Saturday, February 25, 2017

February Update

Greetings, all.

It's been a while since I blogged here.  I suppose I'll give a quick update on things.

The march to SOTA Mountain Goat continues.  For the most part, I haven't activated very many peaks that I haven't visited before.  The Shenandoah Range is the closest range by a long shot.  And given that I've activated most of the peaks near Skyline Drive several times, it doesn't make much sense to blog about new ones.  Still, I've been quite active with SOTA in the last few weeks.  I've been doing mostly CW work--it's just more effective.  In the month of February alone, I've had CW QSOs on 40, 30, 20, 17,15, and 12 meters.  I've attempted CW QSOs on 80 and 10 meters, but no luck.  I've heard some stations on 80 (KG3W and a couple others), but evidently my QRP signal couldn't make it through the daytime noise levels, even in the "winter."  (Truthfully, there hasn't been much of a winter here.  Some rain, and a couple dustings of snow, but it's felt more like April or May here in Tidewater Virginia).

Typically I start my activations using the Yaesu VX-8DR HT.  I do this for a few reasons.  I do it to get the APRS beacon out, so that any followers can see my location on the peak.  And I also see if there are any locals about on 146.52, 223.5, and 446.0, the FM calling frequencies.  Occasionally I can scrape together four contacts on those bands alone, which is great if I need to get off the peak quickly.  More often, I just like to use those bands because, frankly, they're not used enough.

Only then will I set up my HF station, typically working CW, but occasionally SSB.

In any case, my activations have been effective.  Since 2017 started, I've logged over 100 activation points.  I currently sit at 938 total activation points.  1000 is the goal, so it's coming.

I've also given some thought about which peak I'd like to earn Mountain Goat status on.  I'm leaning toward Mount Badon-Powell (W6/CT-004) in Southern California.  The only problem is that it's buried in a lot of snow, so I'll have to wait.  That's probably OK.

I've also been asked why I continue to linger in the W6 SOTA Association while I live in Virginia.  There are several reasons, but chief among them is that I really like living and hiking in California.  Virginia is OK, but it's just not my favorite place.  I've also earned more activation points in California than anywhere else, so W6 is where I am, and it's where I intend to stay.

As far as the home QTH goes, things are fine there too.  The K3S is doing well.  I've added a Telepost LP-Pan 2 panadaptor, which is connected to the computer by a Xonar U7 external sound card.  That allows me to use various software to "see" the band.  I've been experimenting with several software packages to do that.  So far, PowerSDR IF Stage and the Win4K3Suite seem to be the best.  PowerSDR has the most attractive-looking interface, but Win4K3Suite offers much closer control of the transceiver.

In terms of paper-chasing, I've made progress, too.  For DXCC, I have 120 total entities confirmed.  96 via CW, 75 using Phone, and 42 on digital modes.  I've confirmed with 294 band-entities for DXCC Challenge.

I'm very close on the Triple Play award, too.  I only need Alaska via CW and Wyoming via phone.

So, what's next?  I think I'm going to try to experiment more on 6 meters.

It's all great fun.

I have a few posts planned for the near future.  I'll likely do a quick post on my home QTH antennas, and probably a post on my SOTA-related equipment I use.

That's it for now!  73.