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. 

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