Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

SOTA Activation: Snowy Mountain W3/PD-007

Eric holds up his SOTA flag while kneeling over his radio setup in the woods.

Hey look, a flag!

Stats

  • When: 2017-12-24 from 1543Z to 1625Z
  • Where:¬†Snowy Mountain – W3/PD-007
  • Who: Just me
  • Ascent: 148′ over 0.64mi
  • Equipment: Elecraft KX3, SOTABEAM MIDI antenna
  • APRS Coverage: Excellent
  • T-Mobile Coverage: Good. Had 4G (no LTE) coverage at the summit.

Oh what a difference a day makes! The family and I hiked up to the fire tower at the summit of Snowy Mountain. It was around 10 to 12 degrees colder than yesterday but it wasn’t raining and the sun was actually shining!

The walk up from our parking area wasn’t too bad. The dirt road has been maintained well so it was more of a leisurely walk up. I setup near the fire tower to stay away from the nearby power lines and other RF noise generators at the radio tower site that also inhabits the summit.

I chose the west-facing side and strung my antenna up in among some pine saplings. I was surprised to find a 4G cellular signal (T-Mobile) out here and took advantage of it to check for other summits that were also on the air at the time. I did see N3ICE up on W3/PH-004, of which I thought would have been an easy S2S contact, but could not hear her on 40m. My usual 60m channel was in use so I started on 40m and sent out my first spot.

Contacts

I thought I’d give my fingers a rest and do a little voice work today. The upper portion of forty meters is pretty busy but I managed to find an open spot to call CQ. I quickly put NP2EI, K1LIZ, NE4TN, W9MRH, and KI4TN into my log. I was informed that the Eastern Tennessee SOTA chaser contingent was listening and would be trying to work me. ūüôā

I switched over to CW and put AC1Z, KI4TN, K8HU, and WA2USA in the log. My ear seemed to handle the code much better today compared with yesterday. I tried twenty meters but for some reason the antenna wouldn’t tune-up. I moved down to seventeen meters but got no response even though the band seemed to be open.

I checked the spots, again, and saw I had a request for eighty meters or sixty meters. The MIDI antenna isn’t supposed to do 3MHz but I have had it work before; not today. Luckily I had Internet connectivity so I was able to lookup the channels for sixty meters. I finally found one that wasn’t in use, spotted myself, and started calling CQ. I picked up N2ESE, N2GBR, and K3JZD all on CW. Tried voice on the same channel but no joy.

Amanda and Elise are cold. Harlan is missing.

By this my fingers were getting cold and my family, all of whom had already abandoned me for the car, were waiting “patiently” for me at the bottom. It didn’t take me long to break camp and hike the .6 miles down.

The sky was clear enough that I was able to see other mountain summits in the distance. Just a beautiful sight.¬† I would highly recommend this summit to others as it’s fairly easy to get to and offers some very nice views once you get away from the summit itself.

Lessons Learned

From yesterday, I had the same problem of a wet, cold ground to sit on.¬† Because I’m still trying to figure out how to pack all my gear I still am carrying my KX3 with much of what it was packed in when it was shipped to me: lots of plastic, foam USPS envelopes.¬† I ended up sitting on one of these and it worked great!¬† My butt was warm and dry the entire time!¬† My friend Zach has suggested a, perhaps, more suitable solution: a Therm-a-Rest Z-Seat Pad.

I still need to figure out why the MIDI antenna will sometimes tune up on a band and other times not.

I also need to figure out an antenna to better support the lower bands (80m and 160m).

Summary

All in all, this is a great summit to activate.¬† It requires some hiking (I would have preferred a bit more), the views are nice on a clear day, and the RF noise isn’t so bad here.¬† I hope to come back to this summit and do it again some day!

SOTA Activation Report: Methodist Hill North W3/PD-006

An Elecraft KX3 HF transceiver on the ground with a SOTA flag.

Portable HF setup on Methodist Hill North

Stats

  • When:¬†2017-12-23 from 1832Z to 1915Z
  • Where:¬†Methodist Hill North – W3/PD-006
  • Who:¬†Just me
  • Ascent: None (see below)
  • Equipment:¬†Elecraft KX3, SOTABEAM MIDI antenna
  • APRS Coverage:¬†Excellent
  • T-Mobile Coverage:¬†Nil

I arrived at the summit a little earlier than I had originally planned only because of the littlest one’s nap time. I also didn’t hike in due to the weather, which was and is a disappointment. Nonetheless, I did wander around the activation zone a bit trying to find that perfect place to setup. Unfortunately, I had to settle for a rotten log in an area that wasn’t as thick, brush-wise, as the rest of the area.

This is the first deployment of my Elecraft KX3 and, coupled with the SOTABEAM MIDI antenna, I have no complaints. Receive noise levels were low and signals were decent. Only problem I could find in the whole mix was me!

SOTABEAM MIDI deployed in the woods.

I mentioned the weather wasn’t great. Temperatures were in the 40Fs with a breeze. There was also rain. My CW likely ranks among the worst on the air and it gets worse when I’m sitting on the wet, cold ground being rained upon. For those that worked me, thank you. For those that worked me towards the end on 40m, as we say down in the South, “bless your heart”. I was going to try some PSK31 to give my fist a break but the USB connection for the keyboard seems to make a lot of RF hash noise. Switching to voice yielded no contacts so I just packed up and headed down the mountain.

Contacts

Thirteen contacts were had over two bands: sixty and forty meters. I started with sixty meters where I put K8HU, N2ESE, W2SE, KB9ILT, N3SW, and N2GBR in the log. I moved down to forty meters and found K3TCU, KI4TN, AC1Z, NE4TN, VE2JFM, AB9CA, and AA1CQ. All contacts were CW.

Lessons Learned

First, I need lightweight gloves that will keep my fingers warm but will still allow operation of a CW key.  Even at moderately cool temperatures, my fingers were getting too cold to not make mistakes when sending CW.  Not sure what to do about my brain getting too cold to not make mistakes when decoding CW.

Second, I need to find something lightweight and flexible to sit on that will insulate my butt and keep me dry while I sit on the ground.  It was not comfortable to absorb the dampness that was the ground while making contacts.

Summary

Thirteen contacts in the log and a new summit to boot.¬† Overall, I’m happy with the activation and can hardly wait to do it again!