I’ve taken a wide variety of antennas on SOTA (Summits On The Air) activations, but one wire antenna I’ve always wanted to deploy is a simple vertical delta loop.
This summer, I mentioned to my friend Joshua (N5FY) that I planned to build a delta loop antenna and next thing I know, he built one. I suppose he’d been thinking about adding it to his line of portable wire antennas at Tufteln.
I was planning to build a 20M delta loop fed with twin lead, but Joshua’s choice is better for multi-band operating. His 20M delta loop features a 4:1 transformer so it can be fed with 50 Ohm coax like my RG-316 (which is also easier to pack than twin lead).
You might recall that I used his 20M delta loop antenna at Holmes Educational State Forest (see photo above) in early September. It worked a charm and wasn’t too difficult to deploy (loops are obviously more finicky than a one wire end-fed).
The great thing about this loop is it’s resonant on 20 and 10 meters, and it’s quite easy to tune on 17, 15, and 12 meters with pretty much any ATU.
Fast-forward to Saturday, October 14, 2023 when Joshua and I were participating in the W4G SOTA campout in north Georgia…
Yonah Mountain (W4G/NG-048)
Fortunately, most of the rain stopped by the time I surfaced that morning.
Joshua and I ate a quick breakfast, grabbed our SOTA backpacks, then drove to the Yonah Mountain parking area/trailhead.
Last year, we also activated Yonah Mountain as well, but underestimated the hike and our timing. We ended up being a good hour or so late to our SOTA evening potluck. This time, we were keen to spend more time on Yonah Mountain and get back to the campsite in plenty of time to join everyone for dinner (and share exaggerated stories about our SOTA adventures).
Last year, we arrived at the trailhead and it was parked full. This year, even though we arrived in the morning and even though it was incredibly foggy/misty, it was still quite full!
Yonah Mountain is an incredibly popular destination.
It offers up proper elevation change, gnarly trail portions, steep inclines, and about four miles of trail round trip. Although not an incredibly long hike, it’ll give you more of a workout than you might think first blush.
We reached the summit in due time and set up our stations about 30 meters apart.
The whole time, I was also monitoring the partial solar eclipse we were having that day.
I brought along some solar eclipse glasses and ended up sharing them with everyone on the summit. It worried me seeing so many young people staring at the sun with only their sun glasses or even–gasp!–with the naked eye. (I mean, weren’t they paying attention in science class–?) 🙂
At one point in the activation during the actual peak of the partial solar eclipse, I left the radio and did a little more sun-gazing.
- Elecraft KX2 with Windcamp X2 Side Rails and Cover
- KXPD2 Paddles
- Elecraft KXBT2 Li-Ion Battery Pack
- Elecraft ES60 Pack (Note that mine is a discontinued LowePro CS60 pack, the ES60 is identical and Elecraft branded)
- TufteIn 20M Delta Loop Antenna
- Tufteln N0RNM Folding Knee Board
- ABR Industries RG-316 cable assembly (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- Mystery Ranch Scree 32 backpack
- Mini Arborist throw line kit: Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray, Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and Weaver 8 or 10oz weight
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
- Helinox Chair Zero
On The Air
I worked 20 meters for a while, took a break to do some solar gazing, then hit 10 meters, 12 meters, and finally 15 meters.
The 20M delta loop was working amazingly well.
Working DX on a summit isn’t all that uncommon, but the DX I received that day was much, much stronger than I’ve experienced with other antennas. The loop worked brilliantly.
Here are my full SOTA logs:
Here’s what this QRP activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click image to enlarge):
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
It turned out to be a brilliant day to hike to the summit of Yonah Mountain. Joshua also had excellent results during his activation.
We enjoyed the hike back down the mountain and stopped to take photos at some of the overlooks.
This is why SOTA is so rewarding.
Packing the loop
I’ve also decided that the 20M delta loop is so small that I’m going to tuck it in my backpack on future SOTA hikes. When I reach the summit, if I find a proper spot to deploy it, I’m going to use it.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t take up a large footprint when deployed. You only need an open space with a branch overhanging to hoist the apex of the antenna.
The past two times I’ve used this loop, I fed it from the center of the bottom of the loop. Next time, I might try feed it from the top or from one of the side corners. This will alter the radiation pattern.
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me! Here’s wishing you a brilliant week ahead.
Cheers & 72,