Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mount Herman, the hard way

The road to access the TH to Mount Herman is closed and the sign says it will be closed until 2 Jan 2015. Mount Herman is somewhat of a SOTA testbed in that it is close by and fun to hike and a great place to try out new equipment for portable work.

My good friend Steve asked me if I wanted to try an approach from the East side of Mount Herman. I always wanted to do that but have never really research the route but just looking at Mount Herman from the East and it looks like a tough one. Of course I said YES!

I took Friday off and Steve and I headed to the TH and off we went. It was steep, about 1700 feet in .9 miles. Wow! It was a real workout.

Besides doing a SOTA activation with Steve there were two other reasons to make this one a special activation. Steve took his LNR made FX-4 radio along and his new goat Boo came along with Peanut.

Boo is a young goat and very curious. He is not shy like Peanut so it made for a very interesting day.

Boo and Peanut waiting to ride in the "Goat Wagon

K0JQZ and Boo Selfie
The complete HF station with FX-4  (Photo by wG0AT)
Neatly Packed (Photo by wG0AT)
K0JQZ-7 APRS Beacon
Our route took us North of Mount Herman and South of Raspberry Mountain. I am not sure how long it took us to get to the summit (I would guess about 2 hours) but it was a nice, well marked trail.

Just before it starts to get vertical there is a memorial to a young man that died somewhere on Mount Herman not too long ago.


In memory of Alan Sauceda (I think, not sure if I am reading that correctly)
Peanut is always great on the trail. Sometimes you just forget Peanut is there but he always is. Boo is also an easy going hiker but he did give me an occasional push on the way down as I was holding him up. Boo, like Peanut and Rooster before him, follows Steve everywhere he goes. They really are great hiking companions.

Steve and Boo behind him (close to summit)
When we summited we found a spot out of the wind, which was keeping it very cool, and Steve got to work throwing the random wire into a tree. The random wire was tuned with an Elecraft T1 connected tot he LNR FX-4.

Antenna support (Photo by wG0AT)
Elecraft T1 (Photo by wG0AT)
FX-4 (Photo by wG0AT)
Here is the video of the activation:



The FX-4 is a first generation one which was recalled by LNR for a replacement/refund/repair or something to that effect. Kudos for LNR buying up all the faulty units.
close up
another closeup
There has been another run/release of the FX-4 but I was not able to get one. I really did not have a lot of time with this radio to tell much about it. It is not a KX3 but then again it is less than half the cost moreover, it is even cheaper than a FT-817. I think it is a good radio for those that do not want to build something and want to get on the air in portable fashion using SSB. It would take a little bit to get used to the menus but the limited exposure I had I could tell the menu was easier to learn than the FT-817. It is also lighter and more compact than the FT-817. I think the power consumption is about the same (not saying much as the FT-817 is a power hog). Maybe the second run improved that but I do not know that for a fact. I did feel like I had to yell into the mic to get the ALC going, very much like a FT-817.

As far as performance I would say the receiver is better than a FT-817 but not as good as an Elecraft KX3, I realize that is about a wide a margin as they come. The filters seemed to work great. I did not play with the delay but it was a little too long for CW as I was missing the call sign prefix of some of the quicker stations after a CQ. All in all I liked it and would consider one if they make them again which I doubt they will since they already released a new SDR radio that I am sure will take up time and resources.

The LNR FX-4 and their new radio is a good alternative for the SSB operator that does not want to settle for a FT-817 (and all the performance modifications to make it viable) and something cheaper than the KX3 with less capabilities. It is worth considering.

72
Frank
K0JQZ

Bonus Video, a time lapse of Laternfest in Fountain Colorado on 1 Nov 2014:




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