Activation Alert: W0/FR-063 (Mt. Herman) –2757m / 9045ft

Date:            19 November 2011
Time:           Approx.    1700 UTC – 2000 UTC
Region:        CO-Front Range
Elevation:    2757 m / 9045 ft – 4 Points
Call Sign:     KD0BIK/qrp
Frequencies:     14.315-ssb +/-  146.52-fm

Equipment: FT-817ND / Buddipole versatee vertical

APRS Track: On Road / On Trail

So here it is!  My first SOTA activation alert.  I selected Mt. Herman as my first activation summit for a couple of reasons.  First, I’ve watched a few Youtube videos from Steve Galchutt, wG0AT operating from Mt. Herman and I’ve chased this particular summit as well.   While it may not be the easiest summit, it’s also not the most difficult.  Second, as I’m still learning the ins and outs of SOTA activations, I’m still also unclear to the private land versus public land access.  Since Mt. Herman is on public land and it’s been activated a few times before, I figure the only thing stopping me from this being a success is my ability to make it to the summit, HF propagation and how well my batteries hold out. 

Speaking of batteries.  as I write the activation alert I’m not 100% certain what battery setup will accompany me on my trip.  As I blogged recently about my first SOTA QSO, I had been researching the nanophosphate technology battery packs from Buddipole.  The research all pointed to these packs being very well built with exceptional life and performance.  While expensive (compared to SLA types) the lighter weight and longer life ended up selling me on the concept.  I placed an order for one of the packs and charger from Buddipole.  Just not sure if it will arrive in time.

So having said that, plan “B” will be to carry along a single sealed lead acid battery along with my fully charged FNB-85 battery pack installed in the FT-817.  As a safety net, I will also carry along a rollup solar panel.  The extra weight is minimal and may come in handy if I have a nice sunny day. 

I have changed my mind a few dozen times (or what seems like it) on whether to leave the FT-817 behind and instead take the FT-857.  After all, I can always turn the power on the 857 down, but can’t increase the power on the 817.  However, I’m going to stick with my 817 and 5w of power. 

As I make out my gear lists (which will eventually be posted on this site) I feel like Santa (making his list, checking it twice) I can only hope in the end it proves I’ve been nice and not naughty.  Having said that, I’ve setup my buddipole versatee vertical several times when operating portable.  I’ve also setup everything outside just to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.  So it should all go together fairly quickly once I get to the top.

If I feel I have a weak link, it will surely be around my power setup.  If I have to go with “plan B” (the 5+ pound SLA) it is an older battery.  But I’ve tested it here in the shack and it charges, holds a charge and has powered my 817 for over 3 hours operating WSPR.   

What else will be in my pack?  When I’ve operated portable in the field, I’ve only been no greater than 100 feet from my truck.  Forgot a pen?  No problem…run to the truck.  Need to carry a deep cycle marine battery?  No problem.  All this changes with a SOTA activation.  If I reach the summit and realize I’ve forgotten a pen or the cold zaps the battery, I’m stuck.  So my first SOTA activation might include a few things I may or may not need.  On my checklist, I have a place to check that I have the gear in my pack, used the gear on the summit etc.  I’ll review this have versus used to see what needs to come off the list. 

One other point and I’ll close this activation notice.  This is not my first hiking trip, nor is it my first mountaineering adventure.  However, it is my first hiking/mountaineering adventure where I’ve combined amateur radio on this scale.  How I view my post success/failure results might differ from others who activate SOTA stations.  Of course, I’ll leave this for the after trip report.

Until next time….

73 de KD0BIK

Jerry Taylor, KD0BIK, is a regular contributor to and writes from Colorado, USA. He is the host of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “Activation Alert: W0/FR-063 (Mt. Herman) –2757m / 9045ft”

  • Charlie WX4CB:

    the one thing I would say jerry in having done things like this before…..

    TAKE AT LEAST TWO PENS!!!! or at least a pencil… trust me they run out more often than not!!

    also you might wanna take one of those small micro-cassette recorder things. to record your qso’s or at least the callsigns etc…

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