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NG-001 Brasstown Bald, Georgia 11/15

I am planning on doing my first summit this Thursday 10/15 on top of Brasstown Bald in the north Georgia mountains. I will be operating on both HF SSB and VHF FM and with some remote help from John WD8LQT who will post when I am active and on what frequency.

Here is me crossing my fingers that I get the minimum of 4 contacts need to activate this summit!

73,
KK4OHF

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There is a grassy area on the right just below the observation structure where you can set up an HF antenna. The observation deck might be better for VHF.

GL,
Dean ~ K2JB

good hunting,
enjoy your first summit

Hi Marshall,

Good luck on your first activation. If you have time, you might consider posting an alert on SotaWatch with your anticipated time, frequencies, and modes. You are not bound by that as many things could affect your activation such as weather or other issues. But all the active chasers read the Alerts page every morning to see who will be out that day and what summits are going to be activated. Most read the Reflector regularly, but maybe not every day so you will get better results if you post an alert.

Be warned though that once you do your first activation, you won’t be able to stop! 73 and hope to hear you from Brasstown Bald. :hiking_boot:

Ron, KI4TN

I am sure it will be a success! Have fun and I bet you will have your next activation planned before getting back on the bus LOL

You’ll have no problem working VHF. The first time I activated I garnered 11 QSOs with 4 S2S contacts. I was using a 3 element portable yagi and had one QSO that was around 150 miles.

The observation tower is a bit RF noisy. What type of VHF radio will you be using?

KK4OHF,

Your activation will almost certainly be a success. (And SOTA is addictive.) I’ll try to work you if I see you spotted.

73 & good luck,
Andy, N4LAG

N1RBD,

I have an FT-818 which has 2M capability. I was also thinking about taking a HT FT3dr while the HT would make moving about easier, it adds more weight. As it is my pack is stuffed and likely needs to be trimmed down. I’m told it’s common for the first time or two to carry to much gear. :slight_smile:

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KI4TN,

Thanks for the suggestions. I signed up for the SOTAWatch the other day but am still waiting on my access to be approved. The popup said it was a manual step. I just tried it an it’s rejecting my login. Maybe later today!

I am relying on a friend who said he would post to the world what time and freq. that I am on at that time. To be honest, I though posting the pre-planning here would be the notification but I guess not.

Well in that case you were not signing up for SOTAwatch but something else.

SOTAwatch uses the SSO server (single sign on) and is an automatic process. I had a look and your SSO account is valid and verified (created 11th Oct 2020) and when I checked I could login as you and SOTAwatch was working. If you can’t login then you are using the wrong username and/or password. It is a different system to this reflector/forum.

Check you are using the correct credentials and you don’t have things like Privacy Badger/NoScript blocking what is needed. You can try the forgot password link and if it still doesn’t work for you then PM and I will look further.

Are you parking at the big lot and hiking from the lot up to the summit? It’s a relatively easy hike if you’re a regular hiker. I always carry my HT along with whatever else I take just in case of an emergency. I can attest to the beginner being overloaded. You learn with time what you really need. I started doing CW and my SOTA kit with everything except the throw bag and rope comes in right at 2lbs. Good luck on your first activation. I’m in Duluth and have hit people on Brasstown Bald VHF. One of my SOTA team suggests operating VHF from near the elevator, as that seems to be a sweet spot to keep your radio’s front end from being overloaded. Hope I can work you!

Good luck!!! Hopefully you can do 60 meters. There are several chasers around NC that 60m works awesome for.

Gary W5GDW

W5GDW - I don’t have an antenna for 60M at this time. What I will be operating on is one of the following depending on bands and activity.

10-40 endFedZ
20M dipole
2m 3 element tape measure yagi

N1RBD - 2 lbs in my dreams :slight_smile:
I will be closer to 10 lbs but I haven’t weighed it. Good thing the hike is only 30min or so. oh, and that is not counting water, snacks…

It’s funny how nothing by itself is heavy. It’s just when I add it all together. Maybe I can get my XYL to carry some of it. LOL

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Forgot to add, that we are not regular hikers but we do walk our neighborhood 3-5 times a week. Usually around 2 miles each walk.

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If you plan to activate via HF, follow K2JB’s advice and set up on the grassy area that you see on your right, just as you near the summit and begin to see the observation platform. There is a concrete park bench on the grass. I have used the bench as an operating position. I stretch my SOTABEAMS linked dipole across the grassy area and attach the center and ends to the trees at the edge of the grass, opposite the observation platform and toward the parking lot. This only puts the antenna at about 8-9 feet above ground, but it works fine. The elevation above average terrain is still good, as is the take-off angle.

For VHF activations you will need a HT with a very good superheterodyne receiver, not a SDR type HT (i.e. Baofeng, Yaesu FT-65R, FT-25R, FT4XR, etc.). The Yaesu radios can sometimes receive, but you must walk around in the grassy area to find a “sweet spot”, where the intermod doesn’t overload the front-end of your receiver. If you go up on the observation platform with a SDR type HT, the best chance you have to be able to receive is by standing next to the elevator door. There is just so much RF up there that SDR receivers, and even some superheterodybe receivers, cannot hear. My friend’s VX8R was receiving the weather broadcast instead of 146.520 MHz.

The best HT my team has found for areas of high RF is the Yaesu FT-270R first, followed by the Yaesu FT-60R. I haven’t yet tried my FT-3DR on Brasstown Bald, but it is a SDR receiver, so I have doubts. In narrow FM mode, it is a superhet, so that might work. Enabling the attenuator might also help. I plan to test the FT-3DR on Brasstown Bald in January of 2021, to see how it performs. Between now and January, I plan to test it on Stone Mountain, which has a 50,000 watt broadcast transmitter that wreaks havoc on radio receivers. Thus far, only my FT-270R and FT-60R can hear on Stone Mountain.

If you haven’t done many VHF activations, I offer one final hint. Don’t assume that you must hold your HT in such a way that the antenna stays perfectly vertical. You might find that a 45 degree angle works best to receive one station, while orienting the HT to where the antenna is completely horizontal works best for another station you are trying to receive. And sometimes vertical orientation does work best. Also, try taking a step or two in different directions to see where you receive the other station the best. It’s just the way VHF acts, so we must be flexible.

73, Doug N4HNH

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The advice on going behind the elevator for VHF is solid gold. It blocks a considerable amount of the RF. @n4hnh my FT-2DR is almost deaf up there - but I know what the weather forecast really well.

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The FT-2DR and FT-3DR are practically the same, except for the screen. So I imagine I will get the WX report as well. It’s interesting that I can stand next to the antennas up there and make contacts with my FT-270R.

Thanks for your insight.

73, Doug

Doug,
The grassy area for HF, got it. On VHF your mention the angle of the antenna but I am thinking you are talking rubber ducky and not yagi? I could be wrong but wouldn’t a yagi eliminate some of the RF from the sides? If it will make the problem worse, I can leave it behind and go to the elevator…

My brother, W4KWM, used his Yagi from the observation platform successfully, but he was using his FT-60R. But a Yagi might not have enough side rejection to block high levels of RF, such as exists on Brasstown Bald, Stone Mountain, and the like. If you happen to catch a chaser who is in a direction that places the antennas on Brasstown Bald into the null of your Yagi, it might help.

The superhet receiver is what helped my brother more than the Yagi did. I stood next to the antennas and operated with my FT-270R and Diamond SRH770S.

I was referring to a duckie though. We typically use a Diamond SRH770S, high gain duckie or a roll-up J-Pole, and sometimes the Yagi. But orienting the antenna horizontal, vertical, or in between can be true for a Yagi as much as it is for a duckie. N1RBD was with us on a summit one day, using his Arrow Yagi. We were trying our best to make a S2S contact with someone on another summit who was using a HT with a duckie. Richard ended up rotating the Yagi horizontal and not even aiming it in the direction of the other station in order to hear them.

It’s because the reflections from other mountains and ridges can skew the polarization. The reflections might also require us to aim in the direction of a different summit and catch the reflected signal, rather than aiming directly at the summit where the other station is located.

Bottom line? Rotate your antenna and try different polarizations until you see the strongest signal on your S meter. It doesn’t matter if your antenna is a duckie or a Yagi. Sometimes we even find ourselves changing the angle of our roll-up J-Pole in order to copy a station better.

VHF activations can be challenging, but rewarding. My brother made it to Mountain Goat with only his HT. Out in obscure areas it sometimes took nearly 2 hours to get 4 contacts. Often the 4th was a random mobile station. I read the SOTA started out as VHF. It’s easy to get 4 HF contacts. VHF is more challenging.

73, Doug

OK, makes sense. I will leave the yagi behind. You can tell I was looking for a reason to not carry another thing if I can help it. This is my first summit and already packed a roll up J-pole since the FT-818nd can do 2M FM and SSB. Worth a try and the HT will be a backup at the elevator if the 818 fails. It really sounds like I will have people looking for me so getting the 4 contacts will less of an issue. I was up around Lookout Mtn a few weeks ago and almost got 1 contact. We never exchanged signal strength. 5 W on SSB was just too weak for the VA station to hear when the big kw guys are in force… One more try on the 818.