Sunday, September 21, 2014

An almost perfect SOTA activation (Knights Peak W0C/FR-144)

So what makes a perfect SOTA activation. Points? A lot of QSOs? Easy Hike? Maybe for some those are motivators but for me just being able to summit a peak like Knights Peak with my XYL. The last time I did this summit it was in the winter with wG0AT and we had a grand time.

We used Lynn's KX3 and an End Fed that is always in my pack as a backup. I forgot to pack the Buddipole Vertical which I would have rather used on this rocky summit. We got Lynn setup and despite having 3 bars on my phone I was not able to SMS a text to spot Lynn on the web site so she called CQ. It took an hour to produce just one QSO so we went to 2 meters and got on a local two meter simplex chat freq of 146.460 and worked two more stations. One of the contacts informed me that everyone else was at a breakfast so Lynn went to 146.520 and picked up a mobile station. Four QSOs means she gets the points for this summit but I was not too worried about it because we can always come out again and do it. I was off on my activation time as I did not expect us to get such an early start so I take some of the blame. I would rather not spot at all but use APRS but it has been my experience that chasers do not seem to want to check APRS beacons as much as they use to. Everyone waits for the spot to appear.

Thanks to KE5YYJ who was portable in a park in Texas. Lynn worked him on 20 meters and he mentioned that he wanted to try SOTA but lived in the flat lands. Also thanks to the local 2 meter crowd that gave Lynn those much needed three remaining QSOs. Ray KG0SS, Melvin KD0DRH and James KC0EL all in Colorado Springs.

The summit registry is really secured to the boulder and it has been there for at least ten years. There is even a wrench attached to help you get the cover off.

Summit Registry
The leafs are starting to change colors and there was a lot of activity in this area when we left. When we parked at the makeshift firing range nearby there was only one car. When we left there were several more.

Parking Area/Firing Range
Several people stopped to ask us for directions so at lot of first timers were out in this area. There was a couple of loads of Boy Scouts that were lost (or their Scout Masters were lost). Having been a Scout I was a little disturbed with the lack of preparedness and courtesy of the Scout Masters. Maybe that is because all my Scout Masters were United States Marines. I hope they found where they were trying to get to but more importantly, I hope the lads had a good time.

After Lynn finished her activation I debated if I wanted to operate at all but I did want to see if my friend G0PEB, Rob, was able to hear me in the UK. Rob had his HW-8 out for a SOTA activation and dropped me an email before he headed out. He had his KX3 as a backup so I tried the bands that I thought would work to the old country, 21 Mhz and 24 Mhz. I could not see if he was on due to no cell phone connectivity but Rob did email me that he saw the RBN spot for me on 24 MHz. I did get into Spain so I know 15 Meters was open. After a while I dropped down to 20 meters and got KC7DM and my friend John, N0EVH on summits in OR and MI respectively.

Mount Rosa from Knights Peak
I would have really loved to have at least heard Rob on his HW-8 but maybe another time.

Now I want to get an HW-8!!!!!

I watched some clouds move in and we got back in time to enjoy the rest of the day. It was as nice an activation as they come.

from Frank and Lynn


Bonus video: SOTA activation of Signal Butte:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Observatory Rock, 9410 and SOTA Backpacks

I was sore after the Mount Rosa activation but I was also on a high to have conquered Rosa from the East and being able to do it with Steve and Peanut was a bonus. It was loads of fun.

The next day I took time off and messed with the video from that activation. The day following Lynn wanted to get out so we went to Observatory Rock in the Lost Creek Wilderness as we have always liked Observatory and Eagle Rock which is not far from there. It was a fun but short hike up to the summit but our activation was cut short by weather but still a fun time.
Here is the video:

On Monday I wanted to get down Old Stage road mostly for recon but figured if we could, we would activate an unnamed summit called 9410. 9410 is a neat easy hike. There are some vertical parts to the beginning and the end but in between it is just a pleasant walk in the forest. You basically follow a horse trail that goes to Grayback Peak and bushwack when you get to the base of 9410.
The views on this hike are tremendous and there are plenty of places to pitch a tent or stop for lunch.

There are a few rock markers marking the trail. I setup this marker to show where we started to go East or Up the side of 9410. Once on th ridge line you just walk to the summit. It is important to stay on the ridge line the trail keeps you on and to not try a direct approach on the summit. I am sure it is possible but it would be a rough hike.

greyback peak



rock markers

this is where you approach the summit

Elecraft KX3

KC0YQF working the pileup

rock marker on summit of 9410

Mount Rosa

Mount Rosa

TV antennas near the top of Cheyenne Mountain

Colorado Springs
looking West and down
Cheyenne Mountain summit


Once on the summit, since we were a little ahead of our posted activation time, I decided to do a “what’s in my pack” video. Of course if I was just out hiking I would have a lot of the same stuff but Kyle, KB0RPM, asked me what was in my pack for a S.O.T.A. activations so I felt I should do a video on that subject. In the video Lynn also covers the contents of her pack. Which is an interesting point; if you are hiking with a spouse or significant other you can split the load or have one carry food and th other carry water etc. Lynn has not used her real backpack yet so she is limited to day hikes for now. I guess as long as I am the "pack goat" she does not have a need to pack any weight. LOL

The video is below but here are the items by weight:

Golite Jam 35 pack: 16ozs
First Aid kit: 8ozs
Multi tool: 2.4ozs
Flashlight: 2.7ozs
Snakebite kit: 1.2ozs
Eye meds: .2ozs
Extra Pen: .5ozs
Go pro battery: 1ozs
Go Pro: 2.6ozs
KX3/Log/paddles/clock/Antenna/Battery: 5.5lbs OR MTR/Antenna/battery/paddles/log/clock: 18ozs
Audio recorder: 5.6ozs
Extra Speaker (with the MTR): 1.3ozs
GPS: 5.5ozs
Camera: 4.5ozs
Warms Gloves / Hat: 4.8ozs
Bandana: 1.1ozs
Topo: 1.4ozs
Compass: .7ozs
1 liter of water: 2.46lbs
Food: varies

2 Meter Radios: (it depends on the hike on which 2 meter I take)
Kenwood TH-D72: 13.3ozs
Yaesu FT-252: 9.8ozs
Baofeng UV-3R: 5.4ozs

The pack has a whistle built into the chest strap but I am going to add another whistle which is around an oz extra so no big deal. I also carry extra plastic bags, one for trash and smaller ones for water proofing stuff like the 2 meter radio.

Video is here: