DM/BW-099 – Achalm – 707m (4)


August 18th, 2020, 11:25 – 13:35 UTC
My fourth activation of Achalm, first time by bike/ foot.

Wx: sunny, light clouds and an approaching thunderstorm. Temp approx. 23°C
Cycling time: 75 min to the car park, 50 min back (18km one way)
Walking time: 20 min up, 12 min down
Ascent/ descent: Approx. 150 metres by bike and 185 metres on foot
Total duration: 9:25 UTC to 15:00 UTC

Rig: KX3 / 10W, 2.5Ah Li-Ion battery (4S), Palm Pico Paddle
Ant: 22 m end fed wire with QRP L- Tuner as inverted L on a 6m squid- pole.

Lots of QRN on the low bands. Good condx on 20 metres and 17 metres. k = 1, SFI = 73

18 CW QSOs on 40m – 1 x S2S
12 SSB QSOs on 40m
4 CW QSOs on 30m
9 CW QSOs on 20m – 2 x DX (W4, JA1)
2 CW QSOs on 17m – 2 x DX (JA1)

This trip really felt like climbing a mountain!
DX- QSOs with W4 and JA1

Approaching thunderstorm caused me to go QRT temporarily.

How to get there?

The car park at „Scheibengipfel“ can be reached from Reutlingen. Just follow the sign posts saying „Achalm“. The track to the summit can’t be missed.

Activation report:

Achalm is my local mountain. Some time ago there was a discussion on the SOTA- Reflector (Link) about the use of public transport for activations. At that time I decided not to drive to the local summits by car anymore but use other means of transportation.
That’s why this activation started right in front of my doorstep. First I cycled through the Neckar valley and Echaz valley to Reutlingen and further through the city. Then the exhausting ascent to Scheibengipfel began. There I parked the bike and continued on foot.

2020-08-18 13.42.06
Panoramic view from Achalm with the typical shape of Swabian Jura on the left. Please klick on the image to enlarge.

During the ascent only light clouds were visible. But when I approached the summit, thunder could be heard repeatedly. A thunderstorm had formed in the north of Achalm. Since the ascent is from the south, it became visible only after I had reached the summit. The weather forecast had announced the first thunderstorms much later in the afternoon!
At the moment the Sun was still shining overhead. So I decided to set up station and antenna as quickly as possible and get the activation done. During the setup I watched the thunderstorm closely. I had set a line about 5 km away as a stop criterion. If the rain should cross this line, I would stop immediately and leave the summit.

2020-08-18 13.15.51
View to the north when I reached the summit.

On 40 meters static crashes made it difficult to copy anything. I started the activation feeling a little uncomfortable. Fortunately I got an answer already on my first CQ SOTA and could fulfill the four mandatory QSOs within three minutes. Meanwhile the thunderstorm had come closer. The sun had disappeared behind clouds and a strong wind came up. Therefore I suspended the activation, dismantled and packed up everything.
Ready to leave the summit immediately, I continued observing the events. For about 10 to 15 minutes I remained undecided. Then it became clear that the thunderstorm was moving east and would not reach me anymore. I waited another 15 minutes, then I reassembled station and antenna and continued the activation.

Static crashes were still present on 40 metres and 30 metres. But most signals were well above the noise. On 20 meters it became a little quieter and to my great surprise I was called by stations from W4 and JA1. Both with acceptable readability.
Encouraged by the two DX- QSOs I also tried 17 meters and was all excited when two stations from JA1 called in. Signals semed to be louder on 17 metres (as I had worked one of the stations before on 20 metres, it was easy to compare). After that no further QSOs were made and I packed up for the second time today.

Since Achalm is a very busy summit, I had the opportunity to talk to many hikers about amateur radio and SOTA. Most visitors find it especially impressive when I report about DX- QSOs with low TX- power.


  • The higher bands were in excellent conditions.
  • Strong QRN on the low bands from nearby thunderstorms.
  • First thunderstorm arrived much earlier than expected.

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

Again it was lots of fun and a great day with hiking and cycling.
Sorry for going QRT temporarily! Thanks for the QSOs!


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