Saturday, April 19, 2014

SOTA KX3 Long Range Backpack

Enjoy a video review of my long range KX3 SOTA backpack.

The Eberlestock Battleship!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.


 Life has been very exciting the last few weeks.  With my K9 Academy starting in May, and the new house closing soon I decided to hit a few summits before my time disappeared for the next two months.  I had planned on activating Mount Mingus, but unfortunately when I arrived at the trail head I discovered 50 to 100ft visibility, freezing fog, and very high winds.  Mount Mingus is a tough bushwhack, and I did not wish to tempt fate.  Remember, respect Murphy's Law.

I decided to head a few miles down the road to activate Clingmans Dome.  Clingmans Dome is an easy paved trail with a short half mile or so hike to the summit.  Even laden with frozen fog the area is beautiful.  There has been some recent conversations in reference to Handicap Accessibility.  Clingmans Dome is a steep paved path with rest benches every 10th of a mile.  I believe this summit is accessible by anyone willing to take their time. 

 And a note to those that wish to activate, but may not be physically capable of carrying everything.  If you have concerns PLEASE!!! contact me.  I am very willing to pack your radio and gear up the mountain.  It would be my pleasure!  I can assist in picking summits that we can activate together.  Oh and it helps that I am a trained first responder, lol.  Sorry bad joke there....

Clingmans Dome was challenging and fun.  Thaks for all the chasers that day.

(Picture taken after the weather cleared on the way home)

The next day I headed down to Black Balsam Knob.  Black Balsam Knob, also known as Black Balsam Bald, is in the Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, North Carolina, near milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is the second highest mountain in the Great Balsam Mountains. The Great Balsams are within the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountains. It is the 23rd highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6000 feet.

To reach the summit follow the Art Loeb trail.  This part of the trail is not extreme in length, but is a bit rocky.  Those with handicaps may find this trail difficult to impossible.  The hike to the summit for me was much like the day before, foggy windy and cold. 

The high winds and open bald summit made antenna setup tricky.  I setup within the activation zone, but in a way so as to block some of the wind.  Again I made many contacts to include two DX Summit to Summits!!!! Thanks EA2BDS and 2E0YYY!!!

I find the rough weather and tough summits to be very rewarding.  They test an activators resolve, and I feel a great sense of accomplishment.  Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions about my activations.  And remember I am willing to help anyone who needs help activating.

Make sure to check out the video of the activation! 

I added a small piece of kit to my summit equipment.  This small little speaker has some power and sounds pretty damn good.  And for 20 bucks its a good buy.
 You can hear the audio in my video of the activation.

So 73's everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2014


Tomorrow I head out to assault Mount Mingus.  Its one hell of a bushwhack so I decided to pack as if assaulting a military objective.  I wanted to go light, but carry the essentials required for SOTA and survival.   I pieced together some of the gear I have had lying around in the garage.  

So I present  the Summits On The Air Load Bearing Vest, or S.O.T.A.L.B.V. for short.....

 The vest itself is built around a RAP4 vest and military web belt.  I have had both of these for a while, and they are much like the Molle Assault vests available today for the military and law enforcement crowd.

On the rear of the vest I have a Hazard 4 Forward Observer Molle SLR Camera Bag.  I have found that this little molle pouch will easily fit my KX3 and LifePo4 battery in the main compartment. 
 The zip top of the main compartment also unzips.  This additional compartment has storage for small items such as a BNC connector, Elecraft KXPD3 paddles, and a set of ear buds. 
 I have attached two small Molle pouches to the webbing on the sides of the  Hazard 4.  The first is where I have stowed my compass, my Elecraft MH3 mic, and my Power-pole battery connector for the KX3.

The opposite side pouch is an admin pouch for pens, pencils, a pocket knife, or other small misc items.
 I have added a few support straps that run over the shoulders down to the main pouch.  This helps to distribute the load over the shoulders, and the rubber hose material allows for a little shock resistance. 

I also have a drop leg pouch I use for stowing my antenna components and poncho.  That along with a 2 quart canteen, and a nalgene holder round out the pouches on my waist.  

I have included a bit of survival kit such as basic first aid items, water purification, fire starter "at least 3 ways to make fire", compass, maps, Gerber multi tool, extra HT battery, and a exterior cell battery to extend the life of my cell phone.  

I have adapted my 28 ft Jackite Pole to be used as a walking stick.  On the pole I have attached my favorite "brush killer".  For those long pesky bushwhacks.
Yea I know, overkill.  

I like this setup for those short haul summits.  I used it yesterday on my Waterrock Knob activation and was very happy with it.  It should perform well tomorrow.  

Chase me if you can!

73's and Keep Climbing!!

Rocking Waterrock Knob

Had a great hike up to Waterrock Knob today with Kendall and the slow SOTA dogs Gus and Max.  Waterrock Knob is a pretty easy summit located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but at 6292ft it is the highest peak in the Plott Balsams and is the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern United States.

It was a fun day with a lot of contacts. I had to deal with a rude fellow calling CQ right on top of the chasers and myself, but it all worked out.  Thanks to all the chasers for sticking up for me on the frequency!
Date:06/Apr/2014 Summit:W4C/WM-004 (Waterrock Knob) Call Used:KK4NQQ Points: 10 Bonus: 0   Delete
Check out the quick activation video at the top, and enjoy a few more pics from our day!



Saturday, April 5, 2014


Finally got my SIDE KX Panels and Cover!!
This is a great product for your KX3.

So I decided to create an install video.


Friday, April 4, 2014


Just announced today and posted for immediate sale on the Elecraft website!


High-performance companion panadapter for the Elecraft KX3 transceiver

Full-color waterfall and spectrum displays, with fast sweep and excellent sensitivity

Simple plug-and-play operation—no PC, soundcard, software drivers or setup required

Weighs just 13 oz (0.37 kg); enclosure size: 5.4 x 3.4 x 1.7” (13.7 x 8.6 x 4.3 cm)

Portable, High-Performance Panadapter

Our new PX3 Panadapter adds a visual dimension to
signal hunting, with fast, real-time spectrum and
waterfall displays of band activity. Its small size and
weight make it ideal for travel or field use.
The PX3 is fully integrated with the Elecraft KX3,
utilizing its serial control port and RX I/Q signals * .
The panadapter tracks the KX3’s VFO frequency and
filter settings via on-screen cursors. You can point and
click on signals by rotating and tapping the PX3’s
SELECT knob.

With its very wide dynamic range and frequency span
of up to 200 kHz, the PX3 offers better performance
than most PC sound cards. It’s also one of the most
sensitive panadapters available, detecting signals
down to the noise floor of the KX3. A PC or Mac can
still be connected to the KX3 (via the PX3) for use
with logging and control programs.

Advanced Features and Signal Processing
PX3 features include multi-pass signal averaging to
pull out weak signals, peak detection to show total
activity on the band, adjustable reference level, and
amplitude range scaling. There’s also a full set of
programmable switches to access often-used settings.
The PX3 has a wide supply voltage range (8-15 V)
and low current drain (typ. 140 mA @ 13.8 V). It
includes a comprehensive manual, and is available
factory assembled or as a modular, no-soldering kit.

Planned future features include:

CW/RTTY/PSK text display 

Use of the built-in USB port with a keyboard
or flash drive

SVGA monitor output option

* The PX3 uses the KX3’s baseband RX I/Q signals. It is not
compatible with the 8.2-MHz I.F. signal from the K3.