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