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Author Topic: High Altitude Campground in CA....  (Read 621 times)
AJ6MA
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« on: August 20, 2019, 02:15:10 AM »

Does anyone know an RV campground with a clear view of wide open area on a high altitude around Yosemite, Tahoe etc. Within 200-300 mile radius of San Jose?Huh
Thanks,
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73, AJ6MA
Jim
AJ6MA
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2019, 12:27:45 AM »

Seriously???
216 people read the question and nobody ever camped in a tent or RV at a campsite located at a high altitude location with a wide open view in CA?

Or at least NOT even driven by one thinking this could be a good DX spot? Wow!

Yosemite or Sequoia areas or on the cliffs of the Big Sur or at Mendocino coast, or even like Big Bear areas I thought somebody here at Mobile Forum may have some info on this issue.

Hmmm, I see my next mission.  Wink

Wait for High Altitude RV Camping for DX'ers by KI6HYC in 2020 !!!

The huge amount of $$$$ I am going to make from that guide book may be the payment for IC-705 in March/April 2020!  Grin
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73, AJ6MA
Jim
AF7JA
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2019, 07:56:20 AM »

I am thinking of the area out of Red Bluff, but there is no campground on the ridge overlooking the Valley, it is just open Federal land.
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AJ6MA
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2019, 11:55:16 AM »

I am thinking of the area out of Red Bluff, but there is no campground on the ridge overlooking the Valley, it is just open Federal land.

That could work. At least for 5-6 hrs of camping stop to make some connections, as long as roads are not too rough to access without a 4 wheeler.
I've been to some BLM areas in the past that fits my search criteria now but it as for totally different reason and with a smaller SUV.
I will never go to that road with a 22 ft Van.

Thank you for the response!
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73, AJ6MA
Jim
WB6BYU
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2019, 02:57:00 PM »

I camped out on the side of an old volcanic peak East of Silver Lake once for the California QSO
Party, as it was right on the Alpine / Amador county line.  But I got there on foot, so that probably
won't help you much.

Altitude itself doesn't really help you much.  What is more important is the local terrain, particularly
having the ground slope down in the desired direction.  If you have a flat-topped hill where you can
park, the best location for your antenna is probably some distance down the hill from the top.
At a minimum you want your antennas close enough to the edge of the slope so the downward
wave from the antenna misses the local ground - my rule of thumb is that the distance to the edge
of the slope should be not more than twice the height of the antenna.

This may mean that a turnout on the side of a road where it snakes along a slope may give better
results than camping up at the top of the hill, if that is a fairly flat area.  (I remember a lot of CB
operators operating from the hills near Castle Rock State Park and along Skyline Blvd. when
conditions were good, back in the 1970s.

I remember driving up into the Santa Cruz Mountains, pulling off in a wide spot in the road, hooking
a 15m J-pole over a tree branch, and being surprised what I could hear (though the bands were
better shape in those days.)

We had one Field Day site here in Oregon that was a big flat parking area with a steep slope dropping
off to the East for 1000' or so.  Antennas close to that edge certainly worked better than those
further back (where vehicles were allowed to park).  You don't even need that much of a drop-off
to get good propagation - a few hundred feet can be enough.  And it doesn't matter that much
if there is a second ridge a couple miles in the desired direction, as long as radiation at the
desired angle will clear it.

You do have to pay attention to the slope angle. The HF Terrain Analyzer (HFTA) software package is
a big help for evaluating sites and determining the optimum antenna height.  A friend who lives on
the side of a hill put up his 20m beam at 140' and it worked very poorly:  turns out that, with his
ground slope, the optimum height was about 55'.  He stuck it on a short mast on top of his barn
and it worked much better.


That opens up a lot more area for a suitable site for you, since just about any reasonable hill can work.
There should be lots of good operating sites in the Coast Range between, say, San Luis Obispo and
Fort Bragg.  Finding one with a camping site may be more of a challenge, but you might start with a
list of campgrounds and check them out on Google Maps (with the "terrain" feature turned on).
In the Sierras there may be Forest Service roads where you can just pull off the road in a convenient spot.

You might also see if there is a program for renting out old fire lookouts for a weekend.  There are some
here in Oregon, as most have been decommissioned, and a couple appear to be popular sites for VHF
contests.


The other way to improve your signal, of course, is to use a vertical antenna over saltwater.  Ideally
this would be on a pier, so the salt water comes entirely under the antenna.  If you operate from a
beach, you probably need your antenna close enough to the water to get wet occasionally from the
spray.  I remember some coves along the coast going up Highway 1 where something like a bobtail
curtain could be stretched between the cliffs on either side of a small beach.  An aluminum boat in
a bay would also give you a good ground connection, and it wouldn't take too much of a vertical to
get good results.  (A wire supported by a kite is a possibility for the lower bands.) 


And, on the other hand, if you can get an antenna high in the trees, you can get out well even without
altitude or ground slope.  There are lots of campgrounds in California surrounded by pines, firs, redwoods,
and other tall trees.  I can toss a rope up 50 - 60' or so by hand, and a pneumatic antenna launcher
can get you up to 100' or more.  That's a lot easier than trying to haul along a temporary support that
will go that high, and you may be amazed how much better antennas work at that height.


The world has changed too much since I lived in San Jose for me to remember good operating locations.
But if you spend some time browsing the online maps with the terrain feature enabled, you should be
able to find any number of locations, some of which may be closer to you than you were expecting.
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AJ6MA
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2019, 01:59:46 AM »

Thank you dale, WB6BYU...

Actually I have a 60 ft Aluminum hull boat but unfortunately it is for business and runs on a daily basis with up to 50 people on it. Otherwise it'll be great to put a vertical on top of it and and blast around.

I think I'll rather do road stops at the edge of those cliffs overlooking the ocean and then after I exhaust my batteries I'll proceed to nearest RV campground to re-charge myself and my batteries, then next day repeat the road trip and road stop at some other favorable location.

Thank you for recommending HFTA. Wasn't aware such a thing exist.

Appreciated!
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73, AJ6MA
Jim
WB6BYU
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2019, 08:11:08 AM »

If you are fairly high above the ocean (as is the case on some scenic parts
of Highway 1) then horizontal polarization may be better than vertical.

If you don't have convenient trees, then a telescoping fiberglass mast will
allow you to try either a dipole or a vertical and compare them.  You don't
need a lot of height on the edge of a cliff, as long as you are close enough
to the edge.   

You'll just have to experiment and see what works best for you.
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WA8NVW
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Posts: 97




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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2019, 09:19:07 PM »

You might want to acquaint yourself with the adventures of some hardy amateur radio operators called Summits On The Air, or SOTA.  You'll find that most summits are only activated by hiking in and there are no facilities for camping, much less access by motorhomes. 
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AJ6MA
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2019, 09:25:52 PM »

You might want to acquaint yourself with the adventures of some hardy amateur radio operators called Summits On The Air, or SOTA.  You'll find that most summits are only activated by hiking in and there are no facilities for camping, much less access by motorhomes. 

I agree and I checked hem out but due to my age and COPD if I hike with them my first adventure will be also my last one. So I gave up.
 I am looking easy to lazy style of communications.

Not more than 50 ft of my RV and with full AC power and etc, to jiggle the whole world!
If you know what I mean Wink
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73, AJ6MA
Jim
AJ6MA
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2019, 09:29:05 PM »

One question.
Imagine I pulled out to a turn area on Highway 1 at Big Sur.
I am about 100 ft of the sea level.
I'll stop a dipole for 40/20 & 10m bands.
Do I have to set it up parallel to the shoreline or perpendicular?
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73, AJ6MA
Jim
WB6BYU
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2019, 09:32:56 PM »

Depends where you want to talk to, and there the convenient supports are.

But a more practical answer would be, "parallel to the road", because that is the only way it
will fit unless you find a very wide turnout!

Actually, right at Big Sur proper the road is too far inland - half a mile or so.  But it looks like
there would be a number of options between, say, Hurricane Point and the Little Sur River, as
well as from around Nepenthe to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
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