Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Summits on the Air Activation. SOTA G/SE-011


Last Saturday I activated Wilmington Hill, SOTA G/SE-011. My equipment was very similar to my activation of Firle Beacon (SOTA G/SE-010 a few weeks ago, except this time I carried a bit more water as it was much hotter. I took the train to Eastbourne, but thankfully this time we were free of the dreaded engineering works.
On arrival at Eastbourne, I walked through the town, a rather tedious trek through boring suburbs, with little of interest, to access the South Downs Way long-distance footpath. The Downs, above Eastbourne are crisscrossed with many footpaths and it did not take me long to set off on the wrong one, having ignored my map and some obvious cues about which way I was going.  In that situation I should have retraced my steps and got on the right path, but I decided to go for a ‘quicker’ route back, which lead me further astray. In all, I probably lost a good half hour of valuable operating time through multiple navigational mistakes. If I do this route again, I think I will take the Brighton bus, or even a cab, to Eastbourne Downs golf club, from where the route is fairly straight forward, thereby missing the delights of Eastbourne’s suburbs and saving perhaps an hour.
Not the Way to Wilmington Hill
The walk from there is much more pleasant but the path climbs up to 200m before dropping into Jevington village, at just 50m ASL, before climbing back up to Wilimington Hill 214m above sea level. This makes this summit rather hard work for just one SOTA point.  I stopped at the ‘Eight Bells’ pub in Jevington to top up my water bottles and was greeted by very friendly bar staff who were happy to fulfil my request. Unfortunately they only have a very limited snacks suitable for walkers. Feeling hot and frustrated by my earlier errors, it was very tempting to abandon my activation and to spend the afternoon in this delightful hostelry, but I pressed on, reaching my destination in the early afternoon.
En route, to and from the summit, I called CQ on 2m and 4m FM but was not rewarded with any replies.
The summit is well worth the climb and commands great views of the coast and southern England. Setup was quicker than the previous activation as I did not want to lose any more time and I have made new radials for my Super Stick HF antenna, which are much less prone to tangling. They are also white so visible even in long grass. I worked Mike, 2E0ZXW, on 40m first. He was quite close by but had trouble reading me so I guess he was on the edge of my ground wave. Thanks for persisting Mike.  Most of my 13 QSOs were on 20m or 17m, both CW and SSB. Unfortunately 12m and 10m were dead. I tried a few CQ calls, but no one replied. I called CQ several times on 2m and 4m FM, but the only reply came on 4m from Frank, G3VPS, who I worked previously on the Firle Beacon activation.   
M0BGR/P on Wilmington Hill G/SE-011
I packed up at 1630 GMT as I wanted to leave plenty of time for getting lost on the way back. Fortunately this did not happen and I made it back to Eastbourne station in a little over two hours. My equipment worked well. The band conditions were not great; 10 and 12 closed. There was long skip on 15m so I heard K6YRA in California and W4AZB in Tennessee but they did not hear me and I did not work anyone on that band. VHF/FM was again disappointing with the lack of activity (apart from Frank, G3VPS) and I am wondering if it’s worth taking the kilogram or so of radio, spare batteries etc. for these bands on these trips. I had wanted to do a comparison test the new home-made radials for the Super Stick antenna. Time precluded this so I will do it in my back garden where conditions should be more controlled.  


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