HF SOTA on Threemile Mountain
For Summits On The Air activations, I have been exclusively using the VHF/UHF spectrum. I like the HF bands but for SOTA, I just think that Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT) of a summit is an ideal match for frequencies above 50 MHz. See Summits On The Air VHF Mountain Goat.
nagging peer pressure encouragement from my fellow W0C SOTA activators, I decided to give HF a try. (The solar index had markedly increased in the past week, so the timing seemed right.) I chose an easy summit to hike (Threemile Mountain), so I could just focus on the radio operating. Plus, Joyce/K0JJW and I were carrying a bit more radio gear, the usual VHF station plus my Yaesu FT-817 for the HF bands. For HF antennas, I dug two single-band EndFedz halfwave antennas for 20m and 15m out of the basement.
We quickly made four contacts on 2m FM and then set up the HF station. I used a telescoping fishing pole as the antenna support, strapped to a conveniently-located pine tree. The halfwave antennas were mostly horizontal and not that far off the ground (maybe 15 feet at the highest point).
A quick check of the SWR using the internal FT-817 meter showed that the transmitter was happy. Then, I called Bob/W0BV on 14.346 MHz to see if I was radiating anything. I was not real strong at his location but we made the contact. As soon as he spotted me on SOTAwatch, I had a nice pileup of stations calling. In the meantime, Joyce kept working stations on 2m FM.
I quickly made 12 QSOs on 20m, including F4WBN in France (best DX for the day). Before I left 20m, Bob/W0BV met me on 14.061 for a CW contact. Just because. Then, I took the 20m antenna down and hoisted the 15m halfwave, the same configuration but a bit shorter in length. The 15m band was not quite as good and had more fading but I made 7 QSOs there.
I was very pleased with the results, especially being able to use the 15 meters, my favorite HF band. I could have brought along additional antennas to try 17m, 12m and 10m, but there’s always next time. I had a great time working the SOTA chasers on HF, so I will surely do it again.
73 Bob K0NR
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Nice story. Thanks for sharing!