Sunday, May 02, 2010

Watch Hill

It was a fine sunny morning. I remembered - having worked a couple of activators yesterday - that it was the Summits On The Air (SOTA) Activity Weekend, so I thought we would go to Watch Hill, G/LD-054, and see what I could work from there.

Compared to all the people who have slogged up thousands of feet to get to their summits Watch Hill is a bit of a cheat. It's a 15 minute stroll from the nearest car park, with only the last couple of hundred metres being a bit steep. But as it is a less than 10 minute drive from home it's a popular walk for Olga and I and we often take a picnic lunch up there.

I took with me the Motorola GP300 and the Kenwood TH-205E with the 5/8 telescopic whip. Getting the 4 contacts required for a SOTA activation can be a challenge from there, as it is a fairly low hill and there isn't a huge amount of 2m FM activity round here. Many have tried and gone away disappointed. However on Sunday morning the Workington Radio Club has a 2m FM net. I broke into that and soon had 5 contacts logged. Future would-be activators of Watch Hill please note.

I also made a summit to summit with 2M0NCM/P on Lamachan Hill SS-061 in Dumfries and Galloway, and then caught Geoff G4WHA/P who was just stopping for lunch on Wether Hill, WOTA summit LDW-103. I wouldn't have heard him from home, so that was a nice WOTA chaser point for me.

The Motorola produced great, loud audio which is ideal for listening on a windy hill-top, and I got an unsolicited report of "BBC quality" audio on my transmissions, so it seems to be working well. However I noticed that some stations seemed to chop up a bit. I'm not sure if they were weak and the squelch is very sharp or whether their deviation is a bit wide for the Motorola IF filters. I will need to investigate this further.

The TH-205E came in handy after the Motorola gave a few beeps to warn, I think, that the battery was exhausted. There is no visual indication of battery state on the Motorola so I had no advance warning. The station I was working said that he could hear a carrier but no audio after the battery went. Still, it does seem to be a nice radio and rugged enough for this type of use.

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