DM1TBE Field Report: Shivering with 18 WPM on the ruins of the medieval Hohenstaufen Castle

Many thanks to Thomas (DM1TBE) for the following field report:

Shivering with 18 WPM on the ruins of the medieval Hohenstaufen Castle

by Thomas (DM1TBE)


It had been two weeks since my last field activation and my bad conscience grew, so a friend and I scheduled an activation, even with expected temperatures at -2 °C / 28 °F. The choice fell on the summit Hohenstaufen (DM/BW-102).

The Hohenstaufen is one of the two SOTA summits that I can see from home in Southern Germany and one of the so-called group Drei Kaiserberge – the middle one does not qualify for SOTA, unfortunately.

A Little Bit of History

On top of the summit are still ruins from the medieval Hohenstaufen Castle. The castle was built around 1050 and used until 1525, when it was looted and burned down during the German Peasants’ War. The summit has been populated since at least the 8th century.

The castle (picture from 1470 above), was the seat of the Hohenstaufen dynasty to whom belonged several Kings and three Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, which, at its greatest extent, included the area of Germany, Switzerland and parts of France, Austria, Italy, Czech, Belgium, Netherlands, Slovakia – or easier: almost all of Central Europe.

The history of the House of Hohenstaufen was misused by Nazi-Germany when they named the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen.

There is not much left of the castle nowadays, but you can still spot parts of the foundations and walls.


Due to the positive experiences during the last two activations, I decided to go with an end-fed half-wave antenna for the 30 meter band along with my Elecraft KX3, a 4Ah LiFePo4 battery, a 10 m / 33 ft fibreglass pole and the BaMaKeY TP-III (a 70 g / 2.5 oz light magnetic paddle). The paddle is too light for me to use, so I usually attach the magnetic base of the paddle to a metallic clamp on a clipboard. Although I studied computer science, I prefer pen and paper for logging. Part of the fun is the guessing of the logged call signs after an activation.


The summit is within walking distance from home, but the weather and a tight family schedule coerced me to drive the 15 minutes to our starting point.

Jochen (DG1PSI)–a friend from our local ham radio club–and I met at the foot of the summit next to an over 500 years old church. The weather was, as expected, difficult with snow falling and freezing temperatures.

It takes just app. 900 metres / 0.6 miles from our meeting point to the summit, but the incline of 160 metres / 550 feet during this short distance made me wheeze like a steam engine.

The compacted gravel made the actual trail easy to walk to the peak plateau.

Once we reached the summit, we enjoyed the scenic views. The picture below is towards Stuttgart, which is roughly 40 km / 25 mi. away. The Stuttgart region has many Mercedes and Porsche car factories, and a large US military installation with the United States European Command (EUCOM). It is also known for Pretzel and Spätzle.

It started to lightly snow, but we wanted to operate anyway.

Jochen used his Icom IC-705 and a PAC-12 antenna. The PAC-12 became very popular recently here, as the China clone of the Buddistick has some advantages over the original.

It works with ground radials, rather than one elevated radial, the extension coil can be adjusted much easier for the appropriate band and the replicability of settings for specific frequencies is way better. I have both and only use the PAC-12 antenna, also known as JPC-7, any more.

As said, I was working with a KX3 and end-fed half-wave for 30 meters.

After spotting me on 30 m, the fun begun. During the operation in CW, my fingers became slightly blue, and I had to stop after around 20 minutes.

Jochen took over and activated the summit in SSB while I was trying to defrost with the help of hot tea.

At the end, I had 16 CW QSOs and one SSB sked in my log.

After around 60 minutes, we headed back to our cars with a hot drink and our warm houses in mind.

Hopefully, the spring starts soon and allow us longer, more enjoyable activations.

7 thoughts on “DM1TBE Field Report: Shivering with 18 WPM on the ruins of the medieval Hohenstaufen Castle”

  1. Great Report Thomas!

    I’ve been looking at variations of the Buddipole/Stick… I like the Versa-Tee system, but the coil was a question… a vertical element, ground spike, and radials would suit my stealthy inclination, and keep the HOA (Housing Association) happy.

    The Pac-12 might just be the best solution. 72 and aim that antenna towards Idaho!

    de W7UDT (dit dit)

    1. Thank you, Randall.

      If you google for “PAC-12 upgrade”, you’ll find something very similar to Buddipole’s Versa-Tee, but I have used neither yet. Next activation, I will push my paddle extra hard to reach Idaho. 😉

  2. I also went out last weekend, unfortunately I forgot my phone and couldn’t spot myself. Hard work but not as cold at 7 degrees.

    Thanks for posting it acts as inspiration for us all.

    73 Mike

  3. Great report Thomas.

    I see I’m not the only one who over stuffs my Elecraft case. To be honest it is a little small for a 705 but it works. After looking closely at your case I now have a few more additions to make to my already full case.

    I was stationed in Pirmasens back in the early 1980s and made it over to Stuttgart once. That whole area is beautiful.


  4. Thanks Thomas for the interesting report. What beautiful views! It seems that every report puts new gear on my wishlist.

    Can’t find any old castles to activate here in Florida, but we too have 28 degree temperatures this time of year (F, not C.) 🙂

  5. Thank you Thomas for a glimpse into SOTA in Germany and for providing excellent details and photos. It is a great story and by the looks of your QSO map, a great success.

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