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Sunday, August 11, 2013

SOTA Trip to Steptoe Butte

On Sunday, August 4, I went a little beyond my regular picnic table QRP sort of laid back operating. With some spare time while visiting in eastern Washington, I decided to do a SOTA activation of Steptoe Butte.

Summits On The Air is an award scheme for radio amateurs and shortwave listeners that encourages portable operation in mountainous areas. See http://www.sota.org.uk . Basically "Activators" operating from mountain summits and "Chasers" both get credit towards awards.

Steptoe Butte rises about 1000 ft above the Palouse farm country. Located 50 miles south of Spokane, WA. it is within sight of Idaho. It is a state park with easy access to the summit.

As a SOTA activator I set up my KX3 at the edge of the Steptoe Butte summit overlook. There are no trees on the summit so I strapped my 18' crappie pole to a rock pedestal, using it to support the high point of my 20 mtr end fed zepp.

I had posted to the SOTAwatch2 database an announcement of my intention to activate Steptoe Butte. My first CQ was picked up by the Reverse Beacon Network, compared to SOTA database and an activation spot automatically posted to the same SOTAwatch2 database. Instantly any SOTA chaster knew my frequency and operating status. I'm used to calling CQ for a while and getting one or, at most, two responses...suddenly it felt like I had a pileup to work, unfortunately I've no practice working pileups. In less than two hours I did work 15 stations in 9 states but I could have done better.

Notes to self for the next time:
- Copy directly to a log sheet rather than my QSO pad
- Avoid using my cellphone clock requiring me to punch it to get the current time
- Narrow selectivity first
- Use RIT to tune through the pileup for calls

and, a related safety item:
- If the antenna is within easy reach of curious public, hang a "Do Not Touch" note on it.

Hopefully next time I won't leave so many chasers without a QSO.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Hi Neil -- Looks like you had a lovely day in eastern Washington! Thanks for posting. I've not seen a landscape like that before, but it reminds me slightly of the Nebraska sandhills.

A few of us are working on getting MN hills/mountains registered in the SOTA program. So, hopefully before long you won't have to travel quite so far to activate a peak. I'll send you an update by e-mail this weekend.

73,

Sam
K0YAK, ST2SF