Updated Maryland DMR Codeplugs

I just updated my Mid-Atlantic (now called Maryland) codeplugs and have made them available on my Maryland DMR project page.  Right now the codeplugs only contain repeaters in Maryland but I will be working on them over the next few days to include Washington DC and Virginia repeaters that are nearby.

Codeplugs are available for the CS-700, CS-750, and CS-800.  Please let me know if you’re using them and if there are any errors I need to fix (I know of one already).

Posted in Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), radio-programming | Comments Off on Updated Maryland DMR Codeplugs

Activating Emmaville Mountain North W3/SV-019

SOTA LogoStats

  • When: 2016-11-11 from 18:04Z to 18:33Z
  • Where: Emmaville Mountain North – W3/SV-019
  • Who: Amanda KI4IWS, Harlan, Elise, and myself
  • Ascent: Drive up
  • Decent: Drive down
  • Equipment: Elecraft K1, SOTABEAMS Band Springer Midi, Navy Flameproof Key
  • APRS Coverage: Good coverage
  • T-Mobile Coverage: Good coverage
  • Contacts: 10

Overview

Picture of SOTA Antenna Deployed

SOTA Antenna Deployed

This was a good stop, about half way, on our way up to Ohio. The kids got a chance to get out and run around and I got a chance to put a few more contacts in the log.

The roadway going to the top is a single lane, gravel road that is in good condition. At the top of the summit is an open area that allows for parking and one could imagine lots of antennas and operating locations here. You are ringed with trees, however, so I’m not sure if this would make a good microwave location. Perhaps in the winter when the leaves are off the trees…

The Gear

Picture of Elecraft K1 on tree stump.

A convenient operating position.

After hiking across the field I began setting up my gear.  Just as I used at Sugarloaf Mountain a few weekends ago, I setup my Elecraft K1 (5 watts using 8 AA batteries), the SOTABEAMS Band Springer Midi antenna, 4.1m fiberglass pole, and Navy Flameproof key.  I was able to find a convenient tree stump in which to setup my station.  The antenna was setup nearby in the bushes and held well in spite of the stiff breeze that was blowing.

The Operating

Navy Flameproof key sitting on stone.Most stations were quite loud.  Unlike last time, the bands were stable enough that stations didn’t have to chase me around the bands trying to contact me (or at least if they did I couldn’t hear them like on Sugarloaf).

I continue to be surprised by how quiet the bands are once you get on top of the mountain.  The K1’s receiver continues to do a fantastic job.  I quickly put four contacts in the log on 40m before moving to and putting three contacts each on 30m and 20m.  I was planning on trying 17m but time was running out and my family was getting cold.  It was time to hit the road once again.  Next time I might try to start on the upper bands and work my way down.

Oh, there was one challenge.  When I first started working 40m I had my four year old son basically hanging all over me so my CW, both listening and sending, were negatively impacted.  Luckily I was able to tie him to a tree and get back to making contacts!  (I’m kidding!)

Furthest contact was with OK1DVM in the Czech Republic (~6895km)!  I was very surprised he could hear me while I was only running 5 watts.  I’ll take contacts like that any day!

Thanks to all the chasers that helped with my activation: W4DOW, K3JZD, KG3W, N1EU, N1GB, W4ALE, W4HBK, K4MF, OK1DVM, and W7CNL.

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SOTA Awards Received

Yesterday I received, by way of U.K. Royal Mail and the U.S. Postal Service, two SOTA awards!  The first is my award for chasing 100 points-worth of summits:

WG3K's SOTA 100 Points Chaser AwardThe second award is the SOTA Mountain Hunter – Bronze award where I had to work at least two summits in at least five mountain associations:

WG3K's SOTA Mountain Hunter - Bronze AwardHopefully I’ll have some activator awards in the coming year!

Posted in Awards, Summits on the Air (SOTA) | Comments Off on SOTA Awards Received

Activating Sugarloaf Mountain (W3/CR-003) (a.k.a. Plan B)

Stats

  • When: 2016-10-30 from 18:25Z to 19:19Z
  • Where: Sugarloaf Mountain – W3/CR-003
  • Who: Amanda KI4IWS, Harlan, Elise, and myself
  • Ascent: 984 feet in 0.36 miles along the East View parking lot using the Sunrise Trail.
  • Decent: 0.93 miles along the Monadnock, Northern Peaks, and Mountain loop Trails.
  • Equipment: Elecraft K1, SOTABEAMS Band Springer Midi, Navy Flameproof Key
  • APRS Coverage: Good coverage with an active I-Gate nearby
  • T-Mobile Coverage: Decent; kept bouncing between LTE and Edge but was able to use the data without too much problem.

What brought us here

Picture of Sugarloaf Mountain

CC BY – Scott Robinson from Rockville, MD, USA

Well, we were going to get up early, pack all of our gear, and get on the road to go see the leaves changing color at Great Falls National Park.  Of course, with two kids, and I’m not the best morning person either, getting out the door at any hour before noon is asking for a miracle.  That and some of the roads we took to get there ended up being closed.  So, by the time we arrived at the park there was a line to get in that was so long we couldn’t actually see the gate.  It was time for plan B.

Plan B

Plan B was to head over to Sugarloaf Mountain (about 40 minutes away) and hike around and maybe even setup my radio and do a SOTA activation.  Luckily I had planned for this contingency and had my K1, SOTABeams Band Springer Midi antenna, batteries, a key, and expandable pole packed in my hiking pack.

The Hike Up

Picture of Eric and Harlan hiking up Sugarloaf Mountain

Eric and Harlan hiking up Sugarloaf Mountain

Our hike up from the East View parking area was pretty neat.  The red trail (a.k.a. The Sunrise Trail) gets pretty steep in sections.  My first harmonic, Harlan, was on his hands and feet trying to get up some of the rock scrambles that he encountered.  At four (almost five) years old he really did a good job making it up the mountain.  I’ll be very surprised if you don’t hear him activating some summits as soon as he gets that whole reading and licensing thing behind him!

There are many ways to get to the top of the summit.  With so many people on the mountain, today, we took the first parking spot we could find; I didn’t want to chance missing the only parking spot because I wanted to try to park closer.

At the summit

The summit area was very crowded today.  It’s a good thing that the summit is very wide.  I was able to move about 20 feet from the boulders that sit at the very highest point and setup my gear well away from everyone else.  I was actually able to “hide” behind some boulders that were in the wooded area and be completely hidden to keep the curiosity down from others.

This is the first time I have had this particular setup out in the field.  The SOTABEAMS Band Springer Midi antenna and mini telescopic fiberglass pole take only a few minutes to setup.  I’d say that within five minutes of arriving I was on the air.

What went well

Map of WG3K-7 on APRS at Sugarloaf Mountain

Map of WG3K-7

All the equipment performed well.  I picked up six stations on 40m and another three on 20m.  One of the stations I worked on 20m tried to work me on 30m but was unable to do so.  All-in-all, I’m quite happy with the performance of the station.  Honestly, the Elecraft K1 has a great receiver and the Band Springer Midi antenna performed well.  This is also the first time using the K1 with the AA battery pack installed.  No problems running the summit on eight 2800mAh AA batteries!

Also, APRS coverage was pretty good at the summit and along some of the trails.

What didn’t work so well

Me.  I haven’t been on the radio much as of late so my CW listening skills are horrific.  I would show you my log but I’m too embarrassed.  Another thing that needs improvement is my key.  I tossed my Navy Flameproof key in the bag since it already had the correct connector on it but what I should have used is my trusty J-37 with the KY-116/U bracket to hold it to my leg (if you’ve worked me /m this is probably what I was using).  Had I done that I wouldn’t have had to do a two-handed operation: one hand holding the key, the other using the key.

Disappointingly I heard K2JB on a nearby summit but couldn’t get through the pileup on 40m to make the contact.  There were a couple different summits on the air at the same time I was on the air but no S2S contacts today.

Oh, yeah, and I didn’t take any pictures of me, my station, or the perfect antenna installation.  I guess that’s the problem when setup takes hardly any time, you’re on the air and then you’re back to hiking!

QSOs

I put nine stations in the log today: 6 on 40m and 3 on 20m.  I also tried 30m but was unable to complete any contacts there.  I was going to try 17m but the family was ready to go.  All contacts made using five watts.

While putting the contacts in my official log I realized that I worked three stations that I had previously worked while they were activating a summit.  I’m happy they took the time to tune me in and work me (since, after all, I was worth only 1 point today).  The chaser has become the chased!

Overall

Overall, the trip was a success.  Everyone had fun, I had fun and made a few contacts along the way.  Hopefully my next summit activation will be even more smoothly executed.  Until next time…

Posted in CW, HF, QRP, Summits on the Air (SOTA) | Comments Off on Activating Sugarloaf Mountain (W3/CR-003) (a.k.a. Plan B)

2015 August UHF Contest Results

2015 August UHF Contest certificateOpened the mailbox today and was surprised to see an envelope from Newington waiting for me.  Looks like I placed third in the Atlantic Division (SOLP) and first (out of two) in the MDC section!

Missed all the VHF+ contest this year but I’m hoping to get my antennas back up and figure out what to do with these transverters.  I had a slight point deduction due to a mis-copied grid when I contacted WB2JAY and a couple of duplicates.  I had fun participating and hope to do so again soon.

ARRL Contest Branch
==============================================================
Contest:    2015 ARRL AUGUST UHF CONTEST
Call:       WG3K
Category:   Single Operator, Low Power
Location:   MDC

************************** Summary ***************************

      15 Claimed QSO before checking (does not include duplicates)
      14 Final   QSO after  checking reductions

      54 Claimed QSO points
      51 Final   QSO points

       8 Claimed grids
       8 Final   grids

     432 Claimed score
     408 Final   score
   -5.6% Score reduction

    6.7% Error Rate based on claimed and final qso counts
       3 (16.7%) duplicates
       0 (0.0%) calls copied incorrectly
       1 (5.6%) exchanges copied incorrectly
       0 (0.0%) not in log
       0 (0.0%) calls unique to this log only (not removed)

********************** Results By Band ***********************

             Band   QSO  QPts  Grid

   Claimed    432    12    36     5
   Final      432    11    33     5

   Claimed   1.2G     3    18     3
   Final     1.2G     3    18     3

   Claimed    All    15    54     8  Score      432
   Final      All    14    51     8  Score      408

*************** Incorrect Exchange Information ***************

 432 CW 2015-08-02 1334 WG3K         FM18 WB2JAY       FN10 correct FN30

*******************  Multipliers by band  ********************

432 multiplier total 5

FM19  FM29  FN10  FN20  FN31  

1.2G multiplier total 3

FN10  FN20  FN31
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