Archive for the ‘Blog Post’ Category

Two Websites That Help Show Band Conditions

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

9:30am Sunday
WB9LYH referenced a large red area over Texas in his net report from 4/18/18.  He must have been looking at the real-time APRS band conditions map.

I haven’t posted this info in a while so with spring here, it’s time.
Here are two websites that can help you stay on top of potential band enhancement:
1)  http://aprs.mountainlake.k12.mn.us/  It’s not a perfect indicator. It sometimes has false openings, and it’s even more important to remember that 2m SSB/CW has a standard range of 200-400+ miles under flat band conditions. So even if you’re seeing little or no color in your area, you can still make good contacts. The point is to not fall into the habit of only trying when that map looks good. You will miss little mini-openings that pop up under the radar, so to speak. But when there is a major band opening, it will be reflected by brighter colors, usually over a wider area.

2)  http://www.dxinfocentre.com/tropo.html  This site attempts to predict band openings for days in advance. Like weather forecasters, the forecasts here are not always accurate. But I still feel the Hepburn site has value. It’s very seldom that a major, widespread tropo event doesn’t show up here, a few days in advance. Plus, I’m a lifelong weather geek, so I like “keeping up with the forecasts”. This site updates in the early afternoon.

I should note that I haven’t been on the air since 2014.  I still update kc9bqa.com but I may have fallen behind on the latest and greatest resources.  I did check to make sure that both of these websites are still alive and well.

144.240 Net Reports From 4/4, 4/11 and 4/18

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

9am Sunday

Remember that the 432 Spring Sprint is Wed. night — see the post dated March 30th (directly below this one) at kc9bqa.com for the Spring Sprints announcement.

On to the 144.240 net reports.

Back on April 4th, net control WB9LYH (EN54cl, central WI) said, “Good signals tonight.  Checkins were W9LYX and WA9TT EN54;  N9IYV, K9CCL, W9SUS and N9JBW EN61;  AB9QH EN62;  WA6TMJ EN52;  WA9JML EN51;  WA9BNZ EN40;  N9RXM EN41;  N0RWR EN42;  KC9TNK and KA9OMY EN44.  W9YZU (Indy area — EM69) got thru the noise but no copy at his end.  ‘YZU, tnx for trying.”
Mark also added, “Lots of snow again, its Wisconsin.”
KC9BQA adds (with the benefit of hindsight on April 22nd)  Little did Mark know this would be just the start of his snowiest April ever…

On April 11th, WB9LYH reported, “Tough propagation, lots of up and down.  Checkins were WA9TT EN54;  WA9JML EN51;  K9ILU, K9CCL, W9SUS, N9IYV and N9KKF EN61;  WB0SWQ and WA9BNZ EN40;  N9RXM EN41;  WA6TMJ EN52;  AB9QH and KC9VHD EN62;  N9EM EN53 and KC9TNK EN44.”

Last Wed., Apr. 18th, WB9LYH noted, “A large red area over TX this AM, hope it spreads as the season advances.”  (KC9BQA will make a post that explains how you too can see large red areas, right after I’m done with the net reports)  Mark continued… “Signals strong with fading tonite, weather was a factor with a storm over southern WI.  Checkins were KC9TNK and AA9JL EN44;  WB8LNG and W9YZU EM79;  W9SUS, K9CC9, N9JBW, WA9HIR and N9KKF EN61;  N9NDP EN62;  K8TQK EM89;  WA9JML EN51;  KG9AP EM59;  N9RXM EN41;  WA9BNZ EN40;  N0RWR EN42;  and WB9TFH EN53.”
KC9BQA adds:   AA9JL is a new all-time checkin to the 144.240 net.  Thanks for stopping by.
KG9AP is the new call of KB9MIV, who checks in occasionally from the St. Louis area.  We are always looking for more stations from MO and Downstate IL.  Kansas City area, too.

IF YOU ARE NEW TO KC9BQA.COM, here’s the particulars about the 144.240 Wed. night net.

The Wed. 144.240 net is called by WB9LYH in EN54cl, Central WI, near Wi. Rapids. Start time is 8pm central/9pm eastern. All licensed amateurs are welcome to listen along or say hello when they can. The net is informal and the purpose is to increase activity on 2 meter SSB. Please help by spreading the word about our net and the other nets and activity nights I detail here at kc9bqa.com.
Do your own part for the bands and call CQ at any old time. Don’t fall into the habit of “just listening”. If a few dozen guys are at the radio and they’re all “just listening” how many signals are heard??

WB9LYH has a pair of long yagis and 500 watts from a ridgetop QTH. The yagis are horizontally polarized, which is the custom on the SSB/CW/Digi sides of VHF/UHF bands. Mark can routinely work stations out to 300-450 miles if they have good, higher-gain antennas up in the clear pointed at him. This is under flat band conditions; distances can increase if there’s enhanced propagation.
WB9LYH loves to push the propagation limits, so please help us spread the word that he’s out there on 144.240 on Wed. nights, looking to find DX. Of course, we appreciate all check-ins, and we have loyal ones going back many years. But sometimes you get a night where someone checks in from 500, 600+ miles away and that’s exciting.
WB9LYH’s antenna pattern is to start out looking ENE from EN54, then steadily move clockwise over the next 30-45 minutes. Talking E, SE, S, SW, W, NW and he wraps things up looking north.

Spring VHF and Up Sprints Start Mon., April 9th

Friday, March 30th, 2018

9:45pm Thur.

Here’s a copy and paste from an email I got recently announcing the Spring VHF and up Sprints.  Feel free to share this info and help get more signals on the air.

The Central States VHF Society is proud to sponsor and announce the dates and times for the 2018 run of the VHF and up Spring Sprints!

144 MHz: Monday, 4/09/18 from 7 – 11 PM local, Exchange: 4 char grid

222 MHz: Tuesday, 4/17/18 from 7 – 11 PM local, Exchange: 4 char grid

432 MHz: Wednesday, 4/25/18 from 7 – 11 PM local, Exchange: 4 char grid

Microwave, 902 MHz and up: Saturday, 5/5/18 from 8 AM – 2 PM local, Exchange: 6 char grid

50 MHz: Saturday, 5/12/18 from 2300Z until 0300Z Sunday, 5/13/18, Exchange: 4 char grid

Classes: Stations will be classified as either Single Op or Rover. A portable or mobile station that operates from only one grid is considered a Single Op station. A Rover must operate from at least 2 grid squares.

More information and rules are posted at: https://sites.google.com/site/springvhfupsprints/home

73
Kent O’Dell KA2KQM, Mike Metroka WB8BZK & Jon Platt W0ZQ
Central States VHF Society Spring Sprint Organizing Committee

KC9BQA repeats:   Please help spread the word about the Spring VHF Sprints and make plans to get on the air!

144.240 Net Reports From 3/21 and 3/28

Friday, March 30th, 2018

9pm Thur.

On March 21st, 144.240 net control WB9LYH emailed to say, “Good to be back. Signals are better with the spring weather.  Checkins were KC9TNK EN44; KC9RAP EN63; KD9BGY, N9IYV, K9CCL and N9JBW EN61; AB9QH, N9NDP and KC9VHD EN62; WA9JML and N9ABR EN51;  N9RXM EN41; WA9BNZ and W9BBP EN40;  W9YZU EM69;  and a one-way contact with VE3ZV in EN92.

Last night — Mar 28th — WB9LYH again noted, “propagation is better with the warmer weather. Checkins were WA9TT and W9KYX EN54;  WA9JML EN51;  N8XEW EN71;  N9RXM EN41;  WA9BNZ EN40;  N0RWR EN42;  W9YZU EM69;  KC9TNK EN44 and WB9TFH EN53.”

It sounds like WB9LYH in EN54cl, Central WI will call the net as usual for the next several Wednesdays.  Start time is 8pm central/9pm eastern.

If you need more info about the 144.240 Wed. net, scroll down to the 2nd half of a March 1st post here at kc9bqa.com.

144.240 Net Report From Wed., March 7th + N9XKH EN52il Calls the Net Tomorrow Night

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

11am Tues.
There was a good turnout for the 144.240 net last Wed.  Net control WB9LYH said, “Tough conditions, a storm to the east.  Checkins were:  N9IYV, K9CCL, K9ILU, KD9BGY, WA9HIR and N9KKF EN61;  AB9QH and KC9VHD EN62;  N9ABR and WA9JML EN51;  W9BBP and WA9BNZ EN40;  N9RXM EN41;  N0RWR EN42 and KC9TNK EN44.”

WB9LYH also went on to say that N9XKH will call the net tomorrow night (Wed., 3/13/18)
N9XKH Dennis fills in occasionally when WB9LYH needs cover.  N9XKH is located on the WI/ILL state line, southwest of Madison, WI.  Grid square is EN52il.  Dennis enjoys getting on 2 meter SSB but he doesn’t have a lot of free time.  So when N9XKH is able to call a net, he really appreciates lots of activity, so he can learn how well he’s hearing and being heard.

The 144.240 net starts at 8pm central/9pm eastern every Wednesday.  If you need more info about the net, check the 2nd half of the post right below this one, dated March 1st, at kc9bqa.com.

144.240 Net Reports From Feb. 21st and 28th

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

2:45pm Thur.

IF YOU HAVEN’T VISITED IN A WHILE, please scroll thru the posts below this one.  I got on a posting spree last week and detailed lots of other nets and activity nights you can enjoy on the SSB portions of VHF/UHF bands.

NET REPORTS

Last Wed., 144.240 net control WB9LYH reported, “Difficult prop., few stations on the band.  Checkins were WA9JML EN51;  KD9BGY, K9CCL and N9KKF EN61;  AB9QH and KC9VHD EN62;  W9BBP and WA9BNZ EN40;  N9RXM EN41 and N0RWR EN42.”
We had just gotten thru flirting with an ice storm in parts of WI and Mark also noted, “It appears that rf energy melts ice on the antennas.  Halfway thru the net the meters looked better.”

In last night’s net report WB9LYH said, “Good propagation but not all that far out.  Checkins were W9LYX EN54;  WA9JML and N9ABR EN51;  AB9QH and KC9VHD EN62;  K9ILU, K9CCL, N9IYV and N9JBW EN61;  WB8LNG EM79;  N9RXM EN41;  WB0SWQ and W9BBP EN40;  N0RWR EN42 and KC9TNK EN44. ”
I (KC9BQA) am pleased to welcome another new checkin to the net.  Hello to W9LYX, thanks for getting on 2 meter SSB.

The Wed. 144.240 net is called by WB9LYH in EN54cl, Central WI, near Wi. Rapids.  Start time is 8pm central/9pm eastern.  All licensed amateurs are welcome to listen along or say hello when they can.  The net is informal and the purpose is to increase activity on 2 meter SSB.  Please help by spreading the word about our net and the other nets and activity nights I detail here at kc9bqa.com.
Do your own part for the bands and call CQ at any old time.  Don’t fall into the habit of “just listening”.  If a few dozen guys are at the radio and they’re all “just listening” how many signals are heard??

WB9LYH has a pair of long yagis and 500 watts from a ridgetop QTH.  The yagis are horizontally polarized, which is the custom on the SSB/CW/Digi sides of VHF/UHF bands.   Mark can routinely work stations out to 300-450 miles if they have good, higher-gain antennas up in the clear pointed at him.  This is under flat band conditions; distances can increase if there’s enhanced propagation.
WB9LYH loves to push the propagation limits, so please help us spread the word that he’s out there on 144.240 on Wed. nights, looking to find DX. Of course, we appreciate all check-ins, and we have loyal ones going back many years. But sometimes you get a night where someone checks in from 500, 600+ miles away and that’s exciting.
WB9LYH’s antenna pattern is to start out looking ENE from EN54, then steadily move clockwise over the next 30-45 minutes. Talking E, SE, S, SW, W, NW and he wraps things up looking north.

Help Support 222 MHz Tuesdays

Friday, February 16th, 2018

7:45pm Thur.

This will be the last post for today.   I hope to make several more useful posts next week.

If you’re looking for the recent 144.240 net reports, they are halfway down this front page here at kc9bqa.com, dated Feb. 14th and 15th.

ABOUT 222 TUESDAYS
I haven’t made a specific post about 222 Tuesday in quite a while.
Occasionally when I review the chat archives at the IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432 MHz at www.on4kst.com, I look to see how 222 Tuesday is doing.  It looks like it is holding its own, which I’m glad to see.
If you’re wondering what 222 Tuesday is, let me explain. If you already have 222 MHz gear, you can skip down below these next 3 paragraphs.
Back in the heyday of weak-signal VHF/UHF, guys had an informal agreement that Monday was 144 MHz night, Tuesday was 222 MHz night and Wednesday was 432 MHz night.
222 MHz is a great band with a low-activity problem. I had 222 for years and it *always* was an S-unit or 2 better than my 144, and I had the same antenna gain, height and power levels on both bands. Plus 222 is quieter. So if you are serious about enjoying weak-signal VHF/UHF bands, you really should do yourself a favor and step up to 222 MHz.
The reason some guys don’t get on 222 is because it’s hard to find commercially-available gear for 222 SSB. You basically have 2 paths: 1) step up to a transverter. I’m the last guy to talk intelligently about transverters because quite honestly, I was an appliance operator. But a good transverter will do the best job, from a specs standpoint. Ask other experienced VHF’ers or start poking around on Google. The #2 path) is to find used Yaesu FT-736R’s that have the *OPTIONAL* 222 MHz module installed. Look around hard enough at various ham classified forums and you will eventually find FT-736R’s. You also have the rare Icom 375H or 375A rigs, but they are very pricey, if you can even find one for sale.  As of early 2018, it’s possible there are other options for getting on 222 SSB, but since I’ve been out of hamming since 2014 I wouldn’t know.
On to how 222 Tuesday works…
222 Tuesday is a general activity night. It is not a directed net and if you sit around and “just listen” you may or may not hear a thing. It is far better if you actually get on/near 222.100 and call some CQ’s in various directions, to get something started.
222 Tuesday starts about 8pm eastern/7pm central and I suspect it would be busiest during the first 30-60 minutes. BUT… get on when you can, make some noise and look around in different directions. Also consider following along at the ON4KST.com ham chat. Talking specifically about the IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432 MHz. There are guys in different states posting who they’re working and where they are looking, which really helps perk things up. If you are diligent about playing along on 222 Tuesdays, and you let others know where you are and that you are looking for contacts, you could get some nice momentum going in a few weeks.
FOR THE FM’ERS…
I would get on/near 223.500 FM simplex and see what you can stir up. No reason 222 Tuesday can’t include all modes. It’s just that you get superior range on 222.100 SSB.
Resolve in 2018 to get more signals on 222 MHz. Start spreading the word to VHF-curious ham buddies. Encourage them to use this fine band.

N4PZ EN52gb 432.110 Net Mondays @8pm Central

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

1:15pm Thur.

The 432.110 net is on Mondays at 8pm central. Net control is N4PZ Steve in EN52gb, which is about 100 miles west of Chicago or just SW of Rockford, IL.
Not only does N4PZ run the net, but he has other guys in his area who look around and help find check-ins too. As I’ve said before, good high-gain yagis on 432 tend to be very pointy so be patient and flexible. This group uses the real-time ham chat at www.on4kst.com. You can follow along there. If you want more info about the ON4KST.com real-time ham chat, click here: http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1072
Here’s some more info in N4PZ’s own words:
I start looking SW at 8 PM CST. Then S, Then SE, E, NE, N, NW, and West. It takes about one hour. So by that you can sort of guess when I am looking your way. About 8:40 I look at NW. It all depends on activity.

KC9BQA wants to add… I’m not aware of any other regularly scheduled 432 MHz activity within several hundred miles of S WI/N ILL. We’re fortunate that N4PZ puts his big station on the air to promote 432. Many new 432MHz stations and signals are on the band as a direct result of this net.
N4PZ runs his own email list for the 432.110 net. Contact him directly at N4PZ (at) live.com if you want more info.
“Look up” N4PZ at www.qrz.com and you can see lots of useful info and pictures there.

Finally, if you’re new to 432, or want to know more about it, here’s a few helpful hints:
On 432 MHz, N4PZ has 4 yagis up high and he runs QRO or high power. Talking 1500 watt amps and he can get out 400-500 miles (and he’s also a big advocate of CW, which is how you work the really weak ones, out 500-600 miles)
Don’t expect anything close to this if you’re running a single short yagi, especially if it’s not high up in the clear, if you’re using low power or using lossy coax (coax losses increase greatly as you go higher in frequency)
BUT… at the same time, get on with what you have and see what you can hear. Don’t worry about what Big Guns have. There are many hams with the N4PZ group the last 4-5 years who now have nice stations on 432, as they’ve made improvements over time to their antennas, feedline and power levels.

As of Feb. 2018, N4PZ is asking around about starting a 1296 MHz net.   Think he’s just gauging general interest, no times or nights have been proposed yet.

K8TQK EM89 Calls 144.252 Net Mondays @8:30pm eastern

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

1pm Thur.

If you’ve been visiting kc9bqa.com for some years, you already know about many of the nets and activity nights we’ve been promoting since 2009.
But time passes, and (hopefully) we get new visitors, so I like to repost info and keep it fresh.
There’s a big 2 meter SSB net on Monday nights. It’s called by K8TQK Bob, who’s located in EM89je, or south-central OH. Starts at 8:30pm *eastern*. It’s on 144.252 because K8TQK has a big birdie right on 144.250. Bob has long yagis and good power from a hilltop QTH and he gets out forever. When I was on the air, I could work him on a 392-mile path (from my QTH just north of Milwaukee) even under flat conditions 95% of the time.
The antenna pattern from K8TQK’s south-central OH location is North to start, then NE, E, SE, S, SW, W and NW over the next 45-60 minutes. All times estimated, never know which direction might be busier on a given night. As with any net, be flexible and patient. Typically K8TQK is looking NW toward Chicago and WI about 8-8:30pm *central* time.  Our Wed. 144.240 net control WB9LYH (EN54 Central WI) can make contact with K8TQK regularly on a 475+ mile path.
There’s a lot to listen to on Monday nights.  I will post about N4PZ’s 432.110 group next.

144.205 Morning Group is Active 7 Days a Week

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

12:45pm Thur.

Expect more posts this afternoon…

VHF’ers everywhere need to know about the 205 Morning Group. In one form or another, this has been going on for 7+ years.
If you’re in the Midwest, look east toward MI, OH and IN for activity on 144.205 every morning. Start looking anytime after about 6 or 7am central.   Or start making more noise yourself around WI/IL/IA/MN and expand the 144.205 activity.
There’s far more info about the 144.205 Morning Group here: http://kc9bqa.com/?p=6073 Or visit: http://205morningreport.com/ to go straight to the source.
You can also log into the ON4KST.com real-time ham chat (IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432MHz) and “watch” the 144.205 activity any morning.