What a weekend! It has been a hamtastic couple of days on amateur radio. In my post on Thursday I said I thought this might be a good weekend for VHF propagation and boy has it. The 2m/70cms contest helped.
Saturday seemed to be wall to wall SOTA and I never realised conditions were so good on two metres until the last SOTA station was in the log. That was Carolyn G6WRW who activated GW/NW-050 Gyrn Ddu, a little two point summit with a sting in the tale. It was one of only two North Wales Summits in my un-worked list and at only 522m it sounded a real easy one. The problem is the climb starts at just about sea level and it is quite a walk in for a mere two points. Okay there are some Scottish one pointers were you need a day to walk to them a day to climb them and a day to walk out, it is not that bad.
I had worked Carolyn earlier on a previous summit and was watching her progress on APRS via http://aprs.fi/ I was a little surprised when the track of her car mounted unit shot of past were I suspected she would stop, but figured she was going around the hill to tackle it from the high side. When her track told me she was now headed back the way she came I got a little anxious. I wondered if she had forgotten something on the last hill or was lost. I admit my concern was that the activation would be cancelled due to some misfortune. When she eventually parked near were I was expecting I breathed a sigh of relief, but like watching a pot that never boils her progress up,the hill seemed unusually slow for her. That was easily explained by the topography but now I had all my fingers and toes crossed that the band conditions would be conducive to a contact. I need not have worried at 16:28 Carolyn's signal boomed through on 5.3985MHz SSB and we exchanged 59 reports. I was most surprised to find 60 metres still working inter G but very grateful. Even more of a surprise was when she went on to 40 metres that was open inter G as well and we once again exchanged 59 reports. It was the icing on my cake for a day when I bagged well over 70 SOTA chaser points, but the fun was not over.
After our evening meal I was at the PC and at 18:16 I got a message from my cousin Elaine in Virginia USA to say "Passed my Technicians license, with 34/35. Only missed getting my General license by 3 questions... pretty incredible seeing as I haven't even opened the book yet !!!!" Wow! This was turning in to a good day. Elaine and her husband Tim got fired up by reading my blog. It was something Tim had wanted to do but had never got around to it. Elaine had said "Well if Tim is going for it so am I" and she thought if Helen (my XYL) could do it so could she. A little talk the other night had her brimming with enthusiasm. It would not at all surprise me if she did not get her Extra Class licence in the next couple of months. It seems to me the local hams are fast tracking her. I wonder if they want to get a female voice on the mic for field day, sounds like a sure fire winner too me.
A little later I remembered about the VHF/UHF contest and thought I would give some points away. This is a 24 hour contest running from 14:00 Saturday to 14:00 Sunday and as the contest had been running seven hours already I was not expecting much. The first station I found on two metres was G7HOA/P in IO93AD but he QSYed to 70cms. I only had the 2m beam but I used it to get him on 432 MHz. I listened around but could not hear anyone else working 70cms. Two was buzzing however and it was not long before the DX started coming in thick and fast. DK0ZB in JO42ID started the ball rolling followed by PI4GN in JO33II. The Germans were piling in but I squeezed in a few 2SSB contest regulars such as Dave GI4SNA. More Germans, then an OK station I could not get to hear me. I plugged away at him on and off and eventually bagged OK2M in JN69UN at 22:26. In between loads of Belgium and Dutch stations. I kept hearing French stations but it never was their frequency. At one minute past midnight I called it a day after getting DJ8WK in JN40AV in the log.
At 08:00 Sunday my curiosity got the better of me and before I had finished my first coffee I had PA0GSM in JO21VU logged. Then a few locals before I was distracted to 80m SSB to work John GX0OOO/P on a North Pennines SOTA summit and so it was all day, SOTA and back to the contest. It was a pity really that at the same time most of HF was bouncing Canada and the US were booming through on 20m and up as far as at least 12m, but there is only so much you can work. It was another great SOTA day made better by the fun on 2m.
I have to admit I needed this weekend's fun because tomorrow morning I am up at 05:30 and off to work by 06:00. I have a couple of extra 12 hour night shifts to work and I am not looking forward to that prospect. I finish 07:00 Sunday morning :0( Tomorrow night is the 80m club data contest and I will be seeing if I can get anything to work. I suspect RF may be getting in to the PC on that band and it is why I am not having much success. It may just be that 80m is just too noisy hear for me to decode anything. Anyway if I don't try I will never know. Here's hoping!