Saturday, 21 June 2014

2014 EU Tour Day Two - Belgium & Luxembourg

The Gastenkamers village B&B at Bierbeek was superb and we left there at around 7.30am after a lovely breakfast. Our plan for the day was first to activate two Belgian summits and join the SOTA Belgium Association Manager Peter ON4UP with Franz ON9CBQ on the "summit" of ON-010 Baraque Fraiture. We were to activate that summit together after lunch and then motor on down to Luxembourg to LX-001 near Wiltz, where we were booked into a hotel for the night. 

As we left Bierbeek we stopped to view this ornate water tower, before we joined the E40 motorway to Sur Clair Fa ON/ON-011:

Amazing artwork on the Bierbeek Water Tower - Bierbeek is near to Leuven
ON/ON-011 Sur Clair Fa

Most of the Belgian and Luxembourg summits are in the wooded Ardennes region. The walk from the car to the summit on ON-011 took less than 15 minutes after we found a parking place up a woodland track. We both shared my station, after setting up in the woods at a footpath - bridleway crossroads. Our parking place and GPX track can be downloaded from the Sota Mapping Project website. 

A sunny day - Nick operating on ON-011 Sur Clair Fa

We completed 64 contacts on 30m and 40m and then made off to our next summit:

ON/ON-013 Bois de Hodinfosse

My GPS shows where Nick G4OOE parked for ON-013 - again this was up a woodland track, which I located using Open Street Map. Here you see Nick setting up on the "summit":

I operated my own station about 200m away from Nick and we suffered no problem with breakthrough with each of us running 30 watts from Yaesu FT-857 transceivers. With the lions share of contacts being made on the 40m band we decided that for the remaining summits on the tour that Nick would concentrate on the 40m operations and I would fill in gaps in propagation by looking for longer distance contacts on the 30m and 20m bands. The plan worked well.  After less than an hours operation we packed up.  We were meeting out friends Peter ON4UP and Franz ON9CBQ for lunch at an Auberge on the summit of ON/ON-010 Baraque Fraiture and didn't want to be late...

ON/ON-010 Baraque Fraiture

A minor navigational error took us down a country lane on our way to ON-010 but by that time we were close to the summit and being talked in on a 2m handheld by ON4UP, and here we are on the summit (!):

Left to right: Peter ON4UP - Franz ON9CBQ - Phil (Writer) ON/G4OBK - Nick ON/G4OOE

The Auberge is located on a crossroads well within the activation drop zone of 25 metres. After drinks and a Croque Monsieur Peter took us into the woodland on the summit to locate the trig point. Our mission was successful:

We then made our way to our operating positions on a large car park on the opposite side of the main road. This car park gets full in the winter when snow is lying as it serves a ski area. Today we were the only people using it. Between us we activated on the 4m, 2m, 30m and 40m bands before bidding our farewells to our Belgian friends and making for the highest point in Luxembourg, Steekammchen LX/LX-001 which is near to the town of Wiltz where we were staying overnight in a hotel.  

LX/LX-001 Steekammchen

Once again a woodland track (tarmac) took us near to the summit. We drove beyond the highest point and then walked back and across some rough land to an area used for harvesting wood. It was after the end of the working day so there was no one around. I set up by some log piles, and Nick set up about 300m away to avoid interaction between the two stations. 

Operating position among log piles on LX/G4OBK/P on LX-001

Nick sets up his dipole antenna for LX/G4OOE/P on LX-001

We operated for just 30 minutes and we both found conditions disappointing, with 40 contacts between us. We had a slight problem in that Nick had left his Morse key in his car. Whilst monitoring the Rucksack Radio Tool app I noticed a spot from Roy G4SSH saying "Morse key forgotten" against Nicks SSB spot. That was a cue for me once I completed my CW activity to stroll over to Nick's position and loan him my Palm Key...  I finished off five SSB contacts with GM4YMM, EA2CKX, G4ZRP, OE3GGS and DG9WD before going QRT. NIck went on to complete 11 CW QSOs with my Morse key including S2S contacts with HB9BAB/P and DL4FDM/P. 

We then returned to the town of Wiltz and our hotel which was a former Tannery:

After a stroll around town we noticed it was a public holiday and the only place to eat was at our hotel. We returned there for our evening meal after a great day on the road and activating four summits. 

Next day we planned to activate LX/LX-003 before the long drive into the Baden Wuerttemberg (DM/BW) region of Germany - Link to Day 3

All my GPX tracks can be obtained from the SOTA Mapping Project provided by Rob DM1CM.

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