Missing connector at Mt. Ezkintza


EA2LU Jorge and I decided to pay a visit to Mt. Ezkintza EA2/NV-148, a new one for Jorge.

The activation turned into a nightmare when I discovered I have forgotten a silly adaptor. Let’s see what happened…

Activation date: November 14th 2020.

Driving directions

  • Take road A-12 between Pamplona and Estella.
  • Leave the motorway after Cirauqui, in exit nr. 31 towards Lorca.
  • Right after the exit turn left, cross the bridge and head towards Cirauqui, by road NA-1110.
  • Soon after the petrol station there is a dirt road right hand side that you can drive with care up to the summit, for about 6,5 km.

Weather had been great all the week so we expected to have plenty of sun. Nevertheless, as soon as we took our car we noticed that a dense fog would join us the whole morning.

It was a good decision to drive up this time, as it was wet and cold. The summit is wide and flat with a big hermitage:


Jorge settled his gear first, tying the pole to a thin tree and deployed his random wire inverted V:

He soon started and I moved on to find a spot to deploy my EFHW.

I extended the wire and put up the pole. I connected everything and when I was ending I jumped as soon as I realized I had left my RCA to BNC adaptor. No way to connect the antenna!

For heaven’s shake! How stupid I was, I had changed my regular backpack replacing it with a new one I had receintly bought. Then I had forgotten to add this silly little adaptor and I couldn’t connect the antenna to the transceiver, such a shame.

I felt frustrated, it was no possible to match that RCA connector to the BNC outlet. So after some minutes I assumed I had a fail activation and started disassemblying the pole and antenna in the middle of the fog.

When I was about to wind the antenna wire I suddenly stopped. What if…?

I reasoned a bit to myself, left the gear and stepped towards Jorge. I knew he had an electrical tape roll. I approached and there he was, keying in the middle of his pile up. I felt so sorry for disturbing, murmured something, grabbed his roll and left him looking at me astonished.

I got back to my gear, cut a piece of tape and pressing firmly the RCA against the BNC I put the tape in. The ground ring between both connectors kept separated, and therefore I cut a few centimeter of the tail of my EFHW antenna to close the ground betweem them. See how it ended:

The connectors were in place, I switched on the radio and prayed to hear any signal. Pressed the key and SWR was okay at 1,7:1, hooray! I felt glad for not having surrendered…

When I started calling CQ I wasn’t sure my poor fix would last, so when I had my 4th qso with Jan OK2PDT I felt relieved.

The activation worked fine for both of us.

Jorge ran on 5, 7, 10, 14 & 18 MHz CW logging 70 qso.

He had S2S QSO with Markus IN3ADF, Markus HB9BRJ/P, Heinz OE5EEP/P, Rudy 9A3R/P, Arthur HB9CEV/P and Ulrich HB9CGA/P. He also logged Bruno HB9CBR/P working from a HB-Flora Fauna this time. He had his moment of glory when logged Andrew ZL1TM in 14 MHz.

What about me? In the end, I closed my log with 85 qso, running on 14 and 7 MHz SSB mainly plus a few CW S2S qso. If you run on 7 SSB you know you’re going to work lots of EA hunters being weekend.

I logged S2S Joâo CT2GSN/P, Tom OE9TKH/P, Kurt HB9AFI/P and Andreas DK7MG/P.

The summit was still foggy when we left, but we were satisfied and got back home chatting about our adventures.

73 de Ignacio
P.s. I will make sure I carry adhesive tape in my backpack,and the adaptor next time!


Ignacio McGuyver…

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Hi Ignacio,

Chapeau bas !!!
I know one who forget the front panel of TRX in the car …
I am sure in such case you would find the solution too :wink:

73, Jarek

Well Andrew, I’m not that talented, but carrying the Swiss knife was the only right thing I did!

Better not no face that situation just in case…

73 de Ignacio

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I have one RCA connector and that’s on the MTR3B. It has a BNC adaptor attached as permanently as possible. Everything else is BNC or if it is a radio with SO239, a BNC adaptor. Even on the 817!

My most annoying connector “fail” was a missing 6.5mm stereo-3.5mm stereo adaptor, necessary for my IC703, as all my paddles have 3.5mm sockets for paddle. I was not far from the car on that occasion and the ft817 was in the car, so that became the radio for that activation. (I wish manufacturers would adopt the 3.5mm socket as standard for the cw key, on all their radios Mr Icom).

Following that experience, I have included in my pack a small plastic box with one of each vital adaptor (UHF-BNC, BNC-SMA, BNC F-F, 6.5-3.5) plus two spare AA cells for my GPS. My habit now is to always return any used adaptors to that box. It has saved a few activations…
I also carry a multi-tool…for those McGuyer situations.

:slight_smile: 73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

I prefer RCA connectors for RF connections when activating SOTA peaks. They are smaller and lighter than BNC, and they can be made to work with short wires, if a coax cable pulls loose.

The total added weight of several BNC male and female connectors required for a SOTA activation adds up to many grams, compared to RCA males and females. If you look at a BNC male connector, it has a lot of heavy brass metal. Also the female connectors stick out pretty far from the radio. They are not ideal.

Jumper cables with RCA male connectors are very easy to make at home. No adaptors are required if all gear uses RCA jacks.

Several years ago, I removed the BNC female connector from my KX2 and replaced it with a high-quality machined RCA female connector. I had to re-mount the RF power mosfets, and changing the connector requires skill, so this is not recommended, unless you know you can do it correctly.

Performance of my KX2 radio did not change, even on 10M. SWR readings into 50 ohms are still perfect. I run 10W almost always, and there have been no issues.

I use RCA female connectors on my homemade tuners, so the jumper cables have two male RCA’s. I always carry a spare 1-foot jumper cable in case the main 2-foot cable fails or is missing.

SOTA operations sometimes go wrong, and it is possible to trip over a cable after all the gear is set up to operate. If you trip over a jumper cable with an RCA connector, it is more likely to pull out of the socket than a BNC, which will not pull out. Your radio is more likely to be damaged, if it is jerked around over the rocks by a misplaced boot catching a jumper cable.

RCA connectors are much easier to connect and disconnect with cold hands or gloves on. This is reason enough not to use BNC connectors for cold conditions.

RCA connectors are much easier to replace or service, especially compared to male BNC’s.

RCA jacks must be mounted tightly, so they do not come loose. It is best not to twist them when connecting and disconnecting. In general they are more convenient and reliable over time than BNC.

If you don’t like the low-cost RCA plugs with the plastic case, you can use the high-quality machined metal RCA plugs - these are heavier than the plastic plugs, but lighter than the BNC males.

I chose RCA connectors, because my original QRP radios were ATS-3A and ATS-3B transceivers with RCA female connectors, and they were small and reliable.

I used SMA connectors on my tuners for a while, but they were much harder to use in cold conditions than RCA’s. The SMA males also are more delicate and will fail with repeated stress on the cable.

I use RG-316 teflon cable (RGS-316) for my RCA plugs. I never use more than 2 feet of coax cable for any of my activations. This short jumper cable is matched at 50 ohms by my tuner. Using longer runs of small coax is inefficient, especially if the load is not close to 50 ohms, on all bands. Larger coax is too heavy, and still inefficient. Avoid coax when climbing high mountains!




Hi George,

Good points. I don’t have anything against RCA connectors. It is mixing connector types that causes problems. If you have RCA everywhere that’s good.

I read somewhere that the RCA series was originally intended to be a 50 ohm microwave connector. Collins and Heath used them as their antenna connectors extensively. But they were not using plastic cased versions now common with audio equipment.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

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Big plus: you can just stuff bare antenna wire into them
Bonus plus: They can be straightened out when you stand on them. (unlike a bnc’s locking ring)