Posts Tagged ‘summits on the air’

QRP To The Field + SOTA = Contest

sota_logoHere’s a great opportunity for both chasers and activators.  The QRP To The Field (QRPTTF) is an annual QRP CW contest taking place on Saturday,  28 April.  This year the organizers of QRPTTF have joined forces with the Summits On The Air program.  The theme for the 2012 event is “Get High on QRP”.

As I previously stated, this is a great opportunity for both chasers and activators.  While this is a CW contest, I also feel this is a great opportunity even for non-CW enthusiasts to still activate and chase.   You can read more about the specifics of the contest, including the rules below.  Keep in mind that while QRPTTF rules state “any old hill or lump of dirt”, SOTA rules will apply if claiming for activation or chase points through the SOTA program.

I have this on my calendar and will try very hard to activate a Colorado SOTA summit for a portion of the contest period.  Stay tuned for more info.

Until next time,

73 de KDØBIK



“Get High on QRP”


1500Z April 28 thru 0300Z April 29
East Coast Time: 1100 – 2300 EDT (UTC –4 hrs)
Mid-west Time: 1000 – 2200 CDT (UTC –5 hrs)
Mountain Time: 0900 – 2100 MDT (UTC –6 hrs)
Left Coast Time: 0800 – 2000 PDT (UTC –7 hrs)

QRPTTF is an annual event to encourage QRPers to operate portable “from the field,” and of course, have fun. This year, we are joining forces with others who also like to operate from the field – Summits On The Air, or SOTA. This will not change the QRPTTF event – just gives us all more stations to work.

SOTA stations operate from designated summits for points and awards. Out of necessity, most are QRPers. This year some SOTA stations will activate summits for their purposes, AND to participate in QRPTTF. For QRPTTF stations, you work fellow TTF stations or SOTA stations … they all go in the log and add to the score. Plus, each SOTA station worked will count as an SPC – like working a DX station – boosting your multiplier.

Therefore, the theme this year is to “get high with QRP” and operate from a hill. Any old hill or lump of dirt near your QTH, or as high as you want to go. Even a SOTA summit if you feel so inclined. To find the designated SOTA summits near you, go here: and look under your call area. Not all states have SOTA summits.

NOTE: You do not have to operate from a SOTA summit to participate in QRPTTF. Again, any old nearby hill.


QRPTTF Station: RST SPC Name example: 599 OH Jake

SOTA Station: RST SPC SOTA ID example: 599 CO W0/FR-004

SOTA ID = call area plus summit ID; example W0/FR-004 (Pike’s Peak, CO)


Per band: Number of QSOs times SPCs times SOTA stations worked

ADD scores for each band for QSO points

Total Score: QSO points TIMES Multiplier


x1 home station

x2 TTF hill field station

x3 SOTA summit location

WØ/FR-194 (Genesee Mountain) 2520m / 8268ft

As mentioned in the activation alert from last week, I attended a local amateur radio club meeting on Saturday morning and presented Summits On The Air (SOTA) to the club membership.  My presentation covers all aspects of both chasing as well as activating and I had available all my normal activation gear on hand.  There were approx. 25 members on-hand for the presentation and I would estimate by the amount of questions, that at least half (perhaps more) will become active chasers.

After the meeting and a brief lunch, six of the members accompanied me on the activation of Genesee Mountain.  Genesee Mountain is part of the Denver Parks and Recreational System.  It is a well maintained area with a paved road providing an easy walk about 90% of the way.   

The six other amateurs accompanying me wanted a nice leisurely first SOTA experience and that is exactly what I wanted to provide them.  The original plan was to drive all the way to the top, park and then hike down 100 vertical feet, then back up.  However, Genesee Mountain park road wasn’t open all the way the highest parking area.  The main parking area is less than 1 mile (0.8 to be exact) from the summit with an elevation gain of about 200 feet.   Everyone in the group felt comfortable with this hike and we took a nice easy stroll to the top.  I handled packing the communications equipment needed for the activation.

We reached the summit just before 2100 UTC (3 PM local) and quickly began setting up the Buddipole Versatee Vertical for 20m. I briefly explained the setup and began calling CQ at 2115 UTC.  Within just  a few minutes I had the first QSO in the log and we took turns working each station until everyone had their four (or more) QSO’s in the book. 

I (we) worked a total of 10 stations including N1EU, K7ASQ, K7ATN (S2S), WA2USA, ND9Q, KK1W, AD5A, WB9WHQ, K6ILM and W5DLD. 


In the above photo, KDØBIK (red shirt) helping NØHIO work his first SOTA activation.  I would like to thank NØHIO for providing the photo and video of the activation. 

Watch this video on YouTube.

I’m fairly certain those who participated in the activation will all perform their own activations in the near future.  I’m also hoping to get another SOTA activation planned in the next couple of weeks.  The KX3 should arrive (hopefully) in the next 2-3 weeks and of course I will need to test it out and the best way I know of doing that is Summits On The Air.

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

Activation Alert: W0/FR-194 (Genesee Mtn.) –2520m / 8268ft

Date:            7 April 2012
Time:           Approx.    2000 UTC – 2300 UTC
Region:        CO-Front Range
Elevation:    2520 m / 8268 ft – 2 Points
Call Sign:     KDØBIK
Frequencies:     14.342.5-ssb, 18.157.5-ssb, 28.327.5-ssb,  +/-  146.52-fm

Equipment: FT-817ND / Buddipole versatee vertical
(still anxiously awaiting delivery of the KX3)

APRS Track: On Road / On Trail

This will be my first SOTA activation in 2012 and my third since being bitten really hard by the SOTA bug back in the fall of 2011.  I’d like to say it was the harsh, Colorado winter weather that kept me away.  But it’s actually been a mild winter with many weekends suitable for an activation.  But if you’ve followed my recent blogging, you know I’ve also been actively working on the new basement ham shack.  Anyway, this activation will be slightly different than my previous two solo activations.  More about this in a minute.

Steve Galchutt, wGØAT invited me to assist him in the WØ region by serving as the regional manager for the central Colorado area.  I proudly accepted and part of my role is to help promote Summits On The Air throughout the Greater Denver Metro area.  If you missed my blog post from earlier in the week.  Please visit and book mark our new WØ website.

The 285 Tech Club has invited me to present SOTA this coming Saturday at their monthly meeting with the option to do an activation after the meeting. When I originally agreed to do this (about two months ago) I wasn’t sure what sort of weather conditions we might face.  Thankfully, Mother Nature must also be a SOTA enthusiast and looks to bless us with a beautiful Easter weekend.

Here’s why this SOTA activation will be slightly different.  The meeting starts at 10 AM local (1600 z).  I will begin my SOTA presentation around 11AM and plan to wrap by 12 (12:30 at the latest).  Those who are planning to attend the activation demonstration will leave the meeting facility, stop for a quick bite to eat and then drive to Genesee Mountain. 

Genesee Mountain is located just outside of the Denver Metro area.  It is accessible off of I-70 as the highway begins to gain in elevation through the foothills of the magnificent Rocky Mountains.    As you can see from the image below, Genesee Mountain Road goes all the way to the top. 


I’m told to expect an interest from our older generation of hams and with this in mind, will take advantage of the road to the top.  We’ll take a casual stroll down 100’ and then back up to make the activation legal.  So this is why I can’t with any high degree of accuracy predict exactly when we’ll be on the air. 

We plan to setup two HF stations.  One on 20m and the second on 17m.  We will also monitor and attempt QSO’s on 146.52.  I have also listed 10m as a possible option.  Depending on time and interest, we may or may not get to that band.

I’m really excited to be able to share all the wonderful aspects of the Summits on the Air program with this amateur radio club.  If you listen to my amateur radio podcast, the practical amateur radio podcast, you know I take my Elmer role very seriously and passionately.  I’m truly honored to have been given the opportunity to show others just how fun SOTA actually is.  Please listen towards Colorado for us.   

Well that just about does it for this activation alert.  All that is left to do is…well go and activate Genesee Mountain.  Besides this activation alert, I’ll post my activation intentions in all the usual places.  But I’m also going to Self-Spot via Amateur Radio to Twitter.  If you want to know more about  what I’m talking about…please make sure to read this blog post.

Until next time….

73 de KDØBIK (Jerry)


Hello friends,

Many who read my blog posts and have listened to episode 50 of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast know my involvement with SOTA or Summits On The Air.  While I’ve been concentrating on getting my new basement ham shack, podcast studio, home office and just general man-cave finished…I’ve also been helping in a small way spin up a new website for the WØ SOTA organization

Our official press release which we’ve posted to many of the SOTA reflectors and websites is below.  If you live in the WØ region or plan to visit someday, please bookmark the WØ website.

On behalf of Steve, Matt and Bob.  If we can help introduce you to the exciting and addictive world of Summits on the Air, please contact us.

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK


The WØ-SOTA Association has Named 3-Regional Managers Plus Launched a NEW Website (
We are pleased to announce the WØ-SOTA Association has 3-New Regional Managers to help promote and encourage WØ-SOTA activities:

- Matt Schnizer/KØMOS Northern CO Region
Activator/Chaser for W0-Association
- Jerry Taylor/KDØBIK Central CO Region
Activator/Chaser and promoter via PARP/podcasts
and host for website
- Bob Cutter/KIØG Western CO Region
Chaser and active SOTA promoter in Western CO
- Steve Galchutt/wGØAT Southern CO Region plus ND/SD
WØ-SOTA Association Mgr

Our BIG News is the WØ-SOTA Association has launched a new website ( This web portal is primarily targeted at new and/or potential SOTA participants in the WØ area who are seeking Summits on the Air information. It also provides distilled content from other sources for already active SOTA regulars with documents, tools, links plus the latest regional news.

The site’s content is divided up into a welcome Homepage, About SOTA, Get Involved, How to …, SOTA-Tools/Resources, W0-SOTA, Contact and What’s Happening. Plus a dynamic feed of regional SOTA news and SOTAwatch realtime Spots plus links to multimedia photos and videos.
We hope you find helpful in planning, chasing/activating and reporting your SOTA adventures!

Cheers, Steve & WØ-SOTA Team

PS: Special Thanks to our web grammarian, Chuck/N6UHB, who saved us from looking illiterate on!

PARP 50–Now Available


A few days ago I recorded and made available the 50th episode of the practical amateur radio podcast.  A few hours later I started coming down with cold-like symptoms and spent a few days resting to try to get ahead of this prior to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I’m glad to report I did manage to get just slightly ahead and at least appeared to be alive and coherent.   Thank God for cold meds, chicken noodle soup and my wonderful wife. 

If you’ve been around from the beginning, you already know I started PARP in May 2008.  The 50th episode wraps up the 4th season and I truly look forward to 2012 and many, many more episodes.

Episode 50 is devoted to SOTA or Summits On The Air.  I realize I’ve recently blogged about and have also talked a lot about SOTA.  While the activity is certainly a new passion, I realize there is much, much more to the hobby.  However, based on comments I’ve received from listeners via email, Twitter and Facebook…I know many have an interest and wanted to discuss the topic so you might plan and conduct your own SOTA chasing and/or activations. 

PARP is available and you can subscribe via iTunes, Zune or stream directly from  Want to stream on the go from your favorite smart phone device?  You can do that as well from our mobile site.

Finally, as a Christmas gift to my family and I suppose to the podcast, I now own a small HD Sony video camera.  I do plan to create some supplemental video content for PARP and will also document some (perhaps) all of my SOTA activations. 

Thank you for listening. 

Until next time….

73 de KD0BIK

W0/FR-107 (Green Mountain) 2085m / 6841ft

To say I’m hooked on SOTA might be an understatement.  My second SOTA activation was completed on 27 November, just eight days after my first.  Yes, I’m hooked. 

As mentioned in recent blog updates, I had ordered a few items from Buddipole which didn’t arrive in time for my first activation of Mt. Herman (W0/FR-063).  Let me be clear that this was no fault of Buddipole.  I just simply didn’t order the items early enough for them to arrive in time. 

So with my new items including the Buddipole shockcord whip, the Buddipole A123 nanophosphate battery pack and the Buddipole mini-coil and the lessons learned from activation #1, I set out for Green Mountain.  Before I continue any further.  I just want to say that of the list of things I just identified.  The “lessons learned” were truly the most important.  But new toys are always fun to have and certainly fun to play with.

As I mentioned in my activation alert blog post I chose Green Mountain due to its proximity to my home QTH and very honestly its relatively easy climb.  The elevation gain is approx. 1000’ over about 1.9 miles.  I was still a little sore from the Mt. Herman trip the weekend before, but couldn’t pass up the great weather which was forecasted for the area.   Plus I had some turkey and dressing to work off.  Smile


I arrived at the Green Mountain trailhead just before 8 AM (1500z).  This would allow me plenty of time to hike to the summit and get everything setup to start calling CQ at 1700z.  There are several trails leading to the top of Green Mountain.  I had my APRS beacon on and this is how my trek looked as I hiked to the top.




Green Mountain Trail sign post

The Green Mountain trail is a well maintained and an easy to follow trail.  As a matter of fact, if you live in the Greater Denver area, I would highly recommend Green Mountain as a good starter SOTA summit.   It’s close to Denver and the metro area and like I said it is both an easy trail to follow and not difficult either.   As I stated previously, there are several trails that make up the Green Mountain Park area.  All are clearly marked as shown to the right.





photo (2)

Like many of the foothills that dot the landscape around the Denver metro area, Green Mountain does have a transmitter site and tower.  The transmitter site and tower is not the summit.  But as I approached the trail that passes near the site, I saw what I thought was a little boy or girl sitting on a rock.  It was still early and there was no one else around.  This little boy or girl continued to just sit there on the rock.  I began looking around to see if anyone else was around and once I got within about 25 yards I realized was just a rock with a pipe sticking out.  Other hikers had placed a sweater, scarf, gloves and a cap.  It sure fooled me.





I made it to the summit from the trailhead in just a little over 45 minutes and began setting up the Buddipole Versatee vertical.  I used an older hiking staff which has a removable knob handle.  Under this knob is a 1/4 stud for mounting a camera.  Buddipole provides a machined brass connector which is 1/4” threads inside, with 5/8” threads outside.  This allows you to stand the Buddipole Versatee on one end and easily connect it to the monopod or hiking staff.  I then guyed it from just below the Versatee and used large rocks to secure it all in place.  If you remember from my first activation, the wind really caused problems with the way I setup the vertical.  Thanks to Steve wG0AT for this idea.





If you’re not familiar with the Buddipole versatee vertical setup, all it consists of is the Buddipole versatee adapter, Buddipole coil and either the arms and whip from the dipole kit or the new Buddipole shockcord whip.  I’m using the mini-coil and the shockcord whip.  The final important element to the vertical setup is a single, elevated wire counterpoise.  Buddipole sells an inexpensive lightweight counterpoise kit that works great.  One end of the wire counterpoise attaches to the versatee adapter and the other I keep elevated off the ground with my other hiking pole. 





The other main addition to my SOTA setup is the fantastic Buddipole A123 nanophosphate battery packs.  I decided to go large and I purchased the largest pack they offer.  This is the 4S4P and is rated at 13.2 volts/9.2Ah and weighs just over 3 lbs.  The SLA I packed up to Mt. Herman weighed over 5.5 lbs and was only 7.5Ah.  This little battery pack is truly amazing and I’m 100% comfortable with the investment I made.



Weather conditions were early fall like.  When I left home the temperature was around 30 F and just in the short 30 minute drive, the temperature at the trailhead was around 38 F.  The sun was shining bright and summit temperatures during my two hour stay were in the 50’s with a very light breeze.

But how did it all perform?  Well…I began calling CQ at just before 1700z and logged my first contact on 20m at 16:58z.  I worked 21 contacts on 20m (including a summit to summit contact with wG0AT) and finished up with another 18 QSO’s on 17m for a total of 49 QSO’s in just under two hours.  While band conditions weren’t as good as last weekend, I still had a lot of fun and truly look forward to activation number three.

Speaking of my next activation.  It may actually be a few weeks (or longer) before I have the opportunity to do another SOTA activation.  My wife and I are planning to travel to Texas in about 10 days and then the Christmas holidays are just around the corner.   Also, winter weather will surely arrive at some point and bring snow covered trails and much, much colder temperatures.  I’ve said several times that I don’t consider myself to only be a fair weather SOTA activator, but I also like playing it safe. 

Regarding my possible next activation.  The Colorado Front Range weather can be cold and snowy one day and a few days later all visible signs of snow have melted away.  With that said, there are dozens of SOTA summits just in my backyard ranging in elevation from 6,800 – 9,500 feet with good, solid trails.  I plan to just start at the bottom of the list and work my way up (at least during winter).  This is sure to keep me busy for a while. 

Until next time….

73 de KD0BIK (Jerry)

Activation Alert: W0/FR-107 (Green Mtn.) –2085m / 6841ft

Date:            27 November 2011
Time:           Approx.    1700 UTC – 2000 UTC
Region:        CO-Front Range
Elevation:    2085 m / 6841 ft – 1 Points
Call Sign:     KD0BIK
Frequencies:     14.342.5-ssb, 18.157.5-ssb, 21.437.5-ssb,  +/-  146.52-fm

Equipment: FT-817ND / Buddipole versatee vertical

APRS Track: On Road / On Trail

You might say I was planning my second SOTA activation before the ink was dry on the first.   I know I had mentioned in a previous post that I would pace myself on activations and expected I would keep to a once a month activation schedule.  While my first activation occurred last weekend, the weather this weekend is supposed to be gorgeous (especially Sunday) and winter weather will soon settle in.  Again, I’m not opposed to winter activations…but I figure while I’m still learning and figuring our my complete setup…..a warm class room is better than a cold one.   Plus it won’t hurt to burn off those Thanksgiving calories.

Since this is  a holiday weekend, and I had just completed my first a week ago.  I thought I would plan an easy and close activation to my QTH.  Green Mountain is the closest SOTA peak to my QTH and will be a much easier hike than Mt. Herman.  I should be able to get to the summit, enjoy some operating time and then back home early enough to get some things done before going back to work on Monday. 

With the lessons learned from my first activation, I have a few new additions in my pack.  I also packed a lot of things that I never used on my first and those items will stay home. 

The first new item actually replaces another and will free up about 3 lbs. of weight.  Yes, I’m talking about the Buddipole Nanophosphate A123 battery pack.  I’m really looking forward to what this pack can do for me and the reduced weight. 

The wind issues I experienced last weekend and the breaking zip ties have also been eliminated.  I will be taking one from the wG0AT playbook and mounting my Buddipole versatee adapter directly to my hiking staff.  My hiking staff has a removable knob handle with a standard tripod screw mount on top.  I have an adapter that will adapt the 1/4” thread to 5′/8”.  The versatee will screw down onto that adapter and create a much more secure connection.  Finally, I also ordered the new Buddipole adjustable shockcord whip which can be seen in action in this youtube video

Until next time….

73 de KD0BIK (Jerry)

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: