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Monday, May 18, 2015

SOTA Mountain Goat Trophy Arrives

My engraved SOTA Mountain Goat trophy finally arrived. It took 118 summit activations to earn this little piece of glass making it priceless, to me at least.

My Ph.D. in Portable Mountain Ops
No two trophies are alike, each is hand chiseled. Pretty cool!!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dayton Finale

Dayton Hamvention 2015 is over for me. I have a plane to catch Sunday morning so I made my final rounds through Hara Arena just before 5:00 pm. I will be back, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise. It was a good time and I now have lots of ideas of things to do in and around the shack.



Below is a picture of the new K3S. There are some significant differences that I'm sure will be documented soon. Some of the differences will be mods that can be applied to current K3's, other changes will not. Only minor changes to the appearance of the radio

                                   K3S

There are always new things to discover and I came across a neat product for portable QRP practioners. One of the processes to getting efficient in portable QRP operation is to try to figure out a reasonable antenna configuration. Enter PackTenna, www.packtenna.com .


The product is a prepackaged antenna system, including the telescoping 32 ft. pole. The antenna is an innovative design that allows you to configure the antenna as a dipole or a vertical. Check it out.

                                             PackTenna

Finally, I didn't get away without a couple of catches of my own. I found a Navy Flameproof straight-key and a 100 year  commemorative version of the Vibroplex Original semi-automatic key. Both are seen below.


So another Dayton experience in the books, can't wait to go again.

Live From Dayton

I am taking a break at the Dayton Hamvention to capture a few thoughts. This is the first time I've been to Dayton since the late '90's. The good news and bad news is that not much has changed. The good news is that all the cool stuff is here.Yesterday I got a look at the new K3S that Elecraft announced and all the other new toys and old ones are here. It is Ham Radio Heaven from that perspective.

The gatherings around town are still a highlight. The social aspect of Dayton is always a plus, getting to hang out with your "on-air" buddies in person and getting together with people of common interests

So what is the bad news? Hara Arena was in bad need of a facelift in the late 90's and I can't tell that anything has been improved. Even a light rain brings out the buckets, inside, to catch the leaking water. The Flea Market area has crumbling asphalt, to the extent of being dangerous in places. Although it's early on Saturday, the crowds seem much smaller.

I was able to mix in a little SOTA fun while here. The highest point in Ohio is about an hour north of Dayton in Belle Fountain, OH. So I ventured up to there to activate a summit in a new association and get 4 points. 

                  A Collins Amplifier


                  Activating Campbell Hill

I will try to take a few more pictures to day.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Miscelleneous Radio Stuff

I've had so much to blog about lately and so little time to sit down and actually write it down that I felt the need to just say a few words in summary fashion without pictures. So below are a few radio things that I have going on.

As I have blogged in the past, I have a QTH is Santa Fe, NM. From there I have done the majority of my SOTA expeditions. There is a great ham radio community there and an even better SOTA community. Including myself, there are four hams who have earned SOTA Mountain Goat status in the Santa Fe areas and soon to be five. So we have a lot of fun in the mountains of New Mexico. To bring some organization to that group, we have formed the New Mexico Mountain Goat club to promote efficiently summit radio operations. This week the club call was finally issued, NM5MG. So listen for this call around Memorial Day weekend (end of May).

I have built my first stealth antenna with help from AD6D, in the form of a flagpole, at my Santa Fe QTH. The 20 ft. flagpole from ZeroFive antennas works great. I've installed an LDG tuner at the base to get the antenna resonant 10 -20m and added a piece of wire, attached to the flag fastener and raised to the top, in an inverted L configuration to get tuned resonance on 40m and 80m. No doubt it is a compromise, but I'm on the air and can work a lot of stuff.

I will be travelling to Dayton for the first time in 15+ years. I am looking forward to seeing old friends there. My focus in ham radio has matured a lot since the last time I was there, so looking forward to the flea market.

I am also working on perfecting remote operation of my home QTH station in Boerne, TX. Early results are encouraging. I just to need to tweak a few things and get comfortable with the process.

Hopefully next time, I can write some specifics about these projects.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

FT4TA Expedition Book

I received the commemorative book on the FT4TA expedition to Tromelin in the mail a couple of days ago. Just a word to say that it is a nice memento of the expedition. I enjoy collecting expedition books as they are nice reading to learn how things worked, but also to look at a few years in the future to remember how things worked, "in the good old days":-)

You can see a preview of the book here:  http://www.blurb.com/books/5999560-hamradio-dxpedition-to-tromelin-island-ft4ta-2014

I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My New Station

As I have blogged in past, I have a QTH in Santa Fe, NM. I have 5 acres, but according to the deed restrictions all I can do is look at it. No towers, no antennas, nothing. Since I spend most of my time here activating SOTA summits it's not that big of deal, however from time to time there is something I might miss because I have no HF capability, plus I like to chase SOTA peaks as well and I haven't been able to do that from here.

So with the help of Hector, XE2K, I am now able to work HF from here in a couple of ways. The first challenge was the antenna. While there is strict prohibitions against transmitting antennas, there is nothing prohibiting flagpoles. So I got permission to put up a flagpole. The flagpole I bought was from ZeroFive antennas. I bought the 20 ft. version. which is resonant on 20m with no tuning. I am using 16 43ft. radials However, I also put a SGC remote tuner at the base, which tunes all bands from 10m - 30m. Hector, who is very good at expanding the capabilities of any antenna, suggested we add a radiating wire to the mix. So we cut a 43 ft. piece of wire, attached it to the flag fastener and hoisted it to the top of the pole and tied off the end, in an inverted V configuration. the two antennas now are resonant, with the tuner, 10m - 80m. While it's not optimum, it is functional and now I'm on the air. In the photo below you can see the flagpole and the wire that makes 40m and 80m possible.


Flagpole Antenna

The next HF solution is to remote into my K3 at my home QTH in Texas. So I bought the K3/0 which is the remote radio device along with the RemoteRig interfaces. It is also now functional. So if I need a beam, I have access to that as well. So I am back in business on HF. Below is a look at the station. The K3/0 is on the left and an Icom 7200 on the right.

Station

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Final Assault (Part Three): Mission Accomplished

Today, March 8, 2015 at 1732z, I made my fourth QSO from Peak 9431, W5N/PW-019 with N4EX. That QSO qualified the activation and thus earned me my SOTA Mountain Goat award. After 2 years and 2 days my point total is now 1,007, hallelujah!!

Peak 9431 was also  the second activation I ever made and I activated it with Fred, KT5X and John K1JD, both of which were with me today. Also this was my first activation using snow shoes the entire way, which actually was sort of fun. I made 37 QSO's and had a nice run of Europeans on 15m. It was a great day. Below is a video and a couple of pictures of today's activation.


Ascent

Activation (I left my snow shoes on)

Departing the Summit with K1JD and KT5X


More summits to activate. Thanks to the chasers who make this possible.