Monday, April 10, 2017

W6/CT-029 Mt Emma

I was in the area, and I had an afternoon, so I decided to get a new peak in Southern California. After a bit of research, Mt Emma looked to be a good choice, so I headed out. Mt Emma is on the northern edge of the Transverse Ranges, north of L.A., and is a pleasant hike. The parking lot is a pull-out at the height of land on Mt Emma Road. Across the street is the trailhead, marked by a sign.
Start here. Trail marked with metal sign.
The trail wastes no time in starting the climb to the summit, and is well worn. It looked like some bikers had been up recently. To me, it seems to steep to bike, but maybe I'm not adventurous enough. Follow the trail to the top, and there is a large, relatively flat area to set up on. No tall trees, so bring an antenna support. I signed the summit log in the canister, then set up my new W4OP loop antenna from LNR Precision. The tripod I bought to use with the loop was too weak, and the swivel bit at the top broke after a strong gust of wind. I moved the antenna to the ground, and was able to continue.
Nice views.
With my KX3 I started on 20 CW and got 6 contacts in the log, then tried 20 SSB, but didn't get any takers. Probably because I was only using 3 watts. I moved down to 30, and got a few more contacts. I then called on 17 meters for a while, but got no response. At home I checked the Reverse Beacon Network, and there was only a single spot on 30m, so my signal must have been very weak. I still had some battery left at this point, so I went up to 15 meters, where a ZL answered my CQ! He was strong (579), but gave me a weak report (119). The propagation gods must have been smiling down on me. In total I made 11 contacts.
Operating position.
After calling a few more times on 15, I packed up and headed back to the car. The trip down was much quicker than the way up, and the sand was less slippery than I feared.
Overall, the loop antenna performed well, but I had trouble tuning it after QSY. I think that practice will make this quicker. I only had the internal NiMH batteries in the KX3, and they were sufficient for at least one hour of operating at the summit. (I don't remember what mAh rating they have.) Next time I want to try a sideband activation, I'll bring an external battery so I can transmit at more than 3 watts. This will probably improve my success with this mode. I also need to find a better tripod mounting solution, or bring the stabilizing feet for the loop. Since this trip was somewhat last minute, I didn't have time to make a length of feed line from my roll of RG-174, so I had to carry my 50 foot roll of RG-58. This was heavier than I'd like, and I don't think there will be significantly more losses in a short length of -174 than the long length of -58.
The sun came out after I made it to the top.

Trailhead: Small lot at the height of land of Mt Emma Road.
Looking back at the trail head.
Website: SOTA Site
Maps: I didn't take one, but one could be printed from caltopo. A map would have been helpful to identify the other peaks. KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map
Route: Cross the road, and head up the marked trail. The trail goes up a side ridge, between two small canyons, then turns left and follows a main ridge to the summit
Red Tape: None.

Rainbow in the clouds.

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