Sunday, November 5, 2017

Little Scraggy Peak

Lynn and I decided to do a close summit and picked Little Scraggy Peak. The trail leading into around this summit is a popular mountain bike trail and we always see a few of them. On this day we ran into one hiker going the other way and a few Mountain Bikers even though I expected to see more due to the mild weather.

This summit is fairly easy and is a nice hike. I do not think you are ever more than a mile from where you park but you feel like you are out there in the wilderness.

Rock marker while ascending the ridge that takes you to the summit

Right before the demo dropped 10 degrees
The radio was the KX2 again. It really works well and I have no complaints about its size or performance.

Lynn tried 20 meter SSB but there was a contest going on so she went to 17 meters. Here are her QSOs.

I was able to get one S2S with KR7RK in AZ.

I tried 40 and 15 meters with no callers. When I got home I saw that my spots had not gone in but I have not figured out why. 30 meters seemed to be the money band on this day.

While we ere on the summit the temp dropped and we were bundled up for the hike down. After descending about 500 feet the jackets and glove came back off. It was a pleasant day, Lynn and I had a good time.

Right after this activation I got busy with one of our annual exercises and feel like I have been out of it the last two weeks. It is good to be back to weekends off and 8 hour work days.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

QSL Card from Armed Forces Day 2017

Today I received a QSL card  from U.S. Army NETCOM. This was in commemoration of the 68th Military-Amateur Crossband Test on 13 May 2017. Every year more and more military stations are participating in this test. To talk to them you transmit on the ham frequencies where the military stations have their receivers set and listen on the published military frequencies the military stations are transmitting on.

This year there were 12 military stations signed up and I was able to get 6 of them. In addition to the stations US Army MARS transmits a Department of Defense Message usually from the SecDef. This year was special as the Commander USNORTHCOM approved the message vice the SecDef.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Midland Hill W0C/SP-117

Midland Hill is near Buena Vista and one of our favorite hikes. It is not challenging like a 14er and there is no bushwhacking involved, it is just a pleasant hike. We only ran into two other people on the trail. One person going down and one that was on the summit with us. Weather wise it was around 55 degrees and hardly any wind. 24 hours later it would be very different but we enjoyed the weather while it lasted.

View from upper trailhead

Lynn on trail

looking down on Buena Vista

Lynn leading the way

This is where we had lunch

Lynn getting a little chilly in the shade

On the summit we quickly setup and Lynn started running a 20 meter SSB pileup while I explained what we were doing to the person that happened to be on the summit with us. He seemed very interested which made the conversation pleseant.

I see these painted rocks everywhere

Lynn writing in the log in-between contacts

The KX2 doing what it does best!

Our shack for the day

Here is Lynn's log:

..... and my log:

The QSO with KX0R was a summit to summit and I got excited about OH9XX from Finland but the best one of the day was KG3W in PA. Scotty is always QRP (less than 5 watts), I heard him on 14 MHz very faintly but he was much better on 10 MHz.

APRS Spot on the summit


Not related video of our Squirrel getting chow from the bird feeder.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Horseshoe Mountain 2017

This is one of Lynn's favorite summits. The views are great with minimal effort. We drove the Jeep up the trail to 13,000 feet and hiked the remaining 800 feet vertical to the summit. The plan was to do Horseshoe then hike over to Sheridan after lunch. The weather decided we would only do one summit on this day.

As soon as I setup the HF antenna we heard the clap of thunder East of us. I was pretty sure the storm was moving East (it was) but there was another cloud forming to our South and moving North. Our time was limited.

There was also a significant solar event that shut down HF communications for the duration of our activation. Lynn made one HF QSO on 40 meters with W0VB who was using ground wave from Buena Vista Colorado. All other QSOs for Lynn and I were done via VHF.

All in all we had a good time despite the challenges.

Lynn making her way up!

Notice the blue sky

More clouds than a few minutes earlier

Rain to the East of us

Clouds to the South of us

Getting a bit worse

Lynn's spot went in but no callers

Lynn heading down

Storm moving towards us on the way down

 I think the weather changed from nice to bad in about 20 minutes. It could had been worse because the first storm, that went to our East, started just as we summited and it had an electrical component. Sheridan Mountain is not going anywhere. We will be back.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Trachyte Knob 2017

This was our second attempt at this summit. The first time we got rained out however, we decided to get back out to Trachyte before the KOA closes. The KOA has a poorly marked trail to the summit. I say poorly marked because someone decided to remove all their markings. We found a lot of them on the ground and a lot of rock markers were toppled over. However, I decided to follow the trail the best I could. After a while I started seeing more rock markers and followed them all the way to the final approach and in the process skipped a large part of the boulder hopping you have to do. If you look at the GPS route, way point 3 was were the rock hopping began and that point we were almost to the summit.

The route down is the more direct route
As it is with me on this hike, I manage to get blood somewhere. I noticed that I had blood on my pants but did not know where it was coming from until Lynn saw my arm had a cut. It wasn't bad and it did not really bother me.

It is not a Trachyte hike without a little blood
Plenty of rock markers
Lynn enjoying the hike

The summit appears between the trees

300 vertical feet to go and great vistas

Going up the boulder field and almost to summit

Break time (about 50 feet to go)

KC0YQF working the SSB pileup on 20 meters
The shack!
Looking East towards Almagre

Looking South West

This was the slowest part of the hike (near the summit)

Storm moving in

More cloud cover

K0JQZ trying to make a PSK31 QSO

Hiking profile
We did get rain on the way down. My goal was to be off the summit and past the boulder field before the rain started and we timed it perfect. Once the heavy rain started to come down we were in the trees with natural rain cover. As soon as we emerged into the KOA campground the rain stopped... as expected.

There as a solar storm but regardless we made more than enough QSOs. I was disappointed that I was unable to make any PSK31 QSOs and wonder if there are SOTA chasers that want to use that mode?

Till next time.
72, Frank

Monday, August 28, 2017

Exercise Vital Connection Support

Last week 20 - 24 Aug I had the privilege to deploy with Region 8 Army MARS (AMARS) in order to help provide communications in a simulated cyberspace denied environment. The experience gained was invaluable.

Besides passing traffic I had a blast helping the National Guard learn HF tactics, techniques and procedures which is part of the AMARS mandate. The Armed Forces does not grow HF operators anymore so these guys and gals are picking it up as they go along. They are enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with.

The Rocky Mountain Ham club really came through with the best operating position we could have asked for. They basically let AMARS take two of the four positions. It helps that all of the MARS members on site were also AUXCOMM trained. I went to the first AUXCOMM course offered in Colorado and Lynn is signed up for the next course.

At the end of the exercise we (Region 8 MARS) were recognized as the people that could get a message through when no one else could. It is the most fun I have had in Amateur Radio in a long time.

I was on a hill in order to check if we had enough room for the broadband dipole

securing the center section

I gravitated toward the high spots of the area

Morning brief

CO-DOT safety brief

Some of the players

more of the players

Between the van and the Jeep is a portable vertical and my SOTA station using an ended off of the Jeep

Rocky Mountain Ham; AUXCOMM VAN

Classroom training/seminars before start-ex

One of the vans rented by a military unit

The NVIS company representative was supporting MARS and everyone else with a lot of capabilities

close up of the NVIS unit

The HOT WASH brief

National Guard antennas had to be high enough to get over the hills

First Responders in play

Guard Unit

CH47 from Buckley AFB stopped by

In the airframe waiting to fly


View from the front

and the back

two of the four positions in the AUXCOMM van

The other two

One of the two big screen TVs, printer/scanner/fax chargers etc

After returning home my work was gearing up for support to Hurricane Harvey. Growing up on the East Coast I have always enjoyed maintaining situational awareness of hurricanes as they head inland. This started with a hurricane tracking map for coastal NC that was given to me by the local AM/FM radio station in the 70s.

I enjoyed listening to updates via shortwave and plot the information on the map. It was also a time when the family came together to wait out the storm, flooding and power outages. I guess I think of it fondly as a family event but there was real danger involved. For me it was just a good time.

After work on Friday I went into that mode again monitoring just about everything I could.

Harvey makes landfall

Local video and news feeds

I know from Katrina that this storms devastation will most likely accure in the days to come. It is good to know that our government, National Guard and civilian companies have learned from Katrina and are much better at dealing with disasters without relying on Title 10 forces.

It is good to operate from home after a week in the van

Incidentally, the vertical antenna I had while deployed was a wolf river coils portable vertical. I had trouble tuning it on some frequencies but I believe that was because I was very close to the van and under the broadband dipole. In other words I did not bring enough COAX. Lesson Learned.