Gold comes in many forms

SOTA summit: Gold Mountain W6/CT-053 

Activation Date: Nov 14, 2016

Portable operation: Yes

Radio: Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts

Antenna: Buddipole in vertical configuration

Bands used: 20m and 40m

Furthest QSO: ~6,625 miles with John Shaw, ZL1BYZ in New Zealand

Hike in: Yes, ~7.6 miles roundtrip and 1,400 ft of ascent to ~8,200ft

Solo operation: No, with Dave Coulter

Recommend: Yes

ATT Coverage: Excellent

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

Soon after buying my Jeep I found myself on a “training” session with a large number of beefier and more aggressive looking Jeeps. While mine is the best configured stock vehicle  (Rubicon Hardrock) it was still just above the minimum bar for entry into the rock crawling session organized by OC Motorsports.

Me and my Jeep 12 months earlier near Gold mountain

After crawling by Gold Mountain I made a mental note to return with a my radio station and so here I am one pleasant Monday morning hiking slightly under 4 miles and up to -8,300ft. We follow the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), an easy choice for me as its so iconic stretching ~1,500 miles from the Mexican to Canadian borders.

An easy ascent along PCT and up 4×4 Jeep trails to Gold Mountain just north of Big Bear Lake

Its hard to believe its winter as the sky is blue, snow is a distant memory and temperatures once the sun rose where quite pleasant.

On Gold Mountain looking over Big Bear Lake

I’m a dab hand at erecting my Buddipole antenna. Many configurations exists and the one I favor for SOTA work is a full size vertical (no coil) and radial wire that snakes across the rocks. I’ve gotten many of my most distant contacts using a Buddipole and today turned out to be welcome reaffirmation of this.


Assembling my Buddipole vertical. Taken with the iPhone 7s and shows the much sought after shallow depth of field which softens the horizon
Buddipole vertical, never fails to impress me with long distance contacts

It was toward the end of the activation and normally I might have packed up at this time. The voice was faint but distinctly New Zealand or Australian. I couldn’t hear the first letter of the call sign but after a couple of tries it was clearly a ZL, New Zealand call sign almost 7,000 miles away.

Awesome, in fact, really awesome. Made my day, made my week!

Thanks John.

~6,600 mile contact with ZL1BYZ in New Zealand using 10 watts voice


  1. Hi Paul,
    may I ask, what was your precise Buddipole vertical setup on this SOTA operation (Gold Mountain)? Which coil, how many antenna arms (11″ or 22″) and which whip (long telescopic, mini shockcord or rigid adjustable whip with how many sections) did you use? I’d like to optimise my Buddipole equipment and your setup seems to work brilliantly, congratulations!
    I’m a frequent follower of your blog which is very nicely presented, a source of inspiration and shared knowledge. Please keep up this good work!
    73, Johannes – DL1JRM


    1. Johannes

      Thanks for reading the blog and the kind comments. Glad you enjoy it!!

      I use the following for my 20m vertical;
      4 x 22″ arms
      1 x 9.5′ telescopic whip
      1 x versatee
      1 x radial wire
      1 x shock cord mast (short)



      1. Thank you very much, Paul!
        I was just wondering because of the coil that can be seen on the photo. But in line with Scott Andersen’s book (NE1RD, Buddipole in the Field) I understand your setup for 20m operation excluding the coil is a “full size” quarter wave vertical. I’ll try that with my Buddipole components as soon as spring comes!
        I’m looking forward to reading your next blogs, keep them coming!
        All the very best for you!
        73, Johannes – DL1JRM


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