August 7, 2021 07:00 – 08:00 UTC
My fourth activation of Plettenberg.
Wx: Overcast, approx. 15°C, rain started at 8:00
Walking time: 20 min. up, 15 min. down
Ascent/ descent: approx. 100 vertical metres
Rig: FT-290R and SG-Lab 1300MHz transverter, Belcom LS202E for 2m SSB
Ant: Bi-Quad for 23cm on a tripod, Oblong for 2m on a 6m squid pole
Condx on 23cm seemed to be good.
13 QSOs on 23cm SSB
– First activation on 23cm
– ODX: 311km
How to get there?
see here. But this time I followed the paved road to the south, leading to „Plettenberg-Hütte“ in order to try something new.
In spring I became aware of the topic „microwaves“ through this thread in the SOTA-Reflector. A short research showed that it should be possible to become QRV on at least one microwave band with little effort. It seemed logical to start with 23cm. A transverter from SG-Lab was quickly ordered and for antennas there are numerous instructions, for example this Bi-Quad.
Until the equipment was ready, I had time to ask experienced microwave operators for their advice. It soon became clear that it was best to combine a microwave activation with a contest or a sked, so that a QSO partner would be available in any case. The first attempts were not really successful. Neither at the DARC microwave contests, nor during a sked a QSO could be made.
Quite disappointed by these results, I wanted to make one last attempt at the summer BBT before deciding how to proceed with the microwave activities. The „Bayerischer Berg Tag“ is an annual VHF/UHF/SHF-Contest and was scheduled for the weekend of 7./8. August. (Note: There is also a „Winter BBT“ in February)
Due to the very changeable weather, I had hesitated with the commitment until Friday. But then it seemed that Saturday morning should still hold acceptable weather. Consequently, I packed the equipment and set the alarm clock for 6:00 AM.
I chose Plettenberg because it offers good line of sight to the west and south. That was where several stations had announced their participation.
When I arrived at the summit plateau around 8:30 local time, the sky was already grey. It seemed unlikely that the rain would wait until noon. Nevertheless, I set up the 23cm station and – to be on the safe side – also the 2m station in case any QSOs should be arranged there.
It was already a few minutes after contest start when I found the first QSO. An anxious minute followed until this was finished and I could call. One minute later I gladly wrote my first contact on 23cm into the log. After the next station had also finished its QSO, I asked them to QSY and this way my second contact went into the log. Already this would have been more than enough, but what followed, I would not have dared to dream: A total of five more stations called! The QSO with HB9BAT set the distance record at 143km.
When the little pile-up abated, I searched the band for more stations. With HB9MDP another contact beyoned 100km was established. It soon became apparent that it was advantageous to monitor the frequency of loud stations. Every now and then a station called in, which wasn’t in my log yet. Then I could ask them for QSY after their QSO. This way I managed a QSO with DL3ZAE and the distance record climbed to 213km.
When drizzle set in, I came across a small pileup. The station called for was DB6NT and he had an exceptionally strong signal with heavy QSB. Presumably he was far away. While waiting for the pile-up to subside, I was already packing up unused items, as the rain had started to intensify. Then the turn was finally on me and with a single repetition we made our QSO. The station was located in JO50TI which meant a distance of 311km 🙂
As soon as the contact was completed, I dismantled the entire station because it was now raining heavily. Not all the equipment made it into the backpack dry, but fortunately nothing was damaged. It would just be more trouble as everything had to be unpacked, disassembled and dried at home.
- After several setbacks, this activation finally succeeded.
- Despite simple antenna and low Tx-power (< 3W) it is possible to bridge several hundred kilometers on 23cm when conditions are good.
- BBT is fun and I am already looking forward to the session in February