First SOTA activation W6/NS-355

November 22nd, 2012

I finally got a to a peak I could activate.  The last peak I was going to attempt, W6/NS-357 Pine Hill, turns out to be in a protected wild life area.  I’m still going to try and get permission to go up there, but that weekend I ended up just going to Sly Park and setting up there for a few hours.

This past Friday, I had to work a store in Jackson, CA.  I looked at the summit database and found that W6/NS-355, Jackson Buute, was only a couple miles away.  I decided to go out a few hours early and see if I could activate it.

When I started going up the hill, I saw a couple of no trespassing signs.  I remembered seeing a house in the Google maps satellite view, so I decided to keep going up anyway.  I figured I would just knock on the door, introduce myself, and ask for permission to be there for an hour or two.

My plan worked better than I thought.  It turns out the house was owned by a fellow ham, Dennis N6KD.  Not only did he give me permission to go the rest of the way up, but he showed me his station as well and invited me back to work a contest with him sometime.  He had never heard of SOTA, so I gave him the web address.  Maybe we’ll see him activating his own hill soon.  He did say he loves QRP and showed me his KX3.

After talking with Dennis, and parking my truck next to his driveway, I walked the rest of the way up NS-355.  I got set up and on the air by about 1930z.  Only thirty minutes later than the alert time I had posted!

I put out a CQ SOTA on 10m and immediately got a response back from Gary W0MNA in Leavenworth, KS.  The next contact came from a ham that turns out to be a neighbor of mine back at the home QTH, that I hadn’t met before, Rich NU6T.  He was having trouble copying me and gave me a 25 signal report, but we managed to get everything exchanged for a valid contact.  We’ll be getting together for coffee soon and possibly planning an activation.

I made a couple more contacts on 10m, Randy ND0C in Minnesota, and another KS contact, Martha W0ERI.  After a few more CQ calls, and hearing nothing, I announced I’d QSY to 20m.

Being new to HF, I didn’t realize there is a maritime mobile net on 14.300, which is the frequency I put out on the alert for 20m.  I went up and down the band a bit form there, but didn’t find a nearby open frequency so I decided to keep on going to 40m.

I made one contact on 40m, Dennis back in his house.  Right after that, the rain started coming down, so I did a quick pack up and started heading back down to the truck.

Not counting Dennis on 40m, I got four contacts on 10m and was able to activate the summit.

I had a great time activating the summit, made a couple new friends, and I’m looking forward to my next activation.

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Summits on the Air – SOTA

October 20th, 2012

Today, on the way to work, I didn’t have an HF radio with me, but I was scanning through on 2m and heard a CQ call on simplex, 146.52.  I don’t hear that very often, so of course I answered it.  Turns out it was a station activating a SOTA station on Grouse Ridge, about 100 miles away.  This was my first time hearing about SOTA.  After reading about it online, and seeing that there are quite a few peaks in my area to activate, I think I found a purpose for my FT-817 now!

I need to remeber to come here more often.

October 20th, 2012

QRP with the FT-817 and a backyard home brew dipole turned out to be very frustrating.  I could hear the world, and do nothing about it.  Even in the truck with a hamstick, I could barely talk around town.

So a couple of months ago, I picked up a Kenwood TS-50 with the matching AT-50 tuner from a local ham.   Without even mounting it, and just running to a hamstick, the first CQ I answered got a response.  What a difference 100 watts makes.

I’ve made contacts all across the US, mostly on 10 meters, while mobile.  I heard a couple of DX stations, but they were weak and I couldn’t break the pile up.  Until this week…

A few days ago, I was at a local club meeting and a guy was telling me how he worked a New Zealand station while mobile with only 2.5 watts, that’s how good 10 meters has been.  So the next day I decide to take the TS-50 with me for my morning commute.  I worked a few US stations, then as I was tuning around, I heard what sounded like an Australian accent. I tried to get through a couple of times, “N6CT, mobile, mobile, mobile!”  Then I heard it.  “Mobile station go ahead!”  I did it, my first DX contact!  I was getting a lot of electrical noise, and he was going quickly to get through his pile up, so I never copied his exact location.  Once I got to work, I looked him up.  Keep in mind, I’m new to HF, and I don’t know many DX call sign prefixes.  MW0ZZK was his.  Turned out he was in Wales, UK.  I worked the UK from a mobile station going down I-5 in northern California!  I know, a lot of you are thinking, “big deal”.

I’m still excited, let me have my moment.

August 19th, 2012

First Post

July 17th, 2012

This post is more of a test than anything.  Since I’m typing, I guess I can make it a bit of an intro as well.

I originally got my amateur radio license in 1992.  My first call sign was KD6PHA.  It was a no-code technician license, so I only had access to 50Mhz+.  Two meters was the main band in my area, since most of the 440 repeaters were closed systems. I was active on a few repeaters and had a lot of fun.  Then in 1997, I joined the navy.

While in the navy, I wasn’t very active in ham radio.  I met another operator on my first ship, and got a little more interest in it.  That’s when I got my vanity call, N6CTM.  N for navy and CTM for Cryptologic Technician Maintennce, which was my rate.

Fast forward to 2004, and I got out of the navy.  I began getting active on 2m again and went and got my General license around 2006 or so.  I bought an FT-897, but I was living in a condo at the time, and never was able to get an antenna up.  I’ve moved a couple times since then, and always had antenna issues.

A few months ago I traded the FT-897 for an FT-817.  I’m now working on getting HF running mobile and portable.  This blog will have a lot to do with that.