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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New Summit Activation, 5 August 2014 - W7M/RC-017 Sweeney Peak

I need to say this up front, this activation Kicked My Butt! I think the dog was pretty tired as well.
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Tuesday the 5th of August, my trusty companion (Annie) and I ventured up Sweeney Peak. Sweeney Peak's Summits On The Air (SOTA) designation is W7M/RC-017. The peak is just west of Florence, Montana. It is between Lolo Peak to the north...
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and St. Joseph Peak to the south.
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It is a 4.5 mile hike from the trail head and you gain 3,415 feet in elevation to a summit elevation of 9,161 feet. Hikes like this take me awhile to accomplish. On top of that I have never been to this summit so I probably didn't take the best route. Oh well, we made it to the top and then the fun began.
I was still having problems with my home brew antenna. The basic configuration is a ground plane. If you read any instructions about this antenna it says:

The vertical radiator (A) should be soldered to the center connector of the SO239.

Well after hiking a few summits the vertical radiator looked like it was soldered, but on very close (get out the reading glasses) inspection it was not. Oh great! After I dragging my dog and myself all the way up this mountain now I find out that my antenna is broke.
So out came the knife, the electrical tape, zip ties, a empty box of raisins and I don't know all what else and I went to work trying to build something like an antenna that would work. Now everything I tried was for memory and they look nothing like the real thing, but they did get the job done.
So first I tried something that resembled a dipole. OK, I got two contacts with that. Then I tried something like a long wire with all the 19.2 inch pieces of copper wire I had. With this monstrosity I got two more contacts. The last thing I tried was what I call the "On Top of Sweeney Peak Bazooka." Kids don't try this one at home, but I was able to make one more contact, just as we heard some thunder off to the north. At 9,000 feet on a bare summit thunder is usually my cue to leave and we did.
All in all this was a great experience for me as a amateur radio guy, but it really did kick my butt. I need to get rested up because next Tuesday we are heading up Trapper Peak. Wish us luck.


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