|Activation Date: 29 November 2017|
|Transport: Drive-Up||Distance: N/A|
|Elev. gain: N/A||Time: 5 minutes|
|Rig(s): LNR Precision MTR-3B||Band(s): 30m CW|
|Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave|
|Cell Service: None|
|Parking: Side of Empire Grade|
|Dogs: N/A||Toilet: No|
I was over in Santa Cruz for work, so decided to make a “quick” detour on the way back over the hill so I could activate this summit. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, so I posted an alert on SOTAWatch and squeezed in some time to do it. The detour isn’t actually very “quick,” but it’s within reason.
This is a simple drive to the high area of Empire Grade. I used Google Maps on my phone (I have offline maps downloaded). Having read previous reports, I figured I’d try accessing the CDF training area if it looked like someone was around to grant access. Otherwise, I’d continue on and try the pullout just down the road. I wanted to try and save as much time as possible.
Not seeing the CDF gate open, and not seeing anyone around, I continued on to the pullout. There were plenty of trees around, so I decided to stay here and operate.
I threw my antenna wire over a tree near my car, then walked it out a short distance from there. I think this is about as close as I’ve ever been to my vehicle for an activation. Definitely my lower limit for qualifying as a SOTA activation. I strapped my pole to the fence, to keep the antenna wire a bit higher before coming down to the radio. I set up the radio on the ground, and realized I wouldn’t be able to sit without getting my nice clothes dirty. So I crouched to operate.
My phone tried getting service, and even reported it had basic (voice/text) service once or twice, but it wouldn’t do anything with it. Knowing this in advance from other’s reports, I had posted an alert and would be relying on RBNHole to spot me.
This was my first time using the new Amazon Basics case and “Zippy” LiPo battery on a summit. They did exceptionally well!
Getting on the air, I decided to start with 30 meters (perhaps only operating this band if enough QSOs). I dialed in the antenna, and immediately noticed a fair amount of noise, perhaps from the telecom lines immediately adjacent to my antenna, or something having to do with the nearby antenna tower. It was a pulsing noise, approximately 10-15 times a second. Not having a lot of time, I decided to just start calling.
It took a few minutes of calling CQ, and I was in business. The signals were definitely weak for the most part, with the exception of one or two. I think the AGC on the Mountain Topper was adjusted to the local noise. Nonetheless, I was able to pull stations out. And everyone did a great job being orderly and patient with my developing CW skills!
I operated for about 20 minutes. Nobody else seemed to be answering on 30 meters, and I needed to get back to work, so I packed it up.
Thanks to all the chasers!