Thursday, 21 February 2013

SOTA - Mynydd Llangorse - GW/SW-015

Mynydd Llangorse - 515m, 2 points

Association: Wales  Region: South Wales  
Latitude: 51 55 56 N, Longitude: 3 13 28 W
Grid Reference: SO 159267, QTH Locator: IO81JW

Summit cairn
The ascent of Mynydd Llangorse is somewhat easier than it's bigger partner, but I still worked up a good sweat regardless of the below freezing temperatures. After the climb there is a long flat summit plateau, and in keeping with tradition, I set out to find the true summit. After quite a bit of walking  you eventually come across the small cairn marking the spot. With no shelter or a convenient pole support I back tracked to where I'd spotted a few standing stones on an otherwise featureless plateau. These served two purposes, firstly a good place to anchor the pole and secondly somewhere to hunker down out of the very cold wind. I was soon set up and, pretty obviously, spotted on the Sotawatch. The usual chasers were waiting for me and a productive activation produced 52 QSOs and 17 DXCC. With the day drawing on, an increasingly chilly wind, I packed up and descended to the car, A good days activating and 12 points in the bag.

Convenient shack location

Frozen lake

Positively balmy - thermometer reads 4.5C in the sunshine and out of the wind!

SOTA - Mynydd Troed - GW/SW-009

Mynydd Troed - 609m, 4 points

Association: Wales  Region: South Wales  
Latitude: 51 57 21 N, Longitude: 3 12 54 W
Grid Reference: SO 166293, QTH Locator: IO81JW

View from the col.
The plan today was to take a run to South Wales and rack up 12 activator points in one go. This would be my most productive day to date if I pulled it off. The two summits, Mynydd Troed and Mynydd Llangorse, can both be accessed from the col which separates them. I set off from the house with temperatures hovering around freezing point, so I knew this was going to be a cold day. The narrow country lane leading up to the parking spot (SO161283) was strewn  with ice patches where run off covered the road.
Trig point
I quickly booted up and set about attacking the higher of the two summits first. This is quite a climb which gets very steep towards the top. Luckily, with it being a popular hill, there were plenty of  foot holds kicked into the hillside from the regular walkers. Towards the top there is a path which contours around to the tri point which makes the final climb much easier.
On the summit I opted to set the pole into the trig point as I didn't expect I'd be in anyone's way today, the ground was frozen solid so pegs were going to be a problem, and there were no other obvious supports.

The strong wind also meant I couldn't raise the mast completely as I was worried it would break.
Setting up in a hollow to keep out tf the wind, the thermometer was showing -11C. With the wind chill operating without gloves was not an option!
Contacts came quick and fast, knocking off 60 contacts, 18 DXCC.

Getting down out of the wind
As I was packing up a couple of walkers arrived. we had a quick chat before they left. They were the only other people I would see all day on both hills.
I quickly gathered by kit and started down the descent. At the car I ate some lunch, warmed up a bit and then started on the ascent of Mynyyd Lllangorse.

View over to Mynydd Llangorse

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

More Snow - G/WB-019

May Hill - 296m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: Welsh Borders  
Latitude: 51 53 18 N, Longitude: 2 26 40 W
Grid Reference: SO 695212, QTH Locator: IO81SV

Trig point
A new year and a chance to gain another point! On top of this it was time to try out my MTR on 5Mhz with a new antenna and practice some more cold weather operating techniques.

Arrival at May Hill I was treated to a light blanket of snow. With very little wind however, conditions were not nearly as bad as I'd imagined they would be, with temperatures haovering around zero C.

Climb to the summit
I kicked off proceedings on 60 metres and was pleased to quickly rack up 7 contacts on the band. It proved that not only is the rig working well, but also that the antenna modification works OK too. Overall 44 QSOs and 14 DXCC. Everything worked out well, and other than forgetting my camera, I seem to be getting used to the cold operating procedures!

Cold   -1C

The shack

Monday, 11 February 2013

SOTA - A day of "Firsts"

11th February 2013

With it being almost the anniversary of my first activation, I was keen to get out on the hills again before the dreaded "work" starts again on Wednesday. 

Last night I'd finally got around to modifying my MTR (KD1JV)to run on 60 Metres.
I was keen to give it an airing to see how it worked, so decided on a quick local activation.
As I got closer to my local summit, G/CE-001, I realised that there had been a fair bit of snow overnight!
So the first "first" of the day was setting up in snow!

First snowy activation

New Bothy bag and waterproof logbook
If I said my hands were cold that would be an under statement! The biggest problem was that I'd brought a couple of connectors with me to extend my 40m EFHW with another 25' of wire for 60m operation. My fingers would not play ball with the connectors so I ended up forgetting about lengthening the antenna and just trying it as was. I couldn't find a match at all on 5Mhz, and my FG01 antenna analyser was sitting on my bench at home! Never the less I decided to give 60m a go anyway.
A quick CQ pulled in GW0MYY, G3TLH and G3ICO.
So another first, my first 60m SOTA activation.
Not being regular SOTA chasers, it was at this time that I realised that a spot would speed things along (RBN has very little coverage on 60).
Pulling out my mobile phone, I discovered the battery was dead!

Never mind, I changed rigs to my ATS4 and soon had a pile up going on 40m.
A call from Victor, GI4ONL/p brought my first S2S QSO under the new award, and 5 points to S2S Roll of Honour!

As it started to snow I noticed how well my new waterproof log book was working on it's first outing..

Snow and cold calls for shelter, so I crawled into my new Bothy Bag for the first time. The difference was amazing. The thermometer was showing 0.8C outside, but within the bag we were quickly up to 6.5C and without the wind chill it was easy to operate without gloves.
After a spell on 30 and 20 metres and no chasers on 17, I packed up.

For the first time my SOTA pole refused to collapse, I think the joints were frozen and I couldn't shift it with gloves on. I had to manhandle it with bare hands, which was a chilling experience.

All in all a good day and a chance to try the new rig, new logbook and new Bothy bag. I might try 60m again with a proper antenna tomorrow if I get a chance.