QRP/SOTA Fun Without Climbing A Mountain

Rather than activating summits, I spent the weekend at my small ranch near Rocksprings, TX. I have a nice QRO station there with 107 foot Rohn 55 Tower, a Log Periodic, 40 Meter beam and wires on low bands. I can work a lot of stuff from there. However, I had a plan this weekend to test a few antenna configurations for my QRP operations from SOTA summits.

So I set up my operating position just as I would on a summit. I was testing one of the SOTA beams EFHW antenna with counterpoise and a homebrew 29 ft. wire. I brought along two tuners including Hi-Tee Tuner from SOTAbeams and a recently acquired Hendricks SLT+ 80m-10m end fed half wave tuner.

The SOTAbeams combo was my first configuration. I put the antenna over a limb about 15ft. up and let it slope down to another limb about 7 feet up and then down to the radio. The antenna wire terminated into a 4mm plug that prevented me from running through the eyelets of my pole. I plugged the wire into the tuner (which will only take a 4mm plug, there is no binding post) as well as the counter poise. The antenna tuned nicely and I had QSO with a station in Arizona. As I finished that QSO I tuned across the SOTA frequencies and heard W0CCA calling CQ SOTA from a summit in Arizona on 20m. Cool, now could I work him with this set-up? I usually don't have to wait long in a pile-up but for this QSO I would have to. I was tempted to run over to the QRO shack and make the contact to ensure I got the points since he was on a 10 pointer,  however I resisted the temptation. My faith in QRP was rewarded, Cap finally heard me and gave me a 229. Cool.

So now I set-up the simple 29 ft. wire. Since it didn't have the banana plug on it, the Hi-Tee Tuner was useless, so I set up on the SLT+. I was able to use my pole this time, so the wire was higher off the ground in an inverted L configuration. By that time KX0R was calling CQ SOTA on 20m from a summit in Colorado. Evidently the pile-up had run it's course because I got him on the first call. So my little tuned wires had netted 12 SOTA chaser points. I am regularly amazed by QRP, how much you can do with a few watts and some wire.

A great day of QRP/SOTA fun.
Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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