Archive for January, 2013

Sunday Contest Thread (2013 ARRL Jan VHF)

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

9:00pm — Just about to finish up with W9FZ/R in their last grid tonight.   That’s a long couple of days for them, in this wind and cold.  Glad there’s still a good half dozen of us tracking them.   We’re making it worth each other’s while.   They are also being heard in IN and NW OH on 2m.   I hope they find even more activity in this last hour of the contest.  (ends 10pm central/11pm eastern).
Thanks everyone for getting on.  I honestly thought the activity wasn’t half-bad.  But I mean it in a relative sense.   Compared to 4, 5, 6, 7 years ago, activity is down.  But compared to the last 2 years, and considering this is the Jan. test, with tough weather and poor band conditions, I thought this was an OK turnout.  I heard some guys really plugging away out there.   If we’d had decent conditions, this would have been more fun.   Propagation didn’t improve much at all tonight, but the noise level is better, which helps.
I’m going to end up with 127-128 contacts.   I paper-logged so I don’t have an exact score.  It “looks” like I should be about 11-13,000 for a claimed score.  Maybe I’ll come up with a number yet tonight — otherwise tomorrow.
Oh yeah, 50 MHz tried to open up for a little while, back around 0050-0100Z.  All FL stations and it sort of died out before it really got going.  Only made 3 contacts.

3:40pm — Up to 110 Q’s now.  About every 15-20 minutes, I hear or stir up something new.  I’ve been able to run 5 bands with W9FZ/R in their two grids so far.   Worked them 10 times yesterday, too.   Bands remain in poor shape.  Several guys mentioned that the 6m opening last night was fun.

10:20 — Called NNW thru W on both 144.208 and 50.135-140 for at least a half hour between 9-9:30am.  Nothing.  Tuned up and down in between calls, too.  Nobody home.   Have gotten some activity lately — found N9LB just south of Madison (EN52hv) and we connected on our 6 bands.  Cannot believe how light the signals are on the higher bands.
Just counted the paper log and I’m up to 91 total contacts.

8:30 — W9GA asked me if I caught the opening on 6m last night.  I had to laugh at that one; I honestly thought he might be pulling my leg.  Turns out he was serious, he said he worked 50-60 stations into TX, mostly.  Hope some of you got in on that action.

Ok, feel better that I completed with K2DRH on our 6 mutual bands (50, 144, 222, 432, 902 and 1296)  I really didn’t think we stood a chance on 1296, and it was rough, but if anyone is going to hear me with poor conditions like this, it would be Bob.
Today I’m going to be in and out, at best.
Ah, better now… courtesy of ‘DRH, now found KF8QL and K8MD has jumped in and so has W9GA, good action.  By the way, conditions remain very poor.

7am central Sunday —
That was some kind of wind last night.  We had multiple gusts to 45-53 mph between 7pm-midnight last night.  This morning it is 7F, but it’s sunny and the wind is only 15mph or so.  Actually, that’s not much below normal for a mid-January morning.
I’m back out in the shed, turning the heat back up and getting rigs warmed up.  Pleased to see that the antennas all look normal.
It’ll be interesting to see what this morning’s like.  Let’s put it this way — I’m not expecting much for conditions, so anything even close to normal will be a pleasant surprise.
One thing I was thinking about last night, hunkered down in the house.  Activity wasn’t half bad yesterday, esp. considering the conditions.  There were plenty of guys on and trying hard from WI and N ILL.  There was FM activity for at least the first 2-3 hours and I hope their interest level has been raised.

It’s GameDay! Jan 2013 ARRL VHF Contest Thread

Saturday, January 19th, 2013


7:20pm Sat.
Impressive wind building.  Quickly.  Now some legitimate house-shakers.  Wow, this really came on suddenly.  Wind was only 10-15 at 7pm.  Now there’s a gust to 39, now 41 mph.
So it’s game on for the wind, game over for me playing radio.  Everything is turned 300 degrees and we’ll see how things look in the morning.  There’s a lot of folks who are hoping for better conditions in the morning.
I’ve got about 55 Q’s in the log.   Farthest grids are EN33 and EN80.   On a scale of 1-10, I’d say band conditions are a 3 at best.

It sounds like 6 meters may have tried to open a little.  Don’t ignore 6 meters.  Guys with yagis in the clear can make 150-300 mile contacts, just like you can on 2 meters.  But let’s face it, VHF’ers want those sporadic E skip openings, where the band can be open from 500-1500 miles.   6 has had a pretty active winter season.  The prime time for sporadic E skip on 50MHz is mid-late May thru July.  But there is that secondary winter peak and I know 6’ers have had fun the past several weeks.  It sure perks things up when you get a 6 meter opening on a contest weekend.

4pm Sat.
Conditions are just downright poor this afternoon.  I can think of 4-5 stations I’ve worked in that 100-150 mile range that are usually S7-9 and today, they range from S3 to unreadable.  If you time things with the QSB peaks you can make the contact, but honestly, signals are so low I keep thinking something must be faulty.  No –it’s just the conditions.   I can assure newcomers it’s a lot more fun when the bands are at least close to normal.
Good news is that there’s a fair amount of stations on.

2:15pm Sat.
Sure didn’t expect today to be this nice.  It’s 43 and almost full sun here.   It is getting breezier.   Current maps say you have to go into central MN to get into the plunging temps.
Contest sounds decent.   There is FM activity — I can watch an LED S-meter light up while I’m working other bands.  Lately, a K9ESV from the McHenry Co. (N ILL) RACES group has been pretty strong on 146.55.  He’s working a bunch, most of whom I can’t hear.   I do have a vertical up 70′ for 146/7 FM, but I have no yagi there.
back to it…

8:40am Saturday —
I like to do stream-of-consciousness threads during contest weekends.  Expect this to be added to several times over the weekend.   The next update after this one won’t be until early afternoon.
If you want to read old contest threads, you have my blog archives.  ARRL VHF Contests are in January, June and September.  The CQ WW VHF is another great contest (6m and 2m only) and is in July.  The ARRL UHF Contest is in August.  Check those months in the archives and you’ll bump into my previous contest threads.
If you want a historical treat, read about my first VHF contest ever.  This was the writeup I sent to the Badger Contesters email reflector on September 17,2003.  I only had stacked omni-loops and 100 W on 6m and 2m, but I now know I did pretty darn well for that sort of setup.   Those omni-loops were about 30-35′ above ground, attached to the side of our 2-story house (we are up on a hill, that sure helps).  I made plenty of contacts out to 200-300 miles.  The reason I did well was that I was motivated, I put in a lot of time, I used headphones to hear the weak ones and I wasn’t shy about calling my own CQ’s when things got quiet.

OK, enough about history.  On to the contest today and tomorrow…
Weather is going to be a problem.  More specifically, wind.  At least it will be for a guy like me with a lot of aluminum up in the air.  You guys with verticals and shorter yagis may be able to carry on.
I got an email early this morning that said:
605 AM CST SAT JAN 19 2013






If  winds do get into the 30-40 mph range, I turn my antennas into the wind, and leave them there.  I suppose if it’s calmer tomorrow morning, I’d get back on then.  If there’s good activity on the 146.55/146.58/146.49 (etc) FM-only frequencies, I can make some calls with the vertical up 70′.  Hope those FM’ers get on.   We have a huge need for more V/UHF contesters — numbers have really been trending lower the past 2-3 seasons.   Lord knows I’ve been banging this drum for years now.   Hope someone’s listening.

When the contest starts at 1pm, you may notice that things seem very busy.  You may feel like you don’t know quite how to merge into traffic.  That’s understandable.  The first hour or two of most VHF contests (and the last hour or two — talking Sunday evening) are the busiest times.  The first hour or two, those of us who are on for most contests are busy working the other guys we’re familiar with.  This will be especially important today, with the wind due in by late afternoon.
If you’re on FM (especially on FM) *HANG IN THERE*.  Give us SSB’ers an hour or two to spin the yagis around, pick up our friends in MI, IL, and surrounding areas.   I’m not saying that you won’t find FM activity right away — I hope you do.   What I am saying is don’t be in a hurry.   Don’t just listen for a half hour, hear one or two calls and decide, “Yep, I knew it, there’s no activity”.
There are plenty of us SSB’ers who want to work you.   If you keep hanging in there, working your friends, calling CQ, we will notice and we’ll jump in and get you in the log, as time permits.   Or find us on SSB, and drop your call in there.   It’s a contest; we want contacts.

KA9VVQ and W9FZ will be roving Metro Milwaukee today.   Even those of you with compromise antennas on 2m and 6m should be able to work them on the SSB side of things — since they’re so close.   They tend to hang around 144.240, SSB.   Don’t make the mistake of being crystal-bound to 144.200.  Your rig has a VFO, use that tuning knob.   I hope that they will also put calls out (or be able to monitor) 146.550 and 146.580, FM.   W9FZ has been roving for years and is an important mentor and role model to me.  Very friendly guy and for this contest, they will have KA9VVQ on the mic.  If you hear them, work ’em.   I want Bruce to tell me after the contest that Milwaukee was very active.

Ach, it’s 9:30 — where does the time go?   I gotta run some errands and get back here by 12-12:30, to start hooking everything up.

You know what??  I should go ahead and do this…
** I will try to be on at 12:30pm with at least 50 MHz, 144 and 146/7 MHz, 222/223.5 MHz and 432.100 MHz.   (432.100 being the call freq. on 70cm SSB.)  If there are folks out there who’d like to test things on-air or ask questions, I’ll try to be available by 12:30.**
I will be on 50.135, 144.190, 223.500 and 432.100 — SSB, plus 146.550 FM.   Like I said, hopefully by 12:15-12:30.

Badger Contesters Looking for New Members

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

   8:30am Saturday —
   I am a Badger Contester and I encourage you to join.  If you have even a mild interest in doing more on VHF/UHF, you should join.  The BC’ers are a low-key, low-stress outfit.  No dues, no formal meetings.  There’s one or two (voluntary) meet-ups at Milwaukee-area hamfests each year, plus the annual BC’ers pizza party at a hotel suite the weekend of AES Superfest.  (usually the first weekend in April)   
  I’m a Badger Contester so I can contribute my VHF contest scores toward the club effort.  
  The BC’ers also have an email reflector that comes alive at times, mostly around contests.  It’s a good way to stay connected.  

   The BC website is at  I’d especially like you to click on this link:  That link graphically shows the BC’ers 175-mile circle.  You will notice this circle extends into N ILL, W MI, NE IA and far SE MN, along with parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.   
   I extend an invitation to anyone reading this post who lives in that circle to join the Badger Contesters.  
   To join, follow the directions once you click on the “membership” link on the left side of the BC website.

Contest Weekend is Here. You On Board?

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

   7:45am Saturday — 

  All bands from 50 MHz on up are in play.  ARRL has created two new categories, reaching out to hams who have gear for VHF, but rarely use it.   If you think, “Nobody’s on those bands”, you should tune in this afternoon.   (Also consider getting better antennas, so you can hear and be heard farther.) 
    I hope that as 2013 unfolds, we will see many new contesters.  ARRL has really done the right thing, with their new categories.  The playing field is a lot more level now.   You have one of those all-bands-in-one-box rigs?  You know, 160m on up to 50, 144 and 432/440 MHz?  Well, now you have your own category.  The 3-band classification is for those with up to 100 W on 6m and 2m, and 50 W on 70cm.  There are thousands of those rigs on the air. 
     ARRL has also now created the FM-only category.  There are thousands and thousands of hams who have basic 2m FM-only rigs.  They now have their own category.  You can run up to 100 W, FM-only on the lower 4 bands — 52, 146, 223 and 440 MHz.     
     Here’s a direct copy-and-paste from ARRL’s website:
      ” 3.1.4. 3-Band (6m, 2m & 432 MHz only; 100 W or less on 6m/2m, 50 W or less on 432 MHz.)
        3.1.5. FM Only (6m-446 MHz, 100 W or less on all bands)”

     Link to the full rules:

     No idea how a VHF contest works?  Don’t know where to start?  I didn’t either, 10 years ago.  Do 2 things this weekend — 1)  At least listen in on the activity, and get a feel for it.  2)  Read my series of articles called VHF Contesting School.  They are broken down into bite-sized pieces and are available here:   You are welcome to share any/all of this info with hams everywhere. 
    Everything you want to know about this contest is here — visit the Jan 3rd and 4th posts or click on these links —  and 
     You want to see a listing of stations that should be on this weekend?  Visit this post:  If you are going to get on, please post your own plans.   As a practical matter, we want to keep the emphasis on stations within normal tropo range of WI.   I explain it in that post.

Thur. Night Activity on 144.220, 144.250, 146.460 (FM) and 50.135. 432.100, as well.

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

  11am Thursday —

   I originally made this post about Thursday night activity on Oct 25, 2012.  Since it’s Thursday morning, it’s a good time to repeat the info. 
    Every Thursday, there’s a  6m net called from EM38, Missouri.  It’s on 50.135 at 9pm central time.  They usually have a couple of guys looking in different directions for check-ins, so point your 6m yagi toward Central MO and see what you hear.   The net control possibilities are KD0AKF (primary), K0WYN and WA2KBZ (backups). 

    Every Thursday you have the long-running Q5 net out of EN61 Chicago, called by N9JBW at 7pm central, on 144.220.  
    Believe they start out looking east and then go clockwise a full 360 from there.  This is a friendly, active net and thru the years, N9JBW has always let others know they are welcome to stop by and check it out.   The Q5 net now has a website at   Typing into my web browser got me there, also.      
   There’s also a net on 144.250 out of SE OH, grid square EM89ud on Thursdays at 8pm eastern.  Your net controls are AB8XG Kenny (primary) and KD8DJE Russell (backup).* 

   If you’re within 100 miles or so of La Crosse, WI, grid square EN43, remember WV9E is in the 3rd year of his 146.460 net, at 8:30pm central time, every Thursday.  This net is on the simplex portion of the FM band.  No offsets or P/L’s.  All are welcome, and I’m sure they’d appreciate a DX-type checkin.  WV9E has been very proactive about getting more V/UHF activity in/near the La Crosse area.  Dave also has a ham website at

   EDIT — May 23, 2013
   WB9TFH emailed to let us know that N4PZ in EN52gb is now hosting 432.100 activity on Thursday nights, too.  Same start time as his Monday 432.100 activity — 8pm central.   This is the only regularly-scheduled 432 activity I know of in the Midwest/Great Lakes.  It is worth reminding readers that N4PZ has a huge 432 signal.  His territory includes anything within 300-500 miles of Rockford, IL, under flat conditions.  Nights with band enhancement??  Who knows?  But with the 432.100 activity now being on twice a week, they will stand a better chance of catching openings. 
   I see that N4PZ is taking steps toward using the chat, which should help, as the signals on 432 are pointy, and you can easily miss contacts if you are looking the wrong way or miss net control when he turns the antennas your way.

144.240 Net Report — KC9BQA Has 15 Check-Ins

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

    10:45am Thursday

    Conditions last night were so-so.  Seemed like they improved later.   There was noise in most directions.  Not awful, but not great, either. 
   At first, I thought the net was going to be a quiet one, but check-ins kept appearing over time.   Closed the net at 8:10, after  calling northwest toward EN36/37/47 and hearing nothing.      
   The 15 check-ins were:  N9OLT EN64;  W8SOL EN71;  N8DJB EN81;  K9CCL and N9JBW EN61;  N9NDP EN62;  KY9E and WB9TFH EN53;  KC9CLM and W9EWZ EN52;  N9FQC EN51;  WB0YWW EN22;  K0SIX EN35;  KA0KYZ EN33 and KA0JW EN34. 
   Want to welcome N9FQC to the SSB side of this net.  I used the “search” feature here and discovered that we have heard from N9FQC before, but it was back on June 18, 2010, and it was when I was still calling the FM Simplex net on Thursday evenings.   Good to hear from you again, Larry. 

    WB9LYH EN54cl (near WI Rapids, in the middle of WI) should be back as net control for Wed., Jan 23 and Jan 30th.  7pm start time.  Antenna pattern is NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW and N by about 7:50-8:10pm.   All licensed amateurs are welcome and we appreciate you spreading the word.  DX is encouraged to listen and see what they hear.  WB9LYH has stacked 17B2’s and 500 watts from a ridgetop QTH.  One of the best 2m stations in WI. 

    Hope many of you will give the contest a try this weekend.  Even if on a somewhat limited or casual basis.  ARRL has really tried to extend a hand to non-traditional V/UHF contesters and I hope it pays off.  Read about the rule changes for 2013 and beyond — it’s all contained in those clickable links at the top of this page.

I Have the 144.240 Net Tonight at 7pm Central

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

   6:20am Wed. —
   Weekly reminder about the 144.240 net from WI.  This week, I take it.  WB9LYH plans on being back for Jan 23rd and Jan 30th. 
   My rotation is the same as Mark’s.  Start out with a quick look north, then point toward Lower MI/VE-3/OH and IN.  Usually done with eastern time zone by 7:15-7:30.  Then I’m looking south toward Milwaukee and Chicago; SSW down the length of IL and E MO; SW into W IL, SE IA and the bulk of MO;  WSW toward Madison, WI, Dubuque/Des Moines/Omaha;  W toward La Crosse and the IA/MN border area;  WNW toward Eau Claire and the Twin Cities and NW toward EN36/37/47.   I’m usually done by about 8:00-8:15pm. 

  Sometime tomorrow (Thursday) I will post my net report.  I just looked at the ham chat archives from Monday night and I see that K8TQK’s 144.252 net was *off*.  Turns out Bob got sick, like half the world is lately.  Get well Bob, good luck, you’ll need it if you’ve got that flu.      

   Remember the ARRL Jan VHF Contest is this weekend.  Starts 1pm central/2pm eastern on Saturday and continues until 10pm central/11pm eastern on Sunday.   Everything you want to know about this contest is here — visit the Jan 3rd and 4th posts or click on these links —  and

Post Your January (19-20th) Contest Plans Here + Link to VHF Contesting School Articles at the Bottom

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

  Noon Thursday —

   W0UC Paul in EN44 has again created a Google spreadsheet where you can enter your contest plans.  Thanks, Paul, for doing this for several years now.  Before I share the link, I want a few things to be clear.
   1)  I know nothing about a Google spreadsheet.  I’m just the messenger.
   2)  Notice on the lower left that there are tabs for both fixed stations and rovers.  
   3)  We kindly ask that with this sheet, the emphasis remains on WI and nearby states.  We’re NOT trying to create a nationwide sheet.  If you are more than say 300-400 miles from WI, considering doing something similar for your own area.  It would be a big boost to V/UHF contesting if there were similar listings for other parts of the USA and Canada.   
   4)  Please spread the word among your V/UHF buddies in WI and nearby states (IL/IN/IA/KS/MO/NE/MN/MI/OH/IN/VE-3) to list your ARRL January VHF Contest plans here:

    If you are newer to VHF Contesting or if you are unaware of the important rule changes ARRL has made for 2013 and beyond, I strongly suggest you read posts here at dated Jan 3rd and 4th.  Those explain everything in detail and can be the basis for you helping to motivate hams in your own area. 
    Direct link to my posts explaining and promoting the ARRL Jan VHF Contest on Jan 19-20th: 
    Jan 3rd post 
    Jan 4th post
     If you want to learn more about how to “do” a VHF Contest, I want to help.  Here’s my series of articles called VHF Contesting School.  The articles do take some time, but I’ve broken them down into bite-sized pieces.  The goal with those articles is to help newcomers feel comfortable getting into VHF/UHF Contesting.  is the link to the VHF Contesting School articles.

K8TQK Mon. 144.252 and WB9LYH Wed. 144.240 Net Reports

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

    11:30am Thursday — 
    Both K8TQK and WB9LYH had great nets this week.  22 check-ins said hello to Bob on Monday and 25 VHF’ers found Mark last night. 

    This was the first Monday net for K8TQK.  If you haven’t visited the website in a while, know that K8TQK’s 144.252 net from EM89je has moved to Mondays.  Same start time of 8:30pm eastern.  Same antenna pattern.  Starts N, then clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so.  Meaning NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW.    If you know of guys without internet or email, let them know about the switch. 

    K8TQK has a very strong signal on 2m SSB (Actually, on all the V/UHF bands up to at least 1296.  Make sure you look Bob’s way in the ARRL Jan Contest on Jan 19-20).   He is very capable of making 300-400+ mile connections on 2m SSB, so help spread the word in a wide circle.   As I’ve mentioned before, we really appreciate Bob being part of our Wed. nets for the past 2+ years and thank him for his decades of help to weak-signal V/UHF.   
    **In fact, it sounds like he’s now a focal point for 222 Tuesdays, at 8pm central/9pm eastern on Tuesdays.  Fire up your 222 MHz gear and look toward south-central OH.** 
    K8TQK’s 22 check-ins on Monday were:  WB8AUK EN80;  K8GDT, NF8O and KC8YJB EN91;  N8WNA, N8AIA and K8JA EN82;  W8SOL EN71;  N8DJB EN81;  VA3WU and VE3VII FN03;  AC3L/M FN00;  K9MRI and KB8TDA EN70;  WD8LDL EN72;  W8WG, WT8E and KD8DJE EM89;  WA4REE EM65;  KI4ROF EM55;  N4PPG EM76 and WD4NMV EM85. 

    WB9LYH reported some propagation last night and good signals in all directions with the 144.240 Wed. net from WI at 7pm central/8pm eastern.   25 check-ins is a very strong turnout.  Remember that the 144.240 net from WI is staying on Wed. night.  There was some thought to also moving to Monday nights (now that N0PB’s great net from EM39 is QRT), but we decided to try staying on our own on Wednesdays and see how that goes.   

     WB9LYH’s 25 check-ins were:  N9OLT EN64;  N8WNA EN82;  KD8PA, KR8T and WD8LDL EN72;  W8SOL EN71;  KC9RIO and K9CCL EN61;  KY9E, KC9HBO and WB9TFH EN53;  N9NMS, W9EWZ, W9DDH, KC9CLM and K9UIJ EN52;  KA9DVX EN51;  K9AKS EN41;  KA0PQW EN33;  WA9BNZ and W9BBP EN40;  KG0SJ EN22;  KA0KYZ EN33;  K0SIX EN35 and VE3KRP EN58, Thunder Bay, ONT.  
    Mark also reports that he had a very light signal when he was pointed SW toward Kansas City, but he couldn’t dig it out.   Whoever it was, thanks for the try, and if you’re reading this, leave a comment so we know who was out there. 

     I have the 144.240 net next Wed., Jan. 16th.  WB9LYH is scheduled for Jan 23rd and 30th.

The VE3XTM Nets From EN93 Deserve a Separate Post

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

   Noon Wednesday — 
   If you are looking for tonight’s net announcement here goes:  Tonight’s 144.240 net control from WI is WB9LYH.  7pm central start time, look toward EN54cl, central WI.   Bands may be enhanced, we appreciate DX trying to check-in.  More detail about that in the post below this one. 
   Been emailing a bit with VE3XTM, Terry in EN93un, Guelph, ONT.   This is in the east-central part of EN93, about an hour southwest of Toronto.  
   VE3XTM has been really perking up the weak-signal V/UHF scene in his part of the world.  Since EN93 is within reach of a lot of the readers here, let’s detail the nets that VE3XTM calls. 

   Two meters:
   Monday 9pm eastern on 144.245.    VE3XTM net control from EN93un. 
   Wednesday 9pm eastern on 144.245.   VE3XTM net control from EN93un. 
   Friday 9pm eastern on 432.210.  Yes, .210.   VE3XTM net control from EN93un. 

   Terry reports that the nets are going very well.  They had 23 check-ins from 6 different grids a couple of weeks back on 144.245.  The 432.210 net on Fridays is averaging 8-10 check-ins.  VE3XTM welcomes new check-ins from any direction.   They now have several regulars from OH and MI, so these are truly international nets.   🙂   
   Terry is also glad to report that many of the check-ins have put up towers and yagis, so they are now getting out a lot farther.

   Terry emailed to say the typical antenna pattern is to start out looking west/southwest for about 15 minutes.  Then they swing to the east, to pick up the Toronto-area participants, along with anyone else in that direction.   Because VE3XTM runs 300 watts, he’s often heard off the back of the beam anyway, in that 100 or so mile range.   Once he’s done looking west and then east, he turns north and finishes up by looking south.  
   VE3XTM hopes with the unusually mild January weather, perhaps there’ll be some surprise DX check-ins.  
   Look toward EN93un on Mon., Wed. and Fri. nights and see what you hear.