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Pilot Peak, Idaho | July 2015

K7ZO's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Don't know
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Decent, workable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

Pilot Peak W7I/BC-056 was the first stop on K7MK's and K7ZO's Idaho Triple Play day. (Along with Summit 7905 W7I/BC-059 and Sunset Mountain W7I/BC-062. See these other activation reports for the whole story of the day. Where appropriate, some text is repeated in each report to make each one a standalone complete story.)

Pilot Peak is accessed via a typical Idaho Forest Service road from the Mores Creek Summit parking area on Idaho 21 about 10 miles outside Idaho City. Heading northwest on Forest Service Road 380 you will go about 4 miles until you reach a junction with Forest Service Road 380A. Taking a right turn onto 380A you will go another mile-ish until arriving at Pilot Peak. (Boise Forest Service - Idaho Ranger District maps show these roads quite well.) Forest Service Road 380 is not suitable for passenger cars -- which makes it typical of most mileage on Idaho's back country roads. Even a higher ground clearance pickup or SUV will find it slow going and you may have to get out and clear the road of some of the larger rocks at times. However, this road section is maintained to allow vehicles to get to Pilot Peak for maintenance purposes. Who knows the last time it was graded. Anyway, we had the benefit of being chauffeured around in some friend's RZR's which made quick work of the mileage.

Upon reaching Pilot Peak the RZR's stopped down below and we backpacked our gear up into the activation zone. There is an unmanned lookout and communication gear on the summit proper. There are several trees we used to lash our SOTAbeam travel masts to. There is also plenty of open space with minimal vegetation if you wanted a more traditional guyed setup.

We were unsure of our cell phone connectivity so had multiple solutions with us. The nearest APRS digipeater was about 40 miles away and we were ready to use APRS2SOTA as our spotting solution of last resort. More or less as expected our AT&T phones showed "No Service" so a direct connect solution was not going to work. K7MK had brought along his StraightTalk Mobile Hotspot which, though they don't say, appears to use the Verizon network. He put that down on rock, it connected to the cell network, we connected to it with our iPhones and voila, we had a wireless network out in the middle of nowhere. So, that is how we spotted ourselves and this solution played out on our other two summits of the day.

Our original plans were to erect two separate stations on each summit. We accomplished this on Pilot Peak. K7MK quickly setup his mast and KX3 Helper EndFed and was on the air on 20M with his Elecraft KX3. He did experience a fairly high noise level that might have been caused by RF emission from the nearby communication gear. He soon had a good pileup going. In the meantime K7ZO was setting up his mast and SOTAbeam 20-30-40 dipole. This took a bit longer and I managed to get on the air on 40M as K7MK's pileup was thinning. 40M only generated three QSOs and then down came the dipole to reconfigure it for 20M. Once the original mast and element/guy setup is complete it is relatively quick to change bands.  Once on 20M the pileup repeated itself and nine more QSOs were in the log. Seven of the nine stations had been previously worked by K7MK. Signals levels were quite strong with most received signals 54 or better and I was getting many 55 or better reports in reply. So the 50W out of my TS-480 into the dipole was doing quite well.

In total we made 24 QSOs on Pilot Peak in around 30 minutes on the air. We then packed up and headed off to our next target Summit 7905 W7I/BC-059. At the end of the day. after all three summits, the Top 10 in our 2015 Idaho Kool-Aid Kids Chaser Challenge are:

         # of
Callsign QSOs
W7RV      17
W0MNA     14
W0ERI     13
N4EX      12
NG6R       9
AA7DK      6
KB1RJD     6
AE9F       5
K4MF       5
N6KZ       5
VE2JCW     5