SOTA 5B/CY-021: Zalakas

I expected the sun to make the day difficult in terms of mid-Summer Cyprus heat, but I had not planned on having such poor propagation conditions, which I blame on a coronal hole stirring up the magnetosphere. In almost two hours on this summit I barely managed to get the bare minimum four contacts required for a valid activation (merci à F8DGF et F5LKW qui m’en ont sauvé la peau).

The final antenna configuration late in the day on 17 meters. The bush at left was the “operating position”.
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SOTA 5B/CY-014: Sella

This six-point peak is near the town of Omodos, known for its wine production, right along the Limassol-Paphos border. It is about an hour and a half drive from Nicosia whether you choose to go through the mountains or along the coast. However, although my GPS was able to plot a route right next to the peak, it took me two visits to reach the peak. Why? It looks like you can just pull over and then cut across a field, right? No. The dark line running along the edge of that field is the shadow cast by sheer stone cliffs a couple hundred meters high.

Google wasn’t wrong… it just wasn’t helpful.
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SOTA 5B/CY-041: Moutti tou Lorovounou

I set out for this two-point peak from 5B/CY-027. Although they look close on the map, it took more than an hour to get from one to the other. Most of that driving was towards the coast, and I began to doubt my GPS since it said I was about ten minutes away from the peak, but I was just about at sea level along the coastal highway. However, it is true: the road turns back up into the mountains and ten minutes later you find yourself at a park with a military monument of some sort and a few dirt roads heading off at various angles. The steepest road one is the one to take.

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SOTA 5B/CY-027, Moutti tou Khondrou

I had initially planned to activate this mountain on the same day as 5B/CY-005, but following my GPS instructions, I ended up way off course along some tenuous mountain roads and scrubbed the activation. Instead, I headed for the Kykkos Monastery and took in the museum, which had recently reopened to visitors. Today, however, I managed to make it to the top.

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SOTA 5B/CY-005, Moutti tis Tremethousaras

This is a ten point peak towards the northwest corner of the island. There is a road that goes right to the peak, but vehicles are not permitted up the road, which is maintained by the Forestry Department. I believe the road is also part of the national hiking trail network, as I saw an “E6” sign post along the way. The base of the road is at the yellow arrow, just off route E740. There is plenty of room to park on the side of the road there near signs that provide some nature information. A pivoting green metal bar blocks the bottom of the road, but you can walk around it. The trail up is a well-maintained packed dirt road and rises about 240m over a distance of about 2.6km. It is somewhat steep in a couple places, but also has long runs with very mild slope.

5B4APL

It occurs to me that I got ahead of myself with my last post about operating on six meters from Cyprus — I forgot to mention that about six weeks ago, I acquired a Cypriot callsign: 5B4APL. Up to this point, I had been operating as 5B/AI4SV, but in February I sat the licensing exam. The new callsign is not that much shorter, but it is much more appropriate since I will be based in Cyprus for at least the next two years. Many thanks to CARS (Cyprus Amateur Radio Society) for guidance on how to prepare for and take the exam. I think there were twelve of us who took the exam that day, and I’ve already met a couple of them on the air.

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Six meters is hopping

I just experienced three days of six meter activity like I have never seen before. I have no idea if it is related, but the weather in Cyprus went from seasonal daytime temperatures in the 20s to three days in a row that peaked over 40C — that’s hot, and not really expected at this time of year. During those days the six meter band was open all afternoon and into the evening with signals from both the Middle East and Europe pouring into my modest station.

I don’t have a dedicated six meter antenna up: just a screwdriver antenna with a mobile whip on my roof, but that has not been as limiting as I would have thought. The antenna base plus the whip are a quarter wave on six meters, so it is probably not that inefficient on that band, and I have strung various ground wires at the base, so there is some reasonable counterpoise. Nonetheless, I did not expect to work the 32 DXCC entities that I did work during those days with this set up.

6-meter CW contacts during a 15 minute window a couple days ago showing contact from 5B4APL to stations in England and Kuwait.
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SOTA 5B/CY-018, Moutti tous Fitillous

The summit.

This one was a bit more off the beaten track than I had expected. Looking at the site from aerial photos, it appears that a road wraps around the summit, however, a look at a topological map makes it clear that between the road and the summit the climb is almost vertical.

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SOTA: 5B/CY-009, Moutti tis Zacharou

Since I will not be heading out to any mountains for a bit thanks for pandemic-related movement restrictions, it’s a good time to catch up on posting my last couple expeditions: 5B/CY-009 and 5B/CY-018, which I managed to activate earlier this month. Both are near the northwest corner of the island, so a significant drive from where I am based in Nicosia.

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SOTA: G/SE Part 3

This past weekend, I made the rounds of three more peaks in southeastern England: Ditchling Beacon (G/SE-006), Chanctonbury Ring (G/SE-009), and Black Down (G/SE-003). Butser Hill should have been part of this itinerary, but the advice on Sotawatch is to request advanced permission to operate radio at that site, and this was a somewhat last minute outing, so I hadn’t done so. Nonetheless, the three peaks made for a good day of portable operating.

Today’s itinerary. At left is unvisited Butser Hill and above is Leith Hill, which I am saving for a day trip some afternoon when it warms up a bit. Greyed out markers to the right are previously visited peaks in G/SE.
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