Monday, September 10, 2018

Armed Forces Day QSL arrives

I still like getting QSL cards and I always look forward to the Armed Forces Day - Amateur Cross Band test and QSL.

NETCOM is not known for getting their QSL cards out in a timely matter but this year they did pretty good at about 5 months. I am sure it takes time to tally the QSOs in order to checkmark the ones you worked.

Here is this years card for the stations I worked.

QSL Front
QSL Back

In years past they sent a separate certificate (with SASE) for copying the DoD SecDef Message and I kind of miss that. However, the QSL is still a nice touch.


Friday, August 3, 2018

FOBB or Flight of the Bumblebees 29 July 2018

This year was special since FOBB fell on the XYL's (KC0YQF) birthday. We had already planned to be on our property but instead of fire mitigation and general cleanup we relaxed and I got to play in FOBB as BB number 1.

The McIntyre Wildlife Wilderness Study Area boarders out property and while Lookout Mountain is about three miles away we got a late start and decided to operate from a closer location.
Looking for a good spot

The view from our shack for the day

1. K9DXA in IL BB number 92

2. N5GW in MS BB number 52

3. AB9CA in IL

4. K7TQ in ID BB number 55

5. NK9G in WI BB number 23

6. N9NE/M mobile in WI BB number 75

7. KD3CA in PABB number 87

8. NG7A in AZ

9. WA8REI in MI (it is always good to hear my friend Ken on the air)

10. W7SW in AZ

11. N8XX in MI BB number 98

12. K0ZK in ME

13. WA7LNW in UT

14. WC6J in CA

15. KE9V in IN

16. K1SWL in NH BB number 36

17. N9XG in OH

18. VE3LFN in ON BB number 28

19. KF5RY in TX BB number 32

20. KD6L in UT BB number 101 (my only 40 meter QSO)

21. AC7A in AZ BB number 22

22. W7TAO in WA (If memory is correct my first QSO with Todd was during this event in 2012, we have had many QSOs since then)

23. N6GA in CA BB number 34

24. KA1UUM in NH BB number 115

25. K7MK in ID

I started to hear the storm on the radio and soon after the clouds showed up. As conditions got worse we packed up and headed out. No pictures of us operating as I was waiting until I was done but that was not a good plan. We made it back to the Jeep in the rain and headed out shortly after. There was still a hour left in the event and it was hard to secure but mother nature has a vote when you are operating outside.

I like this event because it is casual operating but still requires more skill than activating from a SOTA summit because you are not DX so to speak. I probably called at least 10 stations that did not hear me. 2 Band MTR, 9 volt battery and a good antenna works wonders at 8,000 feet in altitude. What fun!

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