(March/April) Radio Days….

Wowser…

Two for the price of one! you are getting spoiled aren’t you ?

GOGOF….but sadly no Clubcard or Nectar points, sorry.

Sitting here looking out on a not so nice May afternoon staring at heavy rain, high wind and what isn’t too low a temperature. Thinking of better days to come…warm, light breezes and days to just sit and play portable radio. Three days later after writing this, snow lying on the hills and the levels at 6.00 am was approx 1800ft asl. It’s a true Scottish saying  ‘Never cast a cloot ’till May’s oot’, eh ?

Let’s march on (groan)..

Activations…

March..

Two to report this month and both return visits..

Earlier in the month, a misty ascent and activation of Beinn Chaorach in the Luss Hills area which brought seven STS ( summit to summit) although three lads were on one hill, Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales. The other ‘chases’ were Colwyn YCJ on White Coomb to the south of me. Andy FMF on Dumglow, Robin PKT on Cruach Mhor just to the NW of Inveraray, Liz EPW with whom I made the contact on her handie on the summit of Dent in the Lake District and finally Terry VWP, Phil OBK and Nick OOE on the aforementioned Whernside. A good haul on a miserable day which suddenly broke into sunshine as I descended Beinn Tharsuinn heading towards Glen Fruin.

On the last day of the month, it was the quick journey to the other side of the Erskine Bridge being dropped off at the bottom of the Kilpatrick Braes. This is one of my favourite starts to any hill as the views as you head up the Braes are fantastic. As you pass the old quarry it is almost time to head out into open countryside. I made 4 STS on this trip, Robin PKT on Beinn na Cille, Robert GUF and Paul PJD on Tinto and finally Gerald GDA on Glas Bheinn to the NE of Kinlochleven on the edge of the Mamore Forest. I was almost three hours playing radio which longer than normal. A hill worth visiting.

Tinto summit cairn

Tinto summit cairn

April.

Only one..

I waited until the last Saturday of the month before doing my 50th SOTA activation on the well kent much-loved iconic hill the Cobbler. I’d bagged Ime and Narnain, the Arrochar Alp Munros the previous year and never got round to this hill although I spent a couple of mins going ‘Ime? Cobbler ? Ime ? Cobbler ?’ and Ime won.

On what was a perfect day for hill walking, I made 22 contacts of which nine were STS (summit to summit). This time I’ll mention then in the Chasing part of this blog post. Over two hours playing radio in such a wonderful place. A good one for my 50th.

Chasing…

March.

I started with the contacts I made on Beinn Chaorach (see above), the following Saturday found Bob AWV on the summit of Luss hill Beinn Eich, the next day I caught Robin PKT on Sidhean na Raplaich in the Morvern area. The next weekend was another trip to Morvern for Robin and this time I caught him on Beinn Chlaonleud.

The final weekend was the holiday weekend and on Good Friday, I spoke with Iain WJZ on his trip to both summits of Beinn a’Bheithir and Robin PKT on Beinn Mheadhoin. The weekend was a busy one with both Ian and Robin active on the Sunday, Iain was on the summit of Binnean Mor and Robin this time was on both Beinn a’Chaisil and later An Sleaghach this was the first activation of this hill.

The month finished off by my chases whilst on the summit of Duncolm, see Activations.

A good but busy month.

April.

On April Fool’s Day, I caught firstly Robin PKT far to the N on Beinn Teallach, I had just heard him with some QSB on 2m FM but I waited to catch him on 2m SSB to bag the points. Bob AWV popped up on Conic Hill above Loch Lomond later that afternoon, a good start to the month.

One week later, Robin was first in the log as this time he was on the summit of Beinn Ghlas N of Inveraray (not the more famous Lawers range Munro), Neil 2MØNCM made a welcome return to the log by first activating Doune Hill then nipping over Beinn Lochain to activate Cruach an-t-Sidhein, both hills are in the Luss area,. It was good to see Neil shake off the cobwebs although I knew he was doing some long distance walking work at weekends. Iain WJZ, another regular popped up on Conic Hill, a quick activation as Iain was out on DoE expedition business and took the opportunity to nip up off the WHW path which passes just below the various summits of this hill.

Loch Lomond from Conic Hill path

Loch Lomond from Conic Hill path

A week later and another visitor to Conic, Jack COX had appeared late afternoon and I first worked him on 2m FM but I had told Jack I’d came up from 20m so it was off for a quick check on 20m SSB. Yes folks, I can actually use voice on HF not often or more really never.

Two days later, Iain WJZ appeared on the Luss Beinn Chaorach which is line of sight from here and a hill I’d activated earlier this year ( see March activations or HERE), the last time I spoke with Iain when he was on Chaorach was our 2010 Expedition to Mull that day I was on Ben More, a hill to remember. Mull expedition posts HERE and HERE.

Ben More from near Penyghael

Ben More from near Penyghael

The following day, three hardy members of the Paisley Amateur radio club activated Ben Bowie just across the river from me, the day had started with high winds interspersed with rain but conditions had improved to let the lads complete the activation, I had spoken with first Craig PHT on both 2 m and 70 cm FM and finally with Graeme 2MØGIL on 2m FM, Brian HMZ was busy down on 40m. Well done to the lads on what was a day I’d have stayed at home.

Kenny ZUN appeared later in the week on the Hill of Stake which is my nearest Marilyn, a hill I now pay an annual visit. The following day a new activator appeared on Corse Hill, Alan NLA. I caught him and was his second contact and he qualified the hill with no problem, Alan’s blog post is HERE. Alan is the son of blog pal Neil 2MØNCM.

Craig PHT appeared the following day on the Loch Earn Ben Vorlich on what was not a great day weather wise but Craig got the hill activated.

The month ended with my chases whilst on the summit of the Cobbler, first in the log were BWA and JLA who were on Torlum SW of Crieff. Robin PKT was next from the summit of Beinn Udlaidh near Tyndrum, I later caught Robin on Beinn Bhreac-liath just before I broke the station down. I next caught Jack COX on White Coomb, the highest of the Moffat hills, the excellent weather had brought out much activity on the hilltops. On my ascent I’d listened for Iain WJZ on his first hill but the bulk of Narnain had taken care of that but I worked him on his second summit of Sron a’Choire Chnapanich or  “Sron a Corie Nae Panic” as he later posted in a comment to my Cobbler blog post…The STS’s kept on coming and next was Ron on High Stile in the Lake District, an excellent contact and I had briefly heard one of his STS contacts with a 2W0 Welsh station but I did scan the bands but nothing else was heard from Wales. Robert GUF was on his regular hill Tinto before I got Robin PKT see the earlier mention.

The Cobbler

The Cobbler

Finally I was to catch Andy FMF on Penvalla deep in the Peebleshire hills. The second STS with him in ’13.

Another good month with a spectacular end to the month.

Other Radio….

March..

Still plodding away on what was a patchy month for me, I seemed to be away from the radio when any exotic DX was around. Contacts into NA, Euro land and Asia on both JT65 and JT9-1 with an occasional visit to try PSK 31..

I did a lot of listening around mostly 17 and 15m plus monitoring 6m. Like I said earlier I was wrong time at the wrong place but intend to try more WSPR on selected bands…whilst I do any computer work..

April..

As above for March, I followed the same pattern Data wise with maybe more time spent on the JT9 part of the bands. Laurie VK3AMA has built a version of his excellent JT Alert programme to be used with Joe Taylor’s WJST-X set of data modes and this is an excellent addition for JT9 regulars. Joe’s call is K1JT.

I was listening around various parts of bands one Sunday morning and had noticed some activity on 17m JT65 so I tuned in and gave a call and first shout, I was called by a ZL3 and soon New Zealand was in the log. It has taken a few years but finally I have it in the log. a few contacts state-side and the regular Euros to report.

Thought..

You may remember my mentioning my first observations of JT9 working and the QRP being worked in this mode and how little signal lower took place when power was reduced.

I came across this calculator for JT65 the other day again and looked at how I could reduce my outgoing power even lower and still remain in the ballpark so to speak. I used one of my most recent JT65 QSO with a EA7 station in which I was given the report of -10, this was the signal received when I first called and it will vary over the length of the QSO. I used the calculator HERE where I inputted my output power of 10w and my RX signal of 10db and received the results you see on the image shown.  The 30m band was quiet at the time of this QSO logged at 6.18 UTC and according to JTAlert only 5 stations were being reported worldwide. You can see I could drop my power as low as .25w and still be readable depending on the noise levels at the EA7 location. JT9 also has many low power users and I have seen contacts being made between Euro and US stations of milliwatts !

JT65 signal calculator

JT65 signal calculator

Lance’s Bit….

Nothing except the odd jaunt along the cycle track, I had a ‘wobble’ on my back wheel but soon found out the cause. A spoke ( is this the name today?) was not set up correctly and threw everything out of tilt and having a wobble makes you feel let’s say a bit unsure on what’s happening when travelling at speed, well at the speeds I move at.

The road surfaces I have been on are pretty random with more than enough pot holes to avoid but this is expected on the single track back roads I normally walk. Traffic is rare on some but some are used like ‘rat runs’ at certain times of the day.

Trips to near Howwood which if you told me 12 month ago I’d be cycling 26 mile in a day I would have laughed at you.

I’ll be out more when the rain stops (if ever).

Once again my thanks for linking to Wikipedia, Peakbagger and others.