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)
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Friday, August 19, 2022

SOTA Presentation to OCARC

I presented to the Orange County Amateur Radio Club on 8/19/2022.  You'll find the 

Presentation Slides HERE

We covered what SOTA is, how to do SOTA, my "loadout" and more.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Winlink Email Using VARA HF


Below is my documentation on how to configure Vara HF for the Yaesu FT-891 and the Icom IC-7300.

UPDATE:  On 10/20/2022 I tried to use Winlink over VARA HF on my 891.  I could not get rig control to work, even though I implemented the same config.  However, I plugged into the IC-7300 and had it working in minutes.  Arrrrg.  All that work on the 891 and now it will be a long debug session.  Although I started with the FT-991, I've documented the 7300 config below (easy)

I wanted to run a Winlink Express app (email application) and use HF radio to send and receive email messages.  The Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) team that I’m on uses Winlink along with its built in standard FEMA forms.  It helps ARES accomplish their mission to support local hospitals, clinics and associated agencies during an emergency.  Using HF setup for sending email during an emergency is appropriate if the affected area is large (no internet for 100 miles).  This is because you can move messages into and out of the affected area using relay stations that have internet service that are 100s or over 1,000 miles away.  For instance, if there was an earthquake in my area, I’m better off trying to get a message to a hub station that is outside of the affected area which could be all of Southern California.  Because of it’s range, HF is perfect for this scenario.  Station to station transmission could be achieved using the lower HF bands as well, or using VHF modes like VARA FM or packet.  I’ve been successful using packet radio from my 5w FT-817 but packet stations are slowly disappearing. 
(click on images for larger)

Monday, May 16, 2022

How I Manage My Contact Logs

When I’m out activating a SOTA summit, which is where is where most of my logged contacts come from, I put them into Outd logging software on my iPhone.  It makes it super easy to upload to the SOTA database.  (I’ve done a review of outd HERE if you are interested.)  When I’m at home, I use N3JFP’s Amateur Contact Log (ACLOG) on my PC.  I’ve also been known to use a paper log when things get wet on a summit.  Most importantly, no matter how I log contacts, all of them are uploaded into ACLOG.   This article is about N3JFP’s Amateur Contact Log, and how I configure it and use it to centralize all of the logged contacts that I make from home or on the road.   Think of ACLOG as the clearing house for all of my amateur radio logging.  (updated 11/20/2022)

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Ninja eBike

Some of you may have seen my custom e-bike that I use on SOTA activations in my videos.  I also use it for commuting, and some general MTB fun in the forest.  It's a great addition to my SOTA kit.  I have over 8,000 miles on the bike commuting to work and have done several fun MTB rides, some of which were for SOTA.  I love it for that.  

I'm mainly a road worrier (commuting on roads on this bike for over 8,000 miles) and I have been all my life but I've done a little MTB.  The problem is, I don't have a lot of MTB technical skills so rocky single tracks have me walking a bit.  I load the bike on the car for specific SOTA missions when I know the terrain will work out for me (mainly an old road that is closed).  At other times, I'll take it when going into an area that I'm not sure about, in case the road is blocked or ends sooner than expected.  The Forest Service does this at times but still allows bike travel (I don't use it to get into closed areas).  

Sunday, January 23, 2022

A 2021 Ham / SOTA Recap

 2021 was a busy year for me, “hike mountain, work radio”, also known as Summit On The Air (SOTA).  I generally start out the year with some goals in mind.  For 2021, my goal was to NOT exceed my 2020 stats for summits and points.  I felt trying to do that would take some of the joy out of the SOTA for me since 2020 was a huge year.  In 2020 I was working to get to 1,000 points and the associated mountain goat award, so I had “goat fever”.  This year I just wanted to stay above the 2019 stats for summits, points, miles, elevation gain and first activations.  I also wanted to build at-least one radio and an antenna, play with JS8call and improve my CW copy speed.  So how did I do? 

(Click on images for larger)

Let’s start with the stats:

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Improve Your Chances Of SOTA Activating

Want to have the best chance of getting the minimum of 4 contacts on a summit to be awarded the SOTA points? The secret is to get spotted.

A spot tells people that you have been “spotted on a summit”, and are on a frequency NOW. Chasers load either sotawatch or in their browser and wait for activators to show up.  Some, like me, also put your call-sign or region into Hamalert so they are notified as soon as they see their favorite activators appear on sotawatch or RBN. Do you have me on your Hamalert list?  More on that later.