On June 17th I set up my alexloop indoors to test out my SOTA station and make sure I had remembered to pack everything. From indoors in Girvan I was able to complete a QSO with VE2DH in Montreal, Quebec (my report RST 339) at 2100Z and also with Ber, OH9NB in Rovaniemi, Lapland who gave me RST 569. The radio was working!
This afternoon (June 19), Fariba, my mum and myself headed out for summits on the air activation at Cairn Pat which is summit reference GM/SS-218. It’s only a one point summit at only 182m in height. It was very easy to access, we drove down through Cairnryan and Stranraer until we came upon a paved access road which led about half the way up the hill.
The weather was spectacular. The weather report said 16°C but it felt much warmer in the hot sun, felt like mid twenties. I got a bit of sunburn… yay!
The climb up was easy… just the job for a relaxing holiday!
There was nowhere to park that would not have impeded either the water board (there’s a water facility there) or the farmer’s tractors so my mum decided to drop us off and meet up with us later after the activation. Fariba and I crossed the gate and walked up the rough track towards the broadcast tower at the top of the hill.
I was able to fit the entire station into a Briggs & Riley Exchange 26 duffle bag which meets the international carry-on regulations for air travel and which converts into a backpack.
My station consisted of:
- Elecraft KX3
- Alexloop (walkham version)
- Buddipole 4S2P 4.6Ah lithium iron phosphate battery
- Heil BM-10 boom microphone
I unpacked the station components, set up a tripod and attached the Alexloop then I tuned up on 40m.
I heard a pair of stations just finishing up a QSO. Bob MI0RGN was a booming S9+20dB signal from Northern Ireland and he was chatting with Charlie MM0GNS/P who was around an S9. I called in with 10W SSB using the alexloop and both Bob and Charlie were hearing me so the equipment was working. Conditions were not the best, there was deep fading present on all signals, the remnants of a recent solar flare but I was able to rotate the loop to peak up signals.
It turned out that Charlie was at a caravan park just up the coast and in fact I could see the caravan from my location! The view was great from the summit, down to Stranraer and looking out over Loch Ryan. It was a surprise to have bumped into someone so close to me!
I parked the radio on 7.112MHz at 1320Z and recorded an SSB CQ call, “CQ SOTA, CQ for Summits On The Air from GM/VA3SIE Portable” and I set the radio to repeat this recorded message automatically with 20 seconds of delay between transmissions. I like this feature which I picked up in the latest firmware update very much I was able to eat a cheese sandwich my mum made me while calling CQ.
The first station to return my call was GW3XHG at 1334Z, he gave me a 4×5 signal report. I had bought a 25MByte international data roaming plan for the trip so I switched on data on my phone briefly and sent out a spot. Shortly thereafter I got a call from an MW3Z?T but that station faded out quickly before I could peak up the loop and I wasn’t able to complete the QSO.
After another few minutes of munching on my sandwich, I got a call from Don G0RQL at 1358Z in Devon. The last time that Don called me, I was on VE2/ES-009 Mont Sutton which is an 947m 8 point summit in Quebec so it was nice to work him from Scotland this time 8-). It was tough copy due to the fading. Don was able to give me a 4×4 report. Don dropped in a little later to tell me my signal had improved somewhat.
I switched over to 20m around 1400Z and tuned the loop up on 14.062MHz CW and to my surprise I heard a CQ call from a SOTA summit. It was Jeff G4ELZ/P and he was portable on Christ Cross (G/DC-005), a 261m summit in the Devon & Cornwall region of England. I was very pleased to have made a summit-to-summit contact on my first SOTA outing in Europe!! Jeff was able to give me an RST 569 report from his summit. I have previously made contact with Jeff from VE2/ES-009 Mont Sutton in Quebec also as well as other summits.
What a coincidence!
The remainder of the activation was a run of European stations and one contact into Nova Scotia. OK1MLP gave me a RST 569 from the Czech Republic. EA1DFP was an ear-splitting RST 599 from Coruna, Spain. DJ5AV in Heiligenberg, Germany was also very loud. and gave me an RST 569. At 1429Z, YO2LIW in Timisoara, Romania gave me an RST 559 report. Hans DL6UHA gave me an RST 539 report. My report from S58AL in Slovenia was RST 567. At 1433Z, Friedrich DL1FU in Biedenkopf, Germany made contact and provided an RST 569 report. EA5YI in Valencia, Spain had RST 569.
My next contact was Phil VE1WT in Nova Scotia. We exchanged RST 559 both ways. I was very pleased to be able to have a contact with Canada on this outing.
Contacts with OM7OM in Slovakia (RST 559 both ways) and Sake, PA0SKP (who was RST 599) in the Netherlands rounded out the operation at 1440Z. I was RST 559 into the Netherlands.
Thanks for all the contacts and for making this a very memorable SOTA expedition for me!