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.
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.
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.
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)