FT8-ing my way through Wyoming….

NPOTA Entity: N/A 

SOTA summit: Jelm Mountain, W7Y/EW-006

Activation Date: July 28, 2017

Portable operation: Yes

Radio: Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts SSB and KX3 at 8 watts digital FT8

Antenna: LNR End Fed

Bands used: 20m 

Furthest QSO: AC1Z in New England

Hike in: 100 ft r/t and ~5ft 

Solo operation: No, with Guy N7UN

Recommend: Yes

ATT Coverage: OK-ish

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2017

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Looking north from Jelm.
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Simply drive up Jelm Mountain Rd

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Three reasons seem to suggest a pretty good dirt road to a peak in the middle of nowhere; fire look out tower, a telecoms tower and an observatory. The road up to Jelm in Southern Wyoming is wide, pristine and colorful to boot. We wind our way up and eventually arrive at one of my three reasons; an infrared observatory operated by the University of Wyoming.

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A veritable super highway to the peak

Views are pretty cool and I’m surprised how low Ring looks to our south.

I think my antenna deployment is quite sloppy compared to Guy’s. He’s keen to deploy the end fed as an L with its end hoisted high in a tree. I get the theory but my hand eye coordination is dreadful and I would probably spend an hour tossing a rock bag and most likely have it land mainly on my own head, so I’ve typically elected for my sloppy inverted solution.

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Guy’s rather nicely deployed end fed in an L to tree higher up

And now for something completely different….having done my SSB (and Guy his CW) I have my recently acquired small Lenovo notebook whipped out and plugged into my KX3. It’s time to try the latest crazy to hit the ham radio digital world, FT8 in the field. That extra three watts over the the KX2’s digital max of five is going to make all the difference. What becomes apparent very quickly and was a bane over the eight FT8 activations I did in Wyoming and then Colorado was using my iPhone as a WiFi hotspot to allow Dimension4 to accurately set the PCs time. When cell coverage exists it works well but when it is intermittent it’s a royal drag. I end up enlisting Guy to hold my iPhone 20-30 feet away and further up Jelm to achieve my goal.

I managed to snag three FT8 contacts over fifteen minutes. Not exactly Speedy Gonzales but I am excited to have nabbed any contacts.

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