Thursday, January 30, 2014

SOTA Activation of Thunder Butte (W0/FR-048 by K0JQZ and wG0AT on 29 Jan 2014

As I write this, the day after our activation, I am still a little stiff. It was a very nice hike but snow, wind, cold and altitude takes its toll.

A special thanks to George, KX0R, for the outstanding directions on the TH and route and of course to Steve for actually navigating us to the summit with ease.

I did not have to twist the Old Goats arm that much to get him to join me on a middle of the week SOTA activation so I knew we were in for a good time!

Thunder Butte W0/FR-048
Great Hike!!!
Steve checks on my progress
Great Views

Still some more "up" to go
K0JQZ on the way up (Photo by wG0AT)
Where did the sun go?
Steve sets up the video feed
I decided to bring the ATS4b and the linked dipole. If you not a regular reader of my blog I did a writeup on some SOTA antennas I use. This antenna is a linked dipole that is tuned for 40, 30, 20 and 15 meters so no tuner is required. The down side is it requires coax (RG-174) and dipoles are always a little more difficult to setup than an EF. However, it is a good performer.

The rig! (Steve Weber Designed ATS4b)
Neat clouds with Pikes Peak in the distance
I always forget something and this time it was the support pole for the center of the dipole. I was not able to get the dipole to the proper height and only had it about 10 to 15 feet above us at the apex so I did not expect much. I had all the links connected so it was setup for 15 meters so that is where I started the activation. I was pleasantly surprised that 1) that RBN picked me up and 2) the band was open. I worked the following stations on 21.060MHz in short order:


I was getting good signal reports so my doubts about the antenna quickly disappeared. I took a link out so the antenna was setup for 20 meters and Steve had a great pileup going. Near the end of the activation we kept hearing a very weak station calling and it turned out to be John, W9FHA. John was at ESP levels at times and Steve did a great job picking him out. John was complaining about the hot weather down in Florida hi hi.

Without the sun providing us with warmth and the wind the cold getting the better of us it was time to head down. I usually pack so everything is ready to go for the next activation but I got sloppy and just threw stuff in my pack as I was in a hurry to start moving so I would warm up. We warmed up in short order and had a nice long hike back to the goat wagon. I was lucky that in my haste I did not leave anything on the summit.

It felt like the trail back got a lot longer but I think walking through the deep snow just got to us. 

We were both impressed with this summit and plan to do it again. I think I will take Lynn out here next summer as she will enjoy a little rock scrambling near the summit.

Thanks chasers.

Here is Steve's Video of our activation:



  1. Thanks Steve and Frank for the great video. That pic looks pretty good also. Now I will just have to work on a S2S. Thanks!

  2. Matt, great to hear you work Steve. It was a great time on Thunder Butte. That activation will have to hold us over for a while as another round of storms hit the high country.