SOTA Activation Report: W4C/WM-014, Standing Indian

Trip of 2013.10.05

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: No
  • Propagation forecast on departure: 40m=Good, 20m=Good, 17m=Fair, S/N=0-1, K=0, A=2
  • Propagation forecast on return: 40m=Good, 20m=Good, 17m=Fair, S/N=0-1, K=0, A=1

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide: W4C/WM-014, Standing Indian


My activation was a comedy of errors.

Off to the side the approach road, I saw a small SUV had tumbled off the road. It was a few days old, with a sign taped to the (exposed) bottom that had been rained on. I figured it was old enough that the rescue had happened days ago. I didn’t stop, but I did take it as a reminder to drive carefully. It wasn’t a gnarly road, nor was there any obvious obstacle at that point. Maybe the drive of that vehicle or a vehicle he encountered was going too fast for a dirt road…

It was a beautiful early-fall day, with 0% chance of rain. The drive took longer than I expected and I had a second summit planned for the day, so I hiked up the trail as fast as I could. It is an easy trail to follow.

There’s a grassy clearing with a nice view on top. I guyed a mast with a vertical EFHW. The first thing I always do is to send an SMS from both of my phones (AT&T and Verizon) to a special address I have set up. This gives me a permanent record as to whether SMS is available on a site. I have set up address book entries cleverly named “SOTA-Coverage” for this purpose.

When I was ready to activate, I sent my SMS to self-spot. Then I called CQ. Nothing… So I sent another SMS and called CQ some more. Nada. I checked my antenna, my feed line, my SWR, my power. Again an SMS. And some more CQ. Crickets.

“I’m not getting out,” I thought. So I got on the HT. I can never raise more than a couple of people on VHF. Today, I made 3 S2S, plus I tail-ended a home station. Activation rescued. A couple of my S2S were to teen-agers on nearby summits, so that was unusual. (They both did a FB.)

Then I realized I’d been sending my spots to “SOTA-Coverage” in my phone’s address book and not “SOTA-Spot.” Oops! No wonder nobody heard me. I then had a fine session on 20m.

For 40m, I usually replace the EFHW matchbox with a balun, and run a low radial/dipole-leg to balance the 1/4 wave vertical. Today, my balun fell apart in my hands. I rigged up something with alligator clips, but it wasn’t effective and I made no contacts on 40.