Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018-03-18 W6/SC-453 Twin Peaks

Today was a short hike to a activation point I’ve done before, W6/SC-453 - Twin Peaks. I was planning to hike Cuyamaca Peak, which I hear is very pretty, but given the latest precipitation, there were warnings about snow and ice in the area last night.  I have AWD, but not appropriate boots.  They aren’t waterproof and I’d have to locate my gators, I decided to not hike in the snow.  I hear that after the last storm, the trail had ten inches so hopefully I can do next weekend. 
(<Sulu always finds a good shady place to nest for a nap as you can see in the pic to the right.>)

After publishing last weeks article on why my pack is so heavy, I changed out to a 30 foot coax feed line (which should give me better signal), and left the jetboil and tuner in the car, saving me about 4.5 lbs.  Speaking of that, I published that article after talking to Jerry (KG6HQD), a youtuber I follow.  It looks like I sparked the same effort for him, as he published what his loadout is and how he gets to 25 lbs (spoiler, he had me in the opening seconds by using a pack almost half the weight of mine and his antenna and pole system is a lot lighter with no frills system amenities).

The hike is pretty simple route, about .7 miles from the parking lot to the top.  It has a nice view of the the county in all directions, all the way to the ocean.  I landed contacts on the east coast, Washington, Canada, and Japan.  I was told the band was pretty bad by a local ham and I didn’t hear much activity, but I was booming into Kansas and NJ.  The ham in Japan gave me a decent signal report, 53, so it wasn’t too bad into Japan.  I’ve actually worked the same ham in January from Black Mtn., a mile from Twin Peaks.  This is the second time I’ve done Twin Peaks and both times I’ve worked a ham in Japan.  The previous time I was only using 5 watts.  Given the proximity of this hill and Black Mtn, to the ocean, it must give me a better chance. 

After I shut-down and packed up, I meditated for a bit.  It was very pleasant, with a light breeze from the west, the city making it presens known below, and the ping of a baseball bat down in the park. 

On another note, I’ve been frustrated with my 100 watt home station.  I decided to mount my MPAS on my retractable mast, and raised the matching unit up to about 25 feet with three ground plane wires attached to it.  It still sorta sucked.  I purchased some low loss coax yesterday and and replaced the 100’ of RG-58 that was probably killing half my load.  I contacted a station about 6,500 miles away in Chili on 20 meters so I guess it’s working now :).    I also worked stations on 40m and 80m (80 m contact is a first for me).  The MPAS antenna is a compromise but a hell of a lot easier to put up.  I did use three ground plane wires :)  I don’t have a permanent antenna for HF given the winds and the size, and my mast attached to the fence lets me try out various configurations.  I have a device that will allow me to do some empirical testing on my antennas so I’ll play with that in the near future.  I still enjoy SOTA more than at home.

The return path to the west was a lot nicer hike.  It’s a bit washed out at the top of the hill but not a problem.  All in all, it was better than sitting at home watching cat videos. 


Miles: 2.2
Cellular Data: AT&T Yes


Call SignHis SummitComments

Loadout for today:

      Yaesu FT-891D HF Radio at 100 watts
   30’ of coax feed line
      Yaesu FT-2DR HT
      DDT Ops Anti-Venom field pack with food
      3 L of water (8 lb)
      SOTA Dog
      iPhone with All Trails, MotionX GPS and sota goat
      MFJ-939Y auto antenna tuner for 891
      Hiking poles


      For more info on SOTA, rules, etc, go to the homepage HERE.
      Ham Terminology
      SOTA Specific Links


-- Chris Claborne, N!CLC

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