Wichita Mountains activation

I traveled to the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma this week on a summit activation trip.  As with most of my trips, my execution didn't live up to my planning. I had hoped to activate 4 summits in two days, but wound up activating two and wisely calling it quits.  I have to remember my legs are 65 years old take it easy on them.

As for the activations, the first on Wednesday was up Elk Mountain. It's a pretty 1.1 mile trail that's took me about an hour to climb. The only problem was the weather. I'd studied weather reports and Wednesday was supposed to be sunny and in the 50s -- perfect hiking weather.  When woke in Lawton, OK Wednesday morning there was very thick fog.  My plan was to do Elk Mountain in the morning and Mount Scott in the afternoon, then pick up a couple of nearby summits on Thursday and head home.

So I stuck to plan and was at base of Elk Mountain at 9 a.m. and in the fog.  I kept telling myself it would burn off by the time I got to the top. …

Some SOTA basics

For those who are wondering what Summits On the Air, or SOTA, works here's a quick summary.
SOTA got is start in the United Kingdom, and has been popular in Europe for years. It has gained popularity in the US the last few years.  The object is to make two-way communication with another amateur station that is being operated portable on a summit.  People activating from a summit are activators, those working them from home or other summits are chasers.

Summits are designated by location. Summits in Arkansas are W5A (US fifth call area and Arkansas) and a alphanumeric designation.   When I refer to summits I'm activating, I will give both the common name and the SOTA designation. Every summit is assigned a point value given that is awarded to chasers who work the station and to the activator. An activator has to make four contacts to count it as a an activation.  Lots of information is available at SOTA's web site, which is comprehensive and very well organized.

SOTA can be…

SOTA, or Summits on the Air

Over the past year and a half Summits On the Air, or SOTA, has become one of my primary interests in ham radio. In fact, it was July 5, 2017 I made the drive to Mount Magazine (Arkansas' highest peak) and did the short hike to the summit. I pulled out my KX-2 QRP transceiver, hooked it up to a small vertical, and proceeded to make contacts across the country on 20 meters.  I was hooked.

Since then I've done about 30 summits. Most have been in Arkansas, but a few in South Dakota.  I'll post some details and pictures from some of my favorite summits and hopefully, start recording the new ones as I get them on this blog.

Mount Magazine (W5A/MA-001)  was my first summit.  It's easy to get to on a well-marked trail from Mt. Magazine State Park.  At the top, you are in a cleared, paved area with zero view, so it's a little anti-climactic for most folks.

I quickly followed that with another easy drive-up summit, Mt. Nebo (W5A/MA-004).  As fall approached I was itching to …

New home for blog, lots of catching up to do

In moving my blog back to Blogger I managed to lose posts from 2012 on.  That's ok, I really hadn't posted much since 2014 and was ready to start fresh. So here goes.

About 5 years ago we uprooted after nearly 30 years in Chicago and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas to be near my wife's family.  It was a good move, and my pre-retirement move. As of July 1, 2018 I retired from full-time work, which gives me much more time to indulge in my hobbies -- ham radio, hiking and Mini Coopers.  I hope to explore all three in upcoming blog posts.

Here is view of shack in Little Rock.  It's a modest setup, but gets done what I need. More details to come.  Primary radio is an Elecraft K3 I've been operating for 10 years now.  I've added the P3 Panadapter adn KPA-500 amplifier, so I have the full "K-line" so to speak. This photo is a little dated, as I've replaced the FT-101 with an Icom 765. 

Straight Key Night

New Years's Eve is Straight Key Night for hams. We all get out our old radios and straight keys and relive our youth. I was running a 70s era Novice radio, the Heath HW-16, and using an old military straight key from WWII. We get spoiled by the modern radios with selective filtering and electronic keyers that make sending Morse code much easier, but it is a blast to get the old gear out and pretend it's 1965 and I'm a 12-year-old playing with radios in the basement.

Reawakening the blog

It's time to get the blog going again. I've had several other things going on in my life that I won't go into on this blog, and it cut into my ham radio time and pretty much stopped my blogging this year. As we start into 2012, I'll make one of my resolutions to try to blog weekly.
In the past year I've added several pieces of equipment. Last spring I bought a Ten Tec Eagle just out of curiosity. I'd read the ads, and wondered if the receiver was a good as they said. My take is it does have a very nice receiver, but they worked hard at making it a simple radio, and in my opinion it is a little too simple. It has too few controls for my daily operating on cw, so I've found I'm not using it much and it will probably go onto eBay soon.

My other two acquisitions this year are the Elecraft KPA 500 amplifier to round out my Elecraft K-line station and a Yaesu FT 101 E that now makes up my vintage/AM station. I'm sitting here listening to the Midwest Cl…

DX, the bands are open again

Sorry I've been away from blog, but I've been very active on the radio past couple months, and I just haven't kept up with blogging. In the meantime, the bands have been open, and I have to say I'm chasing more DX than I every have in my ham career. Tonight, for example, I worked Fiji, 3D2A, on 10 meters at around 9 p.m. local time with my first call. That blew me away. Then I came back down and worked Israel, 4x4FC, on 40 meters on the second call. I just don't have that kind of results with my simple ground mounted vertical. In the lst week I've worked Greenland, Guam, Jordan, Sardinia, Fiji and Israel. Most of those are new countries for me, and using the Logbook of the World system, I've been able to watch my country count steadily grow. Then while I was writing this, I managed to workd JW/F8DVD which is an expedition to Svalbard, whcih is an island in artic sea north of Norway. I managed to snag him in a lucky shot in middle of pileup. Another new one.…