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 Southern Arizona in late summer--Monsoon is forming, the Saguaro Cacti are blooming, and some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Picacho peak is in the background.

       "SOTA -- Where Every Day is Field Day!"


Howdy! My name is Jim Olson and have been a Ham since about 1982. My first call as a Novice was KA7UMT. I unfortunately forgot the call of the extremely nice Ham who administered my Novice exam in his home in Phoenix. If he finds this, please contact me!

Anyway, I currently live just north of Tucson, Arizona, USA. I grew up hating the heat but a brief stint back east for school changed my mind! I work as a Family Physician on the Sells Indian Reservation west of Tucson. Both my wife Tamiko and I have been there since 1997 and absolutely love it. I have two great kids. Brad who is in the Marine Infantry, and Allie who is a student at Arizona State.

My Ham interests are mainly SOTA QRP, running 5-10 watts from an Elecraft KX3 into an "inverted V" dipole up about 20 feet. I also have an M2 tribander on a 40-foot tower at a cabin in Parks, AZ (west of Flagstaff).  At 7200 feet 100W seems to break through any pileup I encounter.   Both Tami and I are really having fun with SOTA, trying to activate lots of peaks in our area. 

I am an avid cyclist, riding almost exclusively recumbents. Hiking around the Sonoran Desert as well as in the Kaibab Forest is a blast. I ride a Harley-Davidson as well as a BMW motorcycle, and hope to add more as I find space in my garage!  We are in the process of adjusting to our lives now that our kids are grown.

I LOVE to get QSL cards! Please send one if you are able!



3/2013: Wasson Peak SOTA; my dipole strung on two hiking sticks seemed to work OK.


SOTA on "Tortolita's Better" peak, 3/29/2014.  I'm right next to a 300' drop! Tami almost stepped on a rattlesnake on this trip.  Because of this near-miss, I ordered two pairs of "snake gaiters" to help prevent a bite on future "bushwacking" adventures.  Envenomation would require search/rescue evacuation and no guarantee of a good outcome.  I also carry a "personal locator beacon" to summon help if we are really deep in the wild.

SOTA on Pusch Peak 4/6/2014. Tried elevating the feedpoint of my dipole to make an inverted "V".  I think it worked better.  Got lots of stares by people on the trail looking at me haul a bamboo fishing pole up a mountain when there is no water for miles!

Here's Golden Gate mountain on our 4/12/14 SOTA.  This is the view from the parking lot (the edge of my 2000 BMW R1150GS motorcycle is in the corner).  The hike is a treacherous "bushwack" any way you can.  This was a tough 4 points!

Above is Picacho Peak on our 4/19/14 SOTA.  This is a fun hike up an exposed rocky pinnacle. The park service strung cables so you can haul yourself up.  Drizzle and wind limited our time up there but it was a blast!  Static crashes on the radio made me think of getting struck by lightning --- we made our contacts, pulled down the wires, and got out of there fast!

Here I am heading up Mt Wrightson SOTA on 4/23/14.  From desert to pines at 9500 feet over 6 miles.  Very windy at the top but my inverted V bamboo fishing pole held strong!  Thats a GPS on my chest.  I also have a GPS watch on my wrist.  I hate getting lost.  Been there and done that!

Above is an "action photo" of me on Tumamoc Hill SOTA 4/27/14.  This hike is very easy...1.5mi up a paved path in the middle of town.  We needed a rest after Mt Wrightson.

My son, Brad, is in the Marine Infantry and just deployed on the USS Makin Island.  While we are playing with our radios and working, and our society is pushing the ethical boundries of behaviour, and our politicians are bickering, my son and his peers are defending our freedom and ability to do all of the above.  Thanks, Brad.  Godspeed.


Just finished activation of local Mt. Lemmon and Mt Bigelow.  Both 10-pointers but nearly drive-ups.  On both days I encountered contests...made activating quite easy.  We took the time to hike the local area before setting up.  Above is what I see on the trail...my wife, Tami leading and our little dog Mochi (mow-chee), a "teacup" Australian Shepherd,  never much more than 24 inches off her heel.  This is on Mt. Lemmon...walking through a beautiful meadow created by a large fire a few years back.  If you factor in miles walked and leg length, I'm sure Mochi has set some sort of world record.  We just have to watch for birds of prey.

Here I am on Spitz Hill, 10/10/2014...Mochi's 4th birthday!  W7USA had spelled his call out on top with rocks...he/she was a previous activator.  This was an easy 10 points.  A very remote hill but a quad can put you within a mile of the top.  We tried Fortynine hill the next day but were turned back...I had underestimated the difficulty of the hike and the peak had lots of sheer cliffs near the summit.  I didn't have my GPS (!)  and know that getting up these can be a lot easier than getting down.  You can spend a long time following a likely path down only to encounter an impassable cliff and have to turn around and try again.  A GPS solves this...at least you can backtrack your exact route if needed.  In the forest I found this especially true because the trees eliminate any visual clues (I'm used to the desert!).  Better to try when fully equipped.  This is the first time I forgot my GPS.

11/16/2014: Tortolita's Better W7A/PE-055

This is a picture of Tami taking a picture of me.  She is also serving as my logger and as my antenna support!  I forgot my twinlead feedline so had to hook the dipole legs directly to my KX3.  The best SWR I could achieve with one leg near the ground was 25:1.  Tami had the idea of holding it up...it is strung over her left shoulder.  This brought the SWR down to 2:1 and the band lit up!  This hike was a classic desert bushwack up a steep remote mountain.  We had to quad to the base.  As usual in southern Arizona, we could hear gunfire all around us.  Recreational shooters getting some practice in.


This is the view from Keystone Peak, W7A/AW-036 on 11/23/2014

The top is a mishmash of (what look like) microwave repeaters.  Zero interference on my KX3, unlike the commercial broadcast towers on Mt. Lemmon.  The hike was a 8mi round-trip up a service road.  The whole peak is privately owned but the owners graciously allow outsiders like me and Tami use it without hassle.  

This is a panorama on Wasson peak, W7A/PE-052 on 1/4/2015.  

The first of the year means we can repeat all previous activations!  Yahoo!  That white stuff is snow in the desert.  Mochi (the dog) liked to stop and eat it.  It is so rare here that it is a big deal.  At least no snakes in the snow!  A beautiful hike.  Highly recommended hike if you can make it to Tucson!



6164963 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:20:35, 9487 bytes

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