APRS AT Golden Packet 2014 NoVA Report


Simple is as simple does. We hiked, we setup, we flipped the switch, set to the PM#5 preset, and that’s about it. Most of our time was spent explaining what we were doing to the many other hikers. A few were hams and enjoyed understanding what we were doing… especially the ham from Germany.

I simplified the antenna this year to a Diamond X50 dual band from Mark Lindsey (KD6AKC) vertical on a commercial speaker stand. This is perfect for setting up on the convenient platform at Hawksbill as seen in the 2011 and 2014 pictures.

We had one heart stopping moment as we prepared to leave the campground for Hawksbill – We cranked the car and… nothing – dead battery. Thankfully lots of folks in campgrounds are ready to help so with a quick jump, we were off. The only “gear” glitch was trouble finding a correct coax adapter; Eric (W4EON) pieced together something jiffy quick and off we went.

RF Path Observations

VHF wise, we had no issues with links to the north or south. VHF packet RF quality was strong, reliable and boring – just what we want. UHF voice simplex was crystal clear to Dick at Maryland Mountains. UHF to Apple Orchard was 2 bars and he could not hear me at all unless I went to high power – which I did without issue, but used only sparingly. UHF communications to folks in Northern Virginia was 1 or two bars, but I could converse with them all at 10 watts UHF.

Tranquility Preservation

Hawksbill Mountain is in a park setting. We paid particular attention to the volume settings on the D710A keeping the packet volume off unless demonstrating what packets sound like and keeping the UHF channel as quiet as possible. Some folks come up to these peaks for tranquility, peace and reflection, and we were adamant about respecting this.


I setup an I-Gate at home (KX4O-10) to augment Chuck Gould’s permanent I-Gate (N4YXW-10) using Chris Phillips’ (K4FAA) loaner dual band antenna that I tie wrapped to a plumbing vent on my house. My home I-Gate station was operated by James Huggins (KJ4FAJ) during the event.

Equipment list

Kenwood TM-D710A transceiver, Tenergy 10 amp-hour LiFePO4 13 volt battery, Diamond X50 dual band VHF/UHF antenna, ‘On Stage’ SS7761B speaker stand and 12 foot RG58 coax.


All told we met about two dozen or so fellow hikers many asking about our project. People seemed to appreciate what we were doing and why we were doing it. Except for the German ham, no further interest noted, but that’s okay. We were glad to discuss lots of different topics with everyone.


The highlight for me this weekend was actually camping at Big Meadow’s campground just ten minutes away from Hawksbill north parking lot, but the successful Golden Packet topped things off nicely. Apparently the Golden Packet did, in fact, make it all the way this time. Thanks to all, but especially to the previous hikers and other folks helping with logging this year and in the past including…

  • 2009: White Rock Cliff – Dr. Jay Gundlach, Rob Searles, James Huggins (KJ4FAJ) [and me]
  • 2010: White Rock Cliff – Dr. Jay Gundlach, Rob Searles, Eric Nystrom (W4EON), [and me]
  • 2011: Hawksbill Mountain – Dr. Jay Gundlach, Rob Searles, Eric Nystrom (W4EON) [and me]
  • 2012: Stony Man Mountain – Eric Nystrom (W4EON), James Huggins (KJ4FAJ), Dylan Huggins, [and me] – Logging assistance from Mark Lindsey (KD6AKC)
  • 2013: Stony Man Mountain – Eric Nystrom (W4EON) and me – Logging assistance from Steve Martin (K3KQ)
  • 2014: Hawksbill Mountain – Eric Nystrom (W4EON), Chris Wisehart (KJ4GUU), Dylan Huggins, [and me] – Logging assistance by James Huggins (KJ4FAJ) and Chuck Gould (N4YXW) – Equipment assistance from Mark Lindsey (KD6AKC) with his summit antenna and Chris Phillips (K4FAA) with another antenna for the KX4O-10 I-Gate used to collect packets.

It goes without saying the Hawksbill team pictured below is only a small part of the names listed above who deserve much of the credit for helping make the ATGP happen.

Hawksbill ATGP crew 2014
The Hawksbill Crew

To learn how well the entire event performed this year, please visit Bob Bruninga’s Golden Packet Web Page…

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