Category Archives: SOTA

W0C/SR-059 Mt Democrat and W0C/FR-001 Mt Lincoln

Continuing on with my recent desire to add more points to my SOTA total, I decided to drive to the Kite Lake TH last night and camp for an early am start up Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Democrat.  Mark, Christian and I hit the trail head at 6am to beautiful weather.  It had rained some around 4am but was clear when we left camp.

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When we got close to the summit of Democrat, dark clouds were already building.  The weather forecast had been clear until 2pm.  So much for weather forecasts!  We pushed on to the summit and the clouds moved off to the West/North.

I worked a few guys right away from Democrat, then packed it up with hopes of making Lincoln before bad weather hit.  I had forgotten (thin air?) that I was going to try working K1Jd and KT5X in Santa Fe on CW.  I had scheduled a QSO on 2m with Bob K0NR, and he was within range of 2m at his cabin.

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We crossed over Mt. Cameron.  This one doesn’t qualify for SOTA, and really doesn’t qualify as a 14er for any bragging rights.  Not enough prominence.  Somebody had left these cardboard signs on all the summits.

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There were more chasers available from Mt Lincoln.  I quickly had enough in the log and moved on.  The weather was really starting to close in.   It was fun to work a few guys on 40m-CW.  Nowhere near the pileup I would have dealt with on 20m.

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On the way across from Cameron to Bross, it started hailing and thundering.  I decided to not try my luck on Bross (plus it’s a closed summit, but that wouldn’t normally stop me!).

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The final track log and elevation profile:
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All the photos from this trip can be viewed in my Smugmug Gallery

73 de Bryan N0BCB

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KD1JV MTR v2 Part 1

I’ve been slowly building up my Steve Weber Mountain Top Radio version 2 kit over the past week. For the SMT parts I chose to try reflow soldering in a toaster oven, and I’m glad I did it that way. I used solder paste in a syringe from Cash Olsen as recommended by Steve. For the oven I used an unmodified $20 Rival oven from Walmart set to 420F and simply watched for the paste to become glossy solder.


Once the SMT parts were in place, it was easy to finish the standard through hole parts.


Right now I’m in the process of winding the toroids and soldering them down. I’ll update this again once all parts are down and I begin with adjustments and testing.



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W0/FR-095 Greyrock Mountain

Sunday Erin, Oscar and I headed up the Poudre River Canyon to hike Greyrock Mountain, which might be the most popular trail in the area, or at least second to Horsetooth Mountain.  We hit the trail head at 8am to beat the hordes of hikers, and had the trail to ourselves all the way to the summit.

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I’ve been working with Ron WT5RZ and CW Academy since the beginning of January, and this was my first SOTA activation using CW.  I had alerted the night before, and after my 3rd CQ, I was immediately inundated with a huge pileup, that sounded like an arcade game!  I had no idea what was being sent, and had to wait until the end of the pileup and grasp for a couple of letters.  Fortunately, I know many of the callsigns from SSB activations, and was usually able to pick a callsign out.

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After 11 CW stations worked, my mind was getting frazzled and I wasn’t able to take any more of it.  Sorry to all the chasers who I didn’t work.  I could still hear some waiting for me, but I just couldn’t do any more.  Erin and Oscar were patiently waiting for me so we could start our decent.  Hopefully after a little more practice I will not need to leave anyone hanging like that.

This is a great hike, app. 5 miles RT, and offers some great views of the Front Range.  I highly recommend it if you haven’t done it yet!

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Additional photos from the hike can be found here.

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KH6/KU-011 Nonou Mountain SOTA

Today Erin and I activated the first KH6/KU SOTA summit!  Nounou is a great little hike, and is much easier than the guide books led us to believe.  It had rained the night before, but the trail was in great condition.

Track file (google earth) can be found at:  Track KH6/KU-011

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The hike is about 3.3 miles round-trip:

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A view to the South towards Lihue, including 2 other SOTA summits.

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Here’s the 12m antenna, constructed from Buddipole parts.  It is a full size 12m dipole, about 8′ above ground level.  Too low normally, but fine on this summit with sharp drop offs all around.  I started with 20m (2 contacts), then down to 17m and 15m with no luck.  12m was the best I’ve seen it from a summit, and I was able to work the mainland from West coast to East coast running 5W from my Elecraft KX3.

Buddipole full-size 12m dipole

Here’s the SOTA log:

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See the remaining photos at

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Activation Alert: Pemigewasset Loop

I’ll be backpacking the Pemi Loop in New Hampshire this weekend, and plan to activate 4 summits.  Times listed below are approximate depending on hiking speeds and conditions.  I will be running 10 watts SSB with my KX3 and LNR 10/20/40 EFHW trail friendly antenna.


Saturday 9/21/2013

19:00 W1/HA-092 Owl’s Head Mountain (10 pts)

Monday 9/23/2013

13:00 W1/HA-022 South Twin Mountain (10 pts)

15:30 W1/HA-095 Mt Garfield (10 pts)

19:00 W1/HA-022 Mt Lafayette (10 pts)


If I’m feeling really ambitious, I may detour on Sunday the 22nd and pick up W1/HA-228, Pt 3051 (4 pts).  I will probably get on the air Sunday night from my campsite.


Hope to hear lots of stations on the air!


Bryan N0BCB

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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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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.

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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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