Monday, 23 January 2017

Billinge Hill 2017

Last Wednesday (18th January) I was in the Liverpool area and did an unexpected activation of Billinge Hill (SOTA G/SP-017).
All I had to use were two handhelds, both with their own antennas. As one of them had DMR, I tried putting some calls out on 438.6125 and posting a spot on the Sotawatch web page. This was a weekday afternoon so not the best time for any activity and got a total of 0 DMR contacts.

 On 145MHz I was using my new Baofeng GT-3. I already knew that this was pretty rubbish on VHF for handling strong signals (at home on my outdoor antenna it was completely overloaded, even though there were no very local VHF transmitters - maybe from FM broadcast or DAB signals then). Billinge Hill is one of the worst places to take any radio that can't handle strong VHF signals, but I did manage to make 2 contacts with stations who would have been S9.

 I almost made a contact with M6BWA/P on Titterstone Clee Hill (SOTA G/WB-004) but I think at both ends we had problems with nearby transmitters and couldn't get more than a few seconds of unbroken reception. Fortunately M0JLA/P was also at the summit there and I spoke to him on 70cm using the other radio. It was like one of those times when it's a big relief that there's a 5th contact from a SOTA summit, because the 4th was a bit suspect - did you really get all their details? was someone using 2 of their own callsigns?

On 70cm I got a few more contacts and there was a lot less interference, but it wasn't 100% noise free - the strongest UHF signal up there would be Airwave, with no UHF business users there any more. I wonder how that would have affected DMR - it's easier to tell on FM if there is interference because you can hear it, with digital voice there would be drop outs or just silence.

I parked at around SD524021 on the road north of the summit which is just below the activation area (unlike every other time I've been up there) and walked past the buildings before crossing the fields. As it was an unexpected activation, the white trainers I had on weren't the most suitable footwear for crossing the muddy fields.

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