from the reccie and the activation –

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The Second activation – December 4th.

Due to being unable to gain access to Eisenberg (DL/AL-171) for an attempt of an S2S into Virginia USA, I decided to re-activate Weichberg as it was on my route home. As the pictures show, it was a cold foggy summit, with ice droping out of the trees and a cold, damp wind. I earned my 3 bonus points for activating in the winter season!  Yes that is the coax all messed up – with cold fingers I was unable to untangle it.

The S2S with Eric W4EON/P on W4V/SH-015 was successful, so the hardship was, in the end worth it.

Equipment (1):

FT817ND

Ramsey QRP amplifier

SOTABeams linked dipole

6m Squid pole.

Equipment (2):

FT817ND

Ramsey QRP amplifier

Aerial-51 OCF dipole

6m Squid pole.

Log (1):

Activator-log

Log (2):

4-12-14_LOG

Conclusions (from 1st. activation):

An easy activation. A pleasant half a day out in the country with a stop for lunch mid-way on the way home. No equipment problems but still hoping to get a roofing filter for the FT817 to improve selectivity when strong signals are on the band. Let’s hope I can find one at a good price at Friedrichshafen.

Lessons learned –

Consider temperatures. A shaded area where the table was seemed a good idea, and it would have been later in the day, however in the morning, when the sun doesn’t get there it can be very cold. I would have been better to set up my two small camping chairs on the grass, nearer to the antenna mast.

73 ’til the next Summit!