Friday, December 24, 2021

Thursday 18th November 2021: TF-007 Cruz de Gala

 An easy ascent with a nice activation spot worth 10 SOTA points
 This is a brief account of my SOTA activation of this summit, with a few tips that may help aspiring activators!

The car park is easy to find, just of off the TF82 and up a short steep road.  I parked just before the 'Authorised Vehicles Only' sign.  When I later returned to the car park it was full with vehicles trying to park creatively, so if the car park is full you could consider driving up a little further, past the sign.  The road is good tarmac all the way.  It seems this is a popular start point for a hike.

The ascent is a steady 20-30 minutes walk on good tarmac road  You can't get lost!

Keep going beyond the commercial masts and buildings, hop over the barrier until you get to the site of a demolished building.  You will see the blue trig marker to the right of the path which I used as a handy post to hold my Sotapole.


I had been in touch with Andy, GM6ZAK, who was holidaying on the island, and he suggested we try a 2m QSO.  We had arranged a sked at the two summits yesterday, but we were on opposite sides of the island with a volcano in the way, so VHF didn't work for us.  Here, though, we managed both 2m and 70cm FM QSOs, so I was off to a good start

Now on to HF, and I set up my sotapole and inverted V antenna fully using the ample space available and self spotted on 20m.   I managed a further 12 HF QSOs which was my best tally in  Tenerife, so very happy with the result.  With 5W SSB I worked stations as far as Sweden and the Czech republic.

During the activation I saw a steady stream of walkers and indeed spoke to a couple who enquired what I was doing.  I explained the hobby and SOTA to one German couple, and as I had just worked a German ham, I was able to show them on where he was located.  They seemed genuinely interested and I felt this was good PR for our hobby.

I headed back to the car and started thinking about the afternoon's challenge: TF-006...  


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Weds 17th November: Montana de la Atalaya

Worth 4 SOTA points and an easy walk, but with a steep incline

This is a brief account of my SOTA activation of this summit, with a few tips that may help aspiring activators!
I again found finding the access road a bit tricky as you have to either come straight off the TF5 Motorway (from the Santa Cruz direction, difficult to hunt for a minor turning with fast cars behind you!) or you can cross the slip road (lanes and rights of way a little confusing!).  I think the slip road from the motorway is actually 2-way at this point.  The road you need is just below McDonalds, called Camino el Pulpito.


I drove up the hill until I reached a horse riding stables.  There is plenty of space to park.

 Walking up the hill beyond the stables then takes you to the summit.  The climb is quite short but steep in parts, over fairly loose ground, so walking boots recommended.  I actually missed the summit and kept on walking towards a hill with 2 or 3 commercial radio masts on the top!  I realised my mistake and retraced my steps.  The actual summit is wooded, but a large open area is available just below the summit to set up.

This is a nice spot for activation , just off the footpath.  I only saw one jogger in the hour or so I was there.  I managed  8 SSB QSOs on 20 metres.

 With time on my hands now and a warm gentle breeze making the location very pleasant, I decided to have a play with PSK on 14,070 kHz.  I use a Samsung tablet running PSK and a Wolfilink interface into the Data port of the FT817D.  I have tried activating summits before just using PSK and failed, and it can be difficult to get the audio levels right in the field (
The Wolfilink requires maximum volume to activate the PTT control and you have to keep over riding the high volume warning on the tablet!).  I managed one PSK QSO. 
I then switched to 40m SSB and self spotted, but had no luck with contacts, so decided to call it a day.
Next activation (the next day) the 10 point TF-007 Cruz de Gala.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

6 Sota activation attempts on Tenerife

I visited Tenerife in November 2021 and had a few free days to play radio. I started with some basic planning (most valuable of which was reading other activators' reports and looking closely at their pictures and maps), and printed off some open street maps (linked from Sotamaps). The most useful whole island map that I found on the internet is below - this helped work out which roads were nearest each summit.

Tenerife has 19 SOTA summits in total, and I attempted to activate 6 of them:

TF006 Colorados de Chinoia (not successful)
TF007 Cruz de Gala
TF008 Cruz de Taborno (below)
TF013 Montana de la Atalaya
TF014 Roque de Jana
TF019 Rojar

Wednesday 17th November 2021: TF008 Cruz de Taborno

This is worth 8 SOTA points and pretty easy, although space to get an HF antenna up is limited.

I found it quite tricky to find the path that goes up to the summit - it is not obvious and not sign posted. Not surprising as there is a large Radar installation at the top and I am sure walkers are not particularly encouraged.

I first drove up the short road off the TF12 to Pico del Ingles which is a nice viewpoint. You can park at the viewpoint and walk back to the road junction, or park near the junction where the service road starts the ascent to the summit. This track has a barricade to stop vehicles going up and should not be blocked, but it's possible to tuck a medium sized car against the trees so you don't block access.

I then took a pleasant 10 minute stroll along the service road to the Summit where the radar resides. The summit proper is fenced off and surrounded by dense woodland.

I walked around most of the perimeter fence looking for an of activation location. There are places where you could scramble up to flat areas within the installation, but there are security cameras and of course you would be trespassing. In the end I returned to the top of the service road near the entrance gate. There is a small layby so you can keep out of the way of any vehicles, although nothing came or went in the hour or so I was there.

I propped my Sotapole against the trees and managed a fairly good Inverted V antenna in the clear. One end was attached to the metal gate shown above. 

There is a convenient concrete plinth to set up equipment and provides a comfortable seat. There were no passing pedestrians but I did see one security guard who didn't speak any English. I waved my VHF Handy and I told him I would just be there for 30 minutes. He seemed pretty relaxed. It is worth remembering to bring your license and the CEPT details, and perhaps a printout of the local amateur radio organisation to keep officials happy.

40 m was dead and in fact quite noisy (possibly Radar QRM?) so I moved to 20 M and made 6 SSB QSOs after a sota self spot.

My first successful activation on the island, so I packed up and headed back to the car, ready for the next summit: TF013 Montana de la Atalaya...

Thursday, December 2, 2021

 Welcome to Radio Hut!

I plan to share various radio related reports, ideas and musings here which I hope will be helpful to other radio enthusiast.  I have an amateur radio license (my callsign is M0NJH) and enjoy experimenting with antennas and making DX (long distance) contacts.

In particular, I enjoy SOTA (Summits on the Air) which involves climbing hills, setting up antenna and radio at the summit in order to make some contacts.  Others' reports from SOTA trips have been very helpful in planning mine, so I know these are a great resource.  I will link these reports to the Sotamaps website.  I have activated summits in the UK, Madeira, Tenerife, Guernsey and Corfu.

73 de Neil M0NJH

ZS/WC-058 Lion's Head 1st Dec 2022

  A steep climb rewarded with views across Cape Town (1 point) We parked on the road near the start of the sign marked footpath.  An alterna...