Sunday, September 27, 2009

A chill wind on Binsey

Olga went to a fashion show at Armathwaite Hall this afternoon. As she doesn't drive, I had to take her, so I decided to while away the couple of hours until I had to collect her by taking the VX-8E up nearby Binsey Fell. This is a fairly modest hill at the northern extremity of the Wainwrights, WOTA LDW-190, which by virtue of its separation from other Lake District fells is also a SOTA summit, LD-041.

It was an easy half hour's walk up the grassy path from Binsey Cottage, even allowing for several stops to take in the superb panoramic views. (Memo to self: next time remember to borrow Olga's digital camera.) On the top it was very windy and quite cold, so the first priority was to find somewhere a bit sheltered from the wind where I wouldn't freeze to death and people would have a chance of hearing my voice and not wind noise when I spoke into the microphone.

I hadn't been up there long when my VX-8E received an APRS message from "WOTA" to let me know that M3XJV/P had been spotted on Coniston Old Man, LDW-030, on 145.525 FM. This is a prospective new feature of the Wainwrights On The Air website that I have been testing, to send "spots" by APRS text message to those who would like to receive them. The feature hasn't been made generally available yet and probably won't be, because a) no-one on the WOTA site has expressed any interest in using APRS, b) even if they had, there are too few APRS IGates in range of the Lakeland fells to provide effective coverage, and c) my experiments so far suggest that sending APRS messages from the internet is unreliable because the messages are sent once instead of being repeated until acknowledged, so unless you happen to be in just the right place to get perfect reception when the message is sent, you won't get it. In fact, this was the first WOTA spot I have ever received on my VX-8E while it was out of the shack.

I tuned to 145.525 just in time to hear M3XJV/P announce that he was closing down and going back down due to the wind and the cold. I tried a couple of calls of "G4ILO/P for a summit to summit" to no avail. Well, it was worth a try!

I made a few calls on the FM calling channel, 145.500, and eventually was answered by Steve, M0IGG on Walney Island at the opposite end of the county. That was pretty good going for 5W to a quarter wave telescopic, considering his low elevation and all the mountains in between. So at least my activation qualified for WOTA.

However despite making several calls on four different 2m repeaters, one 70cm one covering the city of Carlisle, and the FM calling channel, I could not raise even one more reply. After ten minutes or so of this, crouching in the lee of the trig point of the summit, to try to get some shelter from the wind, I too decided to call it a day before hypothermia set in!
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