Take Part in SOTA This Weekend

Dear SPARC members and friends,

Members of the South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club will be activating a few local Summits on the Air (SOTA) peaks on Sunday, July 18, 2021. SOTA is a great opportunity to combine hiking and portable operating (see the Summits on the Air website for more information). Peaks and times will be posted as “alerts” and “spots” on SOTAwatch during the day on Sunday. Bands and modes will vary but the operators will use the “North American Adventure Frequency” 146.580 MHz FM simplex for local contacts at some point during their activations. Please feel free to make contact with those operators, they will certainly appreciate adding you to their logs.

If you are interested in activating a peak, consult the map at SOTLAS and the Bobcat Fire closure map to find peaks in open areas of the Angeles National Forest. As with any voluntary wilderness activity, choose a peak well within your physical ability, consult weather and trail conditions, take appropriate water/food/clothing/equipment, and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

You can use the Contact Us page of our site to let me know if you plan to participate (activator or chaser), and I’ll make sure we listen for your call sign and maybe even arrange some summit-to-summit contacts.

Be safe and have fun,
Richard Besocke, KI6ZKM
SPARC President

To inspire your own SOTA adventures, below is a report from SPARC member Jose Gonzalez KM6PFM about activating Mt. Langley in the Sierras last weekend. Langley is a 14,000’+ peak neat Mt. Whitney and is quite an accomplishment.

A lot busier area than I had envisioned. For some reason I thought people would be elsewhere. Boy was I wrong. Arrived at sundown. Horseshoe Meadow is in the thin air — 10,000ish feet. [The area] has to offer, yes, horses. I overheard a little boy say, “Boy, these horses are loud!” lol… Camp full, luckily scored a parking spot. My hiking group wanted to get all 22ish miles done in a day and rest back at Horseshoe Meadow. So at 4am the next morning with views of the Milky Way overhead, we headed out. Cottonwood Lakes were awesome with the sunrise. Old Army Pass was a bear in the searing sun (take more water than you think if you come out). Up on the pass at 12,000 feet, found some bighorn sheep roaming. Followed the Jenga-style cairns on the way to the summit. Some clouds rolled in, and it started snowing a bit. The rocks get larger, and the ground gets sandier. Made it to the summit, and after a few pics, it started raining under partially-cloudy skies. Lots of blue sky still and thankfully no thunder or lightning.

Jose KM6PFM at the summit of Mt. Langley

Quickly assembled my Yagi in the rain and got to it. Tried to self spot with SOTA Goat, but I guess the signal bars on my phone were just there for decoration because it wouldn’t establish the link, lol. Made a few local contacts in Bishop area then aimed the Yagi south. Very happy to reach ~280km away to W6/CT-013 Keller Peak where W6MHS, KJ6IJT, KM6WCO [thanks for spotting me!], and KE6PLA had set up to try and catch me. Some raw video is linked below. I don’t normally get to hear myself on the other side of the QSO, so that was cool. I was only active about 10-15min then had to pack it up due to increasing rain/snow and friends clamoring for me to hurry up 😊. Made it back down and enjoyed a nice evening at camp. Grateful for no nausea or altitude sickness Could have benefitted from another day at camp — blood oxygen levels ranged from a low of 82% on arrival day to 85-93% on summit day. All in all, another memorable activation!

Pictures from the Summit of San Gabriel Peak

On Sunday, August 11, SPARC members Rick Besocke, KI6ZKM and Jeff Liter, W2JCL hiked San Gabriel peak and performed a SOTA (Summits on the Air) activation. Together they logged seventeen QSOs on 146.52 MHz and 446.00 MHz. Jeff also conducted a mesh chat with Oliver, K6OLI over the AREDN mesh.

Rick KI6ZKM operates a “tape measure” beam on FM. A mesh go-kit operated by Jeff W2JCL is in the foreground.
Rick makes a contact on his beam. Antennas of Mt. Wilson are visible in the background.

If you’d like to know more about SOTA, check out this talk by Scott, WA9STI from our November 2018 meeting. Then use the following links to join in on the fun.

Main SOTA site: www.sota.org.uk
SOTA logging: www.sotadata.org.uk
SOTA Watch (alerts and spots): www.sotawatch.org
SOTA Mapping Project: www.sotamaps.org
SOTlas (SOTA altas): www.sotl.as

Watch November’s SOTA Presentation by Scott WA9STI

SPARC thanks Scott Hanley WA9STI for his informative presentation on SOTA at our November meeting. Robert K6YZF recorded the talk, and John KK6ZVQ edited it. We’re posting it here with Scott’s permission. Below the video are links to some of the sites and resources Scott mentioned. We hope this inspires you to get out and operate from the great outdoors!

 

GETTING STARTED
The main SOTA site: sota.org.uk
Announce activations and spot in real time at sotawatch.org
Look for SOTA peaks near you using the SOTA Mapping Project
Automatic spotting handled by the Reverse Beacon Network

 

Groups.io for SOTA
California
North America

 

RADIOS
Yaesu 818
Yaesu 857
Yaesu 897
Elecraft KX3 and KX2

 

SAFETY
Trouble on the trail? Use the Wilderness Protocol
Leave a hiking plan: tips from the LA County Sheriff and a sample plan (PDF)
Track and beacon your location with APRS

 

GEAR
Scott recommends end-fed dipole antennas. Some commercial antennas Scott mentions in his talk or has in his pack:
Buddipole
HF Pack
LNR
Ventenna

 

Whiterook portable CW keyer

 

RG 174 coax cable

 

Frogg Toggs Rain Gear

 

See photos of the meeting here.

 

This map shows all of the SOTA-eligible summits in our region:
SoCal SOTA Summits

HF on a Budget Guide by KE6MT

California-based ham Rex Vokey KE6MT runs a blog chronicling his SOTA activities. A recent post outlines the low-cost solutions he’s currently using:

I believe that we are indeed in the midst of a golden age for amateur radio. Never before have we had such easy access to information, parts and kits needed to get on the air and to experiment.  From microcontrollers to easily available parts and information, never have there been more possibilities for experimentation.  With ingeniously-designed inexpensive kits, it’s easier than ever to get on the air.

Rex describes low-power (QRP) kits and antennas ideally suited for carrying up summits and making contacts. He is a big advocate of CW (Morse code) and the 40-meter band. If you’ve been thinking about exploring HF work and Summits on the Air, Rex’s post provides a great introduction. (Thanks to Al Williams at Hackaday.com for linking to the post.)