Exploring History and POTA: My Second SOTAbeams Bandhopper III Adventure

by Thomas (DM1TBE)

As I mentioned in my recent activation report, I was very impressed with the SOTAbeams Bandhopper III antenna and was eager to test it again. While browsing through the maps of WWFF, SOTA, and POTA, I stumbled upon a new, unactivated POTA park that was not too far from my location – the Bucher Stausee Recreation Site (DA-0414). In the immediate vicinity of the new park, there are several archaeological sites containing the ruins of approximately 2000-year-old Roman buildings.

If you are not interested in the history part, just skip to the Activation section.

The world in Europe was relatively straightforward after 0 AD. From a political, military, and economic standpoint, there was the Roman Empire and then there was everything else.

The following map illustrates the Roman Empire at its greatest extent and the location of the Roman province of Raetia, which encompasses present-day southern Germany and parts of Switzerland and Austria—the very region where I live and where the park is located. This region shared borders with the former territories of Germanic tribes.

UNDP, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To the northeast, a wall called the “Limes” was constructed to separate from the unconquered territory of Germanic tribes. The Limes was a fortified border system of the Roman Empire, primarily constructed during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. It served as a defensive line, marking the outer boundary of the Roman territories.

Interestingly, the Limes passed nearly through the POTA activation zone, adding a historical significance to the area.

One, maybe the main reason why the Roman Empire ceased further conquests in Germania and constructed defensive positions was the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.

The Battle of Teutoburg Forest, occurring in 9 AD, was a significant event in the Roman history. It resulted in a major defeat for the Roman Empire against an alliance of Germanic tribes led by Arminius. The battle led to the loss of three Roman legions, which constituted approximately an eighth of the entire Roman army. This defeat served as a turning point, prompting the Romans to recognize the challenges of conquering Germanic territories and shifting their strategy towards defense by constructing fortifications like the Limes.

Therefore, my journey began by visiting the ruins of a Castra, a Roman fort. The fort housed an infantry unit with a cavalry attachment, consisting of around 500 soldiers. The fort and neighboring civilian structures were eventually abandoned around 260 AD with the withdrawal of the Romans from this region.

The fort had a size of 140 m x 150 m / 460 ft x 490 ft. On an information panel, a reconstruction is displayed.

I walked around the perimeter and thought about the histories that this place could be telling me. Then I proceeded to visit the civilian structures.

There were quite a number of civilian buildings and still today, many foundations are visible. The below is from a bath house.

But there are also others.

I have learned that the Romans already had underfloor heating.

The area is utilized as a recreational space for families, featuring amenities such as a large playground, a beach, a restaurant, and more. Hence, it was not the ideal location I sought to activate the park. However, since it was still early, the place was not yet crowded, though I expected that would change rapidly.

I went on to the large Limes gate, a bit further northeast.

The remains of the gate are preserved within a type of museum.

The glass building spans over the archaeological diggings of the gate and hosts some further findings from that time period, like this Roman milestone.

The gate and the Limes experienced a kind of evolution from a wooden tower in 150 AD to a stone wall with a large gate around 200 AD. In its latest stage, the gate was massive with a triumphal arch-like facade.

The Roman Emperor Caracalla started a large scale campaign against the Alamanni in 213 AD, departing from this region and probably using this gate. The Alamanni were an alliance of Germanic tribes that managed to breach the limes in Raetia. Although not much is known about the result of the campaign and the army returned just some weeks later, it is assumed that the triumphal arch-like facade was added to celebrate the victory of the Emperor.

However, a mere 20 years later, the gate was destroyed by a fire, likely resulting from an attack by the Germanic tribes. Subsequently, the entire Limes faced growing challenges in the years following this event, ultimately leading the Romans to withdraw to more defensible positions along the Rhine and Danube rivers.

The Activation

After that, I went on to the other side of the lake, diagonally across from the previously mentioned recreational area. On a map, I noticed quite a few benches in the area. I found one a bit off the main hiking & biking trails with a beautiful view to the lake.

Just behind the trees was a wayside cross, which is pretty common in Southern Germany.

As mentioned, I intended to test the SOTAbeams Band Hopper III antenna for the second time. Similar to the first attempt, it took just minutes to set up the pole with the linked dipole. The two dipole legs pointed 120 degrees apart to the lake and the guying rope towards the bench under the trees.

The bench became my shack for the next 90 minutes.

Due to the excellent SWR of the antenna, I did not require an antenna tuner for my Icom IC-705. For CW, I utilize my BaMaKeY TP-III ultra compact twin paddle. However, recently I have been experiencing a loose contact issue, resulting in occasional difficulty sending dashes – pretty annoying in the middle of a QSO. A gentle slap usually resolves the problem, and I keep reminding myself to purchase a new cable. However, thus far, I have forgotten to do so upon returning home.

LogAnalayzer by DL4MFM / Google Maps

After 90 minutes, I had 23 QSOs logged, 17 in CW and 6 in SSB. However, what is even more significant is that I really enjoyed the activation in such an idyllic location and delightful weather. The leisure area on the other side of the lake makes a family trip with a combined activation an interesting option.

2 thoughts on “Exploring History and POTA: My Second SOTAbeams Bandhopper III Adventure”

  1. Thomas,

    Enjoyed your activation report, especially the Roman era history lesson. We all should remember that the parks were created for enjoyment and education and not just for POTA activations. That is one of the major benefits of POTA. Gets us out in the world to appreciate our natural resources.

    72 de Gil K4JST

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