Tag Archives: Cowal

(Dec) Radio Days……

The end of another years radio work, a hobby ? it could be if I slowed things down.

The year was covered in my two-part 2012 Retrothingy posts (see bottom of this post for links).

Let’s get going…

SOTA..

No activations more due to the weather which for most part was rain, rain and more rain. There were a few hardy souls venturing out on to the summits and as you will read, it turned out into the ‘Iain WJZ show’, all those months ‘Down Under’ yearning for the rain-soaked hills of Scotland ?. Mad I say.

Ben Donich trig point

Ben Donich trig point

Without further adieu, here is the ‘chasing’ bit..

On the first day of the month, three stations took to the summits. I headed to my usual Lurg Moor area trig and as I arrived I worked the aforementioned Iain to the north of me on Ben Challum. I knew fellow blogger Graeme 2MØGIL was heading to Ben Donich and although I could have worked Iain and Graeme from home with no problems, I thought time to get out and have the cobwebs blown away.

Whilst waiting on Graeme, Bob AWV turned up on Beinn Ruadh which was to the WNW of me on the Cowal peninsula, I could see the summits of both Donich and Ruadh from my location. Donich had a fair covering of snow as I found out when finally making contact with Graeme plus I knew the dangers of this hill in the snow. Fissures abound on the upper slopes adjacent to the path. The day was over as I finished working Graeme so it was the long way home.

The following day I caught Iain on Glas Maol, the highest point of the Mounth Hills and a part of the Glenshee Ski Centre plus the county top of Angus. I had used the beam from the home QTH to catch Iain and nab a good contact at 130km plus.

The following weekend, Iain was on Tullich Hill in the Glen Douglas area, a hill I then pencilled in for my first activation of ’13 (weather changed the venue). Two days later, Iain crossed to the east side of Loch Lomond and climbed the ‘Ben.

To finish December and ’13, I spoke with Iain on Ben Ledi and after a call from Steve UAU saying that Colwyn YCJ was on Meall an t-Seallaidh, a Corbett to the west of Loch Earn. A quick word with both and my SOTA year was finished as I missed those who headed out on Boxing Day. I had taken my packed rukkie to on my Xmas NE visit but King’s Seat will have to wait until another day, it was the hill that started off the discussion about ‘white’ trig points HERE.

Tullich Hill from Glen Douglas © Neil 2MØNCM

Tullich Hill from Glen Douglas © Neil 2MØNCM

HF

I spent most time using JT65 with the odd visit to the JT9-1 frequencies. I did return to PSK on occasion. A couple of new DXCC‘s in Iraq and Lebanon and the continuing search to work States to get my WAS, I’ve still 16 to go, I’m in for a long haul I think.

JT 9-1 still has some activity but I seem to ‘miss’ it…

Other..

I did more work with the dongle SDR stuff as I had ordered a upconverter (see image) to use in with the 820 tuner chip. I set up everything one evening when the HF bands were quiet and after following this short instructional video HERE, I was listening to AM stations in the 49m band area. I’ve packed all away as other things have taken up my time but I must return and do more work in this area to follow-up the earlier posts on SDR. This being able to incorporate the HF band opens up all sorts of possibilities. Looking forward to it..

SDR dongle earlier posts –  HERE and HERE

Upconverter available from HERE plus all documentation is HERE.

2012…Retrothingy posts – Pt 1 and the last bit

Upconvertor for SDR dongle

Upconvertor for SDR dongle

New contributor..

As you will have seen in the earlier blog post, Lance Mhor has joined us to regale us with stories of the saddle although he informs me that the present saddle could do him some damage, the blog has since purchased him a new gel one to ease the pain.

I’m sure you will as a regular reader remember the post where Bob’s rucksack wrote a guest post but if not the post is HERE

Retro…

Found links to an old Reporting London TV report of CB in London (circa 1981)

Click Pt 1 HERE and Pt 2 HERE

Believe me, it is seriously worth a look….

A big 10.10, good buddies or ‘Root Toot am oot !!’

Once again, thanks goes to Wikipedia, Peakbagger and to Neil 2MØNCM for allowing me the use of his atmospheric image of Tullich Hill.

To embiggen images, click on image.

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(January) Radio Days

I was most pleasantly surprised to receive a text message asking ‘Have you not got a review to do ?’. I had this ready but just had to add the links and the photo so here we now go.

VHF…

Just the usual ‘QSO’s plus been working local stations on 4m FM.

SOTA…

Two activations this month, on Sunday the 2nd along with Roddy 2M0IOB, we headed to Beinn a’Mhanaich in the Luss Hills to take part in the SOTA VHF Fun Day. Contacts were made on 4m and 2m including 6 STS (summit to summit) contacts. A cold but very successful day, my blog post <HERE>, Roddy’s blog post <HERE>.

The second activation was my yearly visit to the Hill of Stake which is the highest summit in the Renfrewshire hills. The weather and conditions underfoot were near ideal. One STS to Graeme 2M0GIL who was on a’Mhanaich, Graeme’s blog post <HERE>, my blog post is <HERE>.

Two activations, both enjoyed !

Activation about to go 'live'

Activation about to go 'live'

My other ‘chasing for Jan…

Nobody was active on the 1st so it was on to the VHF Fun Day to activate and chase, amongst those points gathered were Robin PKT on Beinn Iaruinn– 97kms,  Alan XXP on Green Hill – 101 kms,  Neil  NCM on Craigenreoch -103 kms, Derek MIX on Pillar, Lake District – 207 kms, Alun and Barry on Moel Eilio, North Wales – 338 kms.

Good points earned.

Next points came from Bob AWV who was on Corse Hill to the south of Glasgow. Conditions for Bob were horrendous, sitting in the warmth of my shack I felt for them, I did say he was mad! Next up was Ian, the recently anointed ‘Mountain Goat’ who made the effort to walk to the summit of Ben Lawers, a cold and snowy day for him. Next day, more activators were out, first up was Neil , 2M0NCM who took the ferry across the Clyde to activate another Cowal hill, Beinn Bheag, he was quickly followed across the Clyde by Roddy 2M0IOB who took to the Cowal hills and activate Cruach Nan Cuilean, blog post <HERE>, quickly followed by first time activator, Craig ANL who had just recently passed his Foundation licence and was on the Fruin which rises above Helensburgh, he also made his first STS contacts in quick succession with Neil and Roddy. Iain WJZ next appeared on Cruach Ardrain, all four chasers worked in just slightly over an hour, superb!

The month wasn’t over, Brian HMZ visited Ben Bowie and as I write this in early February, the hill now has been activated four times lately. I had previously mentioned that I worked Graeme 2M0GIL STS from the Hill of Stake. The last contact of the month was made from my local hill, I worked Alan XXP on Broughton Heights on both 2m and 4m FM, both of us on handhelds, a cracking contact considering the distance was 85 kms as the crow flies.

This mostly all took place in the last half of the month, good to see so many GM activators out and about esp for us chasers.

HF….

Had a call most days on 40, 30, 17 and 15m depending on conditions.

The usual European regulars worked, great fun.

One new DXCC in Moldovia.

WSPR put on back burner just now.

Odds…

Did some antenna work in my loft space, more to come on that. The SOTA ‘winter bonus’ period finishes mid March so still hoping to head out sometime until then and activate another summit, hopefully the weather will stay steady. I’m thinking of extending my ‘stealth’ dipole but only a thought at this present time.

Thanks to Neil 2M0NCM for pointing out the correct date for the ending of the activating Winter bonus.

(October) Radio Days

VHF

On occasion to work the odd local stations or pre-arranged skeds but quiet otherwise.

SOTA Activity…

One activation this month,

A return trip to Beinn Eich in the Luss Hills area.

A blog post/ report is <HERE>.

Activated the hill on 4m FM with local stations based in Alexandria, Dumbarton, Greenock, Larkhall. Clive, FZH was the fifth and was also the furthest station contacted, he is based in the Isle of Whithorn.  I have made contact with him before on my Ben Donich activation. All other stations were then contacted on 2m FM and  scattered throughout the Central Belt as far as Edinburgh to the east plus another two in new locations for me, Roddy 2M0IOB, fellow blogee, was mobile through the Cowal Glens although when first contacted had just left the Colintraive ferry. Paul DDQ came back to my call from Kilchattan Bay at the south end of the Isle of Bute. The furthest contact was to Phil, a M0 station who was activating a WOTA hill Great Calve in the English Lake District, an excellent contact with no problems both ways. Phil was using a 5 watt handheld with a 40cm helical antenna.The occasional station worked outside Scotland is a bonus but thanks also go to those regular chasers who we meet on each activation. Mention must be made of fellow bloggee, Graeme 2M0GIL who called in portable from the steepest part of Dumgoyne near Glasgow, I knew instantly it was the steepest part he was at hihi.

Loch Lomond south basin from Eich summit

‘Chasing’…

First contact of the month was Bob, AWV who was activating my previous one, Ben Bowie, I had been out for a walk locally when Roddy alerted me. The following day, our regular activator and blogger, Neil, 2M0NCM was traipsing about the Cowal hills in all sorts of murk and mist. Neil had travelled the long way round to the Loch Eck area to activate Creag Tharsuinn and weather wise it was not a kind day. I have seen his photos of the descent off the east side of this hill, I’m only glad it wasn’t me. Another 2 points in the bag. Neil’s Creag Tharsuinn blog post <HERE>

Finally I worked Andy FMF on the last day of the month, I had headed to Corlic knowing a 60m GM activation alert had been posted, I took my Rybakov type vertical, Andy was on the Sow of Atholl in the Drumochter Pass area.

Due to commitments, I missed a few activations over the month. DOH !!!

HF…

Spent most of my radio time listening and working through the HF bands, I paid attention mostly to 40M and when open, 12M. The 12M band at present is ‘in and out’, it is a case of being in the right place at the right time. I had switched on one evening when arriving home from work and within 10 minutes  I had two eastern seaboard US stations in the log but as soon as I had worked them, the band died. Worth persevering with I think. Using the PSK reporter website, it has interested me in how you notice how ‘centralised’ some of the 12m contacts are when the band is open.

The winter season is almost upon us so I think 40M will be my listening band. Top band (160M) and 80M have high local levels of noise for to do any serious listening.

I haven’t been as active with WSPR this month but still occasionally set up the radio and let it run for an hour, mostly on 30m.

ODDS…

Royal Mail delivered another incorrectly addressed QSL card.

I have in one of my PSK  ‘macros’, I mention that I only QSL via eQSL or LoTW but will do ‘direct’ if the station contacts me for my home address, the language difference shows.

I visited Paisley Amateur Radio Club on a couple of occasions this month and was warmly welcomed, the first night was a ‘Natter’ night and the last visit was a talk on ‘Antennas’ by club member Jim UWX. A most enjoyable talk with a lot of  interaction from those present.

Only one this time….

Last year I when I visited this area, I activated Beinn Eich and then headed along the ridge to Doune Hill. This time round, Eich was my only target.

I had posted the alert on the ‘SOTA Alert Page‘ whilst I packed all the equipment necessary, as always a double-check and just as I was ready to leave, I was quickly reminded I had a ‘date’ with Katy Perry, Ms Perry was quickly dealt with and off we headed the usual route northwards before taking the single track road heading west off the A82 near Luss at NS 357930.

I arrived at Glenmollochan farm where there is a small lay by at NS 331942. I got kitted out and waved goodbye as Katie headed back homewards down what is a very narrow single track road. The hill looked just as I remembered it, steep. I walked down the track over two stone bridges to just before Edentaggart where a signpost points the way.

The first part of this walk is the boggiest part and due to the recent wet conditions, the path showed well.

A long steady rising climb with excellent views looking back down Glen Luss towards the south basin of Loch Lomond. Glen Luss and Glen Mollachan are at each side of  the steep flanks of Eich, memories of Glen Mollachan the previous year and of the wetness of the glen floor.

Beinn Eich fron a'Mhanaich

Beinn Eich fron a'Mhanaich

As you quickly rise, views start coming in all sides, Chaorach shows to your left, Beinn Dubh and Mid Hill, the Glen Striddle Horseshoe walk, to your right and to the NW , Beinn Ime and the Arrochar Alps start to show.

I took a break after 60 mins into the climb to enjoy the views and to have a ‘scran’ break.

This walk gets drier as you rise in height, a false summit shows but when you reach this the going starts easing as you reach the summit, ground ‘collapses’ to your left show as you near the last stretch to the summit. I then spoke to one couple who were intending to head towards Doune Hill which is about 80 mins away (my time) from Eich’s summit.

The summit of Eich is a start of a grassy narrow ridgewalk , there is a stone cairn or to be precise, a heap of stones. If you carry on, almost immediately the ridge starts running downhill.

I decided to have some food before I set up, I guyed up the mast and attached the 4m JPole first, as this is my band of choice this year is 4m FM. I switched the Wuxoun handie on and the calling channel was in use, I broke in and explained my situation and got my first two contacts in the book, Chris in Alexandria and Duncan in nearby Dumbarton. Steve UAU was next in the log and I then returned to call again, next to call me was one of my regular 4m contacts, Alan XXP in Larkhall. The last call on 4m put me in touch with Clive FZH in the Isle of Whithorn area. I had worked Clive from Ben Donich earlier this year.

I took down the mast and removed the 4m JPole and replaced it with the 2m version.

I first had a look around 2m fm and heard two stations working each other in the Lake District, I waited and called in and worked Phil, a M0 station who was activating for WOTA on Great Calva LDW -095, Phil was using a handie with a 40cm helical antenna which made this contact a good ‘un.

It was then time to go to S20 as I was running around 45 mins behind schedule, Ms Perry to blame.

I called out and a breathless fellow blogger Graeme, 2M0GIL called back to me, Graeme was on the steepest part of Dumgoyne outside Glasgow.We ad a quick chat and I left Graeme to his ascent. I had found out Allan, BJP had activated Chaorach early on and I had literally just missed him, ces’t la vie, a STS and 4 points gone. Next call in was ‘Mr Tinto‘, Robert GUF in Biggar.  Andy USU in the Falkirk area called in. Stations now came thick and fast, AXY in Edinburgh, UAU in Greenock and next to call in was Roddy 2M0IOB who was mobile through the Cowal Glens, Roddy stopped at a high point and had a quick chat before heading on his way.

Another mobile station YEQ called in from the Clydebank area, next was another regular Brian HMZ from Howwood looking for points, it seems Brian and another station before mentioned have a friendly ‘chasing’ rivalry going on. Last two contacts were John, OIN in Ayr and Paul, DDQ who was visiting an old haunt of mine on the Isle of Bute, Kilchattan Bay.

It had been hectic, everyone had mentioned how they were bathed in sunshine, me ? a black cloud hung over the summit for the short time I spent there, the couple I met earlier who had carried on to Doune Hill had backtracked and decided to exit back to Glen Luss via Eich. A quick chat with them then I broke down the mast and antenna, packed everything away, had a quick biccy and some juice and headed back down the hill, I looked back and the summit was now bathed in sunshine, someone was trying to tell me something.

I ‘toodled’ back down the hill pausing to talk with another couple heading to the top, I had a break halfway down and watched the farmer rounding up his sheep in Glen Mollachan. Just as I was exiting the hill walk, more walkers were heading to the summit. A busy day for this walk I guess.

Back on the ‘black stuff’, I walked back to the start point whilst having a good look at the old stone bridges over the burns, there were inscriptions on them but too worn to make anything out. On another note, as I was descending I could see a shaped mound to the side of Luss Water, I have had a good search online for any information but I did notice there was an old chapel now gone, St. Michael’s in the immediate area.

The hill had been activated , twice probably is enough, I’m restricted to what I can travel to so who knows.

The climb had been a hard steepish slog in places.

The day over, I was picked up and headed back to civilisation.

Information Overload

Beinn Eich is 703 m ASL (2305 ft)  ‘the horse hill’

Total Ascent (approx) 563 m (1847 ft)

Round Trip of approx. 9.12 kms ( 5.6m)

Previous Beinn Eich blog post <HERE>

The rating for this walk….

Just as an aside regarding Glen Luss and St.Michaels Chapel:

There was a chapel in Glen Luss dedicated to St Michael. Not far from where St Michael’s Chapel was situated is a farm called Edentaggart, an anglicisation of aodan t-sagairt – the hill face of the priest. In Glen Luss also is Gleann na Caorainn – the glen of the rowans.  The local name was Glen MacKern or a variation. This may be a corruption from the Gaelic ‘gleann na caorainn’ .  The name MacKern appears on a document of 1429 as Glean Mackerne and is possibly an Anglicised spelling of Gleann mo Chiarain or St Ciarans Glen.