Archive for November, 2009

January/February Excitement — flip your calendar to 2010

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

     Thanksgiving isn’t far away and then Christmas is on top of us.   So let’s look ahead today and save time now for a few things.  
     1)   ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes is January 23-24th, 2010.   As always, starts 1pm Sat. and runs until 10pm Sun.   Operate as much as you like on all bands from 6m on up.      http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2010/jan-vhf-ss.html   We saw a strong turnout all across S WI and N ILL with this one last year.    Since the long-range forecasts say it will be upper 20’s and sunny, you can prepare your rover operations with complete confidence.   (!)  

     2)    MRAC FM Simplex Contest will be on the early afternoon of Sunday, February 21st, 2010.    It’s the 8th year of this contest, and I know this one will be the best.   http://www.w9rh.org/documents/FMCONTESTRULES2009a.pdf   That’s last year’s rules, if you want to know the format.   This is a short, fun sprint on the FM portions of 6m, 2m, 1.25m and 70cm.  

     3)   On Thursday, Jan. 28th, I will be doing a V/UHF presentation at the MRAC monthly meeting.    This will be geared toward beginners.   We will talk about how to get started, where the current FM simplex and SSB activity is, and how to dip your toes into a V/UHF contest.    
            If this is info you want to see in person, save Thur. evening Jan. 28th.     MRAC president AB9CD and I had a nice landline on Friday, and Mark assures me MRAC meetings are open to everyone.     This will be fun, spread the word.

KC9KPV gets 10 check-ins on FM last night. Big surprise from EN56, U.P. MI

Friday, November 13th, 2009

     Randy was kind enough to take the net last night.    When I got home, I see the email below.   I look thru, recognize all the calls except one.    Go lookup N8KGB and see he’s in Ontonagon, EN56, far western U.P. of MI.    Honestly thought it might be a busted call.   Nobody else similar matched, though.   So I email Randy and say, “hey, what was N8KGB all about?”   He said Ron was on the shore of Lake Superior in Upper Michigan.   25 watts with an old Yaesu, great signal and strong audio.  

     Well how the heck about that?    25 watts on a 260 mile path on FM.     Short-lived duct?   Guy operating out of a fire tower?   Nah, scratch that wacky idea…  I know plenty of guys listen along to us on 146.43, so if the opening had been widespread, I imagine there would have been some more DX-type check-ins.    K9KJM in Sturgeon Bay (EN64) doesn’t qualify as DX because his station is just too strong, LOL.    The other 8 check-ins were fairly close to net control.  
     EN56 Ontonagon… definitely a first for the FM net.  

Hi Todd
7:30 Zilch Zip Nada Zero
 
8:00 PM
KM4G        MARV
KC9NZR     RICH
N9LOH       STEVE
WB9WHO  TOM
K9BKJ        KEN
AB9UA       MARK
WB9TFH    GIL
W9IPR       TOM
N8KGB       RON
K9KJM       KEN

146.43 FM net *ON* tonight — 0130 with beam looking toward MI, then IN, then IL. 0200 regular start for anyone, anywhere.

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

    HEADS-UP, BECAUSE CONDITIONS WERE VERY GOOD THIS MORNING ON TV AND FM IN THE GREAT LAKES. 

   KC9KPV Randy is taking the 146.43 FM net tonight.   He’s located 15 miles NW of Milwaukee, in the SE part of EN53.   He has a 10el vertical beam with a good shot into MI/IN/IL.   I’m omni-only on the FM side.

    What Randy’s been doing is starting up at 8:30pm eastern/7:30pm central, calling CQ with that beam into MI, IN and then N ILL.     He does this every week, and it’s been slow.   You can help by spreading the word to guys with decent 2 meter FM stations in MI/IN/IL.     The goal is to increase activity in a wide area.    The more activity guys hear, the more fun the bands become.   I’ve never heard a guy complain about 2 meters being too busy, hihi. 
    At 8pm central, 9pm eastern, KC9KPV will then call for more local check-ins by SE WI counties.    After he gets a list, we then call for “anyone/anywhere”.   If you’re DX, that’s your cue to say hello.   Let us know you’re out there, and we’ll try to pick you up, or have a beam swung toward you.

144.240 net report WB9LYH has 26 check-ins. 144.250 KC9BQA has 15 check-ins.

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

    Another very busy night, even with flat band conditions.   VHF’ers are really coming out to play on Wed. nights, and both WB9LYH and I are very pleased with the progress.   Some of you must be spreading the word and thanks for that — it helps all of us.  
   WB9LYH started up at 0100 or 8pm eastern time, looking at Michigan.   I’ve not heard one negative comment, so this will be a permanent change.   It gives Mark more time overall, and it makes sense to get into the eastern time zone at the start.    We may adjust this schedule come late spring/summer of 2010 when the days get longer, but that’s a long ways off.   
   Nothing has changed with the 144.250 Badger Contesters net that I call.   It starts at 0230 or 8:30pm central time, and I say hello to my Milwaukee/Chicago check-ins for a time before I swing the beams clockwise, looking for anyone else in a full 360.  

   WB9LYH EN54cl heard from:
  W8RCM and KC8TJB EN72;  N9YK, WD9DSN and W9THD EN71;   N8WNA EN82;  W8NJR EN70;  W9YZU EM69;  W8NGV EM79;  W9LIO EN61;  NF9D EN51;  K9JCZ and W9CWD EN53;  N0RWR EN42;  WB0YWW and KG0SJ EN22;  WV9E EN43;  K9MU EN44;  W0HXL EN21;  N0WJY EN10;  W0VB and KC0TRX EN34;  K0SIX and KC0FQZ EN35;  K0AWU EN37,   and VE3KRP EN58.  
   That’s 19 grids, 8 states and 1 Canadian province by my count.   If I missed anyone, I apologize.   I track the check-ins by ear, going off of what I hear from WB9LYH.  
   The milestones last night were hearing from 3 new grids, all-time with these nets, going back to their start in July of 2008.   EN21, EN10 and EN58 Ontario are all new grids.   It’s even possible that EN70 is new — hardly ever hear anyone on from there.   I’d have to go back thru my hand-written net logs.    We are looking for more guys from the downstate IN, IL and MO areas.   They’re well within WB9LYH’s and my reach.  

    With the later 144.250 net I had:
    WB9WOZ and N9JBW EN61;  K9KHW EN63;  KC9NZR, KC9KPV and K9JCZ EN53;  KC9AOV, WA9KPZ and W9CWD EN52;  W0FAY and N0RWR EN42;  WV9E EN43;  K9MU EN44;  KC0TRX EN34 and K0SIX EN35.    Signals were down, but still good particpation.   I don’t mind that WB9LYH is getting more activity, not at all.   It’s the activity that’s important.   With a station like his (mine’s no slouch, either) he’s going to get out a long, long ways. 
    Both WB9LYH and I encourage net check-ins to QSY and look  to work others directly.   We definitely want to work you, but we want everyone to think about working others, in different directions.    Getting enough guys on to make a net worthwhile takes time but we’re definitely there.   The next goal is to increase activity in a very wide area, so that Wed. night becomes a “can’t miss” night for playing on 2 meters.  
    When you know WB9LYH isn’t looking your way, turn your beams away from WI, and see who’s in the opposite direction.    This extends the activity another few hundred miles toward areas we can’t work directly.  
    If you want to know what WB9LYH is doing, monitor the real-time 144/432 MHz chat at www.on4kst.com.   I hear Mark 95% of the time, and post immediate updates of where he’s looking and who he’s hearing.   You don’t miss a thing this way, and you also get the benefit of seeing who all is logged into the chat, with callsigns and grid squares.   That’s powerful information you can’t get on the 144 Prop Logger.    That’s why we’ve switched over to the on4kst.com chat.  
   We keep getting new guys in there, and over time, it will improve overall activity.  

    One fun thing from last night —  W9CWD was on the S side of Madison, WI and about a 70-80 mile path.   He floored me when he said he was running .5 watts.  Yes, I’m talking 500 milliwatts.   He was a stable S2 while we gabbed for a few minutes.   Most interesting.

WB9LYH racking them up on 144.240 — first 2 Nebraska check-ins from EN21 and EN10

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

   This is a real-time update at 8pm central, 0200 utc. 
   Happy to report WB9LYH has worked 21 Q’s and he’s now worked W0HXL in EN21 and N0WJY in EN10.   Those are the first Nebraska check-ins either Mark or I have had in 16 months of running the nets.   I doubt we’d have done it without email letting those guys know we’re here.   Almost every week, we’re making progress.  
   I think WB0YWW in EN22 has been helping with relays, too.   WB0YWW has been one of our best check-ins going back over a year.   Thanks Bob.

   EDIT — 8:25pm   WB9LYH worked VE3KRP in EN58 Thunder Bay, ONT.   That’s on the north shore of Lake Superior.   Great to hear from Fast Eddie, the Maytag Repairman of VHF’ers.  🙂  

   9:35pm — K9JCZ in EN53 Fond du Lac is working some stations in the Twin Cities with the 144.250 net.   He’s hearing them better than I am, which is fine.   I’ve had 13-14 check-ins and will probably pull the plug soon.   To my ear, propagation is down tonight.   It seemed better earlier for WB9LYH, which was great.    Mark ended up with 27 check-ins total.  

10pm — 144.250 net called by me had 15 check-ins.    I’ll do a full writeup tomorrow about both nets.   

   IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR 146.43 FM NET INFO FOR TOMORROW NIGHT IT IS *ON* WITH KC9KPV AS NET CONTROL.   He starts out early with a 10 el beam looking for MI/IN/IL check-ins between 0130-0200 Z or 8:30-9pm eastern time.   Then at 8pm or 0200 Z, he calls for check-ins by local SE WI counties first, then looking for “anyone, anywhere”.    We usually get 10-15 check-ins and it’s a nice time.    Give KC9KPV some check-ins tomorrow night.  He’s located 15 miles NW of Milwaukee.

222 Tuesday not bad — 144 nets *ON* tomorrow night.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

   Worked 8 different guys on 222 SSB tonight.   Got distracted at times with some email and didn’t call on 223.5FM.   A local friend N9LAD out of EN62 just south of Milwaukee said he had fun letting some guys on the repeaters know about the 223.5FM option.   Hopefully they came out and played.   It’s 10pm and calling CQ hasn’t produced anything new, so I’m about done.  
   Stations worked tonight were:   N8WNA EN82;  N8PVT EN64;  WV9E EN43;  N9LAD EN62;  KC8QAE EN91;   VE3TFU EN92;  WD8USA EN73 and WO9S EN61.   Signals weren’t very good, but a wide range of stations were on.   Other 222’ers I know were on and trying were:   WB4NKM EM87.   Larry worked into EN91 and EN82 again.   K0SIX was monitoring from EN35.   K4ESA was trying to stir up activity from soggy N GA — he was in on4kst.com chat.   K5SW was also trying again from EM25 E OK.   Sam prefers the  222 Prop Logger.  
   EDIT — Wed. evening — I should have mentioned that WO9S Jon in EN61 Chicago was very happy to get a new grid via VE3TFU in EN92.   They made it on CW, with Jon only running 30w, over a 400 mile path.   Good stuff on a “dead” night, band-condition-wise.  

    The 144 nets are *ON* tomorrow night.   Once again, the Hepburn Tropo Ducting Forecast maps indicate a chance for better conditions.    Let’s hope that proves true.  

    THERE IS A CHANGE WITH THE 144.240 NET, PLEASE READ IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY.  
    WB9LYH will now start at 0100Z, or 8pm eastern.   He will start out looking E into Lower MI and then swing clockwise, down into OH, IN and beyond, if propagation allows.     Depending on how many check-ins he has, he should be looking S thru WI and IL by 0130 or so.   So you guys to the S, SW, W, NW will barely notice the change.   
    He will be looking east first from now on, but otherwise, nothing changes.    He still looks a full 360, and we’re looking for guys within 500 miles of central WI.      WB9LYH has been getting so many check-ins that it’ll be good to give him an hour and a half to do his thing.   He wraps up around 0230 or 8:30pm central.   

    Both Mark and I encourage net check-ins to slide down to 144.230 (or lower, if it gets too busy) to work others in different directions.   We also encourage those who can’t hear him directly (or have worked him already)  to turn their antennas away from WI and call CQ.   If enough guys do this in time, we could make Wed’s. very active on 2 meters across much of the USA.    40-50 guys working a net control is nice, BUT if those 40-50 guys start looking around for others, that’s when things will truly get interesting.  

    If you’re interested in being an informal satellite net control, or relay station,  email me.   I enjoy brainstorming.   I also *always* need more guys to email with reminders.   A big reason why these nets work is because of the email.   So many VHF’ers just don’t know where/when the activity is.   If you know of guys who would like reminders (again, in a very wide area) just email me.  

    I call the 144.250 Badger Contesters net (all are welcome) at 0230.   I start out looking south, usually work a Milwaukee/Chicago group, and then start swinging my beams clockwise a full 360.    I tend to look SW and W about 0250-0300, and proceed NW, N, NE, E, SE from there.  

   Hate to sound like a broken record, but consider trying the www.on4kst.com 144/432 MHz chat room to get a better idea of what all is going on, in real-time.   I can hear WB9LYH just about in any direction, so I post updates in chat about where he’s pointing and who he’s hearing.   Of course, anyone else can chat and find other stations to work.  The chat is not mandatory, but it really helps.   It’s there for everyone.   You can also just “lurk” in the chat.   Don’t have to type if you don’t care to.

New Start Time and Beam Heading for 144.240 Net — Eastern Time Zone Guys Need This Info

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

     The 144.240 net is going to get even better on Wednesdays.     We’ve had a lot more MI/OH/IN check-ins with WB9LYH in EN54cl as a super-loud net control.   We’re tweaking things to make the net better for everyone in a full 360.    This should be a permanent change; please spread the word.   Take a minute to read and re-read this change.   It applies to everyone who enjoys the 144.240 early net.  
    Propagation may be enhanced for 222 Tuesday and 144 on Wed. so get ready.  

    STARTING THIS WED EVENING, THE 144.240 NET KICKS OFF AT 8PM EASTERN, LOOKING ENE INTO N LOWER MICHIGAN (and beyond if prop allows).    WB9LYH and I both want this change, and the email I’ve gotten from our MI/OH/IN email group is 7 to 1 *for* the change.     
    This will only improve things.   The eastern time zone guys will be able to get on board, right away, at 8pm their time.   WB9LYH will still swing clockwise, looking  to Lower MI, VE-land, then OH and  IN.    WB9LYH is very loud into Indianapolis, so with some propagation, guys in KY/TN may hear him.   Look toward the middle of WI.  
    NOTHING WILL CHANGE FOR THE GUYS WHO ARE S, SW, W, NW OF WISCONSIN.   By 7:30-45 *central* time, WB9LYH will be looking south on 144.240, just like he always has, thru WI and ILL.   He’ll then swing SW, W, NW, looking for activity in MO/KS/IA/NE/MN/Dakotas.   We’ve heard excellent activity from those areas, so let’s keep at it.   
    SPREAD  THE WORD ABOUT THIS NET GOING OUT 400-800 MILES FROM WI.   Why so far?   Because even if you can’t work WB9LYH  direct, we strongly encourage other activity down below the net freqs.   Spread out and call CQ in directions away from WI, after you’ve listened our way.    Use the www.on4kst.com chat to see the dozens of stations who are on, in multiple grids and states.   I am in that chat, updating where WB9LYH is pointing and who he’s hearing, and it helps guys know when/where to look.   Of course, anyone can use the chat to coordinate other activity.   It’s there for everyone.  

    You do not have to use the chat.    On-air activity is always the main goal.   Just consider the chat a potential aid for working more stations in distant grids or states.  
    MI/IN/OH can swing east and southeast and try for NY/PA/VA and so on.   IN/IL/MO can swing south or southeast and look for KY/TN/AR.    IA/MN/NE/Dakotas can swing west or south and try for KS/OK/etc.    Be creative and think about ripples of RF spreading out in every direction.

    In time, we may establish satellite or relay net controls that can accomplish this.   Or perhaps guys would rather free-lance it.   It’s all good as long as it increases activity.    If you want to brainstorm with me, just email.    I’m good in qrz.com.

Day 3 of Big Tropo opening across S USA, is our band opening to the east at 8:30am central?

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

     I don’t play radio in the morning very often, (unless it’s a contest) but wanted to see if anything was happening this morning.    The 144 prop logger http://dxworld.com/144prop.html  is alive with spots from KS to FL and in between, as it has been since Friday night.    This is the tropo we’ve been waiting to get into all weekend.   It may get up here today/tonight into next week.   Don’t give up yet.  

    The only thing I’m hearing this morning is W8MIL in EN74 working guys in W NY and the Toronto area on 144.    I’m only hearing W8MIL’s end of things, so the band hasn’t extended this far west yet.   
    I have listened south and southeast quite a bit this morning, but only signal heard was WA9HIR in EN61 calling CQ without much success.

    Do want to add that 222 Tuesday could be very good, prop-wise.    We’ve been making steady progress with 222 Tuesdays, but a booster shot of good conditions would really help.    Spread the word about 222 Tuesday to anyone you know.    It’s a general activity night for the 1.25m band, for anyone, anywhere.   Call CQ, swing the beams on/near 222.100 SSB/CW and 223.5FM.   Anytime you can get on, concentrated toward 0100-0400Z.   
    Consider using the www.on4kst.com  144-432 MHz chat room for real-time coordination.   It’s free, no BS, and hundreds of 6m and 160m hams in US/VE have been enjoying this chat for years now.   No  reason we can’t use it for V/UHF.   Don’t let the European influence throw you because during our evenings, they are mostly asleep.   We’re welcome, either way.
   7 simple steps for getting signed up are at http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1072    We do very well using this during 222 Tuesdays and with the 144 nets on Wednesdays.

Here’s Those Propagation Links Again

Friday, November 6th, 2009

    I know we get new visitors, so be aware of these websites, if you aren’t already.  
   http://www.mountainlake.k12.mn.us/ham/aprs/path.cgi?map=na   is a map depicting real-time conditions, using 2-meter APRS stations.    That map is looking great in the Gulf states this morning, and looking enhanced in the Dakotas and Minnesota.   
    You’ve heard me blab about the Hepburn forecast maps before, so here’s the link:   http://www.dxinfocentre.com/tropo.html   These update each day about noon, and are one man’s forecast of what he thinks conditions will be.  

     Neither of these maps is a substitute for getting on the air and calling CQ.    I’m pointing the finger at myself a bit because in the past, I used to not get out to the shed unless I saw what “looked like” a big opening.    Now that I’ve been on weekly for 16 months, I hear conditions are often different than the maps depict.

12 Check-ins to 146.43 FM net last night

Friday, November 6th, 2009

    Conditions were nothing special, but we had a nice FM net.   We even heard from a Dubuque check-in toward the end.   N0RWR was doing most of the lifting, with a 13B2 turned vertical.   Even at that, he was only readable about 1/2 the time.   After the net was done and we went to SSB, it was a lot better, but still had QSB fades that all but wiped us out.  

     We’ll see if those improved conditions end up making it in here this weekend.   Get on the air and call CQ in different directions.   There are all kinds of times where the maps don’t indicate much, and you still get some good stuff.   But it’s 2x good luck when you get an opening during a weekend because far more guys are on the air.   Hopefully it will come together.  

      Last night on FM we had:
      KC9KPV, KM4G, KC9NZR, W9GA  all EN53 Washington Co.     K9FI EN53 Waukesha Co.   WB9WHO EN63 Milwaukee Co.    N9IXX EN63 Sheboygan Co.   N9JKX EN64 Kewaunee Co.      
       We also got out to the Marquette/Columbia Co. areas.   KC9KPV helped with his beam.   Heard from N6ORS Keith in Westfield, W9ULK Gary in Oxford and KC9NJP Tom in Portage.     At times they’d peak S2-3, then they’d fade back in the mud.    I’m glad to hear guys stretching out their stations.