Sunday, June 19, 2016

Devils Head Fire Tower

Devils Head Fire Tower is an easy hike and it is close to Colorado Springs and Denver so that means it gets a lot of visitors on weekends and even weekdays. We decided to do this one during the week to forgo the weekend crowd. Steve was able to join Lynn and I which is always a lot of fun.

We did not know this but a tornado had come through this area since the last time we were here. The destruction was incredible. We chatted with a Forest Ranger that told us the story of how they got Bill (the Fire watcher in the Tower) out of there in case another one hit. It was very interesting.











Bill got out ok and and soon he was back at work. Bill Ellis has manned this fire tower for over 30 years. Amazing fellow!

 The last part of this hike is a steep set of stairs, I think it says 143 steps!


Lynn coming up the stairs 

Great views

Lynn and Steve making their way to the tower

Views

The views

The views

Lynn with Bill


Bill likes to hand out cards to the visitors.

Bill had a card ready for me!


 After our visit with Bill we headed over to a nearby rock formation to stay out of the way of visitors and to have some space. Steve put up a new antenna and we were soon rocking some SOTA action.




Lynn pauses for effect (photo by WG0AT)

Lynn taking with the Fire Tower in the background (photo by WG0AT)

Steve's KX2 SN 006

Lynn working 20 meter SSB (phot by WG0AT)

Our view of the Fire Tower

The Fire Tower



Steve taking a drink while Lynn runs the pileup

 It was a fun day with great company. It did not matter that the propagation was not that good. We had a grand time. Devils Head Fire Tower is an easy hike with great rewards. I highly recommend it.

72
Frank
K0JQZ





Sunday, June 5, 2016

Nothing to See Here and 9036 SOTA Activation with video

It has been a busy week for Lynn and I here in the Front Range of Colorado. Lynn is getting ready for a trip back home to see her folks, I am getting ready for a military exercise at work and we are both getting use to the new Elecraft KX2. Not to mention a F-16 landing pretty close to home. Thankfully the pilot got out safe and he landed the plane in a field away from housing developments.

Nothing to see here, just a downed F-16!
This is about as close as we could get to the wreckage. I am not sure if it is still there but I will check on the way to work tomorrow.



K0JQZ testing the mast (photo by WA6MVT)

Our new dipole came in at work (you can see it laying on the deck) and we decided to install a better mast to support the center. In the picture I am testing our installation. Tomorrow we will finish it. I must remember to bring some morse paddles as our MARS station has none.

Lynn wanted to get an activation in before the weekend ended so we decided to try 9036. It is close  to Lake George, Colorado but in the past the road had been closed which made it around 6 miles roundtrip however, the road was open so it was an easy hike.

Below is a photo Lynn took of me running a mild pileup on 20 meters. 40 meters netted me three QSOs and one S2S with Brad, WA6MM on Whaler Peak in the South Park range. Brad is still trudging through snow for activations. It was a thrill to get an unexpected S2S. I did not have good cell phone coverage so I was lucky Brad found me.

My APRS was not working either which I will have to look into. I am sure I just fat fingered a setting or a button got pushed while the radio was in my pack. I apologize to anyone that was trying to follow us on APRS.

K0JQZ on cw (photo by KC0YQF)

Video of the activation:



This is a short entry, 72
Frank
K0JQZ

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

10650, Chief and Squaw Mountain

10650:

Lynn and I joined Steve, better know as the "Goat Guy" to the Ham Radio community, on a hike of an un-named summit called 10650 which is its altitude. The access to this summit is via Old Stage Road in Colorado Springs.

This is a bushwhack of a hike with a lot of deadfall it is steep in areas. The beginning is ok and the end is ok but all that stuff in the middle is a bear of a hike. It was well worth it as Steve and I both brought our KX2s and some different antennas to play with.

Lynn's first time with the KX2

Lynn running a pileup (photo by wG0AT)

photo by wG0AT

Trying a little PSK31

10650 is a treed summit

Looking South East

Using KX2 and 58 foot long wire and 13 foot counter poise

My APRS track

The GPS (Goat Positioning System) and Lynn

Selfie!

Steve running a pileup with KX2 number 00006


Conditions were not great but Lynn was able to work the following chasers on 20 meter SSB:

WW7D
NS7P
AA7DK
W0MNA
W7RV
NG6R

I worked the following stations on 18Mhz CW:

W9FHA
N4EX
K6EL
WW7D
KG3W
W0QFW

I worked W0QFW using PSK31, what a thrill! To top it off I worked Bob, K0NR on 2 meters while he was at his cabin near Trout Creek Pass!


CHIEF MOUNTAIN:

Steve was not able to join us for Chief and Squaw which was disappointing but we had been looking forward to a night in the Fire Tower on Squaw Mountain for a long time. The plan was do Chief then drive over to park in the designated area then hike to the tower and spend the night.

The trail for Chief is covered in about 6 feet of snow but you can walk on it as it was frozen. We did fall through in a few spots but made our way out. Spikes are highly recommended this time of year.
Lynn at the sign for Chief Mountain TH

Lynn making her way on the slick stuff

A nice coupe that did the final ascent with us

Working the CW pileup on Chief, Squaw in the background

This little guy was looking to get a peak at the new KX2

On Chief, Squaw behind us
The weapon of choice was again the KX3. I am still amazed at the size and weight of this radio as their seems to be an inverse relationship to its capabilities. The smaller the radio the more the capabilities. I, like many, would probably prefer a simple 2 band MTR for a quick, CW only, 14er activation however, for just plain enjoyment the ease of use and carry the KX2 cannot be beat.

Lynn worked the following stations on 20 meter SSB:

W0MNA
W0ERI
NS7P
K6EL
W7RV
W3GWU
W5ODS
K6KNS
W9MRH
KH2TJ
KI7MT
KF7PXT
WB6VYH

I worked the following stations on 40, 30 and 20 meter CW:

K8TE
W0MNA
W0ERI
KI7MT
KH2TJ
N6PKT
KX0R
NK6A
NG6R
NE4TN
KI7MT
W5ODS
WN9U
N7LP
KF7PXT
AI4SV
K4MF
NS7P
K5WI
WA6MM
KW6E

SQUAW MOUNTAIN:

Next up was Squaw, we hiked back down to the Jeep and headed to the parking spot for the Fire Tower renters. On the road up there we saw several cars parked on the side of the road and a Jeep JKU sideways on the road, stuck in the snow. I offered to help but they got it unstuck without our help. I motored on by that spot with no difficulty and had to stop at a make shift shooting range as several trucks were parked blocking the road. We ended up parking along side the road. Not an idea  spot but out of the way of traffic. We traded in our daypacks for overnight packs and headed up the dirt road to the Squaw Mountain Fire Tower. It is not a long hike and it is not real steep but with the extra weight of water and other items I was feeling it. We finally made it and setup shop in the fire tower. Along the way another nice couple and their dog talked to us a bit. They hiked up to the tower and took a look inside. I think they may be renting it in the future as they were impressed. The KX3, PX3 and keyboard were in my pack for Squaw since we were going to be staying a while. Here the KX3 really shines.

KX3 / PX3

Easy to run a pileup from this summit
Lynn activated in her PJs, may be a first for SOTA!!
Morning view



Fire Tower from the Jeep
Conditions on the bands were not that great plus we had a storm on three sides of us. Still, Lynn managed to pull out the following contacts on 20 and 40 meters:

W6JMP
VA2MO
N7BHP
K6HPX
NS7P
W0MNA
W0ERI

I made the following QSOs on 20 and 40 meters using CW and PSK31

VE2JCW
NS7P
NK6A
W5ODS
WA6MM
W9MRH
KX0R
K6EL
KG3W
NS7P

Having a rollup keyboard mated to the PX3 really helped with PSK QSOs. I think the KX3/PX3 combo really shines at portable locations that you are going to do a lot of operating from. Or, of course, as a home station. If I did not have a K3 I would have a KX3 and PX3 as my main station.

GPA profile of Chief and Squaw Hike

Chief and Squaw GPS track

A time lapse video from the railing on the outside of the Fire Tower looking at Chief Mountain, the mountain we were on the previous day. 




72
Frank
K0JQZ