Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hamming it up at Ham Radio Outlet

As part of my early Bday present Lynn took me to the museum in Denver. The museum is great and I really enjoyed the planetarium. Afterwards, we went to Ham Radio Outlet in Denver. The new Handbook was out on display and Lynn wasted no time in pointing out to the staff and customers that she was on the cover.

She told me that she said I was on the cover as well but I really don't think she did. 

She had a blast enjoying her new found celebrity status at Ham Radio Outlet. She didn't even notice me making purchases or eyeing some of the new HF radios either.

She had a great conversation with a visiting ham from NJ and the staff about Summits On The Air and Ham Radio in general. It was a lot of fun!

When you the husband of an active YL these things will happen.

Thanks to the guys at HRO for indulging us.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Green Mountain (W0C/FR-107) S.O.T.A. Activation

Today Lynn and I had the pleasure of activating Green Mountain near Denver Colorado with Rob AE7AP, Barb AE7AQ, their friend Doug and Brad WA6MM.

L to R, Rob, Frank Lynn and Brad
Green Mountain is only a 1 pointer and a pleasant hike. It was a little chilly at the TH but we warmed up fast in the first mile of the hike due to the elevation gain.

Getting close to the summit

There are great views from this summit. You can see all of Denver.

Rob, with help from his lovely YL Barb,  setup his trapped dipole and KX3.

Barb holds the mast while Rob stakes it out

After Rob got his station setup Lynn jumped on 20 meter SSB. Rob and Barb had a great run on 20 and 40 meters and I finished with a few CW QSOs. Rob and Barb were able to talk to some of their ham friends back in MT which was a thrill.

Lynn running the SSB Pileup

Lynn, KC0YQF

We really had a good time on this summit with old and new friends. Also it is really nice to hear new callsigns chasing us which just means there are more people getting into SOTA. 

Of course the hi-light was meeting Rob and Barb who were on vacation in Colorado and heading back to Montana soon. I look forward to when we see them again.



I just recieved the pictures that Barb took and they are much better than mine so I wanted to share them. All of the pictures below are taken by Barb, AE7AQ.

Lynn is parting words of wisdom to Brad and I

The crew: Rob, Frank, Lynn, Doug and Brad

Lynn working the pileup

Working CW

Heading down, Denver in the background

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Lynn and I did our normal volunteer work for NORAD, tracking Santa.

Watching Santa on the big screen

Just before our shift started

Answering phone calls

Can you tell Lynn likes tracking Santa

I am jolly on the inside

Mister Mann went to bed early in hopes Santa would come

Maura tried to stay awake but could not make it

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mount Pisgah (W0C/FR-045)

Mount Pisgah is just West of Cripple Creek, Colorado and can be easily identified by the several communication towers and antennas on the summit.

The hike is straight forward. Drive to the base, park, walk up... It is steep in some places but easier once you get to the road that spirals up to the summit.

It was a cold, windy and beautiful day!

View from the road below the summit

Lynn hiking up

Summit in view (not as far as it looks)

Lynn had a good run on 20 meters SSB working the following stations:


There was some CW contest going on so I was not able to operate on 20 meter CW. I went to 30 Meters and had a pretty good run working the following stations:


This activation put Lynn over 900 Activator Points on her way to 1,000 points to achieve Mountain Goat. With the reset of the New Year coming up we will try to get out as often as we can to maximize bonus points. She will be a Mountain Goat in no time. 

Also, our friend Phil, NS7P, went over 70,000 Chaser points. I just cannot imagine achieving that many chaser points. Phil is always around when we activate and a lot of times he is the first one we contact. It is always good to hear NS7P come back to our CQ SOTA calls. Great job Phil!!!!

I am still getting use to the new GPS. I used it on this hike because it was not critical. I guess I messed up the picture taking function of it but was able to work though a couple of features. It seems to be very capable however, sometimes simple is good and I am tempted to go back to the eTrek 20 as it is much easier to use.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cheesman Mountain and a new GPS

We started out he day heading to the TH of Burntop Mountain but as we drove through Woodland Park there was still a lot of snow on the ground at 9,000 feet and we needed to get to over 11,000 feet. I just did not want to spend all day in waist deep snow on a steep hike. We opted to turn around and head for Cheesman Mountain near the little town of Deckers, Colorado. It is a straight forward hike with a lot of deadfall, today it was 24 degrees at the TH so we bundled up and hit the trail. I kind of screwed up on our ascent and wanted to take a more direct approach but I quickly realized I should not had done that and stuck to the published route. We made it but not without cost. Lynn got sick near the summit but after a short rest and some food she was feeling a lot better. That kind of scared me a bit as there is only cell phone coverage on the rock that towers above the summit about 10 feet. This outlines the need for a checklist so I do not forget my handheld with APRS (and another checklist on how to use it). With APRS I can send a distress signal if need be. I hope to never have to use that but can if needed. However, I need to bring the radio with me. I think that is the last time I forget it.

I told Lynn we could head back down as this was only a 1 point summit but she would not have that. She was there to activate!

Lynn worked 20 meters SSB and had a lot of QSOs. Her is her log:

















There were a couple of calls we never heard before and it is always a blast to hear new people getting into SOTA, activating and/or chasing. 

I did not have the pileup Lynn did. The CQWW CW Contest was in full swing so I went to 17 Meters and worked the following chasers:









Walt, NE4TN, made a recording of my CQ. It is really cool! Thanks Walt.

That is 5 watts from an Elecraft KX2 to a 29 foot wire with a 9 to 1 UNUN and about 6 feet of RG-174 coax. Colorado to North East TN.

It is always nice when the chasers works us both even though there are no additional points for them. With out those dedicated chasers I would had have trouble activating this one.

I tried to go to 30 and 40 meters and was not able to get another spot in no matter how I held my tongue. I called a few CQs on both bands on the QRP freq with no joy. That was ok as I wanted to start heading down. Lynn was feeling much better and she had no problem with the descent. When we got back to the Jeep the temp at the TH was up to near 50 degrees.

A few pictures:

Lynn getting her warmies on

Cheesman Lake

Lynn making her way up

Pano pic on the ridge line

Summit in view

Cheesman Mountain


I have been using an Etrex 20 by Garmin since 2012 as my GPS unit. I like it a lot but my one complaint about it is it is horrible in a forested area. Also I broke the Mini SD Card holder so sometimes I have to reseat it before a hike to get the map to come up. I decided to give the Etrex Touch 25 a go.
Etrex 25 Touch PROS:
- A lot of features
- I get signal in my basement quickly
- It is much quicker to acquire and locate
- Larger screen
- Touch screen
- Light weight

- Battery hog I was surprised to only see 1 bar at the end of our hike (I will see if I can turn off some features to increase battery life)
- Touch Screen cannot be used with gloves on

If I can turn off some features to increase battery life then I will be very pleased with it. If not I will have to go back to the Etrex 20 as it still works fine and does not drain the batteries that much.

Etrex 25 touch on left and etrex 20 on right


Monday, November 21, 2016

The Kaufman's

Lynn and I wanted to get another SOTA activation in during the mild weather we have been having in Colorado. We are glad we tackled these two summits which included Kaufman Ridge North and Kaufman Ridge High Point. Both 6 SOTA points each.

These are wooded hikes with a lot of deadfall so we do not really enjoy the hike as much as the views when you finally break through to the summit.

Here are the pictures.

KC0YQF taking shelter in the trees from the wind

KC0YQF working station from coast to coast


The Star: Elecraft KX2

A rendering by our friend Steve, wG0AT

We were getting pretty cold on Kaufman Ridge HP which was the second summit. As the sun was setting and the wind picking up it was time to go. By the time we dropped about 500 feet in elevation we were warm again.

It is a drive of around 100 miles to get to these two summits and we got a late start but it was well worth it to be back on a summit running a pileup of chasers.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Bald Mountain or W0C/SP-115 (9607 Feet)

This will be a short blog entry: Lynn and I did Bald Mountain (between Buena Vista and Hartsel) a few weekends ago. You can drive up Bald Mountain but we decided to hike up and enjoy the great weather (albeit a bit warm). This was Lynn's first time up this summit so I really wanted her to see the views.

Our GPS Track on Google Earth

Too Map
We went up the East side and looped around to the North for the final approach. We tool the Jeep Trail and did not deviate from it much. This is very popular with the ATV crowd on the weekends.

Our GPS Track

Hike Profile

The views from Bald Mountain are great and there are a few trees for antenna support so it is SOTA friendly.

Looking South East

Looking North East

K0JQZ using the KX2
I took no pictures but luckily Lynn took a few. I noticed I was having a few issues with my paddles but I thought it was just me. On the next summit the paddles shorted so they were unusable. What I did not realize, because I was dead tiered, was that it was an easy fix as the contact post just came loose and were shorting the dot and dash together. I decided to do a SSB activation instead of messing with the paddles. I had fun doing it but I am not very comfortable using SSB. After the first few contacts I was in the groove.

Work has been keeping me busy lately but that will change soon and I should have more time to do some more videos.