Best Six Meter Contest I Ever Worked — July 2006


   Had some time this weekend to relive the best 6 meter contest I was ever in.  (I started working on 6 and contesting in summer 2003 and winter 2004, respectively) 

    This contest was the CQ WW VHF contest on July 15-16, 2006.  This particular contest is a lot of fun, and sometimes non-contesters enjoy it more because it’s 6 and 2 meters only. 

   I ended up working 600 Q’s on 6 meters, in 170 different grids.  This was all in 24 hours.  Nope, I didn’t sleep that night.  6 was open with Eskip for about 15-16 hours of the whole time.  When the Eskip shut down overnight, there was still fabulous tropo, because it was so stinking hot.  I worked guys out to 200-400 miles on both 6 and 2 all night long.   Grids in MN, Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa I’ll not get any other way. 

   At one point, we had a fairly good roundtable going on 146.55 FM simplex.  This was about midnight-2am.  Had a guy from the NWS office in Minneapolis (Chanhassen) who was on Skywarn duty in case storms from the Dakotas got nasty.  Had other guys from Burlington, IA; Terre Haute, IN; and a few I forget now.  But the band was that good.  Nobody had more than a vertical or small beam, and 50-100 watts on FM.   We couldn’t believe it.  Must have worked a few dozen FM contacts on 146, in addition to the normal SSB activity. 

   But the true buzz was 6 on both Sat. aft/eve. and again on Sunday, from about 7am right into the afternoon. 

   After 2-3 years of playing on 6, I knew it could get this busy, but I hadn’t had it happen during a contest.  So I was really ready to take advantage.  It was tough finding (and holding) a clear freq. but I did my best.  I didn’t want to be caught playing search and pounce; I wanted the stations to come to me. 

   Initially, I was worried about where to properly point the 5 element beam.  I quickly realized the band was so wide-open that I was better off just switching to a pair of omni-loops on the side of the tower.  For hours, I worked 40, 50, 70 stations per hour on 6 meters.   Didn’t even worry about beam headings — just call CQ or QRZ and work the pileup. 
   I’d work guys from NY/MA/NJ/PA, and then just as quickly have callers from TX/AZ/KS/MO — you name it.  The band was really open across the whole country.   Skip got really short on 6, too.  As short as I’ve ever heard it.  Typical Eskip on 6 meters is in the 800-1200 mile range.  (if you can ever say that Eskip is typical — there’s a lot more to it.)  But I was working guys in OH and KS/MO, with S9+ signals, at times.  
   With skip being short on 6, I was super-alert to the possibility of rare Eskip on 2 meters, but I never heard any.  I’m sure other guys did find joy on 144.  More about how that works in my next post.  I’ve worked into FLA and TX on 144, but I got lucky and was there at the right time. 

     So anyway, back to this July 2006 contest — believe me, the time just flew by.  There were stations to work the entire length of the contest, even all night.   Easy to stay up all night when the fireworks just keep on igniting. 

   About 1-2 the next afternoon, my wife just came out to the shed smiling… “You forgot all about that birthday party with the band today, didn’t you?”   I just grinned and said, “Oh gosh!  Pretty much, yep.”   Then I looked at the computer logging program (N3FJP) and saw that coincidentally, it showed I had just worked my 600th contact on 6 meters.   True story.  The band was quieting down, and I figured that 600 Q’s on 6 meters was most appropriate.   Good time to pull the plug. 

   I showed this to my wife, and said, “well, we’d better get going to that party, because if I go to sleep, it’s going to be for a long time.”   I got cleaned up, she took the keys and off we went.  It was a great party, too.    Good band, good company, good cold beverages.   Even had some cool friends who let me babble about the contest for a few minutes before they found someone else to talk to, hihi.  By the time we left about 8:30pm, I was pretty well out on my feet. 

   I remember her saying on the way home, “what’s the matter with the FM car radio?  I can’t get anything in clearly.”  It was still about 90 degrees, and plenty humid.  I came to a little bit, tuned around and realized the tropo opening was clearly affecting FM broadcast, too.   I must have gotten that “the band’s open”  look to me.  
   She looked at me and said, “You’re going to go out in the shed and work more DX when we get home, aren’t you?”  I laughed and said, “No way, I’m just too beat.  Wish I could, but I’ll have to pass.” 

   I’m not telling you that every summer VHF/UHF contest is that good, but every couple of years, 6 opens up and it becomes crazy fun.  I had to miss a June ARRL contest one year (2005 or 2006) because of a family wedding, and that one was also big-time.  Several fellows worked over 1000 Q’s on 6, alone.   This isn’t even accounting for the good tropo openings where you will work down into TX/OK/AR/TN on 144, 222 and 432.  That’s a different mode, but equally thrilling. 

   I figured I’d better make this post because even if you don’t care, I will be glad someday that I put the memories down in print.  That July 2006 CQ WW VHF Contest was an absolute blast! 

   Who else has great contest stories?  Leave them in the comments section.  It would be a fun thread to add to.

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