Winlink via AREDN Mesh and Radio

I created this flowchart to illustrate the flow of data between a private data network, radio and the Internet. Why is this important? Consider this scenario:

Power is out, the Internet is down and cell phones aren’t working. Let’s say all of Southern California communications are down (A likely scenario during a major earthquake). You need to send an email to an adjacent agency including a detailed list of medications and medical equipment that you need delivered to your area now. You know as well as any good emergency communicator that trying to do that over voice is not the …

Continue Reading →

W6/CT-230 San Juan Hill

A couple years ago, my wife and I walked up to San Juan Hill (W6/CT-230) to activate this summit.  It was a place I’ve been to many times on my mountain bike.  The walk up took about an hour and a half, and of course and hour and half down.  I remember thinking you know, this is nice and all, but I wonder what it would be like to ride up here and do this?  

Fast forward to Saturday, February 4th, 2023 and here I am doing my first ever mountain bike ride for a summits on the …

Continue Reading →

W6/SC-371 Niguel Hill

Niguel Hill is a short and relatively flat walk from Seaview Park on Talvera Drive in Laguna Niguel Park.  I have been to this area several times for other activations and emergency communications drills.   As a summit spot you have good line of sight communications to much of South Orange County making this an ideal location for beginner summits on the air activators.  You’ll also find some line of sight connectivity to parts of Orange, Irvine and Tustin.  There are several convenient picnic tables to choose from.  Most of them are within the “activation zone”, with all being at …

Continue Reading →

W6/SC-405 Sugarloaf Peak

In the mountain bike world, when reviewing trail maps and usage, I am always wary of areas that haven’t had much activity.  In the SOTA world, Sugarloaf Peak is one of those places.   Although it was not far away from civilization and close to a very popular trail, it had only been activated 5 times before.    Why?  Well, now that I’ve activated the summit, I can tell you why.  

If one was to hike up to this summit, it would be an all day hike for sure.  At roughly 11 miles round trip, over 2,000 feet of elevation gain …

Continue Reading →

ARRL DX Contest Day – March 5th, 2023

Today marked my first real attempt at doing a DX contest and actually logging the contacts. The goal of this contest was to make contacts with people outside the 48 contiguous United States. The 10 meter band was wide open today, so getting contacts was not terribly difficult. I spent about an hour on the contest and logged 7 solid “59” contacts. The farthest of them were Japan and Argentina. My rig was a Yaesu FT-891 powered at 50 watts connected to a SuperAntenna MP1 with a couple elevated radials as you’ll see in the YouTube video below.



Continue Reading →

Running VARA HF with an Evolve Maestro III Laptop

If you were lucky enough to pick up the Evolve Maestro III from Microcenter for $60 (currently sold out), you may be wondering if it can be used for ham radio digital operations.  Yes, it can.  And the battery life is outstanding.  Here’s a recent video of me using it in the truck to operate VARA HF.  It also works great for WSTJ-X for other modes like FT8.

You may also be wondering, can I power this up with 12 volts?   Yes, you can.  I like Anderson power poles, so with a couple parts I can keep this …

Continue Reading →