FOBB 2007 South Sandia Peak by Bob Cunnings NW8L

Flight of the Bumblebees 2007 - Bob Cunnings NW8L

This year I operated near South Sandia Peak (in the Sandia Wilderness Area, overlooking Albuquerque). The location was atop the long north/south ridge a few hundred yards south of the summit, at approx. 9600 ft. elevation. This is a nice location, with the terrain dropping off sharply to the east and west, but requires a good 4 hour hike to reach. The antenna was a "coupled resonator" 40/20 meter inverted vee with balanced feedline. The apex at approx. 20 feet, supported by a 32 ft. telescoping fiberglass pole lashed to a small tree at the top of the ridge. The "shack" was in a nice sheltered depression in the limestone just below the ridgeline to the west, with a tarp providing shade. I used my 20/30/40 KX1 with autotuner. It was powered from a 2 AH gel cell, charged by a 10 watt solar cell.

I managed a total of 28 qso's - 21 BB and 7 home stations, all on 20 meters, bees were heard buzzing despite rough conditions. After 3 hours a line of thunderstorms arrived from the west and I was forced to pack up and start back down since lightning makes operation impossible in such an exposed place, even if sheltered from the rain. Signals from the western states were reasonably strong at first, but I heard few stations east of the Mississippi. My only east coast QSO was with N3AO/BB in VA, but also worked K8DDB in MI and K4KO/BB in TN. Thanks all, it was a great time!

This year I brought along a camera, and had time to shoot a few pix after setting up...


This is the rig, connected to the gel cell/solar charge controller combo. I like using the little self-powered speaker that plugs right in to the headphone jack.


The solar panel was placed up above. The day started out with lots of sunshine. I'm told the limestone is courtesy of the Pennsylvanian Era inland sea.


The antenna is made from 64 feet of 450 ohm balanced line. One conductor is opened at the center and connected to the 300 ohm feedline, and serves as directly driven 40 meter dipole. The other conductor is notched out 15 feet in from each end to form a 20 meter dipole centered at the feedpoint, but not connected (the "coupled resonator"). The feedline is 40 feet long and connected directly to KX1, which finds a good match on 30 meters as well as 20 and 40.


The shack was pretty cozy. Yes, it's well worth it to pack in the lawn chair - it's not that heavy anyway, compared to the water I had to bring up (there's more in the backpack).


This is the view to the south, looking out over the Middle Rio Grande Valley, towards Soccorro. Albuquerque is to the right, several thousand feet down in the valley.


The view looking northward, towards the summit of South Sandia Peak. The tarp served me well when the thunderstorms arrived. The aspen woods to the left, at the bottom of the limestone bluff, are the haunt of mule deer.


One of the few waterfalls in the Sandias is found along the trail to South Peak.