And it was an unmitigated failure.
It was a nice day to be out and with the family. Hiking was nice. Weather was nice. The views were pretty good. I was on vacation in North Carolina for the weekend and it was lot cooler than it was at home.
I was with family, so I didn’t know exactly when I was going to be up on the mountain. Additionally, the small town I was in had spotty (at best) cell coverage, Therefore, I couldn’t predict when I would be up there, and putting a notice of the activation would have been difficult with the poor coverage. I thought I would have coverage when I got up there and I could just spot myself. Well, on top I was literally 40-50 feet from a cell tower, and I had nothing for service. Zilch. So no spot.
Band conditions were tough, but I still found some spots on 20m and 40m and called CQ (SSB). As I said I had family with me including my 6yo daughter, so some of the CQs inevitably sounded something like " CQ SOTA CQ SOTA…Baby, for the 100th time PLEASE stop stepping on the wires…CQ SOTA" However, from all of the CQs called, I got nothing. Zippo. Nada.
That’s OK. The band is tough. I will just pull out the netbook and Singanlink I hauled up there and try to make it happen on PSK31. That should do the trick. Got it all set up. That was when I noticed there was a horrible noise on the PSK31 20m frequency (14.070) on receive. Weird. Turned off the Signalink. Still there. Unplugged the USB cable from the netbook, and boom noise goes away. Great, there is noise somewhere in here that I have never heard/noticed before, and 20m seems to be the only band even kinda working. I still tried for a bit, but the netbook and Singalink were misbehaving in other ways. Contacts made: 0.
At this point, the family was getting tired of the “SOTA experience” and was getting restless. Add to that the people walking by and somewhat mockingly asking “What are you doing, listening for aliens?” I packed it all up and went down the mountain with a big fat zero. So aggravating and irritating.
For some people this experience would deflate them or turn them away from the activity. Nope. I am now more resolved than ever to have a successful activation. I will not be thrown off of this horse (or mountain) again. Now I just need to work on the gear and plan the next one.
SOTAbeams travel pole
Signalink with “chip” for the kx3/2
Blank paper for logging…still blank.
And for the record, other than maybe a problem with the noisy USB port on the old netbook I think this equipment is great and not the problem here. It is more likely user error, band conditions, and more user error.
Thanks for listening.