Saturday, December 17, 2016

Activation Report: SOTA W6/CC-063

Today I went to the summit of Mount Tamalpais, in Marin County across the Golden Gate from San Francisco, intending to attempt a "summit-to-summit" contact with my friend Andrew, VK1AD, who was activating Mount Stromlo (VK1/AC-043) in the Australian Capital Territory. Much to my chagrin, I left my freshly-charged 12-volt battery sitting on the kitchen counter at home and was unable to work any HF. It was also a little embarrassing, as a father and his two young sons were watching me set up my rig in hopes of seeing me operate my radio. It was a little awkward for all of us when I realized what I had done.

I had brought a handheld FM radio (a Yaesu VX-6R), however, and was at least able to log 9 contacts on the 2-meter band (146.520 MHz FM) and qualify for an activation of the summit.

Looking South from Mt. Tamalpais
Looking south, with San Francisco in the distance.

Looking South-Southwest from Mt. Tamalpais
The Pacific Ocean, over which I had hoped to talk to VK1AD.

Mt. Tamalpais
The summit of the east peak of Mt. Tamalpais, as seen from below.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Portable/Mobile on Mt. Vaca

Today I drove up to near the summit of Mount Vaca (SOTA W6/NC-151), put my Yaesu ATAS-25 antenna on the roof of my car, and "tuned the bands" to see what I would come up with. I didn't operate as a Summits-On-The-Air activation; I was operating from my vehicle--a SOTA no-no, plus I already activated the summit this year.

I logged four contacts:
  • On 20 meters (14.340 MHz), I chased KD0YOB, who was activating Iron Mountain (SOTA summit W0C/MZ-031) in northern Colorado, gaining four chaser points for myself. The distance was approximately 822 miles (1323 km).
  • On 14.275 MHz, I chased N4CD, who was conducting a National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) activation at Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NP10) for a distance of approximately 1,079 miles (1736 km).
  • On 17 meters (18.125 MHz), I responded to a CQ from Norm, NH6I, on the "Big Island" of Hawaii (approximately 2,419 miles [3893 km] away). This is my longest-distance contact thus far.
  • On 40 meters (7.230 MHz) I logged another NPOTA contact, this time with K6WDE, who was operating from the Mojave National Preserve (PV13) in the Southern California desert, a little over 400 miles (644 km) away.
On the first three contacts, I needed to run 75 watts to be heard; 50 watts was sufficient for the last one.

My trusty Yaesu FT-857D is ready for action in the back of my RAV4.

Looking east, with Sacramento and the Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance.

Looking northeast; in the distance, the Sutter Buttes can be seen rising from the floor of the Sacramento Valley.

These are just a few of the many radio towers that line Blue Ridge.

Looking west toward San Francisco Bay, with Mt. Tamalpais in the distance at right center.

Activation Report: SOTA W6/CC-071

On Tuesday, November 29, I activated Point Reyes Hill (elevation 1336 feet [407 meters]), which is located within the boundaries of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Access is quite easy, with a short .4-mile walk from the gate at the end of the road near the top of the hill.

While driving the road up the hill, I encountered another ham. Fred, N6YEU, was activating Point Reyes for National Parks On The Air (NPOTA). He was operating from the camper on the back of his pickup truck; the large inverted-v dipole antenna projecting above the truck is what caught my eye and identified him as a ham. After chatting with Fred for a few minutes, I continued a short distance up the road to the parking area near the gate.

The activation area at the top of the hill has spectacular views of the seashore and the Pacific Ocean. There is also, quite conveniently for a radio operator, a picnic table. The sky was crystal clear, with a few light clouds overhead and some fog over the ocean in the distance. There was just light breeze; it was hard to believe that it had been rainy and stormy for the several days prior.

I set up my rig and started calling "CQ" on the 20-meter band (14.310 MHz). It took a little time before I logged my first contact, NQ7R in Arizona. Two minutes later, I heard from the aforementioned Fred, N6YEU, who was just down the hill from me. He also responded 35 minutes later, after I rolled over to 7.239 MHz (40 meters). I logged a total of eight contacts over a period of just over two hours, including another Arizona station, two from New Mexico, and one from Southern California. A highlight was a Summit-to-Summit with K6YOA/P on Ryan Mountain Mountain (W6/CD-016) in the Joshua Tree National Monument, also another NPOTA contact.

A perfect spot for a hilltop radio station. The antenna is a Yaesu ATAS-25.

Portable radio station W6SAE: Yaesu FT-857D transceiver, LDG Z-11 Pro II antenna tuner, LiFePo4 battery, and MFJ headphones.