SOTA Activation of San Juan Hill, CA – W6/CT-230, Feb. 25, 2014

The SOTA activation of San Juan Hill near Yorba Linda, CA together with Bob (KB6CIO) was quite a challenge with  a nice hike and some technical problems.

San Juan Hill SOTA

Route to summit

IMG_1801 (1)Trail head

 From the trail head to San Juan Hill it is a 2.8 miles long hike along the South Ridge trail of Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The exact location of the trailhead is described in Bob’s blog (http://rkliman.wordpress.com/).

The hike started in rather dense fog which only dissolved after setting up on San Juan Hill. The howling coyotes along the path, hidden by the fog, ensured quite a gloomy scenario.

IMG_1810Fog and howling coyotes

IMG_1819 (1)Summit trail

20140225_090703 (1)Equipment setup

IMG_1822 (1)Summit marker

IMG_1824 (1)Dipole on the summit

IMG_1827Operating site

 After setting up and checking the equipment my antenna tuner started to behave erratically. So we had to make some checks to track the problem. After some tinkering it was clear the tuner has a problem tuning the 20m band. So a switch to 12m, 15m and finally 10m band was required.

Nevertheless I made some very nice contacts, my final contact was on 10m with the Canary Islands (Spain). Thanks to all the contacts, chasers and Dan (NA6MG) for a “Summit to Summit “contact.

IMG_1814Along the trail

 The sun finally dispersed the fog and we spent quite some time on the summit before we called it a day and made it back to the trailhead.

Contacts on San Juan Hill:

Time Call Band Mode Notes
17:05z NA6MG 14MHz SSB 14,347 MHz
17:20z NS7P 14MHz SSB
17:25z KF7JQV 14MHz SSB
17:25z W0MNA 14MHz SSB
17:26z W0ERI 14MHz SSB
17:29z KA5PVB 14MHz SSB
17:30z K6TUY 14MHz SSB
18:11z W1AW/8 24MHz SSB 24,950 MHz
18:52z N7UN 24MHz SSB 24,980 MHz – QRP
18:53z N4MJ 24MHz SSB QRP
18:55z AE4FZ 24MHz SSB QRP
18:55z N4EX 24MHz SSB QRP
18:58z W0MNA 24MHz SSB QRP
18:58z W0ERI 24MHz SSB QRP
19:03z AI0Q 24MHz SSB QRP – North Dakota
19:04z WD7I 24MHz SSB QRP
19:07z WB8EKG 24MHz SSB QRP
19:09z W5WN 24MHz SSB QRP
19:09z KB1RJC 24MHz SSB QRP
19:11z N0EVH 24MHz SSB QRP
19:12z KW5HP 24MHz SSB QRP
19:27z W1AW/8 21MHz SSB 21,310 MHz
19:55z EA4YB 28MHz SSB 28,526 MHz, Spain Canary Islands

73,  see you on the next summit

WN6E

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SOTA Activation of Mt. Islip, CA – W6/CT-010, Feb. 22, 2014

At 4:00am this morning I started the “SOTA activation of  Mt. Islip”.

Why Mt. Islip ? Well most of the time I check out hiking posts, SOTA blogs and any picture of the mountain in question that I can find.  After reviewing whatever the Internet, books, posts and my research reveal, I take my pick and tackle the summit.

I drove to Wrightwood and then to the Los Angeles Crest Highway. Parking is at the everywhere described mile marker (66.37) along No. 2  from there I made it up to Windy Gap.

Windy Gap is an intersection of the Pacific Crest Trail and the trail to Mt. Islip. Going up to Windy Gap this direct route from the highway is quite steep, but it wakes you up at around 6:15am.

The summit trail offers spectacular views and some very nice photo opportunities. A great hike to Mt. Islip well worth it.

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Trail head to Windy Gap and early morning moon

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Morning on the trail

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Summit trail

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On the trail

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Close to the summit

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Former summit house

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Operating site

After setting up the equipment and getting spotted by Bob (KB6CIO) – the operating part was a real problem. For unknown reasons (I have to find out what’s wrong in detail) my antenna tuner decided not to tune the antenna. Whatever I checked, changed or modified didn’t work. I could hear chasers, DX and the 20m and 12m band was nearly noise free and open, but no tuning no effective getting out, especially with a non-resonant end feed wire antenna. Anyway I made several contacts on FM and HF and decided to enjoy the view, the hike and to worry about the tuning problems off the summit.

Contacts from the summit:

Time Call Band Mode
16:30z W7CNL 14MHz SSB 14,340 MHz
16:40z NS7P 14MHz SSB
16:43z KB6CIO 14MHz SSB
16:56z K6CAW 144MHz FM 146.520 MHz
17:14z N6TC 144MHz FM
17:16z N6JZT 144MHz FM

SOTA Activation of Occidental Peak, CA W6/CT-098, Feb. 21, 2014

Today Bob (KB6CIO) and I (WN6E) activated Occidental Peak, CA within the SOTA (Summits on the Air, http://www.sota.org.uk) program.

A SOTA activation is about amateur radio and hiking from small hills to major mountain, having fun and making contacts from the summit. Local or worldwide contacts depending on the propagation and luck.

Occidental Peak is in the San Gabriel Range and accessible via the Los Angeles Crest Highway and the Mount Wilson Road approx. 3.9 miles from the “Redbox” Ranger Station. At the access road to a major antenna (red you can’t miss it) along Mount Wilson Road you can park and tackle the hike. Just follow the fence of the antenna facility on the right side of the entrance gate. Where the fence ends is a helicopter pad located and at the wind flag the trail to Occidental Peak continues.

ImageAntenna facility start your hike along the fence at the right of the entrance

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Red antenna

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Wind flag at helicopter pad – here the trail continues

The trail is not very well marked and winds its way around a fake summit above the Mount Wilson Road towards Occidental Peak summit. Sometimes the trail is not more than a few feet away from the cliff down to the road, so caution is required. Most of the time the path stays below the ridge, just try to spot the way markers (stacked up rocks). On some occasions it goes up to the ridge and down again, offering some breathtaking views of Los Angeles and the surrounding mountains. After the final approach the summit offers some view of the Mount Wilson Observatory but is generally covered with trees and dense shrubs. A summit register in a red container is easy to spot.

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Downtown Los Angeles

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Local wildlife

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Trail

Taking our time we reached the summit of Occidental Peak after roughly an hour from our parking spot. After signing the summit register  setting up to get on the air was the next thing to do. Our first contact was NA6MG (Dan) who spotted KB6CIO (Bob) which helped a lot.

Propagation was better than expected after the sun storm at the beginning of the week. Most of the contacts were on 20m and surprisingly on 12m. I made some 2m contacts but could not reach N6JZT for a “Summit to Summit” contact on nearby Mt. Lukens. Hal (N6JZT) was “full quieting” but could not hear me or Bob. Mt. Lukens is in line of sight to Occidental Peak which makes this a real weird phenomena.

Contacts during this activation:

Time Call Band Mode
18:18z NA6MG 144MHz FM
18:22z KQ2U 144MHz FM
18:25z WA6VVC 144MHz FM
18:52z K6TUY 14MHz SSB 14,347 MHz
18:58z N6MKW 14MHz SSB
19:01z NS7P 14MHz SSB
19:02z KA5PVB 14MHz SSB
19:03z W0MNA 14MHz SSB
19:04z W0ERI 14MHz SSB
19:06z W7CNL 14MHz SSB
19:07z W7RV 14MHz SSB
19:14z N7AMA 14MHz SSB
19:15z N4MJ 14MHz SSB
19:17z WA6RIC 14MHz SSB
19:27z N4EX 24MHz SSB 24,980 MHz
19:29z KE5JDF 24MHz SSB
19:30z N1EU 24MHz SSB
19:31z WA2USA 24MHz SSB
19:32z AE4FZ 24MHz SSB
19:34z W0ERI 24MHz SSB
19:35z K5WI 24MHz SSB
19:36z W0MNA 24MHz SSB

IMG_1716

Antenna setup

IMG_1715

Operating setup

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Along the trail

The journey into CW

Today I will start my journey into CW or morse code. As a matter of fact I have started a few weeks ago by listening using the Koch method, but did not do this on a regular basis.

So I decided to become more serious and start today using Koch software programs on an Android tablet and my computer. Monitoring my progress and welcoming the unavoidable setbacks. Let’s face it my previous attempts to go into CW failed, but as an avid SOTA (Summits on the Air) activator and chaser I came to the conclusion that in order to reduce equipment and weight especially on long hikes, CW can’t be completely neglected. Besides I have a CW paddle key around the shack I may as well use it.

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So the journey starts……….

On the Air

This post starts my blog about my “Adventures on the Air”.

Of course there remains the question how you define adventures – in this case it is quite simple, or it appears to be.  Adventures are the things related to amateur radio encountered during my free time while being on the air, building equipment (mostly antennas), hiking on summits and bringing my radio along and last but not least attempting to restore my ability to use CW as an alternative to phone and digital modes. There will be also critical aspects to amateur radio, topics which are not really adventures, but more unpleasant encounters and experiences.

So having said that let’s start the journey, which isn’t all that easy to be honest for me, being completely new to blogging.