Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pt. 970 (W6/NC-422) SOTA Non-Activation Report

On the 26th of January 2014 the family and I decided to make a trip over to Travis AFB. This was really just a day out for a drive but I had known from before that there was an unactivated peak in the area and we like to get at least 5 miles of hiking in on the weekends so we decided to give this one a try. It was a fun trip with the family. This area is open range for cattle and they were quiet interested in what we were doing there. On one occasion we had a steer that was getting a little noisy with us and following us up the trail. I thought that he may try to follow us all the way to the summit but he turned back.

Route: You should be able to get good directions from my every trail post and follow to the "Go" point. There is a nice parking lot there that can accomodate 20-30 cars

Cell Signal: 
I do not know for sure how the signal is at the top but I had 3G signal most of the hike so I can assume that it is good at the top.

Radio working conditions: 
Unknown

Trail Condition: 
Well Maintained Easy to follow trail.

Weather: 
65 degrees beautiful day!

Fees: 
$6 Fee for parking. Also this park appears to be open only 9 - 5 on Saturday and Sunday.

Lessons Learned: 
*** You only go as far as the kids will let you. If they are starting to get tired on the way up it is about time to turn around and go back. SOTA can wait for another day.

EveryTrail Route: 

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2648877

If you take a look at the actual every trail link then you can see that the trail gets significantly steeper about the time that we turned around. We were about 1/2 mile from the summit when we turned around. I could see the trail all the way to the summit so it will definitely get you there. There are plenty of other 1 point summits that you can do in the area with out a 6 mile trip! I will do this one though before I leave!



Setup: 
Non Applicable. But I had the PFR3 with me today.

Contacts: 

None

They are acting like they love each other right here. Not all the time though! From Left to Right: Peyton, Makaila, Colten, Brookelyn.

On the Way up the trail

Delma making her way up.

A big row of Eucalyptus trees.


Interesting but probably hard to read here.

Peyton was always in the lead. He was a little frustrated as he likes to go quiet a bit faster then the younger kids.

Look for me on this summit again in the weekends to come. We had a great time out hiking.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sulphur Springs Mtn. (W6/NC-406) SOTA Activation

On 21 January I had to make a trip to Travis AFB for my last post operative appointment from back surgery. I had planned to do a summit in Briones Hills but as I was sitting in the lobby waiting area I saw a summit that had not been activated and what appeared to be a named trail right up to it. I always like named trails as they are bound to be on public land. My doctor gave me the go ahead to start pushing it a little more and get back into running and heavier loads. Now that I am into CW it is doubtful that I will carry the 857d again. Ok, there is a possibility to keep my kids interested in HAM radio and my XYL, Delma, is also working on general and may be a YL activator on SSB. As I was driving up towards the trail head I noticed that it was a golfing community with a security point at the entrance. Experience tells me take the outside lane and look like you know where you are going. It worked and the security guard just waived at me on the way by. I don't think that he would have stopped me but it is always best to avoid security guards and look like you belong where you are at. If there is an issue there appears to be another access back to the North a liitle bit. I did cross the trail that heads off to the North and it also looks like a great access point.

Route: You should be able to get good directions from my every trail post and follow to the "Go" point. After you go through the security check point take the first right and park in the small shopping center on the right. 

Cell Signal: 
No signal in the valley where I parked but I was able to get a spot out and had full digital signal (verizon) from the summit. I was getting a little worried because I did not do an alert for the summit.

Radio working conditions: 
No issues. Nice and quiet on the bands

Trail Condition: 
Well Maintained Easy to follow trail.

Weather: 
70 degrees beautiful day!

Fees: 
None.

Lessons Learned: 
*** Always do an alert especially on CW in hopes that RBN can spot you. I was getting a little nervous when I was nearing the summit and still only had analog signal.

EveryTrail Route: 

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2643768



Setup: 
PFR3 with internal AA batteries - http://www.qrpkits.com/pfr3.html

These batteries seem to do well in the radio. Yesterday when I returned from my Pt1502 activation I through them on the charger and they were full quick. I think that I could do quiet a few activations with these batteries. I also have a 1800 ma/h battery in my kit bag. This 18mah battery is a Chinese model from ebay. When I first got it I would use it for a while and then through it on the charger but when I would through it on the charger I would turn the switch on the side of the battery off. Apparently it does not charge when you turn that to off becuase while I was chasing it died on me. The good thing is that it made it through about two weeks of chasing before it died. I am impressed with the low power use of the radio but of course I am used to SSB and SLABs!

Lambda Antenna - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXo0XucRpt0&list=FLuy-J6QwwXmIdgM0-I2ue7w&index=1

This time I used this antenna the tree on the summit only allowed me to get the apex of the antenna about 9 ft off the ground. Still seemed to work very well. I am debating to leaving the Super Antenna and Coax at home but I may have to wait until I get a pole for the wire. 

AME Porta Paddle II - http://www.americanmorse.com/portapaddle.htm

When I was at the Air Force Base I picked up a Pelican case for my radio. This adds about 2 pounds to my pack but provides a lot of protection to the radio. I am not sure what to think about this when I am trying to go lite. But 4.2 pounds total weight is still under just the 857 so I guess I will be ok with it. 

Contacts: 

17 Total contacts and I was hearing everyone great! I got pretty good signal reports also. I would put my reports in the Notes column but for some reason the program I use for SOTA malfunctions when I try to export anything with notes added. 
A view of the gate. All open to the public. A rancher drove by me on his 4 wheeler while I was activating and just waived.
This gate was a bit tight for me and my pack. I had to do a little bit of manuevering to get around the corner. 
Here is a view towards the South East to Mt. Diablo and North Peak. North Peak is on the bucket list before heading North. I know that Todd KH2TJ is looking for a SOTA complete on this one. Thanks for the contact today Todd.
View to the bay to the West/SouthWest.
Thanks again to all the Chasers. Sorry that I did not spend a little bit more time on the summit. I did not want to be called "late for dinner" More to come. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pt. 1502 (W6/NC-367) SOTA Activation

On 20 January the family and I went out to Harvey Bear / Coyote lake state park that we had been eyeing for hiking, geocaching and SOTAing. We had planned to start a little earlier but when the kids are not ready to get out of bed, then I wait. Pt. 1502 was a previously unactivated summit and I wanted to make sure it had been activated before I left CA. There are still a few of these summits that I have my eye to do before leaving in a few months. This is one of those summits that you would not want to do in June or July even if it is only 4.5 miles. 

Route: See my everytrail post and you should easily find directions. From 101 south and follow the signs on the HWY

Cell Signal: 
Great verizon signal. Digital. Call, Post, and Text no problem.

Radio working conditions: 
No issues. Nice and quiet on the bands

Trail Condition: 
Well Maintained Easy to follow fire road and trail.

Weather: 
70 degrees beautiful day!

Fees: 
$6 Fee at the Entrance to the park.

Lessons Learned: 
*** I like the Lambda antenna that I made. I first tried to use my MP1 Superantenna and had nothing. I then switched to the wire and was getting 599s from the east coast. See the link to the antenna in Setup notes.

EveryTrail Route: 

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2636273


Setup: 
PFR3 with internal AA batteries - http://www.qrpkits.com/pfr3.html

Lambda Antenna - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXo0XucRpt0&list=FLuy-J6QwwXmIdgM0-I2ue7w&index=1

AME Porta Paddle II - http://www.americanmorse.com/portapaddle.htm

Contacts: 
20 Total CW contacts. 1 S2S with KC5CW, Thanks Curtis.


On the way up. All the kids. Peyton is carrying his overnight pack getting ready for a backpacking trip.


 Delma is carrying Kimber in the pack. This is one of the rare occasions that Kimber was awake she sleeps most of the time in the baby carrier.


At the summit. Kimber was enjoying her spot by the tree!



 A shot of the PFR3, key and log. If you look closely you can see the lambda antenna on the rig. This antenna is two wires. The bottom part is wound together to act as the feedline and then splits for the elements. Very impressed with this setup today. My signal reports were great. Maybe it was conditions but when I started with the MP1 I was not doing well.





Glad to be back at the truck!


The wild boars are everywhere in this park. I don't think that I have ever seen so many pigs.


Thanks to all the patient chasers!!!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Richard East Benchmark (W6/NC-407) Vollmer Peak (W6/NC-298) SOTA Activation

On 17 January I took our youngest son Colten out on a pair of SOTA activations with me. I found 2 easy summits that I had not yet activated. I woke Colten up at about 0545 in the morning and we were out of the house for our hour trip north to Marin county by about 0615. I decided to head out early to avoid all the Friday commute traffic. If we would have waited another hour it would have taken us 2 hours. A great trip out with my 4 year old son. He did great and would always find things to do, usually piling rocks to make "castles" or seeing how far he can throw rocks off the summit. *No hikers were injured or killed from rocks.

Route: 
                    
                       Vollmer Peak                                                     Richardson East BM

For Richardson East - After you get off on Spencer Ave go straight until you come to the underpass on your left. Take a left and go through the underpass. There is a park and ride parking lot on your right and curbside parking for 5 or 6 cars on the left.

Cell Signal: 
Richardson East BM - Yes (Verizon). Digital Signal Questionable but with patience will be possible to self spot. I was able to make phone calls and send text but SOTA goat was in and out. 

Vollmer Peak - No issues, full signal.

Radio working conditions: 
Richardson East BM - No issues
Vollmer Peak - Very Noisy be prepared to dig down in the noise. Bring VHF just in case.

Trail Condition: 
Well Maintained Easy to follow fire road and trail.

Weather: 
Breezy but sunny and clear on Richardson east. 65 degrees and sunny slight breeze on Vollmer Peak.

Fees: 
No fees at either area.

Lessons Learned: 
Always bring a multi-tool for trail fixes (see setup notes below). 

EveryTrail Route: *Note - I am going to work on editing the names of my everytrail routes to include "SOTA" with the  name and Ref # of the summit for easier searching. So if you are interested in any of the summits that I do you should be able to search for the Summit Name, Reference Number, or just "SOTA" and you will find somthing. Trying to make it easier for other activators.

Richardson East BM - http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2594432

Vollmer Peak - http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2594430

On this trip I did a loop. I started up the trail on the end of the parking lot and then I can down the access road. Different things to see from both routes.


Setup: 
PFR3 with internal AA batteries - http://www.qrpkits.com/pfr3.html
MP1 Superantenna - http://newsuperantenna.com/MP1-SuperStick-Portable-Vertical-Antenna-Deluxe/. 
AME Porta Paddle II - http://www.americanmorse.com/portapaddle.htm

Here is a photo of my Porta Paddle attached to a clipboard. This had been working for me until this activation. If any chasers saw my first alert quickly followed by a technical problems alert you now know that the cable ground to the connector came disconnected. I was lucky enough to be able to call my friend who was on his way up to bring a screwdriver and Gerber, which I forgot. It is a good thing that he slept in and was not at the trail head at our original link up time! As you can see I drilled two holes in the top of the clipboard for strain relief! Oh...and my cheat sheets for CW when I get really brain fried!



Contacts: 20 Total CW contacts.
Richardson East BM


Vollmer Peak


Colten on the way up Richardson East BM.


Surise Picture on the way up.


Here are two pictures. That Island with the peak is W6/CC-075 Mt. Livermore



Getting Closer to the top.


You can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge on this one.


Some Pictures from up on the Summit. We dropped off the South East side for some protection from the wind. Still well within the activation area.










Here are a few pictures from Vollmer Peak. I think that by this time I forgot that I had a camera. But I did get a few.


The two summits that you see in this Picture are Mt Diablo W6/CC-045 and North Peak W6/CC-051.



Thanks again to all the chasers. Thanks for being patient with me on my CW skills. I hope that they are starting to get better. I notice that I can pick up certain things a lot easier. Also, please understand that for me SOTA is a family sport a lot of the time. My young kids get very impatient if I stick around too long on the summit. I always have to incorportate throwing a football, geocaching, or something else to keep them entertained. I apologize for the quick band changes and low amount of actual time spent on a summit. As the years move on I am hoping for a family full of SOTA activations and some over night stays in the woods.

As most everyone knows I am off to Washington in April. I am looking forward to a bunch more summits that I have not activated and meeting some more SOTA activators. I do have a plan to activate a good amount of unactivated summits around the area here. Looking forward to the next few months of good weather in CA. 

Thanks again