by Thomas (DM1TBE)
If you have read my previous activation reports, you may remember that the temperature was more often than not below 0° C / 32° F. I am tired of the winter. So I was very pleased when the weather forecast indicated 18° C / 64° F on a Saturday.
In one of my previous posts (How I found the best antenna for my SOTA/POTA activations) I have outlined, that I like using the 30-meter band for being reliable on short and medium distances – in my case, Central Europe. However, I wanted to try an activation with an antenna that is more appropriate for DX. The wire winder for my 30-meter antenna had plenty of space left, so I decided using a commercial 12/17-meter band wire antenna that I have discussed briefly in the report linked at the beginning of this paragraph.
The day before, I built a 20-meter end-fed with parts that I found in my basement and a tiny 1:49 transformer from K6ARK. I added a short coil, so the feed point wouldn’t be at or too close to the ground when using my 10 m / 33 ft fiberglass mast. I know it needs some polish.
The Limburg is a conical summit about a 30-minutes drive from my home. It can be activated for a couple of programs like SOTA (DM/BW-110), POTA (DA-0203), WWFF and COTA.
The Limburg is, or better was, a volcano; technically, a volcanic vent of the Swabian Volcano, a volcanic area of 50 km / 31 mi radius with over 350 volcano vents. Seventeen million years ago, it produced massive gas and dust explosions. Be careful when ramming your antenna groundspike into the ground ;-). So it became a steep summit, elevated around 200 m / 650 ft over its surrounding area.
Earliest traces of population around the summit date to 3000–1800 BC.
Around the year 1050 Duke Berthold I., picture below, built one of the oldest Romanesque castles on the top of the summit. It was the seat of the House of Zähringen, who were related to the House of Hohenstaufen, about whom I wrote in an activation report here earlier: DM1TBE Field Report: Shivering with 18 WPM on the ruins of the medieval Hohenstaufen Castle
Around 50 years later, his son Berthold II. built a new castle some 150 km / 90 mi away and moved the seat of the family. Shortly thereafter, the castle was destroyed (probably, nobody knows exactly). It was rebuilt and destroyed again in 1130 and rebuild again. After the year 1150 a new, larger castle was built not too far away and this castle lost its importance and, eventually, gave up.
Archaeologists surveyed the plateau on top of the summit in 1913 and created a plan. Unfortunately, I have not found a single painting of the castle.
During the 15th century a small chapel was built at the place of the former castle, but there isn’t anything left.
With a bit of imagination, you can still see traces of the buildings on the peak plateau.
There exists a saga about a gluttonous dragon, called “The Dragon on the Limburg”, and the chapel on the summit:
A giant dragon lived in a rock hole on the Limburg and ate up the residents of the area on its forays. Exhausted from the constant threat of death, many people moved far away from Limburg. When the emperor heard about the tragedy and no knight was willing to slay the terrible dragon, he ordered two people to be sacrificed every day to appease the dragon. One day the lot fell on the Emperor’s beautiful daughter. And although the Emperor wielded great power, he could not help her and revoke his previously given command. Great sadness settled over the land. But when the girl was about to be sacrificed, a strange knight rushed up on a gray horse. After a long struggle, the knight managed to hit the dragon’s heart with his spear and kill him. The people erupted in cheers, and before people wondered who this knight was, he quietly disappeared. They never knew who that knight was; some say it was Saint George, others say Archangel Michael set the people free. Out of gratitude, the people erected a chapel in honor of the knight on the top of the Limburg.
(translated from Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA 3.0)
The way to the summit was short but steep. It was just 1.7 km / 1.1 mi, but with a 200 m / 657 ft ascent.
The activation was perfect. The weather was nice, the peak was not overly crowed, and the propagation meant it good with me. I tied my fiberglass mast to a tourist information panel and raised the 12/17-meter band end-fed half-wave antenna.
The other equipment used was an Elecraft KX3, BaMaKeY TP-III twin paddle, a LiFePo4 4Ah battery and a pen & paper log – all the usual gear.
I started with the 17-meter band. Although calling CQ for about 10 minutes and spotting myself for SOTA, I only logged two QSOs. I was not overly concerned as I had other antennas, for more reliable bands with me.
After switching to the 12-meter band and spotting myself for SOTA, it worked better. It was a pleasure to operate on this warm spring day on such a beautiful location.
I then spotted myself on the POTA homepage too and got more and more QSOs. As expected, the antenna was very good for DX and I got only a few European QSOs. I ended up with 33 QSOs, of which 22 were with 10 different states in the US – two hams called me twice. I have not made an activation with such large number of DX connections, all with just 10 watts.
I consider the activation a great success for me. I did not expect to get so many DX QSOs. It opens chances for DX to other parts in the world by varying the time. However, if the weather becomes warmer and allows lengthy activations, I think I should also use another band for local chasers. So I left the summit happy and satisfied after around two hours.
One last word: During my activations, I had difficulty understanding callsigns on occasion. There are a lot of reasons for it such as low flyovers of planes, a lumberjack starting to work with a chainsaw next to me and, from time to time during long activations, I have short CW-blackouts. Then I need to take a deep breath and pause a few seconds before continuing. Please accept my apology for asking you the 3rd or even the 4th time for your call sign. Many thanks.
6 thoughts on “A story about a gluttonous dragon, a princess, a knight, and many DX contacts to the US from a volcano in Germany”
I love your field reports, Thomas. I especially like the historic details you include–it really adds context and an appreciation for each site. I never even knew that a Swabian Volcano existed! Wow!
Again, many thanks and we look forward to your next report, OM.
Cheers & 72,
That is some interesting terrain! I didn’t realize either you had an extinct volcanic field is your region.
I’ll add one more source of interference when receiving. It has to do with the number of contacts on POTA. Once I’m spotted and the fun begins, nearly everyone calls me on exactly the same frequency. Until the pileup dies down, I can copy only one or maybe two letters of a callsign. At least for POTA, telling people ‘UP’ would only be a source of confusion.
The folks with DXing experience know to tune about 100 Hz away. It makes for much better copy and they go to the front of the line.
A nice outing and a great writeup, Thomas! We’ll look forward to the next one.
73- Dave, K1SWL
FB, Thomas. Great story and activation. I know what you mean about the callsigns. I always feel badly when I can’t copy a call after repeated requests and the op quits in frustration.
As band conditions improve, these activations get better and better and we get out farther with low power.
Great report, really pleased you take the time. thanks
Thanks, Thomas, for sharing the story with the historical details. I am always so focused on the activation, I sometimes forget to pay attention to the surroundings. I’ll make more of an effort to learn about the parks I’m visiting and include those in my field reports.
Very nice report Thomas! How cool you live only 30 mins away from such a special summit :). In the future I will try to include 12m more in my day-time activations. In addition I have planned to work more on 60m to give EU chasers a better chance.
vy 73 de Leo DL2COM