Archive for August, 2009

144 SSB net reports from last night

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

  Had 33 total check-ins last night across the 3 separate nets.   Conditions weren’t very good here early, but were rapidly improving by 9-10pm.   Others farther NW and S said the conditions were fantastic.   Several stations slid off the net freq. to work others and had great success.   With any net of mine,  I encourage guys to move around and work others.   I’m happy to start the party by running the nets, but feel free to move around and mingle with others.   We need more activity spread across the band, at all times.   When VHF’ers turn on the rig and hear multiple Q’s in progress across the band, that’s what keeps them interested. 

   The early 144.250 net for IN/OH/MI (and beyond, if prop allows) had 5 check-ins.   This net starts at 2330 utc or 7:30pm eastern, and only looks SSE, SE, E, NE and N.  
   N9YK          Steve         EN71     Angola, IN                10 over S9
   N8WNA      John           EN82    Royal Oak, MI             S3
   WE9Y         Gary          EN82    Grand Blanc, MI          S9
   KD8CQC     Peter         EN73    Cedar Springs, MI       S9
   K8VFV       Robert        EN82    Davisburg, MI             S5
 
    The 144.240 net starts at 0015 utc or 7:15pm central.   It only looks SSW, SW, W, NW and N.   Target area is outstate WI and outstate IL, as well as all of MO/IA/MN and U.P. of MI
   N0IRS        JD          EM29    K.C., Mo.                S0
   W0FAY     Bill         EN42    Dubuque                   S7
   K9JCZ       Gary       EN53    Fond du Lac             20 over — local
   KB9KTD   Dave       EN43    La Crosse                  S3
   KC9ECI    Tom        EN44    Galesville, WI           S0 — in there about 20% of the time.
   KA0PQW   Matt      EN33    Ellendale, MN            S2
   KC9FQD   Dave       EN54   Stevens Point, WI      S7
   K9MU       Justin     EN44   Altoona, WI                S1      
   W9GA      Ken          EN53   Colgate, WI              S9
   KV8X       Al             EN63   N Muskegon, MI        S3
   WB9LYH  Mark        EN54   Rudolph, WI             20 over    Mark has stacked beams and 300-400 watts.   He really enjoys working others off the net freq. and gets out very well. 

    The 144.250 Badger Contesters net starts at 0130 utc or 8:30pm central.   This net typically has a good group from the Milwaukee/Chicago areas, but I do look a full 360, going clockwise from south, starting about 8:35-8:40pm.  
    W9GA         Ken           EN53    Colgate, WI                 S9
    KC8ZJL     Dennis        EN71    Cecil, OH                      S2
   W9SNR      Jim           EN62   Arlington Heights, IL      S9     Jim’s first time visiting the net.   He was talking up the 10 gig contest which runs the next few weekends.   If anyone reading this has questions about 10 gig, email me and I’ll put you in touch with some good guys who will help get you going.  
    WA9NGO  Tom             EN61   La Porte, IN              20 over    Cx’s to S end of Lk. MI were definitely up. 
    WB9WKJ   Randy        EN62    Racine, WI                  S9
    KC9KPV    Randy         EN53   Germantown, WI          20 over
    WB9TFH   Gil              EN53    West Allis, WI             S5
    KA9OFA   Pancho       EN63   Milwaukee                    S1
    N9WU        Rick             EN53   Germantown              S9
    KA9AAB   Bob              EN53   Kewaskum, WI              10 over S9
    W0FAY     Bill               EN42    Dubuque                    S5
    N8WNA    John            EN82   Royal Oak, MI               S1
   WB9LYH  Mark             EN54   Rudolph, WI                  10 over
   AB8GL       John             EN62   Bangor, MI                   20 over
   N9JKX       Dan               EN64   Algoma, WI                 S5 peak but deep QSB
   K9JCZ       Gary              EN53   Fond du Lac                10 over
 N9NDP     Harvey         EN62   Kenosha                     20 over    Harvey’s signal really enhanced, toward 10pm.

Funny and true radio story — just happened; good stuff. Or subtitle it “K9JCZ is a 432 God”

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

   It’s 10:35pm/0335 utc and I’ll have to get the net reports out tomorrow.   I’ll also find a way to edit or condense the CQ Crew posts somewhat. 

    Right now, I just had a totally hilarious (and exciting) thing happen on 432 with a nearby ham, and I want to share it before I forget any details.  

   After the 144.250 Badger net, K9JCZ Gary from EN53 Fond du Lac wanted to test out a new homebrew 432 quagi.  Gary has neighbor issues so he plays VHF/UHF from his radio trailer.   He uses this trailer to rove, and you’re going to hear more and more of him, because he just got started this spring.   He will be out (with his brother helping) in the Sept. VHF contest on Sep 12-13th. 

   So we QSY to 432.100 and he’s nice and strong over a whopping 25 mile path.   Says he’s just gotten an 847 hooked up, and the quagi is 8 or 9 els on a 11-12′ boom, up about 18′.   Says he’s only running 25 watts.   I’m getting him 10 over S9 and he’s pleased.   We ragchew a while, and take a pause every few minutes juuuuust in case anyone else is around.   Nope, nothing heard.   I’m telling Gary that it’d be nice to have someone else from farther away hear us, so he can get a truer test of the antenna’s capability.   He’s telling me yes that would be nice, but mosquitoes have found him and he’s going to pull the plug.  
    While Gary’s telling me this, I do hear someone about a half kc high.   I tune up there and think I hear EN35 mentioned.   Gary turns it back to me and I tell him, hey wait a sec, you might have your tester.   Meantime I hear what sounds like W9GA  excitedly telling us something about DX and I worry we may have somehow covered up some strange, short-lived opening by being on the 432.100 call freq.  

    To keep this short, Gary says he’ll stick around and turn the beam NW.  In the meantime, I determine the DX is K0AWU in EN37, and he’s giving me a 5/2 report.   I don’t even have my beam quite peaked up on Bill, but he also sounds good.  I’m still concerned I may be in K0AWU’s way and he’s trying to work around me.    He makes it clear that no, he’s giving the 5/2 report to me.    

    I’m hoping K9JCZ will hear at least a whisper of Bill, but he does WAY better.   Bill’s giving him 5/3 or 5/5 on peaks, and I’m about falling out of my chair.   Why?  

    1)  I was just telling K9JCZ  5 mins. ago about how scarce random contacts on 432 are.
    2)  I’m running about 16 elements up 75′, putting out 70w, with hardline to the tower.  I’m only 30 miles farther away from K0AWU than K9JCZ.  
    3)  Again, Gary’s got 1/3 the power, 1/3 the elevation with his antenna, and frankly about 1/2 the antenna I’ve got.  Not saying that meanly; it’s just the truth.  
    4)  Now Gary’s telling Bill about his temporary setup and the whole story.   Now Bill’s having a good laugh and they’re hoping I understand.   
    5)   By now I’m totally cracking up, and realizing that sometimes, the band just does what it wants to.  I’m so glad for Gary, and his temporary setup outperforming mine.   Now he’ll think you can work a random 340 mile contact on 432 any old time, LOL! 

        So if K9JCZ asks you if you want to help him test his 432 setup, make sure to tell him he’s 20 over, no matter what, OK?    And if you work me at the same time, make sure you tell me I’m barely above the noise.    We’ll have fun with it, and that’s what counts.  😉 

        Like I said, net reports will be up tomorrow.

Your turn to improve V/UHF — join the CQ Crew

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

    If you came to the website looking for this morning’s weekly SSB net announcements, scroll down a little bit and you’ll find them.  

   What I’m talking about in this post is a new idea that’s been taking shape in my mind for a while now.   As with anything I do here, it’s all about increasing activity on 6m, 2m, 1.25cm, 70cm.  Not just for weekly nets, not just for the occasional contest, but every day or night. 

   The idea is to motivate  Joe or Jane Q. VHF’er to make more noise on the bands we love.  As well as reward him/her!   I’m willing to personally sponsor rewards in the form of nice-looking certificates for anyone who makes a modest commitment every month to getting on the air and calling CQ.   This is something that will reward you if you put out the effort.   It will also be fun because if dozens of you get on board, it will make a big improvement. 

    I’m going to call this club the CQ Crew.   This will not be a formal club, as I generally stay away from organizations, meetings, committees and politics.   Instead, this is a grass-roots effort to get any ordinary VHF/UHF lover to start calling CQ on a regular basis, whenever they can.    No dues, no sign-up procedure, no meetings or agenda beyond making more consistent noise on VHF/UHF.    You can start participating in this club today or tonight, by getting on the air and calling CQ.  Actually trying to make random contacts with anyone/anywhere.   Keep track of your time spent doing this — it will count toward your potential award.  

    This will also be a work in progress for a few weeks, while I hammer out the details.   What you will see this afternoon is preliminary.   I would appreciate lots of discussion and input from anyone as we get going.   Use the website, and the “comment” feature.  Any reasonable and constructive comments will be welcome.  

    You just read the short version.   What follows are some background-type thoughts of mine.

    I started doing the SSB and FM nets in June/July/Aug. of 2008.   Prior to that, I was mostly the sort of VHF’er who got on for contests and the occasional band opening.   I still prefer contests and band openings but… but I realized I could be doing more to make VHF better.   Why?  
    Because ever since I came into V/UHF in late 2003/early 2004, I hear so many guys with more experience complain, complain about how much better V/UHF used to be in the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s.   While these guys are probably right, I wasn’t around back then to judge for myself.  So my focus is not about the past, but instead, about the future.  It doesn’t matter where we’ve been — talking about the past gets us nowhere.   All we can do is start making things more active on the air right now, and tomorrow, next week and into 2010.   That’s the whole focus of this CQ Crew club. 

    The reasons why my nets have worked is because I promote the heck out of them.   I use email heavily.   Each week, I contact at least a dozen different ham clubs.   4 of these are active VHF/UHF clubs in and around WI.   The other 8-9 are mostly groups/clubs that have Yahoo reflectors.   My best guess is that each week, at least 1000-2000 hams see something from me.   To do the email, it takes me about 2-4 hours a week.   For me, that’s no big deal.   I realize few hams will go to that extent, but it’s my speciality, so I work it to my advantage.   I also accept that many hams will hit delete automatically upon seeing yet another email from me.   It’s all a numbers game.   The 10-20% who do pay attention are the ones who make this work. 
   
    What’s the reward for my weekly work?   Well… there are many, but the main ones are:
    1)  Each week, with my 4 nets (3 SSB on Wed. and 1 FM-only on Thur.) get at least 30-50 total check-ins.   So that creates significant activity on the air.  
    2)  Better yet, I keep getting at least 5-10 new guys dropping in every month.   This tells me the word is spreading, and momentum is growing.   I will eventually sit down and compile a total list of every unique check-in and share it with anyone who cares.  Don’t hold your breath, LOL, it will take me hours.   But when I do get that all-time net check-in list done, it will show over 300 unique calls.   Well over half of those 300 are hams I would have never met, if I hadn’t made the commitment to doing the nets.
    3)  Why #2 makes me feel so good is that it tells me that VHF is still alive and well!   The VHF’ers are out there, but it does take some time and effort to get them motivated.   From what I hear, it’s the same way with any aspect of hamming, whether it’s getting public service volunteers, ARES/RACES members, getting folks to be involved with HF traffic nets, etc.   My speciality is VHF/UHF so that’s what I concentrate on.  
    4)  I’ve ended up having good on-air and email relationships with dozens of guys who say thanks and say that they enjoy what we’re doing together.   They’ve done what they can to improve VHF/UHF, and that’s what’s going to be necessary to make long-term gains.   I enjoy hearing from enthusiastic hams; it keeps me motivated.  
    5)  The nets and the support hams have given me got me motivated enough to start this website, which is key.  I now can make my weekly round of emails shorter, and simply direct the motivated ones to the website.   I know the website is working because I can see the statistics.   If I go thru a period of several days where I post nothing new, I see that about 40-60 folks visit, but they only have a page hit or two, and they’re done.   When I have a day where I send out email saying “I’ve posted new content, visit the website”, then I get 70-120 unique visitors and 500-3000 page hits.   There’s an audience that’s very interested in improving VHF and without that, I’d have given up by now. 

     Those 5 factors tell me to keep coming up with good new ideas that will keep the ball rolling.   So let’s cut this post here, and the next one will talk about specific goals we’re going to accomplish by starting up the CQ Crew.

Eight goals for the CQ Crew club — print and save.

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

    Let’s talk about specific goals of the CQ Crew.    If you’re impatient, concentrate on the short items listed 1-8.   If you enjoy the logic behind each point, I’ve provided detail.  

   1)  Increase overall activity on the bread-and-butter VHF bands.   2m and 6m.   

         Make it so that just about any time of day (and especially evenings and weekends) you will hear multiple hams calling CQ or having friendly QSO’s with other random hams.   Special emphasis will be given to pointing beams *away* from large cities, and finding the VHF’ers out in the sticks.   Cities are important, too, but those guys who try hard 100-200 miles away from everyone need to be included.   
        You want to work guys in distant grid squares?  Well start calling toward them.   You wouldn’t believe how frustrating it is to be 100-200 miles off the side of a city, hear light QSO’s all the time, and hardly ever have any of them swing a beam your way, so you can get in on the fun.  

   2)   Find and encourage new VHF’ers.  

         Anyone who finds even ONE new VHF’er and gets them to stick around will get an extra gold star in this CQ Crew program.   Trust me on that.   If you can find more than one, then you’ll get a bigger gold star.   You can make a huge difference by getting a few new guys on the air.   This ain’t HF; we just don’ t have that kind of range or numbers.   So every new one on VHF is key.    I have ideas for getting new ones on VHF; if you’re interested in helping, email me or leave a comment here for more details.   Or be creative, and use your own ideas.  

   3)   Improve your station.  

         Add a higher-gain beam.   Raise your antennas, even 5,10,15′.   Add omni loops (stack 2, it makes a difference) to hear things you might miss when the beam is pointed another direction.   Improve your feedline.  Stop using junk coax that’s “good enough”.   Get every last db your antenna captures down to the rig.   If you’ve got $500-3000 sunk into nice rigs and you’re using 5 or 10 cent antennas and feedline, your priorities are backwards, at least for VHF/UHF purposes.   Trust me and all the old-timers on that advice.  

    4)   Add bands.  

          Don’t stop at just 6 or 2 meters.   Get active on 432.   So many of the HF + VHF rigs already have 432 in them.   As you find more guys to work on 6 and 2 meters, ask them if they have 432 and then point your beams at each other and have fun there.   Learn with your own ears how fulfilling it can be to have a 432 signal come out of nowhere, once you and the other station get your beams peaked up. 
          Please note that there is already an existing 432 activity net on Monday nights, at 8pm central.   Point your beam toward N4PZ who is about 30 miles SW of Rockford, grid square EN52gb.   Because yagis are very pointy on 432, you may not hear anything for some time, but believe me, when N4PZ points toward you, he’s LOUD.   N4PZ is Steve, and he manages to stir up 8-12 guys on 432 each Monday, from a wide area.   Listen along there, or say hello and get some 432 activity in your log.   Other guys on that net may QSY up to 432.110 to work others, so get involved and ask any questions you have. 

         Same thing for the 222 band.   Consider getting on that band via a transverter, or find a used Yaesu FT 736R with the optional 222 band module installed.   The 222 band is a great secret.  It’s quieter and has better tropo enhancement than 2 meters.   The only drawback is that commercially-available 222 gear with SSB capability is almost non-existent.   So it does take more $ and more commitment to step up to 222.  
         Not trying to shout here with the bold type, but this is important.   A long-term goal of mine is to create more activity on the 1.25cm band.   Preferably 222 SSB, but also 223/224 FM simplex.   There is a HUGE need for a 222 SSB or 223/4 FM simplex net.   Anyone who steps up and makes this happen will have my strong support.  Perhaps we could even find some sort of rotating net control schedule.  I’m all ears with anything having to do with 1.25cm.   I have this band and love the heck out of it.  Watt-for-watt, it’s better than 144, hands down.   If you already know of existing 222 or 223 activity, please clue me in.   It needs more publicity. 

    5)   Start your own net, whether on SSB (preferably) or FM simplex.  

           Identify a handful of VHF-curious guys in your area and get something started.   Spread the word.   Be friendly and encouraging.   Be consistent.  If you say you’re going to be there at 8pm on Tuesday, then be there.   Or have alternate net controls ready to help out.   Any sort of regularly-scheduled activity will draw hams, if you promote it and have fun.   Even if you can only do this once or twice a month, it’s better than nothing.  
           Be creative and think of ways you or your group can make something happen.   Maybe a weekend net.  Maybe something during afternoons for the retired guys.   Know a lot of 2nd or 3rd shift workers?   Then do a net at an oddball time to accomodate them.   

    6)   Learn CW.  

           I have to learn it, too.  🙁    At least I have to get better and more consistent with my practice.  
          Get into 10-15 wpm range and you will find VHF’ers who are overjoyed to hear a new one on.   You’ll be more respected because CW is an important skill in hamming.  You’ll also find that you work farther on CW.   The SSB/CW side of VHF/UHF is called weak-signal work because that’s where the DX is; in the weaker signals.    As you grow in VHF, you’ll start working stations you won’t work on SSB, if you add CW to your skills.    

    7)   Start promoting VHF/UHF.  

           Talk it up to your “normal” ham buddies (said with a smile).   When you’re on the air, exchange info with other guys about known active nets.  Or contests.   Talk up the new guy you’ve heard on the air.   Ask the guy/gal you’re working if they have any other bands they want to try.    Ask them if they’ve worked any new grids or stations lately.
      

      8)   Be a rover in contests.   Even consider hosting nets or activity periods (outside of contests) from your mobile station, in an unusual location.   This is an excellent idea, and I know of nobody who does it.   I actually got this idea from a Kansas City ham.  

             Lots of VHF’ers who are antenna-restricted find a way to enjoy the hobby.   They get a decent mobile station and back it up with medium to long-boom yagis that ensure they will be heard from 100-200 miles away.   Then they go to different grid squares during a contest and make contesters very happy with lots of Q’s and new grids.   Rovers put a lot of time and effort into this, and they deserve mucho rewards, in my mind. 
             Now if a VHF’er wanted to do more mobile ops, and make themselves the focus of attention, they could easily drive to a tougher grid square in a high location and call a net or activity period from that location.   With the right publicity ahead of time, I bet you a dozen or more stations would point their antennas toward the rover/mobile and it’d be a lot of fun.   You could even bring along two or three bands, and probably get  guys to put some new grids in their logs.   

           If dozens of you put these 8 principles into action, it will make a big, big difference.   I’m happy to sponsor awards for those who put in the work, so let’s get started having fun.    I will outline the potential rewards in the next post.

CQ Crew rewards — How you can earn them.

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

    So I’ve discussed the basic goals of this new CQ Crew.   I’ve got a lot of time, passion and $ stuck into my station, so I’m more than willing to award nice-looking certificates to those who meet certain criteria.   For those who go  farther, there will be some modest plaques for you to keep forever.   If you are the kind of person who shies away from awards, just tell me, and I’ll respect that.   Make progress toward the 8 goals anyway, and your reward will be improving VHF.  

     Please understand that there are no dues or formal obligations for being part of this program.   It is open to sincere, honest VHF’ers all across the Midwest, and heck, the whole USA  and Canada.   Anyone who shows a really good effort deserves a little recognition.   If I don’t know you from Adam, do expect me to keep tabs on how you’re doing.   I want that sort of communication because seeing others get motivated keeps me motivated. 

    The rewards period starts today, August 12, 2009.   Because it will take some time for folks to get up to speed, the rewards period will end on Dec. 31, 2010.   Please keep track of your progress on Goals 1-8, and update me and this website from time to time.    I will be promoting this CQ Crew frequently throughout the fall, winter and into next year.   Expect to hear about it often.   I WANT to hear about your efforts often.   So many hams don’t respond unless others get the ball rolling so work with me here.   With enough participants and publicity, this could end up being a pretty big deal.  

    To receive these awards, I will ask you for a report in late 2010 or early 2011,  showing me the progress you made on any or all of the 8 goals.   So keep track of what you do, as time passes.  Unless I hear that you are an untrustworthy scoundrel, I will assume you are telling me the truth.   The Honor System applies here.   I will also be paying more attention to the bands, to see who’s out there trying and who isn’t.   You may do the same with me.  🙂 

     I will devise a point system and tweak it in the next few weeks, as comments come in.   
  
     500 points will earn you a nice-looking certificate with your name, callsign and accomplishments listed.  
     If you get to the 3000 point level, you will get at least a 5×7″ plaque.   In fact, I will award a larger plaque if anyone gets past the 5000 point level.   Don’t get stuck on the exact numbers at this point.  Instead, get motivated and start working toward the 8 Goals.    We should have a final plan in place next month.   I want questions and comments before I set everything in stone.  

    Goal #1)  Improve activity on bread-and-butter VHF bands, 2m and 6m.   
               The reward for this goal comes from calling CQ and answering CQ’s.   Far too many guys sit with the rig on, and don’t call CQ.   They hear little activity and declare that the band is dead.   That won’t work here.   You need to put time in calling CQ into a dead band.   You also need to answer CQ’s that you hear.   Further, you need to point away from the guys that you know locally.   You need to point beams toward out-of-the-way locations, to include those who don’t get the activity the bigger cities do.   More points will come to those who work stations in out-of-the-way grids.    If you only get on for contests, or when the band is open, you’re not getting this concept. 
       The whole idea is to create activity — not wait for it to come to you.   So the criteria is:
               1)   Call CQ at least two hours per month.   A half hour per week is great.   Do more if you get the hang of it.  The more you do this, the more you will find pleasant surprises.   That means swinging beams and calling into a dead band, even if you feel foolish.  (We all do, LOL)   If you do this, you will find stations.    It is fine to also answer other station’s CQ’s.   You get 20 points for each month where you call CQ for at least two hours.  
                     You get another 10 points for working at least 10 different stations per month.   This can add up to 120 points if you do it for 12 months.   Each month is a new one, for point-counting purposes.   In fact, if you work over 25 stations in a month (talking uniques, starting over each month) then you get a 25 point bonus for that month. 
                     You get an additional 20 points for working at least 10 different grid squares in any given month.   If you work at least 10 different grids each month, you get 240 points.  
                     The whole idea here is to get VHF’ers to reach out.   Just sitting and ragchewing with your same old buddies won’t cut it.  

        
          2)       Find and encourage new VHF’ers.
                     You will get 200 points for each new VHF’er that personally vouches for you getting them going.   These VHF’ers have to at least make a consistent effort to be on the air and get involved.   If they sit back and lose interest, you’ll still get 50 points for the effort, but those who stick around will get the bigger points. 
                     If you find a new VHF’er who ends up getting at least 500 CQ Crew points, you will get an additional 200 point bonus. 

      3)     Station improvements.   
              Improve existing antennas on any band by at least 3db —  100 points per band.
              Raise antennas and tell me truthfully you hear farther — 100 points. 
              Improve coax and also say you hear better/louder — 100 points

      4)     Adding bands.
              Add  222 or 432  and actually use and enjoy it — 250 points per band
              If you have an interest in microwave bands from 900 MHz on up thru 1296, 2304, 3456, 5 gig or 10 gig — we need to refer you to microwave specialists who will be thrilled to help.   — 500 points per band.  

     5)     Starting your own net.
              If you start a net (especially in an area that needs one) AND you operate it weekly, at least 80% of the time, you get 500 points.   This would also apply to co-net controls, if you have a group.   The net commitment must be steady, no starting one up for 3-6 months and quitting.  
             You get a 1000 point bonus if your net shows at least 150 unique check-ins between now and Dec. 31, 2010.  This is to reward publicizing the net, and not just chatting with your same old buddies every week.  

     6)    Learn CW.   
             Between now and Dec. 31, 2010, you learn and use CW on the air, at least 10wpm — 500 points.    You will have to schedule a CW Q with me later next year to verify that we both accomplished the goal.  

     7)   Promote VHF/UHF.
            A lot of this falls in the other categories, so it’s sort of redundant, now that I look at it.   However, if you tell me some unique ways you promoted VHF and it worked, I’ll award an extra 250 points.

     8)   Be a rover in contests or host some nets or activity periods from your rover or portable location.
            Those who put out a good effort in this area will get 500 points.   A good effort will NOT be going roving one time for 4 hours and getting 10-20 Q’s in your log.   Nor will it be doing one portable/rover net on a pleasant summer evening and working 7 guys.   At the same time, you don’t have to kill yourself doing this one.   I’ll take them on a case-by-case basis.  
            Generally speaking, at least two roves of 4 grids for at least 8 hours in a contest will get you 500 points.   Or doing at least 4 nets/activity periods from a portable location in a year with 50 total contacts will get you 500 points.  Do both and you get 1000 points.  

           There are the criteria for awards in the CQ Crew club.    I strongly suspect I will tweak them a bit.  I also hope that many of you will express your support and offer suggestions.   There are probably things I’ve overlooked, so bring them up to me and we’ll discuss.   Hopefully in a month or so, we’ll have everything firmed up.   In the meantime, start doing your part to improve VHF and UHF.  

          Print these posts out and save them.   Keep track of your progress.  I’ll enjoy seeing how everyone’s doing.  
As with anything we do, the more you spread the word, the better V/UHF will be for it. 

         Thanks for your time, 73, good luck,
         Todd   KC9BQA   EN63ao    40 N of Milwaukee
         http://www.kc9bqa.com    For Frequent VHF/UHF Updates

144 MHz SSB nets definitely *ON* tonight

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

    Very good chance of enhanced propagation tonight.   This time of year you want to be ready to play VHF/UHF deep into the night or else from early to mid-morning. 
    I know my nets got busy last year about this time.   While that’s great,  I’m always encouraging VHF’ers to spread out across the band and create their own activity.   The best thing that could happen to 2m SSB or any VHF/UHF band is to have multiple QSO’s on multiple frequencies most nights.   Always keep that in mind.  
     

     For new folks, here are the net details.   If you’re familiar with everything, you can stop reading here and save yourself some time. 
  
    Three net options on 144 SSB every Wed.   Each targets a specific area,  to reach as many hams as possible in a few hundred mile radius from my EN63 QTH.  
    Know that for all my nets, there’s no set agenda or protocol.   I run them as an individual, so everyone is welcome.   Stay as long or as little as you like.   DX is always welcome to try checking in.    I actively encourage net check-ins to QSY off the net freq. and try working others on their own.   I suggest using this webpage to help coordinate that:   http://dxworld.com/vhfqso.html    The only purpose of any net I run is to create more activity on 144 SSB.   

    To keep creating more activity, I ask each of you  to help spread the word about these nets and my website.   Surely you know one or two VHF-curious hams.   Tell them about what we’re doing.   For those of you who have already been doing this, thank you.  

    Net Option #1 looks at IN/OH/MI, as well as any areas beyond (with good propagation).   That net is on 144.250 and starts at 2330 utc, or 7:30pm eastern time.   I start out looking SSE thru Indiana, always calling CQ twice and listening before moving the beam counter-clockwise about 10 degrees.   This means I’m looking IN first, then into SW OH, and up thru C and N OH, before looking into MI from south to north.   I stop when I get to the U.P. of MI.  
    I am done with this net by 0015 utc because I need to QSY to 144.240 to run ….

    Option #2 is for all of WI/IL (except the crowded Milwaukee/Chicago areas — they are encouraged to use Option #3).   Option #2 is also for all of MO/IA/MN and the U.P. of MI.   As well as any areas beyond, given good band conditions.   This net is on 144.240, starting at 0015utc or 7:15pm central time.  
     I start out looking SSW thru C and W IL, and slowly go clockwise with the beams.   Thru MO/IA/MN, as well as outstate WI and the U.P. of MI.   I stop when I get to due north.   I have to be done by 0130utc/8:30pm central because I’m off to 144.250 to run ….

    Option #3 is the Badger Contesters net on 144.250 at 0130utc/8:30pm central.   All are welcome.  Typically most of our check-ins are from the Milwaukee/Chicago corridor.   So I start out looking south and get them checked-in.   However, I do look a full 360 with this net.   Starting about 8:35-8:40pm, I swing the beams clockwise and call CQ to my SW, W, NW, N, NE, E, SE.   Once we have a list of all check-ins, I go back to south, give the “locals” a chance to say hello to the net.   After that, I swing the beams and try to pick up the more distant check-ins as well.

146.43 FM simplex net report — 14 check-ins

Friday, August 7th, 2009

   Had a nice FM net, active and conditions were pretty good.  Not great, but decent.  Also had a Michigan check-in, who was a steady S3 from between Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo, grid square EN72.
 
   KM4G          Marv       EN53   Germantown       15 over S9
   KC9NZR     Rich         EN53   West Bend             60 over — full scale
   KC9KPV     Randy     EN53   Germantown       20 over
   KB5ZJU     Phil           EN63   Sheboygan Falls   60 over +
   K9FI          Jerry         EN53   Brookfield             S3
   KA9OFA   Pancho    EN63   Milwaukee            S5
   KC9PQF   Tom           EN63   Milwaukee            S7
   WB9TFH   Gil              EN53   West Allis            S7
   KA9AAB   Bob           EN53   Kewaskum          60 over
   N9JKX      Dan           EN64    Algoma                S2
   AC9RL      Ron          EN62    Kenosha               S3
   AB9UA    Mark         EN63   Milwaukee           S0   — had about 50% copy on Mark.
   K8FDX    Kenny      EN72    Paw Paw, MI      S3     Kenny’s first time to the net.  He has a vertical up 90′ and a brick putting out about 170w, and he was plenty strong.   He does some work on FM simplex and was getting plenty of good Q’s last night out to Iowa, MO, and across WI and MI.    K8FDX just found us scanning around the band, so it was nice of him to say hello.  
   KC9QFV   Bill         EN62     Milwaukee           S2     Bill’s first time so welcome, Bill.  
  
    It’s 9:40pm and KC9KPV, WB9TFH and myself are in ragchew mode.  Others are always free to get in the mix.

146.43 FM net *ON* tonight 8:30pm — 0130 utc

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

    Subject line says it all — hear you at 8:30pm.

144 SSB net reports — fun night

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

   Had a few highlights tonight, plus a very strong turnout for the 144.250 Badger Net, at 8:30pm or 0130 utc.  19 check-ins there.  

   The new IN/OH/MI net on 144.250 at 6:30 or 2330 utc had 6 check-ins.
   N8JX         Terry      EN64  N of Manistee, MI    S9
   KC9LCW   Roger     EN61   La Porte, IN             S9
   WD8AUL   Dale       EN73   Stanwood, MI         S7
   K8VFV     Robert    EN82   Davisburg, MI         S1
   KV8X         Al        EN63   N Muskegon, MI      S5   this was with a vertical omni up 30′   Great signal. 
   K8JA        Jack          EN82   Sterling Heights, MI   S1

   The 144.240 net at 7:15pm had 8 check-ins.  3 were relayed by WB9LYH Mark in EN54.   Mark worked his first S. Dakota station on 144, WB0ULX in EN04.   I was pretty amazed by that, considering the band seemed flat.  But Mark is 100 miles closer to ‘ULX, so I’m really glad he got involved. 
   Check-ins were:
   WB0YWW      Bob        EN22   Moorland, IA      S3
   KA0OKM      Harley      EN42   Dubuque           S2
   W0FAY          Bill          EN42   Dubuque           S9  but plenty of QSB
   K9JCZ           Gary         EN53   Fond du Lac     20 over — local
   WB9LYH      Mark        EN54   Rudolph, WI      20 over — always strong
    So the net was kind of slow and ‘JCZ, ‘LYH and I shot the breeze for a while.  I was noticing I had some noise to the W thru NW and realized I probably wouldn’t hear any light callers from the Twin Cities or Duluth/Superior.   Asked ‘LYH if he would do the honors, and that worked out great.   Mark got W0LCP and K0SIX in EN35, and then I heard him say “South Dakota?”   Game on — he worked WB0ULX  Lloyd in EN04, Huron, SD on a peak!   I never heard a peep, except for Mark’s end of the Q’s.     That Q was over a 416 mile path, so great DX there, Mark and Lloyd. 

    The 144.250 Badger net at 8:30 or 0130 utc had 19 check-ins.   DX highlight was a loud WB0NQD Richard from EM29.   About 600-700w into 4 M2 18XXX’s.   Richard ended up working several local stations down 10 from the main net frequency, so that’s a great feeling.  
   Our check-ins tonight were:
   KC9KPV     Randy       EN53   Germantown, WI      20 over
   KC9NJZ     Jay             EN52    McHenry, IL              S3    Pretty sure that’s Jay’s 1st time — welcome. 
   KA9OFA    Pancho     EN63   Milwaukee                   S0
   W9GA         Ken         EN53    Colgate, WI                 S9
   WB9WKJ   Randy       EN62    Racine                          S5
   N9NDP      Harvey      EN62    Kenosha                      S9
   KC8ZJL     Dennis       EN71    Cecil, OH                     S3
   N9WU        Rick          EN53   Germantown                S3
   WB9TFH   Gil             EN53    West Allis                     S5
   W9IPR      Tom          EN53    Cedarburg, WI           20 over
   W0FAY    Bill              EN42    Dubuque                      S7
   KA9AAB  Bob            EN53    Kewaskum, WI             S9
   WB9LYH  Mark         EN54    Rudolph, WI                 20 over
   KB5ZJU   Phil            EN63    Sheboygan Falls, WI      30 over
   K9JCZ      Gary          EN53    Fond du Lac                 20 over
   WB0NQD  Richard   EM29   Independence, MO        S9 peaks
   AB8GL     John          EN62   Bangor, MI                     10 over
   WA9NGO  Tom         EN61   La Porte, IN                   S7     Tom’s first time saying hello — nice to hear him. 
   K9FI         Jerry         EN53   Brookfield, WI              S3

    I get a feeling that we’re heading into a period with better band conditions.   I was tuning around 144 a bit tonight, and heard multiple things going on off the sides.   Band looked up across KS/IA/MO/IL/IN.   That prop may shift north toward our area, with a little help from the weather.

144 SSB nets *ON* tonight

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

   Been dragging my feet a little on the net announcements today — I admit to having some radio burnout lately, and especially after the Aug UHF contest. 
   But the weather’s top notch and I’m optimistic that one of these nights, we’re going to start experiencing better propagation and we might have some fun opportunities to hear/work some DX.   So the nets are *ON* tonight.  

   The full line-up is as follows — for those of you who might be visiting for the 1st or 2nd time:
   7:30 eastern or 2330 utc is on 144.250.  Target area is IN/OH/MI and beyond, if conditions allow.   I start out by looking SSE thru IN, and slowly rotate counter-clockwise thru OH and then MI.   I stop when I get to due north.  

   7:15 central or 0015 utc is on 144.240.   Target area is outstate IL and WI, plus all of  MO/IA/MN and U.P. of MI.  Of course, if there’s ever exceptional propagation, we’re always listening hard for real DX.   I start out at 0015 by looking SSW thru central and western ILL and I slowly rotate clockwise from there.   Stop when I get to due north.  

  8:30 central or 0130 utc is on 144.250.    This net tends to have the check-ins from Milwaukee/Chicago areas, but I do look a full 360, going clockwise from the MKE/CHI area.  

   The purpose of these nets is to stir up a maximum amount of activity on 2m SSB, within several hundred miles of my EN63 QTH.   I’d prefer to have you working each other, rather than simply working me.   The best thing any of us can do for ham radio is to have lots of QSO’s across the band.   
   Toward that goal, consider using this webpage during the nets:   http://dxworld.com/vhfqso.html   With that page, you can let others know if you’re going to QSY and attempt to work other net check-ins.   I only see a few using that page, and I’m not sure why more don’t.   If you have a comment, please share it with me.