How two Scottish SOTA activations encouraged me to upgrade my German license
by Thomas (DM1TBE / M0KEU)
I just wanted to tell someone this story. Not sure if you want to hear it, but I will tell you anyway
During June last year, my boss asked me if I could step in for an ill colleague and visit a business partner in Frankfurt and Edinburgh. As a SOTA activator, I first checked the map and have happily spotted a summit within walking distance of the hotel in Edinburgh.
Unfortunately, there were three issues to solve:
- The UK does not accept my German “Klasse E” (CEPT novice/intermediate) license;
- operating a radio on the summit requires written permission and
- as the duration of the trip was planned with just 2 overnight stays, only hand luggage was possible.
At the Ham Radio in Friedrichshafen, I asked an RSGB representative if it is possible to get a British license as a German. Mark, M1MPA, explained to me how the process worked, so I started the online course provided by GM6DX. It was not too difficult, and I soon passed every mock exam. Roughly, two weeks before the trip, I passed the RSGB operated online exam and got my UK foundation license, so I could operate in Scotland as MM7TBE.
Regarding the issue with the permission to operate on the summit, I first chose to ignore and pretend being a stupid foreign tourist until I was told that it is really enforced, and my activation could be deleted. So, I asked the Ranger Service at Historic Environment Scotland for permission less than two weeks before my activation and received it just one day later with a comment that it is usually expected to ask one month in advance. Many thanks to the Ranger Service, next time I will come earlier – I promise!
The last issue was the size of the equipment.
There is no tree on top of the summit Arthur’s Seat GM/SS-272, and I had very little space left. So I went with a KX3 with an AX1 antenna and a FT2D for 2m FM.
Now the journey could begin.
On the first day, I was at a very high place in Frankfurt but unfortunately, it did not qualify for SOTA. That evening I arrived in Edinburgh.
The next day, late afternoon, the fun could start.
A colleague and I walked from the city centre to the summit Arthur’s seat.
The AX1 worked way better than I had thought. So, while it became dark, I made 15 HF contacts (4x SSB, 11x CW) and 2 contacts on 2m FM. It was also my first activation outside my home association.
During one QSO I was told that there was a second SOTA summit not too far from Edinburgh, which could be reached by bus from the city centre. That came in very handy, as I just received a mail from the airline.
Thank you very much, Lufthansa for extending my stay.
The next day, I took the bus to activate Allermuir Hill GM/SS-171.
The walk and ascent would probably be worth 8 points in my home association, but in Scotland it counted just as a small summit. The actual activation went smoothly, and surprisingly I made a lot of 2m FM contacts, so I ended up with 7x FM 2m and 14x CW on HF.
Many thanks to all the chasers for these and all the other activations.
Back home, I thought about all this. I always wanted to upgrade my licence in Germany, mainly due to the band restrictions, which limits HF to 160,80,15 and 10 meters here. But I couldn’t be bothered with the outdated and overly theoretical roughly 1000 exam questions.
The way I experienced the British Foundation license exam made me thinking about whether I could proceed in the UK. So, I searched and stumbled on the Online Amateur Radio Community. They offer online courses for all three licenses in the UK. It is a great help for learners and with their help I passed the Intermediate exam in October and the Full License exam in December 2022. The Full License comes with a Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate.
This certificate allows you to apply for a license abroad–in my case at home–and get the highest-class license. So, I am now able to operate as DM1TBE and M0KEU and use all available bands on SOTA here in Germany and elsewhere.
I will always remember these two activations, and I am very grateful for all the help I had.
Thank you, Historic Environment Scotland, for your very quick response. Without the RSGB’s offering of an online exam, I could not have done this. You have a new member. And thank you too, OARC. It is very hard to get a Full licence as non-native speaker. But with your great help I made it and learnt a lot about the Brits and their way of doing things.
Thomas, DM1TBE, M0KEU