I was checking out SOTAWatch2 and I noticed that there were an unusually large number of alerts for North American summits on August 8th. What gives?… well, turns out it’s an annual event called the Colorado 14′ers amateur radio event. Guy N7UN and Steve wG0AT were teaming up as N0B (read about that here) and activating Mount Huron, a 14,003′ mountain in Colorado. And it’s not just Colorado 14′ers taking part, despite the name. Brian N6IZ was planning to climb and activate the summit of Mount Shasta, a 14,162′ mountain in California’s northern ranges, Adrian N6VDR was planning to activate the peak of White Mountain in the Mojave desert ranges at 14,246′, Mark AF6AX was going to activate Mount Langley in the Sierra Nevada range, a 14,025′ mountain and Jim K9JWV was planning a trip to Brian Head mountain, an 11,307′ mountain in South Utah.
Well we don’t have any 14,000′ SOTA summits around here … but I thought a summit to summit contact might be a possibility and it was a nice day for a hike, so why not get a taste of it? Rain was forecast for the afternoon, and we needed to be back in Ottawa by 5pm but we thought… why not – lets do a SOTA activation. So we dialled in VE2REH on the repeater and off we went…
On the drive up, I was beaconing that fact that I was driving toward VE2/OU-001 for an activation… as we approached Mont Ste Marie, the radio crackled to life and Fred, DL9MDI came on the air looking for me. Fred often messages me on APRS and it was great to hear him. Unfortunately there was a one-way audio issue. I could hear Fred just fine, but Fred was not hearing me
I made a determined effort at the car to have a QSO with Fred, but it didn’t happen. “We are experiencing technical difficulties.”
So Fariba and I started the hike up… it was great to have company on this outing. I have done this hike twice in the past and both of those times I was solo. On the hike up, my H/T came alive again – an IRLP connection from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was Pete in Nova Scotia, looking for another station. I called him back when the other station did not and we had a chat. Then Steve VE1SBC called me. Steve used to live in Ottawa and it was great to catch up with him as we climbed up the mountain. We will visit Nova Scotia in September and hope to do a couple of SOTA activations there.
By the time we finished with Steve, we were about 2/3 of the way up the mountain. We got to the top around 1415Z and we had left the car around 1245Z so we had a 1.5 hours leisurely climb. It was good timing as N0B had posted a 1400Z activation time. We got a surprise on the summit. Last time I was up there was an empty gazebo but it was closed. This time, not only was the gazebo open, but it had a picnic table inside it. Wow! What a comfort!
So I strapped my 31′ Jackite pole to the corner of the gazebo with a couple of bungee cords then I raised my 88ft EDZ made from #26AWG silver plated teflon coated wire and connected the 50′ of 300Ω twinlead which feeds it to my homebrew W1CG balun and hooked that up to my KX1 with a short length of coax. I checked that the KX1 would tune it okay (good SWR on 20m and 30m, high SWR on 30m and no match at all on 80m – not bad), then I put out a few experimental CQ calls on 14.0605MHz then I spotted my self by sending this message to twitter as an SMS message (twitter’s phone number in Canada is 21212)
d QRPSPOTS 14.0605 sota summit ve2/ou-001
After a minute my phone beeped, and I got the message, which told me that everyone else following @QRPRPOTS on twitter got it too and it popped up on http://qrpspots.com and was sent from my twitter account to the #hamr hashtag. After another couple of minutes, Mike VA6FUN showed up and we were off to the races with our first summit QSO. Yay
Mike was also kind enough to spot me on SOTAWatch and so my cell beeped again because I was also following @SOTAWatch at twitter, hoping to see spots from the 14′er summits. Mike gave me an RST 229 signal report from Alberta which was a little surprising. Although I was only using 1.5W of power the 88ft EDZ should have had some gain in the East/West direction – maybe I set it up in the wrong direction?…
Next up, Todd N4LA gave me an RST 559 report, he was really strong RST 589. I wonder why… After that, Fred K6DGW who is an active adventure radio guy gave me an RST 549 signal report into Auburn, California. So maybe the band was just extra long today. Fred also spotted me on @QRPRPOTS so my phone beeped again. There was another Fred listening in to that QSO – DL9MDI in Germany he told me later.
So far though, no sign of N0B. Turns out, they were weathered off thier summit hope things were not too unpleasant at high basecamp, boys! Check out the N0B photos from Mount Huron here. Great goat pics!
I has a call from N4QA next. Don’t know if it was on his GADS! super DX antenna (a down pipe ) … but it might’a been. Bill gave me an RST 339 signal report from Virginia so I think 20m was indeed long today. Finally Clif W4VET found me on 20m and gave me an RST 449 signal report from Virginia.
I thought it would be a good idea to switch to 40m and give other VE2 association members a chance to work me, so at 1550Z I switched to 40m, got a free frequency, started sending CQ and then re-spotted myself on 40m by sending this message to twitter (21212 in canada, 40404 in the US):
d QRPSPOTS 7039 sota summit ve2/ou-001 mont ste marie qc
A minute or so later my phone beeped because I follow @QRPSPOTS on twitter and have mobile notifications turned on for this user.
10 minutes later and Ed, WA3WSJ showed up to work me. This @QRPSPOTS thing really does work! See what Ed has to say about it here. I exchanged a hearty GRRRRR with Ed (he knows…), and Fariba passed on her own GRRRs. Fariba and I have camped with Ed before down on the Dover Beaches. Ed also happens to be the W3 SOTA association manager. Nice to catch up with you Ed. Ed gave me an RST 529 report. Guess 40m was long too ;-) Ed spotted me on @QRPSPOTS.
Right after Ed, Michel VE2TH in beautiful Quebec City gave me a call. It was an interesting CW conversation because Michel used some French abbreviations which was a 1st for me (BJR MARTIN = Bonjour Martin = Hello Martin for example). Interesting! Michel was hearing me RST 559 in Quebec City. Both Michel and Ed before him were very strong RST 599 both.
And then Pierre VE2PID in Sherbrooke, QC. I was happy to have made QSOs with some of these other VE2 SOTA members! Last time I had a QSO with Pierre from an interior camping site, we were chatting about SOTA Pierre gave me an RST 559 also.
My cellphone beeped during the QSO with Michel and I when I went to check (after QSO with Pierre), I realized that Adrian N6VDR had been spotted on 20m on the summit of White Mountain in the Inyo National Forest in the desert mountain ranges of California, so I headed back there but I could not hear him
I tuned off Adrian’s frequency a little and started calling CQ again and picked up K1RV who gave me RST 579 from Massachusetts. Still no trace of Adrian during a quick break of eating lunch and tuning around 20m so back to CQ’ing… and N5GW picked me up with an RST 449 report on 20m from Vicksburg, MS. K1RV did also spot me on @QRPSPOTS.
Then I got a call from Reg G3WPF who gave me RST 559 from Wolverhampton in England. Cool! I can count on one hand the number of EU stations I have worked with 1.5W Ab was kind enough to spot me on SOTAWatch so my phone beeped again because I follow @SOTAWatch on twitter.
Fred W1FOR in Inverness, Florida dropped by and gave me a very strong signal report RST 599 (Hmm, maybe I did have the antenna pointing the wrong way with the gain lobes running North-South), and then Jeff G4ELZ in Newton Abbot, England gave me RST 549. The final contact of the day was with Gary, K1YAN in Plymouth, MA.
We tore down the antenna and hiked back down the mountain. As we got near the bottom it started to rain. When we got into the car, the rain increased in strength, and as we drove home it was very wet indeed, so our timing was great from that point of view. Unfortunately though we missed most of the West coast mountain activations :-( Jim’s spot from Flat Top Mountain in Utah came in when we were about 1/2 way down the mountain, I felt like walking back up to the summit
I have included photos and videos below my log below:
|14:50||VA6FUN||14MHz||CW||RST In/Out: 229 589|
|15:02||N4LA||14MHz||CW||RST In/Out: 559 589|
|15:10||K6DGW||14MHz||CW||RST In: 549|
|15:17||N4QA||14MHz||CW||RST In/Out: 339 559|
|15:30||W4VET||14MHz||CW||RST In/Out: 449 559|
|16:06||WA3WSJ||7MHz||CW||RST In/Out: 529 599|
|16:20||VE2TH||7MHz||CW||RST In/Out: 559 599|
|16:40||VE2PID||7MHz||CW||RST In/Out: 559 599|
|17:00||K1RV||14MHz||CW||RST In/Out: 579 599|
|17:35||N5GW||14MHz||CW||RST In: 449|
|17:40||G3WPF||14MHz||CW||RST In: 559|
|17:43||HB9AFI||14MHz||CW||RST In: 449|
|17:45||HA7UG||14MHz||CW||RST In: 339 QSB|
|17:50||W1FOR||14MHz||CW||RST In: 599|
|17:55||G4ELZ||14MHz||CW||RST In: 549|
|18:00||K1YAN||14MHz||CW||RST In: 589|