Sunday, November 27, 2011


Kerry (K3RRY), Jack (KJ6EVI) and I (AE6RF) made a "fly by" of Fremont Peak with an eye to activating it as part of the 4H Radio Project and Summits On The Air (SOTA).

The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, no wind. (Unlike other visits to that locale...)

Wind and blowing fog at Fremont Peak

We had great panoramic views at all points during the hike, San Juan Batista, Santa Cruz Mountains, the Monterey Bay, Salinas, all perfect and reasonably clear. Every 10 yards brought a new "oh wow" view.

Selected photos from trip

I'm obese and out of shape. No excuses, I need to thank Jack and Kerry for their patience as I took breaks along the way. The climb was a bit steeper than I've been able to practice over the last month or two (time change and weather).

It was a great afternoon with a couple of unanticipated adventures...

First off, while talking with the ranger in the parking lot, she got a radio call and went haring up the road we were going to be hiking on. (That's not good).

We did about the first 1/5th of the hike and then heard a siren. (That's really not good).

At about 1/3 we saw a CalSTAR air ambulance circling for a landing (That's really, REALLY not good).

I flipped my HT over to CalCord ( the typical frequency for ground-to-air ambulance communications around here). There they were... "Female patient, 52 years, victim of a fall, head injury with lacerations and a large hemotoma behind the ear. Probable LOC..."

We kept going until we got to the base of the final climb to the peak (rock scrambling/climbing...). The first responders were there discussing how they were going to a) get the patient and b) get her down. We could see the site about 90 feet directly above us, up a 30-45 degree slope.

With CAL FIRE, Cal State Parks, AMR, and CalSTAR personnel all over the peak above us, we decided to stay put and have some lunch. It took about 45 minutes for the various personnel to get the lady down off the Peak. They wound up with a rope and walk method down the 30-45 degree slope that we were having lunch under. (We moved rapidly once it became clear they were heading for us.)

With the patient heading for the (normal) ambulance to take them to the air ambulance, we resumed our hike, encountering Ms Ranger again, still wearing her trauma backpack. She gave us sound advice for climbing up and down and kidded us to be careful because she didn't want to come back up again that afternoon...

We were able to watch the air ambulance take off, from our perch on Fremont Peak. The helicopter started roughly 300' below us! (Loading the video to YouTube as I type.)

Video of CALSTAR take off

We started up the final climb. It quickly turned into a "Stairs of Cirith Ungol" adventure.

Rock stairs, steeper rock stairs, rock scrambling, steeper rock scrambling. Hands and feet rock climbing,

and then... THE TOP!

The view was worth every minute of the climb. Plus the awesome feeling of being someplace where I never thought I'd be. We spend about 20 minutes at the summit of the Peak making 4 radio contacts (N1WC, W6DNE, KE6AFE, and KG6WIL, 3 simplex, one possible repeater) to see what the conditions were like. (We had great coverage on 2m FM, but signals from the nearby radio towers would interfere at times.)

I "hands and feet"ed and rode my rump down from the peak back to the merely "steeper rock stairs."

At that point we started our trip back down the hill. But not before encountering an old friend.

Three years ago during the California QSO Party, we were visited by a tarantula. He came out Sunday afternoon to see us off as we were leaving.
Video of CQP tarantula

Turns out he heard we were coming and wandered all the way from the Doe campground to the Peak to visit with us today. We all said hello, he waved goodbye and we parted ways. Hopefully for another chat again soon...

We arrived at the truck during early sunset, so had a brief snack and enjoyed the beautiful colors before starting for home...

GREAT FUN was had by all!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lessons learned during the 2011 January ARRL VHF Sweepstakes:

#1 Get antennas / set-up ready beforehand
#2 Have a stable vehicle, operating position
#3 Computer interface is needed to readily play the "band follow-me" game
#4 Computers and radio displays don't like sunlight/glare
#5 Need better feedline (non grabbed out of the box at the last minute) to "hear better"
#6 Need better antennas to "hear better"
#7 Need patience, munchies and "refreshments" to better cope with low activity levels

More this afternoon.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The CQ World Wide DX CW contest was really fun.

I wasn't doing it "seriously" as defined by others, but "seriously" as defined by me. The conditions were wonderful. What does that mean?

Well, it was cloudy and raining. That meant that the solar system(s) that cause the majority of my noise were quieter than normal. I was running the FT-1000MP Mark V at 200 watts, so I felt "loud."

I was able to contact European stations "at will" on Sunday morning. I found rare DX countries and worked them BEFORE anybody had spotted them.

Generally a really great time. It was about 9 hours to contact 130 stations. A "serious" contester would have done that in 45 minutes to an hour.

But I had a blast!

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Friday, November 26, 2010


Sweepstakes is behind us. Got all four logs submitted, but need to update the SS SSB K6WC log. For some reason the "Unlimited" didn't get in there. There was a pretty good surprise in the NCCC standings. In the total standings I broke the 70th percentile AND was above several really good contesters that I idolize. I HATE just grinding points but sometimes that's what suffices...

I'll probably play a little bit in the WW DX CW contest this weekend. Nothing serious, just cherry picking to pick up some new DXCC countries.

Really looking forward to a couple of the 160m contests this December and January.

Hopefully I'll get to posting here regularly again.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm not sure if I'm braver about not asking for repeats, or better at getting stuff the first time, but right now the improvement appears to be statistically significant...

UTC Call Recv Sent Pref Chk

00:00:19 G3PYI 599 0001 599 0001 G3

00:00:36 AB3AH 599 0002 599 0002 AB3

00:01:20 JR1KSK 599 0002 599 0003 JR1

00:01:41 G3AJX 599 0002 599 0004 G3

00:01:57 KF2JC 599 0005 599 0005 KF2

00:02:25 9A5I 599 0002 599 0006 9A5

00:02:49 JA2CUS 599 0006 599 0007 JA2

00:03:09 DK0WK 599 0001 599 0008 DK0

00:03:27 JA9AVU 599 0002 599 0009 JA9

00:03:58 CX1JM 599 0008 599 0010 CX1

00:04:25 K1NK 599 0003 599 0011 K1

00:04:52 NS1W 599 0002 599 0012 NS1

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gone for a long time.
Field Day in the bag.
As has CQP.

CW seems to have improved a bit for the rest though...

UTC Call Recv Sent Pref Chk
00:00:34 K0LWV 599 0001 599 0001 K0
00:01:43 DR400PG 599 0002 599 0002 DR400
00:02:01 JE2VFX 599 0004 599 0003 JE2
00:02:32 LY4G 599 0003 599 0004 LY4
00:02:59 JA3VPA 569 0001 599 0005 JA3
00:03:19 F4FCX 599 0001 599 0006 F4
00:03:50 CN2FB 599 0002 599 0007 CN2
00:04:20 IR4X 599 0004 599 0008 IR4
00:04:34 K7ENA 599 0004 599 0009 K7
00:05:23 RZ3EA 599 0011 599 0010 RZ3
00:05:39 K5QNT 599 0008 599 0011 K5
00:05:57 N9AVI 599 0007 599 0012 N9
00:06:22 KE5AZ 599 0004 599 0013 KE5
00:06:43 RZ0SR 599 0008 599 0014 RZ0
00:07:26 UA4PAY 599 0003 599 0015 UA4
00:07:41 OK2DW 599 0006 599 0016 OK2
00:08:30 JR4PUR/1 599 0008 599 0017 JR1
00:08:52 VE1KC 599 0005 599 0018 VE1
00:09:25 SQ9IAJ 599 0006 599 0019 SQ9
00:09:46 F5RMK 599 0021 599 0020 F5

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Long time no blog.

I've got a couple that can go here in the next couple of days. I PROMISE I'll do better.

Thing #1 "Where there's a will there's a way" My adventures in the ARRL 160m CW and Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge contests.

Thing #2 "Straight Key Night"

Thing #3 Night numbers 2, 3 and 4 building the K3

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Goals for the evening:

  1. Practice CW, either on the air or with Morse Runner.
  2. Get AL-80a wired back in and running
  3. Swap Bencher and Begali paddles
Actual happenings

  1. Get amp wired back in. Discover that it is STILL sick. Mope dejectedly for 20 minutes.
  2. Swap Bencher and Begali paddles. Rejoice in low expectations.
  3. Decide to work over dejection by installing the new DX Engineering 1:1 balun for my doublet. Installs OK. But gives the MFJ-998 tuner kittens. Mope dejectedly for a while longer.
  4. Listen to on-the-air CW while moping.
  5. Do two runs of Morse Runner. Rates: 95 Q/hour and 60 Q/hour. Sulk off to bed.
On the good side?
Our CQP wall paper arrived as did three CQP tee-shirts. They're very PURPLE!

Time for bed and hopes for a better tomorrow.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

With Joey in "high-energy" mode I didn't crawl into the shack until almost 9:30 PM last night.

With my sights on getting the Amp/tuner part of my shack put back together last night I learned the following lessons:

1) The MFJ-998 auto tuner doesn't deal with balanced lines.

2) My best antenna is the inverted-vee (yep, you see this coming) fed with... balanced line.

3) The MFJ-998 is bigger than I thought, barely fitting into the foot print of the 238B.

4) MFJ documentation still isn't quite up to snuff. The technical parameters of the MFJ-998's amplifier control interface aren't included anywhere.

5) You can't work 'em if you can't hear 'em.

6) You can still work decent DX with 100W and an 'over the oak tree' antenna if you're willing to be crafty and diligently apply good DX techniques.

7) CW (still) kicks butt.

In the bag at the end of the evening: CM6, V31, KH6 and TO5 against varying levels of pile-ups.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

FINALLY got my 30m j-pole up over the house in a rough inverted-vee configuration late yesterday afternoon. And then ran out of daylight to continue getting it on the air. Hopefully I'll get a chance to play with it this afternoon.

(Today is a Mr Mom day.)

Why 30m?

Well, the HF propagation prediction stuff that I do shows it to be my "best band" for the times that I'm on.

Plus it is a lower power WARC band, so I'm not so far out of bed power wise.
Double plus not so many people have specific 30m antennas, so hopefully my signal will "stand out."

Oh, and it only allows CW and digital signals. Heh-heh-heh...

No contesting, but should be better for DX than my normal 40m.

So, there ya go.

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