K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

Propagation Event of a Lifetime, or an Internet Link by Happenstance?

On July 24, 2021, around 1830 UTC, some potentially incredible 2m simplex contacts were made between a station in New Hampshire and about 20 stations in Southern California. Those contacts may have been part of some kind of incredible propagation event. Or they may have been the result of happenstance, via a set of internet linked transceivers at each end of the continent. Check out the video and let me know what YOU think made these contacts possible.

Big thanks to the @SoCal Simplex Archive for allowing me to share his recording as part of my video. Please check out the links below for more of the audio.

First call from NE1B:
First NE1B QSO:
W2CAZ/M CQ call:
Beginning of about 30 minutes of QSOs with NE1B:
Transmission with apparent packet loss:

K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

Antenna Showdown – New Packable Yagi vs Vertical in the 6m Sprint

Every year, the Central States VHF Society hosts a series of Sprint Sprint contests – one of which is a 50 MHz event. It’s a 4 hour contest with a point for each contact, and a multiplier of the number of 4-character grids worked. So I figured, I should probably operate from a SOTA summit for this event.

Spring Sprint Website:

Show Chapters:
0:00 Headed up the peak
1:42 Antenna intro
4:00 Telescopic Pole and Extended Double Zepp setup
6:19 Yagi Assembly and Setup
15:05 Contest Begins
21:32 Wrap-up

Not fully satisfied with the size of my 3-element 6m yagi, I constructed a larger one… much larger, actually. It consists of a 4-section 5 meter folding aluminum C-channel boom, and arrow shaft elements. Spread out on the boom are 5 elements which give a theoretical free-space gain of about 8.5 dBd. At 12 ft above ground, with sloping terrain all around on a summit, I expected pretty solid performance. And that’s what I got.

For the contest, I set up two antennas: the yagi, and an extended double zepp – a high-performing wire omnidirectional vertical antenna. I had each connected to an Icom IC-7300 with a coax switch to quickly change antennas. It was awesome switching back and forth to compare signal strengths on each antenna from the same source. The yagi crushed the vertical for longer-range contacts, but closer stations were much more mixed, likely due to signal polarization.

Check out my Amazon store with lots of my favorite portable radio gear:

K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

18 lbs of water and a sub-2 lb radio. What more do you need?

Toss in some food, a bit of sleeping kit, and that’s about it. Villager Peak, W6/CT-096, is a remote 5,760′ summit with the nearest trailhead about 7 miles away at 900′ elevation.

I had activated Villager Peak before for SOTA, but a nearby summit, guarded by a steep descent and climb from the Villager peak ridge, remained unactivated. My goal for this trip was to activate that summit.

Hope you enjoy coming along for the adventure.

Interested in the gear I use? I have organized a bunch of it into an Amazon store:


K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

LIVE from a SOTA Summit #YTHF21

I’ll be operating and streaming live from a local SOTA summit during the YouTuber’s Hamfest. Hope to get you all in the log, and I’ll also do my best to watch the chat for any questions about SOTA.

Please join in on the fun – I’ll be working 20 and 40m which should cover much of the US.

K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

VOACAP Propagation Prediction for Maximum DX #YTHF21

Trying to those last few states, grid squares, or DXCC entities? Want to make a contact with a particular station half-way around the world? VOACAP is an incredible tool to help plan your contact and maximize your chance of success.

As part of the YouTuber’s Hamfest – 2021, I’ll be spending 30 minutes presenting what I’ve learned about VOACAP and how to use it to maximize your odds of that elusive DX contact.

K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

Tiny Magnetic Loop – Big DX

I took the homebrew QRP 1 m diameter small transmitting loop out to a local summit for some fun and was surprised with some fantastic propagation, on 40 meter nonetheless. This was one of my first DX contacts on the band, and with a small compromise antenna and QRP power, nonetheless.

Small transmitting loop antennas are relatively simple and fun to build. Here’s a little helpful info to get you on the right path to building.

Also check out @Amateur Radio VK3YE’s videos here on YouTube – he has done lots of work with small transmitting loops.

Here’s the hardware I use to make the larger part of the loop. Pretty simple bar-stock aluminum folded out straight and then bent into a circle. Works great!
1/16" x 1/2" Flat Aluminum Bar:
Mini project box:
6-32 x 1/2" Stainless Screws:
6-32 Nylock Nuts:
#6 Flat Washer:

Feeding and matching a loop takes a bit of trial and error, and some specific electrical components – primarily variable and potentially also switched capacitors that can handle very high voltage and currents. Study up before you build to optimize your design.

If there’s interest, I can create some videos that go more into my strategy for building and matching these types of antennas. It’s a fun build!

K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

Off-grid Solar Charging on a SOTA Adventure

A local SOTA activation offered a great opportunity to test out a newly purchased solar panel while having a little fun. Spoiler alert: I’m impressed. This panel is sold. It packs small, puts out lots of power, and is decently light. And the icing on the cake is that the price is reasonable.

Here’s the panel I’m using:

It’s made by a company called "Topsolar," undoubtedly produced in China, but the quality seems solid and the features are great. The panel has a full-voltage output, USB, and most interestingly, a 14.4 V output that should work well charging LiFePO4 cells directly through a balancing BMS.

The Powerfilm solar panels are the cream of the crop, but I’m just not sure I’m willing to shell out 5x the price of this panel for one of them. So this was my pick, based on a bunch of digging through options online in the $2/watt range.

As a bonus on top of testing some new gear, the activation was a blast, with about 85 contacts in the log.

Topsolar folding panels on Amazon
100W Solar Panel:
60W Solar Panel:
30W Solar Panel:

K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

What’s In My Pack – Radio Chest Harness edition

I regularly utilize a Coaxsher chest pack for SAR, and sometimes for recreational use (front-country and backcountry skiing, mountaineering, peak-bagging, etc.) and I wanted to give a walk-through of what I carry in it. Perhaps you’ll find some of these ideas useful for your use, whatever that
may be.

@Ham Radio Crash Course recently did a video review ( comparing the Coaxsher RCP-1 chest harness to a similar Abree model. I primarily use the slightly smaller Coaxsher RP-1 Scout ( which is a bit smaller and more comfortable to wear. It still carries everything I need.

Coaxsher RP-1 Scout:
Coaxsher RCP-1 Pro:
Similar Abbree chest harness:

Other Gear:
Wouxun KG-UV9T Plus:
Smiley Antenna (great amateur radio antennas too!):
Kenwood SMC-34 Speaker-Mic:
Compass – Suunto MC-2:
Signal Mirror:
Mini Duct Tape rolls:
Trauma Shears (Madison Supply):
Medical Gloves:
Headlamp – Zebralight: My favorite model – (Many others available with different battery types (AA, CR123, 18650), beam styles, colors, etc.)
Ivy-X Wipes:
Rite in the Rain Notepad:

So let me know what else you would add to your chest pack that I might have missed.

Thanks for watching.

K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

Desert DX – Whale Peak Overnight

The respite of a peaceful night on a desert summit was a much needed break from a hectic work week. To sweeten the deal, I knew "Radio Runner", Chris ( would be on a summit, and propagation conditions were looking good for a potential Summit-to-Summit contact. So we packed up the gear, met up with a friend, and set out for the desert. Hope you enjoy coming along for the journey.

If you have any questions about the gear I use, post in the comments below. You can also find a bunch of my favorites in my amazon store: Amazon gives me a few pennies on the dollar for purchases through that link, but it doesn’t cost you any more.

K6ARK Portable Radio Youtube

Valentines Day SOTA with the YL

Beautiful weather in the mountains of Anza Borrego were too tempting to pass up, so Johnnie and I headed out to a beautiful part of the park with a fun SOTA summit. A little hiking, SOTA, and rock climbing made for a fun day. Hope you enjoy coming along for the adventure.

I have to say, I’m a pretty lucky guy to have a better half who loves the outdoors as much as I do, and is willing to spend a little extra time on a summit a summit while I play radio.

QRPVer Radio –
QCX Mini Kit –

If you’re interested in my gear and projects, I am constantly adding items to my Amazon store which makes it easy to find the goodies that I like to use. I do make a few pennies on each purchase through these links for sending traffic to Amazon, but there’s no extra cost to you.