Tag Archives: Ben Lawers

(Oct) Radio Days

Sitting here monitoring the 10m band whilst fuelling myself with more caffeine and trying to get the enthusiasm to head out for a few mile walk. I took a quick look at the front page of the blog earlier and realised it has been well-nigh a month since I last posted. I thought mmmm, I’ll surprise everyone by doing the Radio Days post early. I did have a part local post ready to go but I’ve not  got round to heading out to some local spot to see if I could find remnants of a rifle range long disappeared just to the SW of me, another day. I enjoy just poring over the old local area mapping available online but I’m digressing from what is the original point of this monthly post so here goes..

SOTA work….

No activations to report as only ‘chasing’ done this month and not as much in recent months. I had packed my rukkie with all the equipment on a trip up NE but due to weather and other factors I missed out.

First one in the log in October was Kenny ZUN who headed to Ben Ledi in the Trossachs area and the following day from my now regular Sunday perch at NS 303737, I chased a dual activation of Sgor Gaibhre by Adrain DHY and Colwyn YCJ and I was to catch Colwyn later on a second hill Meall na Meoig, a Corbett, both hills are to the east of Corrour station. The contacts were excellent this day as next station worked was Victor JST who had crossed the border into Eire and I worked him from his summit of Crocknasmug in NE Donegal. Crocknasmug has what could be one of the weirdest but coolest  ‘cairns’ see photo HERE. You must take a look, go on go on go on go on go on (apologies to Mrs Doyle)

5 ele beam on Lurg Moor

5 ele beam on Lurg Moor

Next in the log was Robin PKT who was on Stob Dearg, one of the two Munro summits of Buachaille Etive Mor, this hill is one of the iconic views of Scotland and if you have ever travelled to Glencoe it stands tall on your left as you approach and will hopefully play its part in something I have planned for late 2013.

Following this was Jim GLM who was on another hill known to me, Craigowl which dominates the landscape to the west of Dundee. I had plans to ‘do’ this hill but it is a hill with many military et al antennae bristling on its top. Next in the log was Brian HMZ to the east of me on Cairnpapple Hill, I had received a text from Brian advising that I could find rare DX on .525. I did find him and he forgot to log me, the rare DX is lost.

Next was a very pleasant surprise  as I spoke with oor Cat CNC on a hill both her and Neil 2MØNCM had ascended, one of the many named  Beinn Chaorach this is the one in the Tyndrum area after working both it was the previous mentioned YCJ on Meall na Meoig.

Two days later on what was an excellent sunny day, I spoke to Robin PKT on Ben Cruachan from my work base at sea level  which was a good contact on my handie but I had to go to a higher point to work Jack COX who was celebrating his 10th year of SOTA activating on Ben Lawers. Only six more years for me to do this.

Ben Lawers

Ben Lawers

The next weekend was one in which I made no contacts as I had travelled NE for the weekend but had stopped on the way home to try to catch Neil NCM just N of Peebles but nothing heard from just SW of Perth. I later found out I had passed the hill Jim GLM had been activating near Perth, ces’t la vie.

The following Sunday, perched on my usual spot at Lurg Moor trig and first in the log was Jim GLM who was on Creag na

Ciche in the Glen Shee area and after not long, I spoke with fellow blogger Graeme 2MØGIL who was just under 4,000 ft on Ben Lawers among some snow, I think Graeme was thankful of his flask of soup that day. I was enjoying a ‘crisp’ sunny day but there was a slight difference of 3,300 ft between our heights.

Robin PKT appeared on one of the Southern Scottish high points, Ben Lui whilst next in the log was Colwyn YCJ on Mam na Gualainn which is just N of the Pap of Glencoe on the very south of the Lochaber region.

Neil 2MØNCM appeared on Corradie on the Cowal penninsula this is when I discovered my ‘Homer moment’ that I had left my 4m handie on charge at home but I got Neil later on 2m, this was another virgin summit for Neil and congrats on what was a long round trip for a couple of points.

Last contact for the month was Craig HCF who was on the summit of Duncolm which is line of sight for me plus an enjoyable summit to activate although a one pointer the views and walk in and out is excellent.

Still a busy month and hopefully the snow will stay away in November although the first snow of the year in the Luss hills appeared on the 30th of this month but disappeared quickly within hours.

Duncolm from the South

Duncolm from the South

HF…

Still having an odd call on both PSK and JT65 in the data sections of the HF bands. My 7-year-old computer died on me and although I had set everything up on my laptop I waited until I got a replacement tower and since then it has been primarily JT65 with contacts to Euro, Asia and NA. The bands have been very active and some good DX is out there to work, I tend to try to be around at ‘grey line‘ time if possible.

Other Stuff…

I have given a rest to the SDR dongle side of things although I now have acquired one which uses the 820 tuner chip but have yet to set this up plus I have ordered another related piece of equipment and will wait until this arrives then get stuck in to this newish part of the hobby. Plus I’m having a look at a newish data mode JT9.1, I’ve got it set up and need to find some time and contacts with it. Too much to do and too much time wasted doing other things.

11m days

11m days

This was taken in the ’80 during what was an intense high in the then sunspot cycle, a 2 ele home-brew Quad which was later improved, 100w through this baby and the world was your oyster, great and memorable days indeed.

Graeme GIL’s blog post on Ben Lawers HERE

Old Scotland maps HERE

Thanks again got to Wikipedia, Peakbagger and WalkHighlands…

Linked image of Crocknasmug summit cairn © Jim Bloomer.

The link for Corradie goes to Beinn Bhreac which is the general hill area.

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(July) Radio Days

 

Lets get going…

Activations…

July had only  one activation but a good one for me. I headed to the Arrochar area with the intention to activate the Cobbler but as I stood at the bealach I looked left then straight ahead and the twin tops of Ime tempted me too much. I only wished I had taken a quick photo.  The extra effort was worthwhile. One to remember ! Blog post HERE

Chasing…

Another busy month, my thanks again to those who headed to the tops.

Looking N from Corlic

Looking N from Corlic

First in the log for July was Colwyn YCJ with the first of his summits for the day, Stobinnean plus later I was to work him on Ben More and Cruach Ardrain, a good workout. Robin PKT turned up on Beinn Challum, I had worked YCJ’s first and Robin from Corlic and with Jack COX’s help I managed YCJ on what probably was the lowest part of my journey home, Cruach Adrain worked later from the home.. A great start to the month !

The following Friday I worked Jack COX from his activation of Beinn Odhar which sits to the north-east of Tyndrum, unexpected but welcome points.

Two days later I worked Iain WJZ on the Green Lowther a hill which I thought would be out of my reach but with the beam up at home I managed the contact and later that day, Robin PKT turned up on a Lawers area hill, Meall Nan Tarmachan. During the midweek, Jack COX had done a wild camp and I managed to catch him on each hill, first was Beinn Achaladair followed by Beinn a’Chreachain and finally on the Friday morning on Beinn Mhanach.

The following day Iain WJZ activated both Beinn Each then later was on Stuc a’Chroin whilst Robin PKT was on Carn Mor Dearg. I had just left to head to the Lurg Moor trig when I heard Iain and I made the contact using my 2w Baofeng and its dual band Nagoya duck.

Ben More and Stobinnean

Ben More and Stobinnean

Robin PKT activated some high point hills helping raise my chaser points total, first was the two hills Jack COX had earlier done, Beinn Achaladair followed by Beinn a’Chreachain and four days later, the Crainlarich high points, Ben More and Stobinnean. The following day I worked Robin as I headed over the Green Rd on Ben Lawers and as I headed home from Corlic, I caught Iain as I walked up the B788 road leaving Greenock, I had previously heard Brian HMZ, a fellow PARC member who was on Corse Hill from what was the wrong side of the hill so after i worked Iain I headed quickly and even sometimes breaking into a run to catch Brian but I caught him from a high point just to the east of the Lurg Moor trig, chaser point bagged. The thought of me running for points just shows my commitment to this game. 19 and a half stone is a lot to shift and more to the point, STOP.

The following day was one to stay in and read books or tidy up your shack but no blog regular Neil 2MØNCM headed northwards from his South Ayrshire base in what can only be described as ‘I’m glad I’m inside’ weather but after a wet and windy ascent activated the hill in a true ‘lets get the hell outta here’ , I felt appreciation of his efforts as I scoffed another cream bun and sipped my coffee and shuffled my feet about. I later spoke with Neil on his return journey down the Balloch By Pass until he was lucky enough to lose me on the south side of the Erskine Bridge. A hard-earned eight points for him.

On my ascent of Ime, I heard Kenny ZUN activate Beinn Dubh which I could see to the SE of me so I nipped in and grabbed the points from the ascent of Ime. A good start to that day.

5 ele beam on Lurg Moor

5 ele beam on Lurg Moor

Those points were the last points for what was another busy month…

HF..

I still gave out a call on a daily basis but I spent more time on other projects. As usual modes of choice were JT65 and PSK31. I’ll get back to more use in the winter months although I may have to revert to the onboard audio as I’m having a problem with an aging SB card I installed. I’ll fix it at some point. I have no problem from 20m upwards but 30m and below isn’t working as it should…ces’t la vie.

Other…

Spent a considerable time on this SDR dongle thing, blog post HERE.

I’m amazed at the quality of the received sound on both FM, AM and especially SSB, I did follow one activator as he worked on 2m FM and next on 2m SSB using the dual band collinear in my loft space. Signal strength wasn’t much down on my 2m radio but I have since found the lack of diodes in-line with the E4000 dongle I have has literally fried it. I still have and use the other with the FC0013 tuner chip and although it has a higher signal to noise ratio I still get results but under close examination, this dongle seems to lack the diodes as well. I’m sure someone will step and start production of the excellent 4000 tuner chip at some point or even better a superior tuner ? An interesting and cheap entry into SDR(software defined radio).

I am looking for an alternative for HRD and am presently trying OmniRig and Log4OM.

That has possibly taken up most of my time radio wise obviously apart from my SOTA work.

Just to say I used a HDR app to take the ‘Looking N from Corlic’, HDR explanation HERE

A big thanks to Wikipedia ( a project worth supporting) also Peakbagger.

(Jan) Radio Days ’12

The start of another year…

SOTA….

No activation to start the year, the chosen date as of twelve month earlier, the 2nd proved weather wise a non event.

2m JPole on the HWNN

2m JPole on the HWNN

A quiet month due to mostly inclement weather keeping the regular activators at home although some hardy souls did get out. My only chasing contacts came at the end of the month when on the last weekend, I worked Robin PKT who activated Beinn Chaorach (not the Luss one) but the one that lies between Ben Challum and Beinn Odhar just east of Tyndrum, a good path through meant Robin was worked with no problem.

The following day, Iain WJZ had declared for Ben Lawers, I had looked at local snow levels and on the previous day it was roughly about 1200ft ASL so I would imagine Lawers would be snow bound although Robin had mentioned that the average depth on his hill the previous day at 2685 ft was 8cm deep. I caught Iain from the ‘Hill with no name’ (NS 325702) near Kilmacolm although whilst researching some old documents online, I came across a possible name of Clachers Hill (meaning  ‘stony hill’) which could be correct as the farm of Clachers lies at its southern foot.

That was it…. only two ‘chases’ for me, I had tried two weeks earlier to work Iain WJZ on his trip to Aonach Beag. I had left home and headed to walk to the summit of Corlic, Roddy IOB had let me know Iain was on air. I finally managed to pick him up but as he asked for contacts, I called but I was in the noise to him. I had about 300m to get to the summit so I rushed through bog and more bog but unbelievably I could not hear him on the top. Ces’t la vie ! Everyone is now playing ‘Dodgebob’ hihi

HF

I spent my time using data modes, mostly JT65, PSK and as I mentioned last month, OPERA. Nothing exciting to report this month but still managing to pick up the odd contact from Euroland, Asia and N. America. No preference but just a listen around the bands before operating. I’m not a big fan of ‘DX clusters’ but I use the excellent sites of  both  ‘pskreporter‘ and Joe W6CQZ’s  ‘HFJT65Loggerset only to let me know where I am being ‘spotted’.

OPERA

OPERA

As things are pretty quiet in the reporting side this month, I will rattle on a wee bit about OPERA. This has come about as the joint work of the inventor of ROS, EA5HVK and GØNBD. This SARC news article will give you the gist of the mode HERE. It uses the interface of ROS so it was familiar to me as I occasionally spend some time using this mode. A two-way version of this mode was created just before the end of January, this is as JT65 has evolved from WSPR. Initial success on the 500khz band has encouraged more than a few amateurs worldwide to take part.  Another excellent mode for the low power addicts among us to use. I have an image of the mode interface below in action, RX only . If you look at the RX image you will see my ‘spots’ highlighted in red. On the last day of the month, I made my first QSO with an OK station, you now have the option to RX only but a tick in the ‘Auto QSO’ box enables the option if you both ‘spot’ each then a QSO is made,  more on this aspect as I learn more.

This mode is being updated on literally a day-to-day basis so all versions are labelled as ‘Beta’. There are more than a few data modes being used on HF and with new modes appearing on a regular basis, some obviously fall by the wayside.

ROS is now being used by a W station who has special dispensation to test data modes. More on this in the future.

Andy K3UK had an Opera guide on-line but has since sadly disappeared  but Andy has an interesting data modes orientated site HERE

O_P_E_R_A Yahoo Group HERE   

Once again, thanks to go Wikipedia and all those other sources that I’ve linked to.


20m Opera RX

20m Opera RX

Finally radiowise…..

Came across this You Tube video of a 2M0 station going ‘long path’ with 5w

Video HERE

Impressive !!!

Other stuff..

You may have noticed that I supported the ‘Blackout’ in the protest against SOPA/PIPA and carried a ‘black ribbon’ of the protest against the intended ‘censorship’ of the Internet. These bills were American in origin but the ongoing effect if passed would have been felt throughout the internet.

‘Fight For The Future’.

I thought to mention this here on this blog post and not on a separate post. I say in my ‘About’ page  ‘no opinions here’ but I feel strongly about any threat to our internet freedom. Please show support by joining ‘Fight For The Future’.

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog post.

That Was The Year That Was ’11…Pt 1

2011..a rewind pt 1

Another busy year…..

The first 10pt summit Ben Lawers, my first English activation Skiddaw and a visit to the Isle of Mull to activate the islands only ‘Munro’ Ben More are among my highlights of this years in pursuit of both activating’ and ‘chasing. Each summit reached and every contact made valued, 1pt or 10pt and the chance to talk to those who regularly are out on the hills or in their shack makes it all worthwhile. I have tended to make trying to chase more from the local hills, I have ‘chased’ locally from Corlic (now a HuMP), Hillside Hill, Cruech Hill, the trig point at Lurg Moor and the golf course trig  at my back door.  Handy places for chasing those out on the summit. Being oot’n’aboot adds a little more fun to it. A new name for this is ‘Extreme Chasing’….groan.

View to the Gareloch

View to the Gareloch

There has been an increase of VHF activity mainly on 2m in this past year and this is in thanks to new activators and the regulars. I occasionally head out myself to activate averaging one per month over the year.

It has been great fun in all aspects…..and a cracking year ( yet to finish !)

We’ll start with my Jan – June Activations..

No rest for the holidays as SOTA devotees decided that a VHF Fun Day was being held on the 2nd day of the New Year. Roddy 2MØIOB had suggested a joint activation so it was a hill within easy reach and a good lift off esp to the South.

Beinn a’Mhanaich was the choice, my third visit to this hill. The day promised dry and snow free so that was a good start at this time of year and we duly activated with 4m FM contacts to Wales, Northern Ireland, England and of course, Scotland. An excellent day and 6 summit to summit contacts, apart from the STS’s the memorable part of the day was how quickly the ground froze under our feet, a cobweb clearer.

Beinn a'Mhanaich from Eich summit

Beinn a'Mhanaich from Eich summit

I did a second activation in January on my first ever SOTA hill, the Hill of Stake, a hill no one else seems to like but I’ll be returning again in 2012, best to do this in frosty conditions. Only contacts were localish..

My next activation was a trip with Roddy IOB to a claggy Ben Venue, on a March day where the views were just not seen. The visit  topped by top quality guiding by Roddy which led to us both sinking to our erses in snow on the descent.. A good day out. I worked mostly 4m and 70cm where the latter band surprised me with more contacts than before achieved on 70cm on SOTA duty. The day finally started to clear as we finished the day.

A UHF Fun Day  proposed for late March so another hill with good take off south chosen, Ben Donich..I will recommend this to anyone who has never graced this hill. Please visit on a clear day as these views are exceptional. Mere words or photos cannot not describe these views, read my blog post HERE and click on the images. It was good to say both the Fun Days being well supported by so many fellow Scottish stations… Whilst we were descending Jack COX called out and a first in the fact that we could see Jack  across the glen on the Cobbler summit, it was not a STS but the chaser points were still most welcome.

The following weekend had a first for me, an activation on the East coast. The hill in question was Kings Seat, one of the highest tops in the Sidlaws overlooking to the east, Dundee. It was a relatively easy climb going via an unconventional route from the west. The wind was blowing strong and it was a chore keeping the 2m beam pointing the way intended. Nonetheless I worked Iain WJZ who was on Corserine in the Galloway Hills approx 110 miles away, mention also must be made as I worked Steve UAU back in Greenock on 4m plus Jim FVM in Berwick area on the same band. A hill worth returning to.

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

The SOTA International weekend was the first one in May and another trip with Roddy IOB  made to the 8pt summit of Cruach Ardrain, wx wise the day was excellent, my choice of hill ? let us just say memorable, I had fallen for the words and advice of a charlatan, you know who you are. I struggled on this one but TBH on reflection it was an exciting day. Roddy IØB had activated the hill with 4 STS before I stumbled/dragged myself to the top. A long day..

One month later was my surprise CS visit, my son Euan had chosen unknown to me the top of the list Ben Lawers and I tried on the ascent to post an alert but no internet. There were so many people ascending it looked like a conga line heading to Beinn Ghlas, only 5 contacts and disappointingly none on 4m but a STS to Derek MIX who was down in the Lake District on Pillar. My first 10pt hill..

June was a busy month for me as I followed this with a dual activation of Beinn Eich and Doune Hill in the Luss Hills, I had done this before in 2009, the weather this day was excellent and is memorable for trying to figure out where the couple who had been just in front of me totally disappearing on the first part of the descent into Glen Mollachan, I looked and looked and finally looking back saw them appearing from what looked like a cave, strange..

That finishes what was a busy six month activation period for me.  I’ll soon finish the rest of the year in pt2 and cram everything else into it (hopefully)..

For the blog posts on each of these activations and of my earlier ones, follow this link HERE 

Thanks for taking the time to read this first part and I hope that it wasn’t a total bore..

You can now again click on each image to see full size in a separate window.