Sunday, February 17, 2013


Welcome!  Come on in and pull up a chair.  This is my blog.  All about me and my new passion for amateur radio.  More specifically a sect of amateur radio called Summits on the Air

What is this you ask?  Well Summits on the Air, or SOTA for short, is an award scheme for radio amateurs and shortwave listeners that encourages portable operation in mountainous areas.  There are awards for activators (those who ascend to the summits) and chasers (who either operate from home, a local hilltop or are even Activators on other summits).  It is an excellent organization.

So a little about me.  My name is John Doogan.  I was born and raised in north central Illinois in the small town of Ottawa. I joined the Army right out of high school and went to Airborne School and the Ranger Indoctrination Program.  I served with the 3rd Ranger Battalion and the 101st Airborne division.  I attended Southern Illinois University and studied Aviation.  After school I worked for several years with the Carbondale Police Department as a Police Officer and Detective.

I moved to Tennessee a few years ago and am currently back in school for Nursing.  I caught the ham radio bug late in 2012 and earned my Technician license  in January of 2013.  So far I have activated 3 summits. 

My first was House Mountain W4T/RV-035  just outside Knoxville, Tennessee.  House Mountain's summit sits at 2100 feet and is a good short climb for an afternoon.

The view is excellent and I made some great contacts on 10 meters.  "The only band I am authorized on SSB for."  That is until I pass my General license exam.

One of my contacts was Phil, NS7P,  he made Super Sloth with 10,000 chaser points on 18 Jan!! That is quite the accomplishment.

My second summit was Greentop Mountain W4T/SU-076 .  I made my furthest contact to date PY3KN in Brasil.  I was surprised he heard my Elecraft KX3 at 5 watts.  5 watts is considered QRP. QRP is the art of sending the weakest signal as possible and seeing just how far you can make a contact.  Its amazing the science that is involved, I don't fully understand it yet.

My third summit was Cove Mountain W4T/SU-042.  Cove Mountain is within the Smokey Mountain National Park.  I hit Cove Mountain about noon on Friday.  It was pretty nice weather.  The trail to the summit starts at the Laurel Falls trail head.  The hike passes the falls and continues about another 3 miles. There is an old fire tower at the summit with a weather monitoring station.  I set up about 30 yards away and was able to get my contacts in.  As I was doing so the weather started to turn.  I got rain, sleet, and then some more rain and sleet.  I huddled under a tarp to finish.  As I was doing this a couple walked by.  I can just imagine what they thought about this weird guy talking to himself under a tarp.  But they were nice enough to take my picture. 

The way back down got cold, wet and real smokey.  The viability dropped to about 20 yards for a good portion of the way down.  It felt real good to get into my warm car.  I had a great time and would have got more contacts if I could work 20 and 40.  Guess I will have to get it in gear and pass the General test.

I had some great spots on this summit such as 
Bill Gerth W4RK the SOTA USA W0M-Missouri
Association Manager, Mike VA6FUN, and Steve WG0AT with Rooster & Peanut.  WG0AT has some great videos.  Check a few out here.

So far I am really enjoying the SOTA program and am meeting some great ham radio operators.  I will continue soon with some great info on my equipment and any further summits.

So I hope to see you back soon.

73's and keep climbing!
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