“Top of the World” – SOTA Activation W6/SC-369 – April 8, 2015

“Top of the World” that’s the name of W6/SC-369 (Point 1036) above Laguna Beach, CA. The name is on signs at the parking area and the trail leading to the summit. The views are spectacular and this is a great summit to activate, relax and enjoy the view.

The “Top of the World” was my second activation using CW no phone mode at all not even FM. The last few days I kept going on my training software at 20WPM with over 90% results. Sounds great yeah, but means nothing, absolutely nothing!!

As mentioned before the real thing is the real thing and not software. I got stuck several times had to slow down, couldn’t copy, had brain blanking – you name it – everything the book has to offer for CW newbies. Thanks to all the chasers for their tremendous patience and their slowing down, repeating their calls and reports. My apologies for the ones I just could not copy especially at the end of the activation.

But no matter what I will keep going with CW on SOTA and in general – my microphone will not be used until I reach an acceptable speed in sending and receiving. Now that sounds scary …………

SOTA summit

SOTA summit

There is a problem with the SOTA database for this summit the referenced coordinates point to a residential area much lower than the actual summit. Just keep on walking to the “Top of the World”.

DSC_7309low

Equipment used

Antenna setup

Antenna setup

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

View towards Irvine, CA

View towards Irvine, CA

View of Santiago Peak

View of Santiago Peak

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

Summit

Summit

Mountain ranges from the summit

Mountain ranges from the summit

A thorny activation

A thorny activation

Summit meadow after a few hours of rain

Summit meadow after a few hours of rain

QSOs from the summit:

Date:08/Apr/2015 – Summit:W6/SC-369 (Pt. 1036)  – Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
08:58z NS7P 14MHz CW
09:03z NE4TN 14MHz CW
09:04z K8LWG 14MHz CW
09:05z K4MF 14MHz CW
09:10z N6JZT 14MHz CW
09:15z NA6EDE 14MHz CW
09:18z K6XM 14MHz CW
09:39z N4EX 21MHz CW
09:40z W0MNA 21MHz CW
09:41z W0ERI 21MHz CW
09:55z WA6ARA 7MHz CW

A great activation I had lots of fun thanks to all the chasers.

73,

WN6E    ditdit.

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SOTA Activation of Signal Peak, CA – W6/SC-362 – April 3, 2015 – First time using CW as an activator

After a longer break due to a work assignment abroad I tackled Signal Peak, CA for an activation together with Bob KB6CIO. Signal Peak is relatively easy accessible, provides some shade in the current drought related situation in Southern California and allows for a shorter afternoon activation including “apres activation” coffee.

The last few month I have diligently followed my daily or almost daily CW training using computer and cellphone related software. So I decided to give CW a try for the Signal Peak activation. I prepared an old J-38 key purchased for a couple of dollars from ebay for my FT-817ND, installed a 500KHz CW filter (lucky I did) and “boldly went where I hadn’t gone before”.   Bob put out a spot for me and I started calling CQ on the 20m CW portion of the band – then reality kicked in.

Where do you put the key? My leg didn’t work the connection wire was to short, so much for diligently prepared, anyway I managed somehow on the ground. Then the first chasers came back to me some strong, some weaker in any case it was a little pileup causing an immediate brain fry with the bold activator. Quite a difference to whatever software related training you do. Each operator has his own CW signature plus a pileup situation I could not copy much at all. So I answered with a “?” and broke the key connection wire in due course. So no answer from the activator instead I was fumbling with the broken wire and completely blanked out. I could not copy anything.

It was good that I had to fix the wire connection that gave me time to put my act together. My apologies to the chasers trying to call me. When I could finally send again I repeated my CQ tried to relax (sure…….) and finally managed to copy something W0MNA (Gary from Kansas). Gary patiently repeated his call until I got it including RST exchange and ditdit. Next was W0ERI (Martha), NS7P and WA2USA. Four CW contacts  – I just activated Signal Hill using CW.

At that time I was mentally drained CW is not SSB, but CW it is definitely much more fun. I am hooked now – again thank you for all the chasers calling and my sincere apology for the ones I missed due to brain fry or broken wires.

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake

Summit marker

Summit marker

Antenna farm near the peak

Antenna farm near the peak

Panorama view 360 degrees including Bob - KB6CIO and my fingertip

Panorama view 360 degrees including Bob – KB6CIO and my fingertip

Newport Beach and the Pacific Ocean

Newport Beach and the Pacific Ocean

Antenna setup right on the peak

Antenna setup right on the peak

Antenna

Antenna

Operating site

Operating site

Skeleton remains of a coyote meal

Skeleton remains of a coyote’s meal

Equipment setup

Equipment setup

On the way up to the hill I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake sunbathing on the trail – it was really close. Other incidences during the activation were severe transpiration caused by the sun and CW brain blanking, a broken antenna pole and broken morse key wires.

QSOs at this activation:

20m (CW): W0MNA, W0ERI, NS7P, WA2USA

12m (SSB): W0MNA, W0ERI

2m (FM): K6CMG

See you on the next summit.

73 WN6E ditdit