Trip of 2013.06.29

  • Succeeded: Yes/No
  • First-activation: Yes/No
  • Propagation forecast on departure: “Poor” day and night from 80m to 10m, except Fair/fair on 17 and 15. Noise level is S4-S6. E-skip is open on 2, 4, and 6m.
  • Propagation forecast on return: 80-40 poor day, fair night; 30-20 fair/fair; 17/15 fair/fair. Noise level is S3-S4.
  • Done as a double-header with W4G/NG-027, Black Rock Mountain

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide: W4G/NG-002, SummitName

Commentary: Today was a good day that almost didn’t happen. The propagation forecast was awful this morning, describing day and night conditions as “Poor” on 20 meters and below, and only “Fair” on 17 and 15. (A weak geomagnetic storm with S4-S6 noise level.) There was a 40% chance of a thundershower when I was scheduled to hit the trailhead. Instead of hitting snooze on the alarm clock, I decided to head out and learn what really poor propagation was like. To misquote Twain, “Reports of the death of propagation have been greatly exaggerated.”

Geography matters.

Rabun Bald has a 20’ stone tower at the top, so the base of my antenna was 20’ up. Given the propagation forecast, I used a random end-fed in order to be frequency agile. No need. I had good propagation on 20 and made a couple of strong contacts on 40.

While I was atop the tower, about 20 people cycled through. One commented, “We should ask him to give us a little talk.” That was all the encouragement I needed in order to launch into my SOTA spiel.

Afterward, I headed over to Black Rock Mountain. My operating position was on a narrow ridge. (Narrow by Appalachian standards, not Rocky Mountain standards.) Since the morning showed that I wouldn’t need to run up to a higher frequency, I used a half-wave on 20m and a quarter wave on 40m. I had grand success on 20, but made no contacts on 40. There was quite a bit of thunderstorm noise on 40, but I don’t think I was getting out well. I added a single radial on 40m. I thought of it as a radial. In retrospect, I expect that RF thought I had a dipole with the mid-point at ground level. (When I used a single radial for 40m this morning, given the height of my tower, that raised my mid-point to 20’.)

I’m going to have to start carrying more wire to operate on 40 meters.

A small black-and-yellow lizard sat by my boot and observed most of my session on Black Rock Mountain. He skittered off when I got up to pack up. He didn’t say whether he had his license, so I didn’t offer to let him operate.

Thank you chasers!