Monday, September 28, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park, APRS Tracks & W0C SOTA Activations

I'm finally back from vacation.  I'm not really sure how many miles I covered, as my car battery died in Winter Park, CO.  When I replaced it, all my trip mileage settings were erased.  Thanks to Fraser Automotive in Winter Park for replacing my battery fast and getting me back on the road in about 2 hours.

Other than the battery, this was a great trip.  The Rocky Mountains are amazing.  You don't get a good sense how big and beautiful they are in pictures until you're there.  The aspen trees were turning yellow and gold the week I was there, which was very colorful as they poked out of the evergreens.

Mills Lake in RMNP

Below is my APRS tracks from the vacation.

APRS Track

I attempted 3 SOTA activation, 2 of them were successful.  I'll complete write ups on each of these peaks a little later.

On Tue afternoon, I tried to activate Prospect Mountain, just south of Estes Park but was unsuccessful because of time.  I thought this was going to be an easier hike after some reading on the SOTA watch website, which the hike up and setup took me longer than usual, so I had to make sure there was enough daylight for the hike down, so I called it after only 3 contacts...only if I could get that's 4th.  I called CQ for maybe an hour with no contacts.

My second peak was Pikes Peak on Thursday.  I took the easy way up, driving and then walked down the trail about .25 of a mile, then back up to activate only on 2 meters with my HT.  4 contacts later I decided to head into the gift shop due to weather.

My third peak was Herman Mountain Friday morning just northwest of Colorado Springs.  This summit I have the most video on and will be putting out something on YouTube.  Again, the bands were in crappy shape and after trying to find an open frequency without a scheduled net, I called CQ for about an hour before getting 3 contacts.  Finally one of the nets closed down and calling CQ resulted in 3 more contacts with hams just hanging around on the frequency.

SOTA is a hoot!  I really enjoyed hiking and trying to summit some of these mountains, because no matter what "hill" you want to climb here in Missouri, it just doesn't compare.

...more to come on these SOTA activations.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

MS 150 Bike Ride

Every year the local Multiple Sclerosis puts on a 150 mile bike ride which they ask the amateur radio community to help with communications.  It's a bike ride with 4 different routes each day.  25, 50, 75 and 100 mile.  Each rider is required to complete 150 miles over the 2 day event.

This year I was placed in a SAG (Support And Gear) van for both days, which means driving a portion of the bike route and helping with general items along the route.  The largest item is transporting people who drop out or are off course to the next rest stop for them to continue their ride.  This year we had our share of flat tires, riders who wanted a lift to the next stop and injuries which kept us busy the whole weekend.

The local MS rented vans that I installed my Kenwood TM-D710GA in for communications.  Radio communicators who did not have APRS capability were given an APRS beacon to locate them on a map back at net control.

I captured all the APRS routes on Sat and my route on Sat and Sun below.

Sat SAG, Medical and Situation Vehicle Routes Above

Sat Route Above Along the Mississippi River

Sunday Route Out In the Middle of Nowhere

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Update, Colorado Hiking and SOTA Activations

Hello all my fellow ham friends.  This is just a quick update on what's been going on.

When I started this blog, my goal was to make a substantial post every two weeks.  2015 was going to be the year I explored more aspects of ham radio, shared my thoughts and what I have learned along the way.  Here we are the first day of Sept, and not only have I failed at two posts a months, but some of those posts haven't lived up to my expectations.  Time to re-set!  Moving forward, I'm going to hit my two posts a month goal from now until the end of the year, but wanted to share what I've been working on the past 3 or so months, which is kinda ham related.

Our ham radio club (St. Louis Suburban Radio Club), the largest radio club in STL, lost our webmaster about 6 months ago right before Dayton.  The call went out from our club president on any takers to fill this role, and after some discussions back and forth, I agreed to take over the committee chair.  We use a CMR program called Joomla to render our pages, which took some time to get familiar with and after many, many, many meetings, the website committee has totally re-designed the club website, created a separate website for our Jan 2016 hamfest named "Winterfest" and also stood up an on-line store for any items we want to sell as a club.  Below are the links to our new websites that we are rather proud of!

The website committee has taken up most of my free time in the past few months with learning Joomla, documenting all our website information, creating action items for committee members and working with the board members on these new sites.  Our latest project includes creating a micro site for the W0A special event station for the 50 year anniversary of the St. Louis Arch Oct 17th - 31st and an online logging program so club members can work as W0A from home and log to a central database.  We hope to have this online in the coming weeks.  Many thanks to Kevin, Tina and the Winterfest team on the hard work and suggestions!

Now on to future items...

I'm taking a much needed vacation!  The last week in Sept, I'm heading to Colorado for two reasons, actually three.  Reason one, my sister lives in Denver and I've never been to Denver, so I'm going to explore the city for a few days.  Reason two, from Denver, I'm heading up to Rocky Mt. National Park for 3 days to hike around the trails, as I've never seen the Rocky Mountains (only from the air flying West).  The third reason is to climb some peaks and do some SOTA work!  After my stay in RMNP, I'm driving around the park through Grand Lake, heading through the state via Breckenridge and finally to Colorado Springs to activate Pikes Peak and maybe some others peaks around there.

Some of the peaks I'm going to try and activate (time dependent).  All of these peaks are in or nearby RMNP exepct for Pikes Peak.

Twin Sisters FR-037
Estes Cone FR-039
Thunder Peak FR-150
Lily Mountain FR-050
Prospect Mountain FR-069
Deer Mountain FR-155
Sundance Mountain FR-019
Trail Ridge FR-123
Pikes Peak FR-004

I'll be spotting myself via phone, but if there isn't any cell phone coverage and you hear me calling CQ, give me a shout back and spot me via

I'm taking my Go-Pro and hopefully shooting some video of my editing it once I get back home is another story, as the backlog of video to go into the editor on my hard drive is getting unmanageable.

As I firm up my vacation schedule, I'll be sure to update it here for any SOTA activations.