Monday, January 16, 2017

9410 or W0C/FR-168

Lynn and I decided on a quick SOTA activation close to home. 9410 is one of our favorites. It is close and not a strenuous hike and it also qualifies for the 3 winter bonus points making it a 7 point summit vice a regular 4 pointer. 9410 is due South of Cheyenne Mountain. It is a treed summit with plenty of supports for antennas.

Our GPS Track
The APRS beacon from the summit

The temps were mild and we were stripping off layers soon after starting. Without any wind it was just down right warm. At least that is what 30 degrees and no wind feels like when you are hiking up hill... There where tracks all the way to the summit and it also looked like someone snowshoed up Grey Back Peak so it was an easy hike.

Looking West close to the TH

Our summit comes into view

Grey Back Peak in the distance

Lynn making her way up
View of Fort Carson from the summit

Mount Rosa in the distance

Lynn on 20 meter SSB

on 17 meter CW
This was a lot of fun and leaves Lynn with only 57 points left before Mountain Goat. We are getting excited as she moves in on this historic achievement that has been many years in the making.

The surprising contact was ZL1BYZ in New Zealand. He has a nice setup with a directional antenna and some power compared to my wire and 5 watts, What a thrill and it comes at a time when the bands are supposed to be dead!!!

Here is Lynn's Log from 9410:
20 Meter SSB

My Log:
40 Meters CW

17 Meters CW

It was a great time.

73 Frank

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Raspberry Mountain, finally!!!!

Al KH7AL, Lynn, KC0YQF, and I decided to get over to Raspberry Mountain to finally summit and get our traditional New Years Day hike out of the way. Albeit, a few days late.

It was much warmer at the TH this time. Almost 25 degrees warmer at 30 degrees. Since you are in a valley it really gets cold but as soon as you start moving you warm up. It is just that initial shock of low ambient temps that makes it so hard to get going.

None of us had been on this new trail and actually got off trail a bit. We notice several other people made the same mistake we made. Judging by the tracks in the snow, they went back and got on the trail and we just bushwhacked, confident that we would find the trail over a few ridges.

GPS Track
It was actually a very nice hike through the woods with no one else around. Al took off ahead of us and left us clues as to which way to go. Not that it was needed, as the snow was a foot or more deep so we just followed his tracks.

SOTA, this way
Not soon after we linked up again and ate lunch before heading to the summit.

This way to Raspberry

Lynn leading the way (photo by KH7AL)
Once on the summit Al setup his wire and broke out his KX3. After using the KX2 the KX3 looks so big!!! We all used Al's KX3, thanks Al.

We took turns on 2, 20, 30 and 40 meters and worked a lot of stations.

Al working 2 meters

Lynn on 20 meters SSB
Frank on 30 meters CW
Our shack for the day! (photo by KH7AL)
Pikes Peak
Looking towards Colorado Springs
Hike profile
The trail is a bit longer at almost 6 miles RT. Raspberry is a fun one and can be challenging in the winter if your not prepared.

It was a grand time with Al and Lynn.

73, Frank

Saturday, January 14, 2017

.....and the WINNER is!!!!!

The winner of the PigRig is Roy, AC9DN....

Roy, your kit will be mailed off next week, Tuesday at the earliest.

Thanks for all the entries, it is great to get all the emails and I actually have fun putting them into the software for selection.

The next giveaway will be during Lynn's, KC0YQF, Mountain Goat achievement. Would that technically be a Mountain Ew? Lynn is currently at 943 points. I was hoping to get her to 950 this weekend but a storm moving in may limit our weekend hiking activities.

Lynn has been working on this achievement since 2012 so this is going to be special, not only for Lynn but for SOTA as she will be the first female Mountain Goat in North America.

More to follow.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Another FREE Giveaway!!!!!

To start the new years off right I have another free giveaway.

This time it is a kit from Kits and Parts dot Com.

The PigRig number 63!

I ordered this kit in 2012 and never got around to building it so it is off to someone who will.

To win this all you have to do is email me your callsign to my ARRL address which is as follows:

No need to post on the blog as the email is a better way for me to keep track. No need for an essay or video on why you want it, just your callsign. I will compile all the entries and have the computer pick one. I will cut off all entires at 2359Z 14 Jan. (That is the evening of the 14th).

I really want someone who is going to build this kit so all I ask is that you have the intention to build and and if not you pass it on to someone that will. 

I think I limited the last giveaway to the USA so this time I will open it up worldwide. I am betting that I will be able to ship it about anywhere.

A little about the little QRP radio:
5 Watts Output using 13.6 VDC
One Freq 7.030.7 KHZ
Full QSK

The link above has more info and instructions but I have instructions I printed up years ago that I will include.

Now, this is just a warmup. I will have a better giveaway when KC0YQF gets closer to Mountain Goat status. That one will require a QSO and a QSL but more on that when the time comes.


Monday, January 2, 2017

A year ago today and 10650 Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation

A year ago today (2 Jan 2016) I was able to achieve Mountain Goat status by completing 1000 activator points. This was not my achievement alone. For a lot of those summits my friend Steve, wG0AT, and my wife, KC0YQF, was there with me. They both have been guiding me on this adventure. It is as much their achievement as mine.

"No man is an island" as John Donne has said.

As Lynn is narrowing in on 1,000 activator points herself I can reflect at how lucky I am to share the same hobby with my better half. It has been great to watch Lynn grow from new General to accomplished pileup tamer in a short period of time. SOTA has a way of adding a lot of experience in a compressed time period. I can't help to think of how proud my Dad would be of her. I really wish he could chase us.

10650 Activation

Today Lynn and I did 10650 which is an unnamed summit (its altitude is 10650 feet). It is less than half a mile and only about 700 or 800 feet vertical ascent. It is steep in spots and while we were hiking up we were quite comfy despite the low temps, 20 degrees at the TH.

Just started up and yes, Lynn always smiles

Getting steep but still smiling

Near the summit, still smiling

As we came to the summit we got chilled by the strong winds. I knew we would not have much time. I figured we would try 2 meters but only one station in Salida answered our call.

I have been having a lot of problems with my handheld but was hoping to knock out 4 QSOs quickly on VHF without deploying an HF antenna. That did not happen so I threw up an antenna and got setup. My hands at this point were freezing. Once we got Lynn setup I spotted her on 20 meters. Soon after Lynn started her activation my phone died so after she got done I took over on SSB. I had wanted to do PSK31 and some CW but not today. The wind was really brutal and there was no place to hide.

Not sure why I took this but think I was trying to take a pic of the KX2 in the snow and had the camera reversed

We packed up in a hurry just throwing loose items into packs. I even put my throw rock into my pack and laughed when I got home I saw it.

Antenna throw rock made the trip home with us

We did manage to get everything we brought up save the one item that I intended on leaving. We made it down but were almost to the Jeep before I felt better and warmer.

The only causality was my backpack. I must of snagged it on a branch because I got a pretty good rip in it. These things happen and if I cannot fix it I will get a new one.

Lynn said "it was a brutal activation" and I have to agree. Besides the phones dying, my voice recorder died as well. I was counting on it to help with my handwriting but got it sorted without it.

This summit does not offer a lot of views due to trees

I am not understanding the APRS feature on my Kenwood TH72A. This handheld is pretty beatup and I have had to repair it in the past but for a different issue. I may have changed a setting but it seems the only time it sends out a beacon is when I do it manually or right when I initally turn it on, I am pretty sure I have it setup to do it automatically. Perhaps it is time to get reacquainted with its features or in other words "read the book."

I would say that we earned our 9 points today (6 points plus 3 points for bonus season).

Thanks to Brad WA6MM who activated this summit a few days ago and laid down a good path. It makes all the difference if you do not have to break new snow.

WA6MM tracks near TH

WA6MM tracks near summit

We made it home, Lynn has homework to get caught up on and I have many things around the shack to do. Maybe we will head over to REI to look at new packs!



GPS Track:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year, 1 Jan 2017

New Years Eve was pretty quiet and I enjoyed tracking Al, KH7AL, as he ascended Ormes Peak on 31 Dec 2016 and descended on 1 Jan 2017 GMT time. This means Al decended in the dark. Now, if you do the normal approach, from the West, this is not so much a big deal. However, Al approach Ormes Peak from the East, in fact, he started his hike in Colorado Springs city limits at the Blodgett Open Space.

Here is his APRS track:

This is one monumental hike including a few ups and downs. Here is a Terrain Shot of his APRS track:

My goal, besides talking to Al on VHF and watching his track from the comfort of my home, was to work Al on my Heathkit HW-8 for Straight Key Night. I was not able to hear Al on the 40 year old transceiver but I did hear him on my modern station.

The Heathkit HW-8 and my Dad's (KB4OGI - SK) old straight key

Station K0JQZ along with the modern Elecraft K3

The next day, 1 Jan 2017 Al, Coen and Kiegan (Al's oldest two boys) joined Lynn and I on a hike that ended up being Signal Butte (the TH to the planed Raspberry Mountain had changed and I had not researched the route).

We had a grand but chilly time.

The group headed up

Great views of other summits

Kiegan makes sure Lynn is on track

Lynn on the final push

A steep but short hike

Al and Coen making their way up

Al, KH7AL running the pileup

These two are having a hot meal and are out of the wind (comfy)

Al's first time with a KX2

Here's the proof, Al's log!

Elecraft KX2 is at home on the summit

Lynn had a good run on 40 meters SSB and I am trying to get out of the wind while sending CW

I am cold!!!!

Rare appearance on SSB

Pano view

 It was a good time and this summit was probably a better choice over Raspberry. We will get back to Raspberry and I look forward to trying the new trail.

Tomorrow we will attempt another summit.