SOTA W6/CT-226: Cerro Negro

I’m still in the Los Angeles area, and today activated another nearby hill. I know that this site is very close to W6/CT-225, Flint Peak, which I visited a couple days ago, and I have seen reports from others who have activated both in a single day without too much effort.

To get to W6/CT-226, I parked on Camino San Rafael, which ends in a cul-de-sac terminated by a locked gate in front of a fire road that leads to a wilderness area. Beyond the gate, the undeveloped road hugs the side of the peak and wraps around. An American flag waves prominently over an elevated cabin surrounded by antennas. The whole facility is surrounded by a fence that warns not to enter the enclosed area, which is private property.

Start of the fire road.
The fire road curves around. The facility is just visible behind the hill.

To the east of the fenced area is the cartographic marker itself and a bench. There are some scrubby trees along the southern side the facility, but they do not quite come to the height of the fence. I considered tossing my endfed antenna into those trees, but realized I would have poor height, be near a metal fence, and that the antenna would be very near and parallel to a power line.

The geological survey marker.

Instead, I opted to toss a line over the telephone pole just outside the fence — over a climbing handhold, not over the wires themselves. I then ran antenna north-south over a scrubby tree, such that the feed point was up more than two meters and the far end was up probably 8 meters.

A panorama from the operating position (stiched together from multiple shots). The utility pole that was used to support the antenna is visible at right.

Propagation was predicted to be poor today because of a coronal hole that had become geoeffective yesterday, with high solar wind velocity with a south-going magnetic component. The planetary K-index was 4 when I headed out, and predicted to reach 5, although I found out when I returned, that it had actually backed off to three — glad I didn’t decide not to go based on the forecast.

I was detected quickly by the SOTA RBNhole at K3LR on 20m, and had twelve CW contacts on that band. I know I hit the US east coast and Québec, so propagation was not terrible. I called for a long time on 40m and was eventually picked up by the RBNhole, but heard no replies. I tried 10m and as expected the band was dead.

On 2m, I heard faint conversations in several directions on the national simplex calling frequency, but did not get any replies, even after self-spotting on 146.430.  However, when I switched to 446Mhz, I got five replies, two of which were from mobile operators. These were the first contacts from that peak on 70cm, so I felt good about that.

Finally, one peculiarity of this site deserves a mention — behind the fence is a huge horn that was put in place in the coldwar era with the intention of sounding an alert that could be heard for miles around. KB6CIO’s description of the peak has more info on the horn, but here are some pictures:

The output side of the horn.
The truck engine mounted that powered the horn is visible from this angle.

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