Mt. Helix – SOTA Activation – W6/SC-352 – June 23, 2016

This was an early morning SOTA activation of Mt. Helix (W6/SC-352) close to San Diego. A joint activation with KB6CIO (Bob) after an early morning coffee close to Mt. Helix.

The summit offers some great views and a church amphitheater with sufficient shade to operate and setup your antenna. Mt. Helix is worth a visit and highly recommended whenever one happens to be in the area.

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Amphitheater Mt. Helix

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Mt. Helix

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Setup in the shade

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Antenna setup

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Field log

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KB6CIO and WN6E

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Summit views

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Summit views

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Summit views

The bands were pretty much dead and so we called it a day before the heat started to develop in full strength.

The log from the summit:

Date:23/Jun/2016 Summit:W6/SC-352 (Mount Helix) Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
16:01z NA6MG 144MHz FM 146.58
16:02z K7WYV 144MHz FM
16:05z AE6AV 144MHz FM
16:11z NG6R 144MHz FM
16:32z NS7P 14MHz CW 14.062 MHz
16:35z W7CNL 14MHz CW
16:41z NJ7V 7MHz SSB 7.185 MHz, STS W7A/CS-022
17:00z NJ7V 7MHz CW 7.037 MHz, STS W7A/CS-022

Thank you to all the chasers and their patience due to the band conditions and my CW.

73,

WN6E

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Mt. Lawlor – SOTA Activation – W6/CT-089 – April 2, 2016

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Mt. Lawlor Summit

Started from home at 4:30am and reached the Redbox Parking Lot at the intersection to the Mt. Wilson Observatory and Highway 2 around 5:45am. After admiring the sunrise the hike started around 6:00am a magnificent walk in the morning breeze up to the saddle where the trails to Mt. Lawlor and Strawberry Peak start.

The trail to Mt. Lawlor is partly overgrown and one has to take care not to loose it. In any case when in doubt just move up towards the summit. On my way down I lost the trail and ended up in the middle of nowhere which required hiking back up for quite some time until I found the right way down again.

On the summit I set up for HF and enjoyed the tremendous views before starting on 146.52 FM. I have to admit I rarely use FM on summits but today I got so many calls that I stayed quite a while on FM and had a S2S with Neil (K6KWI) on Niguel Hill. On 20m Bob (KB6CIO) spotted me but for 30 min no contact so I switched to CW but broke a wire on my key – my apologies to the chasers coming back to my CQ – my repair attempt didn’t work out.

P1000440 - Kopie

Trail close to Redbox Parking

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Sunrise

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Panorama from the trail

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On the trail to the saddle

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Summit trail

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On the way

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Summit view

Thank you for the contacts from Mt. Lawlor:

Date:02/Apr/2016  –  Summit:W6/CT-089 –  (Mt. Lawlor) –  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:50z N6HEG 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
15:51z KN6CCW 144MHz FM
16:00z NG6R 144MHz FM
16:02z KM6DM 144MHz FM
16:05z KX6A 144MHz FM
16:06z K6CMG 144MHz FM
16:24z K6WWI 144MHz FM
16:29z K6KWI 144MHz FM S2S  W6/SC-371

73,

WN6E

Pt. 2000 Temecula, CA – SOTA Activation – W6/CT-221 – July 16, 2015

Operating Site

Operating Site

On relative short notice Bob (KB6CIO) joined me for a SOTA activation near Temecula, CA. It was extremely hot even during the early morning hours and propagation was not our friend. It was extremely difficult to make contacts but we finally managed to make a few.

The California drought conditions are really apparent in this area around Temecula and require an early activation time – even early is a relative term.

So this is just a short report with some views of Pt. 2000 (actually a hill next to it but within the activation zone) the actual summit is on private property.

Station Setup

Station Setup

Bob working chasers

Bob working chasers

Summit View

Summit View

View towards Temecula

View towards Temecula

More views

More views

Thanks to all the chasers for the QSOs despite the dreadful propagation conditions.

Date:16/Jul/2015  Summit:W6/CT-221 (Pt. 2000)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:57z W0MNA 14MHz CW 14.061 MHz
15:58z W0ERI 14MHz CW
16:23z W7RV 7MHz CW 7.045 MHz
17:00z NA6MG 10MHz CW 10.110 MHz – very weak signal 222

73,

WN6E

“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.

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

SOTA Activation of Sitton Peak, CA – W6/CT-172 – San Matteo Wilderness, CA – December 26, 2014

In an effort to fight the Christmas pounds which could accumulate and probably will anyway I decided to hike to Sitton Peak and do an activation.

Whether you want to do SOTA or just hike Sitton Peak is definitely worth the effort a magnificent hike with spectacular landscape and views. You hike through long stretches of old California oak forest, through valleys and over ridges with a final really steep trail to the summit. Its a 10 mile hike to the summit and back to the trailhead. Use the Ortega Highway from Orange County or Riverside County and park opposite at the Candy Store at the Cleveland National Forest parking lot. The trailhead of Bear Canyon Trail is just across the street.

Trailhead on Ortega Highway (74)

Trailhead on Ortega Highway at the Candy Store

Route taken to Sitton Peak

Route taken to Sitton Peak

Trail register

Trail register

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Hiking up Bear Canyon Trail from the Candy Store on Ortega Highway

San Matteo Wilderness sign

San Matteo Wilderness sign

Nice hike through oak forest

Nice hike through oak forest

Oak trees

Oak trees

Bear Canyon Trail with marker to Sitton Peak

Bear Canyon Trail with marker to Four Corners

Closed trail

Closed trail

Trail towards Four Corners intersection

Trail towards Four Corners intersection

View from the trail

View from the trail

Sitton Peak marker at Four Corners

Sitton Peak marker at Four Corners

Activator on the trail

Activator on the trail

Snow capped mountain ranges

Snow capped mountain ranges

Natural sculptures

Natural sculptures

Rough trail section

Rough trail section

The variations on the hike are incredible, exposed ridges, deep valleys and long stretches of oak forest. At the final intersection where the final ascent to Sitton Peak starts a water tank and the debris of a helicopter crash clearly indicate the trail to the summit. The last 0.25 miles up to the peak are rough, extremely steep but have incredible views to offer. From the mountains to the Pacific great views.

Water tank close to the final summit marker

Water tank close to the final summit marker

Debris at helicopter crash site

Debris at helicopter crash site

Summit trail

Summit trail

Equipment used for the activation

Equipment used for the activation

Summit benchmark

Summit benchmark

Summit views

Summit views

Orange county from the summit

Orange county from the summit

Operating conditions were not really good, signal strength and severe fading made it challenging to activate the summit. Thanks to Bob KB6CIO for spotting me and all the chasers who managed to get my weak signal.

Date:26/Dec/2014   Summit:W6/CT-172 (Sitton Peak)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
19:07z AE9F 14MHz SSB 14,347.50 kHz
19:10z NS7P 14MHz SSB
19:23z N6JZT 24MHz SSB 24,950 kHz
19:24z KB6CIO 24MHz SSB
19:26z KI0G 24MHz SSB
19:26z N7ENL 24MHz SSB
19:27z N4EX 24MHz SSB
19:27z W0MNA 24MHz SSB
19:37z W1AW/3 21MHz SSB 21,270 KHz
19:47z N7NGO 14MHz SSB S2S 14,345.00 KHz

73,

WN6E

SOTA Activation of Bertha Peak, CA – W6/CT-054 on September 12, 2014

IMG_2759Trail to the summit at 6:45 in the morning

Bertha Peak via 3N09

Route to the summit via North Shore Dr. in Fawnskin (Big Bear Lake)

For the access to the summit I used the Forest Road 3N09 from the North Shore Drive in Fawnskin until the crossing with the Pacific Crest Trail. Shortly before the PCT there is a possibility to park. I followed the PCT until it intersects with the summit trail. On the way up I encountered some deer, actually I saw only one until I had a closer look at the photo I took. There were several deers – I just didn’t see them that’s what is called perfect camouflage. The hike to the summit is shaded most of the time and the views are spectacular. At the summit are several antenna installations and I set up my operation underneath some trees.

Bertha Peak

Final approach to the summit

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Deer on the trail

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Bertha Peak from the trail

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Summit trail

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Summit view

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Big bear lake from the operation site

IMG_2770Operation setup

The activation was a QRP operation 5W using a FT-817. The band conditions were not too good but I made some nice contacts on 40m, 20m and 15m. No CW this time I still struggle with copying and the fact that I have the problem of blanking out and can’t follow anymore. So I first have to improve this before I dare a CW activation. Made a S2S with N6MKW Mike operating from W6/SC-001 on 40m.

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On the trail

IMG_2791The trail is shaded by trees most of the time

IMG_2794Intersection of the summit trail and PCT

Date:12/Sep/2014  Summit:W6/CT-054 (Bertha Peak)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:25z N6JZT 7MHz SSB 7.182 MHz
15:26z WA6RIC 7MHz SSB
15:27z W7RV 7MHz SSB
15:28z NA6MG 7MHz SSB
15:29z KN6CCW 7MHz SSB
15:30z K6HPX 7MHz SSB
15:31z KN6CCW 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
15:40z WB5USB 14MHz SSB 14.3475 MHz
15:41z KI0SK 14MHz SSB
15:45z N6MKW 7MHz SSB 7.185 MHz S2S
15:51z KB6CIO 7MHz SSB 7.182 MHz
16:11z W0MNA 21MHz SSB 21.318 MHz

73,

WN6E