After more than 2 months of ugly weather – wich included a full consecutive 30 days of overcast sky, the days around Christmas are finally taking a turn on this side of the world. The Christmas Eve morning caught me in my hometown of Ploiesti, with a long list of chores ahead; luckily, outside was the clearest and bluest sky I’ve seen in months, and I immediately thought of the SOTA bag I was carrying in the car and the new antenna I had to test. So after helping my father with a few things around town, I took off for the closest and most accessible SOTA peak: YO/EC-520, Seciu peak.

This little guy is only 406m tall (1 point, no season bonus) and is one of the smallest I’ve ever activated, the only one below it being YO/MM-005. It is known thanks to the famous wine maker and touristic complex right on top of it “Casa Seciu”, usually reserved for the high-ranking members of the communist party before the 1989 revolution. Now it’s open for everyone and I had the chance to visit it about 3 years ago, take a tour of the wine cellars, taste their excuisite cooking and purchase a few unique bottles “for closer examination”.

All the mountain is a big vineyard and adhering to the SOTA rules I had to park the car and hike for the last part of the way up, having a chance to observe the surroundings better. This is a beautiful place in the autumn, but now seems a bit … deserted. Luckily, this still is the tallest peak in the area and it’s altitude can offer you sights of the surroundign area:

In distance, the snow-covered Bucegi mountains are tempting me for that last peak I never reached there, and for the season points:

On the top, one of winemaker’s old buildings is showing the national flag, probably left there from Dec. 1st – Romania’s national day:

I found the remains of an old tree by the side of the road, just above a vineyard: perfect place to install my “shack-on-the-go”:

The antenna I’m testing this time is called HF P-1, a portable antenna that can be tuned from 80m to 70cm. You guys need to wait a bit more on the details as I’ll do a separate write-up on it, this test wasn’t enough but for now I can say it works. The rest of the setup is my usual FT-817nd, LDG Z-817 tuner (disabled, as the antenna can be tuned to resonance perfectly) and a 12V/7Ah SLA battery. I also have a 13.2V/8.4Ah LiFePO battery with me wich is superior in every aspect (except price and the need of a special charger) but that will get used in the weekend (hopefully, depending on the weather).

I’ve spotted myself on the SOTA cluster a bit before 10:00 UTC and I had the pleasant suprise of getting a bunch of replies at the first call: it appears the antenna was working well (even from the low height) and there were enough chasers on the air at that time. I went trough them at a good speed, 22 contacts in 13 minutes, including one S2S contact with OE5AUL/P on OE/OO-365.

All in all, great SOTA experience, I was missing it after all this break. Can’t wait to do it again this weekend, this time on a more “serious” summit.

Have a Merry Christmas and may all your wishes come true !