I’ve had the Mountain Topper for a couple of weeks now, after having wanted it for a long time. I’ve been really happy with it, and I’ve even already done three SOTA activations with it and lots of SOTA chasing from my back yard. One thing I noticed when doing my pre-purchase research is that not many people report on the power output (probably because it doesn’t matter that much). Well, I got curious! Here’s my extremely inaccurate and non-scientific report.
I’ve been wanting to get a good CW-only lightweight rig since I started really getting into SOTA. Especially trying to do HF summit activations while trail running! I saw a good deal for this used Mountain Topper QRP transceiver, and I went out of my way to get it! I actually even sold my LDG Z-817 tuner to help provide the funds, making my home station temporarily non-functional.
|Activation Date: 11 November 2017|
|Transport: Hike||Distance: 4.8 miles|
|Elev. gain: 1225ft||Time: 2.2 hours|
|Rig(s): Yaesu FT-817||Band(s): 40/30/20m CW, 40/20m SSB|
|Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave|
|Cell Service: Good (T-Mobile)|
|Parking: San Andreas Drive|
|Trailhead: San Andreas Drive|
|Route: Middle Burdell, Cobblestone fire roads|
|Dogs: Yes – off-leash on fire roads||Toilet: No|
My first CW activation! Having completed CW Academy, I wanted to put my new skills to use. With my wife out of town for the weekend, my plans would have to include my two boys and our dog. I wanted to do a peak I hadn’t yet activated, and ideally also do a POTA/WWFF activation. Mount Burdell (called Burdell Mountain in the SOTA database) fit the bill.
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.
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!
Well, I’m 3 sessions into CWOps CW Academy, with the fourth happening tonight. So far, I’m really impressed. I’ve got a great advisor, and having some structure and accountability to learning morse code is really moving things along.
OK, so saying “DCP Paddle” is redundant. “DCP” stands for “Dirt Cheap Paddle.” While this paddle is inexpensive compared to a lot of morse/CW paddles out there, I would definitely not call it “cheap.” It is exquisitely designed and expertly machined by Doug W6AME of American Morse Equipment. I don’t remember where I first heard about his paddles and keys, but I knew I had to have one as soon as I saw it. The DCP is the least expensive paddle he makes (hence the name) but doesn’t lack quality. I have a pretty tight budget for my ham activities and equipment, so I was holding off on getting one until I really needed it.
It sounded quite dandy to go ahead and jump into the CW Academy materials and start practicing that way. But I just haven’t done it. Without the accountability of weekly class meetings, it just hasn’t been enough of a priority. But the need and desire to learn is still there! I see all of these SOTA and POTA spots popping up on CW and badly wish I could join in. So an idea popped into my head.
For a very long time—even before becoming a ham—I’ve wanted to learn Morse code. As a child, this “secret” code fascinated me. As I grew older, the fascination remained. As a geeky adult wanting to get in to ham radio, it was a barrier to entry. Then, getting my general class amateur radio license in 2015, my interest was renewed, even though it was no longer a necessity.
The magic of radio has always been just that for me—magic. I know how it works, a lot more so than I did before studying to get my ticket. But it’s still magic. So in my amateur radio journey so far, I’ve looked for ways to maximize the magic. And there are so many ways to do this in the hobby. To me, one of these is CW (Continuous Wave) operation, using Morse code. Continue reading →