I Got Bit By The SOTA Bug

Meeting with the SASQ group at Cheaha State Park this past weekend renewed my interest in SOTA. Over the past year, I have gotten myself in pretty good shape making SOTA more doable. I started putting together a bag for hiking to SOTA Summits. I have hiked and backpacked at different parts of my life so I have an idea of what I need (and want) for a kit. Since I’m an old guy, I do not want to be carrying the kitchen sink with me. I have a QRP radio coming, but that’s another post. Here is the list of my current load out.

I’ll start with my E&E bag short for Escape and Evasion. Typically an E&E bag has the bare minimum of gear. This bag travels with me when I leave my home area. I move it from bag to bag as needed. The bag is a Tom Bihn Handy Little Thing (HLT) size 2. Loaded, it weighs 24 oz (1.5 lbs).

Here is a list of the contents:
Mechanical Pencil
Bullet (Space) Pen
Rite in the Rain Notebook
Mylar Rescue Blanket
2 – Eye Glass Cleaners
2 – Dude Wipes
First Aid Kit
2 – Safety Pins
1 – 1 Liter Water Bag
Compass w/signal mirror
Survival Guide
Dental Floss
Ferro Rod, Striker, and Magnesium
Fire Tinder
Duct Tape
Mini Screwdriver
Flash Drive
Evidence Card
Large Magnifying Glass
Small Magnifying Glass

To carry the radio and associated gear, along with food, water, etc., I decided to use my Camelbak HAWG. It is the older style. I like it because it prevents me from overpacking. The bag and gear without the E&E bag weigh an even 6 lbs., 7.5 lbs with the E&E. With adding food, water, and radios, I am hoping to keep the weight below 15 lbs. I’ve done some Go Rucking with 40 lbs so this should be a breeze.

Here is the list:
Canteen, Cup, and Cover (canteen is Nalgene)
Potable Aqua
MRE Spoon
Garbage Bag – Contractor
Rope Kit w/Duct Tape
Triangular Bandanna
Insect Repellent
Tincture of Iodine
Sit Cushion
Tent Stakes – 6

There you have it. enough to cover most events that may happen on an excursion into the wilds, but not too much where you feel like a pack mule. Next work on the radios. 73 – Scott

Day POTA Activation – Cheaha State Park

This morning, 05 May 23, I decided to take a trip out to Cheaha State Park. It’s about a 50-mile drive but worth it since it is the highest point in Alabama. I enjoy the park and consider it my home park. The day was cool and foggy. Since I was operating out of the cab of the truck, it was nice not to see the sun.

For a change of pace, I brought one of my QRP radios, the IC-705 with the AH-705. I like this radio. It is easy (for me) to use since I have other Icom radios and the interface is similar. I don’t have to relearn the radio every time I use it. The antenna was my Frankentenna Mobile version. I also wanted to give it a workout at QRP levels.

I had another motive for bringing the IC-705. I purchased an app for my iPhone called SDR-Control Mobile. It was created by Marcus Roskosch, the same Marcus that made SDR-Control for iPad. This app connects to the IC-705 via Bluetooth and operates FT8 and CW. It also has a logging function along with several other tools. What drew me to the app was the ability to use my cell phone. The cell phone uses far less power and lasts a lot longer than tablets or laptops. I used it for over 2.5 hrs and the battery level barely moved. The app controls the radio like most other apps. FT8 was a breeze as most of it was automated and logging was a push of a button. Exporting the log was also clicky-click.

Band conditions were up and down and even though I operating QRP, I still managed to make 41 contacts. It was nice working FT8 while holding the phone in my hands. In the past, I would have to twist a bit to get to the laptop making it uncomfortable.

While operating, a fellow ham drove up and said he was looking for me! He and 4 others were operating a special event station about 200 yards down the hill from me. the club was the Southern Appalachian Summit QRPers. SASQ or Sasquatch. This is a group that prefers operating outdoors. They enjoy hiking to SOTA summits and operating portable with lightweight gear. I visited with them for a while and interviewed them for my YouTube channel. If you are interested here is a link to their website https://jesarge.wixsite.com/sasq

I made 41 contacts and here is a QSO map of the activation.

It was a good day, I made a few contacts and a few new radio friends. I may have to see about joining SASQ. I also added another tool to my portable operations tool kit. I like it when things end up win-win. Below is a short video on the activation. 73 — Scott