March 27th, 2020, 14:20 – 16:00 UTC
My second activation of Burg Hohenzollern with several novelties:
- The castle was closed (because of the „Corona Lockdown“), so there were much less people than usual. Although there were still enough hikers and cyclists on the square in front of the entrance (Adlertor).
- My very first activation in SSB.
- My daughter Marie planned to activate the training call sign DN3TU (which didn’t happen in the end).
Wx: sunny, approx. 11°C, Moderate wind
Walking time: approx. 30 min. up/ 15 min. down
Ascent/ descent: approx. 140 vertical metres
Conditions were not that good on the higher bands with very deep QSB even on 40m. 60m was reliable but crowded. k = 1, SFI = 70
Rig: KX3 / 10W, 2.9Ah AGM battery, Palm Pico Paddle
Ant: 22 m end fed wire in the trees with QRP L- Tuner .
4 CW QSOs on 20m
4 CW QSOs on 30m
9 CW QSOs on 40m
20 SSB QSOs on 40m
20 CW QSOs on 60m
3 SSB QSOs on 60m
How to get there?
„Burg Hohenzollern“ is less than 30 Minutes from my home, which allows a quick activation. Hechingen – situated at the foot of the „Burg“ – can be reached on the „Bundesstrasse 27“. Signposts at the exit of the motorway are showing the way to the castle and the car park nearby. A well prepared footpath with many steps is leading to the top. More information about the seat of the Prussian royal house can be found here and on Wikipedia.
I tried to make the best of the current situation with its limitations and activated „Burg Hohenzollern“, expecting only few people up there.
When we reached the parking lot, I was mildly surprised that it was packed.
On the way up I decided to take the paved road instead of the footpath because of the nice and warm sunshine. When we reached the top, we found the footpath blocked because of construction works. We wouldn’t have been able to reach the activation zone had we taken the footpath!
We found a sunny, sheltered place on top of the wall above the road. I stretched the antenna wire across the street into a tree. This wouldn’t have been possible under normal circumstances.
When I found a free frequency on 40m SSB, I started the activation. But only after an entry into the DX- CLuster it picked up pace. For me it was a completely new experience to work a small pile up in SSB.
It just started to be fun, when a strong station decided to call CQ close to my frequency. I couldn’t hear my chasers any more and probably wasn’t heard by them as well. This was really annoying, because Marie wanted to take over as DN3TU/p.
Since 40m SSB was that busy, I tried 60m SSB. Again I found no free frequency. I made two S2S QSOs and then QSYed on 20m CW.
20m CW was very slow, most chasers disappeared almost completely in the QSB and could hardly hear me. Thus only four QSOs went into the log. SSB I did not even try. Similar situation on 30m CW: Little activity and deep QSB.
Only on 40m CW it got somewhat better, but also here QSB and less QSOs than usual. Finally an IZ2 settled just below my frequency and began calling CQ. So I QSYed on 60m CW, where it finally ran like clockwork. All callers were loud and did hear me well. 20 QSOs on 60m are record!
Because of the crowded band another attempt on 60m SSB failed. Sadly, Marie was left without QSO today 😦
All in all it was a great day: Excellent weather, a nice walk with my daughter and a new experience on side band 🙂
Thanks for the QSOs and your patience when signals were marginal!