ViewVoting details

Zephyr Ridge Point, Idaho | April 2015

K7ZO's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Don't know
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Spotty, may not work at all
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Good digi echos

K7MK and I headed out on a somewhat blustery spring day for our second ever activation. With snow still on higher peaks and Forest Service roads not opening up until April 30th we headed to this nearby 1 pointer. Per Google Earth and other satellite imagery we knew there was a private home on the actual summit. But, it had been activated once before and the terrain looked like we should be able to find a spot in the activation zone somewhere to setup. Actually getting to this summit is a bit of a navigation challenge. After taking the Rush Creek Road exit off of Idaho 21 you immediately find yourself in a maze of dirt roads through the trees. There are tight switchbacks, intersections galore (each needing at least one "Where do we go" decision) and you are in the trees so you can't see where you are trying to get to. We were sort of following maps our phones but once ended up in a dead end that we thought was the direct road to the summit. After backtracking and taking a different route we finally made it.(See annotated map for our eventual route.)

When we got there sure enough there is a private home on the summit but the approach road to the home is along a ridge top and there is a fairly large and accessible activation zone. We set up in a little knob up off the road. The only posting on the land was "No Firewood Cutting" which may or may not mean it was private. This time of year there are few people up in these parts and while in the activation area we did not see anyone.

Cell phone coverage here is marginal. We both have AT&T iphones and they would seemingly continually cycle through 3 dots-Edge, 1 dot-LTE, No Service, and GPRS. We were able to make spots through SOTA Goat via an iPhone 6 but were never successful with the iPhone 5. We didn't try SMS though should have in hindsight. APRS2SOTA worked fine and we had no trouble hitting the local APRS repeater. This was our first use of APRS2SOTA and were happy it worked. Once the weather improves and we head out to the summits we want to hit, we will have no cell phone coverage in almost all cases. So, APRS2SOTA and RBNGate will be our only solutions. This was also our first field trip with our new 4200mAh 4S2P 30C LiFePo4 battery. It worked great and gave us 10 Watts out on K7MK's KX3. We also had along K7ZO's old TS-480 that we might try for higher power operation when we have short hikes and walks into the activation area, like we did today, but we didn't actually get it on the air. Next opportunity for sure. We are also just about ready to operate in CW as well as SSB. K7ZO has been brushing up on his CW skills. Next activation for sure. We are also going to try PSK31. It seems like a natural for SOTA though it is not used much.

Actually getting on the air is always the fun part. K7MK started out and worked down the pileup on 20 meters making 20 some QSOs. When that was over K7ZO took over and started on 40 meters. We knew NS7P was waiting for us there via a heads up from W7RV. Scott worked him right away then a couple of more. That left him with three QSOs. One more for an official activation. So, up to 15 meters. Loud and clear VE2JCW called in to make it an official activation. There was another US, then a KH6, and after many more CQ's, just as I was about to go QRT EA2LU rose up out of the noise with a very nice S4 signal. I got my signal report right away but it took us another 5 minutes for him to get his signal report and confirmation. The QSB was crazy -- he as S4 on peaks and on dips was below the noise level, and we were in a pretty quiet location. But, we eventually made it a good two way QSO. I was pretty impressed. It was midnight local his time in Spain working me on 15 meters on the US West Coast and I was using 10 watts into an end fed antenna. That's a good QSO. The four QSOs on 15 meters were from four different DXCC countries. That was a treat as well.

Until next time.

K7ZO and K7MK