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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

2019-11-17 Tahquitz Peak

I’ve been wanting to do Tahquitz Peak for a while but things have been getting in the way.  It’s located by Idlewild, making it an all day junket.  I was introduced to this one by Adam, K6ARK last year so I knew the drill.  I contacted Adam to see if he wanted to go and was busy.  I reached out to Mark, KG6LI to see if he wanted to go but he’s on the DL.  I forgot to call one other SOTA operator, so, I was solo today. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

2019-11-10 Black Mtn.

I needed some exercise but couldn’t plan a big hike for today so I drove over to the tail head for Black Mtn. by my house (5 minutes) and hiked the 4 miles to the summit with my SOTA pack.  I took Sulu and it was nice to get out and get some fresh air.

Once on top I setup the K6ARK spider thread antenna on my mast and hooked up the KX2.  The noise floor was at S7 on 20, almost 9 on 40 meter.  I spotted myself on side band and didn’t get anything on either band.  I already have the points for this mountain so no big deal but before packing up, I sent out a CQ on CW (morse).  Dan, KI6KU called out to me when he got an alert via reverse beacon network (a very handy service).  Dan slowed down for me and with his contact, I was able to “activate” the mountain. 

The real bonus for this evening was the sunset.  I snapped the pic above a little late but no biggie.  Just as I was packing up, about 40 people in a hiking group showed up.  Younger people that do a meatup once a month.  Of course they were very curious about what I was doing and got a kick out of it.  I walked down in the dark under a full moon so bright that it left a shadow. I didn’t even need my headlamp.  That’s it, nothing more to tell.  :)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

My SOTA Expedition Loadout

My SOTA Loadout options: (UPDATED)

During SOTA QSOs, a lot of people ask me what I am using so I thought I would describe my setup here.  Take a look and comment on your SOTA setup.  

(BTW, SOTA = "Summits On The Air") 
Click on images for larger.

This page is turning into a bit of my "options" for a SOTA loadout.  After doing this hobby for a while, gaining experience from my own adventures and learning from others, I've amassed a bit more equipment that changes based on mission.  Below you'll see that I use different radios for given mission.  I've been trying to lighten my load and go QRP with the KX2 and an ultra-light antenna but there are times when I load up the heavier FT-891 and associated battery when I really want to punch some power out and see how far I can really go. 

One of the things that will really help me go QRP (lower power) is CW.  Sending morse code over CW allows me to potentially get a lot more contacts farther away because the narrow band provides better signal to noise ratio.  As I continue to learn about gear, make new antennas, learn CW, and experiment, I expect things will change.  Mission #1 is have fun, and I seem to be nailing that.  Pictured above is a complete 10 watt station, radio, antenna, and keyer.  All you need to add is a way to get the antenna up in the air (tree or pushup pole) (it has a built in mic).
(Note: Originally published Dec 31, 2017, updated Nov. 3, 2019)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

2019-10-27 Whale Peak Overnight With Lots Of DX Contacts

I joined Adam (K6ARK) and Jacob (W6RBS) to hike Whale Peak and play with with radios & antennas.  I worked stations in 14 different countries.  This weekend was the CQ World-Wide DX contest so a lot of stations with massive antennas were going to be on the air participating, improving my chances to work multiple countries.  I’ve done SOTA during this contest before with Adam from a mountain top up near Big Bear CA.  This weekend’s trip was just as fun, allowing me to net some new countries worked with my ham radio and hiking with some good friends.  
(click on picture for larger)

Monday, October 14, 2019

2019-10-13 Twin Peaks

Did a quick hike up to Twin Peaks to get some exercise and test out my deployment of the K6ARK Spider Thread Antenna.  The hike was an easy one up to the summit and included a hilarious roll off a rock due to a stupid overcommitment on a step.  It was fairly hot today, about 80.  I was enjoyable to be 9 lbs lighter in the equipment department.  If I can keep the gut weight off, that would be awesome.

After setup, I reached out to the DMR group here in San Diego and asked if anyone wanted to try a simplex call over DMR.  AI6CX is always ready to help and W6CRC in Poway jumped in as well. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

2019-10-06 Mt. Woodson

I wanted to get out and do a quick hike today and play radio.  I was thinking of going over to Twin Peaks and then heard a SOTA buddy, Jake (W6RWS), on the radio as he headed up to that very mountain.  If you remember, a couple of weeks ago, Jake, Adam & I went up to Morena Butte.  Adam jumped on the radio and answered Jake and then we talked about getting out there with Jake.  Adam and I decided to do a quick hike one up to Mt. Woodson, about 30 minutes from the house.
(click on photo for larger)