Sunday, December 1, 2013


The day after Thanksgiving and it was a beautiful November morning.  I decided it would be a good day to burn off a few calories and get in a SOTA. So fueled by turkey and a passion for SOTA I set out towards Hemlock Knob.  Hemlock Knob is a 3973ft peak just off the Cherohala Skyway at latitude - longitude coordinates of N 35.359526 and W -84.103246. 

 The hike begins at Eagles Gap parking area and you follow an overgrown service road most of the way to the summit.  The hike is less than a mile and not too strenuous.  I believe that this is another summit that would be easier to complete in the colder months of the year due to the abundance of briars and Mountain Laurel. 

After reaching the summit I set up within the remnants of an old Ranger Station.  The antenna I used today was an 88ft inverted V supported by my 31 ft Jackite fiberglass pole.  I run 300ohm twin line down and directly to the BNC connector on my KX3.  I made 34 QSO's today.  I made some great contacts on 12m into Europe and the UK!  Thanks to all the chasers out there!

Date:29/Nov/2013 Summit:W4T/SU-043 (Hemlock Knob) Call Used:KK4NQQ Points: 8 Bonus: 0   Delete





Sunday, November 17, 2013


Fall is falling behind and winter is fast approaching.  So Kendall and I decided since we had a free Saturday to head out and activate!  Our target was Blanket Mountain W4T/SU-020  Blanket Mountain is a 4609 ft peak in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.

We gained access to Blanket Mountain by heading to Elkmont in the Smokey Mountains.  We started at the trail head of Jakes Creek Trail and continued south along the creek.  The trail was well maintained and not too steep.  We followed Jakes Creek for 3.7 miles until we hit Jakes Gap.  Below you will see the trail sign that marks the gap.
This is where it got interesting.  From Jakes Gap access to the summit is via a manway, or an unmaintained ex-trail.  The manway was easy to find but there were stretches of mountain laurel that slowed our progress.  The fall and winter seasons are the time to attempt this summit.  I imagine the underbrush would make the manway very difficult in the summer.  After a 4.7 mile hike we reached the summit.  There is a small clearing with the remains of a Rangers cabin.  I set up and made many contacts.  Thanks to all the chasers!

Date:16/Nov/2013 Summit:W4T/SU-020 (Blanket Mountain) Call Used:KK4NQQ Points: 10 Bonus: 0   

19:14zK8OLD14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:15zVE2XMP14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:22zW5ODS14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:24zAJ5C14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:25zK5WI14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:26zK1MAZ14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:27zKC4ATU14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:27zW6UB14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:28zKG3W14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:28zW1DMH14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain STS
19:28zN7UN14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:29zKO1U14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:30zKF5J14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:31zW5RST14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:32zW7RV14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:33zAD5A14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:34zNS7P14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:39zK4YA14MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:41zW4DOW7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:42zN4EX7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:42zAE4FZ7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:43zWX4ET7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:43zWA2USA7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:45zNE4TN7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:46zKI4SVM7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:47zK0LAF7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:48zKB2XX7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:48zW6UB7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:54zAC4M7MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:58zK5RWP18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:59zK0NO18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
19:59zK1JJJ18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
20:00zAB7YL18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
20:01zW0MNA18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
20:01zW0ERI18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
20:02zKA5PVB18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
20:04zK7NIT18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain STS
20:05zK7ATN18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain STS
20:06zKO1U18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
20:08zWD0H18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
20:09zWA6RIC18MHzSSBBlanket Mountain
It was a tough hike for Kendall and if anyone was watching our APRS track you can attest to our slow pace.  As you can see she did make it to the summit and helped a great deal as I activated.
It was a great day for SOTA. 


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bunches Bald Activation

Fall is fast approaching and Kendall and I took the weekend to go camping.  We had initially decided to camp in the Smokey Mountains but because of the government shutdown we were forced to make other arrangements.  "I bet I will never see my 20 dollar reservation fee."  We decided on a private campground along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Mile High Campground was an excellent choice.  It is an extremely beautiful area, its cheap, and it sits right next to Bunches bald W4C/WM-013.  
So of course I brought along my radio to make an activation.

Kendall and I arrived and setup our campsite late Saturday morning.  I brought an old Eureka tent that belonged to my Grandpa Doogan.  I love this tent but it has been at least 10 years since I pitched it last.  After a few minutes I finally remembered how to set it up and our campsite was ready.

During the planning phase of this trip many of my fellow SOTA operators were curious as to the access to Bunches Bald.  When we checked into the campground I asked the campground guy to see if there was access to the summit and he said it was easy to get to and pointed out the directions.  The summit is very close to the campground and the hike took less than 10 minutes.

To reach the trail head you go to the extreme west end of the campground near campsite T4.
there you will find a path with a metal gate.

Continue past the gate for less that 100 yards and then turn right and bushwack up the mountain to the summit.  The summit is not very bald as you can see from the picture below
 But there are a few spots that open up and you can see the view

It was a great activation and I made contacts with many operators.  I was not able to employ my antenna directly on the summit but I found an open area a few feet away where I was able to creatively deploy it. A big thanks to all of the activators below for your help in activating this peak.

Date:05/Oct/2013 Summit:W4C/WM-013 (Bunches Bald) Call Used:KK4NQQ Points: 10

I headed back to camp and spent the rest of the weekend relaxing with Kendall.  Here are a few of our pics.

What an Awesome view!

Setup the radio in camp to play a bit

Nothing better than campfire bacon and eggs!

Gus is ready for bed already!

Campfire pineapple upside down cake.  1 cake doughnut, 2 slices pineapple, brown sugar and butter.  wrap in foil and place in the coals for 5 to 10 minutes.  mmmm mmmmm good!

 We had a great weekend! 

73's and keep climbing!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


What a great day for an activation!  It has been a while since I hit the trail and I have been itching to get out and activate.  I had planned on hiking to Thunderhead Mountain in the Smokey Mountains today, but At midnight the Federal Government shut down.  The shut down also shut me down.  So, Plan B.  I decided to give Big Bald a go.  Big Bald W4T/SU-010 is located along the Appalachian Trail between the Great Smoky Mountains and Roan High Knob.  It is the 29th highest in Tennessee at 5516 feet. 

The peak can be accessed by Sams Gap and hike the AT for 6.5 miles.  Or thru the gated community of Wolf Laurel.  I called the guard station and asked if they allowed hikers to traverse the community in order to gain access to the summit and I was emphatically told NO.  I was able however to talk to a very nice lady that runs a bed and breakfast in the community and she was more than happy to put my name on the visitors list.  Her bed and breakfast is called THE BALD MOUNTAIN HOUSE.  If anyone is looking for a nice bed and breakfast I would suggest it.

Once inside I drove toward the summit.  The roadway will get you within a mile of the summit.  Stopped by the gate below you will need to hike the remaining mile to the summit.

 Continue along the gravel road until it intersects the AT here

The short trail is very pretty and there are some great views.

Once on the summit I found the marker.  I love it when I find these!

I set up my new antenna.  It is a 88ft inverted V running to my KX3 with 300ohm twin line.  The antenna is supported by my Jackite fiberglass pole.  I had not tested this antenna yet but I was in for a great day with it. 

The set up was straight forward and in no time I was on the air.


It was an AWESOME day.  I totaled 45 QSO's my most to date for a summit.  I also scored 3 Summit to Summits with KI4SVM, KU6J, and N6KZ. 
17 M was rocking today and I made contacts with EJ0M in Ireland, UT1AN in the Ukraine, G6TUH in England, PA2LO in the Netherlands, MM0USU in Scotland, T43BJ in Cuba, and IK6BGJ in Italy.

I also contacted W4JAR.  He lives in the gated community I accessed to get on site.  I was surprised when he said he was located less than 2 miles from me!

My 10 watts was really getting out there today!  And also a huge thanks to all of the other activators out there.  As a new ham I am still meeting many of you and I would like to than all of the activators that I have worked several times over the past year.  It is you guys that make all this possible.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help us make more contacts!

In closing I will include a few pics from my journey, as well as a little friend I ran into on the trail!

73's and KEEP CLIMBING!!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013


So like many of you I placed my order for the new 100w powerhouse amp from Elecraft the KXPA100 some time ago.  I have spent many a sleepless night on pins and needles waiting for this wondrous little box of happiness.  This afternoon after rubbing my Rabbits Foot, finding a cricket in the house, and picking up a penny I heard a knock at the door.  Guess what I found!

IT finally arrived!!!  

It arrived in a gilded cardboard box emblazoned with the Elecraft logo.  To my surprise the wonderful people at Elecraft had shipped the KXPA100 by USPS Same Second Delivery.  As you all know noone is faster than the United States Post Office.  I rushed inside and tore open the box and was like

 Ok awesome cant even begin to describe it!  I was stunned.  It was finally in my hands!  After months and months and months of reading posts like,

"KXPA100 - Any experiences with it yet?"

  "shipping. 100 watt linear for kx3"

" KXPA100 for SOTA"

"KXPA100 Will it Blend"

"KXPA100 The Second Coming!"



  I wasted no time and prepared my KX3.  Another piece of magical Elecraft hardware!

NO!  Not that KX3 Silly!

Ok so with my Elecraft gear set I knew I needed one hell of a power source.  I pulled out my trusty 

Imagine IMJ15000.  Thats right this puppy is powered by pure Imagination

All that hardware and my 3786' towering antenna  

In no time I was hooked up and pumping in 13.8v of pure imagination and putting out 100w of nonstop awesomeness!

I tuned around the bands and made the following contacts.

Luke WF0RCE 
We had a great QSO.  Mostly it involved talking about his father and some old guy named Ben.  Luke has some great propagation.  He says the binary star system is in a great sunspot cycle and he can easily talk to any galaxy far far away.

Next was Jean-Luc  NCC1D 
He was operating aboard a Cruise ship I think.  I received a long winded dissertation about something called the Prime Directive.  He finally said he had to go and make some tea, I told him Make it So.

Finally I got the chance to talk to Anakin  VA1DER
Tough contact!  There was this intermittent breathing sound which made it a very hard QSO.  He also said his primary antenna had been taken out recently.  Something about his kid hitting it with a proton torpedo.  Despite his problems we were able to make the contact.  Never underestimate the power of the Dark Side...

What a grrrrreat day!  This new amp is an excellent piece of hardware! Elecraft as usual has distributed high quality equipment.  So than you Elecraft!! 

Finally I will leave all of you with this little nugget of knowledge.

So sit back everyone, enjoy a pint, and realize mmmmmm this beer is goooood!

73's Everyone and Keep Climbing!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

KK4NQQ gets Married and Heads to ALASKA!!!

After a year and a half engagement Kendall and I were finally married on July 20th 2013.  It was a great day!  Everything went to plan and we all had a great time.  As you can see Kendall looked great!

After the wedding we set out on our honeymoon.


What a fun destination.  Alaska is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever been to.  We saw glaciers, whales, sea lions, and more mountains than I could shake a stick at.  The whole time I was thinking, "That would make for a great SOTA activation!"

But I didn't bring my radio gear.  I figured I would be too busy......

But I did bring my camera.  Enjoy a few of our pictures and I will be back to activating shortly!


 Humpback Bubble net feeding!!