SOTA: FL/SO-011 (Le Petit Peyre)

The buddipole in vertical configuration with a retractable dog-leash supported counterpoise.

I recently moved to France, not far from Bordeaux, so there are a whole new set of peaks to activate, particularly to the south towards the Pyrenee mountains. However, it makes sense to get my feet wet with some closer summits to the east of me, towards Bergerac. One in particular, Le Petit Peyre, was a little closer (90 km) than the others, so I started with that one.

To apply for a French callsign, you need to show residency in the country for more than three months, and I’m not quite there yet, so I activated as F/AI4SV/P.

The point of highest elevation (circled in orange) is in the middle of a stand of trees and a track goes right through it, but as I drove along route D202, I realized that the beginning of this track (“X”) looks more like a drive way, passing right next to someone’s house.

This is a very flat area and the activation zone is immense, so I kept driving down the road a bit further to a water tower (yellow arrow) next to a fallow field and pulled up on the field behind the tower.

View of the water tower from the road.

I had no problem anchoring the stakes for my buddipole into the field’s soil and was soon on the air using the mast to support one end of my 40/20/10 end-fed antenna. I had a great run on 20m, even some SSB contacts, but 40 and 10m were dead. I could hear activity on other bands, so I set up the buddipole in vertical orientation, tuning it by adjusting the tap on the vertical arm and by altering the length of the raised counterpoise. I tied a retractable dog leash to the tower and used it to support the end of the counterpoise, allowing me to change bands pretty quickly. 17m was very active, then 30m, then 15m.

This was one of my most successful activations ever, with 93 QSOs — I found it much easier operating from south-west France than I had from Cyprus, although it may also have been a matter of improving propagation conditions.

I had thought that someone might drop by to ask what I was doing since there was some traffic on the road behind the tower, but no one did. Maybe they thought I was there to service the various cell phone antennas on the water tower.

So, in summary, this is a nice, drive-up summit, ideal if you are visiting Bordeaux and want to strike out on less than a two hour drive and make some contacts.

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