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Mt Sylvania, OR -- Microwave Sprint Activation

K3RW's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

Mount Sylvania is a suburban drive-up site in Lake Oswego with nearly panoramic views of the West Hills, Portland, and points eastward.  Directional antennas up though microwave bands do well at this site.  Despite its dense residential neighborhood setting the RX noise levels observed were low.  A weather station and several vertical antennas are on the summit, but I did not observe these to create any tx/rx issues on any bands I tried.

Google Maps mobile GPS directions take you to Mt Sylvania, with Nassen Summit Park at the top.  Nassen Summit (the road) has encircles the summit with 3 trails to the park. At the summit you'll find a large grassy area about 1 acre in size with no nearby trees or supports for wire antennas, so plan on bringing your own mast.  However, the lack of significant vertical obstructions provided a solid path to Mary's Peak on a hand-held 2.3Ghz wi-fi antenna.  2m FM simplex using a 3el yagi worked very well in all directions.  I did not have APRS capability to try at the summit.

Parking and access can be simple, with a caveat.  I parked a couple of streets away and walked up the steep hill and planned on 90 minutes.  I didn't see any parking restrictions in the neighborhood (not sure if there were any), but given its close proximity to Portland Community College (PCC-Sylvania), parking patrols in the neighborhood during school days may be somewhat of an issue.  While I arrived on a Saturday, I didn't chance parking at the college and risk a ticket.  The college is nearby but near the bottom of the hill.  Tri-Met stops are on the edge of campus.

I did not park on Nassen Summit (the road) due to its narrow street.  A block in any direction down the slope finds wider streets and perhaps less scorn from patrols or neighbors.

In future activations I would bring a portable vertical antenna for HF.  Its a steep 2 minute walk depending on where you park, but not so difficult that I couldn't lug a rolling suitcase or lead acid battery on a roller for higher output.  A portable vertical, such as a tap vertical, would work well here.  There is ample room to lay out a counterpoise.

I joined K7ATN at the summit.  I brought a Baofeng HT using the stock rubber duckie, only the strongest simplex stations could be heard.  Luckily K7ATN brought a 3el antenna and I was able to work several 2m simplex stations on his Yaesu HT with relative ease.  K7ATN was participating in the Microwave Sprint and has 900 Mhz on a HT, and 1.2 Ghz and 2.3 Ghz transverters connected to Yaesu FT-817s.  I joined the Sprint on his equipment and worked several QSOs on 1.2 Ghz, 1 on 2.3 Ghz, and 1 on 900 Mhz.  There were several 2m simplex stations active as well.  

For 6 digit grids, according to my location and GPS, the summit is CN85pk.

Farthest DX until QRT (1030L) was also the highest band I tried; KE7MSU was atop Marys Peak (W7O/CC-001) on 2.3 Ghz SSB, with a solid S7 signal to a small sawtooth yagi on Mt Sylvania.  I heard several stations just above the squelch on 146.52, including one mobile station.  I heard none on 446.00.  

The weather was cool with a light breeze.  We started the morning in the cloud, had a slight sunbreak, and the clouds rolled back in.  I worked my first microwave stations and thoroughly enjoyed the morning.

Big thanks to K7ATN for his guidance and a great experience.  Thanks to all the SOTA chasers and especially KE7MSU on a summit-to-summit path to Marys Peak on 2.3 Ghz.  A lot of firsts for me today.

-- 73