July 4th, 2020, 10:30 – 13:30 UTC
My second activation of Plettenberg.
Wx: Sunny with some clouds, temp about 21°C
Walking time: 15 min up, less than 10 min down
Ascent/ descent: Approx. 100 vertical metres
Rig: KX3 / 10W, 2.9Ah AGM battery, Palm Pico Paddle
Ant: 22 m end fed wire with QRP L- Tuner as inverted L on a 6m squid pole.
Condx on all bands were good. On 20 metres sporadic E was present which allowed many short skip contacts into EU. k = 1, SFI = 68
41 CW QSOs on 40m – 8 x S2S
12 SSB QSO on 40m – 5 x S2S
20 CW QSOs on 30m – 4 x S2S
16 CW QSOs on 20m – 2 x S2S
1 SSB QSOs on 20m – 1 x S2S
20 summit to summit QSOs with more than 130 S2S points 🙂
How to get there?
There is a large car park close to Dotternhausen (circle in the upper left corner). From there, the ascend is very long. If you prefer a shorter hike, follow the road until you reach a second car park. A nice track starts from its far end (Russawegle). It is steep but in good conditions and ends near the lookout point.
This was my second activation of Plettenberg. Last time I walked over from Gespaltener Fels. That‘ s why I had set up the station further to the east, near the telecom tower.
This time I wanted to try something new and ascended from the parking lot in Dotternhausen. On the narrow track to the summit the vegetation is very special. The ground is rocky and often very dry. Accordingly only specialized plants grow here.
Plettenberg has an enormous plateau with a large quarry at the top. Virtually everywhere you are in the activation zone. Therefore I was a bit undecided at first where to set up the antenna. When I passed the abandoned lookout point, I decided to activate from here with a wonderful view.
Once station and antenna were set up, I followed my usual procedure and searched for available S2S contacts. Then the activation started on 40 metres CW. It went like clockwork this time with 38 QSOs in half an hour. After the pile up dried up, I searched for more S2S QSOs before continuing the activation. On 30 metres there was a constant stream of callers which was very pleasant to work. After a quarter of an hour, 17 QSOs were in the log.
Even on 20 metres several European stations went into the log thanks to sporadic E. But unfortunately no DX could be heard or worked.
When 20 metres went quiet, I tried 10 metres, where I briefly heard sporadic E signals. Later I noticed that I haven’t been spotted on SOTAwatch and subsequently did not get a single answer to my CQ.
As the weather was pleasant I decided to continue on 40 metres SSB. I’m not an experienced SSB operator so this is always a bit of a challenge for me. The most important thing seems to be able to submit a spot to the cluster system. Only then chasers will be able to find my operating frequency. Luckily I had mobile network coverage at my QTH. So I looked for a free QRG, started calling and submitted a spot. The pile up built within minutes as it often does on 40 metres. It was fun to work the many stations with good operating techniques. However, there was one particular fellow ham, who really annoyed me. He shouted over several QSOs and finally almost ruined a S2S- contact with S57MS/p. But despite this minor disruption I completed the activation until no more chasers were calling.
When I had packed up the HF- equipment, I took out my trusty Belcom 2 metres handheld allmode transceiver. I connected it to a HB9CV antenna, about 3 metres above ground and scanned the band. As a VHF contest was scheduled for 14:00 UTC I expected several big gun stations to be QRV. Indeed I found some strong signals in the SSB- portion of the band. But all stations were in long QSOs, preparing for the contest. As I didn’t have the time to wait until they had finished, I finally packed up with no VHF- contact but incredible 90 QSOs on HF in the log.
- The smart phone display is hardly readable in full sunlight. I need to make something (from cardboard?)
- The sun was brutal. A tarp or something similar would have been good.
- Hikers are responding with interest to my SOTA-flyer.
- 40 metres SSB can be challenging at times.
As two weeks ago, it was pure joy to hear so many SOTA friends on other summits. I almost had the feeling that there was someone with a radio on every peak.
Again I felt sorry when I had to pack up.
Thanks for the QSOs!