Sunday, 7 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day Five

Sunday 7th May 2017

1. OK/VY-063 Kyjov (6)
2. OK/VY-024 Havlina (6)
3. OK/VY-026 Blazkov (4)
4. OK/VY-071 Rosicka (4)
5. OK/VY-033 Peparek (4)
6. OK/VY-068 Zelena Hora (4)
7. OK/VY-060 Sklensky Vrch (6)
8. OK/VY-004 Kopecek (6)
9. OK/VY-014 Harusuv kopec (6)

Reflecting back as I write this, months after our SOTA Tour of Moravia, I think Victor bounced back on day five of the tour. He still felt lousy but was not as debilitated after he got some tablets from a supermarket chemist counter early morning. For the first time in SOTA activating over 12 years I scored on 9 summits on HF in a day, total contacts in the day - 91, total points earned 46.  We started operating on our first summit OK/VY-063 at 0703z and I made my last QSO at 1545z. With two operators (G4OBK and G(I)4ONL) operating HF QRP independently with KX2s and link dipoles it was easy to quickly clear the 20m, 30m and 40m band of callers. Our style was to work SSB and CW and operate on at least two out of three of those bands. As soon as 3 CQ calls went unanswered after qualifying the summit, we packed up and moved off on to the next summit.  If one operator was still busy then the other operator went on to the 3rd band. The activity took place on the hills around the town of Zdar nad Sazavou:

(To be continued)

Saturday, 6 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day Four

Saturday 6th May

1. OK/VY-049 Klucovska hora (2)
2. OK/VY-042 Zadni hora (4)
3. OK/VY-030 Srni vrch (4)
4. OK/VY-020 Marenka (6)
5. OK/VY-065 Kobyli hlava (4)
6. OK/VY-036 Kopce (4)
7. OK/VY-067 Salatuv kopec (4)

I discovered at breakfast that Victor was very ill - with sickness, diarrhea and feeling terrible. It turned out that he had caught the highly contagious Norovirus - otherwise known as the "winter vomiting bug".  We believe he caught the bug before he left the UK - the reason we know that is that I also caught the virus from him but it did not materialise until I was back home - four days after Victor had identical symptoms to me. Then four days after I caught it my XYL Judy caught it - and we would not wish this horrible virus on anybody. It takes between two and five days to recover if you catch it. 

Our plan on day four was to leave the hotel in Namest nad Oslavou early - we had no choice in that as the hotel and adjacent road leading down to the town would be closed at 7.00am for the annual motorsport hill climb event held there. Victor was unable to eat - a situation that lasted for the rest of the day.

Today was the only day that I was to drive - at least for the part of the day when Victor felt at his worst. He was feeling so bad that he was only be able to operate, albeit uncomfortably, on four out of the seven summits I visited.  We planned to drive from Namest to our second hotel 40 Km north east of there, at Novi Veseli. As we travelled we intended stopping off and activating the seven hills around Trebic as this map shows, VY-049>VY-042>VY-030>VY-020>VY-065>VY-036>VY067:

At this point I must acknowledge the usefulness of the SOTA Mapping Project provided by Rob DM1CM. Without this resource and tools and the SOTA Database managed by Andy MM0FMF, we would not be able to plan tours such as this one. In particular tthis days tour was copied from a similar activation day by Jirka OK2BDF which Jirka completed on 4th July 2016 - thank you for the idea and inspiration Jirka!  

With great difficulty Victor was able to pack up his gear and drive the car, at least initially. Our first summit VY-049, was near Klucov with the road going into the 25m drop activation zone. I set up my station, and as it was 0530z I made just five contacts on the 40m band in less than 15 minutes. The hard part was now persuading Victor that he needed to get out of the car and take over sending the Morse. I moved the dipole links on to the 30m band and in 3 minutes the ailing ham captured contacts with SOTA regulars ON4FI, OK2PDT, G3RMD and EA1CS. We went QRT immediately and made our way by car the short distance to OK/VY-042 west of Trebic. I did persuade Victor to exit the car and walk the short distance to the station in the woods on Zadni hora VY-042:

Amazingly the Northern Irishman made 16 contacts in 12 minutes on the 30m band on VY-042 to seal it. However, he wasn't up to driving after that so I took over at the wheel and we made our way to a common parking place for VY-030 and VY-020. Sadly Victor wasn't up to even getting out of the car on these two summits and left it to me to activate them both solo. The summit of Mareka VY-020 was the more interesting out of the two summits. There was an impressive EEC funded viewing platform on the top. I could have operated from there but decided to stay at ground level, where as well as operating spoke to some locals who were out walking as to what I was doing with my radio. 

By Czech standards the walk to VY-020 was a longish one at 2.2 Km. The route I used on forestry roads is now available as a GPX file in the track section of the SMP.  A few hours rest in the car meant Victor felt a little better and he was able to drive us to Kobyla Hlava VY-065, however he still wasn't up to operating so remained in the vehicle while I walked the 400m to reach the 680m contour in the woodland where I set up my station to make 13 contacts. We moved on to VY-036 and finally VY-067 where he felt able to operate as they were both virtually "drive on" summits. Here he is suffering on Salatav kopec VY-067:

At the end of the day we had made 129 contacts (OBK=94 ONL=35) so considering the situation it wasn't so bad... 

Friday, 5 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day Three

Friday 5th May

1. OK/VY-053 Duforty (2)
2. OK/VY-040 Holy vrch (4)
3. OK/VY-031 Svata Hora (4)
4. OK/VY-073 Maly kamenny vrch (2)
5. OK/JM-057 Babylon (2)
6. OK/JM-054 Pasnik (2)
7. OK/JM-015 Kamenny (2)
8. OK/VY-045 Jeleni hlava (4)

Day 3 - Activity was centred on summits within a 15 km radius of OK/VY-031 Svat Hora
Jan OK2PDT told us the previous evening about a road closure in Velka Bites where he lives, and provided us with an alternative road route to our first summit of the day, OK/VY-053 Duforty. Our target summits today were two and four point summits to the north of Namest nad Oslavou where we were staying for the first part of the tour.  At VY-053 a road went into the activation zone where we parked. We separated our stations as we always do to prevent interaction. We were finding that with around 100m separation at the 10 watt power level that no interference was caused to either operator on the 20m, 30m or 40m bands. In fact throughout the trip with this amount of seperation it was usually possible for us on occasion, to both operate on the 20m band at the same time - with Victor using CW and Phil SSB.  

Writing this blog some months after our tour I recall little about this day, until we reached the parking place for Pasnik OK/JM-054 that is...  Parking on the farm access road which led to the summit footpath was tight and there was a notice displayed in Czech which we did not understand, so we went to the farm to ask permission to park the hire car. The farmers daughter came out and fortunately spoke excellent English. She gave us permission and offered to show us into the barn to see the herd of cattle:
The lovely farmers daughter we met near Pasnik OK/JM-054 - the farm own the summit
After our chat with the farmers daughter we made our way to the summit, which took around ten minutes or so. The Czech authorities are so helpful - the signposting for used footpaths and the more popular summits are well marked as this photograph of Pasnik shows - note my fishing pole supporting the antenna:

Our 8th and final summit of the day was Jeleni hlava OK/VY-045, another wooded summit and one which was close to where we parked the car. Victor was feeling good - which wasn't the case the next day when he became quite ill:

We hadn't planned to activate 8 summits on day three - seven was our target, however with time to spare VY-045 was added. The total number of HF contacts on this day was 138. We made our way back to Namest nad Oslavou for our last night there.   Our last two nights were to be spent at a hotel further west in Nove veseli, so we could exploit the summits in that area.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day Two

Thursday 4th May

1. OK/JM-030 Chocola (1)
2. OK/JM-022 Lipovy vrch (1)
3. OK/JM-020 Kopecek (1)
4. OK/JM-062 Velky Okrouhlik (1)
5. OK/JM-025 Teply kopec (1)
6. OK/JM-040 Kobyla (1)
7. OK/JM-034 Holy kopec (1)

In fair weather we left our hotel after an early breakfast on day two of our Moravia Tour. Victor (GI4ONL) had become OK/G4ONL/P for this tour.  Recent OFCOM guidance relating to UK callsigns states that when operating in CEPT countries the UK country designator (For example GI = Northern Ireland, GM = Scotland etc) should not be used.

With Victor as driver for the tour and Phil OK/G4OBK/P as navigator we left our hotel in Namest nad Oslavou and travelled east in the direction of Brno. Our activity was to be centred within a 15 Km radius of the town of Rosice between Namest and Brno city itself. Our targets were seven easy to access one point SOTA summits in the area.
Our seven activations on Day Two were centred within a 15 Km radius of Rosice
Chocola JM-030 was our first summit we walked the 2 Km from a car park.The rough track joined a tarmac road with two bus stops further along the route, no doubt a more convenient start point for the walk was available but without local knowledge we were not aware of this. 
The summit was in a wood and we set up quite close to a cross:

After 28 contacts between us we set off back to the car and headed for a parking place near a motor racing track - the Automotodrom Brno - motrosport is very popular in the Czech Republic and when we arrived at the parking place for JM-022 and JM-020 racing practice was taking place. 

Both JM-020 and JM-022 were the usual wooded type of Czech summits - here is a photo of Victor operating - on Kopecek - note the paddle morse key strapped to his leg:

We were both using Elecraft KX2 transceivers with link dipoles and shared the 20m, 30m and 40m bands operating on CW (Morse) and SSB (Voice) with two separate stations which helped us to cram in as many activations in the day as we could. 

We went on to activate four more summits - the routes used for JM-062, JM-040 and JM-034 are uploaded into the SOTA Mapping Project. JM-025 Teply kopec was a drive by activation so no route was uploaded. 

Returning to our hotel in Namest we met up with Jan OK2PDT for dinner and some Czech beers (not for Jan - he was driving). The total number of contacts made throughout the day was 171.

North Ireland, Czech and English Radio Hams in the Czech Republic for dinner

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day One

Wednesday 3rd May

1. OK/JM-065, Hvízdalka - 442m, 1 Point (Complete)
2. OK/VY-056, Zelený kopec - 491m, 1 Point (Incomplete)

Our two man SOTA Tour began for me when I caught the early morning train from Malton in North Yorkshire. The destination was Stansted Airport near London, where I was to meet Victor Mitchell GI4ONL who was flying in via Easyjet from Belfast.  Our connecting Ryanair flight to Brno left Stansted in the early afternoon. We were travelling light - with a rucksack each and a small handbag. 

Transit through security was straightforward - there were no problems with the radio equipment, lithium batteries, antenna poles, walking poles and HF wire aerials which were travelling with us in the cabin. Our arrival clearing passport control in Brno was easy and within 15 minutes of stepping off the plane we were getting into our Skoda Fabia hire car and heading for our first SOTA activation of the five day trip, which was in the direction of our first hotel of the two booked for this Moravian Tour. 

Our modus operandi on this tour was to activate and qualify as many summits as possible on at least two HF bands and on both Morse (CW) and in Voice (SSB). This meant we both had to make at least 4 contacts each on every summit we visited.  The summits were chosen not for their points status, but for their proximity to each other and to where we were staying in hotels at Namest nad Oslavou (3 nights) and in Nove Veseli (2 nights). 

We were to find that all 39 summits visited over the five days we were in the OK/JM (Jihomoravský) region and the OK/VY (Vysocina) were easy to access on foot with no restrictions in reaching any of them. In some cases it was possible to legally drive into the activation zone of the summit, walk a short distance and then set up the antenna and operate within 10 minutes of arrival. 

The wooded summit area JM-065 Hvizdalka was accessible by car from the E65/D1 Motorway and our short walk into the woods for our initial activation in the early evening was met towards its end with some rain. We completed as the rain came on and as we were earlier than anticipated this allowed us to drive around 20 miles south west of the first location to the second summit of VY-056 Zeleny kopec. Despite the now quite heavy rain we got lucky, more by chance than good planning as there were several structures and a large stone tower called Babylon on the summit!  Victor OK/G4ONL was located in a BBQ hut around 50m away from me and was operating on the 30m band. My first contact was with Terry Sayner G0VWP a friend of mine who lives in York. Terry was to make contact with me on the vast majority of summits visited on the tour. Here is my comfortable operating position on VY-056 where I used 20m SSB only, leaving the CW work to Victor:


The Babylon Tower on Zeleny kopec and my Elecraft KX2 transceiver used for this tour

As dusk approached and after two successful activations with 27 contacts between us using the 20m, 30m and 40m bands, we packed up and headed off to to check in at our hotel in Namest nad Oslavou.