Thursday, January 6, 2033


Welcome to my amateur radio BLOG. Here at (aka, I hope to cover my exploration of ham radio, summits on the air (SOTA) and general RF geek stuff.  My other BLOGS focus on technology (, photography (, and life ( QSL via QRZ, LOTW, cards.

* Reference Links Page    * SOTA Specific Links  
* My Equipment Loadout    * DMR Tips    * My Youtube Channel

I monitor 146.520 and DMR SOTA (973)
track me on the trail HERE or APRS.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

DMR Tip 02 - What Time Slot Should I Use?

I’ve had a few people ask me what “time slot” (TS) they should use when setting up a talkgroup on a particular repeater.  For DMR Tip 02, I'll focus on answering this and give you links for more information on finding repeaters and configuring your radio correctly.

Here is a good description of what a time slot is by  NEDECN:
With a TDMA (time division multiple access) system like DMR, the mobile or portable radios are synchronized typically by a repeater and assigned a time slot. In DMR Tier 2, there are two time slots, i.e. 2-slot TDMA. A mobile radio transmits for 30 milliseconds and then receives for 30 milliseconds. It listens for a permission to transmit and then begins a call to all other talk group members who will also receive on that same time slot, e.g., Time Slot 1. Meanwhile, a different group of users on another talk group could be using Time Slot 2 simultaneously. Well almost simultaneously, offset by 30 ms., but you would never know the difference, because two voices can come out of two radios simultaneously from the same repeater.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

SoCal Spring SOTAFest 2019

This is a recap of my adventures at Socal Spring SOTAFest 2019.  My friend Adam, K6ARK, organized a trip for ham radio operators that enjoy doing “summits on the air”, (SOTA).  We planned to meet at a campground, hike up to bunch of nearby summits to “activate” them, getting contacts in the US and beyond, and then do the next peak.  There will also be a lot of stories about past epic conquests, radio and antenna gear, and techniques.  Hams also build a lot of different pieces of their own gear, from custom radios to antennas, and other gizmos. 

The original destination was near Big Bear, CA but the weather called for a chance of rain so we went out to the southern desert region to Sawtooth Campground, which is surrounded by SOTA summits.  Although Adam announce the meetup on a few different mailing lists, we only had two other hams that were going to be able to join us, Scott (N0OI), and his wife, Corrine (N2ZIP).  I’ll take some of the burden and help with the marketing campaign next time.      (Click on photos for larger)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

2019-03-30 Sycuan to Slovenia

Today’s hike took me up to Sycuan Peak (W6/SC-203 - Sycuan Peak).  This is a short hike but steap at points.  I decided to sleep in this morning and headed out at about 10.  The weather was clear with visibility of a million miles.  It was just under 80 and a nice hike up.  The peak had a slight breeze and it was very enjoyable, I just wish I had brought my chair, I would have stayed up there longer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

DMR Tip 1 - Using Parrot Talkgroup To Test Your Radio

This next post on my Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) tips series, we’ll look at an easy way to test our radio and also check that the repeater is working properly.  To do this, use the Parrot talk group.  By using this talkgroup, everything you transmit is recorded and played back to your radio. 

[  This article assumes you have a DMR radio and can program it to use a repeater and talkgroup. ]

Using the parrot talk group, every transmission is repeated back to the radio. This allows the operator to test  multiple things.
     Verify that the radio is working and getting into the repeater. 
     Because the parrot repeater is on the internet, when you hear yourself, this verifies that the repeater is working and it’s connected to the Brandmeister network.
     This test allows you to test audio quality and levels.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

2019-03-23 Middle Pk. To Brazil

I wanted to hike Middle Peak again and try going up the north side for the final summit push.  The last time I was up there, 11/25/2018, I went up the south side based on the best topo research I could do.  It’s been activated a few times so I knew it was doable.  During that last hike, I followed a false trail and ended up in a horrid bushwhack to the activation zone, followed by a horrid bushwhack back to the road.  After that trip, my SOTA Yoda, K6ARK, said I should have gone to the North side and used the unpublished trail.  So that was the mission of the day.  I charted out a new course on Alltrails in case I missed the trail...

The weather was beautiful up there today, starting with clear sky then moving to partly cloudy.  There was a slight breeze keeping it cool but not cold.  I could see the clouds moving up the mountain from the coast.  It was nice to be out in the sunshine not freezing my tail off.  I found the cairns that marked the trail to the summit (lat/long of 32.98287, -116.60007) and the tail to the summit was 10,000 times easier.  For one, that side of the mountain  wasn’t nearly as overgrown as the south side, and there was a cut trail that has been heavily used.  It’s beginning to get overgrown but not bad.  A huge shout out to Adam, K6ARK, who told me about the alternate route. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

2019-03-16 Sheephead Mtn.

Today’s hike took me back to Sheephead Mtn. (W6/SD-020 - Sheephead Mountain).  I went out there a couple of times last year, once in January of 2018 and again last February.  One of the reasons I went up there a second time was to test my new (at the time) CHA MPAS antenna.   You can only get points for a particular peak once per year, but it was still fun.  Today’s hike was nice and came with a few extra miles and a lot of wind.  This is the normal route,  this is the route Sulu and I took today.