Hello and Welcome!

Hello and welcome! I'm Dzianis, a licensed radio ham holding the callsign DD1LD. I love to take this hobby with me wherever I may roam. The blog "QTC de DD1LD" means "Messages From Me" and reflects my ham radio activities and projects. I barely have time to write everything down, so I blog occasionally, and mainly, for myself. You can subscribe to the blog below to receive updates when new posts are available. 73 and enjoy reading!

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GoGreen XOTA

GoGreen XOTA? What on earth does it mean? There are thousands of ham radio operating awards available, some of them offer a great way to...

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Triple 1x2 Activation in Allgäu: DLFF-0230 and OE/TI-622 & DL/AL-061

Preparation, July 4th, 2020. 

I was constantly looking for an opportunity to do some high alpine SOTA activations in Allgäu. The weather forecast for Sunday was nice and suitable for a longer bike & hike tour, so I was targeting at least two 10-pointers in the Allgäuer Hochalpen, DLFF-0230. The Großer Wilder, OE/TI-622 and Kleiner Wilder, DL/AL-024 were waiting long enough for the first activation. The Schneck, DL/AL-061 was activated by only 18 QSOs in 2008, and fewer than 50 QSOs were filed in the WWFF database for DLFF-0230. So, there was a lot of potential for a nice pile-up! 

My plan was to activate the Großer Wilder, OE/TI-622 first, and then the Schneck, DL/AL-061 by 132 QSOs to get 3x WWFF activator points. I started preparations on Saturday morning. It was only on Saturday evening that I realized I needed new hiking shoes and was lucky enough to buy a pair just before the local shop closed. It was probably the fastest purchase of hiking shoes in my life - all in 15 minutes.  And, yes, the shoes endured the tour, which wasn't always the case.

Activation. July 5th, 2020. 

Our one year old Norwin slept restlessly and woke me up shortly before 4 a.m. / 2:00 UTC. I made a big coffee, checked my backpack, and sneaked out of the house. It took me about 2 hours by car to get to the parking lot Oybele-Halle (840m) in Oberstdorf. I started moving at 4:30 UTC and reached the Käseralpe (1400 m) by bike in less than an hour. 2 and 1/4 hours later I reached the north peak of the Großer Wilder (2370 m) and I logged in the summit book at 7:45 UTC.  I really missed wild climbing this year, so I really enjoyed it (degree of difficulty: II UIAA) today as well as wonderful views over the Allgäu High Alps.  On the way to the Himmeleck saddle (~1 hour from the Käseralpe) I met some curious and fearless chamois.
Short break and signing in the summit book on the north peak of the Großer Wilder (2370 m). 
For a short while I enjoyed the loneliness on the summit.
The green mountain in the background is the Schneck (2269 m), DL/AL-061. 

After a short break and as soon as some other climbers arrived I continued to the middle/main peak of the Großer Wilder (2379m). 


 View from the main peak (2379m) to the north peak (2370m) of the Großer Wilder. 
 The north ridge walk was great fun! 
 The green mountain in the background is the Schneck (2269 m), DL/AL-061. 

 After a quick luncheon I set up my /P station and went on the air from OE/TI-622 at 8:30 UTC. The propagation conditions were good so I made 22 QSOs on 20m and 60 QSOs on 30m in CW in ~1 1/4 hour of uptime. From strategic point of view, and also to avoid dupes for the WWFF activation, I decided to keep 40m band for the later activation of the Schneck, DL/AL-061.

 My operating spot on the the Großer Wilder (2379m), OE/TI-622.  The Hochvogel (2593m),
DL/AL-030 on the right in the background. 

I QRTed at 9:45 QTC with 82 QSOs in my log and went back to the Himmeleck saddle (2000m) through the Gamswanne (Chamois Tub). It required some climbling (degree of difficulty: I(+) UIAA) and more importantly, good orientation skills. I just realized again why I love solo climbing so much, it is a unique opportunity to spend time with yourself, and learn how to deal with yourself, and how to touch your own limits. I just felt great!

 I had to find my way back to the to the Himmeleck saddle (2000m) through the Gamswanne. 
There is no marking and no path. The Schneck (2269 m), DL/AL-061 is in the background.

I had to regain some height again to lose it again at the saddle. I arrived at the Schneck (2269m) and logged in the summit book at 11:15 UTC. The transition to the main peak is very exposed over a rocky edge (difficulty level: I UIAA), so almost all normal hikers avoid climbing the main summit.

 Climbing the main peak of the Schneck. The difficulty level is I UIAA. 
The weather changed to cloudy and windy.

Good for me! I was good on time, I announced the second activation for 12:00 UTC. I spent about half an hour enjoying everything around me, except for a few rare climbers, then started setting up my shack in the nature. The first QSO was logged on 40m at 11:55 UTC. I had a nice run on 40m and made 41 QSOs in ~35min of uptime. The pileup died quickly away. Then, I needed almost the same amount of time to collect 20 more QSOs while switching between 20, 30 and 40m.

 My operating schack in the nature on the main peak of the Schneck (2269m), DL/AL-061.
The Höfats, DL/AL-055 in the background. 
 Loneliness in the late afternoon...

As usual, the band change took some time, and I felt like I was missing some familiar WWFF callsigns in my log. Unfortunately I had no LTE connection and wasn't able to spot myself or check for spots. At home I realized that I was spotted in the SOTAwatch but not in the WWFFwatch cluster. For any reasons, the WWFFwatch didn't pickup my RBN spots... Well, I collected 61 QSOs in 1 and 1/4 hours and QRTed at 13:15 UTC. The mission was complete with 143 QSOs in CW.  

As far as I remember I arrived at the parking slot at ~15:00 UTC. The descent was quick and smooth, the nicest thing was to ride my bike down.  My brake discs glowed 😀

I got stuck in traffic on the way home and lost an hour. So, I drove a total of five hours by car 😠. What a waste of time that was! This emphasized the right to exist for GoGreen ham radio activities. And, thanks goodness, the long drive was the only downside to this wonderful activity. All logs have been submitted.

Gorgeous day. Very nice weather. Mission complete. Happy me.
On the Schneck (2269m), DL/AL-061.
The Hochvogel (2593m), DL/AL-030 in the background.  
Thanks to all chasers and activators for QSOs!

Short summary and statistics for DD1LD/P:
  • Date: July 5th, 2020
  • Equipment: high alpine QRP
  • Operating time: ~ 2 and 1/2 hours
  • DXCC worked: 29 
  • Top countries worked: DL and SP
  • Continents worked: 2
  • DX: NA
  • SOTA summits: 2x unique, 1x first activation
  • SOTA reference: OE/TI-622 and DL/AL-061
  • SOTA-valid QSOs: 143
  • SOTA activator points: 20 (2x10)
  • GMA activator points: 45 (23 + 22)
  • S2S: 4
  • WWFF areas: 1x unique (not activated by myself before) and rare
  • WWFF reference: DLFF-0230
  • WWFF-valid QSOs: 135 (w/o dupes)
  • Unique callsigns: 116
  • WWFF activator points: 3
  • P2P: 4
  • Altitude difference made: >1900m 
  • Walked distance: 10 km
  • Cycled distance: 20 km (to the Käseralpe and back)
  • Overall activity length: 10.5 hours
  • GPS-track record: available on request
Mni tnx to all chasers fer QSO!
73 es 44 de Dzianis, DD1LD/P

Thursday, July 02, 2020

GoGreen XOTA

GoGreen XOTA? What on earth does it mean?

There are thousands of ham radio operating awards available, some of them offer a great way to take ham radio outdoors. You can hike a high alpine mountain or a local hill, go to a green park or to a sunny beach, visit a lonely island or your favorite castle and "activate" them to enjoy outdoor ham radio activities and apply for a corresponding activator award.    

I had the idea for GoGreen ham radio activities in my head for a very long time. The basic concept is pretty simple:
  • Activations should be done without using personal cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. (any vehicles with combustion engines, hybrid and electro vehicles), but on foot, by bicycle, e-bike or/and by public transport (bus and train). A GoGreen activation starts and ends at your QTH or at alternative QTH.
  • QRP is preferred, however, Low Power (100W) should be fine, too.
  • Solar and battery powered operations are welcome. Combustion engine generators should not be utilized.
  • Ideally, GoGreen activities should be incentivized by appropriate programs e.g. SOTA, GMA, WWFF, COTA, BOTA, etc. and, moreover, incorporated into associated award schemes.
The motivation behind the GoGreen idea would be to foster:
  • outdoor and /P ham radio activities in the fresh air,
  • homebrewing and experimenting, 
  • personal health and fitness,
  • flora and fauna conservation (less emissions, noise, damage, etc.), 
  • "green" thinking (less congestion and traffic jams, etc.).
The COVID-19 restrictions in Bavaria in March 2020 brought some urgency to get the idea on the way and try it out, as the exit restrictions in Bavaria still allowed sports and exercise in the fresh air. So, outdoor ham radio activities around the corner were allowed as long as social distancing was maintained. I was looking for what I can do... together with my family.

The most of SOTA (Summits On The Air) and WWFF (WorldWide Flora and Fauna) activities require driving decent or long distances by car, at least for me. 

I have been participating in the SOTA program since 2007. I was there from the start, so to speak. The SOTA program has not evolved over the last decade. OK, new associations and new folks joined the program, and that's it in general. In a nutshell, the main limitations are:
  • The scoring system is neither competitive nor reflecting an actual effort associated with an activation. The rigid scoring scheme doesn't offer any additional incentive to activators who climb high and challenging peaks or do GoGreen activations. 
  • There is no incentive to activate the same summit (around the corner) multiple times a year unless you are looking for a summit-to-summit (S2S) award. An activator is thus constantly forced to activate a Unique One in order to collect points for Activator Awards.
  • The references are given by SOTA Management Team to a summit with the highest prominence according to the P150 rule. The highest prominence and P150 rule don't always reflect a degree of difficulty and effort associated with an activation, and what is more important to me, the attractiveness of a mountain.  A lot of really beautiful mountains and hills have been removed from the list or not added to the list for this reason.
There have been a lot of discussions in the SOTA-reflector, but nothing has changed since then, and probably will not be changed under the current SOTA Management Team.
From this point of view, the GMA (Global Mountain Activity) program offers much more flexibility and indeed encourages green thinking. It is also much more family friendly as you can always do a quick activity with all of your family members and/or pets. And this is exactly what is important to me - spending more time with the family and enjoying activities together.
GoGreen activation of the Turmhügel hill, DA/AV-200 
together with my family on Sunday, June 28th , 2020.
Easy 15km by bike, 30 CW QSOs made by QRP in 35 minutes of uptime.  
My QRP station fits in the bike side pocket.

The GMA website has been created and maintained by Mario, DL4MFM. The program has evolved well over the past decade. You can submit or add a reference for a mountain or hill around the corner and activate it everyday by bike or by walk with your kids while still collecting some award points. The hill or mountain should have a name and height that appear on an official map. The prominence doesn't matter, but frankly, do you really need a P150-rule and a long drive to have fun? The GMA enables GoGreen activities, however, doesn't explicitly incentivizes them. This means that no additional points will be earned through any GoGreen activities. 

One of my after-work GoGreen activations of my favorite local hill, GMA DA/AV-198. 
A few QSOs in a few minutes are always possible.
Together with my son Kirian on June 3rd, 2020. 
The WWFF program has been designed around the IOTA (Islands On The Air) award scheme, all this was about activating and collecting references. Once activated or chased, there is no urgent incentive to do this more than once or twice. It requires a lot of traveling by car to get a New One. End of 2019 the WWFF Committee announced the upcoming launch of a new pilot award scheme for activators - the WWFF Activator Points Award starting in 2020. The new annual award scheme pursued two objectives - to encourage:
  •     longer activations (beyond the default 44 QSOs),
  •     return activations (more than once).
Points are awarded annually, as follows:
  •     For achieving the 44 QSO quorum at each reference,
  •     For achieving additional QSO quotas (multiples of 44) at each reference.
Additional points will be awarded for each DX entity (five points) that an activator activates from.

This means that you can activate your favorite WWFF park around the corner as many times as you like and collect up to 10 activator award points per year. In my opinion, this is a great idea, the only one variable missing in the equation is a similar award scheme for chasers. Similar to GMA, the WWFF program enables GoGreen activities, however, doesn't explicitly incentivizes them, since is doesn't make any difference if you operate from car or come by bike. Actually, the "Make Nature Your Shack" slogan implies green thinking, and the WWFF program and Committee should support GoGreen expeditions rather than entertain /M activations.

 "Make Nature Your Shack". Operating from DLFF-0642 on July 9th, 2020.
After-work GoGreen Activation. Live log and info at www.tnxqso.com
45km by bike, 180 QSOs made with QRP in ~3.5 hours of participation time.

I also had a look at the COTA/WCA program which is also very similar to the IOTA award scheme. You can activate some castles and fortresses around the corner, and there are many, so you're sure to find one near your QTH. So, you could easily Go Green if you like. The COTA/WCA program enables GoGreen activities, however, does not create a direct incentive as it is not based on points, and there are no award points to collect. Well, the world castles day and the world castles weekend might give an incentive to activate the same object twice over time or even several times, and earn a nice award and a participation certificate from the COTA/WCA group. 

I tried them all - SOTA, GMA, WWFF and COTA, and it is fun!  As soon as GoGreen activations are considered, the GMA and WWFF programs are my favorites, since they are sustainable and have a chance to embrace green thinking, create appropriate incentives and design GoGreen award schemes for activators like me. They are not there yet, but very close to. The number of GoGreen activators is still small but emerging, e.g. DF3MC, PA9CW, ON4VT, ON5SWA, RN3ANT, etc. Certainly the integration of the GoGreen option into the appropriate award schemes will create more work for the program owners and award managers, but there is nothing that cannot be managed.
The GMA Triathlon award scheme brought me to think about XOTA that means X-any On The Air, and, especially, about the GoGreen XOTA. You can activate whatever you want - mountains, hills, nature reserves, castles, light towers, islands, beaches etc. as long as you Go Green and have fun! Does it sound easy enough for you? Just try it! You also can undertake X-activations or cross activities by a single expedition, e.g. operating from a GMA/SOTA mountain which is located in a WWFF area. Or you can go out for a GMA activation of your local hill and, in parallel, chase some other SOTA/GMA or WWFF or COTA activators.

The GMA provides a great platform to track your XOTA activities and progress. It offers many tools to plan your ham radio mini expedition or anylize your logs. Martin, DF3MC summarized a great overview of the GMA platform.  All of this is more about your personal goals than the competition. For example, my personal goal for 2020 is to
while maximizing the number of my GoGreen activations and joint family activities.  And this will be my Personal DD1LD's GoGreen XOTA Challenge 2020.
 My GoGreen Activation of DLFF-0706 and GMA DA/AV-384 on May 24th, 2020.
40km by bike, 107 QSOs made with QRP in 2 hours. 
Well, why not to introduce a Green Medal in the GMA Triathlon or to award additional five WWFF activator points for a GoGreen activity? I know, the idea of GoGreen activations is revolutionary for any of those programs mentioned above, and will probably never be included in any of these award schemes... But who cares and who knows? The only thing that finally matters is outdoor ham radio experience, fun and personal health!
73, 44, 11 de Dzianis, DD1LD

Sunday, June 21, 2020

GoGreen Activation of the Schwaben Castle, DL-05240 on the Wiegenberg, DA/AV-209

Sunday, June 21st, 2020. Short activation report.

I took a look at the weather forecast, the weather on the weekend would have been unstable close to the Apls, but still good for a bike ride around the corner. Sunday was the last day of the 11th World Castles Weekend (WCW-2020), I didn't want to miss it. I just got a new reference DL-05240 for the Schwaben Castle in Markt Schwaben from Manfred, DF6EX and it would be "my duty" to activate this reference.  I decided to operate from the Wiegenberg, DA/AV-209, which is just located in the activation zone of the castle. It's 14 km there and back by bike, so it would be a good bike round for Kirian. I have announced my schedule through the reflector of the WCA Group.

The WCA Group has published an announcement on its website. Thank you very much!

Kirian was too tired on Sunday morning...  So I was on the air an hour late. I started on 20m at 9:00 UTC and got a few QSOs in CW, then nothing came back, even though the copied signs were loud!? I decided to try SSB. The propagation conditions were good, I collected 55 SSB QSOs in less than one hour. After a short and low yield CW run I switched to 40m and had a similar situation - I got more QSOs in SSB than in CW, i.e. 33 QSOs vs. 19 QSOs.  As far as I remember, this is the first activation where I have made more contacts in SSB than in CW, thanks to good propagation and good location as well.

Operating spot on the Wiegenberg/Wittach, DA/AV-209.
GPS coordinates are 48°10'58.3"N 11°51'51.1"E.

Andy, DL2DVE and my friend Anton paid a visit to us. Andy brought some snacks for lunch (tnx Andy) and invited us for coffee and ice cream in the afternoon. We spend about three hours on the hill. Due to rain and other curious visitors, I had to interrupt my activation several times, which led to an actual uptime of around two hours. I QRTed at 12:00 UTC and we made our way to Andy, where we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying coffee and ice cream, talking about outdoor ham radio activities and making future plans, etc. The Sunday's activity resulted in 116 QSOs on 20m/40m made with QRP. 

DD1LD/P in action on the Wiegenberg, DA/AV-209 
while activating the Schwaben Castle, DL-05240.

The requirements for the Activator Award "11 (Two Towers)" in gold have so far been met. I needed a few more QSOs to apply for the Chaser Award. In the late evening I logged RA1L/M CQing from the Kronshtadt Fortress and Fort Menshikov on 40m and should therefore also qualify for the Chaser Award in gold.

The logs have been submitted. And again, the WCW-2020 was fun!

Short summary and statistics for DD1LD/P:
  • Date: June 21th, 2020
  • Equipment: QRP + EFHW
  • Operating time: ~ 2 hours
  • QSOs in total: 116 (w/o dupes) 
  • Unique calls: 105
  • CW QSO: 28
  • SSB QSO: 88
  • 40m QSO: 64
  • 20m QSO: 52
  • DXCC worked: 26
  • DX: North Amerika
  • WCA/COTA objects: 1x NEW ONE
  • WCA/COTA reference: WCA DL-05240 (Schloß Schwaben)
  • WCA/COTA-valid QSO: 116
  • GMA: 1x unique
  • GMA reference: DA/AV-209 (Wiegenberg)
  • GMA points: 5 
Mni tnx all chasers es activators fer QSO!
73 es 11 de Dzianis, DD1LD/P