Summits on the Air Expeditions in Korea

1 point

20120815 구성산

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Rainy or not, the 815 contest is a day to be on the air in Korea. This year, not falling on a weekend or creating a longer-ish weekend, being right in the middle of the [work] week, my QTH wasn’t that much a ways a way. Kimje, in fact, via Jeonju, via Wanju. The roads do wind about. I made the effort to bring the 857, principally for the HF bands, including 7 MHz which should’ve been hot, but was not so. ㅠㅠ

Can’t say it was raining the whole time, but it did delay things a bit, and most of the operations took place inside the big red bothy bag. As a result of the WX, there weren’t many others seen on the trail. Fun was had, contacts were made, nothing was broken.

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Aftermarket Ansan Activation

The second Sunday of the month is always a special one. Well, by the reasoning I’m about to present, technically every Sunday of the month is always a special one. It’s hamfest day! The second Sunday of the month just happens to usually be just a tad bit bigger and more bustling than the others, since it’s the hamfest (termed junk 정크 in proper Konglish) in Seoul, in the baseball field at Yonsei University. I like to go when I can, to pander the program and get people interested in SOTA.

Additionally, after this month’s market (July 10, 2011) was a SOTA presentation at the university, which HL1FB so graciously helped to get a room with projector for hosting the event and showing a power point presentation about the program.

Not only was that going on, but also since the main audience was the 6K0FA 청룡 Scout Troop, we planned a hands-on activity with HL1WOU (and DS2NED to help out) to make portable slim-jim antennas with the students for the 2-meter band which they could take home and use on their own hikes when operating portable.

After the antenna activity was complete, the scouts had another engagement to move on to, so I decided to head up the hill behind the University, HL/SL-008 Ansan, for a quick activation before what looked to be rain later in the evening.

It’s a nice short hill, one of the lower summits in the Seoul area, in what amounts to a city park for many who live on its peripheries. I went via one of the back access roads of the university to later descend on the opposite side by the metro station.

When I got up to the top, with a large stone tower and a few people hanging out, I thought it better not to set up the good antenna with all the dark clouds about, so I HT‘ed it so I could get out quickly when it did start.

Even more fun is that 6K2HVZ contact I had–was actually one of the scouts that had been in the group this afternoon!

Good thing I didn’t set up everything, as when I was finishing up my fourth contact, the umbrella came out! Eh, activation complete–hopefully next time it’ll be nicer out for longer. Back to the bus station it was, get a ticket and some goat cheese. Don’t see much goat cheese down in Jeolla, but we do see some goats sometimes….


Seoul On The Air 20110702


(DS1GKD, HL1KFB, N5ATY, HL4ZFA, DS1RDJ, DS1DAT / HL1KKC, HL1IWZ, HL1IYQ, HL2OLP, HL1WOU, F4AAR)

(See 6k0fm.net for the bilingual wrap up of the event, click here)

Big weekend! Thanks to a spark from HL2OLP about a month back regarding an immediate goal of his to activate all 11 summits in the Seoul Metropolitan area (fairly reasonable), especially since after a year of SOTA in Korea they all haven’t been activated yet (one would think that region would be the first to be “ticked off the list” for most given the local demographic.

Me thought to myself that along the same lines why wouldn’t it be possible to stick an activator on each of those eleven summits for an afternoon and make some QRM? Well, the idea took off, and while we didn’t fill up the region 100% we did create quite a racket!

We lost a couple of activators at the very last minute due to a quick date change (rain was scheduled for Sunday the 3rd, so we moved back one day to beat it), but there were also a few random appearances on the hills (not necessarily all in Seoul) but welcome none the less.

Another fun facet of such an event is the points potential, for everybody, not only a wide selection of activators to work from home for the chasers but S2S galore–it was basically a big party on the air–hell, even the cops came! DS1DAT was asked to leave the premises by the military police on HL/SL-004 Inwangsan (military area, open to the public six days a week). That’s pretty much a crap-shoot–nobody bothered me last year when I set up a big honkin’ Yagi up there in the evening (delivered that very same afternoon by DAT himself!).

I chose from the leftovers HL/SL-003 용마산 to activate with F4AAR Laurent–a hill which I had had yet to visit, not terribly low (though low enough to bring full QRO gear). F4AAR brought his newly acquired toy, an SDR radio (a Flex 1500) to do some testing in a hopefully less noisy environment than his flat.

We did have a decent party going on up there, a bunch QSOs in three languages, loads of S2S action, a bottle of red, a freshly made liver mousse as well as some garlic flavored frischkaese. Even though the kit was QRO, the majority of contacts were QRP, thanks to the 5 segment colinnear, we were reaching over into Gangwon-do and down into Chungcheonnam-do.


2차 was happening downtown at a nice charcoal grilled 닭갈비 place (friend’s resto) where propoganda and awards were given out to the top contact makers who showed up–a special edition SOTA hanji pencil cup designed and executed by N5ATY. DS1RDJ took the cake for the top activator (some might imply she has an unfair advantage, all the guys wanting to get a QSO with her….;) with HL1KFB coming in second of those at the restaurant.

After filling up there, we headed through a park and over to a beer joint for 3차, where the imbibing continued on well on after we had to go to catch our (almost last) bus back down to Iksan.

The consensus is that the event was a success, with a lot of people having a lot of fun, likewise with the meet-up afterwards to see all the various activators’ faces in person in one place. It’s safe to say that this will become an annual tradition every year in July for the HL SOTA Association’s birthday! See you next year on the air in Seoul! (Actually, probably much sooner than that…!)


미륵산 인 더 모닝


June 16, 2011. Just your average Thursday morning, to go out to your average neighborhood one-pointer that you’ve activated already, like, twenty times this year. In this case, it’s our local “patron mountain,” HL/JB-168 Mireuksan.

So you wake up around 4 AM or so which is normal because your average cat wants to be fed at that time. Or any other time that it wants, for that matter.

The objective, however, on this particular morning is not to feed the cats, but to witness the rising of an almost fully eclipsed moon and observe as it exits the eclipse during the following hours.

As Murphy dictates, it is cloudy outside. Oh, well, maybe it’ll clear up later.

Hop in the car while it’s still dark, hop out of the car while it’s still dark, same-same, teacher.

You don’t hear owls in town. In fact, I didn’t know there were any owls in the neighborhood here–the only other time I’ve heard them is around HL/JB-104 고덕산 just to the south of 전주. Heard them as well as some other hooting beast–though it’s too early for the quail to be out, just yet.

About twenty/thirty minutes into the hike there were other hikers on the trail, not many yet at that hour. It’s early enough that I might go for some HF, even though band conditions haven’t been the best lately.

Get some good European contacts on 20m & 17m, good signals coming out of England, Germany, Portugal and Italy, but the German station couldn’t hear me (above the megawatt Japan stations he was busy working).


As time moves along and HF dries up I move up to VHF, but not before hearing my name…

It’s not even seven o’clock yet and Jerry sees me as he’s coming up the summit on one of his thrice-weekly fitness outings to Mireuksan. What a pleasant surprise!

Though, he’s off as quickly as he came, he does have to go to work, after all. I, too. Just a wee bit later. The kicker is that he’s in my first class of the day!

Alas, after working the locals and non alike, one last bit of HF and I also, am off. The clouds didn’t clear in time, and by now the eclipse is officially over. At the very least, I got some good radio play and DX in a no-stress fashion. On a work day, at that!


Namsan and the QRM monster

So, you say, he definitely didn’t get a full night’s sleep–it was after midnight when he arrived back in town, right? Then there was a taxi ride across the city from Seoul Station over to Dongdaemun, and a few hours snoozing on the floor in the motel room (we sqeeze all that we can in there!)…

Well, let’s just leave it that after getting up and out, bustling over to Central City terminal to lock up the bags for the day and get some tickets for back home, back over to Myeong-dong/Namdaemun market, this time, I was still itching to walk about the park instead of the market with nothing specific to buy this Memorial day holiday.


What’s there to do in the neighborhood? Grab a bottle of water and head up to HL/SL-009 Namsan, bypassing the crowds waiting for the cable car and jetting up the steps. After all, it’s been just about a year (minus a month) since I’d last been around on this one pointer.


Once on the “summit” there are crowds and whatever you’d expect to see on a weekend, so I went slightly to the east to have just a wee bit of space to make some contacts. I must mention at this point, one of the ulterior motives for this 미니산행 was that DS1SLM was up activating HL/SL-001 도봉산 so I thought I’d oblige, give him some points while gathering some of my own…


In coordinating with SLM getting the contact was proving to be on the difficult side, in fact he claimed he could copy me quite well, though I could just barely receive him (we were both operating via HT). After a while, it dawned on me that my receiver was being overloaded from the broadcast tower, which Namsan is. Proceed to find a better place downhill, behind some object to provide some RF “shade”…this was hard, I was putzing around behind trees, stone walls and the like, when almost giving up, I tried heading back up the hill to under the tower.


Last year, without thinking, we simply sat down in the shade with some cold drinks (thanks, Zoom!) in the terrace café under the N-Tower, overlooking the city, the river, up to HL/SL-002 관악산, etc. Duh, we were perfectly in RF shade, directly under the antenna firing out horizontally. QRM was at peak S3, but mostly S0.


It was from this QTH that I had my final activating QSO with DS1PRD, across the river, discovering that he’s actually from the Iksan area! After that, I gave a few more CQs at 1W with no response before the battery was fully dead (remember that ultra-long hike yesterday?).

I’ve never really had the time to piddle around Namsan Park (still haven’t), so decided I’d descend via a different route, going more to the east to take the rubberized road down (the first time I took it, I went the wrong way). To this point, I still haven’t figured it out, actually. It’s not straight up or down, there are maps prominently posted along the way, but half of them in braille, not even any Korean side by side. In the end, I took a nice “short cut” of wooden stairs cutting through a ravine leading down through the trees.


This wasn’t before first paying a visit to the geographical center of Seoul, conveniently located smack-dab on top of the city’s mountain. Depending on who you ask, it could very well be the center of the universe ;p



In addition to the cable car, another means of transportation to the top is a fleet of electric buses which happen to have a charging station located a few hundred meters down summit.

Alas, a good way to unwind the rest of the way at the end of a three day weekend. Though, in all seriousness, my recommendation to future activators is just to chill on the terrace in the shade for a leisurely “armchair activation.”



Half-holiday at 계화


A Wednesday morning. No class. First day of June. Sounds like an opportune situation to get a head start on some good figures in the stats!

Technically, this should’ve been a double activation, first a quickie at HL/JB-199 계화산 then a quick scuttle over to HL/JB-196 석불산 not more than 4km away and just as short. However, the more that I try to operate in Buan or Gunsan, the more I’m starting to believe the Saemangeum might have an effect similar to the Bermuda Triangle…you’d think being way out in the open and away from everything there’d be nothing between me and those QSOs!


Well, I must’ve spent the first three hours of the activation draining my battery calling CQ on 20m, likewise on 40, a little bit on 17, and also on 2m. No love. The wind took down the buddistick twice, maybe, and keeping the big collinear up, well, let’s just say I was kept on my feet. Also, the tuning was knocked out as my phasing spacers were tugged this way and that.

Of course, when I was packing up the antennas and ready to bag the whole activation all together (not a single QSO!) I hear someone calling on the highway from across the summit where I was…quick-like get over there to answer!

There was then the rush of a half dozen contacts, running continuously (everybody on lunch break?), everybody asking if I had had lunch yet (nope, but was meaning to ASAP). In the end, the activation was saved, but I had nowhere near enough time to even consider heading over to Seokbulsan! It’ll be next time, then perhaps I can hit the filming studio they’ve got over there, too.


Just for the fun of it


On the theme of getting out when there’s a chance (we’re not speaking of skipping class or anything, here), I went out tonight (20110516) at 6 PM local time for a bit of 야간산행 action at good ol’Mireuksan JB-168 (well, it wouldn’t be quite so brilliant to wander about at night on a trail I’ve never broken before, eh?).

I took a bit of everything, gear-wise, to the top to play around with in the moonlight. This means the newly built 5 segment collinear for 2 meters, as well as the buddistick kit for HF to take advantage of the evening hours. While setting up the HF kit, I checked into the local Jeonbuk net (every Monday night at 8), easy with the HT from a height like that (can’t do it from the 10th floor at home, have to go up to the 15th or 16th floors to get above the HAAT created by all the flats so ubiquitously arranged about).

To stretch out after finding a frequency and spotting myself (data charges, here we come!), I used 20 meters, with the buddistick grounded through a nearby tree, and as my second contact just barely heard a GW call through the noise, though after working it this way and that we managed to get the bare details through, GW4BVE in Wales who could evidently hear me quite well (54) is quite the accomplished chaser. Immediately after I had another rough QSO with an Austrian station. When BVE later came back his signal greatly improved to 57, but couldn’t catch any more European calls on my end.

To wrap up on 20m I had a couple of contacts in the more usual circles of Taiwan and Russia, in Taiwan being another 100th anniversary station (just chatted with one on Saturday) and in Russia up far north above Japan.

Back onto 2m with the 5단GP and made some pretty decent contacts up into Cheonan, Seoul, Daejeon and locally. The contact with the Seoul station reminded my why I picked up the book for the Korean license test on Saturday–I must’ve been involved in a ten minute conversation with this station (not a new station, either, holding an HL call!) and not once during the whole time could he grasp my call (not an issue of signal quality, either, to hold a QSO talking of the hike, weather, with all copy on everything else, etc). All the more reason to study!

Things started calming down after ten o’clock, and then this threesome arrives rather noisily at the summit–college aged, out for some exercise, but no water! Sure, you can have some…in the end when I had packed up we made the descent in parallel meeting up at some points where the paths crossed on the way down.

Not bad for a Monday night on the C course!