Monday, August 31, 2020

2020-08-29 Escudilla Butte With A Friend

I’m back at my summer villa and I’m itching to get in a hike and play radio.  I’ve done all of the summits near my place this year so I decided to just do one that I really enjoy as a first light hike, since this is my first day at altitude coming fom sea level.  I won’t get any points since you can only collect activator points from a summit once per year but that’s not the objective today, this trip is for fun, exercise, and to do a little chasing of other activators for some summit-to-summit (S2S) points.  I pinged a buddy that I hiked with before, Dale, AA7OY to see if he wanted to join me.  Dale just bought a cabin in Alpine and was willing to join me. 
(Click on images for larger)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

2020-08-23 Palomar Mtn.

Today’s planned summit is Palomar Mountain, located a little over two hours from my house in San Diego.  I’m going up there with Jake, W6RWS, and Adam, K6ARK.  You can hike to the summit but with the hot temps here, I’m not doing that.  Today’s plan is a little bit different though.  Instead of an early morning march, we are driving up in the late afternoon, with a planned summit time of about 17:30 local.  Jake works for a local company that builds cameras for spacecraft.  The cameras go on rovers, orbiting satellites, and eventually a manned spacecraft to the  moon and beyond.  The cameras are used for navigation and exploration.  Jake wanted to activate later in the day and then stay to get some dark skies in order to test a camera that he’s working on. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

2020-08-16 Otay Mountain

I’ve never activated Otay Mountain so today’s the day.  It’s going to be hot today so a drive-up summit would be best.  I left the house early and was on the summit a little after 0730.  The dirt road is a little over 7 miles and it takes you all the way to the antenna farm at the top.  There is a small spur from Otay Mountain Truck Trail that goes up to the antenna farm.  IT’s very narrow and has some pretty big holes in it but nothing I couldn’t navigate.

The temp was probably 75 on the summit.  There are a LOT of antennas for microwave, and VHF/UHF up there plus lots of power lines.  I know of at-least 3 ham radio repeaters that are up there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

2020-08-11 Blk Mtn IC-705 and JA


I needed some fresh air and exercise yesterday after work.  I’d been in back-to-back meetings all day and the neighbor had a jackhammer running all.  A quick hike and some radio were in order, so I headed over to a small mountain 5 minutes from my house.  It’s about 2 miles to the top and has 740 feet of elevation.  The one downside is that it’s packed with antennas, RF gear, cooling equipment, etc, so the RFI is pretty bad.  I normally go to the top of a mountain to get away from the RF but in this case, the convenience overroad the other objective.  I wouldn’t get any points because I’ve already activated it this year.  I’ve learned that running CW in a high noise environment really pays off due to the higher signal to noise ratio of CW (you’re listening to a smaller section of the band). 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

2020-08-08 Mt. Woodson via Poway Lake

For today’s hike, I joined Jacob, W6RWS, for a joint activation to Mt. Woodson.  I’ve been up to Woodson, not far from my house, a couple times before but I’ve always taken the road from the north side.  When Jacob recommended that we hike from Poweway Lake, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve never done that route and was looking forward to getting my body moving after sitting in the chair all week.


The plan was to meet at the lake at 0700.  I was running about 10 minutes behind and Jacob so he was ready when I got there.  The route would be about 3.5 miles to the summit.  I wasn’t prepared for the number of people that we would see on this trail.  I don’t think I’ve ever done a hike on a trail that was this busy.  At the top there is a rock called potato chip rock which is a great for pictures because it looks like you are out on a cliff in mid air so that’s a big draw.  We were both wearing masks when we came up on people, but hiking with a mask is not my favorite thing to do.

Monday, August 3, 2020

2020-08-01 SoCal SOTAFest

Today’s SOTA activation is part of “SoCal SOTAFest 2020”.  A group of hams, including myself, had been planning this for a while.  The idea is to get as many of us on a summit as possible to enable a whole bunch of summit-to-summit contacts and have fun.  As word got out, a lot of other SOTA operators took advantage of this as well.  A group up in Oregon and Washington were on the air and a Colorado group called the 14’ers had scheduled to have an event of their own on the same day.

If you want more info on the event, checkout  That will bring you to a mailing list site that we use to communicate.  The group also hosts a zoom meeting ever two weeks.  It's a great bunch of hams, some new at SOTA and some that have been doing it for a long time.  

2020-07-25 My First POTA

I did my first “Parks On The Air” (POTA) activation today, Liman Lake, Park K-1062.  POTA is similar to “Summits On The Air” (SOTA) in that it’s a sort-of gamified outdoor activity where you take your ham radio and make contacts from station to station (no repeaters).  SOTA has summits, POTA has parks.  The listing of parks contains state and national parks.  I’m not positive but I don’t think you get anything other than a “point” for each park.  I still have some work to do to fully understand their scheme regarding award levels etc.  Maybe they should have something like “park bear”, “park lion”, etc.  LOL.