Nice first experience with WCA/COTA-NL
With all sorts of ineffective discussions going on in the WFF program I decided to try something else today: activation of a castle. I know from Hans PA3FYG that castle activation from the Netherlands is rare (Hans activated Twickel this year and found out it was the first PA castle activation). I guess that would make this activity the second ever castle activation in PA land.
A lot of castles lie in crowded areas where /P activity is not feasible or are only accessible by foot / bicycle (and I did not bring my batteries). Looking at the map I compiled so far (check out my Google Maps file - still under construction) I guessed that Wageningen Castle would be suitable for a /P activity from my car. The castle itself has disappeared, but it looked like this:
|Wageningen Castle - PA-01793|
Nowadays a museum "Casteelse Poort" is on the site of the old ruins.
|Museum Casteelse Poort, on the site of PA-01793|
I found a good operating spot just south of the castle ruins (within 1km distance) and decided to give 17m a chance first (higher bands seemed rather quiet on the cluster). I had no idea what to expect regarding the activity level. Would it be comparable to Flora and Fauna activations?
The first one to respond was the familiar voice of Luciano, I5FLN. After him followed another 19 OMs in about 25 minutes with a KB1 station from Maine and Alexander RV9UCN - who I met about 10 times before during Flora and Fauna activities - as the two DX stations on this band. The KB1 OM set the maximum QRB for this activity to 5100km.
|Operating spot near PA-01793|
I then changed the antenna to operate on the 20m band. There I met 53 OMs in about one hour. Activity level was just a bit lower than on a Flora and Fauna activation. Four DX stations came by on this band (UA9 and UN). Amongst them RV9UCN for the second time.
As activity slowed down I then changed to 40m - as I am used to when activating Flora and Fauna locations. The strange thing was that I got absolutely NO reply on this band. It might have been due to the high QRM level at the location (S7), but I did not copy a single soul replying my calls. Listening around I did hear a few stations - none of them with very strong signals though.
After trying some time I was ready to pack up when I saw there was some activity on 6m. I changed the antenna for the last time and tried 6m. There I worked another 7 stations (6 new grids for me).
In 90 minutes I worked 80 stations from 25 DXCCs. Igor RW3XW and Alexander RV9UCN came by on two bands.
My first castle activation was a nice experience. There were some familiar calls - OMs that also hunt for Flora and Fauna references - and quite a few new ones (more than 50% new callsigns). I will definitely activate other castles in the future.
Lars / PH0NO