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Summiting Sierra Estrella (Hayes) High Point 18FEB18

4514′ elevation – clean prominence: 3212′ – isolation: 47.4 mi

GPS log available at peakbagger.

Wireless communications site

View of peak from trailhead, high point / radio site not in view.

Looking east toward rising sun. Evil cholla forest.

Woolsey Peak in left center distance.

What passes for a trail here. (Wait! There is no trail!!!)

More of the fine trail.

There were cairns along the way every so often, but all they really did for me is let me know some other human had been here.

Looking back towards trailhead and vehicle. Still there!

It was somewhere around here that I stepped on a boulder that proceeded to roll, then I fell smack on my head. No blood, no lightheadedness, no visual effects, but most stuff in pockets all fell out on ground while I was momentarily upside-down.

The boulder-hopping was getting rough on the ankles.

Still more boulders. Really impressive the ability of water to move stuff.

Looking back toward trailhead, which is hidden behind stuff on the left.

Higher and higher I go. Coefficient of steepness approaching angle of repose in some spots…

Now it gets heinous. That wash below was the path I took to get here. The vertical may not look like much from here, but I’m scaling rock walls with some horizontal jointing and serious cacti and ocotillo to dodge.

I know how this bighorn sheep felt… Man, that was a tough climb to the ridgeline.

And finally, Sierra Estrella High Point comes into view. But, it’s still about 0.5 miles away, and continued boulder hopping required.

Now the last pitch. Another 300′ vertical. There is kind of a trail here, but it’s not much.

Looking across the canyon to what looks like a large mine adit on the opposite ridge.

Looking back in general direction of trailhead.

This is what the final ridge climb looks like, more or less.

Final pitch, getting closer!

Alrighty! About 7500 W of solar power just in this set of panels here.

Microwave link to the NW.

Top of the mountain at the facilities.

Not the real benchmark, I didn’t find it.

More radio links.

Radio towers.

Note the amount of wind power generation. However, none was spinning on this day. Guess not enough breeze.

Toward South Mountain.

More solar and wind power generation.

Imagine this is the way they get the big gear in and out of the building.

When all else fails, there’s propane!

Clean looking site, huh? Wonder how often the critters chew through stuff?

Three big bottles and one long tank of propane.

What I think is a helipad / drop point of sorts.

Another not-the-real-thing benchmark.

Looking back, about 45-60 minutes down from the peak.

Sierra Estrella near sunset, looking east.

Summiting Harquahala Peak on foot 31MAR18 – Wireless communications site and historical buildings

5684′ elevation – clean prominence: 4361′ – isolation: 42.9 mi

GPS log available at peakbagger.

Time-lapse dashcam video of drive from pavement to trailhead.

Wireless communications site and historical buildings.

View from the Salome Rd with Harquahala the tallest peak on the ridge. For 5 years, from 1920 to 1925, the top of the mountain was home to a Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory facility.

Developed trailhead, with toilet, about 2 miles south of US60. There is a closed but unlocked gate for entry from the highway. Please make sure to close it behind you.

Easy drive in, even a sedan could make it as long as the driver takes it slow and easy, and doesn’t mind a few bits of desert pinstripe.

Harquahala from the north side.

Remains of historical facilities along the trail.

Gorgeous exposures of what appears to be some sort of metamorphosed granitic rock? Largest porphyroblasts are maybe 1 to 2 cm in longest dimension.

At the saddle, looking about NW.

At the saddle, looking about SSW.

At the saddle, looking about SW.

At the saddle, about WNW.

At the saddle, about SE.

Benchmark at the very top.

Benchmark again.

Looking down toward dirt/gravel road that comes up the mountain from the SE side, though the view is about SSW.

Simple radio site closest to the benchmark. Not sure what frequency band it is or to what entity it belongs.

Big solar powered radio facility belonging to Central Arizona Project.

Some sort of historic structure to the south.

The site is mostly used as a microwave hop point, but there’s obviously a number of two-way radio and telemetry stations atop the mountain.

Nice place for a picnic. Note the rock fireplace complete with grill for cooking some steaks.

Next few are Flood Control District of Maricopa County. The data is on-line here.

Helipad complete with four ground-embedded red beacons.

SW along ridge from benchmark.

NNW from benchmark.

NNE from benchmark along the ridgeline.

While true in general, a bit bogus here as no one was using heliographs for the Central Arizona Project in 1970…

Looking NW toward the main radio site, with the historic building in the foreground.

Orion, Ursa Major, and Scorpius

Tonight, while walking home, I decided that these were probably the 3 most apparent traditional constellations that people could see.

I mean, Orion stands out. I’m not just because some movie production house took advantage of the obviousness. It really is an impressive constellation. Well I don’t know for sure, I am sure that in most civilizations people would have taken the bright stars in Orion and turned it into something that meant something to them.

Ursa Major, is another impressive constellation. Seven brighter stars, all fairly close in angle, and it really does look like some kind of weird handled ladle.

Scorpius looks wicked. I mean, you probably need to know what a scorpion looks like to appreciate scorpions, but the constellation really does have a great resemblance to a scorpion. Shaula, The stinger, it’s perfectly placed. Antares, the heart of the scorpion. Do scorpions have hearts?

Living here in Arizona, and even in California before that, there were plenty of scorpions around. So Scorpius really does remind me of its namesake.

LNA unhappy with 10 uH Coilcraft 0805 chip inductor

Today I finally synced up with my friend Doug and collected from him quantity five Coilcraft 0805 10 uH chip inductors. Tiny things. Had little caffeine today, so by the time I’d returned home I was pretty steady.

Brought the LNA down from roof, opened lid, clamped assembly down to bench so it wouldn’t move, put a drop of 60/40 on one inductor pad, and with my TU-10b tweezer I picked up the part and set it in place, then tapped the one end with the soldering iron. It was harder than I thought; the part weighs nothing and has no surface friction with the tiny bead of molten solder, so it instantly moved on me.

After some re-approaching of the problem, I got the part securely attached. Checked continuity, everything looked good! Lid back on. Connected it to network analyzer, and everything did NOT look good. 20+ dB gain above about 200 MHz. The whole 10-200 MHz output level was badly attenuated, and there were strange artifacts in the low end of the spectrum. Removed the inductor and everything returned to normal. Posted a note to the designer over on and am awaiting a response. 10 uH at 100 MHz is 6k  ohms impedance, so it should be fine. The LNA was drawing its typical current (~ 160 mA).

Took another identical  inductor and pressed it down on the pads with a plastic tuning stick, and did exactly the same thing as soon as it made contact. There’s something about that output circuit that doesn’t like the chip inductor.



Adding a ground plane to attach the LNA

Found some 30-year-old double sided copper perf board, cut a small piece to support the LNA in the box. Will solder the LNA to the perf board to mechanically support it and to provide a rock-solid electrical ground plane. Not sure it’s necessary but it looks better!

Pilot holes for connectors drilled. Maybe this time I’m closer…

A *while* later… had to notch out the circuitboard a little bit to allow me to get it in with the connectors already in place. Does appear solid and substantial.

Next, how trim down the LNA board to fit. See you soon!

Filter in a die-cast box Part Duex

Well, the TNC-M bulkhead pigtails that I’d received from a buddy of mine were great, but more sensitive to stripping stress than I’d considered. I suspected that I’d possibly damaged one last weekend while preparing the end – pays to have a very sharp wire stripper that grabs the insulation fully and doesn’t touch the copper.

Anyway, appears that I stressed one of the two coaxes enough that it’s officially intermittent with temperature, and has now at least a 20 dB signal loss over it’s performance last Sunday. Se la vie – I will repair it tomorrow.

Update: 10DEC16

Replaced damaged TNC pigtail with a new one. Discovered also that a TNC-f to TNC-f adapter was marginal, and replaced that with another cable I found in the garage. Everything is working well now!