Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017-12-31 SOTA Exp. to W6/SC-365 - 1109

I’ve just deployed this BLOG site yesterday and am trying to load all my past expeditions in to catch up but I promised someone that I would update the BLOG with my location today, I can’t remember the call sign that I promised, but here you go.

I summited W6/SC-365 - 1109.  It has no name but let’s call it hill 1109.  It’s about 3 to 5 mi west of Black Mtn. and I think the peak is about 1,100. 

My SOTA Expedition Loadout

Typical SOTA Loadout:

During today’s SOTA QSOs, a lot of people asked me what I was using so I thought I would describe my setup here.  Take a look and comment on your SOTA setup.

     Yaesu FT-891D HF Radio.  This is Yaesu’s latest HF radio.  I considered getting the FT-857 portable because it can do VHF/UHF also, but the reviews on the 32-bit DSP in the 891 by guys much better qualified than I, convinced me.  It is also $500 cheaper and I have a VHF/UHF (FT-70D) that I carry with me as a backup.  I was able to get this one from a guy on eBay with a couple of mods added to it. It is an incredible radio. I got this unit because my FT-817ND was a bit frustrating given the current sun cycle.  Also, there was little chance that I could punch through a pileup.  Lastly, when I hike with my family or others, they don't want to wait around for an extended period while I try to get my four contacts. The 100 watts of the FT-891D packs the punch that I needed.  I was blowing out the guys in Tucson, Alberta, and Georgia today, so it also allows me to through my line out and catch a lot of fish.  Remember, I’m on a mountain top so my antenna thinks it’s 1000 feet in the air.  I still love my FT-817ND as it got me my first SOTA contact who was in Japan, so don’t discount the little guy.  I’m waiting for the Portable Zero Field hardening guys to make a rack for this model (update, they have one that is the same as the 857 but with different screws).  
Not to turn this into a full review of the FT-891, I would like to mention what an awesome receiver this is.  Comparing it to the my IC-7300, it may actually perform better at pulling out some of the noise using a few different digital noise reduction modes.  For some situations, the auto digital noise reduction can make a station sound like they are using FM.  It's heavier but seems rugged and I don't miss the VHF capabilities of the FT-817ND.  It's a bit more brutish on power consumption but my bioeno LiFePO battery will probably let me run at least 6 hours.  (Update: Survival Tech Nord just upgraded to this radio from the 817 and is doing a lot of testing.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017-12-27 SOTA checkoff of Cowles Mountain

Today’s hike (12/27/2017)is to check off W6/SC-335 - Cowles Mountain from my SOTA list.  It was a warm day and I got kind of a late start. The place was packed with people.  I was advised to avoid this during the weekend but I’m not retired so my options are limited.

It was an interesting view from the top but the thing I remember the most are the crowds.  The hike was easy but pretty verticle in places.  Poles would have been handy.  Because there were so many people and not a lot of room at the top, I opted for VHF contacts only from my HT.  If I had my CHA MPAS, I would have taken that instead and done some work on HF.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017-12-24 Iron Mountain

Today’s hike was to W6/SC-214 - Iron Mountain to check it off my SOTA list.  This is a low difficulty but hiking poles would have been handy.  It’s dry desert landscape  and a pretty good climb up.  A lot of rocky areas that you need to push up on but nothing really that difficult.  It’s also a long one at 5.6 miles round trip. One thing to note were the number of people that were interested in what I was doing.  I explained it was geeky and they didn’t think so, they thought it was cool.

There weren’t many people up on top so I setup the dipole and worked a a guy in Maryland, New Mexico, and Victoria BC.  The descent was quick and easy and once the dog could smell or see the parking area in the distance she really picked up the pace.  I thought I ran out of water so I was very interested to get off the mountain and to the nearest store to get some fluids. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

2017-12-22 SOTA on Poser Mountain

Today’s summit was supposed to be on Chiquito Peak but after failing to find a public accessible route, I went to my alternate, Poser Mountain.  The mountain is aptly named as I felt like a poser once I got to the peak.