Category Archives: N0BCB

HAM radio call sign, N0BCB, previously KD0PVZ.

W6/NC-030 Mount St Helena

For the 2013 NASOTA weekend, I decided to try an unactivated summit near wine country, since we were already vacationing here for the in-laws 70th birthday.  Mt St Helena is accessible by trail or fire road.  There was a mountain bike in the garage of our rental house so I decided to also do my first bicycle SOTA!  The bike was too small for me and needed some minor maintenance, but it did get me to the summit and back safely.

The first mile and a half is on a small trail, and is a difficult ride.  It’s possible to start directly onto the dirt access road, but you’ll have more elevation gain and distance.  I was able to ride most of the trail through here, with a few lifts over large rock areas.
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Once you pop out onto the dirt road, it’s just plain climbing.  The corners have some loose volcanic dust/sand, so be careful on those.

As I neared the summit, I got to witness a very cool dirt devil

The summit, and 2 nearby, are covered with antenna farms. I set up directly next to a microwave repeater, and my 2m radio was popping every 30s or so. I decided 2m was way to obnoxious to listen to, so I shut that radio off and never tried the band from there. I was able to make a couple of 20m contacts, but I had S9 noise on my KX3 and gave up pretty quickly. I was following other activators on SOTAgoat, and couldn’t hear anybody on 20m. 40m had much lower noise, and I managed a couple of contacts there. I had my first every 17m contact with KJ6NHF on W7N/WC-001.

Map/track here:

And elevation profile showing over 2000′ of gain in 5 miles:

And finally, the summit log:

The rest of the photos can be seen at:

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W0/WE-001 Castle Peak 14er 8/4/2013

This year I decided to combine the Colorado 14er Event with Summits on the Air for a weekend of fun in the Colorado High Country!  Our hike up Castle on Sunday, August 4th was the final day of a 5-day camping/hiking trip starting in Fort Collins.  We spent Saturday night at site #2 along the road up to Castle Peak, and got a 5am start on the trail.  Since we were driving all the way to just below the Pearl Pass Rd split, we got to sleep in a little.
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The trail to the summit follows an old mining road all the way to ~ 12,800′, where it becomes a scramble up a boulder field.  We decided to take a harder route up the summit, which goes to the extreme left when viewing the summit from the 12,800′ area.  This was probably a class III scramble, and was very difficult at times.  For the route down, we came down the “normal” route.  You can see the road we hiked in the background:

About 45 minutes from the summit, I began hearing 14er stations on 146.52 and 147.42.  I talked with Alan NM5S and told him we’d be on the summit soon.  I’ve started using a Smiley 2m 1/2 wave antenna for summit activations, and have found that it works really well.  I routinely make contacts to 100 miles with this antenna, and the biggest benefit over the Arrow Yagi which I also use is that it’s available during the hike up.

Once on the summit, I worked a decent pile of guys, both on 2m to other 14er summits, and on 20m-ssb for SOTA.  Here’s my log from the day:
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The remaining pictures from Castle Peak can be seen at W0/WE-001 Castle

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W0/SR-079 Geissler Mountain East 08/02/2013

Erin and I spent 5 days on a big, fun Colorado camping loop.  We started off in Fort Collins, and camped our first night on Guenella Pass.  Thursday morning we drove over the pass, then headed for Buena Vista.  On our way into BV, I grabbed W0/SP-112, Castle Rock.  After that quick summit, we were on our way to Mt Princeton Hot Springs for a leisurely afternoon in the river.  We had dinner with the SOTA Goat expedition guys Thursday night at Eddyline Brewery, then headed to Twin Lakes to camp.

Friday morning after driving over Independence Pass, we hiked up the Lost Lake Trail to attach Geissler Mountain East, W0SR-079.  This was a beautiful hike, with the Colorado wildflowers in full bloom.

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A view of the approach to the summit:

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My SOTA log from this activation:

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The rest of the pictures from this activation can be seen at:

SOTA Gallery W0/SR-079

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New ham shack / office!

Well, we decided it’s finally time for my to have my own space, so down to the basement I go. I’m building a 12′ x 14′ office space that should provide plenty of space for my “stuff.”




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2013 North American Summits on the Air Weekend

September 7th & 8th is the annual SOTA Activity Weekend

North America SOTA Activity Weekend is a casual event involving tiny battery-powered radios on mountain summits.  It is not a contest but is intended to introduce “Summits on the Air” to newcomers with home stations who try to work summit operators during one or two days. There are no rules regarding power levels, modes or number of bands worked, but please be courteous when more than one station is trying to talk to a SOTA operator on a summit.  The SOTA operators have just climbed mountains as high as 14,000 feet; they use low power; and they don’t receive on split frequencies.

Check to spot who is on which mountain.  Summits are numbered, and you can hover your cursor over the number to see the name and point value for each summit.  Expect that website to show activity near 7.032, 7.185, 10.110, 14.342, 18.095, 18.155, 21.350, 24.905, 24.155, 28.420, 146.52, 446.00, and 61 Khz up from the bottom of 20, 15 and 10 meters CW.  Participants are invited to collect points toward certificates and trophies offered by the eleven-year-old international SOTA group (  As we learned in past years, this is a barrel of fun for both hill climbers and home operators.  See you then.

Also posted in B's Blog, SOTA Tagged |

6m yagi first contact!

Well, first call out tonight with the homebrew 4 element yagi on 50.125ssb, success! It was only a local Fort Collins contact to Rick K0RSC, but it sounded great. I’ll continue to play around with tuning this weekend during the June VHF contest. Hopefully there will be lots of chances to make contacts.





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6 meter driven element mount

Here is the latest piece of the 6 meter yagi antenna I’m designing / building. Since my plan is to use a hairpin match, the driven element needs to be isolated from the boom. I used ABS 1″ diameter plastic rod, and epoxied 1/2″ diameter x 1″ long pieces of aluminum rod, which had already been drilled and tapped for 1/4-20 whips. The notch had to be deeper to match the offset on my reflector and driven element mounts, as shown.




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6m yagi part 2

Tonight I mocked up the new antenna. I am using some leftover parts for the tripod/mast. I turned a simple bushing to mount the mast to the tripod. The antenna is about 16′ high on this mast. The driven element is not finished yet. I picked up some 1″ ABS round on Friday, and will make the 1/4-20 mounts with that plastic to isolate it from the boom.




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6m portable yagi tripod

I have the upper 2 sections of a telescoping mast left over from another project, and a new surplus Bogen tripod. To fit the mast sections to my tripod, and had to turn a bushing adapter. Tonight I finished that part and tested the fit.



I will guy this setup when there is an antenna mounted. I’m hoping it will be sturdy enough to support my 10′ 6 meter yagi and my Arrow 4 element yagi at the same time.

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6 meter portable Yagi 4 Element Part 1

Getting ready for field day 2013, I decided to build my own 6m 4 element Yagi antenna. My goal is to have something that’s portable, with a bit of directional gain. If it turns out light enough, it could be useful for some of the easier SOTA activations and maybe the Colorado 14er event.

I am modeling this antenna after the Buddipole antenna system. I would have just purchased those parts, but they do add up fast, and I have my own machine shop!

Counter-sink tool


My Jet BD1331 lathe

Partially finished parts


3/4″ end mill


With Buddipole featherweight whips installed and extended


Close-up of whips installed in rotating collars. 1/4″-20 threads


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