W5 holidays

Hi all

Helen has to travel to New Mexico at the end of this month with work and I’m planning to tag along. While there we are hoping to activate at least one summit :o) This will probably be Sandia Crest (W5/SI-001), if the mountain weather permits, as we will be initially staying in Albuquerque.

We think it is ok for us to operate our equipment in the USA but it difficult to find a diffinitive answer so any comments and/or links would be appreciated.

Helen has a full UK M0 call and I have full UK G6 call (old UK class B) which causes me problems in countries like Italy which seems to still have a morse requirement for HF operation.

It’s going to be unlikely that we’ll get our signals into Europe as we’ll be probably operating QRP as we are unsure about taking Li-Pos on a plane (we will try to contact our carrier) but even though hopefully we will still qualify another country’s summit.

Thank you all in advance,


In reply to G6WRW:

Hi Carolyn,

How exciting! I hope you will have a great time in New Mexico. I have never visited that state, although I have been to nearby Texas and Oklahoma.

Yes, you will be fine to operate in the USA, as they have now signed up to the CEPT agreement - even though the USA is not a CEPT country. Just use W5/G6WRW. I don’t think /P is recognised as a suffix in the USA!

There is no Morse Test requirement for any band in the USA.

One word of caution … check out the USA band plans before you go, because the band plans are mandatory in the USA. 40 metres is a bit different from Europe in that respect. In particular, SSB is not allowed below 7.125 MHz!

More info here:

Good luck and have a lot of fun!

Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to G6WRW:
I would advise making contact with the SOTA region manager for these mountains W5DET. Andy FMF and I did a similar thing with Stu KI6J and each had a splendid time in the LA mountains with the man himself. When in San Diego I asked for help from Palomar ARC in getting a lift to their club evening meeting. One was arranged and a Ham collected me from the hotel and took me 20 miles up the coast. The loyal address to the flag was a surprise! Everyone was wonderfully friendly and this contact lead to offers of loan equipment for any future SOTA activations in southern California. No luck on a work trip back yet. The local club could be the key to your successful activations.
David M0YDH

In reply to G6WRW:

Hi Carolyn

It sounds like a great trip.

I work in the aviation industry and can tell you that LIPOS are forbidden in either checked in or hand baggage - primarily because the are very dangerous. You can carry a GEL battery or a non-spillable wheel chair type battery, but you must declare it to the operator. A NOTOC (NOTice tO airCrew) and a Dangerous Goods Certificate are then raised. The batteries require to be packed correctly and surrendered to the airlines cargo department for loading.

All and all, a load of expensive hassle!

You would probably be better (financially) to buy something at the other end, use it and dump it or even better, borrow one from a local SOTA activator.

I know that suppliers send batteries by airmail when they shouldn’t…but I wouldn’t like to be a passenger on board when a LIPO suffered a thermal runaway.

The rules (ICAO DGRs- International Civil Aviation Organisation Dangerous Good Regulations) are the same for all carriers. If you need any more info email me at my QRZ address and I will put you in touch with our cargo manager.



In reply to G6WRW:

Hi Carolyn

Hope you and Helen have a wonderful time in W5.

You should find that you are fine to take your LiPo’s under 100Wh capacity (ie about 9000mAh for a 3S battery) as carry on luggage on the plane provided they are completely enclosed in suitable packaging and the terminals are covered to prevent any chance of short circuit.

If you’ve got bigger ones (100 - 160 Wh and even Gerald’s aren’t that big!) you’re usually restricted to two and you have to declare them to the carrier.

Google “guide to dangerous goods” for your carrier and it’ll tell you their specific rules.

Bon Voyage!

73 de Paul G4MD

In reply to G4MD:
Hi Paul how many laptops are taken on planes and a lot have lipo batteries.73 Geoff

In reply to G4MD:

Hi Carolyn,

I too had cause to check up ‘the guide to dangerous goods’ last year during my VP8 trip, the guide stipulated that LiPO’s up to the equivalent of 8000mAh could be carried as long as contacts were taped off and in suitable packing.

When I contacted the carrier to ask for further advice one person said they had to be put in the hold, whilst unhappy with this response I contacted them again only to be told they had to be hand carried. In the end I just made sure that I had a copy of the rules enclosed with the batteries in case I was challenged. It was all very confusing.

Good luck. Hope to hear you from W5.



In reply to G0PEB:


You certainly will enjoy your trip to New Mexico. Perfect time of the year! Here’s a link to LiIon/LiPoly information from our FAA and pertinent for US-flagged air carriers:

Obviously check with your airline for their restrictions.

Also you might want to email contact Fred/KT5X via his qrz.com email address. Fred lives near to Albuquerque and I’m sure could provide a lot of local SOTA information. Fred is quite SOTA-active, esp. in the northern NM mountains.

Have fun! 73, Guy/N7UN

Thank you for all the information; call signs no issue and my 4000mAh Li-pos will be no problem so I’ll be taking one of my amplifiers.

A couple of vertical (and very light weight) antennas for 20, 17, 15 and 10m based around a compact 5m pole are designed and ready to be tested.

As everything is very loosly planned atm (as usual) I probably won’t be contacting anyone in W5, but never say never, details are noted :o)


In reply to KD9KC:
Hi Carolyn
I called in to see our Airline Cargo Manager today and he gave me a copy of the 2011 DGRegs - which I have emailed to you. Paul G4MD is correct and I apologise for the duff gen. You may find these useful when trying to convince the powers that be that you are allowed to carry LIPOs on board!! Some of the security people like to make their own rules up hi hi!
Batteries under 100Wh do not need the approval of the Operator but must be in carry on baggage. Those over 100Wh but less than 160Wh require the Operators approval. Those over 160Wh are forbidden. No LIPOs may be carried in checked in baggage.

In reply to G6WRW:
Hi Carolyn,

Ill be listening for you. Dont forget, no 70Mhz on this side of the pond and you might find
working chasers a bit more difficult. Lets try for a S2S…please let us
know a date asap when you have one.

Tom, N2YTF

Hi all

Thank you again for the travel/battery advice and contacts.

The two possible dates for our main objective of Sandia Crest (W5/SI-001) will be either Wednesday 30th November or Friday 2nd December; this is totally weather dependant.

Simple antennas have been constructed to cover 20, 17, 15 and 10m and hopefully all being well I’ll be using my usual power level of around 30W

We have looked at South Sandia Peak (W5/SI-003) but it looks a bit too much as there is already snow on the tops.

We are looking at the possibility of other smaller hills while we travel west across Arizona towards Las Vegas.

E-mails have been sent to a couple of suggested people.

If anyone is free, joint activations are always welcome.


Yesterday I did my final sytem check on the Wrekin (G/WB-101) I had planned a quick set-up and activation so hadn’t alerted; I was carrying the bare minimum I intend to take to the US :o)

My very light weight vertical antennas are working well and I seem to have finally solved the issues I had with my HF Packer amplifier, unless I pop the IRF510s again!

The late morning walk started well with clear skies. Walking up from the main paking spots on the north-east of the hill I was sheltered from the very cold wind, which became more apparent as I reached the last small steep section.

On reaching the summit, clouds were begining to appear from the west, threatening rain, which were forcast for the area.

The antenna was erected, set up for 17m (not used from the Wrekin before) and connected to the amp and radio. A quick scan across the band showed little activity along with a low noise level; was this going to be a slow activation?

A clear frequency chosen and a spot posted; I was soon into a pile-up!

After a short while I thought I heard a US call sign so asked Europe to QRX and called DX and N7UN was first to reply, this was just before 1200z so 17m was only just waking up from the west.

In 30 minuits I worked 39 stations spread across Europe (including 6 from the USA) and closed down and packed away just before the rain started. Not a bad activation for a simple bit of wire dangled on a 5 metre mini-pole :o)

The main target for my US trip is Sandia Crest (W5/SI-001) alerted for the Friday depending on the weather at altitude. There is only really a small window of opportunity for contacts back to Europe which means I will hopefully be on the summit fairly early in the morning in the US (early evening here).

I have had conflicting information about the reliablity of equipment (especially the FT-817) on the summit because of all the high powered transmitters there. Hopefully there won’t be a problem but if there is we have another summit to go to but that will mean unlikely contacts to Europe as we will be far later in the day :o(

We have aranged to meet up with Fred (KT5X) on Wednesday in Santa Fe with a possible joint activation of one of the local summits. Nothing yet alerted because we haven’t decided where to go, but watch for alerts!

My finalised system for the trip

Yaesu FT-817 (with internal battery)
HF Packer Amplifier
Full sized 1/4 wave verticals for 20/17/15 and 10m supported on a 5m mini-pole
2x 4000mAh Li-Pos

With the FT-817 @ 2.5 Watts the amplifer will produce aproximatly 35 Watts, @ 4-ish Watts (batteies @ 10-ish Volts) the amplifer will provide just under 50 Watts over the bands I intend to use.

Hopefully I will have QSOs with some of you next week; propagation, WX and travel dependent.


In reply to G6WRW:

Hi Carolyn

Have you solved the low-band problems with the HF Packer? If so, what did you discover?



In reply to G3CWI:

Hi Richard

Fortunatly the transistors are not expensive so experimenting didn’t cost too much :o)

I purchased transistors which were manufactured by different companies and tested each pair in the amplifier till I found a pair which didn’t have the problems; they should all be the same but each have slightly different specifications. I also did the psu/input mods suggested by Virgil.

Testing was done with a 2 tone generator and an oscilloscope looking for the transcients and distortions while setting the bias.

I did this way back in the spring so for the life of me I can not remember which manufactures the transistors were from :o( and I don’t want to take it apart to check as it’s working atm :o)


In the end we had no problems with airport security (both at Heathrow and Dallas) on our trip out considering how much electronics we were carrying: laptop and charger, FT-817, amplifier, Li-Pos (with psu and charger), antennas, PDA/GPSr, GPSr (with 8 spare rechargeable AA batteries and charger), mobile phone and smart phone (all with chargers) and assorted leads and connectors.

After the long trip, picking up a hire car, finding our accommodation and food we had an early night ready for the early start the next day.

We arranged to meet up with Fred (KT5X) at 9am local time at his home in Santa Fe which we found partly with Tom-Tom and finally by finding the house attached to a tower :o)

We quickly hit it off chatting about SOTA, travelling and hill walking or in Fred’s case running!

The short drive to “the hill with no name” or W5/PW-020 took us through part of the old town along narrow roads flanked by the red coloured Adobe styled homes, which have not changed much for hundreds of years.

The road that took us to the start of the trail climbed steadily through the very pretty tree covered hills. The parking spot for our walk is at approximately 2550m (8400 ft) ASL, to put that in perspective Ben Nevis (the highest point in the UK) is 1344m (4409 ft) and where we are staying in Albuquerque is around 1630m (1350 ft).

The trail to the summit is on a well defined track through the trees and climbs steeply to the summit which is at 2871m (9420 ft) ASL. After all the travelling the day before and with only a small time to acclimatise I did find I could feel I was at altitude but never the less still we still made very good time.

Fred had gone ahead of us once he knew we would be OK as he very much prefers to run up the hills!! :o) and was set up and ready to go when we reached his location at the top. The summit has a couple of picnic tables so we chose the one at the highest point: luxury. The weather was cold (0 deg C) but there was no wind and the bright sunshine meant for a warm activation.

Fred’s ultra light-weight system is optimised for 20m so Helen and I set-up for 15m. A listen across the bands showed little activity (well compared to Europe that is) so a self-spot was in order.

After a number of calls the first in my log was EB2CZF followed by WB9WHQ, WB0FDJ then Guy (N7UN) providing me with my qualifying contact. Helen then took over to qualify with 6 contacts including Don (G0RQL) while I took a few photos and wandered off to chat to Fred.

I finished off the activation with an additional 12 contacts; again one was Don. So we successfully activated our first US summit. We were pleasantly surprised by a UK contact given the time of day.

The rest of the day was taken up by having a guided tour of the old town of Santa Fe, lunch at one of the oldest restaurants, Tia Sophia’s, and then a look at Fred’s beautiful wood carved furniture back at his home (Adobe style of cause which he built himself) while we waited for his wife, Debby, to finish work. The day was finished with an early evening meal before we had to say our goodbyes; we both thank Fred and Debby for their lovely company in the evening and Fred for being a brilliant guide and host.

Next hill is Sandia Crest tomorrow……… if the 817 can cope and the snow and wind hold off. Watch for frequency spots to see if it is ok.

Carolyn (W5/G6WRW)

UPDATE: High winds and snow fall forcast for overnight and tomorrow :o(

In reply to G6WRW:

Good luck tomorrow Carolyn, if all goes to plan on your side I shall be on SE-008 looking for a S2S. Couldn’t hear you on 21mhz last night from the home QTH, but heard Canada and Venuzuela in contact with you.



In reply to G6WRW:
Hi Carolyn,
I heard you and Helen quite well last night, up and down in qsb. I gave you a few calls, before and after your, and Helens, qso with Don (RQL). Sorry we did not make it, but interesting to try. I could hear US east coast stations working Fred on 20m, but I could not hear him. I think the 15m band was on the way out to UK when you started up, and faded out very soon after John (GW4BVE) called you. Good luck with your next activation—I will be listening for you.
73, Frank

In reply to G3RMD:

Sorry we did not make it. Actually we did not expect to be able to hear anything from Europe at that time of day (although we were a bit earlier than we expected) so to make contact with Don was surprising. We had a little bit of QRM and obviously the US stations were strong but if we had heard you will would have called back. We did not hear John at all :o(

Sorry again… hopefully next time,


In reply to G0PEB:

It looks like the band was closing from the east to west even in the short time we were on the summit. At the moment the weather is closing in across the whole state with very strong winds (60-80 mph at the moment) and snow expected overnight as soon the wind drops.

We will post on here and on the alert when we have plan of what to do although we may say we are going and then find we cannot gain access,