Even though I have a good bit of altitude at the new home QTH, it never hurts to take a handy scanner out for a hike on some nearby hills that are easy to get to and great for a quick spot of playing radio.
A height of just over 400 meters above sea level doesn’t make the Malvern’s particularly massive but what does make them a joy for scanner users is the huge area of flat land that surrounds them.
This absence of any other high ground gives a great lift to any incoming or outgoing signals and really helps with that ‘line of sight’ issue that affects all those lovely PMR and ham radio transmissions.
The other plus is that’s its only an hours train ride from home, making a snap day out more possible than getting out to the bigger mountains I like to spend the summer on.
Jumping on the first train out from the home QTH means I don’t get to the foot of the hills until about 11.30am (that’s Sunday train travel for you!), but with usable light until about 4.30pm (this time of year) it still gives me a good 4 hours to get myself from one end of the hills to the other before total darkness.
Sticking with a basic piece of scanner gear, I bought along my trusty old GRE PSR-255 handheld which has been with me a very long time and a veteran of more hiking/camping trips than I can remember.
It’ll be a sad day if this radio ever fails on me and even though I could probably get a replacement easily enough, it just won’t have the same history or feel (if you know what I mean).
Scanner Reception Log
Even though I had the scanner switched on while dragging myself up the steep path that leads to the starting point for the walk across the hills, I didn’t start noting activity until I reached the top (its pretty hard going).
Here’s a snap shot of received stations.
A quick dash around the ham simplex frequencies showed many of the channels in use with strong FM transmissions on 145.525MHz and a pair of Welsh hams throwing out great signals on 145.550MHz.
454.8125 Religious Singing (Asian??) Possibly one of the many ‘Call to Prayer’ UHF frequencies in use around the country.
453.025 Shop Watch?? Listened to this one for a while, hoping for some kind of clue as to its location although nothing was given out. All I can say is the accents were from around the Gloucester area.
One of the usual parts of any mountain trip is to try and see how many ham radio repeaters I can hear. With the Malvern’s being well placed between England and Wales (so to speak), it never fails to deliver.
Many of the repeater outputs on the 2 meter band where active (some with 2 repeaters) and 70cm also showed a few repeaters with very good signals into my radio scanner.
In an attempt to get some walking done and trying to stay warm, I stopped playing with the scanner and loaded in the simplex calling channels for the 50MHz, 70MHz, 144MHz and 430MHz ham radio frequencies. This is something I enjoy doing when hill walking that can sometimes offer up a good deal of traffic (on the right day).
Wasn’t really expecting much for 50MHz and as usual most of the hams calling CQ where on 144 and 430MHz but got a nice surprise when GW (Welsh) popped up on 70MHZ calling CQ, which is something I would never hear from home!.
Choosing a Route
Although there’s limited routes across the top of the hills, you have to pick the best ones when up there with a radio, depending on where you want to monitor signals from. You know how VHF/UHF signals are and even walking down over a slight hill can completely block radio signals from a certain direction.
I don’t usually come up here this time of year and even though the winds weren’t too bad, they combined with a temperature just above freezing to produced a cutting wind that made me glad I’d slapped a few layers of clothing on for the hike.
Luckily time wasn’t something I had to waste which meant the pace I set across the Malvern’s warmed me up and helped to keep out the cold.