SOTA Activation of Wendover Woods

I finally did it! I’ve had the idea of activating a SOTA summit for some time now, but like lots of ideas they sometimes take a while to come to fruition! This was one of my amateur radio targets for 2014 so i decided to bite the bullet and do it.

I activated my first SOTA (Summits on the Air) summit from the highest point in the Chiltern Hills, Wendover Woods (G/CE-005) at 267m ASL on Saturday 13th September.

The previous week i had been out on two practice runs, operating M0JCQ/P from another hill top, satisfied that my equipment was working and i could make QSO’s, i proceeded to jump at the chance when the XYL said she’d be meeting with friends and i’d have Saturday to myself!

The Summit

The summit is easily reached by car, from which you only have to walk 400m to it, however i decided to make it harder and walk 2 hours each way from the nearest town, so it felt a lot more satisfying to successfully activate the summit and even more so to get back home!

Wendover Woods Welcome Sign

The summit itself is not what i expected, it was an enclosed wood so there wasn’t much of a view and operating space was very limited, which made finding space for the 40m dipole quite difficult. The stone monument marking the summit was constantly busy with families, so i set-up about 20 meters away behind some bushes so i could operate in peace.

The Chiltern Summit monument:

Chiltern Summit Plaque

Here’s what the operating site looked like:

Summit Operating Site

 

The Equipment

I used my Elecraft KX3 with a simple inverted V dipole suspended from a 7m fishing pole for this activation. Light weight, but effective at minimal QRP power of 10w using a sealed lead acid battery.

The dipole was made in the morning and trimmed for resonance at the site:

40m Dipole for Activation
Here’s the equipment set up on the picnic mat:

Summit Equipment

 

The QSO’s

I made a total of 26 QSO’s on 40m in just over 2.5 hours at the summit, the first half were hard work with a packed 40m band due to a Churches & Chapels on the Air (CHOTA) event, however i made a number of contacts with these Special event stations, but my real chance was when GX0NWM (special event callsign) handed over his frequency and spotted me on the clusters. After this i encountered my first ever pile up with me on the receiving end! The action was non-stop with shack sloth’s trying to work me and it was good to experience 4 or so stations calling me at once, certainly a rare experience while operating QRP using 10w on SSB! I’d also only made less than 10 SSB QSO’s before this session, so it was a bit of a baptism of fire!

Here’s the log from the activation (if you’re here then you’ve been entered onto the SOTA website):

Date Time Summit Band Mode Station
Worked
13/Sep/2014 13:35 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB GB2RAF
13/Sep/2014 13:55 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB GB6SMD
13/Sep/2014 14:05 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB GB4KL
13/Sep/2014 14:06 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB PD538RNI
13/Sep/2014 14:17 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB GB1STP
13/Sep/2014 14:47 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB GB4GC
13/Sep/2014 14:54 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB GBHTL
13/Sep/2014 15:02 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB GB1SKC
13/Sep/2014 15:22 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB GX0NWM
13/Sep/2014 15:26 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB G0IIQ
13/Sep/2014 15:30 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB M5AJB
13/Sep/2014 15:30 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB EI8CEV
13/Sep/2014 15:34 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB M0IML
13/Sep/2014 15:36 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB F4VPL
13/Sep/2014 15:37 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB ON6ZQ
13/Sep/2014 15:40 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB DL2EF
13/Sep/2014 15:41 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB G6ODU
13/Sep/2014 15:42 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB DJ5AV
13/Sep/2014 15:44 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB G0POT
13/Sep/2014 15:47 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB M6TBO/P
13/Sep/2014 15:49 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB G8VNW
13/Sep/2014 15:50 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB EI9GLB
13/Sep/2014 15:52 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB 2E0TVV
13/Sep/2014 15:53 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB ON7DQ
13/Sep/2014 16:11 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB G4VSJ
13/Sep/2014 16:14 G/CE-005 7MHz SSB M0PJA/P

Lessons Learnt

I learnt some valuable lessons from this activation that I’ll remember for my next activation:

  1. Operating space can be very limited
  2. Ensure equipment is as fool prof as possible – minimise the things that can go wrong on a real summit
  3. Summits can be busy, so ensure the safety of others during set-up and operation
  4. After being spotted on the SOTA site and DX clusters you can expect a pile up
  5. Pile ups are fun, but you need to be organised and methodical in order to remain in control
  6. Walking is tiring!

None the less i’m happy to complete another 2014 objective and hopefully the first of many SOTA activations!

SOTA Wendover Activation

 

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