Archive for June, 2012

Big Night for WB9LYH and 144.240 Net

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

   3pm Thursday —
   Busy day for me with the markets.  Let’s get this net report out before something else distracts me. 

   K8GDT had 5 check-ins with his 144.252 net.  N8WNA EN82;  K8MM EN83;  WB8AUK EN80;  NF8O EN91 and KD8DJE EM89. 
   The fireworks were off to the west and southwest, and the 144.240 net sure took advantage of it.  WB9LYH says these were probably the best conditions we’ve had to the southwest on a net night in the 4 years we’ve been on.  As an added bonus, Mark was even able to check into the Dallas/Ft. Worth net on 144.250, after he closed up with the .240 net.  EN54>EM13 is some very nice DX on 2m SSB!   WB9LYH had a very enjoyable night.  Mark thanks everyone for the activity.  Without signals, nobody has fun. 
    Mark’s 18 check-ins were:  W8MIL EN74;  N9OLT EN64;  N8WNA EN82;  WB8AUK EN80;  W0FAY EN42;  N0EDV EN45;  N0IGZ EM27;  AB0YY, KD0FEI, N0IRS and KC0PTM EM29;  WA9BNZ EN40;  KG0SJ and WB0YNA EN22;  WV9E EN43;  KA0KYZ EN33;  WQ0P EM19 and WB0DBQ EN46. 
    I see a number of new calls to the net.  N0IGZ, KC0PTM and WQ0P all made the trip from Kansas.  Want you KS guys to know that WB9LYH can work into KC metro *anytime* even with flat bands.  So those of you in NE and KS, MO, plus the Dakotas, come on in any Wednesday.  
    Except next Wednesday, LOL.   Next Wed. is July 4th, and both nets will be OFF.   Happy 4th of July to everyone. 
    As of now, plan on WB9LYH 144.240 and K8GDT 144.252 on Wed., July 11th.   Again, nets will be OFF for Independence Day.

ON4KST.Com VHF/UHF Chat + 144 MHz Prop Logger

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

   2pm Tuesday — 
   Both of the websites I’m about to share may help you make more on-air contacts. 
   Back in March of 2010, ON4KST was kind enough to create a free, easy-to-use chat room where North American V/UHF’ers can hang out, announce where they are pointing their yagis,  and see who else others are working.  Plus you can talk rigs, antennas, accessories, you name it.  
   It’s the IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432 MHz, located at
   By now, well over 3000 of you have registered.  I enjoyed spending a little time in there today, choosing the “chat review” feature from the extensive drop-down menu.  By reviewing a few day’s worth of chat, I was able to see some very nice DX contacts were made last night and this morning on 144, 222, 432, 1296, 2304 and 3456 MHz.  Contacts I wouldn’t know about otherwise.   If you have internet and a computer near your rigs, I’d check this out and see if it’s for you.  You are under no pressure to chat; there are plenty who simply observe in the background.   But I encourage you to at least post where your CQ’ing and who you are working. 
   Here’s my post with the 7 simple steps to get signed up for the ham chat rooms.  

   Some still use the older and simpler 144 MHz Propagation Logger.  No registration needed, and very easy to use.

WB9LYH 144.240 and K8GDT 144.252 Nets ON Wed. Night

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

   9am Tuesday —
   We have a pair of long-range nets tomorrow night.  How much band enhancement will there be? 

   K8GDT continues to fill in for K8TQK.  Gerry gets on 144.252 at 0030Z/8:30pm eastern from EN91bf, just south of Cleveland.  He starts out calling CQ to his north, then gradually goes clockwise a full 360 over the next 45-60 mins, give or take activity levels.   

   WB9LYH will be on 144.240, starting at 0100Z/8pm central, from EN54cl, right in the middle of WI.  Mark starts by calling CQ to his NE, then goes clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so.  WB9LYH has stacked 17B2’s and 500w from a ridgetop QTH.  He’s probably the easiest EN54 you can work on 2m. 
    Both our net controls enjoy DX check-ins.  We appreciate you spreading the word about our Wed. nets to a multi-state circle.   The most enjoyable nights are where conditions are good AND we have stations from 300, 400, 500 miles or more who are pushing the propagation limits.

    EDIT, EDIT — 9:45pm Wednesday —
    Next Wednesday will be July 4th.  As such, the nets will be OFF next Wed., July 4th.

N4PZ 432.280 and 1296.274 Beacons ON from EN52gb

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

   8:30am Tuesday —
  This is a follow up to a June 15th post.  After some tweaking, N4PZ has his new beacons back on the air.  The 1296.274 beacon is 10w split into a pair of 12′ long loop yagis.  One is pointed NW toward the Twin Cities (MSP/STP) and the other SW toward KS City. 
   The 432.280 beacon is using 100w, so that baby should get out a long ways.  
   The beacons are located in EN52gb, or about a half hour WSW of Rockford, IL (N Central part of IL).

2nd Day of Great Propagation in The Plains. Are You Working New Stations and Grids?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

    6:45am Tuesday —
   Band conditions have really been heating up on 2m and higher.  I’m talking from roughly the Mississippi River and WEST.   I don’t think a lot of guys/gals are aware of this.  It’s likely the bands are going to stay good, what with all the hot weather building.   That weather is going to expand over the next several days, and I imagine band openings will become even more widespread. 
   A VHF’ers checklist should read something like this:
   1)  Call CQ in all directions on or near 144.200 whenever near the rigs.  Take 5-10 minutes to make short CQ’s about every 20-40 degrees, once around the compass.  If the band sounds busy, spread out 10-20 kc.  Also, don’t get in the habit of staying glued to 144.200.  There’s usable spectrum from 144.150-160 up to about 144.260, if it’s truly busy.  
   2)  Check between 144.270-144.300 for beacons.  A ham in EN44, Eau Claire WI area reported hearing the DN84 Western South Dakota beacon yesterday morning, for several hours.   Apparently that beacon is on 144.300.   
   3)  If you have higher bands like 222, 432, 902/3 and/or 1296, by all means, have them fired up and ready to go.  You may actually catch some random activity on those bands, in an opening.   I’d put most of my emphasis on 2m, and then ask fellows I find there if they want to run the higher bands.  BUT… surely not a bad idea to at least call a few CQ’s on 222.100 and 432.100. 
   4)  Get in the habit of checking these two websites for potential openings:    shows real-time conditions on 2m, based on APRS spots from various places across the USA.   This map has been lit up with red over much of the Plains for the past 36 hours, from what I’ve read and seen.   I know it is this morning.  The APRS map is very handy but don’t let it make decisions for you.  By that I mean, there is no substitute for taking time to call CQ in all directions, to directly verify what the band is like.   When you get in the habit of calling or monitoring nets 52 weeks a year, you start to learn from first-hand experience that the bands have subtle surprises every now and again.  Even when it didn’t “look” like there was enhancement.  Fellows who run daily skeds with distant stations have learned this, too.  Is known as the Hepburn Tropo Forecasts.  It is one man’s effort to make “weather maps” (so to speak) of what he feels the forecasted tropo conditions will be.  Many will debate the effectiveness of these forecasts.  Just like with weather forecasts.  If you start seeing a trend toward more and brighter colors, chances are that the bands are going to be above average in and around the colors, and quite possibly, you will have a major opening when things get into the yellow/orange category.  Odds are the best conditions will be from the evening into the early/mid morning hours.  Seems like many hams go to sleep early, and the late evening openings are rarely exploited.  The most activity will be in the mornings.   The days where the bands stay hot all day are telling you that there’s a very strong opening in progress, one that could last for several days or more, assuming the weather pattern stays “stuck”.   
    The Hepburn maps update every day in the early afternoon.  As someone who’s followed weather all my life, I like to try and see how the forecast changes from day to day.  If it keeps improving, that’s a good trend.  In the northern states, mid-late summer into fall is the time of year where we’re most likely to have tropo openings that lead to 400-1200 mile contacts on 144 MHz SSB/CW.   That is not an absolute.  There was a great opening from the Midwest to New England and the mid-Atlantic in January 2010.  The Hepburn maps sold that one short, which I wouldn’t have remembered unless I used my own archives — 

      I’m going to turn on the bold print once again…
     20-30 years ago, there was no internet and there was a ton more activity on the SSB/CW portions of bands like 144, 222 and 432 MHz.  The cure for dead bands is NOT “just listening”, nor is it “waiting for the internet maps to tell you the band is open”.   
You can watch the Hepburn maps, watch the APRS real-time map all you want, but if nobody’s CQ’ing, NOTHING is going to happen. 
     I know by now, from running and promoting nets for 4 years that there are still many more weak-signal V/U stations on than I ever would have guessed.  I mean HUNDREDS.   There’s way more than I ever realized.  And that’s not including the guys who only get on for contests or big band openings.   The problem is that out of those hundreds of stations, I doubt more than 20% are on the air even a half hour a week.   So a lot of times, great openings go to waste.

Who Needs to be Added to the Weekly Email Reminders?

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

   7:15 am Thursday — 
   I’m making this post in hopes that many of you will send me the calls and email addresses of hams who need/want reminders to get on the air more often.  I’ll get specific about that in a bit.  If you’re in a hurry, skip to the bold print at the very bottom. 
   First a little background…
   When I started these nets on my own back in June of 2008, I knew I’d have to reach out to a lot of hams somehow.  Why?  Because I wanted many hams to know that we were going to make Wednesdays a lot more active.  Plus if I have a net where I keep getting the same 3-4 check-ins, then I’m going to quickly grow bored.  
    Check out this post of mine from March 3, 2010 if you want to see how heavily I emailed for 2-3 years, in an effort to raise V/UHF awareness:   
    By now, I’ve phased out 80% of those groups.  I figure that they now can visit the website, plus to be honest, in most of those groups, I was only really connecting with a small handful of hams.  I asked those hams to email me personally, and I’d add them to a hand-crafted email list of my own.  
    At this time, I have 3 email lists.  1) is called MI/OH/IN and can include anyone to the SE of WI.  2) is called Midwest and Plains and that’s basically anyone to the SW, W or NW of WI.  3) is WI VHF’ers and those hams are closer to home, obviously. 

    Email goes out to about 170 hams, total.  I wish everyone would simply visit the website once or twice a week, but I know that’s not going to happen with 100% compliance.  So I email every Tuesday or Wednesday, reminding about the nets, and around V/U contests, I also send out a little bit of rah-rah, to get the ball rolling there.  (Remember my first love is V/UHF contesting.) 

     WHAT I’D LIKE FOR YOU TO DO IS THIS:  If you think there are hams who would enjoy the weekly emails, please send me their calls and email addresses.  You can send this to  sprinkies (at) excel (dot) net.   That’s my email.  
     The purpose of getting them on the email list would be to a) get them to get on the air more often and/or b) get them familiar with an aspect of ham radio that few know about — making DX-type contacts of several hundred miles on the SSB/CW portions of V/UHF any old time. 
     This also works the other way.  If you would like to be dropped from the weekly emails, just let me know, no hard feelings at all.   If you’re a frequent visitor to, the emails are redundant anyway.
     What’s our geographical range with this request?  Draw a 500-mile circle around our two net controls QTH’s.  Talking EN54cl with WB9LYH or right in the middle of WI.  Talking EM89je or south-central OH with K8TQK, who is getting some station problems ironed out.  500 mile circles around those fellows covers a LOT of territory.

Net Reports — Very Light Activity Last Night

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

   6:30am Thursday —
   If you want to get right to the net reports, skip the next two paragraphs. 

   You’d think this cat cruising around my legs was going to starve to death.  Every morning… the same old thing.   There’s a lot of fun things going for Chloe the big grey cat; wouldn’t trade her in for anything.   One of her best routines is when she will fetch a ball that she plays with, and drop it by us, to let us know to roll it around for her.  Whereupon she will push the ball back to you, like she’s an infielder.  But man, the morning “FEED ME, FEED ME!” routine gets tired.   Even tried an automatic feeder one time.  That lasted all of 24 hours.  She figured out that by a combination of trying to bite the corner of it, plus rocking it with her paws, she could get it to dispense one or two kibbles, with enough vibration.  You can imagine what sounded like, ahem.  Gave the dumb feeder to the local humane society, but we kept Chloe.  🙂  

    Irritated that SE WI missed out on another rain.  While areas to our west and north are ready to build arks, we keep missing out.  Feast or famine, the past 5-6 weeks.   Right at our QTH, we’ve had basically 3.5″ of rain since the start of May.  And we got lucky with 1.15″ that fell early Monday morning — grateful for that.   Areas just to our south, more toward Milwaukee, missed most of that and are drier.  I also see on some drought maps that a swath from S MI and NW OH, down thru IN into IL are worse off.    (this is an interesting website for analyzing precip trends all across the USA   Lots of different ways to display and analyze the data, have fun with it.) 
     At least the 90’s have gone away and it will be cooler for the next week.  But it also looks like it will stay dry for another week, at least.    

     This is a VHF blog so we’ll get back on track here.  Last night was the lightest we’ve had in many months.  Hope we can change that next Wed. 
     WB9LYH with the 144.240 net from EN54cl had t-storms bearing down on him at net time.  Mark contacted N9OLT EN64 and K9CCL EN61 in the first 10 minutes, and then had to pull the plug by 8:15pm central. 
     K8GDT EN91bf (just south of Cleveland) had 5 check-ins that I saw via the real-time VHF chat.  They were:  KD8FHY and KC8YJB EN91;  N8WNA EN82;  KD8DJE EM89 and W9EWZ EN52.  I’m glad to see that someone else from WI/ILL supported K8GDT’s 144.252 net.  I’m able to work K8GDT at least 80-90% of the time, on a 350 mile path.  Yes, he’s several S-units lighter than K8TQK, but then again, just about *everyone* is. 

    I would plan on the same net controls for next Wed., June 27th.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we’ll start getting some of the tropo enhancement that summer’s supposed to bring.   

   Stand by for another post — want to see if we can expand the list of guys I email each week with net reminders.

K8GDT 144.252 and WB9LYH 144.240 Nets ON Wed. Night

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

  10am Tuesday —
   I am happy to confirm we have a pair of long-range nets tomorrow night. 
   K8GDT continues to fill in for K8TQK.  Gerry gets on 144.252 at 0030Z/8:30pm eastern from EN91bf, just south of Cleveland.  He starts out calling CQ to his north, then gradually goes clockwise a full 360 over the next 45-60 mins, give or take activity levels.   
   WB9LYH will be on 144.240, starting at 0100Z/8pm central, from EN54cl, right in the middle of WI.  Mark starts by calling CQ to his NE, then goes clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so.  WB9LYH has stacked 17B2?s and 500w from a ridgetop QTH.  He’s probably the easiest EN54 you can work on 2m. 
    Both our net controls enjoy DX check-ins.  We appreciate you spreading the word about our Wed. nets to a multi-state circle.   The most enjoyable nights are where conditions are good AND we have stations from 300, 400, 500 miles or more who are pushing the propagation limits.

Multiple Topics — Central States July 26-29, New Beacons, My Contest Wrap Up (129K) and KA1ZE’s Daily VHF Magazine (lol)

Friday, June 15th, 2012

    7:45am Friday —
   Want to get an outline-type post made.   It will look like a mess to some, but take your time and scan carefully for the details. 
   I may clean it up later, but I say that all the time, and the next thing I know, it’s Monday morning and I have no idea where the weekend went.   So here goes…

   Topics are: 
   1)  Central States VHF Society has their 46th annual conference in Cedar Rapids, IA this year.  It’s on July 26-29th.  I’ve been to the 2006 one in Minneapolis and the 2009 one in Elk Grove Village, IL (NW side of Chicago) and both of those were first-rate.  If you enjoy getting together with other V/UHF’ers, plus being able to watch a lot of technical presentations, accessing an antenna range, viewing many rover setups and browsing a V/UHF-oriented flea market, then you will enjoy this conference/convention. 
   An extra bonus for 2012 is that with Cedar Rapids being home to Rockwell Collins, that museum will be open on Sunday, July 29th, from 10am until roughly 2pm.  Think about that opportunity for a minute!  …
    Go here:  for the general Central States VHF Society website.  I became a life member back about 7 years ago.  You should consider joining as well. 
    To get specifically to the Conference info, go here:   Once you’re on that page, use the links on the left to find what you need.   Reserve your room soon as there is a big-deal bicycle race coming thru Cedar Rapids and a lot of hotel rooms will be used up for Thursday night, July 26th. 

   2)  There are some new 432 and 1296 beacons worth knowing about.
   EDIT, EDIT, EDIT… On the morning of June 16th, I have email where N4PZ says both his 432.280 and 1296.274 beacons are OFF the air until at least Saturday, June 23rd.  I’ll update if/when new info becomes available.   

   a)  N4PZ has installed a long-range 432 beacon at his EN52gb QTH, roughly 100 miles WNW of Chicago.  The beacon is on 432.280.  Why do I say “long-range”?  Because this sucker’s putting out 100w into a pair of Big Wheel omni loops (donated by N0IRS) up at 70′, fed with 1/2″ Heliax.   If you have signal reports, I guess you could leave them here, or maybe emailing N4PZ or N0IRS would be better.   N4PZ thinks this beacon should have 350 mile range.  Imagine what it will do during tropo openings!   Spread the word that it’s out there. 
   REMEMBER THAT N4PZ RUNS  MONDAY NIGHT 432.100 ACTIVITY.  Starts at  8pm central, and Steve uses 4 long yagis and a KW on 432.   Get on 432 and support this.  There are also opportunities to connect with other 432’ers across the net, so say hello.  I believe N4PZ’s pattern is to start out looking SW, and then he goes counter-clockwise from there.  Help spread the word.   If you’re within a 300-600 mile circle, it pays to know about this net, plus remember that there are stations checking in that help expand the circle even farther. 
   2b)  N4PZ also has a 1296.274 beacon at the 10w level, that is split between two loop yagis.  One is pointed at Minneapolis and the other at Kansas City.  Again, N4PZ’s QTH is EN52gb. 
   2c)  K8TQK reports there is now a 1296.080 beacon in EM79ur.  This is the W8KSE/B, and it runs 2 watts at 800′ agl. 
   2d)  I’m not trying to become a nationwide beacon list, but I’ll add this one, too. 
            N0YK has a new 1296.248 beacon from DM98ml, near Scott City, KS.  This is in the west-central part of KS.  It has 5 w ERP and an omni-directional pattern. 
             Always remember N0YK’s 144.288 beacon, which can be a great tropo indicator for those of us in the Great Lakes, looking for a path to the SW.   
   2e)   Right here in WI, we have an excellent beacon on 144.298.  WD9BGA/B runs 10w to a good omni antenna from a very high spot in EN53ba, which is about a half hour WSW of Madison, WI, in the SW part of WI.   This is considered to be one of the better beacons in the Midwest.  I know this because when it was off the air for some time, I had a lot of email asking me if it was ever going to be back on.   
           It’s been a while since I’ve put up a link to beacon listings… you want to save these…
    That’s for 144 and higher.  
          For 6 meters, use:
          In fact, that is a good link for V/UHF in general.   Lots of info in there.

     3)  My contest wrap up (with score and band-by-band counts) has been posted to the 3830 reflector.  My claimed score is in the 129K range.  My post is at this direct link: 
           What’s a 3830 reflector, you say?  I imagine that before the internet and email, contesters must have gotten on 3830 KHz and gabbed about how they had done.  Nowadays, they type a writeup to the 3830 list.  You can find the 3830 list by going to and looking down the links on the left.  Or you can go directly here: to view the public archives.  

    4)   Stan KA1ZE continues to outdo himself.  He is somehow publishing an issue of QST (but with the VHF slant we want!) every single day!   This past week, he’s been compiling dozens and dozens of VHF contesters’ stories at his daily newsletter.  It’s way more convenient and colorful than having to read all the individual entries at the 3830 reflector.   
           To view KA1ZE’s daily VHF newsletters (EASILY the best thing going in the entire USA) and to get involved with the 144.205 Morning Group (7 days a week, nationwide, from roughly 1100-1300Z or later) go to:

Net Reports — WB9LYH has 14 Check-ins and K8GDT 6

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

  8:15am Thursday

  Let’s get these net reports posted. 
  WB9LYH reported enhanced conditions to the SW, but with plenty of up and down signals.  KC was better than usual, and Topeka got into the game, which is exactly what we want.  More check-ins and more DX.   KA0KYZ and WB0YWW were also helping by relaying when signals were in a down phase. 
   Mark’s check-ins to the 144.240 net last night were:  N9OLT EN64;  K9CCL EN61;  K9JCZ EN53;  WB8AUK EN80;  K8MM EN83;  W0FAY EN42;  WA9BNZ EN40;  WB0YWW and KG0SJ EN22;  W0HXL EN21;  KD0FEI and AB0YY EM29;  WV9E EN43 and KA0KYZ EN33.  I’m fairly sure this is the first time we’ve heard from AB0YY with the .240 Wed. net and we appreciate Ronnie making the trip from Topeka.  That has to be at least a 400-425 mile path between AB0YY and WB9LYH. 
   K8GDT has been taking the 144.252 net for K8TQK the past few weeks.  Gerry has a nice signal from EN91bf, about 20 miles SSW of Cleveland.  His check-ins were:  KC8YJB EN91;  W2UAD FN13;  VE3ZV EN92;  WB8AUK EN80;  K8JA EN82 and K8MM EN83. 

   As of now, plan on the same net controls for next Wed.  As always, we’ll post the schedule here at by next Tuesday or early Wed. 
   The flagship 144.240 net is coming up on its 4th anniversary this month.   I started things up in June 2008, and was always emailing heavily right from the start.  The website didn’t happen until April 2009.  Even in 2007, I was already sending out email around contest time, trying to keep more signals on the air.   Wow, 5 years sounds like a long time.