KH1 SOTA Field Test Report from W7W/SN-183

Today I finally had some time off work that aligned with good WX! I took my KH1 on to Bald Hill (W7W/SN-183) for another field test. This is the 2nd summit I have activated with the KH1, but the first one was brief because of heavy rain, high wind, and lightning. @KT5X (aka WS0TA) was also planning to activate with his KH1 from a summit in Southern California, so another motivation was to get the first ever KH1-to-KH1 S2S contact.

Bald Hill is a 1 point summit, and the closest summit to my house. It is quite a nice hike on a sunny day.

Lots of nice fall colors on display.

Hello sunshine!

The hike up to the summit took a bit more than an hour. Most of it is on a trail, but the last bit is a bushwhack. As soon as I arrived on the summit I saw that Martin @AJ6CL was on 20m on a summit. It took me about 60 seconds to remove the KH1 from my backpack, screw in the whip and extend it, and toss the counterpoise wire out. I was able to get an S2S with Martin on the whip! Next I saw a spot for Steve @WB5CTS on a summit in Arizona, and was able to get him on the whip as well. Not seeing any other S2S opportunities, I decided to put up my 41’ EFRW (with 9:1 unun, 17’ counterpoise). The ATU in the KH1 easily tuned this antenna on all 5 bands, with better than 1.5:1 on every band except 40 (1.9:1 on 40). I put out a spot on 20, engaged my ‘CQ SOTA’ memory, and awaited the pileup! Here is my operating position:

The first to answer was @WB6POT who nearly broke my eardrums with his very loud signal. Next I worked S57S and then @F4WBN. I worked 10 more stations in 10 mins, all over the USA. When no one answered my CQ, I checked for spots and saw that @N4LAG was on a summit in W4C on 15. The ATU easily tuned the antenna on 15 and I got the S2S with Andy. Next up a run on 17 - ATU easily tuned the antenna again. Got F4WBN again! Got S2S with @WB2FUV who was in W1 land. Got S2S with @K5DEZ in W5N. Wow this little radio WORKS!

My friend @KJ7LLS was on a summit north of me here in W7W, and we got an S2S on 40. Again, the ATU was able to tune the 41’ EFRW for a 1.9:1 SWR (40 had the highest SWR of all 5 bands). Also got @K6EL S2S on 40 on his famous W6/NC ‘two dollars and ninety-eight cent’ summit. Worked a few locals on 40 and then I got the spot I had been waiting for: WS0TA on 20m!

Fred was also on a 1 point summit about 1000 miles south of me. Not bad for 5 watts and a wire.

For the next hour I worked more S2S: WM6Y in W6/CT, VE7EA in VE7, W6/DL2COM in W6/CC (on 20 and 17). I did runs on 40/30/20/17/15 and made contacts on every band. At some point I took down the 41’ EFRW and put up my 20/30/40 trapped EFHW and ran some of the bands again. The ATU was able to tune all 5 bands on this antenna as well!

I did pull out my KX2 to get some 40m SSB S2S and take a run on 10 meters (got LW2DO and others). Stats for the activation: KH1 got 12 S2S (2 of them with the whip!) and total of 56 contacts. I made 5 SSB S2S with the KX2, and 7 QSOs on 10 meters.

It was time to pack up and head back. I was about 1/2 way back to my car when I saw a spot for @N1CLC on 15 meters. I stopped on the trail, pulled out the KH1 and installed the whip, tossed out the counterpoise wire and tuned to his frequency. He had a good signal and I easily got him (he gave me a 559). I had a big grin on my face for the rest of the walk back to the car!

If you are wondering why I wasn’t using the KH1 paddle - mine had a manufacturing defect and has failed. Elecraft is sending a new one. I also don’t yet have the logging tray, but will post a review of it once it has arrived. Also, the internal speaker is not great - good enough for a backup, but I used headphones for the entire activation except for the S2S that I wanted to record. The audio sounds very good through headphones!

73 de WU7H


Thanks for the S2S Josh. In fact, you were my first contact on the summit today. My KX2 had to talk to the KH1. The KH1 is working Great.
Tim - K5DEZ


Nice trip report Josh. Looks like I just missed you guys. I chased a few of those that you mentioned, but then took off to hike the dogs and didn’t get back until late in the afternoon ;-( Will have to keep an eye out for your spots so we can let my KX-2 get a shot at your KH-1 :wink:

C ya on the bands…

73, Todd KH2TJ

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Thanks for the awesome report. I have to say, that paddle looks like a pretty good consolation prize though. :wink:
Also, didn’t anyone tell you that you can’t DX on a random wire? :metal::laughing:


FB and a great write up Josh! How was the SWR on 40m with your trapped EFHW?

73 de Tim N7KOM

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Thanks Tim. SWR on 40 on the trapped EFHW was about 1.4:1 around 7.035 with the ATU bypassed. The traps are working great! Thanks for the tiny trap kit :+1:


Thanks for sharing your awesome 3D designs with us Adam. This particular paddle has been on a ton of summits this year. Still going strong!


Adam and others,

Poor DX performer might apply to a truely random wire. If the wire has been cut to a particular length it’s not random. It might be non resonant but that’s a different cat.

Often when a radial is added the total antenna length looks close to resonance. Isn’t that strange?

I’ve seen the phrase " begging the question" and words like “gay” and " problematic" and “decimated” have their meanings totally perverted. Please don’t do this to " random"


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Excellent report Josh, good to read about the KH1 with both the whip and external antenna.


Ron, as a pedant myself I’m with you on the unfortunate redefining of some words and phases but not on this one. The 16th century translation into English of Aristotle’s ‘petitio principii’ is misleading and ‘assume the conclusion’ would have been better. I think the modern usage actually fits the phrase better, though ‘question that begs an answer’ would be clearer.

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I saw your spot for 20m literally as we were headed out the door for the airport with bags in hand! Turned on the LAB599 Discovery (KH1 was charging) and heard you 559w/QSB. Worked you, then Rich say’s, “Who’s that?” I said “Josh” so he leans over grabs the paddles and adds another KH1 chaser Q to his log! Making our nerve-racking drive through low visibility snow storm to DIA torrerable to get Rich & Edi to the airport to catch their flight. Although not a KH1 to KH1 2-way but instead a KH1 to a TX500 (Russian MFG xcvr) it’s probably a first also? TX500 was 5w to 4BTV vertical on fence post with several miles of horse fence CP! Thanks, Josh! Fun hasty QSO!! Cheers, Steve/wGOAT (& Rich/AC7MA)


What a great write-up, Josh, and a remarkable job on the peak! I feel like a slacker. I used my trapped endfed halfwave. The 3 traps make it a halfwave on 17, 20, 30, and 40. It is 3 halfwaves on 15. With or without the ATU, it was under 1.5:1 on all bands, and mostly right down on the deck. Worked 36 stations, 6 S-2-S’s including the KH1-2-KH1 with you, and some European DX as well. The ergonomics of the radio is a commercial version of what I homebrewed, so very comfortable with it and love the fit-and-finish of something manufactured. My version made with hacksaw and file is not as pretty, hi hi.

Watching your video of my signal, the S-meter showed me going rapidly up and down from S-2 to S-6 and back. I have a theory about the cause. I was located on a prominence at the edge of a steep drop-off of hundreds of feet. I suspect that the antenna, while only 15 feet up, behaves as if it is 800 feet up because there is nothing but air just in front of it. When I model the antenna 800 feet up, I find not only is the take-off angle very low, but the lobe has broken up into many lobes between each is a very deep null. It seems to me that if arrival angle changes only slightly with ionospheric movement, signal can go in and out of a null rapidly.

Plenty more fun ahead. People are going to enjoy the nimble nature of this radio offers for portable operation widely afield.

73, Fred KT5X (WS0TA or W5YA club calls on peaks)


Thanks for being out there so we could get that S2S! Sounds like a solid theory on the fast QSB! I was very pleased that my trapped 20/30/40 EFHW worked well on all 5 bands. It is a great antenna for the KH1.

Shout out to @K6ARK for the EFHW transformer kit that is built in to the BNC, and @N7KOM for the ‘pico trap’ kit. Having nice kits with PCBs and all the parts in a tidy package sure makes it easy to build a great antenna.

Ron, I didn’t do a very good job of measuring the wire when I made this antenna. Is it exactly 41’? I doubt it. So it really is a ‘random’ length, that might be pretty close to 41’. And there is a transformer that probably isn’t really 9:1. People have been calling this type of antenna a ‘random end fed’ for a very long time, so I don’t think you will get much traction in stopping it. At least I didn’t call it a ‘long wire’, which I’ve heard it called by many people.

Call it what you will, but it is an easy to make and decent performing antenna that works well with the ATU in the KH1.

73 de WU7H


What fun! Thanks for the S2S! Your KH1 sounded just fine from WA into my KX2 in NC - your random wire transmissions into my random wire, and back, did the job.

Andy, N4LAG