November 2nd, 2019, 13:30 – 15:15 UTC
Third activation of Achalm, my local summit and today my joker.
Wx: mostly cloudy, approx. 15°C, strong winds, few rain drops towards the end
Walking time: 25 min. up/ 20 min. down
Ascent/ descent: approx. 190 vertical metres
k = 0 (zero!), SFI = 11 – Sunspot: # 2750 appeared just the other day
Conditions seemed to be pretty good with loud signals from across the pond.
31 CW QSOs on 20m, thereoff
13 x NA chasers
9 x S2S, from what were
3 x NA (VE2DDZ on VE2/ES-010, WA7JTM on W7A/MN-119 and NS1TA on W1/EM-020.
Originally I planned to activate Hummelsberg, DM/BW-228, for the Transatlantic S2S event because it’s a drive-on location with a clear view towards North America. There is also plenty of space on the summit for an antenna farm.
But the weather on Saturday morning was quite variable. While we had sunshine and temperatures up to almost 20°C here in Tübingen, the rainfall radar showed rain showers over Hummelsberg.
Therefore I changed my plans and aimed at Achalm (DM/BW-099) which is close to my home. According to the forecast it would remain dry for the next hours. Only drawback: Due to restricted space I couldn’t set up my delta loop for 20m.
From the car park on „Scheibengipfel“ it’s about 25 minutes to the top. When I reached the summit there were only few visitors and they were not interested in the bench next to the rim. So I could set up on the same bench I operated during the NA <> EU S2S event in April 2018.
The setup was uneventful and I was QRV at 13:30 UTC. I started searching for other activators but unfortunately the Ukrainian DX contest took place at the same time. A couple of contest stations were calling in the range I would usually have expected SOTA activators. The only station I could find was DL6GCA/p on DM/BW-115. The QSO was most likely on ground wave – 120km across the Black Forest.
With no further S2S QSO available I searched for a clear frequency and started calling CQ SOTA. To my surprise – I was just trying to put on my jacket – several stations answered straight away. Two of them were from NA, K2VV being the loudest with rst at least 579.
When the frequency went quiet, I started searching for Transatlantic S2S. NM5S was the first stateside station but Alan was really faint and soon I couldn’t hear him anymore. Shortly afterwards I came across VE2DDZ on VE2/ES-010. Mal was rst 439 and had a stable signal. I got him on the first call.
After that, I started calling CQ again. During this session eight QSOs came into the log, five of which with NA but no S2S. When I could hear no further stations calling I did search and pounce again. This resulted in two EU S2S QSOs and I heard VE2DDZ again – still good copy! Then I heard WA7JTM on W7A/MN-119. Peter was rst 439 with QSB. I waited until he had worked a couple US stations and called for EU. Somehow I got through but it was tough going and he had to pull each and every letter of my call out of the noise. Looking at the power used, I assume that I was at least one S- unit down compared to Peter’s signal. Nevertheless this was my farthest S2S QSO today 🙂
I started a further session with calling CQ. During the next half-hour four more stations from NA went into the log, the farthest one was NW7E from Oregon! Also the third DX S2S- QSO with NS1TA on W1/EM-020 came through.
I ended my activation with a QSO with LZ2AF/p being my last S2S of the day. Light rain started falling and the clouds looked rather dark now. So I decided to pack in even though it was an hour earlier than I had planned.
At the end I had 31 QSOs in the log. All on 20m CW. Thereoff 13 with NA chasers and 9 S2S from what were 3 with NA activators
I heard NM5S briefly but couldn’t complete a QSO and missed some others because I packed in too early.
All in all it was a phantastic day: Better than expected weather, excellent propagation, lots of DX and S2S.
Thanks to the organizers and thanks to all for the QSOs and your patience when signals were marginal!