Monday, July 2, 2018

SECDEF Armed Forces Day Message and Military to Amateur Crossband Test

Below is this years message from the SECDEF. This message was intercepted during the annual cross-band test using the digital mode called M110A that is available to Hams for download. Here is a website to download M110A by W3JJJ and I believe you can download it from the US Army MARS Website as well. The message was sent without encryption so Hams and shortwave listeners could copy it. It is signed by USMC Retired General Mattis which I have had the pleasure to hear speak when he came to Colorado Springs.

In addition to the SECDEF message there are several military stations that are on the air transmitting on military frequencies and listening on amateur frequencies. This allows hams to make direct contact.

Usually, after you have heard or talked to the stations you can fill out a form at the Army MARS web site and wait for your QSL card that shows the stations you made two way contact.

Due to budget constraints the responsiveness is somewhat slow and there is no more certificate for copying the SECDEF message which in my mind just takes a way from the event and while I understand budget issues there is a point where it becomes counter productive. I look at this event as one of the main Air Force MARS and Army MARS recruiting efforts of the year. It is important to make it as memorable as possible.

That being said, this year, station NSS sent out their own QSL cards to Hams that contacted them.

Today I received the QSL card and I have to say kudos or in Navy speak a big Bravo Zulu to the crew at NSS as they celebrated their 100th year since operations began.

73 NSS and Thanks


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lookout Mountain and Fremont Peak

Lynn and I activated a few summits recently while stay on our land. We have not started building yet (need to do a well first) but do enjoy hanging out on our land and exploring the attached BLM land.

Lookout Mountain is on that BLM land and about 3 miles from our property as the crow flys.

Lookout Mountain ahead

Lynn making her way up

Looking back from the valley we approached from

Neat rock formations

Great views and the yellow wire is the antenna

Lynn operating SSB

My APRS Spot
The QSB was pretty bad. I heard KH7AL calling me but he did not hear me. I chatted with Al later and found out why. Al was using an AlexLoop antenna and those things just do not perform as well as a 30 foot piece of wire.


The next summit was Fremont Peak near Canon City. This trail system and summit is a best kept secret. The trails are great and you get views of the Royal Gorge along the way without the hassle of the tourist trap just a few miles away. There is also a well developed camp ground and it looked like a lot of people were taking advantage of it.

I forgot my cell phone in the car so no SMS spotting. I had the 2 meter and was able to spot Lynn with ease. I thought I had spotted myself as well but no go. 

Looking from the Peak towards the West at the cell tower

Fantastic views

The Arkansas River

APRS Beacon

That is all for now. I am working on a solar setup for Field Day and will report on that when I get it completed. I am also thinking of making a "For Sale" section of the blog just to weed out stuff I am not using anymore. Let me know what you think.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Mount Herman and 9410

Our SOTA activity has dropped off a bit due to other things going on and changing interest however, we did manage a few activations. 

                                                               Mount Herman

Mount Herman: This was a great activation with Summits On The Air legend Brad, WA6MM. Brad achieved Mountain Goat by activating only Colorado Summits and only Colorado Summits that were at least 6 points. This is an incredible feat.

Brad also showed up for Lynn's Mountain Goat activation on Chief Mountain which just meant loads to Lynn and I.

When Brad mentioned he wanted to do an activation in our area we jumped at the chance to hike with him.

Mount Herman is normally crowded however we had the whole mountain to ourselves for the first few hours.

Lynn and Brad hiking up the last part of the vertical trail

WA6MM on the air causing a pileup on CW

Lynn goofing off while I take my turn at CW

Living on the edge

All in all it was a fun day, not because of SOTA but because we got to hang out with Brad!!!!


A text from Al, KH7AL, who is now living in Utah asked us if we planned on activating on the last day of winter bonus season. We had not and forgot about the winter bonus so since Al was going to be on a summit in Utah we decided to go to one of our favorites called 9410. To get to 9410 you take the same trail to Grey Back Peak. We hardly ever see anyone on this trail but I counted seven people and three dogs on this hike. Of course they were going to Grey Back while we left the trail and headed up 9410 so we had the summit to ourselves.

When we summited and got set up I sent a SMS to Al and he was 45 minutes to summit on his hike.

While waiting for Al Lynn ran a good pileup on 20 meter SSB with a few Summit to Summit QSOs and I had a few contacts while waiting for Al.

As soon as Al got setup we tried 30 meters with no joy then went to 40 meters and we were able to make contact. That was a special thrill for me. Thanks Al!!!

Lynn hiking the narrow trail near the TH
Making contact with Al in Utah

How to you tell a SOTA summit, look for the "Al's has been here" tag

The best SOTA rig not he market / Elecraft KX2

Lynn smiling

Lynn talking to someone on another summit

Cheyenne Mountain from 9410

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mobile Setup on HF and the Jeep JK

A few people have been asking about my mobile setup. The Jeep is a 2013 2 Door JK. I use a Yaesu FT-891 for HF. My requirements were pretty simple, I needed to be on 60 meters at the very least but wanted all the other bands as well down to 80 meters. The Yaesu FT-891 was cumbersome to put on 60 meters but a firmware update made that a little easier. I decided to just program all the frequencies I needed to be able to access them quickly.

HF and VHF/UHF Bodies mounted in the back of the Jeep

The FT-891 with a mount I picked at HRO that bolts to the passenger seat bolt
The mic is for the Kenwood VHF/UHF. The HF mic is out of view

The antenna was the hard part but most of that was just figuring out how to mount it. I have an AEV rear bumper and while this allows for a nice spot for the VHF antenna the HF antenna needed a little imagimnation.

The mount is a Breedlove Ball Mount and the antenna coil is a Wolfriver Coil.  (I have had dealings with Wolfriver Coils with their portable vertical antenna that worked well during a recent DOD HF exercise I was involved it). The ground system is bonded to the frame of the Jeep and was relatively easy to do with a few grounding straps.

On top of the coil is a 102 inch whip and it will tune 15 meters and down. The whip itself (without the coil) works well on 27 and 28 MHz which gave me the best of both worlds.

So far I have been able to check into the nets I usually check into. I am weaker than normal but that is understandable as this is a compromised system at best and I only use 25 watts on HF.

Here are a few more pictures.
Coil and Whip

Ball Mount on bumper

The whip is tied off on the hood mounted jack/VHF/UHF Antenna above tire

The whip tie down
I often operate with the antenna still tied down because I am usually trying for a NVIS situation. It also helped to figure out the coil settings for several of the main frequencies. Using this coil on the ham bands is easy once you figure out how many clicks to move up or down.

72 Frank

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year on Raspberry Mountain

It has been a long time since I posted. Lynn and I have busy so not a lot of time for Summits On The Air.

Of course we wanted to do our traditional New Years hike up to Raspberry Mountain and our good friend and hiking partner Al, KH7AL, was able to join us.

In the past we have had to bail out on this hike due to cold. This year it was 22 degrees warmer than in past years.

The great thing about Colorado is that sometimes it is warmer at altitude than in the Front Range and this was one of those days. While it was cold getting ready once we were on the trail and up about 500 feet in altitude we were shedding layers. It was an absolute fantastic day! I would guess that the temp on the summit was 40 degrees.

Al set up his SOTABEAMS linked dipole antenna for 20 meters and he and Lynn ran an SSB and VHF pileup. I worked 20 meter CW for about an hour before I ran out of callers!

Lynn KC0YQF on SSB

Al, KH7AL on 20 meter SSB

K0JQZ on 2 meter VHF before 20 meter CW

Backside of Pikes Peak

The Catamounts to the left

The Views

The SOTABEAM Linked Dipole worked great

On Trail

Lunch Break


All doing a SPOT


The New Years SOTA crew

The trail is easy and well marked

You take Ring of the Peak trail most of the way

Someone even put a map up

That was a lot of fun and we heard a lot of new callsigns which is always a good thing.

Thank you chasers for doing what you do and thanks to Al KH7AL for sharing the summit with us.

72 Frank