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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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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Rosskopf, DL/KW-045 in Karwendel, DLFF-0173

I wanted to test my alternative light QRP station I optimized for WWFF activities and compare it with my ultra-light high alpine QRP equipment. I'll just call it WWFF QRP which includes:
  • HB1B TRX
  • 3s LiPo 2200mAh battery
  • Trapped EFHW 20/30/40m
  • 10m long mast + guying kit
I can easily transport the WWFF QRP by bike and also carry it for some SOTA activations of low and flat mountains.  I don't think I want to use the WWFF QRP for high alpine activations, it's just too heavy and bulky.

One of my activations of the Zengermoos, DLFF-0383 by bike together with Kirian. 
The WWFF QRP fits in a bike side pocket.

Sunday, April 26th, 2020. Kirian wanted to accompany me, so that I had to pick-up an appropriate summit. My choice fell on the two-pointer Rosskopf (1131m), DL/KW-045 in Karwendel, DLFF-0173 with 350m in altitude to be gained if starting from the Sylvensteinspeicher.  "Is uncle Andy going to join us?", Kirian asked. "We could at least ask him and see", I answered. I gave a ring to Andy, DL2DVE and explained him our plan created a couple of minutes ago. With pleasure and big smile we heard his decision about it, "Sure, a good idea. See you there on the top!"

The hike was smooth and easy, and there was nothing much to mention about. We met a couple of walkers and bikers around the parking spot, however, they had no interest in the Rosskopf. We were alone there!

On the way to the Rosskopf (1131m), DL/KW-045.
View to the Sylvensteinsee and Niederskopf (1289m), DL/BE-092.

The summit has a large meadow area on the top with plenty of space for erecting aerials.  We made ourselves comfortable for the next three hours. After a short light lunch our interests divided - Kirian watched cartoons and I keyed CW. 

Operating spot on the Rosskopf (1131m), DL/KW-045 in Karwendel, DLFF-0173.

I got spotted on 40m at just before 11:00 UTC and had a nice run. In about half an hour later Andy arrived at the top. He greeted us from a distance and started installing his portable SOTA station ~100m north of us.  We were operating on different bands almost without interference, it worked very well.  Andy made 18 QSOs in ~45min and QRTed at 13:00 UTC. We had a short chat, shared beer and snacks, said goodbye to each other, and Andy went down to the parking spot, whereas I did the last run on 30m to complete two WWFF activator points by 88 QSO.  Finally, I gathered 90 CW QSO and two WWFF activator points in 3 hours and QRTed at 14:00 UTC. 

The trapped EFHW antenna worked well. 38 different RBN skimmers picked-up my CQing. Four of them in NA. The propagation was poor with strong QSB, only two NA stations and nothing from Russia were logged on 20m. The QSO/hour yield was but exciting, however, this was not the main objective for today.

 View over the Sylvensteinsee. The sky became cloudy upon departure. 
Kirian and me as well as Andy enjoyed this spontaneous Sunday's afternoon activity very much!

Mni tnx to all chasers fer QSO!
73 es 44 de Dzianis, DD1LD/P

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Triple 2x1 Activation in Karwendel: OEFF-0043, DLFF-0173 and DL/KW-038

One evening I was sitting on the couch and studying the WWFF map while looking for an opportunity to activate an OEFF area which borders with Germany. This would have given me a 5 points DXCC bonus for the WWFF Activator Points Award, and this additionally to the QSO points. Since border crossings to Austria are still closed for private visits and, probably, still will be closed for a while, the only opportunity remaining to activate an OEFF is in a cross-border or border nature reserve. And I found a suitable one not far from my QTH - Nature Park Karwendel which is a very quiet and picturesque mountain range I like very much. So, a WWFF activity there can perfectly be combined with a SOTA activation. 

My choice fell on Demeljoch (1924m), a prominent mountain at the border between Bavaria, Germany and Tyrol, Austria. The summit can be reached from the south by a hiking trail starting near the Sylvensteinsee. A quick check revealed that parking spots in the Fall village haven't been closed. The Demeljoch has a boundary marker on the top, (politically) dividing the nature park and the summit into Austrian OEFF-0043 and German DLFF-0173 parts. The mountain used to have two SOTA references, but after the elimination of border summits appearing in more than one association only German reference number DL/KW-038 has remained.
It made the planed triple activation a bit complicated, since I will have needed to activate a German summit (i.e. listed by German Association) from the Austrian territory operating under the CEPT licence.  

I was wondering if it could be possible to make a triple activation in one day, 2x WWFF and 1x SOTA. What is allowed by the SOTA and WWFF General Rules?

The 3.7.1 Criteria for a valid Expedition from the SOTA General Rules (Version 1.20) state: 
4. The Operating Position must be within the Activation Zone. The operating position must lie  within  a  closed  contour  line  at  the  permitted  maximum  Vertical  Distance  below  the summit. (Typically  the  contour  line  is  25  metres  below  peak  height  of  the  summit). The Operating Position is taken to be the position of the operator. 
 13. A summit that falls exactly on the border between two or more Associations may only be listed by one Association. The summit may only be claimed by the Association that has the largest area of the Activation Zone within its borders. A valid Activation, however, may take from anywhere in the Activation Zone including the part of the Activation Zone not covered by the Association which lists the summit. Unless the licensing regulations decree otherwise, the position of the Activator is deemed to be the Operating Position.  

That means, it's within the SOTA General Rules to activate a summit listed by the German Association from Austria as long as the Operating Position lies within the Activation Zone. Or in other words, I can activate the Demeljoch, DL/KW-038 operating from Austria as OE/DD1LD/P, while simultaneously activating OEFF-0043. And of course, I can activate the Demeljoch, DL/KW-038 from Germany, while simultaneously activating DLFF-0173 as DD1LD/P. Since OEFF-0043 and DLFF-0173 don't overlap, but they are adjacent to each other, both can be activated by one radio expedition in one day, as long as it's compliant with 4.4 Working within boundaries of the reference from the  WWFF General Rules (Version 5.4).
While activating a WWFF reference area, all equipment (including antenna/s, transceiver/s,  power  supply/ies,  etc)  must  be  within  the  boundaries  of  the relevant WWFF reference area. 

I spent some more time to study the WWFF General Rules (Version 5.4) and found some more pieces that are relevant to my intention.  
3.5  References bordering another reference area 
Activators are only permitted to activate one reference area at a time.  There are some instances where a WWFF reference area borders another.

That means, it's not allowed to activate two WWFF references simultaneously at the same time, but each after the other is allowed without time restrictions.
3.14  Time between activations
There  is  no  restriction  with  regards  to  time  between  one  activation  and  a subsequent activation.


Just to summarize again what I have learned so far -  if there are two neighboring WWFF areas sharing the same SOTA reference, all three of them can potentially be activated by a single radio expedition (but not simultaneously), as long as the SOTA activation is occurring within the Activation Zone and the WWFF activation is occurring within the defined and relevant nature protection area. Thus, the Operating Position must be changed at least once, from one WWFF area to the other within the summit Activation Zone.

Strategy and Plan
The plan was to start as OE/DD1LD/P and activate DL/KW-038 and OEFF-0043 by 44 QSOs. Then I was going to change my operating position and move all the equipment to the German side and continue activating DL/KW-038 as DD1LD/P while simultaneously collecting as much QSO as possible for DLFF-0173. 

In order to avoid a confusion among SOTA chasers I put two SOTA alerts for the Demeljoch, DL/KW-038 - one for OE/DD1LD at 8:00 UTC with a short comment "operating from OE side" and one for DD1LD/P at 10:00 UTC.  I also announced two WWFF activations in the agenda - one for OEFF-0043 at 8:00 UTC and DLFF-0173 at 10:00 UTC.

The alarm clock woke me up at 6:00 am. I was just too tired last days to get up straight away and stayed in bed a little longer. I left my home just before 7:00 am and arrived in the Fall village (773m) at ~8:00 am, and 15 minutes later I was riding my mountain bike along the Dürrach river. I have to admit,  I lost some time looking for the entry point of the south trail which is by the way signposted, since I got irritated by the number of bridges I had to cross before the trailhead. I hid my bike in the trees at the trailhead (900m) and hiked to the Demeljoch (1924m) from here within 2 hours. The trail (SAC T2) is well marked and easy to follow: Bächental - Demel Niederleger - Demel Hochleger - Demeljoch. I just had to cross a couple of snow spots close to the mountain top. As usual I made an entry in the summit book upon arrival, at 10:45 or 8:45 UTC. 

Just arrived at the summit and signed in the book. 
The previous entry says "It's my kind of exit restriction!"

I enjoyed the beautiful view for a while, had a quick breakfast and started to set up my station just behind the border line to be fully based in OEFF. The sky was almost cloudless and warm sunshine fell on my nature shack at a lofty height. After a couple of CQ DE OE/DD1LD/P I got spotted by both SOTA- and WWFFwatches and the "party" got started. As anticipated, the SOTA spot (a German summit activated from Austria) confused some chasers at the beginning though. However, it got sorted out quickly and I had a smooth run.

Operating from Austria as OE/DD1LD/P. Ö on the marker post means Österreich 7 Austria.

The first QSO was logged at 9:10 UTC and had a pretty nice pile-up for the first half an hour. The number of QSOs in 10 minutes intervals is shown below:

1st 10min - 17, 40m
2nd 10min - 12, 40m
3rd 10min - 12 , 40m
4th 10min - 4, 40m  / 44 QSO achieved within 35 minutes of operating time
5th 10min - 7, 40m
6th 10min - 7, 40m
7th 10min - 7, 30m
8th 10min - 3, 30m, all QSO made within first 5min of the 10min slot

I got 69 QSO in 80 minutes of operating time. My CQ call on 30m remained unanswered for more than 5min. I should have stopped here, however, I didn't and decided to move back to 40m hoping to have another nice short run there and make a leap towards 88 QSO and two WWFF activator points. However, it didn't work out, I logged only 2 QSO on 40 within another 10 min.  I finished with 71 QSO made in 1.5 hours of operating time. I knew that I would have a hard time operating from DLFF and collecting every QSO, since a lot of SOTA chasers already just worked DL/KW-038. For the sake of time I decided to QRT from OEFF.

I needed 15min to take a short break and move my station just beyond the border line. CQ DE DD1LD/P was quickly picked-up by RBN and answered by faithful SOTA and WWFF chasers. As expected, the QSO rate dropped:

1st 10min - 11, 40m
2st 10min - 6, 40m
3rd 10min - 6, 30m
4th 10min - 6, 20m
5th 10min - 4, 20m, change to 40m
6th 10min - 4, 40m
7th 10min - 8, 40m / 44 QSO achieved after one hour of operating time
8th 10min - 2, 20m
9th 10min - 0, short break
10th 10min - 5, 30m

I got 52 QSO in 90 minutes of operating time. It was rather a tedious undertaking, but I was satisfied with the result for a working weekday, and the mission was complete.


 Operating as DD1LD/P. D on the marker post means Deutschland / Germany.

I QRTed, took a couple of pictures, stowed everything away, and had a short run on 2m FM while enjoying my last few minutes of being on the summit top. I easy got 4 QSO in FM with my 5W handheld, and this was enough to claim SOTA points. And this underlined the difference between two programs and the associated activation challenges - 44 QSO for WWFF versus 4 QSO for SOTA are required for activation and validation.

The descent was quick and smooth, the nicest thing was to ride my bike down. Two hours later I was in my car driving home to join the family dinner at 6:00 pm. I spent a beautiful day in absolute solitude and in a tremendous landscape. There were no walkers anywhere and I didn't meet anyone all day!

The activity resulted in 124 CW QSO in 3 hours of operating time plus 4 FM QSO. 2x unique WWFF and 1x unique SOTA were successfully "checked-in". What I would have done differently? I probably should have run on 40m as OE/DD1LD/P for as long as needed to get 44 QSO and just qualify the activation of OEFF-0043. Then I should have switched to operating as DD1LD/P to validate the DLFF-0173 activation by another 44 QSO on all bands.  This would have halved the operating time, for sure. 

Short summary and statistics for OE/ and DD1LD/P:
  • Date: April 23rd, 2020
  • Equipment: high alpine QRP + FM handheld
  • Operating time: ~3 hours
  • DXCC worked: t.b.d.
  • Top countries worked: t.b.d.
  • Continents worked: 2
  • DX: North America
  • SOTA summits: 1x unique (not activated by myself before)
  • SOTA reference: DL/KW-038
  • SOTA-valid QSO: 128
  • SOTA activator points: 8
  • S2S: 1
  • WWFF areas: 2x unique (not activated by myself before)
  • WWFF reference: OEFF-0043 and DLFF-0173
  • WWFF-valid QSO: 127 (71 for OEFF + 56 for DLFF)
  • Unique callsigns: t.b.d.
  • WWFF activator points: 1 + 1 + 5 DXCC bonus
  • P2P: 1
  • Altitude difference made: 1150m  
  • Walked distance: 11 km 
  • Cycled distance: 15 km
  • Overall distance: 26 km
  • Overall activity length: ~9 hours
  • GPS track: available HERE (t.b.d.) 
View from the Demeljoch, DL/KW-038 to the south upon leaving.  
The Demel Hochleger is in the left bottom corner.
It was a beautiful day in absolute solitude and in a tremendous landscape.

I'm planning my next tour in Karwendel and targeting a 2x2 activation - 2x WWFF, 2x SOTA and at least 88 QSOs in the shortest possible operating time.  Stay tuned!

Mni tnx to all chasers fer QSO!
73 es 44 de Dzianis, DD1LD/P

Friday, April 17, 2020

Triple 1x2 Activation around Geigelstein: DLFF-0316 and DL/CG-001 & CG-005

A nice sport activity on a sunny Friday in the middle of April resulted in a triple activation  in the nature protection area Geigelstein, two SOTA summits and an unique DLFF were successfully checked in.

The parking spot of the Geigelstein valley station in Ettenhausen (650m) was closed so that it took some time to find another opportunity for parking. I started walking at 7:00 UTC. The route is pretty straight forward: Geigelsteinbahn / valley station - Wuhrsteinalm (1200m) - Wirtsalm - Geigelstein DL/CG-001 (1808m) - Saddle (1530m) - Breitenstein DL/CG-005 (1661m) - Wuhrsteinalm (1200m) through the south side - down to the valley (650m). There were some snow patches, especially around the Breitenstein, but easy to cross over. I was able to keep a nice pace to get some cardio in while still enjoying the sunny weather and the view over the picturesque region. My recorded track is available HERE. 

On the way to the Geigelstein, DL/CG-001. View to the Breitenstein, DL/CG-005.
The Kaisergebirge in the background and clear blue sky above.

I needed less than 2 hours to hike the Geigelstein summit and I logged into the summit book upon arrival, at 9:00 UTC in absolute loneliness. There were no walkers on the way up and down, however, just a couple of them were sitting around the summit cross later upon my descent.

 CQ WWFF and SOTA from the Geigelstein (1808m).

I found a nice place on the top and 20 minutes later I started CQing on 20m.  I qualified the Geigelstein, DL/CG-001 activation by my first run on 20m by 10 QSO within 10 minutes (only 4 QSO required to qualify a SOTA activation), however, I needed a large number of QSO for the WWFF Activator Points Award (minimum 44 QSO required to qualify a WWFF activation, and one point for each 44 QSO). The moderate propagation conditions and, therefore, poor signals on 20/30/40m determined a pretty low QSO rate.  I was able to gather (only) 80 QSO in slightly less than 2 hours of operating time, although I got spotted via RBN in both SOTAwatch and WWFFwatch. I had to struggle for every QSO that came into my log. After the QSO rate significantly dropped I decided to take a break and to move to the next summit after a very short run on 2m FM. 

Operating spot on the Geigelstein, DL/CG-001. 
A couple of hikers just arrived at the summit cross upon my QRT and descent.

I really enjoyed the walk along the crest towards the Breitenstein despite some snow still hanging around. One hour later I started CQing on 20m from the Breitenstein, DL/CG-005. The propagation was a bit better now, so 47 QSO were logged within one hour of operating time.  I spent a bit more time on 20m in the hope to get a couple of DX more, but only got one DX QSO with NA (NH, USA) and another one with Asiatic Russia (Novosibirsk area). SOTAwatch reliably picked up my CQing from RBN according to the SOTA Alert set, but WWFFwatch didn't, so that I lost valuable minutes to get self-spotting through LTE. On another hand it brought valuable WWFF chasers in my log.  

Operating spot on the Breitenstein DL/CG-005. 
The Geigelstein, DL/CG-001 in the background.

I needed to be at the parking spot latest at 15:00 UTC, so I had to make QRT after one hour of operating time and at 13:30 UTC latest, pack everything together and rush the downhill. I arrived at my car just in time! 

My plan was to activate two summits DL/CG-001 & DL/CG-005 and get at least 2x 44 QSO from DLFF-0316, i.e. 2 WWFF activator points and maybe, with some luck, even 3x 44 = 132 QSO. The DLFF-0316 was occasionally activated by some SOTA folks, but only one log with 17 QSO has been submitted to WWFF so far. At least, I hoped to attract a large community of WWFF chasers by a "new one" and, therefore, looked forward to enjoying a bigger and longer pile-up. However, this hope has not been fulfilled.

I made 127 QSO from both summits, in which 107 QSO are valid for WWFF (excluding dupes worked from the second summit). Although I missed only 25 QSO (=132-107) to get one more WWFF activator point, the mission was complete! I have no plans to be QRV around DLFF-0316 this year, since there is one SOTA reference left to me in this WWFF to be accounted for 2020. However, never say never again! 

Short summary and statistics for DD1LD/P:
  • Date: April 17th, 2020
  • Equipment: high alpine QRP + FM handheld
  • Operating time: 3 hours
  • DXCC worked: 28 
  • Top countries worked: DL - 23 QSO, EA - 11 QSO, SP - 11 QSO
  • Continents worked: 3
  • DX: ~6300km (ODX1) and ~4800km (ODX2) on 20m in CW
  • SOTA summits: 2x non-unique (activated by myself before in 2008)
  • SOTA reference: DL/CG-001 and DL/CG-005
  • SOTA-valid QSO: 127
  • SOTA activator points: 14 (8+6) 
  • S2S: 1
  • WWFF areas: 1x unique (not activated by myself before)
  • WWFF reference: DLFF-0316
  • WWFF-valid QSO: 107
  • Unique callsigns: 98
  • WWFF activator points: 2
  • P2P: 2
  • Altitude difference made: >1300m  
  • Walked distance: 14 km
  • Overall activity length: 8 hours
  • GPS-track record: available HERE
Mni tnx to all chasers fer QSO!
73 es 44 de Dzianis, DD1LD/P

Friday, April 10, 2020

1x1 Activation: Gurnwandkopf, DL/CG-055 and DLFF-0208

The six-pointer Gurnwandkopf (1691m), DL/CG-055 remained not activated by me for a long time due to a long drive from my home. It's a prominent summit close to the Dreiseengebiet (three lakes area) without other SOTA references in the proximity that makes this six-pointer a bit less attractive for SOTA activator points collectors. A quick check revealed that the Gurnwandkopf lies in the pretty large protected area Östliche Chiemgauer Alpen (Eastern Chiemgau Alps), DLFF-0208. I already activated a couple of high SOTA peaks in this protected area without paying any attention to that fact.  Why not to activate a SOTA unique and gather a couple of WWFF activator points by a single radio expedition? No sooner said than done!

I parked on the empty Weitsee parking spot (770m).  I needed about 1.5 hours to hike the Gurnwandkopf (1691m) incl. some time loss due to some snow in between the Gurnwandkopf and Hörndlwand (1684m). The snow as well as unsignposted trails over the steep forested southern flank from the Weitsee requires some sense of orientation. The chosen path was not marked at all, however, fair easy to find and follow. As usual I signed in the summit book upon arival, at 9:00 UTC, made myself comfortable in my "natural shack" and started calling CQ on 20m at 9:15 UTC. Both SOTAwatch and WWFFwatch spotted me in a couple of minutes and worked reliable through band changes.

Arrived at the Gurnwandkopf, DL/CG-055. The summit is rarely visited.

My plan was pretty simple - to get as much QSO as possible for the WWFF Activator Points Award. I didn't have a certain number in my mind since I was going to hike some other summits located within DLFF-0208 this year anyway. Within  ~2.5 hours of operating time I made 116 QSO, all Europe. The propagation conditions were just OK. That was not bad for a Friday.  I made QRT before 12:00 UTC and enjoyed the beautiful view around for a moment while packing my stuff and having a short run on 2m FM to collect some local callsigns in the log.

I was alone on the Gurnwandkopf, DL/CG-055 for a long while. 
A couple of local hikers arrived at the top upon QRT.

It was time to leave - a couple of loud hikers just arrived at the top finally destroying my solitude and I promised my kids to be home early enough. Exactly one hour later I was in my car driving home. Optimized track is available HERE.

Short summary and statistics for DD1LD/P:
  • Date: April 10th, 2020 
  • Equipment: high alpine QRP + FM handheld
  • Operating time: ~2.5 hours
  • DXCC worked: 26 
  • Top countries worked: DL - 29 QSO, EA - 16 QSO, G - 8
  • Continents worked: 1
  • DX: none
  • SOTA summits: 1x unique (not activated by myself before)
  • SOTA reference: DL/CG-055
  • SOTA-valid QSO: 116
  • SOTA activator points: 6
  • S2S: 0
  • WWFF areas: 1x non-unique (activated by myself before)
  • WWFF reference: DLFF-0208
  • WWFF-valid QSO: 116
  • Unique callsigns: 107
  • WWFF activator points: 2
  • P2P: 2
  • Altitude difference made: >900m  
  • Walked distance: 9 km
  • Overall activity length: ~6 hours
  • GPS track: available HERE (t.b.d.)
The Gurnwandkopf, DL/CG-055 as my natural and quiet shack.

Mni tnx to all chasers fer QSO!
73 es 44 de Dzianis, DD1LD/P