Saturday, 7 December 2013

Mighty Mite Weekend

In late November, the dates of the inaugural SOTA - "Might Mite Weekend", the brainchild of Richard, G3CWI were announced to the world:
The first Might Mite weekend will be held on the 7-8th December 2013. The aim is simply to get on the air and make SOTA contacts using Rock Mites or Rock Mite clones. Chasers and activators are equally welcome.

SOTAbeams will provide a little trophy for the person who publishes the most interesting account of their activities over the weekend here on SOTAwatch.
I had planned to operate this as a single band entry with my new Rockmite 20, which I'd put through some limited, successful field trials.

On Thursday 5th December my plans were shot to pieces!

It all started when the postman rang the doorbell to deliver a parcel. Now this is not unusual, especially at this time of year when other members of the household seem intent on emptying the warehouses of the on-line shops. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find the parcel was addressed to me, even though I was not expecting anything to be delivered.

An unexpected parcel
The address label intrigued me. It had my name followed by G4ISJ. It couldn't possibly be a bulk load of 2000 QSL cards?
But no, the sender was "Evans form W. Yorks". The only Evans I know from that part of the world is Colin, M1BUU. Why would he be sending me a parcel?
The mystery deepened and I quickly found a knife to open the box. Through the bubble wrap I could see a shiny aluminium box glinting at me. Swiftly unwrapping the bubble wrap I'm left holding an "Ugly Mite 40", a Rockmite 40 clone, built Manhattan style.

But why?
There's an accompanying letter:

Dear Pete,
Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a new 40m QRP rig!
I do hope you like it and I'm hoping that you will give it a try during Mighty Mite Weekend.
Words fail me. Colin has built a 40m rig especially for me for the MMW!
It's imperative that I now put on a good show at the weekend....

UM #001
Built for G4ISJ by M1BUU

Bredon Hill - G/CE-003

Saturday dawned overcast but dry and I packed my bags now loaded with the RM20 and UM40.

First stop was G/CE-003, Bredon Hill. It's only about a 20 minute walk to the summit from the car park and I was soon set up and ready to roll. The untried UM40 was hooked up to my 40m EFHW. WOW- loud, loud, loud signals bang on 7.028Mhz. A contest and a FISTS activity day were in full swing. There was no way I could compete here with this racket.
So it's hook up the RM20 instead and things are a little better. There's still a contest running but my frequency seems a bit clearer. A couple of CQs and first out of the hat is Claus, DL1HBL followed by 16 further stations in the next 30 minutes, EA, OK, SP, OM, OH, DL, HB9, CT1, F, and OZ.
Happy that I've made a reasonable dent in 20m I decided to try again on 40 metres.
I owed it to Colin.
If anything, things are worse. I have terrible BC band breakthrough and I'm trying to contend with someone nattering on about cricket scores on top of a contest and FISTS stations...

Suddenly I hear the FISTS station, who was bang on my rockbound frequency, signing QRT.
A quick QRL?, no reply and I'm calling CQ.
The silence is deadly (well it would have been if it wasn't for the cricket and the contest stations).
A few more CQs and then, as if by magic, out of the hash pops PA3FF. You can always tell when RBNgate has worked it's magic! This was followed quickly, but with some difficulty, by 5 more stations; G, GM and DF. I found that if I switched my tuner to "tune mode" the Tayloe bridge provided enough of an input attenuator to reduce the BC interference to a workable level. Of course it also meant that my OP signal was similarly attenuated.
I'm uncertain as to how much power was actually making it to the antenna.
After seven seriously hard minutes and a lot more CQing I called it quits for 40.
After a cup of coffee and an attempt to warm up my frozen fingers I made another attempt on 20m.
This netted another nine stations adding OE, HA, S57 and SM to countries worked.

By 11:45 I was packed up and making my way to summit number 2, G/CE-001 - Cleeve Hill.

QSO Map from G/CE-003

Cleeve Hill - G/CE-001

After some lunch I was on Cleeve Hill and ready for operations by 13:50z Once again 40m was quite shocking! I opted for 20metres to start the running. I called CQ for 18 minutes before  I eventually got a call from CT2IWW. It was 4 more minutes before I was obviously spotted on SotaWatch, but even this only netted a further 6 callers. However, the second of those callers was the super loud signal of Barry, N1EU to add to EA, I, S5, and OK. I made another futile attempt at calling again on 40metres but my CQs were drawing no attention in amongst the general melee.
I checked Sotawatch on my phone and saw that I was not being picked up by RBN. I added a manual spot and was pleased to shortly hear G4AFI calling me. I managed to work another 9 stations, an improvement on the earlier activation, but it was very hard work. This added G, GM, DL, OH, and HB9 to the DXX total, the HB9 contact being a S2S with HB9TVK/p on HB/ZH-015. I'm sure there were other stations calling me but the QRM was intolerable. A big thanks to those that persevered and especially for the S2S! On top of all this, and not helped by wearing gloves, my key decided to randomly decide to stop playing ball.
It would randomly stop sending and drop dashes which lead to some very sloppy morse :-( Back on 20m I managed another 9 QSOs adding OE, HA, CT1 and YO. Particularly nice was the QSO with OH9NB. He was running 5 Watts and a good 599. When I told him I was running 300mW he also reduced power to the same level. He was still 599!
QSO map - G/CE-001
The cold was getting to me, 40 was not getting any quieter and happy with my lot I packed up after my first  Mighty Mite Challenge. A challenge it certainly was :-). If there's a next time Richard, can we have a non contest weekend? This is what I was confronted with!


The challenge encourages people to get out on the hills with the simplest of rigs. The results show that even with wide open receivers and milliwatt power good results can still be achieved. OH9XX later sent me this video of my signal as received in Finland on 14Mhz.

 RBN shows the spread of my spotted signal which ties in nicely with the stations actually worked.
G4ISJ/P RBN spots 7/12/13
A lot of the effort obviously goes to the chasers, who go the extra mile to winkle out our tiny signals amongst the QRM. Thank you.

Overall I worked a total of 56 stations, 40 on 20metres and 16 on 40metres.
I worked 20 DXCC entities:
CT, DL, EA, F, G, GM, HA, HB9, I, OE, OH, OK, OM, OZ, PA, S5, SM, SP, W, YO.
Best DX was Barry- N1EU in the state of New York.

A big thanks to all the chasers and to Richard, G3CWI,  for coming up with the idea.
A very special thanks to Colin, M1BUU for building and providing me with a 40 metre Rockmite without which I'd be 16 QSO's down on that score above.
If anyone deserves to win this challenge it is Colin, and I duly nominate him to take away the trophy.

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