Sunday, January 3, 2016

Mountain Goat!

I finally achieved Mountain Goat but that is not my goal. When I started in SOTA I wanted to do at least one summit a year. I changed that to trying to get 100 points per year however, after Lynn upgraded to the General License and started activating I thought maybe 250 points a year was good.

At some point, around 800 activator points I kind of lost interest but Lynn was my driving force to get out and hike some summits as she got "SOTA points" fever. Lynn became the driving force for me to get to 1000 activator points and Mountain Goat.

This week has been fantastic. Al KH7AL, Brad WA6MM, Lynn KC0YQF and I met up for a New Years hike up Mount Raspberry unfortunately, wG0AT and the boys were unable to join us. Al, KH7AL as some of you may know, is the SOTA Manager for HI land. Al is also a 1st Sgt in the United States Air Force so his free time is limited. I was glad we got to meet and he was able to join us. I think we will try and drag him and his family out to a few summits this summer.

Mount Raspberry is a relatively easy summit (as far as Colorado summits go) but the temp while driving to the trailhead dropped to -13 degrees. At the TH my Jeep showed -5.

We had the right gear and after everyone arrived at the TH and got suited up we headed up. About 1.5 miles into the hike Lynn had to bail as she was getting too cold. The trail is mostly on the North and West side of the Mountain so there would be little sun to help warm us up until we were on the summit. I was going to walk back with her thinking we would just go to the next summit but she talked me into completing Mount Raspberry. Lynn maintained 2 meter communication with the group as she got warm in the Jeep at the TH.

Brad, WA6MM and Al, KH7AL

If there ever was a reason to get your significant other a Ham License that is it. We both had a piece of mind as she descended alone and I continued on.

Mount Raspberry does not have a big summit but we managed to put up 2 HF stations and KH7AL and WA6MM made several 2 meter contacts.

Brad on 2 meters
Al on HF
Brad on HF
This activation was a lot of fun. It was still very cold but hardly any wind so the solar radiation kept us toasty. My water bottle managed to freeze then my two meter handheld battery went south and my iPhone bit the bullet. My CW skills left something to be desired but I muddled through the QSOs the best I could.

I left Brad and Al on the summit in order to make my way back to Lynn and she met me about a mile from the TH. She was a welcome sight and had an unfrozen bottle of water.

We parted with Al and Brad via two meters and headed to a simple drive up summit near Victor Colorado. I was having a lot of trouble ascending the simple stair system that takes you vertical from the parking lot to a historic mining area/display. Once there, we got setup and Lynn ran a HF SSB pileup and I followed on CW. Lynn also made contact with Brad, via VHF, who apparently had to help someone get unstuck at the Raspberry TH.

Lynn on 10808
After we got done with 10808 we headed home and I was exhausted however, it was an 18 point day so that made up for the exhaustion.

The next day, 2 Jan 2016 was my 54th birthday so I was glad to be setup only 2 points away from Mountain Goat. Lynn and I were joined by our good friend Steve and we headed up Mount Herman to complete the task.

I am not sure if Steve is going to do a video of the Mount Herman ceremony that he and Lynn setup but I will say that I was speechless and blessed to have such a good friend and XYL. I could not have done this without encouragement and guidance from Steve and the participation from Lynn. After a perfect day on Mount Herman we had a very pleasant meal with Pam and Steve at their place. All I can say is thanks to Steve and Pam, for being a part of our lives.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mount of the Holy Cross Plan for the summer of 2016

Just before Thanksgiving I had to go home to NC to settle my mom and brothers estate. It was a quick trip with no SOTA possible. I went without Lynn as I just needed to have a few days with my sister and get the paperwork done. My sister and I also discussed my brother's ashes and while we all grew up near the beach my brother was not a big fan so we decided that I would bring his ashes back to Colorado and will bring him up to a 14er.

We selected Mount of the Holy Cross as Jim's summit. I have been researching the approach and trail. This looks to be about as difficult as the Mount Rosa ascent that Steve and I did last year (15 miles with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain) so I think we will break it up into two days.

Mount of the Holy Cross is the northernmost 14,000-foot mountain in the Sawatch Range. It was named for the distinctive cross-shaped snowfield on the northeast face. The mountain was proclaimed "Holy Cross National Monument" by Herbert Hoover on May 11, 1929.

This mountain has been the subject of painters, photographers and even a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (The Cross of Snow). The first publicly available photograph was published in National Geographic magazine. Thomas Moran depicted the mountain in an oil painting, which now is part of the collection of the Museum of the American West, part of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, California.

The Cross is visible from the top of Vail Mountain, but was first spotted in 1869 from the top of Grays Peak (another fourteener). The Cross is 1400’ high and 750’ wide – it melts each year to fill the Bowl of Tears Lake directly under the east face of the peak.
Now I just need to figure out the best time to do it. I think it will be when Lynn has her summer break from school so most likely in August.
North Ridge approach and common descent mistake

Great looking mountain
 The only part about this hike that concerns me is the 1000 feet ascent you have to do from that camp ground to get back over the pass and back down to the TH. I have a feeling that is going to be the real challenge.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas / NORAD Tracks Santa

Merry Christmas to all the read this blog. Lynn and I just finished our shift at NORAD, tracking Santa and answering phones. It was a grand time.

Looks like extra Communications Support was needed

Lynn, KC0YQF

Entering the Santa Track Ops Center


turn over briefing

Lynn in the thick of it

It was sometimes difficult to hear but Lynn's experience of pulling out weak SOTA chasers pays off!

The tracking screen in our area

Our short is completed
It sure was a lot of fun talking to kids that got excited about being visited by Santa. They had a lot of good and tough questions and we answered them the best we could and provided updates on locations and visit times. I am sure that Santa's trip will be safe and speedy. We have the watch!

Merry Christmas everyone.


Sunday, December 13, 2015


While Lynn and I were up in Denver I stopped in at HRO and quickly saw the SDRPlay hanging on the wall. The SDRPlay is a Radio Spectrum Processor that covers all frequencies between 100 KHz and 2 GHz. I have one of the 20 dollar dongles that can be bought most anywhere and while they are fun to play with most are not near the performance of the SDRPlay.

A deciding factor for me to purchase this was it is compatible with Windows, Linux, Android and Mac. I currently have it running on my Mac Pro.

This is what you get

The radio is around 150 dollars and from what I understand it is only being sold in HRO outlets.  The above picture is everything you get. You will need a printer to USB cable and an antenna that you can connect via the SMA connection. I am using my scanner antenna.

Power and computer interface

Antenna SMA connection
Unlike other dongles this also has a very good web site and videos. Check out SDRPlay web site for more info.

Here is a screen shot.

Below is a video from Robert Nagy, AB5N, that it explains it better than I can. Also he gives a good run down of installing and using the software. It is worth watching if you are just curious or are considering a SDRPlay purchase in the future.

Enjoy and 73,

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving and a little QRP

I hope everyone had or is having a Happy Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for. Too much to list.

We got a dusting of snow over night. I awoke at 0400 to see the snow falling. The yard and driveway were very slick. Mister Mann (our rescue cat) wanted to go outside like he often does. He did not last long and decided it was better to chase DX with me inside. He did not seem to like Turkey that much but Mayv our calico (over 20 years old), loves it!

Mayv enjoying Thanksgiving

While the XYL, Lynn KC0YQF, was cooking our bird (one of the few times we eat meat) I decided to tune around the bands. I am still working towards DXCC QRP (QRP = Low Power or less than 5 Watts) and my results for the day was as follows:

TK/S57C  Corsica

CT9/LZ2JE   Madeira Island

9Y4/WJ2O  Trinidad and Tobago

PJ2/N5OT  Curacao

6W1RW  Senegal

PZ5W  Suriname

V26K  Antigua and Barbuda

PJ2/N5OT and V26K are not new ones for me but the others are. V47NT in India was the loudest of all but he went QRT after I called a few times. Only one DX station (PZ5W) was working split which made that one easy to bag but the other ones were simplex so I had to go slightly off freq to make my 5 watts heard. 

All and all I was very pleased with the results.

Lynn and the feast
72, Frank