Tuesday, December 31, 2013

SOTA Activation of Little Scraggy Peak W0/FR-059 31 Dec 2013

The last activation of the year is over. It has been a while that Lynn and I activated a summit and actually got points for it. If it was not for the points I do not think we would have done this one.

It was hard but that is an understatement. I am pretty sure I cut over to the North too quick (despite instructions saying not to do that) and ended up doing a direct approach on the South East face of this mountain. I did not realize my mistake until we were already committed. It was hard and vertical but we picked our route carefully and soon enough we started seeing rock markers showing us the way to the summit. We activated below the summit, well within the activation zone, to take advantage of the trees.

Thanks to George KX0R for the Trip Report on K0MOS's website. I would not have attempted it without your instructions. Also thanks to Randy, ND0C, for spotting Lynn on SSB.

I made some errors and not just on the route. I re-charged my camera batteries but leaving them in the shack does not help. I took a whopping two pictures. And here they are:

Lynn taking a breather
Great views
My backup camera and SOTA spotting tool (i.e. iPhone) was back in the SOTA Jeep…. I figured I could start on CW get spotted via RBN and then have Lynn activate SSB and figured people would look for her. They did and Randy found her. Lynn had a great pileup with one S2S. She did great. Here is her log all on 20 meters:

N0PCL  Summit to Summit

I was having a hard time tuning 20 meters and found out later than I still had about 10 feet of antenna wire that I did not deploy. No matter the KX3 did tune to all bands 40 meters and up but I only used a few for todays activation. The big money band today was 30 meters which is one of my favorites.

Here is my log:

30 Meters

12 Meters

40 Meters

20 Meters

I got all packed up to head down with my pack on and everything secure when Lynn noticed the antenna still hanging in the trees. Well, it took another 5 minutes but we were heading home.

We made it up, we made it down and no one got hurt so this was a very successful activation. Thanks to all the chasers out there. I do enjoy the pileups more than the points.

BONUS: My friend John, W9FHA, made a recording of me from his QTH in IN. Take a listen:


Monday, December 30, 2013

The Paint Mines

No SOTA content but Lynn and I took her new car (2014 Subaru Crosstrek) out to Calhan Colorado and hiked the Paint Mines. It is a neat area.

Here is the youtube vid with the pictures.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Christmas Present plus Sugru" or "A perfect case for the ATS4"

Lynn and I had a nice Christmas at home, just the two of us plus our furry children. We slept in late, watched TV and exchanged presents.

I really wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun but I am pretty sure I would have put an eye out by now.
With compass in the stock!

Instead of the BB Gun Santa brought me a watch to use on activations. It clips to my pack, shows 24 hour GMT time, has a compass and more importantly the numbers are big enough for me to see them.

This will come in handy for SOTA activations
The watch came in a neat case and I never like to throw out a neat case. In fact I have a box full of neat cases but most I have not found a good use for. This on looked to be a perfect size for the Steve Weber designed ATS4. A test fit proved it was a pretty close.

Pretty close fit
Test Fit

I have some styrofoam that I was thinking about using but I had a few packets of Sugru left. If you do not know what Sugru is here is a LINK.

This stuff is great!
Bottom part done
I setup the bottom first by rolling the Sugru into four small balls (it is like working with clay) and put them where the feet for the ATS4 would rest. I then set the radio in the box in order to set the feet into the Sugru. Then I made two balls for the top and put the radio in and closed everything.

Top Done
A test shake proved to have no movement which is what I wanted. I noticed the box has a gasket around the edge so I submerged it in the sink (without the radio in it) and it is NOT water proof, it leaked at the hinges but this is only with it completely submerged. I have confidence that in the rain or in my pack it will be just fine. Good enough for me!

The ATS4 is not my ultra light weight radio as I usually use it with a linked dipole, 25 feet of rg-174 coax and a 1400mah battery so it is more for longer SOTA activations or an evening in the park. In other words I do not mind adding a little weight to this setup. For ultralight SOTA activations I go with the MTR and EFHW.

ATS4 in Sugru modified case with ham license taped to top
I have started taping my ham license to my portable equipment along with my phone number an email address just in case I leave something some where. Of course this relies on the person that finds the radio or equipment to make an effort to contact me but I believe most people will do that. After all, the ATS4 or any other Steve Weber designed radio is a relative rarity and does not have much monetary value to the average person. Now if I left Lynn's KX3 on a summit that is different because I have to answer to her.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mount Herman with some new friends

At the last minute Lynn and I decided to hike up Herman with Steve, wG0AT but due to logistic issues we arrived at the TH about the time Steve would had made it to the summit. Steve was kind enough to wait for us with Barley and Acorn.

Since Lynn and I were just looking for a reason to go for a hike we did not activate. I did listen to Steve activate which is almost as much fun, while Lynn took a goat nap. Here is a short video outlining our day with Acorn and Barley. Nothing fancy just a few pictures.

Thanks Steve, Acorn and Barley for the good time.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Got a surprise in the mailbox today.

I am not much of an awards chaser but I did fill out the paperwork for the 1000 Miles Per Watt award and it arrived today.

It is from my QSO with Rich, N4EX in Raleigh, NC when I was doing a SOTA activation on Signal Butte using the Rockmite at 200 milliwatts.

Here it is:

I think this award and this club, do a fine job of promoting QRP and QRPp which is what this contact was at less than a watt.

I now have a new goal of 10,000 miles per watt!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mighty Mite Weekend on Mount Herman with the Rock Mite 20, 7 Dec 2013

This was probably not the smartest thing I have done. Our weather has been very arctic like with temps well below zero with the windchill. However, it was Mighty Mite weekend and the dedicated hams that have built the Rock Mite series of radios were heading out to try to make a few contacts using less than 1 watt. I did not want to miss this!!!!!

In case anyone is interested, QRPME is the new web site to order a Rockmite from.  You can read about/purchase them here QRP Me.

I gave myself two hours to get to the TH and a good thing I did. The Interstate between my house and Monument was very icy, I do not think I went over 50 MPH the whole way. I was worried about the road to the TH because it is dirt and probably not plowed but it was actually better than the Interstate. Upon arrival there was only one car at the TH parking area.

At least one other brave soul was there.
Beautiful Day
The TH was a balmy Zero Degrees Fahrenheit.
Once I got my gators and spikes on my hands started to get cold. I started down the trail and did not think I would make it, my hands started to hurt and I could not get them warm. I decided that I would set a goal of at least 1/3 of the way up and if my hands were still hurting I would retreat. Once I started up the steep incline I started to warm up and my hands no longer bothered me. I started stopping more often to ensure I did not sweat but I misjudged that and started sweating from the top of my head. I do this a lot so I carry two hats, I stopped, dried off and put on another hat. I was able to regulate my body heat much better without the gore-tex jacket so I stowed it.

It was a nice hike and very quiet until I caught up to two people that decided to brave the cold as I did.

Soon I was at the saddle between the North and South summit. I was debating on which one to operate from and since there were people on the North Summit I went South. It was so calm that I could hear them talking from the South summit although I could not make out what they were saying. The South summit was very peaceful and I choose a place that Lynn and I used as an activation area before.

Nice and still
The saddle looking East to Monument Colorado
Heading South
A nice "rock" to hold the "rock mite"…..
View from my shack
Another view

This thing is off a bit
My temp gage is not very good and had been sitting in the sun but I wanted to see how accurate it was. I have an app on the iPhone that said minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit but I do not know if that was correct or not either. My guess is it was closer to minus 10 than 20 degrees above. I have asked Santa for a digital one for Christmas.

I threw a cord in the tree nearest me and attached the end of the EFHW to it and was surprisingly able to deploy it fairly quickly in the cold. The coax was already somewhat stiff from the cold. After hooking up the Rockmite I was on the air calling CQ…. and calling CQ… and still calling CQ. I checked the RBN and nothing…. There was a lot of interference on the band from a Weekend Sprint (not sure which club was running it) so maybe the RBN was having trouble hearing my complete call. After all I was just putting out 200 milliwatts.

A quick call to Steve on 2 meters and I was spotted and started my Mighty Mite pileup. The chasers really earned their 4 points on this one today. With all the activity on the band and my weak signal it was amazing anyone heard me.

Thanks to the following chasers:

N1EU   8164 miles per watt!!!! Thanks Barry!!

I am still amazed at just a few components, an EFHW and a 9 volt battery could produce that kind of results.

I did not have time to change out C8 so the sidetone note is still pretty loud (you will hear it in the youtube video) but it worked fine.

I started to get cold again and wanted to get down. My water had started to freeze and so did I when the wind picked up. It was time to go, I packed very quickly and beat feet off the side of the mountain. While heading down I reached a part of the trail I call "The Meadows" because it is flat and during the summer it looks like a bog meadow, almost out of place. It was here that the wind really started. I had stowed my gore-tex (water proof) jacket and had on a soft pull over. As soon as the wind started the snow started falling out of the trees. I got soaked and could see steam rising from my arms and neck because I was just too warm. I decided not to stop and pushed on to the TH. I was very warm by the time I got to the Jeep and was glad I did not do something stupid like that on the way up. 

I stopped to take a few pictures on the way home.

I passed Steve, wG0AT, on the way out but I did not see him. He saw me heading down while he was heading out to take the herd out for some exercise. I wish he could have joined me on this one. 

It was a good activation. I am surprised how well I did in the cold but that was due to gear and it is ever important to remember how easy it can turn on you. At those temps it is nothing to be taken lightly.

My first Mighty Mite Weekend activation is over but I am already looking forward to the next one.

Here is the Miles per watt breakdown:

Call             Actual Miles     Miles Per Watt
W5ODS           547                    2733
W6IYS             964                    4821
W7RV              545                    2723
NS7P              1011                  5055
N4EX              1453                  7267
AJ5C               674                    3372
K0LAF             634                    3169
N7WM             552                    2762
W7CNL           659                    3294
WA2USA        952                    4759
KG3W             1319                  6596
N1EU              1633                  8164 (NEW RECORD FOR ME)
N0EVH           567                    2835
WG0AT           4                       19
W0MNA          535                   2675
W0ERI            535                   2675
K5RWP          619                   3095