Rover Location Database

North Point CN78xc
July 22-23, 2021

Route to North Point

On July 24-26, I activated North Point Lookout CN78xb10 as a shakedown cruise for the new rover vehicle. This is my trip report.

Boarding the ferry at Edmonds, WA

North Point is nearby and scenic, has relatively cool weather, and isn’t burning hot or on fire like Eastern Washington. It’s a half day drive just past Lake Crescent with a pleasant ferry ride. I visited here a few years ago and knew what to expect.

Valley seen from North Point

Although North Point Lookout is "close," only 82 miles from home as the crow flies, it’s at least a 4-hour drive. On the Seattle side, there’s up to an hour waiting for and riding the Edmonds-Kingston ferry. At the far end where you leave the highway, there’s an hour crawling up an unmaintained narrow forest service road to the ridge.

Parking area and pit toilet

Technically speaking, my site is properly called "Kloshe Nanitch Lookout" and nearby on the same ridge is “North Point”. It’s easier to say and spell North Point so that’s what I’ll go with here.

Barry's porch light at North Point

Busy? No. The site had 2 or 3 visitors each day. One of them was a local who said that only locals visit. Another visitor was a pair of hikers: a flabby guy with a chubby wife, who hiked up the trail from the Klahowya Campground below. They murmured it was a little steep here and there. Goodness, it’s a four-mile hike that gains 3,000 feet: "a little steep" is a drastic understatement.

By the way, there’s a pit toilet, one of the more attractive features, actually. I will only say that one time I visited a remote ridge and a toilet was urgently needed but none were within miles. Enough said. Except to point out there are many good reasons to bring a shovel.

One guy parked and went hiking with his two kids. I got a bit concerned when the sun was going down and they hadn’t returned yet. So I turned on the "porch light" in case it’d help them find their way. All was well; they got back before it was too dark.

Upfitting the Sprinter van with smart floor system

This year I replaced my trusty old 4Runner with a diesel 4x4 Sprinter van, outfitted to be either an empty cargo van with L-track tie-downs, or a very basic camper van and radio rover. I built things that would be tested this trip: roof rack, upper mast mount, trailer hitch adapter with swivel, desk workspace, dashboard electronics, a bed platform, and more.

I call it “Motel 5.” It’s not nearly as swank and luxurious as a Motel 6.

Barry's porch light at North Point

One of the features I’ve worked on at length is the mast mounting system. I adapted my trailer-hitch tilting hardware from my 4Runner (which could be mounted in only two positions) to be on a swivel so it can tilt over in any direction for antenna assembly. There’s a built-in conflict: I always try to park as closely as possible to a drop-off and this always results in limited choices for space to work. At North Point, the swivel let me turn 45 degrees and extend the mast over the top of a picnic table. Winner.

Upper mast mounting system

I’m trying to eliminate guy ropes and so I built an upper mast anchoring system. This van is tall enough to provide good support, if I can make it work. So now there’s a MacGuyvered roof rack out of Unistrut and scrap lumber and quickie clamps. As a bonus, it looks like a whale tail wing for extra down-force and improved cornering, amiright? It worked brilliantly on this trip, although there was never any wind to speak of.

Barry K7BWH at North Point

I made 100 contacts in about 48 hours on site. The vast majority were local around the PNW. There were a dozen contacts in the Southwest around CA, AZ and NM. Although I had planned to stay only one day and move to CN77 the second day, I remained at North Point CN78 on both days in the hope of having a good skip opening. No luck. The skip season is over. Although I knew of five dozen grid chasers looking for CN78, I made only 5 contacts by E-skip and zero contacts by double-hop skip. That’s okay, I guess, since my main goal was to work the kinks out of the van’s setup.

Meteor scatter 50.260 on the IC-9100

Two dozen contacts were by meteor scatter and MSK regularly got me 700-900 miles. This worked well even with my "low power" 100w station during the Perseids meteor shower.

It was fun to work:

  • Edmonds club members: WA7BRL, N7PHY, KJ7BXA, W7NP.
  • And to work many PNWVHFS members: KG7P, AI9Q, WA7SMZ, K0JJ, N7KSI, AL1VE, K7CW, W7FI, W7GLF, W7YOZ, K7MDL, WA7ZWG, VE7AFZ, VE7DAY, K7TM, and more.
  • Furthest contact was WD5COV in DM62, David in New Mexico.
  • Longest time to complete a contact was 51 minutes to Vlad K6VVP via meteor scatter, CM87 San Francisco.
Towel hanging over window to cut down heat

Problems?

  • I need window covers. Not for privacy but to block strong sunlight and reduce heat buildup.
  • This trip was barefoot IC-9100 at 100 watts. If I had more transmit power, it would’ve helped with a few key contacts. (It would not have helped with skip.)
  • I own a good KW amp but it wasn’t ready in time for this trip. There were instances where I could hear a station in my very low noise environment, but they could not hear me. This is especially true in meteor scatter, where an extra 9 dB transmit power would’ve let me exploit more of the marginal meteors.
  • I need running board steps. The 4x4 Sprinter van is lifted and it’s a very big step up.

It was a great trip. Lots of things worked really well. See you from somewhere else next time!

73 Barry K7BWH

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