Activation of the Alps on the lowbands

22 December 2018 to 5 January 2019
 
View from Steg to the Mountain guest-house Sücka and the buildings of the alpe I have spend the turn of the year again in the Principality of Liechtenstein. I booked again a room in the Mountain guest-house Sücka. This house is located at an altitude of 1402 m right here at the slope over the Samina creek. But keep in mind: If you expect a 5-star hotel, you're wrong here. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a cosy accommodation in which you can regain your strength after a day, this is the right place. The surroundings are absolutely quiet and the food delicious.
 
The last point accessible in winter with your own car is the parking lot at the tunnel in Steg. You can also get there by bus line 21 from LIEmobil, which runs from Vaduz to Malbun. The road, which leads from the small bridge opposite the large car park to the mountain guest-house, serves as a toboggan run in winter. It is therefore blocked and must not be used. But there is a forest path up, for which it takes about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can picked up with a shuttle service. But I can only advise everyone to choose the footpath. After the walk, the snack in the guest-house tastes even better. And down you come with a toboggan that you can borrow in the guest-house and park again in a wooden shed at the end of the toboggan run.
 
Hikes
 
In the winter months I mainly travel on snowshoes in Liechtenstein. I always borrow snowshoes and ski poles from Malbun Sport in the centre of this small place, which is fully geared towards winter sports. Ski are also available there to get active on the slopes of the Malbun cable cars (Bergbahnen Malbun). Or you can get cross-country skiing there for the trails of the Valünaloop, which start in Steg. Note: Buses between Steg and Malbun can be used free of charge in winter. It is therefore less stressful to park the car in Steg and, if necessary, to take the bus to Malbun than to look a long time for a parking space in Malbun, which does not exist.
 
Panorama from Sareis − Panüler Kopf left 2859 m, Augstenberg center 2359 m, Swiss mountais back right
 
If the weather permits, you should definitely visit the Sareis (2000 m). From the Peace Church (1602 m) in Malbun, a path marked as a winter hiking trail leads up, which crosses the ski slopes. Above, there's the Sareis mountain restaurant and stunning mountain views. However, it also runs a ski lift all the way there.
 
Panorama above Rizlina − View into the Rhine Valley
 
A hike, which I can only recommend to everyone, leads from the mountain guest-house Sücka to the wild castle (Wildschloss) and from there to Vaduz. There are only two small climbs to deal with, on the rest of the track it goes downhill. From the mountain guest-house (1402 m) goes up to the old tunnel (1433 m). Once you've passed through the tunnel, it's on a downward road to Mitätsch (1273m). From there, an unpaved road continues to Masescha (1240 m).
Ruin of the wild castle There we continue after 100 m road to the right about 15 m upwards towards Hinterprufatscheng (1107 m) to the ruin of the wild castle (847 m). The last part of the way to the wild castle leads down in the forest on a rather narrow path. Caution is advised here with lots of snow!
From the ruin of Wildschloss we go down to Vaduz Castle (600 m). The trail first leads down almost straight of the slope and then continues after a sharp kink in the big arc. At this point I always take the shorter route through the castle forest. The whole tour is quite long, but since it is mainly flat or downhill, it can be done in about 3.5 hours. From "Vaduz Post" (457 m) you first take the bus line 21 to the bus stop "Steg Tunnel" (1276 m) and then return to the mountain guest-house Sücka.
 
Panorama − Vaduz Castle, Rhine Valley and Swiss mountain
 
View from Steg into the Valünal Valley − Naafkopf back left 2570 m, Hinterer Grauspitz back right 2574 m A winter hiking trail leads from Steg into the Valüna Valley. However, you can also start at the mountain guest-house. The path leads from there past the buildings of the alpe towards Lake Gänglesee downwards. When you reach the end of the lake, it goes parallel to the trails in about 1 hour to the alpe Valüna. Although this alpe is closed in winter, there are a few wooden benches on the south side, which invite you to a short rest. Back we go the same way.
 
Panorama − Helwangspitz left, Kuegrat center, Three sisters right
 
Another circular route around the mountain guest-house (1402 m) starts at the old tunnel (1433 m). From there, a path leads up the slope, on which you reach the edge of the forest (about 1470 m) above the guest-house.
View to Ochsenkopf 2286 m Now you have the choice between the path at the ridge through the forest and a path along the edge of the forest. Whichever way you choose, you get to a large free area (Dürraboda). There is a good view of the Samina Valley, the mountains all around and from the ridge (about 1540 m) into the Rhine Valley. On the forest side opposite begins a path through the Schwemmiwald at about 1530 m, which leads first upwards to about 1570 m and then downwards to a fork (1517 m). From there we go up to the Alple and down to the Sücka. After just over 1.5 hours you are back at the mountain guest-house.
 
Radio operation
 
The Principality of Liechtenstein has signed the CEPT agreement. Therefore, I could easily become active as HB0/DK3RED/P. As a transceiver, I had an Elecraft KX3 with me. To generate the CW characters, I used a tablet − the KX3 can be addressed directly. Als Reserve hatte ich eine Palm Portable Key dabei. For the power supply, I used a 4.5 Ah capacity LiFePo4 accumulator.
It is true that as a QRPer, I like to cut corners compared to the 100 W that are often used on the bands. But when it comes to the antennas, it can be a little more quiet − at least when it comes to length.
 
View of the antenna on the hillside − antenna wire red and cord green traced After my activity last year in Liechtenstein, I received some questions about the antenna already used at that time. With it, I must have produced quite loud signals in Europe despite only 5 W of transmission power. In principle, it is the maximum expansion of the so called current sum antenna (Stromsummenantenne) described, among other things, in [1] by Karl Hille, DL1VU. During his South Sea voyages, he always first built up the 42.3 m long base segment designed for 14 MHz. If necessary, he expanded it with additional segments of 2 × 21.4 m and/or 2 × 42.8 m over the next few days. In the final expansion, it reached 170.7 m.
 
View of the antenna from the window − tree with anchoring marked As a wire, he used high-strength bronze litz wire with in the diameter of 1.6 mm of an unspecified US factory. I used "UL" from DX-Wire instead. This antenna litz wire are also available to buy on a 170 m roll for 68 €. This litz wire is very light at 4 g/m (680 g for 170 m) and still pull-resistant. It consists of 6 tinned copper wires, each with a diameter of each 0.25 mm. Parallel incorporated aramid threads ensures the high fracture load of about 60 kg. But beware: The weatherproof insulation from polyethylene (PE) is very thin. It can quickly tear open on sharp edges, so that moisture then penetrates. I unceremoniously wrapped such places with self-concealing insulation tape.
 
View of the antenna from the hillside − antenna wire red and cord green traced Like Karl Hille, I fed the antenna 8 m from one end via a two-wire line. Up to 40 m Wireman (450 Ω), as he indicates, was not required with me. From the point of foot of the antenna directly in front of the window, I led a 3 m long 300 Ω line into the room on the third floor of the mountain guest-house, which was converted to the shack. The line used is flat and flexible, so it can be easily clamped into the wooden window frame, even if it gets a few more dents after each use. The 8-m end of the antenna did not hang tightly slanted from the foot point in front of the window towards the ground. I stretched the "remaining" 162m antenna flashes diagonally upwards on the hillside. The distance to the ground was about 7 m at the house, about 15 to 20 m above the road/toboggan run and about 5 m at the end. As the first anchoring points, I use the solid fragofing made of metal in front of the window. The second anchoring points was a tree about 200 metres away. Unfortunately, with the golf ball used as a throwing weight and thin mason's lacing cord, I came only about up to half of its height to pull up the thicker mason's line cord and the antenna wire. I definitely still have to work on my throwing technique.
 
DL1VU used in the first few years a transmatch with 1:4-Balun switched behind and later a 1:6-Balun to adapt the antenna via the symmetrical two-wire line. I used the Z-Match ZM-4. Since it has an transformer at the exit, it takes over the symmetry and transformation. I did not simulate the antenna to determine the possible impedance, nor did I measure it through on site. Due to the feeding just before the end of the antenna wire, at least on the 160 m band a relatively high impedance will have been present. But the ZM-4 has been able to adapt it, albeit quite pointedly.
 
QSL card HB0/DK3RED/P You are certainly wondering what is possible with this antenna and 5 W in CW. Last year, after CQ calls on 80 m, I was able to reach Japan (9364 km and 9455 km) twice and the Far East of Russia (8609 km) once. This year, it was also a connection at 160 m to a station at the Azores (3089 km) after a CQ call. Europa-QSOs have always been possible, taking into account the propagation conditions, including on the lowbands. And at 20 m, the east coast of the USA and Canada were also reachable.
 
Admittedly, I always had the advantage of being more coveted as an HB0 station than a DL station. But if you can't build large or long antennas at home, you should try a new antenna system once during a trip or at the next portable operation. It helps to make "coveted", whether by activating a more or less rare DXCC entity, operating from an island (IOTA), a peak (SOTA) or a protected area (FF).
 
On the 6 bands of 160 to 17 m I was able to reach a total of 320 QSOs to stations in 37 DXCC entities, with ¹/₆ of the connections at 160 m, ²/₃ at 80 m and ¹/₆ to 40 m and above. All QSOs achieved are available in the HB0-logbook. Some QSL cards have already gone through the bureau to the recipients in recent days. The remaining cards will follow in the next few days, when the new cards have arrived from the QSL-Shop.
 
Source:
[1] Karl H. Hille, DL1VU: Windom- und Stromsummen-Antenne. Theuberger Verlag, Berlin 2000, Chapter 15, Stromsummen-Antenne in Baukastenform, pp. 106-107