Monday, September 30, 2013

Accidental activation of W0/SP-125 and W0/FR-066

Having not really decided on anything to do on Sunday Lynn and I decided late in the morning to do a recon of Spinney Mountain which is in Spinney Mountain State Park (connected to 11 mile State Park). I was not sure if there was a clear access to this mountain that did not cross private property so we talked to a Park Ranger who was less than helpful. He did tell me that he did not think there was access to it but since this park is geared towards fishing I doubt he really knew. Lynn and I found an area that did not have a fence or "no trespassing" sign but there were signs of livestock so I decided to not chance it. Four points is not worth the hassle so while we were deciding what to do we got a call from the Old Goat himself.

Steve, wG0AT, has been camping in the Lost Creek area and was going to get some SOTA activations in. He was heading up a 4 pointer and thought we would like to join him. It is an unnamed summit called 9036. We found the TH and Steve guided us up via VHF. There were two routes up and we choose the steepest of the two which was a mistake due to the bushwacking through a few aspen groves but we made it and joined Steve for the first activation of this summit.

The trail
KC0YQF leading the way
So far an easy trail
Lynn got ahead of me because I left the 2 meter in the Jeep
Our Target
Nice area
Nice views
More views
Our destination
The "Old Goat" working 12 meters
Lynn happy to get her 4 QSOs (3 on 15 meters and 1 on VHF)
Flying in the wind
The rock blocking the wind (great location Steve)
Fishing pole and 58 foot longwire
With 12 meters hopping Steve really got a few QSOs on that band. I did pretty good the day before getting into Germany and Italy. That is nothing for the East coast guys but really something for the middle of the US. The 58 foot longwire played very well. For a total cost of 4 dollars it is the best bang for the buck I know of.

15 Meter SSB: WX4ET, VE2JCW, W6UB
2 Meter FM: KI0RA

15 Meter CW: KG3W, AI4SV

After we got done Steve wanted to do Tappan Mountain (W0/FR-066) which was not too far away and he did not have to twist our arm much. Off we went.

Steve and his new GPS guiding us to Tappan
Where does this go? It goes up!
Steve finds a good spot for the SOTA flag
wG0AT and SOTA Flag
Flying proud!
Lynn wants us to hurry up so she can get on the air.
KC0YQF goofing off
Lynn had a good run on 20 meter phone. G6TUH was rough copy but in the long run I am not sure that he heard Lynn's report back to him. I also do not think Lynn realizes that EI9JU was in Ireland but she will when she reads this blog. Lynn had always wanted to go to Ireland and I would not mind going back for a visit.



We said our goodbyes and Steve headed back to his base camp to check on Peanut and Rooster and Lynn and I headed home. It was late and we usually stop for a nice meal especially after a dual activation but we just headed home, exhausted.

It was a fun 6 points! Thanks Steve!

NOTE: The 58 foot longwire antenna is nothing more than what it is. 58 foot of number 26 teflon wire. It is wound on a coleman cloths reel and has a length of fly fishing line on the end. You simply attach it to the fishing pole going vertical then the end goes over a branch or other support. It works great. I figured mine cost a total of about 4 dollars including the coleman clothes line reel. (I found them at the BX for 2 dollars, shop around). If anyone wants more detail let me know.

73 Frank

Sunday, September 29, 2013

SOTA Activation of Signal Butte (W0/FR-165)

It may seem silly to activate a summit that I have already activated this years. In other words I get zero points for doing this, so why do it?

I will admit that I like to get points as much as anyone else and will try to maximize points earned with minimal effort but sometimes you just need to get out.

I like this summit for a few reasons. Great fews since the Hayman Fire wiped out all the trees on this one. A few good spots that let you get out of the wind and not much traffic.

It is an ugly summit but I like it

 The hike to the top was met with two bow hunters that told me they did not have much luck and tomorrow was the last day of the season. I am not sure what season it is but they seemed disappointed.

Someone has been busy since my last visit

Once on top I setup the linked dipole and the ATS4b and started on 40 meters. Forty meters, like just about all the other bands sounded to be open. 

The ATS4b and the SOTA wG0AT Paddles

My log for 40 meters (CW Only)


30 Meter (CW Only)


I noticed some of the other activators where coming on freq (limited 3G access up here). So I made  some quick measurements of the linked dipole, I think I can add 15 meters without much fuss, before I took it down. The thing I like about this antenna besides being easy to deploy (it is all in how you wrap the wire) and it is very light weight. The only thing that makes it heavy or I should say heavier is the RG-174 coax. However, it is easly supported by the fishing pole and it is easy to change bands. It, like all antennas has good and bad points. The bad is you have to disconnect links to change bands but that is ok as I made it for the ATS4b and I can use all bands on the radio save 80 meters WITHOUT a tuner using this setup.

I then setup the 58 foot long wire. This antenna is enclosed in a coleman clothes line winder and works well on all bands using the tuner in the KX3. This one, while not as efficient, does allow me to change bands quickly and chase the activators which is what I wanted to do.

The Top Of The Line of field radios, the Elecraft KX3
My Jeep is barley visible (looking down from summit with zoom)

20, 15 and 12 Meters (All CW save one)

KI4SVM   S2S (My only SSB QSO)
VE2JCW (12 Meters)
DJ5AV  (12 Meters)
IK6BAK  (12 Meters)
KU6J   S2S

Nice shack out of the wind
I had forgot to charge my battery (Buddipole A123) and cannot remember the last time I charged it but when the voltage started to drop it was time to leave. I may have run it down a bit too far but that is ok. Any other radio would of given me much less time than the KX3. I could have used the battery from the ATS4b for a while but decided to head home.

I have not figured out how to add audio from my recorder to my youtube videos yet but most of the stations were coming in very loud save a few other activators (KU6J and KI4SVM were very weak and almost at ESP levels but 2 way contact was made). Europe was coming in VERY loud. I am going to play around with that audio file again today.

As always if anyone has any comments or suggestions (on anything from the video to my operating skills, or lack thereof) drop me a note here or email via my QRZ listed email address.


40 QSOs times 4 points a piece equal 160 chaser points handed out.... Good enough for me.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

SOTA Trifecta or North America SOTA weekend 2013

It started just like any other SOTA activation. Meet early, pile into the Goat Wagon (Steve's Tacoma) and head to the TH.

A couple of things were different this time. 1) it was the first day of the North America SOTA weekend, 2) rookie Dave, NK0E, was along for the fun and 3) I was within reach of my 70th summit.

First of all, Dave is not really a rookie and has a lot of portable and QRP operating under his belt. He has recently been involved in SOTA and I am sure will be a boon to the W0 SOTA association as he racks of the activator points and experience.

We headed West and hit W0/SP-084 or Aspen Ridge first. A short hike and we were on the summit and setting up for some pileups.

wG0AT loads TOPO Maps and K0JQZ is ready to go
Aspen grove all the way to the summit
wG0AT takes a chow break while K0JQZ operates

K0JQZ running the CW pileup

Nice radio shack

My log from Aspen Ridge

20 Meters

After we finished on Aspen Ridge it was a long drive in the back woods in the goat wagon to the TH of the next summit which was W0/SP-099 or 10123. There is a lot of private property on the way to the TH but we got there and enjoyed a hike through a lot of deadfall to get there. There were also several mine shafts and structures to take a gander at on the way.

Dave, NK0E,  checking out an old cabin

Don't fall down!!!

NK0E running the pileup on 20 meters
Steve got the trusty KX3 ready for action.

KX3 Station
I decided to use my ATS4b and linked dipole for 20, 30 and 40 meters.

ATS4b (Steve Weber Designed Trail Radio)
It was a fun activation and my log includes the following stations:

30 Meters CW

20 Meters CW

Next it was off to W0/SP-115 or Bald Mountain. Steve was convinced that he could drive up to the summit. After looking at the GPS I was not so sure however, the Goat Wagon did great and Steve was able to navigate the rough road making it look easy. We stopped short of the summit and had a short hike to get to the top.

Steve setup the KX3 while Dave setup his ATS-2 on 20 meters. Steve used a 58 foot longwire for all the activations and after seeing how well it worked I decided to make one for myself. The 58 foot wire is wound on a clothesline dispenser you see at camping stores. I picked up one for a few dollars at the Fort Carson BX and used some fly fishing line and 58 foot of teflon wire to put it together in about an hour.

Soon after we got setup a short rain storm came through blowing everything that was not secured. We quickly put on our rain gear and by the time we got settled it stopped and we had to remove our gear. The cover Steve had on his KX3 really protected it from the rain. Something else I need to do to my KX3.

KX3 cover
Steve worked 20 meters as so did Dave and I waited my turn and decided to work 30 meters. I was getting tiered and hungry so I did not have a lot of energy to chase any DX so I was happy to call it a day.

My log
30 Meter CW


Steve working through the rain
After the rain it was down to business
After the third activation Dave treated us to dinner at a local diner and it tasted great. I was beat and we did not talk a lot on the way home. I was glad Steve was driving because I do not think I would be up for it. It was not a strenuous day but it was long!

3 activators after 3 summits
We had a grand time. We would probably still operate on mountain tops without SOTA but being chased by all the stations is what makes it so much fun. Bald Mountain was my 70 SOTA summit since I started doing this on July 6th of 2012..... Thank you chasers and fellow activators for making the 2013 North America SOTA weekend a lot of fun.

Cheesy video linked below.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

SOTA Activation of Mount ROSA (W0/FR-034) 1 Sep 2013

Sometimes it is ok to just hike. Today was one of those days.

We meet Dave and Dot at Denny's for some chow and headed up to the TH at Frosty Park off of Old Stage Road. Dave offered to drive and I was impressed at how his vehicle handled the trail.

We quickly made it to the summit chatting all the way which always makes it fun. Not too far into the hike I dropped my new camera and broke the LCD. It still worked but I could not frame a picture or tell if I was recording. It looks like a new camera is needed. This is the second time I broke a camera on a SOTA hike.

KC0YQF coming up the trail
I divide this trail into three parts. The first part is by far the steepest and the trail is rutted out pretty good from ATVs and recent rain. It pretty much sucks.

The second part is a pleasant stroll along the saddle (my favorite part) and the last part is the switch backs for the last 500 vertical feet.

The saddle has some great views as does the summit.

Almost there
Once on the summit we set up a quick End Fed antenna mated to the KX3. I made a quick QSO with someone on Pikes Peak on 2 meters (N1GCP I think) but he was not doing a SOTA activation.

Lynn started us off on HF SSB (20 meters).

Once the ball started rolling she quickly worked the following stations:

And that was all she wrote. There were no more stations calling after Lynn called CQ several times so it was time for Dave to run the CW pileup.

Dave getting down to business

Dave's log and paddle holder for efficient operating
While NK0E (Dave) worked through his CW we all relaxed and let him work.

Dot and Lynn on the summit
The views from the summit were fantastic when we arrived but they did not stay that way.

Pikes Peak in the distance

The weather moved in quickly as it does in Colorado. After Dave got 4 QSOs we decided to get off that summit before a light show started. I decided to forgo any operating (I already activated Rosa this year so no points to be gained anyway).

We made it down in record time only getting an occasional rain drop with the sound of thunder.

While it was an ugly activation we made it up and made it down in one piece (save my camera) so I call that a success. Lynn and I had great company that were a lot of fun. If all the SOTA hikes were perfect there would not be much to write about.

Dave added his write up to his web site. You can read about it here.

I am trying to understand this software better in order to edit movies. I am very much a novice at this stuff but I learn a little bit each time. What took me hours is now taking minutes and as I get more confident I am experimenting a little bit more each time.

I butchered Dave's callsign in the video. It is NK0E.... How can I mess up a call with so few letters? I blame the altitude.

That is all for now.
Frank K0JQZ