I look back on my initial hilltop operations in the early ’80s and have a wry smile, 27mhz FM (legal, of course, initially). Initially it was venturing onto my local hilltop (620ft ASL) with a Realistic 4w CB27/81 handie
then I started to attach a then, ubiquitous Silver Rod.
Today I walk to the top of Corlic Hill ( I travel from the E where there is no path) with all the equipment I need
Then…it was much the same then as now, the next radio used was a Realistic 4W FM CB27/81 mobile TX , a 1/2 wave Silver Rod type antenna with mast (aluminium poles 2 of ), a 12v 6ah SLA battery then eventually I graduated to the next radio – President Grant, a portable 2 ele Quad antenna ( I did build a 3 ele Quad but it was too much to carry), two 12v car batteries, aluminium poles etc etc, this, of course, meant there had to be two of us.
Corlic Hill was the main hill I operated from, I spent more than a few 24 hour sessions there, Dunrod Hill, Creuch Hill and the Hill of Stake amongst others were regularly activated. It was later found that a spot on the Clyde estuary was the best to work worldwide DX although all continents had been worked from the summits mentioned,the quad had proved itself. It was amazing then that with a home made boom, bamboo canes, wire and balun you could work the world.
The hilltops gave some decent distance with only 4w on CB 27/81 FM, Tyneside, North Pennines, Southern Uplands, Lowther Hills,Pentlands, Fife, Aberdeenshire, Forfar and Dundee area, Oban and Bonawe area, Mull of Kintyre and regular working into Northern Ireland. It was good whilst it lasted, early starts to beat those who took great delight in ‘keying’ us out.
Nowadays, the equipment is much compact and with the internet, you can check where and if any SOTA activators are operating within your equipment capabilities. I have a SOTA beam which weighs virtually nothing, the mast which is a 7m fibreglass fishing pole, the battery I use, a 12v 7ah SLAB. I’m in the process of adding an HF antenna for future work but with so much choice, I haven’t settled on any given type yet.
The now advantage of having the radio amateur licence is the amount of bands available to the portable operator, I only presently work 2m and 70cms but 6m and HF is next.
If only there had been a SOTA type program then, I was then a member of the Scottish Hillbillies who, at weekends operated from high points, in most cases, in cars or in some cases, portable on hilltops. Tinto was a favourite of a few of the lads. I was one of the latter, a disappointing weather forecast on a Friday or Saturday meant the car. The monthly meetings were held all over the Central Belt, as well as the radio , it had a great social aspect to it.
I was a member of other groups in those halycon days of CB 27/81, locally there was the IST (International Skip Talkers) also the PG Group, this was 8 – 10 of us sharing a local PO Box for QSL’s. I was lastly a member of the Scottish Division of AT (Alfa Tango), I was 108 AT 459 in those days, more memorable for the raffle prize haul I made at the 7th Annual UK Meeting in 1989…
Radio , laid back style then. It was fun.
1988-89, the years I studied for and passed my RAE (Radio Amateurs Examination), I set myself up with an HF+6m TX and operated on 6m only, I worked the few local stations and over the winter some aurora then I fell away and sold up my equipment.
This brings us back forward to 2008…
Applied and got my old callsign back and eventually got active again this year….