Beefore and after

The cabin on Burke was full of killer bees which made it risky to clean up the property. I contacted the High Desert Bee Keeping Society asking if anyone wanted to take the mean bees, but they informed me Landers bees were extremely aggressive, and they should be exterminated. At first, I thought it would be easy enough to buy a $30 Amazon prime bee suit and spray the hives down with bug spray, and call it a day. Kel wouldn’t let me do that so we called a local pest control company. After the first treatment, the bees seemed more pissed off than before. A second treatment didn’t take them out either. Finally, after the third visit, the pest control company said they just need to remove the hive (something I wanted to do to save money) because there were still pissed off bees everywhere. I happily obliged. The pest control company ripped out the wall from the inside of the cabin and the hive was bigger than I imagined! Photos below.

After the hives were pulled out from the wall.


Kel and I hiked up W6/CT-146, Hoyt Mountain. This is worth 4 points for SOTA folks. Parking is just off Highway 2, at Grizzly Flat Trailhead. Once you’re there, follow the big fire road. Stay to the right at the split by the old water tank base. Eventually, the road kinda just stops under the high tension power lines at the top. It took a bit of time to find, but here is a narrow, somewhat overgrown trail right in the middle of the hill which goes up to the summit. Further up, the trail gets better and more defined. This bit was somewhat challenging for me, and presents you with a few false summits.

I started out working 2M FM thinking someone could spot me on SOTAWatch. To my surprise, I could only get a single station! I’m generally able to get tons of 2M contacts, but this was a holiday weekend so….. I setup my HF station – Yaesu 817 into a resonant vertical antenna cut for 20M, supported by a squid pole. While doing this, I figured out how to self spot using the APRS-> SOTA gateway. After getting a message back from the system informing me I was spotted, I started calling out on 14.340Mhz, where I was immediately picked up by W0MNA in Kansas, followed by ZL2IFB in New Zealand, my first QRP/ SOTA DX station. 🙂 I made several more contacts, noticed the time and started packing down the station when I found the radio was configured to transmit at 2.5 watts. No wonder I was getting 44~47 signal reports. The hike down is the reverse of the way up. Overall, this is a fun hike.

Date:30/Nov/2019 Summit:W6/CT-146 (Hoyt Mountain) 


Total distance: 2.41 mi
Max elevation: 4409 ft
Min elevation: 2969 ft
Average speed: 0.00 m/s

Park at Grizzly Flat Trailhead
The gate at the trailhead
View from the summit. Downtown Los Angeles can be seen in the background

Pixie Kit Build

I picked up a $6 Pixie kit on eBay, which included shipping from China and nice case for the finished radio. The kit didn’t come with any kind of instructions, so I needed to find a schematic that matched the PCB. Over all, it was a fun build, and one I would recommend to a new ham, or anyone wanting to get into kit building.

Yaesu VX-3 Repair

I broke the LCD screen on my favorite radio. Luckily, a new display was $0.97 from Yaesu in California. A bit of exploratory disassembly and fiddling with zebra stripes, and the display is back to normal!

Yaesu part number for the LCD is G6090181


November 10th, 2019. This was a quick activation. I cycled up to the top, made 10 contacts, and was back at the starting point within an hour. Getting to the actual summit is impossible as there is a fence to keep folks out of the antenna area. I didn’t bother setting up the HF station, so I just worked local 146.520 Mhz, 2M FM using the Yaesu 817. RF levels felt high, as my HT was struggling to pull signals from the Mount Wilson repeater which is line of sight to this point. Furthest contact goes to WB2WIK, who was near the Ventura County line.

Date:10/Nov/2019 Summit:W6/CT-225 (Flint Peak) 

Total distance: 0.7 mi
Max elevation: 1854 ft
Min elevation: 1493 ft
Average speed: 0.00 m/s


November 9th, 2019 – This was the second summit of the day with Lars, KJ6CBE. The hike up, and down from this point was uncomfortable for me with loose sand and rocks most of the way. The trail starts very steep, then follows the ridge line (also steep) up to a false summit where it flattens out for a bit. Continue along the trail to reach the real summit. I worked 40M, and 20M SSB. Lars worked 2M FM. The radial system on my vertical antenna broke, leaving me with higher SWR than I wanted on 20M. Still made a contact to the east coast. Not bad for 5W at solar minimum.

Date:09/Nov/2019 Summit:W6/CT-150

Total distance: 0.54 mi
Max elevation: 4209 ft
Min elevation: 3642 ft
Average speed: 0.00 m/s


November 9th, 2019. I like this summit. I’ve been up to this location before, not knowing about SOTA. It’s a pretty easy hike with rewarding views. The original fire lookout tower was destroyed in the 2009 Station Fire. 10 years later, they are constructing a new lookout. Lars, KJ6CBE worked 146.520 FM and I worked 20M SSB. My furthest QSO was W4KRN in Virginia. Thanks!

Date:09/Nov/2019 Summit:W6/CT-021 (Vetter Mountain) 

18:45zW6RO14MHzSSBQueen Mary
Total distance: 1.87 mi
Max elevation: 5919 ft
Min elevation: 5374 ft
Average speed: 0.00 m/s

PAT – A Winlink Cliet

Here is how I run Pat with AX25. This assumes Direwolf can key your radio for 2M/ 1200 baud connections to local nodes. I’ve yet to get this actually working, as I live in hole which RF can’t seem to escape.

Run Direwolf, with APRS stuff commented out of the config file. The -p and -c flags are needed.

$sudo direwolf -p -c direwolf_noaprs.conf

This will give a symlink, such as:

Virtual KISS TNC is available on /dev/pts/1
Created symlink /tmp/kisstnc -> /dev/pts/1

Take note of the device number, in this case, /dev/pts/1 Bind the port to AX.25

$ kissattach /dev/pts/1 wl2k
AX.25 port wl2k bound to device ax0

Then, run pat. I use a bunch of arguments here, you don need to.

$pat --listen ardop,ax25,telnet http -a

Open a browser, and load pat interface on :8080. Please note allows connections from other machines, not just localhost which is useful for VPN.

You noticed that I included ardop in the config – this is a HF modem which needs separate command line arguments for configuration. Basic config is below. 8515 is the port, plughw is the USB sound card for I/O. Find the audio cards by typing aplay -l into the terminal

Download ardop here.

$./ardopc 8515 plughw:1,0 plughw:1,0

Baofeng Charger Mod

I really want all my radio junk to run off a single power supply and interconnect with Anderson Power Poles, so I modified a Baofeng charger base to do just that!

A few different bases, Pofung y Baofeng. Both came with a UV5R of some kind.
Different moldings, different stickers.
Insides somewhat different, same circuit though. (see below)
Used a bunch of diodes to bring the voltage down.
Fitted with cable and Anderson Power Poles
All done! Works well!
Oh, this is the IC managing the charger. HXN-WS 1116