Thursday, 8 November 2012

SOTA - Bredon Hill - G/CE-003

Bredon Hill -  G/CE-003 - 299m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: Central England  
Latitude: 52 3 36 N, Longitude: 2 3 45 W

Grid Reference: SO 957402, QTH Locator: IO82XB

Friday, 26 October 2012

Mountain Hunter Gold

I've been chasing after the Elusive Mountain Hunter award for many weeks now.
To Qualify  for Gold, I need to contact  at least 2 different summits in each of 15 associations. I have had 15 associations  worked for some time however, the sting in the tail is that at least one association claimed is on a different continent from the claimant's normal residence. I've been stuck for many months with only 1 USA summit worked, but when I saw an alert for Barry, N1EU, activating today I thought I'd take to the hills for a better chance of working him.

And so it was, right on schedule he showed up, we made an easy summit to summit contact, I got my two contacts with the  W2 association and immediately qualified for the Gold Award.
Next step is the Platinum which means working yet another continent which is harder again!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

SOTA - Beacon Batch - G/SC-003

Beacon Batch - 325m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: South Central  
Latitude: 51 18 41 N, Longitude: 2 44 30 W
Grid Reference: ST 484572, QTH Locator: IO81PH

The good thing about Beacon Batch is, that like Dundry Down, it's only a few miles from Bristol International Airport. As I was dropping my daughter off for a flight, I made the most of the afternoon and proceeded a few miles further south to the parking area at ST489581.
Trig Point

The car park was in mist and cloud and nothing much changed as I ascended the hill. There's a fairly obvious track to the summit and even with low visibility it was easy to navigate.

Just off to one side of the trig point there was a convenient tree growing out of a small mound. This made an excellent pole support and operator chair. there were no other obvious antenna supports other that the trig point itself.

The path to the summit.

The Shack

I quickly set up and was soon on the air and quickly racked up 60 QSOs and 19 DXCC.

I'm sure the views from the top would have been nice, but today there was nothing to be seen in the thick mist. Maybe next time!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

SOTA - Cleeve Hill - G/CE-001

Cleeve Hill - 330m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: Central England  
Latitude: 51 55 11 N, Longitude: 2 0 20 W
Grid Reference: SO 996245, QTH Locator: IO81XW

Friday, 5 October 2012

Shack Sloth

5th October 2012

Well I've been a SOTA chaser since 12 January 2012, and today I reached the first major step, which is "Shack Sloth"
This requires accumulating 1000 chaser points by working activators on SOTA summits.
My chases were all done on HF, CW with 5 Watts or less output power.

Whilst 1000 points may seem a lot, it pales in comparison to the top chasers who have accumulated more than 75000 points!

The nice certificate and trophy was duly ordered and now has pride of place in the shack.


Glass Trophy
 From a chaser angle the next goal is Super Sloth at 10,000 points, plus there are unique summits to chase which keeps the challenge fresh and exiting.

Details of SOTA can be found at he Summits On The Air website and activities can be monitored at the SOTAWatch portal.

Give it a go. It's completely free, but be warned - it's highly addictive, both chasing and activating!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Elecraft KX3

I've been patiently waiting for many weeks for the arrival of my KX3.
I decided to treat myself to one of these great QRP rigs and have been patiently waiting in a long list of back orders for mine to arrive.

It's arrived!
I noticed on the on-line tracking page that it had finally arrived at our local depot, so I quickly jumped in the car and drove over to pick it up. I knew that, had a left it, it would be at least another 4 or 5 days before it was delivered.
The first thing I noticed was how small the box was that it arrived in, and on opening, how tiny the actual rig is. I knew it was small, but until you actually handle it you don't realize just how compact it is!

Obviously no time was lost in checking the inventory and getting on with the assembly.

Assembly was very straight forward and within 3 hours it was up and running on the bench and making it's first contacts.
It looks like it's going to be a great rig, I just need to take some time to work out all the features and how to use them! Looking forward to some fun!
Unpacking the parts.

Working on the front panel

The processor board installed

Alongside the ATS4 and MTR

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

SOTA - Worcestershire Beacon - G/WB-009

Worcestershire Beacon - 425m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: Welsh Borders  
Latitude: 52 6 16 N, Longitude: 2 20 24 W
Grid Reference: SO 768452, QTH Locator: IO82TC

Another reasonable forecast, so out with the bike again, this time headed for Worcestershire Beacon.
This summit has a good path all the way to the top. It's seriuosly steep at the top, but ride-able if you take your time.
The day started of overcast and cool, but as the day wore on the sun broke through with nice sunny periods.
Alas, this was not to last. Half way through the activation large squally, thundery clouds rolled in and I took a severe soaking!  Still I managed 27 QSOs and 10 DXCC. 

After packing away it was a cold decent until I managed to warm up again in a bus shelter.  This was just a time wasting exercise anyway as I'd arranged to meet friends at a local pub to sample their fine Ales before heading home.
The summit

Another 30 miles home!

Riding home after the pub.
  Leaving the pub well after dark and 20 miles to ride home made for a good day out.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

SOTA -Ruardean Hill - G/WB-021

Ruardean Hill - 290m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: Welsh Borders  
Latitude: 51 50 58 N, Longitude: 2 31 52 W
Grid Reference: SO 634169, QTH Locator: IO81RU

With a weather forecast for a fine sunny day, something very rare this summer, I decided to combine my biking hobby with a bit of SOTA.

Ruardean Hill is a "drive on" summit so ideally suited to arrive on bicycle. It's a nice 30 mile ride there via the country lanes, so I turned this into a 60 mile day out on the road.

The workhorse.
I have a 5 Metre  travel pole which is eay to carry on the bike. This alongside my MTR made up the equipment required for the day.

It turned out to be an excellent hot and sunny day and the operating shack at Ruardean Hill was top notch, with a bench to sit on!

 A nice pleasant activation with 21 QSOs and 11 DXCC.
Pan Tod Beacon

The Route

On the summit

The Rig - MTR and EFHW

Miners Memorial

Sunday, 22 July 2012

ATS Sprint- QSO Party.

The idea of this party was to get as many KD1JV rigs on the air at one time.
The starting time at 22 July 2012 0000z (0100L) was not ideal from an European point of view, but I was willing to give it a go anyway, even though it was a US centric event.
After my earlier activation of Dundry Down, I had some food , chilled out and then around 0000L made my way to my local SOTA summit of Cleeve Hill. The reasons for this were two fold.
1. There was an extra 500 points available for portable stations
2. The hill is a much quieter (RF) location than home.

I ran my old faithful EFHW, but this time as a vertical on 20metres, hoping to get some Stateside contacts.
These, because of the nature of the event, would all be QRP - QRP contacts.

In the pitch black I set up camp and was soon on the air waiting for the Party to begin.
This is what it looked like!

This was not going to be a 10 contacts a minute event!

Band conditions were extremely poor, but by careful searching and a few opportunist CQ's, I managed to winkle out and work 6 stations over a period of about 2 hours. At that time, now approaching dawn, I'd had enough and called it quits. I was ready for bed when I got home!
The results published show that I didn't do too badly, coming in 5th place out of 11 entries, and the only station outside of the USA.

Looking forward to the next event when hopefully conditions might be better.

Full details of the Sprint are here.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

SOTA - Dundry Down - G/SC-010

Dundry Down - 233m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: South Central  
Latitude: 51 23 50 N, Longitude: 2 38 38 W
Grid Reference: ST 553667, QTH Locator: IO81QJ

Dundry Church
A lot of people don't rate this summit, but it is conveniently situated very close to Bristol International Airport. So why would that be convenient? Well for me it means somewhere I can go whilst waiting to pick people up from, or after dropping  them off at the airport, which seems to happen quite regularly!

Part of the summit is literally a tip, but if you park in the carpark near the village church (ST556668), it's a short quiet walk up to the antenna towers on the hill top. This is a very easy summit with virtually no vertical distance to be walked.

After dropping family off at the airport, I drove the five minutes to the carpark and walked in glorious sunshine to a convenient area within the activation zone.

I soon found a rotten fence post with a convenient hole in which to place the antenna pole, and was soon on the air.
A quick activation with 30 QSOs and 13 DXCC .
I had other things planned for later on.
View to the north overlooking Bristol.

Operating position

Path to the summit.

Competing with the big boys!

Monday, 21 May 2012

MTR Field Trials

I took my MTR out on a SOTA activation to give it a proper workout in the environment it was designed for.
I elected on my local SOTA Summit, Cleeve Hill.
The rig performed flawlessly and I was happy to notch up 43 contacts with 13 DXCC entities worked.
Yet another winner from the stable of KD1JV.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

MTR by Steve Webber KD1JV

Steve Webber has produced a new transceiver, this time a dual band TRX covering anywhere from 80 metres through to 20.
He has named it the Mountain Topper Radio (MTR) and it is primarily designed for low weight hiking, back packing and SOTA type activities.
MTR Kit of parts.
It's very similar architecture to the ATS4, but uses a different processor and lower speed DDS.
I managed to get my hands on one before they all sold out (on day of release) and it arrived on April 21st.

I had to put the build on hold for a while until I had some free time to set aside for the construction.
Altoids tin bashing.
 I started metal bashing the Altoids tin on the 7th May, making sure all the hardware fitted before starting construction of the electronics.

Over the next 2 nights I mounted all the componets. I opted to hand solder, like I had done with my ATS4. I built for 40/20 metres.
I completed one side of the board in one sitting, and the next evening completed the opposite side.

So on the evening of 9th May, a quick test and basic alignment ensued followed by a quick lash up on the bench to an antenna to see if it works.
First QSO.
A call on 40 Metres netted an Italian station who gave me a resounding 599 Report. Moving to 20 Metres, my call was once again answered by an Italian Station, this time with a 559 report . All that is required now is to box it up properly, complete proper alignment  and then take it out on field trials to give it a good workout.

Side by side. ATS4 and MTR