Archive for June, 2009

Another useful prop link http://www.mountainlake.k12.mn.us/ham/aprs/path.cgi?map=na

Friday, June 19th, 2009

   This map shows actual propagation paths based on 2-meter APRS units reporting in real-time.   My experience with it is that light yellows are no big deal; it just means the band is normal to slightly above normal.  But when you get into orange or bright orange paths, then you have enhancement.  

   If you ever see a red swatch, it means things are really cooking.  You see this down near the Gulf Coast far more often than you do up here.   If you see sort of a focused, narrow red path spanning several states that sometimes means the 144 band is having a sporadic Eskip opening, which is far more rare than 6m sporadic E openings.  I’d say in a typical summer, you might have 3-5 sporadic E openings on 2 meters, and they typically don’t last very long at all.   But if you get in the right path, you can work New England, the Carolinas, FL, TX, CO, perhaps on 2 meters SSB.   Gotta be around the rigs and get lucky when it happens.  

    Experienced VHF’ers are always watching 6 meter skip to see how long the paths are.  If 6 meter Eskip starts getting real short, say in the 300-500 mile range (it’s more commonly in the 800-1200 mile range) that short 6m skip means that an opening may be occurring on 144.  It’s far from a guarantee, but it’s something to watch for.  

    If you ever get into a sporadic E opening on 144, be ready and be sharp.  If 144.200 is crowded, for goodness sake, spread out, rather than have a dozen or more Q’s on 144.200, all QRM’ing each other.   I know it’s human nature to want to stay on the “hot” frequency, but again, if it sounds crowded, spread out and you’ll have your own signal in the clear.   If you do make Q’s on 144.200 in a big opening, then please make those Q’s very short and to the point.  Leave pauses for others to jump in.   This applies on the 50.125 call freq. on 6m too.

Good link for V/UHF’ers http://www.dxinfocentre.com/tropo.html

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

    This link is for a forecast of potential tropospheric propagation enhancement.   Tropo is the most common mode that allows us weak-signal (typically SSB, and horizontal polarization) types to work 300, 400 miles, up to sometimes 800-1000 miles on 2 meter, 222, 432 and even into the higher microwave bands like 902, 1296, etc.  

    While it’s not common, I have worked into TX, OK, KS, NE, AR, MS, AL, TN, KY, OH,PA and NY on V/UHF on the 144, 222 and 432 bands.   If I was into playing radio most every day, I’d have worked some different areas, probably.  Sometimes tropo kicks in during a contest and that’s when it’s the best, because the most hams are on then.   I can think of 2 different August UHF contests where we had prop to AL/MS/TN in the morning, on 222, 432, 902 and 1296  MHz bands.     

    I’ve posted this Hepburn website before, but reposted it tonight because the forecast for the next 4-5 days is the most favorable I’ve seen since last fall.   All sorts of greens and yellows are poking into the Upper Midwest at various times, and that’s an indication that band conditions might be favorable, especially in the later evening thru early morning hours.   Save the Hepburn Tropospheric Ducting Forecasts to your bookmarks, and get in the habit of checking it daily.  It updates every day about 1pm.  

    Any questions, you can email or leave a comment here.

146.43 net *ON* @ 8:30pm tonight, unless T-storms pop

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

   As of 6pm, weather radar shows no t-storms within several hundred miles.  I think MN and IA will light up shortly, but I doubt that will affect WI until midnight or later.  So unless something pops in the next 2-3 hours, count on the 146.43 FM net.  

    On FM, I am vertically polarized and omnidirectional.  If you have vertical beams point them toward southern Sheboygan county, or 40 miles north of Milwaukee.  
    Most of our check-ins are in SE WI, but as with any net of mine, I enjoy light-copy, DX check-ins.   I call for check-ins by county, going thru my local counties first.   When we get them settled in, I then call for check-ins anywhere.  If you’re DX, that call for “anyone, anywhere” is your cue to say hello.   If you can’t make it the first time, stick around and listen along.  When you hear us peak up, feel free to drop your call in during a break and we’ll get you checked in. 

    Conditions may be somewhat enhanced tonight, especially later, so I hope to hear from some new ones in outlying areas.   Also know that after the net is done, there’s frequently ragchewing, so feel free to say hello later, after say 9:15-9:30pm.   

     These nets are informal, come and go as you please.  The only purpose is to stir up activity on lesser-used portions of 2 meters.

144.250 Badger Net — 18 check-ins plus EN65 excitement

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

   Several of us were able to work EN65, U.P of MI last night, in conjunction with the net.  The ones who wanted to work the DX QSY’d down to 144.240, with my coordination.  Then I proceeded with the net as usual on 144.250 and we had healthy numbers last night, along with several new check-ins. 

    N9WU/M      Rick     EN53   Germantown     S2
    KC9KPV       Randy  EN53   Germantown     20 over S9
    N9UX            Joe        EN52    Milwaukee         S7
    K9FI             Jerry     EN53    Brookfield         S5
    KA9AAB     Bob        EN53    Kewaskum        20 over (local)
    KA9OFA    Pancho   EN63    Milwaukee       S5
    KC9IJC        Don        EN53    Jackson             S7
    W0FAY      Bill           EN42    Dubuque           S5
    WB9LYH   Mark       EN54    Rudolph, WI    20 over 
    N9SDT       Everette  EN61    S side Chicago  S7
    N9JKX      Dan            EN64    Algoma              S9 peaks
    KS8O         Jim            EN65    Wallace, MI      S2
    KG8CX      Ed              EN65    Menomonee, MI   S3
    KC9LCW   Roger       EN61    La Porte, IN      S9        Roger’s first time on the net.  Hope we hear from Roger and other Indiana stations more and more.  
    K9IKE       Ike             EN63    Brown Deer       10 over
    W9GA       Ken            EN53    Colgate                10 over 
    N9IPH      Jerry         EN62    Salem                   20 over, strongest I’ve ever heard Jerry.
    relayed but not heard by me…
    AE9G       Hans           EN63    Milwaukee       Hans had heard on a 10m net that he should try for this 2m net, so he did with a rubber duck and 5 watts out of an FT-817.   KC9KPV and KA9OFA heard him and let me know he was in there.  When it came Hans’ turn, I gave him a call but no response.  Later, Hans was nice enough to email so I’d know what the situation was.  Hans is probably going to try checking in from his 11th story rooftop some night, and that will make a huge difference.  
     Because AE9G was facing south, he did say that he could hear the La Porte, IN check-in.   The almost nightly enhancement surrounding Lake Michigan (especially in summer and fall) is really something.  

     So we had a pair of EN65 check-ins, and both were vertically polarized.  I heard them well, and so did N9JKX in EN64, and WB9LYH in EN54.   I let the Milwaukee/Chicago check-ins know we had DX on board and they were free to QSY down to 144.240 and work them off the net frequency.   Later on, after I cleared with the net, I joined in the 144.240 roundtable and the U.P. signals were S3 on peaks.   Jim and Ed had a very enjoyable time and I think their eyes were opened up a little.  They will check in again, as time permits, and try to spread the word throughout their circle in the U.P. of MI.  
    Ed invites everyone to check out a great group of young hams that they mentor.  Go to www.qrz.com and look up the K8DAR callsign.   These fellows are doing a lot for ham radio, up in the Marinette/Menomonee area.  I tip my hat to them.   Perhaps in time, we’ll be able to hear from the K8DAR group on V/UHF.  They are already active and growing on HF, so if you work them, send them a card and let them know they’re doing a great job.

144.240 net report 6 check-ins

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

  Not big numbers last night on the early 144.240 net but signals were OK from every check-in.  Took a little time to shoot the breeze with everyone, and still called in every direction from my SSW thru N.  North was the key direction because for the first time in 11 months of these nets, we had check-ins from the U.P. of MI, grid square EN65. 

   W0FAY     Bill      EN42  Dubuque    S7-8 peaks, QSB
   W9HQ     David   EN43  Westby, WI   S5 peaks
   N0IRS     JD         EM29   K.C, Mo.    S1
   KB9KTD   Dave   EN43  Onalaska, WI   S2
   KS80      Jim         EN64   Wallace, MI    S0, but Q5 copy the whole time
   K9CT      Craig     EN50    I am very sorry to report that I may have been Craig’s last QSO on 144 SSB.  A violent t-storm swept thru central Illinois early this morning and folded over Craig’s VHF tower.   He had powerful signals on 6 thru 1296, and is/was a joy to work easily in every V/UHF contest he entered.   Craig posted his tower disaster to the SMC (ILL) list this morning and he’s reevaluating whether to get the V/UHF tower back up. 
    He’s also heavily into HF and HF contesting, and that tower or towers apparently survived. 
    If you care to send K9CT an email encouraging him to put the V/UHF tower back up, he’d appreciate it. 

    The EN65 check-in was a pleasant surprise.  KS8O was actually checking in on a vertical, up 120′.  He sounded great, and there was very little QSB.   He put the call out on his local repeater to see if anyone else wanted to check in, and we heard from 2 EN65 stations on the 144.250 net, which turned out to be a memorable one.

Busy Nets and first U.P. MI check-ins generate excitement

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

   Been ragchewing with several guys on 144.240 SSB.  It’s gotten late, so I’ll have to post the net reports tomorrow.  So many guys enjoyed tonight’s chance to work 2 new guys from EN65, near Marinette and Memoninee, MI.    This kind of net night is what makes the week-in/week-out effort worth it.  

   More tomorrow…

   Oh yeah, the 146.43 FM net might end up being a game-time decision.  We have a forecast for a 70/80% chance of
t-storms tomorrow night, so stay tuned.  I’ll make an announcement here prior to the 8:30pm start.

Post-Contest Update + All 2 meter SSB and FM nets ON this week

Monday, June 15th, 2009

    Just thought I’d let anyone who follows along here that I’m alive.   Got at least 10 hours of sleep without getting up, which happens only after a contest (or a telethon, if I were Jerry Lewis).   So that’s good — I had lousy sleep in the nights leading up to the contest, so I was really sort of sketchy the whole weekend. 

   First off – for the non-contesters, know that the nets will be on as usual this week.  (Lightning permitting).  Wed. is 144.240 (7:15pm or 0015 UTC) for outstate WI and outstate IL, as well as all of IA/MO/MN and U.P. of MI.  I don’t look east on 144.240.   Then at 8:30/0130 UTC it’s on to 144.250, where most of our check-ins are from the MKE and CHI region, but I always look a full 360 with the 144.250 net.   Those nets are on every week and they are always announced here ahead of time.
    Also, the 146.43 FM net will be on Thursday at 8:30pm central/ 0230 UTC.  

    Honestly, I’d like to get some sort of net set up sometime for the guys to the NE/E/SE, like I do on 144.240 for the SW/W/NW.   I’d need a pretty good show of support, tho, to take it on.   When the nets are dead (which they rarely are) it makes me feel like I’m wasting my time.   I suppose I’ll have to email some of these guys out east directly, and see if there’s a call for it.   Lord knows I reach out a long ways to the east.  It’d be fun to work into the U.P., all of Lower Michigan, even into VE2, VE3, Ohio and Indiana every week.  

    So if you have no interest in contesting, now you’re all caught up.  

    The rest of this will be stream-of-consciousness contest thoughts…

   It was great when 6 was open, because then all I had to think about was narrowed down to a nice single focus.   Just have the cans on, don’t worry about chasing any little whispers on the 144, 222 and 432 rigs.   Just call CQ rapidly, work who comes back, type them in the log and call QRZ Contest KC9BQA.   I love those stretches because my brain quiets down during them.

   In fact, I can’t wait for that July CQ WW VHF Contest, because it’s only 6 and 2, and I hope to God we have at least decent conditions on 6 there, too.   I love any busy contest, but sometimes it’s just too much for me to juggle the two rotors, the 6 rigs, the 7 bands when everything’s popping.  I mean, I do a decent job, but I’m always thinking how I must be missing guys to the west, I must be missing guys to the north, etc.   If your brain doesn’t work like that, congratulations, you’re probably normal.  🙂 

   1296 was not working for me this contest.  No clue why.   Everything is hooked up just like it was in January, but couldn’t even work anyone locally.  It’s a module in my Icom 910H, and I was seeing tx power, so perhaps it’s something up in the antenna, which would be weird, because all my stuff was professionally done and everything else has worked well these last 6 years.  I’m dead on 1296 until I can have someone who is knowledgeable go over it.   I know I missed at least 20-25 Q’s by not having 1296, which is borderline unacceptable.  

    902/903 is working well.  2304 isn’t nearly as good as 902/903 and I don’t know why.   It seemed great for the 1st year or two I had it, but now something’s degraded.  No clue why.   When the antenna guy was last here, the SWR on that 76 el blowtorch up 80′ was about 1.3/1, which shouldn’t be that bad, right?  Maybe it’s more SWR sensitive up on 2.3 gig.  I dunno. 
    Microwaves and me have an uneasy relationship.  An appliance operator like me probably shouldn’t even attempt microwaves, but we do have some good activity (rover and fixed station) around here on the uWave bands, so I feel like a shmuck if I tell those guys I only go as high as 432.   Rovers work their butts off to get us Q’s, I feel very strongly that my big towers and great QTH should certainly repay the favor.   This is especially important because I’m often the only game in town for working EN63 on 902, 1296 and 2304.  

    I love my stuff when it’s working; then I’m the sweetest guy you’ll run into on the air.  But when it isn’t working well, I bet it really shows even thru the microphone.   Sorry if I seemed short or distracted with any of you when we worked in the contest.   Now that I’m looking back thru my log, I see a gap from 0153-0242.   That was when I even had to take a little mental health walk Sat. evening about 9pm because…
     What really bugged me Sat. night was that my other 144 rig failed.  It failed back during a net in early May, and I took it to AES, where they diagnosed a failed tx power module, or whatever the bleep it’s called.  I know I got lucky with Icom and AES, because Myles wasn’t at all sure if Icom would still have that module for an IC-275H.  Turns out Icom did have it, UPS shipped it out jiffy quick and Myles put a priority on it to get it back to me in time for the contest.  Picked up the IC-275 on Friday and it played just fine for a time on Sat. evening.   Then it started getting fritzy as I was juggling several guys.   Would just power down, no lights, no display, no output, except for a vague sort of hissing or gurgling sound, as if it was trying to still stay on.   No smoke, no smell, either.  
    So I’d turn it off, and wait to see if it would resolve itself.    So I’d power the 275H back up, but then when I’d try transmitting, it would immediately shut down.   Now as I’m typing this, it will power up, but I haven’t tried tx’ing yet.  Let’s see…  Ach, as soon as I tried to screw a coax into the back, it started dogging out.  Maybe it’s a bad connection to with the RigRunner power pole dealie.   Who the bleeping bleep knows?  Not me, LOL.  

    So beyond the electronic aggravation, not having that 2nd 2 meter rig really was a downer for me.   #1 it failed right when I was working W9GKA in EM58 on 222 and 432.  We would have been a chip shot on 144, and that would have been a new multiplier.  #2, what I lack in electronics, I try to compensate for by being a savvy strategist.   My overriding obsessive thought in my head when it comes to contesting is that I want to work everyone, everywhere.  I really do mean that.  You can laugh all you want (I probably should too) but there’s only 4-5 good contests a year, and to me they feel like the Super Bowl.  I want to bring my best game, and all my talent and skills to the contest.  I don’t want to “just hand out a few points”, ahem.   I’ve had to do contests that way a few times when normal life got in the way, but it felt like going back to a Sears catalog once you’ve discovered Penthouse.   I know not everyone’s wired that way, but I was with contesting, right from the start.   Heck, my first contest, I only had stacked loops up 30-35′ and 100 watts on 6 and 2 only, and I still opped 25-26 hours in Sept. 2003.   Worked 65 Q’s in 21 grids on 6, and 82/25 on 2, with no special conditions.  So those who tell me they’re not hearing much, I sometimes wonder how hard they’re listening.    
     Toward that goal of working everyone, everywhere, I decided several years ago that I would benefit not just myself, but everyone within a few hundred miles of me by having 2 rigs and 2 separate antennas, on separate towers, for 144.   This was especially for being able to keep track of a rover on 1 rig and antenna, while still being able to call CQ in a separate direction while I’m waiting for the rover to come back to their 2 meter liasion freq.   I’ve had contests where up to 30% of my Q’s are with rovers so taking care of rover business is a priority.  

     Not having 2 rigs available on 144 means that I was really limited in both tracking rovers, and in not being able to call CQ 360 degrees as I typically do.   It’s just burns me that I missed N9WU, W9FZ and KF8QL in half or more of their grids.   Part of that was due to 6 being open so often, and that’s just part of the game.  But when I was actively on 144, I was constantly hearing weak stuff (off the side of the beam) out of Illinois and Michigan.   This is natural; as those areas are fairly close to me, and Lake Michigan inversions often helps out in those directions, too.  
     But it meant that between 6 being open, and not wanting to miss any obvious signals to my S and E, I did a lousy job of looking SW, W and NW.   Which is not at all cool, the way I see it.  

     If you were to my SW, W and NW, I really am sorry I missed you.   There was a multi-op from EN40 that I really wanted.  N0IRS was (presumably) out roving in C and W Iowa.  Not easy, but doable if we’re looking right at each other.  If you were roving and I missed you (especially KF8QL in W MI, who I should never miss) I regret it.  I left at least 10-30K points on the table.  It’s not even so much about the points, it’s the principle.   The object of the contest is to work as many amateurs in as many different 2 degrees X 1 degree grid squares as possible.   I fully agree with that objective, so when I can’t hold up my end of the bargain it bugs me.  If I had the spare 144 rig, I would have been calling CQ in those directions a lot more, while I was listening to the S or E on another rig.  

     So there — I’m done with the aggravation part of this post.  I feel a little better <grin>. 

     It was still a great contest.   My N3FJP logger says 150,300 pts, which is a new all-time high for me in any ARRL contest since I got started in Sept. 2003.   A lot of it was 6 meters, but it turns out I put up some respectable numbers on the other bands.  

     My band-by-band counts were:
   50       315Q’s  126 grids
 144      77    x   28
 222     47    x    25
 432     55    x    26
  902    16    x    14
1.2       grrrrrrrr
 2.3        6     x     6

   Saturday afternoon and early evening was pretty much all about 6 meters.   Actually, looking back, I now see I worked some locals and semi-locals on other bands between 2-4pm, mixed in with 6.  Maybe I did a little better job of being flexible than I give myself credit for.  Worked new guy K9JCZ Gary up in EN55 on 6 and 2 during that time.  W9GA and I tried to connect with him on 432, and really gave it a good effort, but we just couldn’t connect on the rogers and all.  Call it a learning curve thing.  Thanks Gary for going up there.  It’s only going to get better as you keep working on everything.  You were plenty loud on 6 and 2.   Hopefully you’ll get other bands, and really make a mark with your trailer and 25′ tower.  You’d be a kick-butt rover by Aug/Sept. hint hint.  

    Right before 4pm, it turned into New England time on 6 and that’s when you can really make hay.  That was my best rate in the ‘test, with 123 Q’s on 6, from 2051-2314 UTC.  

    I was up until about 2am on Sat. evening.  I was hoping I’d find some crazy night-owls, perhaps some tropo to some multi-ops out east, that sort of thing.  Hardly anyone was on after 1am, which is typical.   This is also a shame, because the best stable conditions are late at night.   But ya can’t work anyone if they’re not on. 

   Got a lot of Illinois in the log between 10:30-midnight.  Had a nice run there with the K9NS and N9UHF multi-ops, plus superstations like K9CT and WB9Z.   N9TF and KG9IL on all our bands, too.   Worked a few other stray Illinois, too.   Prior to 10pm, W9XA, WB9SNR, W09S, N9LR.   I suspect I missed WA6TMJ on other bands, but at least we worked 144.  I heard him light copy often on Sunday evening, as I did with a lot of other Ill stations, but that was when there was local fixed and rover activity around Chicago and I’ve learned those are poor times for a guy north of Milwaukee to try and work into the mix.  This happens in the Twin Cities, too.  In and around that Sunday evening time, I did hear K9ZO in EN50 and someone in EM58 or 59, but nobody was going down to 144.180-185 where I was trying to CQ away from the hornets nest near the call freq.    I understand that; it happens.   Glad they had what sounded like lots of activity in Illinois.  SMC always gets fired up for the June contest and congrats on another good effort. 

     W9GA and myself got busy toward the NW just after midnight and thankfully, N0AKC and K9MU were up late, contesting hard.   Bands were nice and quiet, and we had time to gab a bit, while we ran thru the bands.  I’ll be most interested to see K9MU Justin’s numbers on 6 meters.  He worked 1094 Q’s during the 2006 June contest.   1094 — that’s not a misprint.  Of course, my niece chose that weekend to get married — sigh.   I remember getting home about 10pm and rushing out here on Sat. night and hearing a few stray CN grids from the Pacific NW fading out.   It was a nice wedding, though.   (Todd clears throat)    When I could contest on Sunday, I remember feeling like I had come to party as it was breaking up — I just wasn’t into it. 

     Oh yes, did have a nice little run about 2345-0045 UTC on Sat. evening.  We were working N9WU/R in EN65 and also found N8LIQ in 56 and N8PUM in 66, near Ishpeming, in the U.P. of MI.   It would be great to have more activity in the U.P. but I know it’s tough sledding from up there.  If they could just get enough stations on that we’d hear the occasional light chit-chat as we’re looking north, it would attract attention down here.   I’ve been trying to tap into that Marinette/Menomonee club to see if there’s VHF/UHF interest, but so far, no response.  There’s some great guys in that club that do a lot of good things for ham radio; I suspect they’re so busy that they need another diversion (meaning V/UHF) like a hole in the head.   Maybe it’ll be a good sign that N8PUM is back on.  I guess he was active before I got on board in 2003-04. 

    So anyway, I had about 40-45K pts when I shuffled back into the house about 2am Sat. night. 

     I did sleep a bit too late on Sun. morning and didn’t get out here until 7:30am.  I’d have done better being in here about an hour earlier.  Mornings are usually good to the southeast and east, and I got a bunch of MI/IN and some Ohio in the logs.  
     By 10am, it was clear 6 was up and running, so that became the focus.  I was a little slow to recognize there was a great opening to the Pacific NW.  Also had some light noise when I pointed W and WSW, so I probably missed light signals.  Still it was a great opening.   Typically, 6 meters opens up to the east, and runs west like the sun, but 6 does what it wants, when it wants.   I did work a bunch of new grids, and I’ll have to sort thru that sometime when I’m bored.  I see red little X’s next to FM13 (Sat) and DN15/25/26/37/18, along with CN86 — all Sunday late morning, early afternoon.  I know others worked some good stuff in VE5, 6 and 7, but I couldn’t find them, even though I was pointed that way and calling hard. 

    Toward 2pm Sun. I heard W9SZ from his portable location in EN50.  We worked on the lower 4.  No special conditions, but still good to get Zach in the log.   Then I found the N8UR EN75 multi-op on Beaver Island in Lake MI later.  Had a nice time talking with them for a while.  Kept letting the locals down here know that I had them, and they should jump in, but nobody came on board, and I bet we ragchewed for at least 20-30 minutes.  Finally W9GA heard me and got them in the log, too. 
    The EN75 guys didn’t find much business this weekend, but it hurt them that the mosquitoes drove them off the air by 0015 UTC on Sat. night.  As the sun set, their signals would have improved to the point where a lot of us would have heard them off the sides and looked their way.   Also, we would have been off 6 meters and listening harder on 2, as E skip typically dies out later in the evening.  As it was, N8UR EN75 was anywhere from S2-7 during mid-afternoon Sunday on 144, and they were loud enough on 222 and 432, too.   If they had been able to stick around Sunday night (long drives home), they’d have found markedly improved conditions toward up until the closing bell.  

    Sunday night, I did finally do some serious CQ’ing to the SW, W and NW.  The SW was nil, nada, zip.  W yielded little, but I did end up finding W0AUS and N9ISN to the WNW.  Oh yes, also got a stray K0CQ from EN32.  Why on earth did I not ask him if he had any other bands?  Must have been distracted or something.  N9ISN said I probably wouldn’t work him as he only had 3 watts on 222.  He was actually Q4 or 5 with headphones.  (Headphones are mandatory, in my opinion)   That was a fun contact.  Oh yeah, had a fun contact with KA9FOX, who was loud on 6 and 2.  ‘FOX pressed his 2 meter beam (up 100′) into jury-rigged duty on 432 (with 400’ of feedline, no less!) and we worked SSB.  That was a hoot.  
     I then took some extra time to try and call around 144.180-185 toward EN37, but I don’t think the conditions were enhanced that way.   It was more about being closer to Lake Michigan.   Never heard a peep out of EN67 all weekend, and didn’t hear from anyone else who had, either.  Hope those guys did OK on 6 meters — lord knows that’s a great grid to work on 6 meter Es.  

     The last hour or so was divided between calling SW thru NW, and keeping an ear open for W9FZ/R, who activated EN55 and 65 after about 7:30pm.   Bruce was really busy working the guys who found him, and as usual, he did a superb job.   It was great for me personally, because he was close enough that I could hear him in about any direction.  Problem was, he was working at least 6-8 guys on CW — thru sometimes up to 6-8 bands and that takes a lot of time.  Never mind about setting up the 10 gig dish, ayyyyyy.   But for me, he was SSB copy, easy.   I so badly wanted to somehow jump to the head of the line, take 2 mins. work him on our 5 bands and be out of each other’s hair until the next grid.  Here’s where I would have been calling hard into Illinois on the spare 2 meter rig and antenna, if the rig hadn’t failed.    
     As it was, it worked out wonderfully in the end when we made a hard push in the last 3-4 mins. of the contest.  We just flew thru the 144.250, 222.150, 432.150, 903.150 progression and that last 903 mult from EN55 jumped my score at least 2K pts, to get over 150K.   Bruce’s roves are such a joy to work… he’s so loud and by now, sometimes it seems like we are almost reading each other’s minds.   He could have packed it in after his Guts Frisbee tourney on Sat. and Sun., but instead he put two tough grids on the air for the last few hours of the contest. 

     I also want to thank K9JK for sending me his spare TE systems 2212G brick for 222 in time for the contest.  Mine failed a few weeks ago, and John really came thru.  I’m sure being 100W instead of 20-25 helped a lot on 222.  

    It’s a true blessing that the contest was this past weekend and not 2 weekends ago.  We had just atrocious weather 2 weekends ago.   On Saturday evening, it was honestly 44-45 degrees, with steady rain.   Sunday I think it rebounded into the 56-57 range.  Just as miserable as mid-June can be.  This weekend, we had 70’s for the first time in quite a while.

K9MU on from EN44 and W0ZQ/R plans

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

   Not too much news has floated in overnight or this morning.   Covered 90% of everything yesterday.

   K9MU Justin will be opping from the W0AIH station in EN44, with good antennas and fabulous QTH.   Look toward EN44, Eau Claire area for l0ts of Q’s from Justin and also N0AKC Charlie.   Justin will be 6 thru 1296, and I believe Charlie goes right up to 3456, and maybe even has 10 gig. 

   While you’re looking toward Eau Claire, remember the W0AUS multi-op from Buck Hill, EN34, just SW of Minneapolis.   Plenty of other Minnesota fixed stations and rovers, as I detailed yesterday.   Listen especially hard up toward EN37, a bit NW of Duluth.   There’s another pocket of activity up there. 

    W0ZQ Jon re-posted his rover plans to the NLRS list, and he’ll be doing the St. Charles, MN grid corner of EN44/43/33 and perhaps 34 today.   Jon has 6m right thru 10 gig.   When Jon’s in that grid corner, I often work him at least on some of the bands.   W0ZQ/R will be doing the Winsted grid corner tomorrow — EN35/25/24/34.   Jon says to look for him up on 144.245.  The Minnesota rovers like to sort of channelize a bit, because so many of them go out, so make sure to tune far away from 144.200.   Don’t get stuck near the call freq. all the time — you’ll miss a lot. 

     Oh yes… also got word that NE8I Lloyd will be complementing KF8QL’s western Michigan rove.  NE8I/R says he will be in EN74 and 75 today, and Sunday, he will start out in EN74 or 64, and the wind his way down the east shore of Lake Michigan.   So plenty to shoot for just across the lake.  

     Plans were already posted on this website yesterday for N9UX, N9WU, KF8QL, and W9FZ rovers.   Remember that N0IRS will be roving Iowa, going up thru EN30/31/32 today and coming back down thru EN22/21/20 and back home to EM29 tomorrow.  

     I’m out, 73,
    Todd

VHF Contest School posts were made on June 7th

Friday, June 12th, 2009

   If you’ve come here looking for the VHF Contest School articles, thanks for the visit and I hope they help.  

   They’ve migrated down to Page 2, now, though.   Scroll down the main page to the bottom left where it says, “older entries”.

OK, let’s talk closer to SE WI — talking MI/OH/IN

Friday, June 12th, 2009

   Again, these posts are more for the newcomers — just trying to increase your awareness of who’s around, and what’ll be going on.  

    My website has been getting a lot of hits the past week.   My hope is that plenty of those hits belong to newcomers who are going to do some contesting this weekend and this summer.   Badger Contesters had a huge spike upward in the Jan. contest, when you compare 2008 logs submitted to ARRL (there were 8) to the 2009 number (up to 28).   My guess is this will continue to grow.  Especially if we can get more W MI stations to join the BC’ers (which are well within the 175-mile BC circle, centered on Oshkosh, WI) .  

    For those of us in E WI, you need to be aware of what’s going on in W MI.  Unfortunately, as with Iowa, there is no email resource or V/UHF Club for MI.   But there are many contesters on from MI, and plenty of you (even with smaller stations) will work some of them.   
 
    For tomorrow and Sunday, I want to highlight KF8QL Dave, who will be roving W MI (near Lake Michigan) on Sat. afternoon and Sunday.   Dave’s going to activate EN74/64/63/73/62/72.   He has good antennas and power on all bands from 6m right on up to 10 gig, I believe.   I hear Dave off the sides and back of my beams all the time, so he’s a chip shot for me.   If you newer guys in E WI aren’t working KF8QL/R at least some of the time, you should consider improving your antennas.  There will probably be other rovers on in W MI, as well.  I’d keep an ear out for calls like NE8I and perhaps K8DOG.  
    For strong Michigan fixed stations, here’s who leaps to mind.   Up in the NW part of the LP, you have K2YAZ, W8MIL and N8PVT.   Look NE for those guys.   Farther down the shoreline, K8EB is very loud from EN73.   There are probably a few dozen other guys who will be scattered up and down the E shore of Lake Michigan.   In southern Michigan, you may hear KB8U and K8MD.   Big stations with all the bands.   I can often work those two up to 1296, with little difficulty.  

     I will work into the Detroit area, and perhaps Cleveland, with a little luck.   I’d point those ways from time to time and call CQ.   Going farther SE into Indiana and downstate Ohio often pays off.   K9EA is in EN71 —  the Ft. Wayne area — and he has a very good station.   In Ohio, you have your best shot at working an Echo Mike grid (not Echo Nancy like we have around our area).   K8TQK Bob from grid EM89, about 50 miles south of Columbus is just abnormally loud into EN63.   I can even hear him off the back sometimes.   I even worked K8TQK in my first contest ever, back in Sept. 2003, when I only had stacked omni-loops up 30′ on the side of the house.  

     There’s an Indiana rover who we may stand a shot at, and that’s K9ZF Dan.   Dan will be traveling north toward EM69/79 and EN60/70 in the contest.   That’s right in the Indianapolis area, and depending on propagation and how often he looks our way, there could be some Q’s there.  
    For whatever reason, I rarely work into downstate Indiana.   I do get plenty of Q’s from those who are in N Indiana — Lake Michigan helps us SE WI stations there greatly.