Thursday, 24 September 2015

SOTA Tour in Czech Republic OK/G4OBK/P Day Four (Final Day)

Another dry day dawned - with sunshine for a change and a clear blue sky. I had to get back to Vaclav Havel Airport west of Prague to hand in my Skoda Citigo hire car, get a meal and catch my plane but that was at sunset - no later than 8.00 pm local time in late September. Naturally I wanted to activate the maximum number of summits I could with the time I had available and not miss my plane, so it was a case of "making hay while the sun shines" and this is what I did. 
Standard continental breakfast at Masaryk's Cottage - 3 nights half pension for £39 in my own room
About to leave Masaryk's Cottage on my last day - my silver Skoda Citigo hire car pictured
In the event I had breakfast, leaving Masaryk's Cottage just after 8.00am. By carefully choosing the summits to include "5 drive on summits" I activated 8 summits on HF in the day and still had time for a meal at the airport before catching my plane back to Bristol. In fact, I had decided to operate in the style of my friend - world top scoring SOTA Activator Jan Lacicka (OK2PDT/P) who I had met two days earlier. The only difference in the style of operation was that I was running QRP with Yaesu power at 5 watts from an FT-817 and I was more likely to use Morse and Phone, whilst Jan usually operates at power levels of QRPp - less than 2 watts using a home brew transceiver and mostly just stays with the Morse operation...

You would think this last day took a long time in planning with eight summits activated, but that was not the case. I had earmarked five summits for my last day prior to the tour, however having ticked off two planned summits the previous day that I intended doing on my last day, this allowed me to add two more new summits making six. Then as I toured between two summits approaching Nachod in the middle of the day, a closed road diversion caused me to deviate and this took me through a village with a 10 minute walk to an extra "bonus summit". 

After that and whilst driving towards Prague, still within the OK/KR area, I got stuck in a traffic jam due to some roadworks. Out came my tablet on to the passenger seat and on opening up the OSMAND+ App (with all OK summits programme in prior via GPX) to confirm my position, I realised that I would shortly be passing within a few miles of a drive on summit, so I went there for summit number six in the middle of the afternoon.

OK/KR-078 Smoluv kopec: 4 points - SOTA - Complete: YES

Parking Place:

Walk to summit: 5 minutes
QRV: 0649z - 0706z 
Bands: 30m CW 20m CW/SSB
Contacts: 17
Best DX: VK7CW - VK2IO
S2S: None

My activation of KR-078 on a beautiful September morning - this is what makes SOTA so enjoyable
A short walk up the grass track pictured to a radio mast and communications compound just outside the village of Nedvezi took me to the summit of KR-078. It was an early start for the chasers and contacts dried up in less than 20 minutes. I wasn't staying any longer. 

OK/KR-074 Stenka: 6 points - SOTA - Complete: YES

Walk to summit: 12 minutes
QRV: 0754z - 0812z 
Bands: 30m CW 20m CW/SSB
Contacts: 26
Best DX: None - all Europe
S2S: None
OK/G4OBK/P activation on Stenka KR-074
As it was later I had a few more callers on Stenka but none this time were DX. Parking on the grass verge by the main road near the road junction which leads to OK/KR-020 I headed up a track and then climbed a field up to the top of a ski tow surrounded by small fir trees. The ski tow slope went down the other side of the hill from where I walked up. I set up against the fence of the ski-tow and enjoyed my second session, which was now too late to pull in any DX contacts with the sun high in the sky. After leaving the summit I drove a short distance on the side road opposite my parking place at the junction to reach OK/KR-020 - a drive on summit. 

OK/KR-020 Skutina: 6 points SOTA - Complete: YES
Walk to summit: 2 minutes
QRV: 0842z - 0903z 
Bands: 30m CW 20m CW/SSB
Contacts: 28
Best DX: None - all Europe
S2S: None

A family out flying a kite on the field at the top of KR-020
I set up and operated against the metal fence of the compound close to the radio mast, RF wise it seemed a pretty noisy place, atmospheric or localised noise I couldn't say. Its a chance you take operating close to these comms towers and I have had RF interference problems when receiving on HF in these situations before. The picture above was taken from the car before I made my "final ascent" to the summit! After closing down I estimated I had around a one hour drive north to a summit near Nachod, but I was to encounter a roadblock which turned out to be beneficial when the diversion took me near to an extra bonus summit (KR-080) which was a pleasure to activate from. 

OK/KR-080 Na varte: 4 points SOTA - Complete: YES

Walk to summit: 10 minutes
QRV: 0958z - 1017z 
Bands: 30m CW 20m CW/SSB
Contacts: 28
Best DX: None - all Europe
S2S: None

As I was driving on my way to activate Dobrosov KR-079 I encountered a road closure. I drove up to the barriers near a village and had to turn round. My OSMAND+ map app gave me an alternative route to Nachod. It was quite a detour as there was a river and valley in the way. However, I noticed using my app that this detour took me close to the village of Sendraz.  From here a short walk would take me to the edge of a wood and into the activation zone for KR-080 Na varte. What a bonus, and what a view, stretching tens of miles:

Who would imagine that a summit so easy to reach offering 4 points would be so under activated? Including my visit Na Varte has only had seven visits for SOTA...back to the car and the diversion, I proceeded to:

OK/KR-079 Dobrosov: 4 points - SOTA Complete: YES

Walk to summit: 3 minutes
QRV: 1131z - 1148z 
Bands: 30m CW 20m CW/SSB
Contacts: 23
Best DX: None - all Europe
S2S: None

The very smart building and tower which houses a restaurant on the summit of OK/KR-079 Dobrosov
So, here we have another drive on summit - this time it had a lovely and busy looking restaurant on the summit. No time for a dinner though, it was on with the activation that was my priority. I  had driven into the outskirts of Nachod, a large industrial town or even a small city, I am unsure. It was a long way round. KR-079 and my previous summit KR-080 are only around 3 Km apart as the crow flies, but I seemed to be driving for around 30 minutes to reach this place due to the diversion. 

I parked away from the restaurant and walked behind this war memorial and set up my station against the fence running around a communications compound 100m behind the war memorial. I wished I had had more time to look around and visit the restaurant, but I had work to do and another energy bar and drink of cola would have to suffice for now...
My operating position on Dobrosov OK/KR-079 - note the mobile phone antenna extension on top of my fishing pole!
As I packed up I checked the time - it was 2.00 pm. To allow an hour for security at Prague airport I needed to be there by 8.20 pm for a flight which left for Bristol at 9.20pm. Did I have the time to activate two quickie drive on summits, travel 120 miles mostly on motorway and A Class roads, get my hire car checked and signed for, have a meal and still catch my Easyjet flight? 

OK/KR-052 Horinevské Lípy: 1 point - SOTA Complete: NO

Walk to summit: 1 minute
QRV: 1325z - 1346z 
Bands: 30m CW 20m CW/SSB
Contacts: 22
Best DX: None - all Europe
S2S: None

KR-052 was another "accidental bonus summit" activation which I added on the fly whilst travelling. The summit lies around 10 Km NNE of Hradec Kralove where my good friend Vrata OK1KT lives. I was sat in a traffic jam on the 33 road. There were roadworks and traffic lights - we have these all the time in the UK as well... Sat in the traffic I opened my tablet and noticed this one point summit - KR-052 was around 10 Km from the traffic jam I was in and 3 Km from the 33 main road at the country road end which I would pass.

I had nothing to lose in heading for KR-052 and if this made me late for the plane I could always strike out my last summit which was on the outskirts of Prague and quite close to the airport... So I went for it - parking by the roadside, I walked a short distance from the car to where I could fasten my antenna to one of the posts at the roadside. The summit is 1 Km north west from Sendrazice and about 5 Km west of Smirice and has a metalled road passing through the activation zone. The contacts came in at around one a minute until 20m went quiet and I closed down. I now needed to get on to the motorway near Hradec Kralove and head for my last two planned summits nearer to Prague.  TomTom took me on some minor roads towards the E67 / D11 motorway without experiencing any traffic congestion and I hit the motorway at around 4.15pm and for the first time on this tour I drove my little Skoda at speeds of 80 mph. 

OK/KR-057 Velka Dorota: 1 point - SOTA Complete: NO

Walk to summit: 1 minute
QRV: 1443z - 1455z 
Bands: 30m CW 20m CW/SSB
Contacts: 19
Best DX: None - all Europe
S2S: None

Velka Dorota was chosen for it's proximity to the D11 Motorway and was inside a wood near to the town of Dobrenice. I reached the activation zone by driving along a perimeter track alongside an industrial estate. 

I activated from this point at 280m ASL. The highest point is in the gated wood at 292m ASL. I quickly made as many contacts as possible in the shortest time working mainly UK stations:
Date:28/Sep/2015 Summit:OK/KR-057 (Velká Dorota) Call Used:OK/G4OBK/P Points: 1
With little time left I headed for Prague and the only summit outside the OK/KR area. My final "drive on" summit was pre-planned and was located west of Prague City, 5 Km south of Vaclav Havel Airport. 

OK/ST-075 Ruzova: 1 point - SOTA Complete: YES

Walk to summit: 1 minute
QRV: 1650z - 1701z 
Bands: 30m CW 20m CW/SSB
Contacts: 16
Best DX: None - all Europe
S2S: None
The sun sets on my 8 summit SOTA day at OK/ST-075 Ruzova
After a traffic jam and a road closure diversion close to the summit, which meant I had to approach Ruzova from the north, time was getting short. The activation zone plateau carries a Motorway, a railway line, a small housing estate, a transport depot and farmland as far as I could tell. I pitched up down a track and set up my fishing pole against a road sign. It was dusk and I got some strange looks from a few locals who were out walking their dogs. The chasers were waiting for me though, and my friends in Scarborough Roy G4SSH and Nick G4OOE were first into my log on 30m CW. I managed to complete an 11 minute activation before I shut down and packed up to head to the airport hire car depot, via the petrol station and to the arrival desk with little time in hand. I estimate that arriving, activating and departing ST-075 had taken just 30 minutes, now that really was in the slick style of OK2PDT! You do get very fast and well practiced at getting your station on the air when you have done 8 HF activations in one day and 24 in four days...

I was at the airport in around 20 minutes, which allowed me time to fill the tank with petrol, hand in the car (Such efficient service in Czech Republic - much like in Germany) and grab a meal in the airport restaurant before going to the security gate for my plane. With only "hand luggage" there was no need to go through the ritual of getting my suitcase weighed - all 13 Kgs that I carried on this tour was in my Berghaus Rucksack and in the pockets of my walking coat. 

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