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Death Valley National Park Radio Expedition

November 13 · Issue #23 · View online
Stuart, KB1HQS Newsletter
Hot as the sun, check!
12% humidity, check!
Ranges from below sea level (-282.2 feet, lowest point in USA) to 11,043 feet, check!
Remote, isolated backcountry miles away from help, check!
And finally has “Death” in its name? Check!
Perfect conditions for a:
  • Summits on the Air
  • Parks on the Air
  • Mines on the Air radio expedition trip!

Until recently, my knowledge of Death Valley NP consisted of the German tourists that disappeared in the park back in the 1990’s.
The Hunt for The Death Valley Germans - Companion Reading — Jay Penner Books
First thing I did was order a National Geographic paper map of the area. One of the biggest challenges was to figure out where to go in the park considering it is the largest national park in the continental United States at over 3.4 millon miles.
Luckily for me, Paul Gacek (W6PNG/M0SNA) has spent some time in DV activating summits. Paul has traveled all over the world doing really cool portable radio operations. Be sure to check out his website.
Due to the size of the park, lack of water and limited gas stations, determining logistics for this trip required a lot of research, more than any other of my previous portable radio expeditions.
One limiting factor was the fact that there are only so many paved roads in the park; everything else requires high clearance and even 4WD to successfully navigate. This limited my activation site access.
Potential Dangers of the area:
Activation Details
NV SOTA Activation
NV SOTA Activation
After several days of researching SOTA/POTA/MOTA sites, I have come up with a tentative list.
Date: November 16th, 2019
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Time: Mid morning
Just a quick SOTA activation to add Nevada to my US map of SOTA states completed.
Dates: November 16th - 18th, 2019
Parks on the Air Designator: K-0021
SOTA Summits:
Dantes Benchmark W6/ND-144
Corkscrew W6/ND-137
Wildrose Peak W6/ND-014
Ubehebe Peak W6/CD-014
**Telescope W6/CD-003
Telescope sits at over 11,000 feet with a 12 mile hike. I will have to see how the altitude affects us before taking this one on. Going from -282 to 11,000 feet could be a challenge. At this time of year it also may be covered in snow.
In reality, just getting to the park is an accomplishment in itself.
Other options include the entire 3.4 million miles of national park which qualifies for Parks on the Air activations (K-0021).
Looks inviting!
Looks inviting!
A new portable radio activity that I haven’t tried before is Mines on the Air.
While you don’t actually enter the mine, becuase that would be mind blowingly stupid, you set up outside the mine and make contacts.
I’m always up for something new when it comes to amateur radio.
Speaking of new activities, I am going to give satellite communications a go. Considering the remoteness of the locaton (aka grids) and lots of open sky (something I don’t have back home) I will be trying out the FM satellites.
With all that said, I can only give a range of dates that I will be in the park.
What is the best way to find me on the air?
Summits on the Air: I will post alerts based on my best guess of dates/times of summits that I will activate.
Parks on the Air: POTA Scheduler
Considering every QSO made in the park qualifies for POTA, if you contact me between 11/16-18/2019, consider it in the log as a POTA contact.
Mines on the Air: I will spot these as MOTA
Any SOTA contact qualifies for both SOTA & POTA.
Any MOTA, qualifies for both MOTA & POTA.
If you hear me during the dates above, you are getting credit for one or more activation(s).
My website with new spotting features
My website with new spotting features
For spotting, I will use my InReach via the Iridiumm Gods above.
InReach has a handy feature that you can spot to Twitter directly.
My website, KB1HQS now has HamAlert which posts my latest spots from the spotting networks and my Twitter feed.
Want to follow my path in real time?
You have two options:
*On SpotWalla, click the trip (Death Valley NP) to see the latest spots.
Temperatures are forecasted between 40 and 90 degrees which means long pants/sirt & hat for sun protection. I will be trying out my new ZPacks Duplex tent, made for two and weighing 19.4 ounces. I needed a new UL two person tent so I thought I would give it a try.
ZPacks Duplex
ZPacks Duplex
Radio gear will be either my LNR Precision Mountain Topper or KX3. As always, I’m packing my Packtenna end fed/dipole antennas.
All my electronics (GoPro camera, Iphone, headlamp, Inreach, etc) will be charged by my Anker battery pack and Suntactics Solar Panel. I have been using the Suntactics panel for a long time and has proven to be a very rugged and effecient solar panel.
Sometimes you have to get creative in setting up portable antennas. In this case I was backpacking and didn't bring a tripod like I usually do for the Alexloop. #SOTA #hamradio
Just purchased Bob's (K0NR) new book, "VHF, Summits and More: Having Fun With Ham Radio" on Amazon. Looking forward to reading it on my trip to NJ this week.
#hamradio #SOTA #QRP
Author of “Portable Operations for Amateur Radio” book now available in Kindle and paperback
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