Tuesday, July 30, 2019

2019-07-30 Flat Top


Today’s hike takes me to Flat Top Mountain, near Springerville, AZ.  It also happens to be known by the SOTA community as W7A/AP-033.  I begrudgingly got up at 0630 to head out.  In retrospect I should have loaded up earlier.  Jeanette was going with me today as it’s a good hike and near her folks place. (HERE is our route that we took which was 7.8 miles round trip and 935 elevation gain.  Not bad really.)

The trail head is about 25 minutes from the SOC (SOTA Operations Center, AKA  my villa or cabin) and well marked.  We put on our packs and headed out for the hike on a warm clear monring.  With all the rain the area is looking really nice.  The trail goes up the Murray Basin / Saffel Canyon and then branches off to the south west up Flat Top trail.  The mountain has verticals cliffs around 2/3rds of it so you have to walk around to the back side, up a saddle and then up that ridge to get to the top.  The last mile has about half of the 935 feet of elevation gain so it’s not really that bad.  It’s rocky terrain mixed with areas of sandy loamy earth.  It’s a nice trail.
[click on image for larger]

Monday, July 29, 2019

2019-07-29 - Noble Mountain


Today’s expedition takes me to Noble Mountain near the SOC (SOTA Operations Center, AKA my cabin).  Jeanette went with me and it was a pretty drive up to the landing zone.  Jeanette had gone on a hike early this morning so this would be a very short one.  We may have a longer one tomorrow. 
The hike up to the peak from the LZ was probably less than a mile and a very gentle climb, probably under 100 ft.  Jeanette continued hiking and then went back to the car to read while I geeked out.  Setup was easy and I had good cell reception, which means that I could chase.
[click on image for larger]

2019-07-27 Greens Peak & Whiting Knoll


I arrive late last night so it was hard getting up at 0530 this morning.  My friend Adam would be on a summit at about 7AM local on a small peak near San Diego and I wanted to make a summit-to-summit with him.  I chose a peak that was easy to estimate my arrival so I went to Greens peak.  According to the lookout tower employee, it’s the highest peak in Arizona that you can drive to the top.  I guess I could have done Noble mountain which is much closer but I wasn’t sure if the roads were open.

I activate Greens peak last year and was looking forward to do activating that one and Whiting Knoll, a new one for me.  Whiting Knoll is, which is just a couple miles to the north-west.  Funny thing happened, I have no spare clothes.  I left my suitcase in San Diego.  I have shoes and my hiking boots but not socks...  I wouldn’t need anything special for Greens but I wore my walking shoes since they are less likely to give me blisters without socks.
[click on image for larger]

Saturday, July 20, 2019

SWR Test my new Signal Stick for my HT


I recently ordered a new antenna for my handy talkie (HT) that I carry on SOTA expeditions.  The reviews of the super elastic Signal Stick claimed better performance by multiple people.  It was $12 bucks so I got one for me and one for a friend at work.

Before I take it out and do an A/B test on a mountain top, I thought I’d put it on the antenna analyzer to see how it performs SWR wise compared to my trusty and reliable Diamond RH77.  As it turns out, the performance SWR wise isn’t all that great.  Below are the SWR readings with just the antenna, and antenna with counterpoise for both.  NOTE:  I might be able to tune the counterpoise for the signal stick and I tried bending it back on itself but couldn’t improve the SWR by much more than a point.

When I’m on a summit, I normally use my HT on 146.520 MHz, the national calling frequency, or on 446 running DMR tests to KC2GNV so those are the two main frequencies that I tested.  I normally don’t attach the counterpoise that I have but it would probably improve things when I need to max my range.  I keep it in my pack just in case.

All tests were with me outside holding the radio up in the air as high as possible to get the best performance.

As you can see below, the signal stick sucks SWR wise.  This means that using it, you’re not going to get as much power out of the station as you would with lower.  Below are the readings.
NOTE:  I tried the other Signal Stick antenna as well to ensure that I was getting a consistent result and I was.





Signal Stick on 146.52





Diamond RH77 bare on 146.520


Signal Stick on 146.52 with counterpoise


Diamond RH77 on 146.52 with counterpoise




Signal Stick on 446


 Diamond RH77 on 446


Thanks for tuning in and 73,
N1CLC,
Chris Claborne
(aka Christian Claborne)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

DMR Tip 5 Using a talk group on the fly or make a "private call"

Sometimes you just want to use a talk group once in a while.  If that's the case, why create a whole new channel.  Or, if you are going to travel to a new area, you can save yourself some time by not having to create a whole bunch of talk group channels, just use the "On the fly mode" as I call it.
This is also how you make a "private call" if that person is setup in your radio (see adding a talk group on the radio above).

Use the procedure below to use an existing channel on the radio but override the talk group.  I did this when I wanted to dynamically add the Hurricane net to a local repeater.  Have fun.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

July 15th 2019 Presentation to SD Six Shooters

Here is a link to the slides I used for the presentation I gave on Summits On The Air (SOTA) at the the San Diego Six Shooters amateur radio club on July 15th, 2019 in San Diego, CA.  Thanks to the other SOTA operators that contributed to this presentation, (KE6MT, K6ARK are a couple that come to mind), and K6ARK for attending and backing me up on some of the questions and showing the group how he does SOTA.  I always enjoy sharing what little I know as well as my enthusiasm for SOTA.  I had a lot of great questions from the group and the presentation was well received.  I hope to hear some of them on the air as "activators' or "chasers".
(Use the read more link to see photos from the event)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Ham Ninja's Anytone Code Plug


If you have an Anytone 878UV and want a code plug (settings file) to get started, use one of the ones that I built (link is on the version number in the Code Plug Section Below).  This code plug is a trimmed version of a much larger one that I have, designed for San Diego ARES team in San diego.  Feel free to take this and modify. 

** Be sure you follow the instructions to change the Radio ID found at "DMR Tip 4 - Setting up a new Anytone" before you load onto your radio so that it uses your ID and Call Sign. **

Links to the code plug at bottom of article.

(click on “read more” to see rest of article.)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A White Mountain 4-Pack & the 100th Summit


I decided to make my July 4 weekend a tad longer and head up to the white mountains of AZ where I have my mountain villa.  Of course the trip is going to include som summits on the air.  If it didn’t you’d be reading about the trip on throboflife.com.  It’s a 10 hour drive from San Diego and I got in late at night on the 3rd.  When I got up the next morning and looked out the window to see the gentle breeze causing the aspen leaves to flicker, it was well worth it right there.... Done, complete, satisfaction.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

DMR Tip 4 - Setting Up A New Anytone DMR Radio for the first time


You just received your Anytone 868 or 878, took it out of the box... Now what do you do?  Obviously you should be able to use it simplex by entering in a frequency from the VFO but if you want to use it for DMR, you’ll need to put a few channels into it.  One of the things that I like about this radio is that you can enter everything you need from the front panel.  The other thing I like is that the programming software is free, any they are continually enhancing it.  This article explains the high level steps to follow when setting up a configuration file, called a code plug, from scratch.

Using the PC to program it is preferable when setting up the radio mainly because you need a channel setup for each repeater talkgroup combination.  If you have three talk groups and three repeaters you want to use, you’ll probably setup nine channels.  There is a way around this however.  You could just setup a channel for each time slot on the repeaters you want to use and then just override the current talkgroup from the list on the radio.  I cover this on my 868 / 878 radio tips in the “Using a talk group on the fly” section.

2019-06-29 Onyx Peak + 1


I had to travel up to LA to take care of some family business so I thought I’d spend the night at my brother’s casa, visit and, then hit a couple of peaks near Big Bear CA to get a double.  I’ve been looking at Onyx peak (W6/CT-044), and a no-name peak next to it, PT 9070 (W6/CT-045) for a while now as a fun double.  If you had the time you could hike between them on the PCT but I didn’t have that much time.  The trailheads are about 5 minutes, so that was the plan. (click on photos for larger)
 

PT 9070

I was wheels up out of Garden Grove, CA at about 6:30.  The travel time was about 2 hours.  There is a high overcase with some thicker stuff moving in due to a hurricane in the south.  PT 9070 looked a little more difficult so I decided to hit that one first.  After getting to my charted parking spot I found a open gate but it stated that it was  private property.  It is a little dubious given that it’s a county road.  I’ve seen people do this a lot in California to keep the lookers out.  Some rock climbers told me that there is a chance of towing if you don’t park on the highway so that’s what I did.  The trail head is at about 7,900 making the teprature perfect for a hike but it had a real chance of getting hot here.  With the peak at 9,070 that means that means that I’ll have ~1,170’ to climb over 3 miles, an easy hike.