16th March 2007 NW-070 Great Orme
Two Old Crocks go SOTAing
Winter bonus over and it looked like there was not much to chase. Mike GW0DSP had been itching to activate for some time and his tentative attempt to go solo on Hope Mountain had been curtailed by the fact that he would have had to wade to the summit through knee high mud. A few tests with a two metre vertical on a mag mount attached to a farm gate got encouraging results and made him even more determined.
The sun was shining and stepping outside it seemed quite mild for the time of year, so when Mike suggested we activate Great Orme I was all for it.
As many of you know I broke my ankle in January and my right foot is still very swollen, however I had managed to squeeze my foot into an old pair of boots for the first time a few days before, and I was determined to give it a go. Mike also has problems a serious and permanent back injury and so Great Orme seemed like a good choice for the two old crocks limping slowly from the car park. It was quite a contrast to my last activation of NW-070 when on a warm sunny I did a circular walk around the Orme from the car park to the bottom and back before activating.
As usual things conspired against us from the start, phone calls, visitors, I needed to be back in time to baby sit the grand daughter, road works and of course the weather. Then I found I couldn’t get the 2/70 quad we had intended to use into Mikes car without disassembling it. The closer we got the darker sky got and when we got out of Mike’s car on the Orme there was a stiff icy breeze blowing.
We set up station in the lee of the wind and used bungees around the trig point to hold up a lower than usual mast for the dual band vertical and the multi-band dipole. Something up there must have changed on the transmitters since I last activated because 2 metres and 70 cm were completely blotted out by S9+60dB of mush. On the previous occasion I had only had problems with desensing during a single contact with Dave G6LKB in the Lake District and made contacts on both 2 and 70 in to the Isle of Man. This time there was no such luck for Mike and despite trying different radios nothing could be heard over the QRM on 2 or 70 FM or ssb.
I had my suspicions 5mHz was not going to be very good either, as
the last few days had been some of the worst for inter UK in a while,
but I got a pleasant surprise when I heard Rob G4RQJ/P activating Top on Fox Echo (5.3985 usb) as soon as I turned on.
Getting in between the base stations wasn’t happening until John GW4BVE
left a gap as he checked the F2 critical frequency and I squeezed in,
then with chaser points in the bag I QSYed down to Fox Lima (5.3715
usb). The band conditions on 5mHz seemed to contradict the data John
had from the Internet and most reception reports were poor, received
signals tended to be better but not what I have come to expect.
Everything we heard we worked with the exception of Graham G4JZF who
was not moving the metre but still perfectly readable but we just
couldn’t get the report back. :o( I guess there were more out there
that couldn’t hear us either but at least the summit was well
Dismantling the mast the wind went from stiff breeze to hurricane
in a nanosecond and nearly knocked both Mike and I off our feet. Boy,
were we glad to be back in the car! All in all an enjoyable day,
fraught with disappointment and frustration, frozen blue and wind
burned, but I really enjoyed it.