Saturday, August 31, 2013

SOTA Activation of Kaufman North and Kaufman HP (W0/SP-085 and W0/SP-081) 30 Aug 2013

Friday was a family day at work and I have been looking at these summits for a long time. Two 6 pointers just sitting there and I have seen them many times even though they are a 100 miles from us.

I asked Steve to come along but he was unable to at first so I contemplated doing another, closer summit. A few days later Steve got the green light and we were off.

We got an early start and got to the TH before 0900 and was standing on the summit before 1100. It is a neat summit with outstanding views.

Steve checking the TOPO on his iPhone
Steve has the uncanny ability to walk up a mountain through dense forest and bring us back near the same way just by navigating via terrain. I checked him on the GPS and he was dead on. Not only do I NOT have that ability I second guess myself all the time. It is only recently that I started "trusting" my GPS.

View on the way up and our second target (W0/SP-081)


Looking West


K0JQZ enjoying the views (wG0AT Photo)
wG0AT running a pileup on 40 meters

KX3: Radio of choice
Not only were we going to pickup 12 activator points, have great views and were enjoying the outdoors, I also wanted to try my new linked dipole which is for 40, 30, 20 and 15 meters. The intent is to mate this to the the "Steve Webber Designed"ATS4b. It did work but it is resonate a little high on 20 and way to high on 15. That can be fixed but over all I am pleased with the design and the performance.

Center of the Linked Dipole (wG0AT Photo)
The dipole is made with the super slippery teflon coated wire and uses 4mm connectors and is fed with 25 feet of RG-174. They are fun and easy to make and I will make a few more. the one I made for 20 and 30 (for the MTR) came out perfect on the CW portion of the bands.


Not Linked (wG0AT Photo)

Linked (wG0AT Photo)

We stayed on the summit for about an hour having a grand time running the pileup. I think Steve and I have a perfect system for the multi-operator activation but there are no real rules. We just use one rig (always have a back-up station) and take turns and try different bands. 

Here is a short video (excuse the poor quality in the beginning as the sun was directly behind me) of our hike up to W0/SP-085.





Here is my log from W0/SP-085


30 Meter CW:
N7AMA
N4MJ
W0MNA
W0ERI
W7RV
NK6A
W7/DL1UF
NS7P
K5RWP
K6XM
K7JFD
K6TUY
W9FHA
WA2USA
NM5SW
N7AMA
K7NEW

20 Meter CW
K5WI
KQ2RP
W9FHA
VE1WT
NK6A
N4EX

After we descended to the SOTA Jeep we headed to Kaufman HP (W0?SP-081)

Kaufman HP was a forest hike all the way to the summit. We spotted Deer and Elk on this hike and found a few campsites that may work well for a multi-day SOTA excursion to this area.

We also heard some thunder while hiking up but it was in the distance. Once we summited we knew our time was limited and that we may need to make a quick exit or seek shelter. The rain was not only coming in from the West it was also coming in from the East. 


Rain!!!
 I set up the dipole, with Steve's help, and he got the KX3 ready for business.

wG0AT power for the KX3
After I ran the pileup until no one else was calling I turned it over to Steve and he worked the pileup until it started to rain.

Steve having a Zen moment working the pileup
The master working old school homebrew paddles and high tech logging on the iPhone
 After the rain started I put on some minimalist rain gear (ultra light jacket) because I had my small pack. I have not used this pack in a long time and debated using it on this day but with it being only 12 pounds with water I decided, why not. It had a complete CW station, first aid, emergency shelter, fire starter, light, liter of water and some test gear for the new antenna. Plus, my MOBAG Tag from a different life and decade.

MOBAG Tag, notice Roosters face on the button
We decided to secure operations and pack up, we quickly descended and were back in the forest in no time. We ran into an Aspen grove that I thought was pretty cool.

The Old Goat and the forest.
K0JQZ in the grove (wG0AT Photo)
This was another neat summit and activation and the end to a 12 point day.

Here is my log for W0/SP-081:

20 Meter CW
VE7KBN
KH2TJ
WA6RIC
NA6MG
VE7CV
WA8REI
KC6SSE
WG8Y
AC0SR
K5RWP

We did not get too wet and did not hit the heavy stuff until we were in the Jeep. It was a fun day.

73
Frank
K0JQZ 

NOTE: I included some of Steve's photos but if you want to see better photos than mine please go to the wG0AT FLICKR Link: wG0AT Kaufman "turn captions on."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

SOTA Activation of 9410 (W0/FR-168) 25 Aug 2013

This was a spur of the moment decision to go activate. There were no points in it for me but Lynn had a possible 4 points.

We headed out and it was not until I was out of 3G range that I remember that I did not spot our activation. I was hoping I could SMS our activity on the summit which I was able to do.

9410 is an easy hike but you need to drive down Old Stage Road which is in back of the Broadmore in order to get to the TH. The road was in bad shape due to all the rain and flooding we have been having but the jeep did not care. We got the TH and set off for the summit.

It is a little steep at first then you hit a ridge and kind of follow a horse trail almost all the way until the last 300 vertical feet which is also steep. The summit is uneventful but nice and shaded with some idea antenna support trees.

Once I got up there I was excited about testing my new linked dipole for 40, 30, 20 and 15 meters. However, after I hoisted the main support and tied off the ends I had forgot to bring any coax. Well that just was not going to work. I thought I brought my EFHW but it was not in its usual spot. I got something to eat and drink and thought about what to do. Lynn was willing to activate on 2 meters and we could had done that but I wanted to be on HF. (remember, no points for me but I was still pissed off as it was a great day)

After thinking and looking in my pack I remembered that I put the EFHW in a different compartment as a "just in case" or "backup antenna."

It went up in the trees pretty easy.




End Fed Antenna
The summit was covered in Ladybugs. They were everywhere and getting into everything.

Ladybugs
Ladybug trying to activate the PTT on the VHF
Ladybugs helping to SMS spot on the iPhone
Ladybug inspecting the KX3

After I got Lynn spotted she got a few contacts but the band seemed to be dead. At least I did not hear the regular stuff on HF that I usually do.

CQ SOTA
Here is Lynn's log:
20 Meter SSB
AC7QN
N4EX
NS7P
N1EU
KF7PXT
KC3RT

While Lynn was operating I snapped a few pictures.



After Lynn was done I tried 20, 30, 15 and 12 meters but only made contacts on 20 and 30.

Here is my log:
20 Meters CW
K6EL
N4EX
VE2JCW
K5WI
K6TUY
KU6J
N7CW
N4EMG
W7TAO
K7RNO
N3GJ
KD5KC 
30 Meter CW
N5XL
W7RV
NS7P
KD5KC
WA6RIC
K7JFD
KC9TNH

Lynn listening to CW
The clouds started moving in but there was no hurry. It was a great day out in the woods. We had a nice hike regardless of the SOTA activation.

Hiking down
Pretty big washouts
The SOTA Jeep waiting for us
On the way down I tried a little video wrap up. This is really my first time filming like this and it is obvious that I do not have the talent that a lot of the guys do. Here it is.

Thank you chasers.

73 Frank
K0JQZ

Saturday, August 24, 2013

SOTA Activation of Mount Evans (W0/FR-003) and Chief Mountain (W0/FR-030) 23 Aug 2013

After an email from Steve I decided to take a vacation day from work and accompany Steve for a possible 16 point day.

We left on time and drove without problem (last time my new jeep kept stalling) in Steve's tried and true "Goat Wagon."

It was crowded on the summit but after a short hike we found a suitable location. I generally avoid crowds as I am not happy answering a bunch of questions but for the most part people left us alone on this crowded summit.

Much to my disbelieve I was unable to use SMS to spot Steve on 20 meter SSB however, he was able to start the pileup on 20 CW. At the same time I decided to try my first ever two meter FM activation of a summit just in case the Park Ranger decided we had a permeant antenna structure without a permit, as Matt's, K0MOS, had warned us about.

I knocked out 4 FM contacts on 146.520 in short order. They include:
KG6CNL
KC0SUL
WY7ATH
N0GWM

This was my first experience with 2 meters on a summit but I do have an arrow yagi for two meters and plan to try 2 meter SSB when Elecraft comes out with the KX3 2 meter module. Other than that it was not as thrilling as HF CW but it got the job done in case we got chased off the summit.

wG0AT tuning the AlexLoop


This was also a first activation for me using the Alex Loop antenna. I do not have an opinion one way or the other of the AlexLoop as we were not able to compare it to anything else. My goal, with Steve's help, is to have an antenna shootout one day. I would like to include it in the shootout along with a Buddipole Vertical and an EFHW.

Maybe, one day.....

Steve taught me how to assemble the AlexLoop and how to tune it. It is touchy but easy to do.

Here is my 20 meter CW log from Mount Evans:
WG3Y
KC5NX
ND7PA
KC3RT
K6EL
N6JZT
K7VOE
AF9W
KB9ILT
K3EL
N7AMA
W9FHA
AE4FZ
W7RV
K0LAF

Chasers, thanks for the efforts and 10 points. I also notice we now have two suffixs that end in "USA" (W7USA and WA2USA) and now in "EL" (K6EL and K3EL) in the mix.... Sometimes I only get the last part of a call so this is going to get interesting hi hi.

The KX3 makes any antenna play well

It does not take much arm turning to get Steve out on another summit. We headed over to the TH for Chief Mountain, an easy 800 foot ascent on a well marked trail. Or I should say, it would have been an easy ascent if you were not trying to keep up with the Old Goat trying to beat the weather moving in. 

We summited, got setup and started rolling. I grabbed some chow while Steve ran the pileup and we switched off when it died down a bit. This was another summit that I could not send an SMS spot but was able to SMS a spot when we were at the TH. Odd cell service....
The Old Goat running the Qs on 20 CW
Heading our way!!!!
We just did not have the time to run all the callers and I am sorry for that. Nor did we have the time to setup my new linked 4 band dipole but I will save that for another summit.

After no one was calling me Steve make the call to pack up and we did, very quickly. The temperature dropped and the smell of rain was in the air. 

We donned our rain gear and started down the trail. We were not too far from our operating position when the hail stated, then the rain and always present was the thunder. Steve expertly navigated us down a shortcut that shaved maybe .25 to .5 miles off our descent and we made the saddle and picked up the trail again all the way down. It was interesting to note that we passed at least three people heading up while we were trying to get off the mountain. All young people and none of them were prepared for that weather.

We really hit the bad stuff a few miles from the TH while secured safely in the goat wagon.

It was a great activation and Chief has a great summit. I will be back.

Here is my log from Chief Mountain on 20 meter CW:
N4EX
KG3W
W7RV
VE7CV
W5PEH
AE4FZ
VE1WT
K6EL
NE4TN
W7CNL 
W6UB
N6JZT
NA6MG
W0MNA
KA0NZZ
WH6LE
We decided to stop at a favorite restaurant in Castle Rock on the way home. I was hungry and tiered and I am afraid I was not much for conversation until I got some food in me. I felt renewed after I ate way too much and was looking forward to a good 8 hour nap when I got home. 

What a great day!!!!!

Thank you chasers for making the activation as thrilling as it can get.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The successful failure

"The Successful Failure" or "Activation of W0/FR-003 Mount Evans (10 Points) W0/FR-063 (Zero Points)"

The Old Goat wG0AT and I got a late start to head out to activate Mount Evans, an easy 10 pointer about 100 miles one way. We were feeling pretty confident despite our late start and thought about activating Chief afterwards. This would put me in third place as far as the W0 association goes so I was excited.

At about 12,800 feet my jeep died, it restarted and died again. I should not say died it just lost all power. It is a 2013 Jeep Rubicon with manual transmission with 6K miles on it and it is going back to the dealership today.

With Mount Evans in sight we turned around and headed back hoping just to make it off the narrow road. After a while the jeep started running better with only minor hickups and by the time we hit Denver traffic it was running normally.

I was disappointed and pissed off but there was nothing I could do about it. Steve offered to buy a late lunch, which was fantastic and we decided to do a quick run up Mount Herman.

It was hot and the air was still so it made for a heat sapping ascent. We took the Old Goat trail which is steeper but shorter. The summit was perfect, a light cool breeze and great views.

Steve and I briefly discussed the value of "Mountain Money" aka TP and I setup the EFHW and I did it very poorly. I did not think about the operating location in regards to were the end fed antenna would end up at. I was too beat-up to to redo it and decided to call CQ. A pileup ensued right off the bat without being spotted, and with no alert. I guess it worked.

Neat area
South view
Looking down
North East view

The Shack



Here is my log from 20 meter CW:

K5WI
N4EX
WA8REI
KC3RT
N1EU
W9FHA
NS7P
KG3W
N0EVH
VE2JCW
K4NK
K6EL


Steve took over and worked 20, 30 and attempted other bands.

This Radio looks familiar
High Tech meets Old School
wG0AT running the pileup

After Steve operated I thought I would give SSB a try. I am not much of an operator and even less of a SSB operator, Lynn makes it look so easy.

Here is my log from 20 meter SSB:
N7EF
W0EA
W7RV
W0MNA
W0ERI
W0AO
K5RWP
NE4TN

So, while Steve and I earned a total of "0" points vice a possible 18 we had a grand time. Sometimes it is just good to get out and mix radio with the outdoors. 

As soon as I dropped off Steve a few goats came out looking for him.

Where has the Old Goat been all day?
I left Steve in good company and I spent the next 30 minutes in bumper to bumper traffic trying to get home. I did not mind it so much because, while the day did not start off the way we planned it ended up better than I could have hoped for.

73 Frank
K0JQZ

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

SOTA Activation of Mount Herman (W0/FR-063) 14 Aug 2013

Having a choice to stay home and get some things done on my last few days of vacation or go take a hike in the woods and activate a SOTA peak well, I choose the latter.

Lynn had to report back to work and wG0AT was otherwise occupied so I was on my own. I decided to use the ATS4b and a new linked dipole I made about a month ago for 20 and 30 meters. It is based on WA33WSJ's design and is called the Iditarod mini dipole, or a linked dipole. It is tuned for 20 and 30 meters so no tuner is needed. Of course the draw back is coax is required but I used 25 feet of RG-174.
The dipole ready for action
center section


This morning I got packed and was ready to go. I got to the TH and there was no one there. That is unusual as the Mount Herman trail is very popular. I started off on my hike and saw some trash not too far from the TH and since I had trash bags for our trip to WY still in the jeep I grabbed one and did a little trail cleanup on the way up and down. I do not think I have ever seen the Mount Herman Trail so green.
A result of all the rain we have been getting


I was about half way when I scared a few deer and they came running across the path (3 total). I thought that was pretty cool.

There are a few rocks along the trail that I always thought would make a good shelter if the sky opened up and I decided to have a few snacks there.



Good place to rest and snack
It was here I noticed the top cap to my fishing pole was missing.

No top cap
I got to figure out a way to secure that thing because it keeps slipping out. I found it on the way down.

The trail


I got up to the summit and decided to go down and South from there, not all the way to the South Summit but far enough away that if a group of people came up I would be out of the way. I found some supports for the ends of the dipole and went from there. I strapped the antenna support to a dead stump and I did not realize it until it was too late that it was an ant colony. I disturbed them and they let me know it. I had to move a bit but since the support was there I left it. Other than that it was a pretty good operating position..
ATS4b


Antenna and coax

 I was real pleased when the dipole required no tuning so I did not need a tuner which was good because while I remember the jumper coax for the radio to the tuner I forgot the actual tuner so that worked out well.

Here is my log:
20 Meter CW
N4MJ
W7CNL
KB9ILT/0
Summit to Summit
NS7P Summit to Summit
WA2USA
N4EX
NE4TN
K5RWP
N6KZ
K6ELQ
30 Meter CW
N7AMA
W7RV
K7JFD
W0MNA
W0ERI
NA6MG
Summit to Summit
N0HYD

I did not stay long due to some clouds forming up.

Storms a brewing
We have had rain about every day and I would have liked to stay a bit longer but....... I did have a few things to get done today. However, I did reward myself with lunch at the Noodle Company.

Veggie Med Sandwich and salad

The ATS4b is one of my favorite radios for SOTA and QRP followed closely by the KX1 but after using the KX3 for the last dozen or so SOTA activations I have gotten spoiled. It is so nice to have the capability of my home station (K3) on the summit with the KX3. I could see going back to a ATS or KX1 when doing a 14er to save weight (4 lbs with the KX3 and antenna/battery vice 1.5 pound with an ATS radio). I think the ATS radio days are numbered. 

RIG USED: ATS4b
ANTENNA: Linked Dipole (20 / 30 Meters)
POWER: LiPol 1400mah battery
PADDLES: Pico Paddle

Thank you chasers and fellow activators. What a fun day.

73
Frank
K0JQZ