SOTA F/MC-233: La Plane

This is a drive-up peak about two and half hours from my house outside Bordeaux, just about due East along route A-62. A paved access road runs to a series of commercial radio towers at the top of the hill, but I pulled off the access road a bit earlier and set up on a grassy field separated from the antenna site by a row of trees. This was a very relaxed outing and I set up a table, some folding chairs and had a nice picnic lunch with F5LGB, who accompanied me from our club station, F6KPW.

The top of the hill has a large, flat area, so the activation zone is wide. There are some tall tree, so it’s possible to just pitch an antenna into a tree and be on the air quickly. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I set up the Buddipole first as a support for my end-fed 40/20/10 antenna and then filled in other bands with the Buddipole configured in vertical configuration with a raised counterpoise.

Commercial antennas behind the operation site

As far as I can tell, we had no QRM from the radio towers, but there is a house down the hill with a large solar array that is putting out some high level switching noise on 17m — loud even without the antenna connected to the radio. The FT-817s noise blanker normally does a good job, but the noise level was too much to handle, so I moved quickly off 17m.

Footprint for this activation

I activated 10m a bit too early to catch the North American opening, but did have some US contacts on 12m later in the day. The initial SSB contacts were made at 5w, but I dialed back to 2.5 and 1W on CW as I was using an older battery and it was going down pretty quickly .Thanks for DK3IP, OE7MPN and DL8MEK for S2S QSOs.

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