Sunday, July 7, 2013

2-fer SOTA Activation in the new W9 Association

Whew... I just got done transcribing the logs onto my computer and uploading to the database. Ended up with 87 total QSOs between both peaks.

First stop was Platte Mounds, W9/WI-017, which is about 2 hours and 15 min from my house in Cedar Rapids, IA. Not a bad drive at all. I couldn't convince my wife to come with... As I drove, I monitored 146.52 simplex and actually worked a guy who was aeronautical mobile right as I pulled up to the parking lot at the base of the summit. That was pretty cool!

View from Platte Mound, WI, W9/WI-017

There's something like 250 steps to the peak so it made the hike pretty easy. There were a couple of picnic tables at the top so I set up shop on one and hauled up my homebrew 10/20/40 EFHW to one of the little trees near the table. The end was up about 15 feet, not as high as I would have liked, but it worked all right. I unloaded the KX3 and got to it. I ran with the internal AA cels, 2000mAh rated Eneloops, and 5w the whole time at Platte Mounds, which was great, I was a little unsure how long I could go. There were a few others at the top coming and going but only one visitor who was interested in my activity. A quick chat (his kids went to school in IA) and I was back at the pileup. I finished up with 45 QSOs and headed off for Blue Mounds.

SOTA Flag flying on Platte Mound

As luck would have it, W7II, Bill, was also in the area going to a Shakespeare festival that his sister was participating in. Bill is one of the N0MA contest guys and lives at the farm. It was perfect timing; just as I pulled out of the parking area at Platte Mounds, he called me on 2m simplex. He was just a few miles away and he road along with me for a while on the way to Blue Mounds.

I pulled into the Blue Mounds community and it turned out that there was a big bike race going on in the park. I figured I would be have a bit of trouble finding a spot to set up. I was a bit disappointed to find that the park requires a parking fee to enter, $10/day for out of state plates. Oh well, all in the name of radio!
Anyway, a quick zip around and I manged find a nice tucked away spot to operate that was somewhat private. I got on the air as fast as I could, hoping to work ND0C on W0/ND-003 for a Summit 2 Summit first: first activation of an ND summit and first activation of a WI summit. Signals were not the best, but we got it! I set off to my own frequency and ran stations on CW for quite a while. I switched to SSB and worked a few more new ones and several guys I had already worked on CW. Somewhere along the line, I got the BATT LOW message on the KX3 meaning the NiMH battery voltage had dropped below 8.5VDC so I grabbed the big SLA (7.5AH) and cranked the power to 10w on the KX3. I figured it might help a few who were not hearing me yet. I ran 10w the rest of the activation.

I was hoping to stay long enough to work another S2S with Frank, K0JQZ, but they were running behind quite a bit so I couldn't wait, I had promised the wife I'd be home by a certain time. Sure enough, about 10 minutes after I left, I saw the spot that they were QRV.

In all, I had 87 contacts, including 5 S2S contacts, a huge success in my book. I do wish they were more "traditional" summits with some hiking and awesome mountain views, but we take what we can get in the flatlands! Both logs have been uploaded to the SOTA database, LoTW, ClubLog and eQSL so if you're waiting for a QSL, check there. I transcribed the logs by hand so there's a chance I made a mistake somewhere. If you have not got a QSL and are expecting one, let me know!

This was my 2nd SOTA activation, first being Emerald Mountain in Estes Park, CO 2 years ago. I learned a lot in that first activation that helped me on this one. There was no SOTA Goat iPhone app so getting word out was not as easy and I don't think I announced it anywhere when I got to the peak. There was also a big contest going on and I had not prepared for any bands but 20 and 40m. That made it pretty tough. I was also rushed a bit since I was with other (non-ham) people. This time was a lot different, and it helped a lot that I have been following the pros like wG0AT so I knew a lot better what to expect. There's nothing like sending that first CQ after spotting yourself and hearing 20 station come back. This ham loves a pileup!

A special thanks to WA2USA, Dennis, who spearheaded the W9 association setup. I'm sure it was a lot of work! Thanks to all the others who worked me, I hope I was able to work everybody who called, if not, there's always next time!