SOTA 5B/CY-046: Pipis

This peak is worth only one point in the SOTA scheme, but it is half an hour drive from Nicosia and there is a road right to the summit. The summit and the area around it are perfect for a picnic outing as well. The dirt road up is a bit rough in places, but did not require four wheel drive. Cars with moderate clearance should do okay as long as the weather is good.

I was able to follow Google directions to the point at the start of the red highlighting at lower left. From there, I followed a paved road continuously upward.

Here is what it looks like after turning onto the highlighted section of road.

Go right at that fork and shortly you will pass a sign on the left:

I am not sure why this says 293m, but SOTA says it is a 472m peak — perhaps 293 is measured from local terrain rather than sea level?

At one point, there is a hairpin turn to the left just in front of a private driveway. There is a faucet inset into a masonry wall here, which in itself is a nice amenity for hikers, but even better: there is an open wifi point at that fountain. I happened to be checking my phone to make sure I was on the right road, and was very surprised when I got full wifi bandwidth.

Past the house, the road turns to gravel and eventually to dirt. Take it slow as there are no guard rails near the top and the road is narrow. The loose gravel can make traction tricky.

There are a few cutouts into the hill designed for parking cars and the one at the actual summit has a garbage can, so I have the impression that this area is meant to be used by the public.

The summit is a small hill, which is more or less flat on top. I took the path to the right of the car.

There are some bushes up there, but nothing tall enough to support an antenna, so I used the buddipole. It was moderately windy up there, so guying was required. The soil was rocky, but I managed to get the Buddipole stakes pounded in, bending one of them along the way.

Band conditions were good: I worked a total of 41 contacts, all CW. Most of the contacts were on 20m, but I worked some on 30m and 17m as well. I did try 15m, but heard nothing — the band was presumably closed. I tried to get the antenna configured for 40m, but did not succeed. I could get the SWR in a reasonable range for the upper portion of the 40m band, but not the CW portion. On 40m, the antenna has narrow bandwidth, but no combination of moving the arms, playing with the coils, varying the height, etc., helped — the antenna was just too short electrically.

I ran into one other problem with the buddipole, which I had not expected since it is just about new: the top of the antenna swiveled in the wind. At first, I thought that the Versatee might not have been screwed down, but the problem was that the top of the mast was not secured adequately. There is a metal cap that sits on top of the mast and provides threads for the Versatee. It is attached to the mast by hexnuts that compress the mast from two sides. It seems odd to me from a design perspective that the cap does not screw into holes on the mast or use a type of screw that would be more trail friendly.

Of course I didn’t have an Allen wrench with me on the mountain, but I did have the next best thing: Gorilla tape. That was good enough to secure the top and prevent it from rotating in the wind. When I got back home, I tightened all of the hex nuts in the mast.

While I’m critiquing the Buddipole now that this is my second outing with it, I’ll mention that as expected, settings in the field do not always match up with the suggested arm length and coil taps in the manual. On 30m and 17m, it was close, but on 20m I had to pick coil tap locations more than a few turns away from the typical configuration. It took me quite a while to set up on 20m and I found myself missing my 40/20/10 end-fed halfwave antenna, which has always worked very well and goes into a tree in a few minutes, providing three bands.

Well, there were not trees here, so I would have had to guy up my SOTAbeams mast anyhow, and 10m would not have been useful today, so at least the Buddipole allowed me to get on three bands where there were operators to work.

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