On Sunday, 7 August 2016 I completed my 9th SOTA activation. Which I realize doesn’t sound like very many considering I completed my very first SOTA activation in November of 2011. Between November 2011 and November 2012 I added seven more to the list. Then I got sick, got busy, had some personal issues and before I knew it the summer of 2016 was quickly slipping away.
For those who have followed my other blog and my podcast (Practical Amateur Radio Podcast), you are aware I started exercising and eating better to get in better shape and lose weight. While I’ve taken over 10 million steps, walked just short of 5,000 miles and climbed 22,000 floors since I started wearing my Fitbit in the summer of 2013, today was the first SOTA activation I had attempted since losing over 50 pounds. While I’m presently in a weight holding pattern, I still make every effort to complete 10,000 steps per day. This walking has kept me in pretty good shape considering where I was just a few years ago. Best I can remember, it took me over 2 hours to hike to the summit of Chief Mountain in 2013.
The trailhead of Chief Mountain is about 40 minute drive from my QTH. As Chief Mountain is extremely popular with hikers/peak baggers I wanted to get an early start. I arrived at the trailhead just after 6:30 AM. With my boots tightly laced and my pack strapped to my back, I hit the trail at 6:45 AM.
The above trail sign is approx. 1 mile from the trailhead parking area and 2 miles below the summit.
One hour and five minutes later I’m standing on the summit of Chief Mountain. The total trail length is approx. 3 miles with a total elevation gain of just under 1,000. This is a great hike and I highly recommend it.
My SOTA HF setup hasn’t changed since 2012. If it works, why mess with it? I use a Buddipole vertical setup with a single wire counterpoise. For this activation I setup for the 20 meter band. I pack enough hardware to create a full-size 1/4 wave length vertical (no coil) along with a 1/4 wave length elevated counterpoise. With band conditions being less than desirable, I believe the extra weight of the two aluminum arms (versus the coil) was worth the effort.
My Buddipole vertical setup with my SOTA flag flying proudly.
Of course, my Elecraft Kx3 (serial number 057) running 10 watts is still very much my pride and joy of my QRP setup and I power it all with my 4+ year old Buddipole A123 Nanophosphate Battery Pack (13.2v, 9.2Ah). However, I must admit I was a little worried if my A123 battery pack would still work after all this time. But I would not be disappointed. They performed just as expected.
HF Contacts (20m SSB)
In just a little over 45 minutes I worked 24 stations from across the US and Canada. Many stations were familiar from previous activations along with many new ones. New Hampshire was the furthest QSO made during this activation.
Thanks to W0MOS, AD1C, N1CC, N1KB, NE4TN, KG3W, K7ZO, VE2JCW, WG0AT, W9MRH, KI4SVM, K2JB, N9FZV, W0MNA, NS7P, VA6FUN, K3SAE, W9RCJ, KK6GMN, KB5IMK, WA9BNZ, N1RCQ, KX3DX, KD0HRM.
A quick “selfie” from my operating position.
VHF Contacts (2m FM)
I don’t always pack along the Elk 2m/440 5 element log-periodic antenna. But as this was the 25th Annual Colorado 14er and SOTA weekend, I wanted a chance to make as many summit to summit (S2S) QSO’s as possible. Again, the added weight paid off. I made an additional six VHF QSO’s with four of those being S2S QSO’s.
Thanks to KD0WHB, WB9KPT, N0BCB, KK6JQV, KC1EPN
Summit to Summit (S2S)
As an activator, we often have the opportunity to work other mountaintop stations in what are known as Summit to Summit (S2S) QSO’s. As this was the 25th annual Colorado 14er and SOTA weekend, I knew my chances of working several Colorado mountain top stations would be good. During the 90 minutes I spent on Chief Mountain I managed to work eight stations on seven different mountain tops. Including two stations out of state (California and Oregon).
All-in-all this was very much a successful SOTA activation. While the HF band conditions were not perfect, the time spent on the air from almost 12,000 ASL was certainly worth it. Anytime I take amateur radio outdoors it always ends up being about the experience and not about anything else. Just the way it should be….
Until next time…
73 de KDØBIK (Jerry)