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!

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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!