DD5LP – November 5th. 2015 – DL/BE-003 another Zweiselberg!

Preparation:

I had been wanting to activate the second Zweiselberg in the DL region for some time. This one is located near Bad Tölz about an hours drive away from my home. I had activated Buchberg across the valley from the Blombergbahn that I would use to appproach this Zweiselberg by, a couple of times.

I had hoped to activate Karwendelspitz while it still has both an Austrian and a German SOTA code but at first the path from the cable car station to the summit was closed by snow before I went over to the UK and when I returned, although the path was open again, the cable car had stopped running. Many of these services are stopped at the start of November so that the complete system can undergo inspection and maintenance before the start of the ski season which is when they are used the most. As I realised Karwendelspitze was not going to be a possibility, I looked around for another summit and found that at the end of the week, the Blombergbahn would be switching it’s schedule to only running on weekends and public holidays until the ski season. I’d have to move quickly to get up on the mountain on a week day (when there are less tourists). So Wednesday became “fix-it” day for the vertical antenna that had let me down somewhat in the UK. In fact by testing in the garden, I found that the counterpoise wires needed to be elevated off the ground (or at least no laid on soil – stone is OK) and then the VSWR came down when the antenna was adjusted correctly. So I decided to use this activation to test out the antenna with the counterpoise suported off the ground using my walking poles.

The Location:

As mentioned above this Zweiselberg is near to Bad Tölz and approached via the neighbouring mountain, Blomberg (which used to be SOTA summit DL/BE-001 up until 2009). There are other routes to get to the summit from other directions, even mountain bike accessible paths and as far as the Blomberghaus there is a track for those authorised to drive their cars up it. For the majority of people however the route is the one I took using the 2 seat Blombergbahn chair lift up from the B472 road. By the way, when you park in the car park, take the small half of your €2,00 parking ticket to the lift’s ticket office and you will get €2.00 off the €9,50 ticket to ride up and down the lift, this is so that those using the lift’s car park but not the lift have to pay. Once you complete the 20-25 minute ride up the lift a well signposted and wide track takes you to the Blomberghaus – the restaurant on this summit. It is about 1 km. away from the lift and after a steep walk down and slow walk back up, you are at the Blomberghaus in about 15 minutes.

BlomberghausFrom here you can see Zweiselberg towering over you and a sign, that says 2km to the cross and an expected walking time of 1 hour. 2km in 1 hour? Well once you follow the (still wide at this point) track for about 1km into the forest, you will see why you might need more time that you would think as the track goes off to the side and becomes steep and difficult to navigate as this is the way the water runs off the mountain when it rains. During this part of the walk, I was thanking the fact that I had put my walking boots on, not left my tennis shoes on as it was a rough surface.

When I climb a track I tend to go at it quite hard and fast, then take short breaks when I am out of breath. On this track, I passed everyone who was going up the track and it took me 30 minutes from the restaurant to the summit, not an hour. At a “normal” pace I would expect it to take 45-50 minutes and indeed the first people I passed on the climb arrived at the summit about 20 minutes after me, and I had already got all of the equipment out and was ready to operate.

There is a hut called Zweiselalm, do not follow the track to that as you will then still have a good 20 minutes walk to get to the correct summit.

The Activation:

Once I reached the cross on the summit and had taken some pictures, I set up on some boarding about 10m behind the cross. By this time the sun had come out and I took off my quilted jacket, not needing it for the rest of the day. The weather was beautiful, a real contrast to my last activation of G/TW-002 the previous week! A few people asked me what I was doing and of course I explained. I did have a copy of  the DARC brochure explaining what Amateur Radio is about, but forgot that I did as I only had the “minimum kit” with me (as used in the UK), I will have to put this out somewhere next time (I have several copies in the “full kit”).

I set the vertical up with the tripod at full height (no wind – great) and both the 20m extension to the whip and the counterpoise elevated off the ground. Tuning the antenna to the same marking that I had used during testing the previous day in my garden, the VSWR was very low – all looked good. I then saw a spot for Antonio EC2AG on EA2/BI-068 and managed to get an S2S with him he was 5-4 with me and he gave me a 4-4 report. Well, I was only running 5W so fine we’re working. I then spotted myself and the calls started coming in. I was happy to hear Karl M3FEH calling me with his QRP signal from Cornwall, England. Weak but fully readable. After working ten stations on 20m (including another S2S), I decided to switch to 40m. With this set-up, I use a different (longer) extension to the whip on the top of the Diamond RHM-8B for 40m, so there was some changes required and movement of the support walking poles. 40m did not tune as well as 20m. This was surprising as in the garden testing it was the other way around. In any case I then managed after a lot of calling and help from chasers, telling him there was an S2S calling, another S2S contact this time with Mario HB9HAT/P in Switzerland. In all I worked a total of 15 stations on 40m before packing up after an hour on the summit.

The walk back to the Blomberghaus restaurant was a lot easier than the ascent to the summit and I would have liked to have stopped for a break but time was running short, so I kept on to the top of the chair lift and that last climb back up to the chairlift took almost as much effort as some of the earlier steep climb sections!

Photos:

 

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Tripod mounted Diamond RHM-8B loaded vertical whip.

Painters sheet to sit on.

Log:

Activators Log

Conclusions:

You can only really test equipment in situ and the ground conditions are variable from summit to summit and indeed from one day to the next on the same summit. So one has to be ready to adjust an antenna (especially a compromise one like the Diamond) when you reach the summit. Overall the activation went very well and if I do eventually get to activate Karwendelspitze (or similar limited space summitss) I know the set-up I have will work well enough to get me contacts across Europe if not further.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP – July 30th. 2015 – DL/AL-170 Zweiselberg

On this summit I first did a reccie to see what access was like, documented it, and then eventually went back to activate it.

Reccie Notes – Monday 27th. October 2014

 

Summit also known as “Am Buch”.

Wx foggy – visibility down to 50m in places.

Access from Roßhaupten – at end is a private road – use at own risk.

Track from end of tarmaced road VERY, Very muddy – not driveable and in fact hard to walk up without good hiking shoes!

According to the coordinates in the SOTA DB the actual summit is within the forest, but the location of the cross (that looks down onto the forest) is certainly within 25 vertical metres of the DB point.

The area at the Cross has room for antennas and supports for squid pole and a useful seating bench.

Time to walk from car to summit (without equipment) – 10 minutes – allow 20 minutes with equipment.

Time from home to parking spot – 1hr. 15Min. (return 1 Hr.).

Good cellphone coverage – 4 bars for Telekom & Vodaphone. Internet connectivity is fine.

No apparent RF noise at the time I was there (around 10:30/11 am).

THIS SUMMIT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO ACTIVATE IF THERE IS SNOW COVER.

The Location:

wander-karte

Preparation:

While I was looking for a summit to activate that I hadn’t activated yet, I remembered that I had done a “Reccie” on Zwieselberg and while the heat wave had ceased for a few days, I decided to take a shot at this summit, early morning, to perhaps catch the end of the long path opening to VK. Karl M3FEH was also planning to be out in Cornwall on his FIRST SOTA activation, so I was hoping for an S2S with him.

The equipment was all, ready and packed. The modified QAMP (now with a 12v fan added to cool the transistors) had been tested in the workshop to make sure the issue with one of the BNC connectors had been solved and that neither of the two transistors had actually failed in the last activation. The coax on the Aerial-51 404-UL OCF dipole had, had it’s PL259 plug changed to a BNC plug to reduce the number of adapters required. So everything was prepared. I printed out the road route from Google Maps and then went through and wrote a list of the major junctions and villages that I needed to look out for en-route to Zwieselberg.

All set for an 7:30am local, departure.

The Activation:

Everything was packed into the car and I set off in direction of Zwiselberg, already at 7:15am only to notice that the diesel in the car was nearly out, so a small diversion and delay was needed to fill the tank. Some of the route ran along nicely while on other sections I was stuck behind tractors or trucks or simply cars that thought 60 not 100 Km/h was the speed limit.

In any case I arrived and parked at the same parking spot as I did for the reccie. It was about 8:30am and still cold – I was glad I had brought my light jacket. The climb with all the radio gear, food and water started and that was when I realised how steep this route is. It would definitely not have been possible without good hiking shoes and probably not at all in the snow! I forced my way on and eventually reached the summit totally out of breath but greeted with a beautiful view across the valley and the large lake (Forggensee) – a real contrast to what I could see from here the last time I was here!

I quickly unpacked and installed the squid pole and antenna, then set up the rest of the equipment on the bench in front of the cross and was on-air before 9am local (0700 UTC).

A quick look on SOTAWatch via RRT and a tune around found no SOTA stations, so I self spotted and called. I got a call back from Dinos SV3IEG. I then saw a spot for Karl M3FEH/p on Kitt hill and found him just finishing with Paul VK5PAS. I called him for an S2S contact and for a moment, I wasn’t sure whether it was Paul or Karl who had come back to me as the signal had increased dramatically. It was Karl and this would be the story of 20m on this activation – signals going from almost nothing to 5-9 and back again within less than a minute.

After working Karl, I went back to my spotted frequency and started calling CQ again – it took some work but I managed two more contacts on 20m – an S2S with Mike 2E0YYY on Gun and then Paul VK5PAS out of South Australia. Then it went quiet, so I decided to try 10 metres – DJ5AV Michael, located on Lake Constance (not far away) came back to give me a 10m contact but that was to be the only 10m contact for the day, despite trying an arranged contact with Jorge EA2LU. His 1 KW signal was coming in probably about S4 or S5 but my puny 5W was not making the trip back.

After a couple more contacts on 20m, I switched to 40m and was flooded with contacts. It seems 40m was the best band for this activation, logging 13 contacts in 16 minutes.

The full log is shown below. Towards the end of the activation, I got a visit from a cyclist who hung around for a chat and to find out what I was doing. Her son and husband are both interested in technology, so she got one of the DARC introduction to Amateur Radio brochures from me and hopefully that might lead somewhere. This lady also told me that there was a less steep access path from the rear of the summit with reasonable car access to not far away. Perhaps worth checking out next year as the trip back down the track to the car was probably more precarious than the one up with loose gravel, stones and soil on a very steep track.

Slide Show

1- From Reccie.

 

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2- From Activation.

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND,

Aerial-51 model 404-UL asymetric dipole.

Ramsey QAMP amplifier.

6 metre squid pole.

Log:

activator_log

Conclusions:

This was an enjoyable activation, not just for the couple of SOTA points, but also for the fact that I managed to contact Karl on his first SOTA activation. It is of course always a pleasure to catch up with Mike 2E0YYY on a summit and the contact with Paul (nearly always a strong signal) from Australia, also fitted this relatively easy going day. The visit of the lady cyclist allowed me to promote the hobby and the weather stayed clear and dry to give me some wonderful views of the area.

Oh and yes all the equipment worked perfectly. All in all a very enjoyable activation.

73 ’til the next Summit!