Monday, March 30, 2020

Presenting To The San Diego Community Ham Forum

I’ll be presenting Summits On The Air to the San Diego Community Ham Forum on Monday, March 30th, at 8PM, held on the following local San Diego County linked repeaters.  Yup, it will have to be quick so I’m calling it SOTA in 3 minutes. 
     Woodson - Rx: 145.180, Tx: 144.58,  PL:107.2
     El Cajon -  Rx: 449.580, Tx: 444.580, PL:107.2
     Alpine -      Rx: 447.580, Tx: 442.580, PL:107.2
     Laguna -    Rx:446.420,  Tx: 441.420, PL:107.2
     Laguna -    Rx:145.120,  Tx: 144.520, PL:107.2

Click on the image above for larger to see what I covered and how to get more information.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

2020-03-29 SOTA Hike to Fallbrook - W6/SC-445

Today’s activation was W6/SC-445, a no-name mountain next to Monserate.  I was actually at Monserate last weekend.  Unlike last weekend, there wasn’t  a sole on in trail the entire time.   I’m guessing this hike is relatively unknown except by the locals and SOTA geeks.   I wanted to ensure that I hiked a relatively unknown place to avoid shutdowns and it worked.  For example, I was going to hike Iron Mountain last Friday but it was closed so I headed back over to Black mountain by my house after work.  I was able to nab LZ1BYZ in New Zealand though the really strong RFI up there so it made my Friday.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

2020-03-22 Thomas Mountain

I’ve been wanting to get up to Thomas Mtn. for a while now so today’s the day.  I loaded up and headed out at about 0730 local.  It’s about 1.5 hours to the road up to the summit.  Thomas Mountain is located north east of Anza in the San Bernardino National Forest.  The summit is at 6,824 feet.  It rained in San Diego quite a bit last week so I expected some residual snow.  What I got was a little more than residual.  It was 4 to 6 inches in places, and the road was pretty slick.  I have all-wheel-drive but it’s not like a full locked 4WD.  In addition, I’ve got highway tires on my rig so I had to be careful not to get too risky. 

2020-03-21 Monserate Mtn.

Given that it’s been raining a bit, I decided to hike Monserate, W6/CT-235, because the terrain does well after a storm.  The weather was partly cloudy and the trail was busy.  I enjoy getting outdoors by myself but I had no problem sharing it with the throngs of people that were out and about.  Everyone, including me have been cooped up for the week under rainy skys, and I encourage people to get out side.  It’’ll lower your stress from Corona Virus as we adjust as well as everything else.  And... it feels great to get some fresh air.

I’ve done this hike before.  It’s 3.7 miles round-trip onhard pack trail, climbs 1,300 feet with a nice view to the west.  Once on top I found a place way out of the way of people, setup and got to work.  I had a great view to the south and east as I sat on my rock in my operating position murdering CW.  When I was done, I had a pile of contacts, netting15, 4 of them summit-to-summits. 

2020-03-20 Lunchtime SOTA

It’s been a long and stressful week.  I worked at home and it’s been raining a good part of the week..  Watching the traffic on the SOTA slack group really had my juices boiling.  The weather broke into beautiful blue skys and I had a chance to take a quick lunch time hike to a hill by my house, so I took it.  I also got my daughter to come along which was the best part.

Black Mtn, W6/SC-338 is five minutes from my house and a nice quick hike (4 mi round trip).  I took my gear and my daughter and I hustled up the hill.  Setup is super easy, 5 minutes tops.  The only downside for this mountain is that it’s packed with RF gear, from ham 2M to all the telco stuff you can think of.  I’m so glad I can now activate via CW.  I didn’t care if I got the points or not (one point possible per year), I just needed to get out of the house. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Setting up a Cushcraft R8 Antenna

I’ve had my general ham license since Oct. 2017 and have been experimenting AND learning a lot about antennas, RF noise, etc. ever since.  I would say that 90% of my HF work is when I am on a mountain top, portable, doing Summits On The Air (SOTA).  One of the fun things about SOTA is that most mountaintops are RF quiet and, of course, the antenna performs really well up there.  (note: click on pictures for larger)

Although my home VHF/UHF stations is awesome, my home HF station really sucks RF noise wise.  I love the 7300 radio but like any urban location, there is a lot of RF  around me.  In addition, I don’t have enough open space to setup dipoles any larger than 20 m.  I’ve setup a few in the backyard and have even made a couple.  When i’m done experimenting, I always go back to the portable Chameleon vertical that I use to take on SOTA hikes.  It’s multi-band 6, 10, 20, 40 (and a little 80)  and works OK but I know it’s not that great and it’s a bit frail to leave outside.  In addition, there wasn’t a whole lot of room to put radials.  I had a few funky radials hanging down from it and it was kind of ghetto but it did get out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

2020-03-15 Cahuilla and Cold Fingers

Today’s objective is to hit a brand new Peak, Cahuilla Mountain, W6/CT-103.  Adam had mentioned that he hadn’t done this one yet and asked if I wanted to come along with him and Johnny.  I did.  The plan was to meet at the trail head at 0800 (1500 zulu) and head up the trail.  Adam rolled out of the rack behind schedule and told me to head up the trail if he wasn’t there yet so I did.  He arrived about 10 or 15 min after I left the parking area but I knew he would catch up with me, which he did about .2 mi from the top. I took my time, stopping a lot to look at the views, and where were fantastic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

SOTA 360 Video Series

Yeeee Haaa, the SOTA 360 Video Series Is Done!!!

I've created a video series about Summits On The Air (SOTA) to help others hams get into this niche of the hobby and possibly pass on a tad of what I’ve learned in my journey so far. 
     Part 1 - Intro and Planning covers two things: 1) an introduction to SOTA, what is it and why do it, ; and 2) the beginning of the planning process that includes how to choose a peak, checking the weather, and what to bring.

     Part 2 - Charting A Path To The Planned Peak walks you the process that I use to plan my hike, how I navigate as well as a section on safety and how I mitigate risk.

     SOTA 360 Part 3 - Activating Twin Peaks shows you how I get started and find the trailhead, hike up to the summit, setup my gear and get some contacts (this time with CW and my handi-talki).  Yes, I made it back down without spilling blood.

     SOTA 360 Part 4 - Logging Your SOTA Contacts with a BONUS covers how I then upload my e-log book to the SOTA website to get my points but more importantly, discusses some of the reasons why I do that including a little bonus for uploading.