W7A/MN-144 Activation report, MacGyver in actio

Back in May I attempted to Activate Lookout Mountain in North Phoenix (W7A/MN-144), but I aborted due to the extreme heat. I’m a 53 year old asthmatic and I do need be aware of the subtle signal My body sends, so i turned back about halfway up. Today, now that the weather has become milder in the Valley of the Sun, I tried again. The trail from the trail head to the summit is pretty short, about 1/2, but it gains about 600 feet in that span and there are some pretty steep spots. The first half of the hike up was not that bad, but the second half gets steep and the trail is more of a rock climb than a hike. The effort was worth it as the summit commands a great view of the valley in all directions. It was pretty darn windy up there by the time I arrived about 15 minutes before my planned activation time of 1400.

It was here that Murphy read his head. I use a PAR End fed HW for 20-40m in an inverted V. I support it with a 22 ft telescoping mast. To hold the mast in position I have a piece of rebar I hammer into the ground. Now the rebar is supposed to be in my pack, Guess where it wasn’t? Well unlike a lot of the hill around here, there are not any big rock you can grab to fashion a support for the mast, so it was MacGyver time. After several tries I was able to shove the mast onto a branch of a small creosote bush. Then I noticed the clip that hold the antenna to the top of the mast was missing, so I ran the 20m stub thought the loop on top of the mast. Problem with this was the stub kept sliding up the loop from the weight of the 40m wire.( solution? hang my hiking staff on it. Now still windy I go to raise the mast and realize my little creosote bush isn’t up to the task as the mast pretty well tipped on it’s side. I ended up using the 40m wire as a guy by pulling a bit tighter than usual and rearranging it to pull against the wind. I also only extended the mast 3 sections, which is about 12 feet. Not ideal, but it would have to do. All told what should 've been a 15 minute operation, took 45 minutes.

Finally got on the air and the les than ideal antenna situation didn’t seem to make much difference. I made 17 contacts overall, Including VA6FUN, my first DX SOTA, in Stoney Lake AB, North east of Edmonton and KK1W in Central MA, which at 2235 miles was the furthest contact of the day.
Right about 1500UTa few lids started calling at 14.340 causing me quite the QRM, I tried to dial them in to ask them to QSY down a few Khz, but could never really get a good signal. After about 20 minutes I made one more contact KG7O, who kindly spotted me and then again WA7JTM, (who happens to live within sight of the summit) Spotted me again and that one brought some more contacts. A bit after 1600UT, the radio started to turn it self off and restart, an indication the battery was getting low. A check on my WattMeter, Showed the battery down to 11.8volts. I managed to get a few more QSO’s in before it flat out died.

I meant to take a picture of the antenna to show the MacGyvered set up, but remembered after I’d taken it down. Suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty, but it worked. I did get a hiker to get a picture of me at the mike, before I tore down, which ironically as I was about to unplug the radio, it popped back on, go figure…

All in all it was nice to finally conquer Lookout Mountain and play radio. Thanks to all the stations who worked me and spotted me.
Logs are in the SOTA DB and will be uploaded to LOTW & EQSL.cc later to day after football. LOTW will be uploaded as K7TEJ/P, eqsl K7TEJ (too lazy to create a new account for the portable Call sign) Paper cards will go out sometime this week.

73 Rick

In reply to K7TEJ:
Hi Rick…congrats on your activation and your creative MacGivering! I’m honoured to be your first SOTA DX from Smoky Lake, Alberta which is a small farming community an hour and a half drive N.E. of the City of Edmonton originally settled by Ukrainian immigrants!

73 Mike VA6FUN

In reply to VA6FUN:
Mike, Thanks for listening. Glad to have worked you. Hope to get you on another summit soon.


In reply to K7TEJ:

Good to work you this morning on the “MacGyver Special”. You had a good 57 signal and that IC-7000 sounds great. It has been a good SOTA day and am now waiting for Mr. Goat (Steve WG0AT) for his activation. Have a gud day my friend.
de Bob AJ5C

In reply to K7TEJ:


Nice to work you today up on Lookout Mtn. I walked outside, and I actually thought I heard your voice as you were working people…Hi Hi(OK…I do live VERY close to this summit, but not that close). I am also glad to see that I’m not the only one who discovers they have left something behind when they get to a summit!

I look forward to working u on other peaks this winter!

73 and have fun on the hills


In reply to K7TEJ:

Good work Rick, you might want to add a few bungees to your pack for next time. I use a 28’ Jackite pole to hold up my doublet and I can always find something to bungee the pole to. On Sunday I used a lava rock:

On Monday I used a little pine tree:

On Wednesday it was a log:

You get the idea. Bungees are your friends! Another handy thing to do is to wrap some duct tape around the base of your pole. If you need to MacGyver something, it’s always nice to have some tape immediately available.


Eric KU6J

Free SOTA Spot Monitor Software + RBNGate FAQ:

In reply to KU6J:
Eric, those very idea came to me while shoving the mast onto the creosote bush…great mind think alike, though not always at the same time hi hi.

Rick, K7TEJ/P

All, eqsl.cc is updated with todays log. I need to go into the SPOTA DB and correct some times. for some reason I thought 2000 came after 1559, Don’t know where that came from?!?!?

As for LoTW I forgot My certificate for K7TEJ/P is no longer valid after a hard drive crash a few months back. I’ve requested a new certificate and as soon as it’s available I’ll upload todays activation…

73 Rick

All, Again thanks for the contacts. LotW certificate for K7TEJ/P came today and all QSO’s Are now in both eqsl.cc & LotW. Card have been printed and will be mailed this week.

73 Rick

In reply to AJ5C:
Bob, I worked him from the hill, but I’m guessing before he got up to his hill. I’m sure herd have given me his summit, would’ve been nice to get my first S2S QSO.

Glad your day was “SOTA” good :slight_smile:

73 OM