I have not updated my activations here in quite awhile. I have done quite a few and am up to 47 total activations. This is still a lot less than a lot of other Colorado activators. I moved from Evergreen, Colorado to Broomfield, Colorado earlier this year. When I started this project, I was living above my gun shop and could hang out at a coffee shop and write. Then I was staying in Broomfield with my YL, Annette, KA0JKZ, most nights and driving to Evergreen to run the gun shop. We closed the gun shop earlier this year and I am working in Boulder, Colorado, building antennas for a defense contractor.
I was recently asked to present a talk on Summits On The Air for our Region 1 District 6 Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) group on January 17th, 2019 in Golden, Colorado. Then a week later I was asked to do a presentation on SOTA for the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club swap meet in Loveland, Colorado on January 19th 2019. I am working on a PowerPoint presentation on SOTA that I can use for both events.
One of the good activations this past year was Mount Sherman, W0C/SR-061. This is one of Colorado’s 14ers, or, a summit over 14,000 feet. Mount Sherman’s elevation is 14,035′. We have a 14er event the first weekend of August each year. This has gone on several years, usually coordinated by Bob Witte, K0NR. We have several amateur radio operators climb 14ers that weekend and contact each other for Summit to Summit (S2S), contacts. Most of our contacts are with each other on the 2 meter band, around 146.520 Megahertz. I hiked the mountain and started operating, then was joined by Wayne Hall, AD0KE, for a joint activation. I met Wayne and his wife earlier this year at an annual SOTA dinner. In the summer, Wayne and I worked as net control station for a 24 hour trail running race, the Never Summer 100K, west of Fort Collins, Colorado. My YL, Annette, KA0JKZ, and I, camped in Gould, Colorado for the weekend and helped with the race communications.
I hiked a few smaller summits near Boulder Colorado recently. These were after work activations where I hiked up in the last light, activated into the dark, then hiked down by headlamp.
This past Sunday I activated Crosier Mountain, W0C/FR-057. I need to thank George Carey Fuller, KX0R for his great trip reports that helped with the logistics of activating Crosier. KX0R writes up reports for most of his activations and they are great help for other activators. His write up helped me to know where to park and how to hike the mountain.
I got a late start as I had a little bit of the flu that started the previous weekend. I was not sure about hiking at all but really wanted to activate. The hike up took me close to two and a half hours. I stopped several times to try and take video that I could use in my SOTA presentations. I am really not happy with the video though. I need to keep trying and learn more about hiking video. There was snow in the shady areas of the trail but there are enough hikers on this trail that the snow was packed down. I had my micro spike crampons in my backpack but I did not need them. I made it the summit of Crosier after two and a half hours. I visited with a couple that had reached the summit and were hanging out enjoying the view. Then I moved off a little and set up for the activation.
I moved several yards east of the summit rocks to get some distance from other hikers. I got out my Spot satellite locator and sent a spot so Annette would know I was on the summit.
For this activation, I brought up my Yaesu 817, my trapped end fed half wave dipole, (EFHW) antenna, as well as an Alpha Delta 20M dipole. For batteries, I brought up a 12 volt sealed lead acid battery (SLAB) and two Hobby King 9.9 volt RC car batteries. I set up the 20 meter dipole first and used the big SLAB battery on 20 meters. I had a weak data connection on my cell phone. It was enough to create a spot for myself with the SMS spotting service that I was activating on 20 meters. I started off with voice on 20. I made 11 SSB contacts and when the chasers stopped calling, I moved to the CW portion of 20. I used the SMS spotting service again to self spot for CW. I worked 6 more stations and the chasers stopped calling. This is where the problems started. I put up my EFHW and hit the CW paddles to see if the radio was unhappy with the SWR. As soon as I keyed the paddles to transmit, the radio shut down. It seemed that the SLAB battery had really discharged itself quickly. The LCD on the front of the 817 radio showed that I had 9.1 volts. I thought that the battery must be old and not holding a charge. I moved to the other batteries. I changed cables and tried one of the 9.9 volt LiFe RC batteries. Then I discovered that the battery cable that connects these to the radio has a break in it somewhere. The radio would not stay powered and would power up, shut down, and power up, as the battery cable was moved around. That pretty much ended my SOTA activation.
I took down both antennas and got everything packed up. It was still daylight when I started hiking but I knew it might get dark on the way down. I was enjoying the hike. I had my GPS on during the hike up but I left it off, in my pocket, on the way down. That was a mistake. I missed a turn on the trail. When I finally realized I had missed something, I got out the GPS and turned it on. I saw that I had missed a turn somewhere back a ways. By the time I realized this, and looking at the distance to the road on my current heading, I decided it was easier to keep going to the road and then walk down the road back to the trail head where I was parked. As I was getting close to the road, it was dark enough that I needed to get the headlamp out of my pocket and put it too use. I had to walk a few miles to the car. It turned out to a long day.
I am thinking about a few activations during the Christmas break form work. still thinking about trying the 14er, Quandary, again and actually using the radio on the summit. It was almost two years ago that I reached the summit in January, but with frostbite and frozen, fingers that would not work. I could not operate my radio that time. A long time ago I climbed Mount Lincoln in the winter and would like to climb it again, this time activating for SOTA. Maybe later towards the end of the month.
Before another activation though, I need to work on the battery issue. The SLAB is too heavy for a 14er trip. I need to get the wire fixed for the LiFe batteries. I need to find a aftermarket part for the Yaesu 817 that will help. It is a 3D printed part that plugs into the power jack in the back of the radio, and screws to the back of the radio and has two Anderson Power Pole power connectors. My EFHW antenna broke on a recent activation and I soldered it together but I need a better repair, or just replace that section.