Time to get back into SOTA as the nice weather has returned to Central Pennsylvania. I’d love to chase some winter bonus points but this winter was just too busy to get out and enjoy what was actually some decent weather during that season. But my new KX3 had arrived, which was assembled in an evening and working well at home. Time to test it out in the field!
W3/PW-004 - Bald Knob East (Little Flat)
4/7/2017 - Start 3:30 PM - Summit 5:00 PM - End 7:30 PM
Base Temp: 39F
Ridgetop Temp: ~33F
The first SOTA of the year came after a full day of work. After leaving work I headed to the closest summit to my place of employment, named Bald Knob East, however is clearly marked on every map ever Little Flat and known locally as such. I’ve emailed the W3 associated manager multiple times recently with no response… anyways… Parking at the trailhead parking was completely empty, with many still at work (around 3:30pm still) and the weather being less than ideal. For the last activation of this peak I took the Spruce Gap Trail to the Summit, which is brutally steep and straight up the mountainside. This time around I took the less direct route up the Old Laurel Run Trail. It was a fantastic hike and my conditioning hadn’t faltered too drastically.
Once at the top I slung my trapped dipole (the Pacific Antenna kit version) up only about 4 feet and turned on the KX3 using batteries for the first time. I had hoped to do SSB and CW but in the interest of time I stuck with tried and true CW. Both 20m and 40m were working well with plenty of contacts despite the low height of the antenna. I could have spent more time on HF, however my fingers were going numb. The combination of wind blown graupel and evaporating sweat was making me uncomfortable so time to pack it up. Worked two stations on 2m FM including fellow SOTA adventurer NK8Q, then back down the way I came. The KX3 made it through activation #1.
W3/SV-018 - Broad Mountain
4/9/2017 - Start 5:30 PM - Summit 6:00 PM - End 8:00 PM
Base/Summit Temp: ~70F
Another post work activation, but way too nice of a day to not get outdoors. NK8Q, my partner in crime was out hiking another SV summit so I headed towards Broad Mountain with the idea he would meet me there and could finish the day hiking together. Due to time I took the short and easy way to the summit, which is parking near the Tower Road and walking less than a mile to the summit. There are many nice day hikes that can be done to the summit and I plan to return sometime with more time. This would also make a fantastic mountain bike or gravel ready road bike summit.
There were a few other people there, illegally climbing the fire tower. Good for them, as these towers should be open to the public, as they are in virtually every other state. I set up away from the tower, this time with the dipole up about 10 feet. This time I tried to work some SSB but didn’t get a single taker despite spotting. Switched to CW and still had very few takers. I did manage a S2S with N2GBR who was in the area, thanks N2GBR for my first HF S2S! Conditions remained painfully slow. I tuned through 40m and started working GAQP stations with relative ease, so I knew propagation wasn’t to blame, at least on 40m. I worked 13 stations over what felt like forever, before packing up. NK8Q had arrived relatively early on and worked his 10 in around the same time, using an LNR EF Trail Friendly up much higher. He also noticed how slow things were. Around sunset we packed up and walked back to our vehicles together.
What worked well:
The Pacific Antenna Trap Dipole Kit
Slinging the Dipole Low and not caring to much about height
My improving CW skills
What didn’t work well:
Now I know why people hate the KX3 speaker (forget headphones for the second activation)
SSB and conditions in general Sunday (Where was everyone?!?!?)
I’ll be adding some video from the second activation soon on youtube. I’m hoping to get a busy channel like WG0AT, N2GBR, etc.
Evan - N3TWM