Archive for April, 2009

146.43 FM Simplex net *ON* tonight — 8:30pm

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

    Last night with the SSB nets, I noticed that band conditions were better than they had been in many weeks.  If that holds true tonight, I expect to hear from some stations 50-100 miles away.   Spread the word to your friends, and if you have a vertical-pol. beam, point it at southern Sheboygan county. 

  With the FM net, I call for check-ins by county.    My omni is up 90′, and I run about 100 watts, so I expect to get out very well.  As with all my nets, a big goal is the ability to work stations far away.  So it really makes my night if I hear a check-in or two from more than 50, 60 miles away.  We usually have ragchewing after about 9:15-9:30, so stick around and enjoy the activity. 

    Warmer weather and better propagation is coming.  I can’t wait for a night where we have 15, 20, 25 check-ins. 
    Please help out 2 meters by spreading the word of this net to anyone you can think of that occasionally likes to get on 2 meter SSB or 2 meter Simplex.  Or just tell them about and they can read about it for themselves. 

Beacons you can listen for anytime on 2 meters

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

   I always forget to mention the two beacons I can hear on 144.  These are handy if you want to know your rig is working when the band appears dead.  They’re also handy to tune into at different times, so you can compare propagation at different times of the day.  

   I’m listening to one beacon right now, and it’s quite loud.  It was about S5 when I got out here at 7:15pm, and now it’s running about S9.  For most of the winter, I was hearing it S1-S2.  It’s got 10 watts, I believe, into a loop.  It’s also very high up, so it gets out well.  It’s located about 30 or so miles WSW of Madison, WI, and it’s on 144.297.  Give it a listen and see if you can identify it. 

    The other beacon I can hear is on 144.290 out of the La Crosse area.  This one isn’t as strong, but I can usually at least hear something out of it when I point right at it.  Tonight it’s running about S1-S2 on my rig.

144.250 Badger net report — 14 check-ins and good CX’s

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

   Conditions continued to improve to the W and NW as the night progressed.  Had some new calls for either the first or second time.  Very encouraging, and good to hear stronger signals.  Lots of fellows reported hearing stations a grid or two away off the sides.  Had some ragchewing afterward, as well. 

    Check-ins were: 
    WB9TFH       Gil      EN53       S3, then S9 with amp and beam
    K9FI            Jerry   EN53       S7
    AA9GC       Herb     EN63      20 over
    N9WU        Rick      EN53       S7
    W9CWD     Joe        EN52 – just south of Madison      S9  Joe was *loud* tonight
    W0FAY    Bill         EN42       S7
    K9JCZ       Gary      EN53   Fond du Lac    15 over
    Good to hear Gary after a long absence from VHF.  He had a moxon on top of a flagpole and was loud.  You could hear how glad he was to find some activity on VHF.  He and AA9GC ragchewed for some time afterward.   Gary talked about doing some opping from his cabin in EN55 for the June ARRL VHF QSO party.  Dozens of us sincerely hope he gets plenty of antenna up so we can hear him from “up Nort'”  🙂    Thanks for checking in Gary.  

    Oh yes, Gary also mentioned he will be pointing his moxon toward Milwaukee for the next several nights, so find him on 144 in Fond du Lac and say hello.  He’s a long-time VHF’er and happy to be back on. 

    KB9KTD   Dave     EN43      S2
    WB9LYH   Mark    EN54     20 over
    N9UY       Tom      EN54      10 over      Good to hear Tom on again from Appleton
    K9STN     Stan       EN54      S5     Stan’s 3rd time on the net and he was much louder tonight
    KC8ZJL   Dennis   EN71    NW Ohio     Dennis surprised me as I was pointing south, asking for check-ins from Milwaukee/Chicago area a 2nd time.  I heard him, even though I was 60 degrees off of him.  
    KA9AAB   Bob     EN53      20 over
    KC9KPV   Randy  EN53    40 over


     I expect to run the 146.43 FM simplex net tomorrow night at 8:30pm.  There’s a chance of a T-storm, but I’ll announce yea or nay by late afternoon/early evening, either way.  
     I did have a weird problem with my IC-910H completely shutting down on transmit for a time tonight.  It was fine later on.  I guess a trip to AES is in order for it.  Hopefully it’ll hold out thru tomorrow night.

144.240 SSB net report — 6 check-ins

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

   A good news/bad news net tonight.  

   Good =  improved conditions; best in multiple weeks
   Bad = My noise level from SW thru W was S2-5
   Bad =  My IC-910H was shutting down completely sometimes on transmit.

   Check-ins were:
   N0IRS        JD      EM29    KC, Mo.      S2
   W0FAY    Bill      EN42     Dubuque   S7 peaks
   KB9KTD   Dave   EN43    La Crosse area     S5 peaks
   W0MTW   Pat     EN24   near New Ulm, MN    S1     good to hear Pat again on the net
   WB0YWW  Bob  EN22  just SW of Ft. Dodge, IA   S5
   KB0CIM   Jim     EN37  Cohasset, MN   S2    haven’t had a path to EN37 in weeks

    The 144.250 Badger net had very good activity and from some new stations.   We keep adding new ones, which is exactly why we’re here.  Let’s get to that report.

144.250 Badger Contesters net *ON* tonight — 8:30pm

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

    Here’s how the 144.250 Badger Contesters net works.  Please note that everyone, everywhere is welcome to check-in or listen along.  As with all my nets, the purpose is to stir up activity on 2 meters.  Don’t worry if you’re short time, or worry about any protocol, or fixed agenda.  Just get on and enjoy the activity.  As with all my nets, please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested.  My best nights are when I hear from someone who is new to VHF, or back on the air after an absence. 

   I start out at 8:30pm (all times central) calling CQ Badger Contesters Net to my south.  Typically, most of our check-ins are in the Chicago/Milwaukee area.  Once I get those areas accounted for, I start swinging the beams, calling CQ frequently.  I go clockwise, and see who else I can raise.  I typically start looking east and southeast about 8:40-50pm, and we’d really enjoy more check-ins from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.  In contests, I get out to at least EN82/92/90/80 and EM89.   We also have semi-regular check-ins from EN71, NW Ohio. 

    I take all the check-ins and get a list.  I then get back to the south (where most of our check-ins typically are) and we start the net, with everyone having a chance to say hello to the group. 

    A new wrinkle I’m going to promote is this:  With better weather and propagation coming, I’m going to give check-ins the option of trying to directly contact the more DX-ish stations.  I’ll let the Milwaukee/Chicago area know what DX has checked into the net, and give them the option of QSY’ing up or down 10-15kc to work those stations directly.  This way, those who want to DX won’t have to sit around and wait 40-50 minutes for the net to end before working some other stations.  It also helps encourage newer operators to think about expanding their reach, as well as becoming more confident about “doing their own thing” on 144 SSB.  Finally,  it gives the “regulars” who just enjoy a more local rag-chew type net the option of staying right where we are, and doing what we’ve been doing all winter. 

    The Badger net on 144.250 is typically done about 9:15-9:30PM.  There is usually ragchewing afterward, so if you want to join in then, feel free to do so. 

    Any questions or comments, feel free to leave the comment here or email me.  

    It sounds like we won’t have weather problems tomorrow night with the 146.43 FM simplex net at 8:30pm.  Either way, I’ll post an announcement tomorrow afternoon.

144.240 and 144.250 SSB nets *ON* tonight, 7:15 and 8:30pm

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

   Cool east winds off Lake Michigan are (as usual) delaying the onset of any precipitation.  We’ll have no weather troubles with the weekly SSB nets tonight. 

   Because we get new readers from time to time, I’ll explain in detail how both nets work.   Note that all times listed are Central.   I am located in EN63ao, or 40 miles north of Milwaukee.  I use a 27′ long-boom KLM yagi up 70′ for 2 meter SSB, and I get out 200-400 miles, depending on how strong your station is.  In fact, N0IRS from EM29, KC, Mo., is a regular check-in, at 430 miles. 

   144.240 net is designed to find stations out in the sticks in ILL/MO/IA/MN/U.P. of MI.  I discourage Chicago and Milwaukee check-ins because they are plentiful on the 144.250 net at 8:30pm.  Also, I look a full 360 with the 144.250 Badger Contesters net, so anyone off to my east or southeast is fair game there. 

   On 144.240, I start out at 7:15pm looking to my SSW thru the Rockford/DeKalb IL areas and past there to Peoria and St. Louis areas.  Anyone in W and C IL, as well as E MO wants to be ready at 7:15pm.  I call “CQ Activity Net” and also say where I’m pointing.  I do this at least twice before changing a beam heading. 

   Even when I do move the beams more SW, then W, then NW, I do so very gradually.  Talking 10-15 degrees, and then I stop and repeat the process.  Call CQ Activity Net again, and take any check-ins.  I take a minute or two to chat with check-ins, and I also mention who else has checked in, so they know where to look if they want to do their own “hunting” later.   I call CQ until I am pointed due north toward Green Bay and the UP of MI.  This is typically about 8pm.  If it’s a busy night, it may be later.  If it’s a slow night, I may go back and call CQ again toward known hot spots, just to see if I catch anyone else. 

   My biggest hope with any net is that not only do I get folks to check-in with me, but that they also continue to enjoy the activity on 2 meter SSB after I’m done looking in their area.  I urge hams to QSY down 5, 10, 15 kc to enjoy the activity.  Don’t do any additional hunting on 144.240 because it can QRM the net check-ins. 

   To me, it’s far better to have several QSO’s spread out across the band, rather than have everyone hanging endlessly on the 144.240 net frequency.   The odds of random VHF’ers catching the activity we create are greater if more frequencies are in use by more stations. 

    To help keep track of where I’m looking, and to help coordinate potential activity after the net, consider using this link:   You don’t have to use this to be part of the net — all are welcome.  But it can help when things get busy, or if you’re too far to hear most check-ins.   Don’t hesitate to post to that web page, and let me or others know you’re around and looking for some calls.  That’s exactly what that page is for.

MY or OUR Club

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

   I’m going to try and explain a concept that goes thru my head.  Almost everyone who has checked into a net or has become interested in VHF/UHF from my efforts has done so because I emailed them at some point.  I use email heavily to contact about 8-10 clubs across my region.  Some are known VHF clubs, most are not.  Especially in and around SE WI, I also send email to general ham radio clubs.  I figure that if I can find a few new ones here, and a few new ones there, that’s solid progress.   After 8-9 months, I can actually think of dozens and dozens of hams that at least have tried out a net because of my direct action.  I need to remind myself of that when I think things are getting stale. 

   On a good week, I hope that I get into at least 1000 hams email inboxes.  I figure that by now, at least 2/3 of those hams automatically move on, once they see email from me.  I understand that.  Everyone has their own particular interest in hamming.  Whether it’s HF, or repeaters, or public service… whatever — it’s all good.  Enjoy your niche and if you feel it’s not adequately promoted, get busy and do what you can to help.   Everyone visiting this site knows I promote VHF/UHF. 

   But out of those 1000 or so hams that get email weekly from me, there might be 20 or 30% that will at least read what I have to say.  And out of that 20-30%, I get a good amount of net check-ins, every week.  The nets are important because we all know there’s not enough activity on VHF/UHF in general.  Without nets, hams who have an interest might not know where to tune each week to test out their stations.  You would be amazed at how isolated VHF/UHF’ers can be.  A big goal of mine is to try and find the VHF/UHF-curious hams, wherever they are.  Even after 8-9 months of running the nets, I’m still finding new guys, one or three at a time. 

   Our bands will become more active shortly just because the weather’s getting nicer and propagation will improve.  Even some casual VHF’ers will start turning on their rigs, rotating their beams and calling CQ.  That’s great, but of course, an advocate like me promotes activity year-round.  It’s too easy for those casual guys to lose interest, and with VHF/UHF’ing, we can’t afford to lose even one interested ham. 

    The concept of MY or OUR Club… the ham radio club I care the most about is MY or OUR Club.  What does that mean?  It means if I can work you, whether on 6 or 2 meters, whether on 222 or 432, then you’re in MY CLUB.  The people I work on the bands I love, those are my fellow club members.  Personally, I don’t care about club meetings, or minutes, or motions or committee reports.  That’s all yada-yada to me. 

    The thing that matters is getting on the air and making contacts.  Whether it’s during nets, or during band openings, or just calling CQ into a dead band — if you don’t get on the air, then nothing’s been accomplished. 

    Before I started the nets up last summer, I did promote contesting via email to several hundred guys that were in my contest logs.  That was a start, but it wasn’t nearly enough.  I got very little response.  Once I started promoting on-air activity that you could count on, every week, then things got rolling.  Started hearing from guys who didn’t know where to go, or what to do on VHF.  Started hearing from guys who did have some interest in improving their stations, or contesting, but didn’t think it was worth the effort. 

    I think that this summer, we’re really going to enjoy increased activity and enjoyment, because it’ll have been a full year since I started up with this whole crusade. 

   What I really, really want you to think about is how you can help.  Who do you know that has at least some interest in VHF?  It’s all about spreading the word.  Tell these folks about the nets.  Tell them about this website, and any other resources you think are useful.  Tell them that yes, VHF is alive and kicking, and they can join a new club ( I know most hams are club guys/gals).  They can get on the air, start working stations on 6 or 2 meters, or yes, even 1.25cm and 70cm.  Then they will belong to OUR Club. 

    Really do think this over.  If everyone got just one new person on VHF, it would make a huge impact. 

    Thanks for your time, 73,
    Todd  KC9BQA   EN63ao   40 N of Milwaukee
    50 thru 2304  (bands I have)

Visit to see a great website

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

   You will notice comments from JD — N0IRS from time to time.   JD’s a big friend of VHF/UHF.  Visit his website to see what a *great* website looks like.  In another time and place, I’d not only have my enthusiasm, but also, JD’s website skills.  If every state or region had a JD or three promoting VHF/UHF, we’d be way better off.  For those of you who are already doing this, congrats and continued success.  Keep thinking about how to include more and more hams in VHF/UHF. 

   I also encourage you to join the KCVHFGridBandits.  1)  It’s free and you get some nice goodies from JD, just to welcome you aboard.  2)  I belong to KCVHFGB.  3)  Just because it’s out of your area, don’t hesitate.  JD’s working his tail off to make things better and joining the group is a great way to reward him for his efforts.  There’s over 150 folks on board with KCVHFGB, so join up and you’ll get the newsletters, etc. 

   I enjoy and appreciate comments from my readers.  If you have any input or suggestions, feel free to share it with me via the comments feature here, or via email, like many of you are used to.  Comments will become more and more useful as we head into contest season.  Why?  Because without lots of pre-game pep talks and comments, a lot of folks will stay on the fence and not try a contest.  It’s just human nature for most folks to want outside motivation.  Comments and participation from all of you will make a big difference. 

   I can think of a few dozen net participants from all across WI who came on board for the January ARRL VHF SS.  Talking new folks.  Folks that regular contesters are barely aware of.  We need better communication across various email lists, websites and the like.   More pre-contest publicity from multiple hams = a better contest for everyone.

Internet restored — it’s been out since Sat. night.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

   A fellow just got thru replacing a fried radio receiver up on my roof.  Apparently, my wireless internet receiver took a lightning hit sometime between 6pm and 10pm on Sat. night. 

   So anyway… tomorrow is Wed. which is SSB net night on 2 meters.  There’s a chance that thunderstorms would interfere, but so far, the Milwaukee-area forecast is for convection to hold off until midnight or later tomorrow.    As of now, I’d plan on the 144.240 SSB net from 7:15-8:15pm central, and  144.250 SSB  from 8:30pm-9:15/30pm. 

   There’s also the FM net on 146.43 Thursday night, which may be affected by weather.  That one may end up being a game-time decision.  Actually, all nets are a game-time decision, in a way.  I can recall many Wed. and Thur. nights last summer/fall, where I didn’t know whether a net could be safely held until just before the scheduled start. 

    Now that I have this website, and lots of interested visitors, I need to have a policy in place.  The policy will be to announce nets (and net cancellations) on this website.  This will be the best place to check what’s going on. 

   Also keep in mind that even if a net is cancelled, anyone can get on the air and create activity.  Take a little initiative and start something yourself.  There doesn’t have to be any perfect format or rigid protocol.  Just call CQ and let others know that at least someone is out there.   There will be times this spring and summer where nearby lightning will keep me from doing a net.  Again, I will do my best to post a headline on this website when I need to cancel.

146.43 FM net report

Friday, April 24th, 2009

   Enjoyed hearing from 12 check-ins last night.  They were:

   KB9VSA    Jeff      Cedar Grove     40 over S9
   KC9KPV    Randy  Germantown   50 over S9
   KA9AAB   Bob      Kewaskum         60 over
   KM4G         Marv   Germantown    20 over
   KC9NZR    Rich     West Bend         60 over
   K9OA         Clark     Madison            S3
Clark’s first time on the net — he almost made it last week and then I faded. 
   AC9RL       Ron       Kenosha           S5
   KC9NHD    Paul      Jackson           20 over
   K9KHW     Ray       Milwaukee       S5
   WB9TFH    Gil        West Allis         S7
   W9IPR       Tom     Cedarburg       S3
   K9IKE        Ike       Brown Deer     10 over