by Thomas (DM1TBE)
Nearly a week has passed since my last activation and the AWS–the Activation Withdrawal Symptoms–started to kick in. Furthermore, I received an antenna during the week which I wanted to try. However, the weather was unsettled, and showers were forecasted over the whole weekend. This did not prevent me to try at least an activation with the new antenna.
So, I started to the Wasserberg (DM/BW-664) on an early Saturday morning. The summit has a height of 750 m / 2460 ft and a wooded peak. The parking place is already elevated, so there was only 1.6 km / 1 mi left to walk with an ascent of 166 m / 540 ft.
The peak is wooded, but you can enjoy the view at the beginning of your hike, just after parking.
The trail is well-developed and easy to walk, except for the high incline at the beginning.
You come along something that looks like an old wall, but it is probably a place where stones have been taken from in earlier times.
The forest still looks like winter, and you can see the landscape through the trees
But if you look close enough, you see that the spring is not too far anymore.
Although the way to the peak diverts from the well-developed trail half way, I followed the way to visit the Wasserberghaus (it basically means “house on the water hill”, with “water hill” being the name of the hill).
Europe has an extensive hiking network. It ranges from European long-distance paths, with trails up to 10,000 km / 6,200 mi, over national routes to small hiking path networks operated by local municipalities. This is a hiking guidepost at my trail to the summit.
There are several hiking associations in Europe, and Germany in particular. The club in my region is the Schwäbischer Albverein. With 91,000 members and a history of 135 years, it is one of the oldest and largest hiking clubs in Germany. They offer an extensive range of hiking related services, such as operating a hiking network, organising tours, and printing maps and so on. That also includes the operation of 29 observation towers, such as the one in the picture below, and 21 hostels with overnight accommodation for hikers, partly run by volunteers with very limited offerings, and partly run by commercial operators with a broader range of accommodation services.
The mentioned Wasserberghaus is one of those hostels. It offers basic accommodation, a restaurant, and a German beer garden.
You can also enjoy the beautiful view to the Swabian Jura foothills, but today the air wasn’t very clear due to the weather. From here you can see two other SOTA summits, one of them being the Hohenstaufen, about I wrote an activation report here on QRPer earlier.
The place was deserted due to the weather, the early time at that Saturday and the seasons hadn’t started yet. So, I continued to the summit. After leaving the hiking trail the path was harder to find, but I have been here before, so I knew the direction.
Then I came along something that always reminds me of the MS Windows dialog “Are you sure that you want to continue?”.
Operation & Testing
Shortly thereafter, I arrived at my destination. It is a cabin owned by a local association. I have operated here before. Although the cabin is locked, it has a roofed bench outside with a wooden table. The area is gated but not locked. I operated there without leaving a trace, so if you won’t tell them, they will never know.
The antenna that I wanted to try is called JPC-7. Basically, it consists of two PAC-12 vertical antennas attached to a centerpiece that looks like Buddipole’s VersaTee.
The antenna comes with the
- 1x centerpiece
- 2x adjustable multi-band coils
- 2x stainless steel telescopic whips 2.5 m / 8.2 ft
- 4x aluminium tubes 19 × 320 mm / 0.75 x 12.6 inch
- 1x 1:1 balun
- 1x adapter from 1/2″ NPT male thread to a system called “Spigot” (as far as I know)
The photo below shows six aluminium tubes. I have added additional two aluminium tubes to increase the physical length. The threads are all metric, except for the bottom female mounting thread at the centerpiece. So you cannot combine it with Buddipole parts. The centerpiece with the ½ inch thread at the bottom allows you to mount it on a lightweight Buddipole shockcord with a 1/2″ NPT male thread at the top.
I decided to mount the antenna to a camera tripod instead to a mast, as I wanted to adjust the extension coil without raising and taking down the antenna each time. So I bought an additional Spigot(?) to camera mount adapter, which you can see attached to the centerpiece.
Setting up the antenna on the camera tripod was done within minutes. However, I will have to note the coil positions when using the antenna on a lightweight mast, as I needed some tries to find the resonance points. The tripod is too heavy for SOTA, at least for me, and distance to the ground with a mast will probably not hurt the effectiveness.
I then adjusted the coil for the 30-meter band and started operating.
Even after spotting, it took me 15 minutes to get the QSOs required for a successful SOTA activation and after the fourth QSO nobody answered anymore.
Desperately, I switched to the 40-meter band and did not make any contact at all. I remembered then that the evening before I barely found a signal on my transceiver at home. I didn’t pay too much attention as I was tired and just turned my transceiver off. After looking into some discussion groups, the reason became obvious. A G4 class geomagentic solar storm, the strongest in the last 6 years, hit the earth. Not the best day for antenna testing.
Then it has also begun to rain, so I rushed to pack all my stuff under the roof. After a cup of hot tee, the rain stopped, and I went on my way back.
As just I arrived at home, the sun came back. :/ Oh and this is the actual photo after I returned, not the Windows XP background image.
Happy that it was not the antenna, which caused the difficulties, I think I will give this antenna another try soon.