Posts Tagged ‘Activations’

Mountain Goat Summit Revisited

A little less than a year ago I summited a mountain, known in SOTA terms as 9431 (it's elevation ASL) with a designator of W5N/PW-019, which put me over 1,000 Activator points and thus qualified me for the Mountain Goat award. This award is one of the most satisfying awards I've achieved in ham radio, including #1 Honor Roll. I did the summit that day with a couple of friends of mine, Fred KT5X (aka WS0TA) and John, K1JD. Both are also mentors to me as I learned the SOTA trade so to speak.

So, nearly a year later, the three of us returned to the same summit. Like the previous ascent we would need snowshoes to get to the top. The hike is a little more than 3 miles round trip and climbs 1,100 vertical feet. The hike starts in Black Canyon with a steady ascent to the shoulder, and then two different steep pitches to the top. The drifts on the summit were significant with our snowshoes sinking 1-2 feet into the snow. There were patches facing the south were the snow had completely melted, however most of the final ascent is on the north side of the mountain.

Below is a brief video of my set-up on the summit. I have configured my 3 band MTR (17m, 20m and 30m) so that I can hold it in my hand. As you will see in the video, the battery and paddle are attached to the radio and I use the back of the radio to hold my log. Very compact and very efficient. I certainly can't claim this as an original design since I coped it from Fred, KT5X. My antenna is a linked EFHW into an 81:1 transformer. The actual link connection design was inspired from Frank, K0JQZ.



Below is my log:


TimeCallBandModeNotes
17:31zW7RV10MHzCW
17:31zK0LAF10MHzCW
17:32zK6JMP10MHzCW
17:33zW7USA10MHzCW
17:34zK7JFD10MHzCW
17:34zAK5SD10MHzCW
17:35zNU7Y10MHzCW
17:35zNG6R10MHzCW
17:36zND7PA10MHzCW
17:36zN7LP10MHzCW
17:38zK1LB10MHzCW
17:41zW4AMW10MHzCW
17:41zK0HNC10MHzCW
17:42zKG3W10MHzCW
17:47zK6EL14MHzCW
17:48zAE9F14MHzCW
17:48zKG3W14MHzCW
17:49zNA4SO14MHzCW
17:51zN9KW14MHzCW
17:51zNK6A14MHzCW


SOTA Rig Reconfiguration

Activating SOTA's, if you do it regularly, is an iterative process. Of course the primary focus is to get to the top of whatever summit you might be tackling on a given day, but another part of the game is how you get there. Of course the right clothing to be comfortable in whatever conditions you face, the right pack to carry your gear and of course the right radio. But then, some of the fun begins. Not only the right radio, but how will I configure the radio to maximize my signal, be as light as possible and how to I package of this so I don't have radio gear all over the ground or digging in my pack to find the battery, paddle, etc.. I have activated 150+ summits and this is a continuous process.

Since I've retired, I've now have the opportunity to have continuous thoughts about things like this without the interference of work or schedule related thoughts, it's great. Consequently, I've had some time to give my rig configuration some thought. What I have done is not totally unique as I have gotten ideas from others and mixed them into my own concoction. I have the 3 Band MTR, with 17m, 20m and 30m. I chose these particular bands so that I would have flexibility on contest weekends. So below is my latest, not my last configuration.


As you can see I am using a backpacking cutting board as the foundation of the setup. I used a product called Scotch Extreme fastener to attache the LIPO battery and the Pico Paddle, it's sort of like Velcro but it snaps into place and is 10x stronger than velcro. I simply drilled holes (this board has seen several iterations as you can see the many holes), and used rubber bands to hold the radio in place. I may decide to use the fastener instead. The "Rite in the Rain" card is for logging. A nice neat package to pull out of the pack, hook up the antenna, plug in the power and off I go.

There are however a couple of further improvements.



You can see I've added a tethered pencil for logging and an optional Elecraft T1 tuner, if you have a non-resonant wire. I can fasten it to the board with either rubber bands or the Scotch fastener.

I've also added a protective cover for the MTR. It's made from sleeping pad foam and protects the face and switches on the MTR when getting jostled in your pack. On the backside of the cover I've cut out recesses where the switches are and added little magnets that are attracted to the four screws on the case. Thanks to Fred, KT5X for this idea.


So there you have it, a light, three band, package that is compact, light and ready to go. So until I reconfigure again.

SOTA Rig Reconfiguration

Activating SOTA's, if you do it regularly, is an iterative process. Of course the primary focus is to get to the top of whatever summit you might be tackling on a given day, but another part of the game is how you get there. Of course the right clothing to be comfortable in whatever conditions you face, the right pack to carry your gear and of course the right radio. But then, some of the fun begins. Not only the right radio, but how will I configure the radio to maximize my signal, be as light as possible and how to I package of this so I don't have radio gear all over the ground or digging in my pack to find the battery, paddle, etc.. I have activated 150+ summits and this is a continuous process.

Since I've retired, I've now have the opportunity to have continuous thoughts about things like this without the interference of work or schedule related thoughts, it's great. Consequently, I've had some time to give my rig configuration some thought. What I have done is not totally unique as I have gotten ideas from others and mixed them into my own concoction. I have the 3 Band MTR, with 17m, 20m and 30m. I chose these particular bands so that I would have flexibility on contest weekends. So below is my latest, not my last configuration.


As you can see I am using a backpacking cutting board as the foundation of the setup. I used a product called Scotch Extreme fastener to attache the LIPO battery and the Pico Paddle, it's sort of like Velcro but it snaps into place and is 10x stronger than velcro. I simply drilled holes (this board has seen several iterations as you can see the many holes), and used rubber bands to hold the radio in place. I may decide to use the fastener instead. The "Rite in the Rain" card is for logging. A nice neat package to pull out of the pack, hook up the antenna, plug in the power and off I go.

There are however a couple of further improvements.



You can see I've added a tethered pencil for logging and an optional Elecraft T1 tuner, if you have a non-resonant wire. I can fasten it to the board with either rubber bands or the Scotch fastener.

I've also added a protective cover for the MTR. It's made from sleeping pad foam and protects the face and switches on the MTR when getting jostled in your pack. On the backside of the cover I've cut out recesses where the switches are and added little magnets that are attracted to the four screws on the case. Thanks to Fred, KT5X for this idea.


So there you have it, a light, three band, package that is compact, light and ready to go. So until I reconfigure again.

Recent Activations Out West

I've been very busy lately with a variety of seemingly important things and I thought it was about time to write a little. In the past few weeks I've had the rare opportunity, in combination with a couple of business trips to do a few SOTA activations in California and Utah. A few words about those.

California

I was in Northern California, of all tough places to be, Napa. While having a look at the nearby summits I discovered that all the nearby summits were 1 or 2 pointers. Should be easy right. Well not so much. One of the inequities of SOTA, albeit well understood, is that elevation is the major determinant of point value, not length of climb or difficulty. Although all of that tends to even out over time if you do enough summits. I used my MTR II configured for 17M, 20M and 30M. I brought my LNR Trail friendly 40/20m antenna and a T1 Elecraft Tuner. The tuner failed, so I could only operate on 20m exclusively.

Mt. Diablo


 
This is a video from Mt. Diablo, W6/CC-045, near Walnut Creek, CA. While only a two pointer it is a substantial mountain rising up from near sea level to 3,800 ft. ASL. It is a drive up, so easy enough from an activation point of view and the views are excellent.
 
 
Sulphur Springs Mountain
 
This summit, W6/NC-406, is accessed through a local golf community named Hidden Brooke. Access is not forbidden and there is a nice trail to the top. The vertical gain is a little over 1,000 ft. over about 1.5 miles and it is a one pointer. Below a  short video from the top.
 
 
There is no doubt that you earn the one point. While the hike is not hard, I've had much easier hikes for many more points. Nice views from the top.
 
 
Pt. 970
This summit, W6/NC-422, can be done in tandem with Sulphur Springs Mountain, which I did. It is a more substantial hike with a 5.0 mile round trip. Not a difficult hike, it has a nice trail to the summit, but again you earn the one point. I got nice workout and I got to play radio on top.
 
 
 
Utah
 
My activations in Utah were at much higher elevations than the Northern California Coast. The two activations that I did were near Park City which sits around 7,000 ft. ASL. My wife accompanied me on these activations and we had some wonderful weather to hike in.
 
Scott Hill
 
The summit, W7U/SL-008, sits at 10,118 ft. ASL and is an 8 pointer. The hike is along nice trail/road. The road is closed to private traffic and on even numbered days the mountain bikers are out in force. However that's not a problem as everyone is courteous and respectful. This would be my 100th unique summit to activate in the SOTA program which is a nice milestone to cross. The hike is a 4 mile round trip and the final ascent to the summit is steep and you will like have to set-up in quite a steep pitch. Views are wonderful.


View from Scott Hill
Scott Hill in the Distance


Quarry Mountain


This summit, W7U/NU-067, is not the most scenic and the trail winds through a lot of scrub brush. There is a little more cover on top and so some shade to set up the station. It is a 2 mile round trip and is a 6 pointer. It was my second activation on a day that netted 14 points. Below is a short video from the summit.


 
 
So, my trip out west showed me some more of the variety that makes SOTA such a rewarding and enjoyable pursuit. A few more points and a few more summits and another memorable experience.
 


Recent Activations Out West

I've been very busy lately with a variety of seemingly important things and I thought it was about time to write a little. In the past few weeks I've had the rare opportunity, in combination with a couple of business trips to do a few SOTA activations in California and Utah. A few words about those.

California

I was in Northern California, of all tough places to be, Napa. While having a look at the nearby summits I discovered that all the nearby summits were 1 or 2 pointers. Should be easy right. Well not so much. One of the inequities of SOTA, albeit well understood, is that elevation is the major determinant of point value, not length of climb or difficulty. Although all of that tends to even out over time if you do enough summits. I used my MTR II configured for 17M, 20M and 30M. I brought my LNR Trail friendly 40/20m antenna and a T1 Elecraft Tuner. The tuner failed, so I could only operate on 20m exclusively.

Mt. Diablo


 
This is a video from Mt. Diablo, W6/CC-045, near Walnut Creek, CA. While only a two pointer it is a substantial mountain rising up from near sea level to 3,800 ft. ASL. It is a drive up, so easy enough from an activation point of view and the views are excellent.
 
 
Sulphur Springs Mountain
 
This summit, W6/NC-406, is accessed through a local golf community named Hidden Brooke. Access is not forbidden and there is a nice trail to the top. The vertical gain is a little over 1,000 ft. over about 1.5 miles and it is a one pointer. Below a  short video from the top.
 
 
There is no doubt that you earn the one point. While the hike is not hard, I've had much easier hikes for many more points. Nice views from the top.
 
 
Pt. 970
This summit, W6/NC-422, can be done in tandem with Sulphur Springs Mountain, which I did. It is a more substantial hike with a 5.0 mile round trip. Not a difficult hike, it has a nice trail to the summit, but again you earn the one point. I got nice workout and I got to play radio on top.
 
 
 
Utah
 
My activations in Utah were at much higher elevations than the Northern California Coast. The two activations that I did were near Park City which sits around 7,000 ft. ASL. My wife accompanied me on these activations and we had some wonderful weather to hike in.
 
Scott Hill
 
The summit, W7U/SL-008, sits at 10,118 ft. ASL and is an 8 pointer. The hike is along nice trail/road. The road is closed to private traffic and on even numbered days the mountain bikers are out in force. However that's not a problem as everyone is courteous and respectful. This would be my 100th unique summit to activate in the SOTA program which is a nice milestone to cross. The hike is a 4 mile round trip and the final ascent to the summit is steep and you will like have to set-up in quite a steep pitch. Views are wonderful.


View from Scott Hill
Scott Hill in the Distance


Quarry Mountain


This summit, W7U/NU-067, is not the most scenic and the trail winds through a lot of scrub brush. There is a little more cover on top and so some shade to set up the station. It is a 2 mile round trip and is a 6 pointer. It was my second activation on a day that netted 14 points. Below is a short video from the summit.


 
 
So, my trip out west showed me some more of the variety that makes SOTA such a rewarding and enjoyable pursuit. A few more points and a few more summits and another memorable experience.
 


Final Assault (Part Three): Mission Accomplished

Today, March 8, 2015 at 1732z, I made my fourth QSO from Peak 9431, W5N/PW-019 with N4EX. That QSO qualified the activation and thus earned me my SOTA Mountain Goat award. After 2 years and 2 days my point total is now 1,007, hallelujah!!

Peak 9431 was also  the second activation I ever made and I activated it with Fred, KT5X and John K1JD, both of which were with me today. Also this was my first activation using snow shoes the entire way, which actually was sort of fun. I made 37 QSO's and had a nice run of Europeans on 15m. It was a great day. Below is a video and a couple of pictures of today's activation.


Ascent

Activation (I left my snow shoes on)

Departing the Summit with K1JD and KT5X


More summits to activate. Thanks to the chasers who make this possible.

Final Assault (Part Three): Mission Accomplished

Today, March 8, 2015 at 1732z, I made my fourth QSO from Peak 9431, W5N/PW-019 with N4EX. That QSO qualified the activation and thus earned me my SOTA Mountain Goat award. After 2 years and 2 days my point total is now 1,007, hallelujah!!

Peak 9431 was also  the second activation I ever made and I activated it with Fred, KT5X and John K1JD, both of which were with me today. Also this was my first activation using snow shoes the entire way, which actually was sort of fun. I made 37 QSO's and had a nice run of Europeans on 15m. It was a great day. Below is a video and a couple of pictures of today's activation.


Ascent

Activation (I left my snow shoes on)

Departing the Summit with K1JD and KT5X


More summits to activate. Thanks to the chasers who make this possible.

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