CW Academy Level 1 – Complete!

Well, I did it! I finished CW Ops’ CW Academy, Level 1.  I even got a certificate.  I’ve made a few QSO’s and although I struggle to copy full sentences, the world of morse code / CW operation is now a whole lot less scary.  This was a really enjoyable course, and I strongly recommend it to anyone starting out with morse code / CW operation.

Continue reading →

W6/NC-298, Vollmer Peak

Activation Date: 21 October 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 1.25 miles
Elev. gain: 230ft Time: 25-30 minutes
Rig(s): Yaesu FT-817, VX-2R Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB, 2m FM
Antenna(s): Linked Dipole, 12.5-inch whip
Cell Service: Strong (T-Mobile)
Parking: Seaview Trailhead
Trailhead: Vollmer Peak
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Vollmer Peak Trail
Dogs: Yes  Toilet: Yes

After attending the SOTA lunch at Pacificon, I wanted to go grab a quick/easy summit. Vollmer Peak has been on the list for a while. It’s a very short hike and it was relatively close to San Ramon, where lunch was.  It’s not the most exciting summit, but it does have a couple of nice views.

Continue reading →

Mount Whitney, W6/SN-001

Activation Date: 14 October 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 22 miles
Elev. gain: 6200ft Time: 12-16 hours
Rig(s): Yaesu FT-817 Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB
Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave
Cell Service: Marginal to moderate (T-Mobile)
Parking: Whitney Portal
Trailhead: Whitney Portal
Fees/Permits: $15 – lottery/quota system
Route: Mount Whitney Trail
Dogs: No  Toilet: Yes

Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). Last year, I summited it by doing it as a trail-run, getting the round trip done in 9 hours. This time, I wanted to experience it as a more traditional hike, with an overnight stay with friends along the trail before going up the summit.  With the exception of losing my antenna to the mountain, it was practically a perfect trip.

Continue reading →

Update on my CW Journey: First QSO!

I’ve been doing CW Academy for about 4 weeks now—I’m officially at the half-way point. We’ve got most of the letters/numbers, and we’re starting to move into prosigns and typical QSO lingo.  Having recently gotten my end-fed antenna back up at my house, I saw a SOTA spot on 40 meters last night, Keith KR7RK on CW.  I figured I’d give it a shot!

Continue reading →

Chabot 2 Benchmark, W6/NC-432

Activation Date: 30 September 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 1.8 miles
Elev. gain: 300 feet Time: 40 minutes
Rig(s): FT-817, VX-2R Band(s): 2m, 70cm FM
Antenna(s): 12.5-inch flex whip
Cell Service: Excellent (T-Mobile)
Parking: Small lot at trailhead, or side of road
Trailhead: Fairmont Ridge Staging Area
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Fairmont Ridge, stay right of eucalyptus trees
Dogs: Yes (off-leash area)  Toilet: No

Well, it finally happened: I forgot a critical component of my system.  I hiked up to the activation zone, got my antenna nicely set up in a tall tree, hooked everything up and went to turn on the radio—no power!

Continue reading →