Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Two IFF activities during my holiday

I am just back from a holiday well spent in southern Tuscany (the area is known as Maremma). The reason to mention my holiday here is that I took my radio with me and got to operate it as well.

I decided to keep my radio stuffed away on the camping and only operate it on two planned off-camping /P activities. This way I minimised the impact of my peculiar hobby on the time I had with my family. I have to add that I do not enjoy digital operation as much as voice (and when in a tent on a very quiet camping I am not comfortable working voice). This tips the scale even more in favour of limiting the radio-activity to off-camping /P trips.

The place I stayed was surrounded by no less than four IFF recognised nature reserves - all within 40 minutes drive. I was thinking of activating three but in the flow of my holiday ended up with two time slots large enough to go out /P.

IFF-660 Monte Labbro
The first activity was from nature reserve Monte Labbro (IFF-660). The mountain itself is know for its ruins of a tower built by Davide Lazzaretti, leader of the Giusdavidic Church.

Monte Labbro in view
Preparing my visit I had checked Google Maps and expected to be able to get to the top of the mountain. When I arrived there however (via a very rough cobble road) it turned out the last part of the route was a footpath. Without proper support I was not able to set up my station on the top and decided to stay with my car, just below the top of the mountain. This might have influenced my rx and tx as the mountain blocked approx 90 degrees (north to east).

Setup on Monte Labbro IFF-660
Weather was okay with cloudy skies at the start of my activity around 16h local time and the sun appearing later in the afternoon. Radio conditions were far from okay however. IFF requires that you log 100 chasers to make an activity valid. In my experience this is very do-able as there is a large chaser community out there. This time however I struggled and only logged my 100th contact after almost 4h, changing bands (and antennas) six times in the mean time looking for an opening. I stayed for another 1,5 hours logging 58 contacts when 40m picked up. I even got to work some stations on 6m, amongst them my fellow club member PG8M - which I found the most remarkable event as 6m is not known for its reliability (understatement). I logged two other fellow club members on holiday: PD7YY in OZ and PE1WBU in LA.

I worked on 6 different bands using end feds and my c-pole for 40m on my 17m mast. I logged 158 contacts (146 different stations) from 35 DXCC. DX included W1, A7, EA9, R9 and PT7.
Monte Labbro - view to the top - weather improved substantially during my activity
IFF 702 - Bosco SS Trinità
My second activity was one week later from IFF-702 - a relatively new reference. When I was checking it out before my holiday it had actually not been activated according to the WWFF database. By the time I got there a log had been uploaded - so it had been activated once. 
Conditions were still far from good (being in between trees might have played a part) but this time I logged 199 contacts. This was in a 6h period, so a low number in my experience. I have to add that I lost 90 minutes setting up and later breaking down my inverted V for 40m and 80m. I decided to use them after my somewhat disappointing results at IFF-660. Setting these two inverted V's up in between the trees turned out to be a challenge. I did log 68 contacts on these two bands (exceptional if you consider that QRM was S9 on 40m and S9+ on 80m) - so it was worth the effort.

I worked on 5 different bands using end feds and my inverted V's for 40m and 80m on my 17m mast. I logged 199 contacts (182 different stations) from 38 DXCC. DX included W1, VE1, 4Z and PY1.

View to the Convento Trinita from my operating position
Thanks to Max IK1GPG and Steve IZ5GST for their information about IFF / activating in Italy.

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