High volume activation.

  • Summit height: 1115m
  • Transportation: driving
  • Rig: KX2, 10W, internal battery
  • Antenna: nonresonant vertical (Chameleon Mil Whip + Mil Ext, jaw mounted to a metal railing)
  • QSOs: 28 (17 on 30m, 7 on 20m, 3 on 17m, 1 on 15m), all CW, of which 2 S2S

We had visitors over the weekend. One of them had brought his mountain bike along and wanted to sample the Swiss trails. Wanting to help out, I figured this is also a good occasion to activate a summit. Bachtel seemed like a good candidate, since I knew from a previous attempt that it’s possible to drive all the way up and there’s also a MTB trail starting there. We loaded his bike and my radio gear into the car and off we went. While talking on the way I didn’t realize that I was going too fast, so I got a 250 CHF ticket for going 65km/h in a 50km/h zone. Oops, and lesson learned.

Once on the summit, my friend set up his bike and took off. There’s a tall metal tower accessible to the public, so I went to the top observation deck planning to operate from there. I had brought a Chameleon vertical antenna, thinking I would clamp it to the tower and use its metal structure as a counterpoise. The view from the top was great, but it was also windy and cold. It would have been too uncomfortable to stay there, so I went back down.

I set up the operating post on top of a small mound next to the tower, which also had a metal railing that I jaw mounted the antenna to. The KX2’s internal ATU quickly tuned it up on the 30m band. I found a free frequency, spotted myself on SOTAwatch, and called CQ. A bunch of people responded, and they kept on coming. This was my second ever CW activation and my Morse still has a lot of room for improvement, but the chasers were patient and the short, formulaic QSOs helped. Before I knew it there were 17 contacts in the log.

Once things quieted down on 30m I switched to 20m and worked a few chasers there. It got quiet again, so I looked at SOTAwatch and saw that N1EU was activating W2/GC-010 on 17m. The odds of being able to work him were very low, but I tuned up and gave it a try anyway. The signal was barely copiable but it was there, so I called and we had a S2S QSO. Given that 17m conditions were good I picked a free spot there and called CQ, which resulted in another 2 QSOs one of which was also in the USA.

To top it all off, as I was getting ready to call it a day, I noticed on SOTAwatch that KB9ILT was activating W4V/BR-006 on 15m. Emboldened by what seemed to be really good propagation, I tuned up and called him. It worked, sort of: I think he copied my report and summit reference well, but I could barely hear him (RST 229 with a lot of QSB) and I’m still not sure if I copied his report correctly.

It was getting cold and my friend was almost done riding so I stopped and packed things up. As I was leaving, I turned around to check that I hadn’t forgotten anything. I had that slightly uneasy feeling that comes when the subconscious is trying to get your attention towards something but nope: nothing left behind laying in the grass, everything was in the backpack. I went to pick up my friend, who was grinning ear to ear after having enjoyed himself on the trail, and drove home. Later on, as I was copying the logs from paper into Log4OM, I realized that I left the antenna jaw mount clamped to the metal railing. Oops.

Lessons learned:

  • being able to quickly hop across bands is very nice
  • large metal objects can serve as effective vertical antenna counterpoises
  • Morse is a lot of fun (not news, but this activation confirmed it)
  • always pay attention to speed limits (this time it was thankfully just a fine)
  • trust your gut, it seems to have a good handle of what you’re forgetting