Archive for September, 2012

This Week’s VHF/UHF Activities — 432 Sprint This Wed.; N4PZ 432.100 Activity Every Monday; MI/OH 222.100 Activity Every Tuesday

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

   11:15am  Sunday —
   Want to remind you of 3 things: 
   1)  Fall VHF/UHF Sprints will conclude this Wed. evening with the 432 MHz sprint.  Runs from 7-11pm local time.  Full fall sprint info can be found here:   The sponsors and I encourage you to submit your log, no matter how many contacts you made.   Full log submission info is contained within the rules link above. 

   2)  Don’t forget that we in the Midwest/Great Lakes are fortunate to have regular activity every week on both the 432 and 222 MHz bands.  For several years now, N4PZ has been calling an activity net on 432.100 at 8pm central every Monday evening, from EN52gb, or a good hour west of Chicago.  N4PZ has long yagis up high at a great QTH, plus a full legal limit amp.  Very big signal on 432.  Steve tends to start by looking east, and then move clockwise from there.  Because yagis are so pointy on 432, using the chat is a big help.   All are welcome, and N4PZ and the group will help coordinate contacts between check-ins.  You want more activity on 432 and you live within 300-500 miles of North-Central ILL?   Check out the N4PZ 432.100 activity every Monday at 8pm central. 

   3)   There’s 222.100 activity centered on the MI/OH region every Tuesday.  Believe it starts at 8pm eastern; don’t quote me on that.   Again, the activity can be tracked on the chat, so you can double-check there.  But I know K8MM and N8WNA make noise from MI, and they undoubtedly spin their beams, calling CQ and picking up stations from all directions.  If you have 222, stop by any Tuesday night and help improve activity.

Getting Involved with the Ham Chat Pages

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

     10:45am Thursday —
     Regular visitors to know all about the chat by now.  I’m making this post today more for newcomers. 

      Our Wed. 2m SSB nets were strong again last night.  Glad to see plenty of interaction on the chat page (use IARU Region 2 for 144-432 MHz.)  No idea what an chat is all about?  It’s free, no BS or losers, and it can help you make more on-air contacts.  If you have a computer and internet near your rigs, you are all set.   Well over 3000 USA/VE/XE VHF’ers have gotten on board since the room’s birth 2 1/2 years ago.  
    The 144-432 MHz chat room has activity every morning and evening.   I’m sure weekends and some middays have activity as well.  If you want the 7 simple steps to get signed up, go to this post:  
    If you want the story about how the IARU Region 2 chat for 144-432 MHz got started, click here:

Rest of Last Night’s Net Reports

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

       10am central — Thur.
      Nice to see strong nets last night.  Thanks K8TQK and WB9LYH for doing the RF work every Wednesday. 

       K8TQK’s 144.252 net is called from EM89je, south-central OH, every Wed. at 0030Z, or 8:30pm eastern time.  Bob has a huge signal and regularly works decent stations out to 400 miles or more.  He starts out looking north, then gradually moves clockwise, or E, then S, then W and back to N, over the next hour or so.   We always appreciate VHF’ers spreading the word that these long-range nets are friendly, informal and DX is encouraged.  More about the DX potential when we get to WB9LYH’s report from last night. 
    Last night, K8TQK’s 19 check-ins on 144.252 were:  KC8TRL EN81;  VE3ZV EN92;  K8GDT, KD8FHY and WA8RJF EN91;  N8AIA EN82;  W2UAD FN13;  AC3L/M FN00;  WD4NMV EM85;  KC8ITN EM89;  KI4ROF EM55;  KB9RDS EM79;  W0WFH EM48;  W9CWG EN61;  KB8TDA EN70;  KC9CLM EN52;  KC9BQA EN63;  KD8DLX EN62 and WB9SBI EM79. 

    As noted in the post below, WB9LYH’s ears really perked up when he heard an EM71 station briefly pop in.  You can read about that in a separate post below.  If you have an idea who that was, send a comment or let me know via direct email.  My email’s at 
   Mark is on 144.240 from EN54cl, middle of WI, at 0100z every Wed. or 8pm central.  His pattern is the same as K8TQK’s.  Quick look north, then E, S, W and back to N, over about an hour’s time, depending on how active things are.  WB9LYH has stacked 17B2’s (30′ long yagis, with tons of gain) and 500 watts out, from a ridgetop location.  Just the kind of station you want on 2m SSB, when looking for activity in a multi-state region. 
   WB9LYH’s 16 check-ins on 144.240 last night were:   N9OLT EN64;  VE3ZV EN92;  N9YK EN71;  N9NDP and KD8LDX EN62;  K9KHW and KC9BQA EN63;  KC9CLM EN52;  KC9RIO and K9CCL EN61;  W9YZU EM69;  KB9TEN EN53;  WA9BNZ EN40;  W0WFH EM48, KG0SJ EN22 and K0SIX EN35. 
    I know KB9TEN is a new all-time check-in to the net.  Welcome to 2m SSB, Rob.   Now you know what a 17B2 is, even if it won’t fly in your neighborhood.  🙂   Guys who are in antenna-restricted situations, consider becoming rovers or hilltoppers.  Take your radio show on the road and become the guy with the big signal, from a location you *can* operate from. 
    W0WFH has been on the air a long time with a great station from an hour west of St. Louis.  Glad that Bill made the trip last night.   Proves that the WI/MO path is there, even with normal conditions.    Our net controls enjoy testing the propagation limits.

     Plan on both K8TQK and WB9LYH calling their nets next Wed. night.

     Want more hints and tips about the Wed. nets?

     Here’s a post that explains how these Wed. nets unfolded since we got started in June of 2008.

Who Heard the 144.240 net from EM71?? Anyone have a guess?

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

8:50pm Wed.
Before this laptop battery dies, I want our 2m detectives to think about who might be on 2m SSB from EM71.   At 0136Z or 8:36pm central, I heard WB9LYH’s excitement level perk up as he clearly heard a station call in with “Echo-Mike 71”.  That’s SE AL or SW GA!  That would easily be a record DX check-in to the 144.240 net from EN54cl, central WI.
Unfortunately, whatever happened, it was very short-lived.   Didn’t sound like Mark got even part of a callsign, but he did try calling and listening for several minutes, just in case EM71 popped back in.   I’m just relaying WB9LYH’s end of it, I didn’t hear a thing.  I bet it was a rock; someone in the chat was talking about a bit of a meteor shower tonight.
I’ll have the rest of the net report up sometime tomorrow, as usual.  Both K8TQK and WB9LYH had good turnouts.  Seems like late summer and fall have the best numbers.
Anyone have a clue who that was in EM71?

222 Fall Sprint a lot More Fun — 24 Q’s in 15 Grids

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

   8:15am Wed.
   Yes, the K8TQK 144.252 and WB9LYH 144.240 nets are ON tonight.  Full details are two posts down the page. 

   Last night’s 222 sprint had decent participation in some areas, plus the weather was good and propagation seemed above average at times.  It all combined to make last night way more enjoyable than last Monday’s 144 sprint.  

    I had 24 contacts last night in 15 grids.  Started by looking east, and got 5 from MI/OH in the first 5 minutes I was on.  In fact, over half of my Q’s were in the first hour, which is typical. 
    Made 4-grid sweeps with K9JK/R and WB8BZK/R.  Fun having to work a little for the Q with WB8BZK on 223.500 FM.  QSB was interesting.  Mike would go from S0 to S7.   Thanks John and Mike for going out. 
    WI activity was decent.  N9LB, ND9Z, W9GA, N9DG  and myself were all available.  
    I called SSW thru NW quite a bit.  Nobody was home, that I could tell.  I asked N9LB, K2DRH and W0VB if they had heard anyone from IA/MO/MN.   With the exception of one station in the St. Louis area, and W0VB himself,  they reported no other signals.   Downstate IL was quiet, too, with the exception of W9SZ hilltopping in EN50 the last few hours. 

    I thought I was going to run out of new stations to work after about 9:30pm local, but had several pleasant surprises toward the end.  W9SZ got out to his hilltop in EN50, W8MIL got on from EN74 and also made a nice contact with K9MRI in EN70.  All were new grids, so it paid to stay at the rigs. 

   432 SPRINT IS NEXT WED., OCT 3RD, 7-11PM. 
    I’m pretty sure I’ll be on for both.  I only have 900 and 1296 to offer in the uWave sprint, but I’ll try to be on for a few hours.  
    Link to the rules from the Fall Sprint sponsor —  
    Visit that rules link and note the in the microwave sprint, 6-digit grid squares and distance-based scoring will be used.

222 MHz Fall Sprint is Tonight — Sept 25th. 900 MHz and Up Sprint is This Sat. 7am-1pm.

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

   7:15am — 
   If you’re looking for the Wed. night 2m net announcement, it’s right below this post. 

   Tonight is the 222 MHz Fall Sprint.  Runs from 7-11pm in your local time zone.   I should be on, calling CQ and looking in all directions, from at least 7-10pm. 

   Because fewer VHF’ers are on 222, here’s hoping hams with this wonderful band will step up tonight and make some noise.   Why is 222 a wonderful band?  Better propagation characteristics and lower noise levels than on 50 or 144 MHz.  With the same amount of antenna gain, height and output power, I’m always an S-unit or two better on 222 than 144. 
   Why doesn’t everyone have 222 SSB?  Because there’s a lack of commercially-available gear.  To get on 222 takes more effort than 50 or 144.  You need to either find a vintage Yaesu FT726 or 736R (make sure the rig has the optional 222 band module installed), or you can spend a fortune for an (also used) Icom IC-375, *if* you can find one.  (Good luck).  Or you can take the step up in performance to a transverter.  Do a search for “222 MHz transverter” on Google; you’ll find plenty of info there.   Getting on 222 SSB/CW is definitely not fast-food hamming, but it’s well worth the effort.  You will find plenty of 222 activity in the sprints and ARRL V/UHF contests, plus there’s still pockets of weekly 222 activity, on Tuesday nights.  One such pocket is alive and well out of MI/OH and surrounding areas. 

   With the sprint tonight, you may also find activity on 223.500 FM mode.   Rover WB8BZK will be doing this as he transits Chicago’s EN62/61/52/51 grid corner tonight.   Experience tells me I should be able to work Mike this way, over a 100+ mile path, especially since he’ll be using both horizontally and vertically polarized antennas.  (Horizontal pol. is the norm on SSB/CW portions of any V/UHF band, and vertical pol. is the norm on the FM side) 
   The SSB/CW call frequency is 222.100 and activity may be found from roughly 222.080-222.130, depending on how much activity there is. 

   *ALSO REMEMBER THE MICROWAVE SPRINT (all bands 900 MHz and higher) IS THIS SAT. MORNING, SEPT 29TH.  7AM – 1PM LOCAL TIME.*  Even if you don’t currently have gear for bands like 902/903 MHz, 1296, 2304, 3456 MHz, or 5 gig or 10 gig, you may be able to get a sense of activity by listening along on 144.260.  Many microwavers use this freq. as liasion for “finding” other uWavers.  Why do they use 2m?  Because the high gain antennas on the microwaves have very narrow beamwidths, and it can be very tough to find random activity.  By calling around on 2m, where the antenna beamwidths are more forgiving, we can find others and get our headlights pointed at each other as we switch to 900, 1296, etc.

K8TQK 144.252 and WB9LYH 144.240 Long-Range Nets ON Wed. Night

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

   7am Tues.
   Nets have been very active recently and K8TQK, WB9LYH and myself all thank you for keeping the weak-signal 2m band alive and enjoyable. 
   Let’s do it again tomorrow night.  
   If you need full net details, they are here:   Or even easier, just scroll down this page to the Sept. 18th post.

Last Night’s Net Reports — Great Night for K8TQK

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

   2:30pm Thursday — 
   The K8TQK 144.252 net had 24 check-ins last night.  They were:  N8WNA, K8JA and N8AIA in EN82;  WB8AUK and W8SAC EN80;  VE3XTM EN93; K8GDT, NF8O and KD8FHY EN91;  N3ASE FN00;  KB3TNZ FN10;  WT8E and W8WG EM89;  K1KC EM73;  WD4NMV EM85;  KI4ROF EM55;  WA4REE EM65;  KC9BQA EN63;  KC9CLM EN52;  KB8TDA and W8ICU EN70;  KD8LDX EN62 and N4PPG EM76.  There was also a 24th check-in that I didn’t catch the complete call of.  It was W9CW?   Suppose it might have been W9CWD in EN52, south side of Madison, WI.  That’s the only W9CW-blank call I can think of on VHF.   If anyone has the missing letter, let me know so I can be accurate. 
    This was another very strong night for the K8TQK net, so great job everyone and thanks Bob for being on the air so often.  

   Thunderstorms ended up being a factor for WB9LYH with the 144.240 net last night.  Despite this, Mark tallied 12 check-ins.  We had a peculiar day in WI.  Many parts of WI had their first frost/freeze early in the morning, but it got windy and sunny by mid-afternoon and climbed into the low 70’s.  Then showers and storms developed in the evening.   Those storms were about an hour east of WB9LYH at net time.   
    Mark’s comments:  “Very tough weather.  Lots of static from the thunderstorms.  Nevertheless, we had some contacts at long distance through the weather to the east.  Contacts were N8WNA EN82;  KC9BQA EN63;  WB8AUK EN80;  N9NDP EN62;  K9CCL and KC9RIO EN61;  W9YZU EM69;  KC9CLM EN52;  WA9BNZ EN40;  WB0YWW and KG0SJ EN22 and K0SIX EN35.”   Mark continued, “I suspect some stations were off the air because of the storms.”  
    KD8LDX in EN62 also was on board and heard WB9LYH but they could not complete due to the noise on Mark’s end. 

    Expect both the K8TQK 144.252 net (0030Z or 8:30pm eastern start time) and the WB9LYH 144.240 net (0100Z or 8pm central start time) to be ON next Wed.  Right now, the weather forecast for next week looks very pleasant, starting about Sunday/Monday and hopefully for several days after.  The forecast is for warmer temps and lighter winds.  Knock wood — we might actually have decent conditions for the 222 sprint.  We’re due for a break after the lousy cx’s in both the ARRL contest 2 weekends ago and the 144 sprint Monday night.

K8TQK 144.252 and WB9LYH 144.240 Long-Range Nets ON Wed. Night

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

12:45pm Tuesday:

Our long-range net controls will be on again this week.
All licensed amateurs are welcome.  These nets are informal; the purpose is to create more activity on 2m SSB/CW.  Also to push the propagation limits.  Both our net controls make 300-500+ mile contacts with modest to well-equipped stations.  Please help us spread the word across a larger and larger area.
Wed. long-range net controls:
K8TQK on 144.252 (yes .252) at 0030Z, or 8:30pm eastern.  Bob’s QTH is EM89je, which is south-central OH.  Bob starts out calling CQ to his north, then steadily moves clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so.
We also have WB9LYH on 144.240 at 0100Z, or 8pm central.  Mark’s QTH is EN54cl, right in the middle of WI.  Mark also starts out calling CQ to his north/northeast, then steadily moves clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so.
Want more hints and tips about the Wed. nets?

Here’s a post that may interest some of you who want to know how these Wed. nets unfolded since we got started in June of 2008.   That post gives our history.

What Are You Doing on Jan. 19-20, 2013?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

  Veterans and Newcomers alike —
   Remember the next big contest is on the weekend of Jan 19-20, 2013.  ARRL Jan VHF.  All bands from 50 MHz on up.  
   Are you newer to the SSB/CW side of VHF and are unsure of how to operate in a contest?  I was brand new just 9 years ago.  Let me help.  Here’s a series of articles I wrote called VHF Contesting School.   They are designed to get any ham comfortable with sitting in front of the mic and calling, “CQ Contest”.  
    Here are the links to the complete set of VHF Contesting School articles.  Actually, much of the info below is helpful for general operating on the “weak-signal” portions of bands like 6m, 2m and 70cm.   Wouldn’t you like to work guys 100, 200, 300 or more miles away on VHF frequencies that are (mistakenly) thought to have only line-of-sight range?  Get some horizontal antennas with gain, an all-mode rig and start DX’ing on the VHF/UHF bands.   Be your own ham, and discover range that the H/T and rubber duckie crowd will think is science fiction. 
    These links are in order from a basic introduction, to antennas, to what bands and frequencies to use, and so on.   VHF Contesting School — Introduction.    Antennas – The Most Important Part of Your V/UHF Station.    What Bands and Frequencies to Use.     How to Log a V/UHF Contest.    Helpful Hints — Being a Smarter Operator.    Go Roving!   Put the Antennas and Rigs in the Mobile.    More Detailed Rover Info.    Rules and Scoring.  
   You are free to share the VHF Contesting School articles with hams everywhere.

    You do not have to have a big station or have years of experience to enjoy a V/U contest.  VHF/UHF contests are far more laid-back than the ones you may have heard on the HF bands.  Nor do you have to commit to being on the air for 15, 20, 25 hours.  Have fun on your terms, but by all means, get on and tell your ham buddies to get on, also.  
    I’ll be blunt, we have an urgent need for more V/UHF contesters.  Especially on bands like 50, 144, 222 and 432 MHz.   There’s over 700,000 hams in the USA and Canada.   It baffles me that we can’t find more who get as excited as I do.   Just need to spread the word.  We need more signals from fixed stations and rovers or hilltoppers.  Read those articles and get motivated.