Archive for March, 2010

146.43 FM Simplex net *ON* Thur. night — 8pm

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

    I’ll be calling CQ with my vertical up 90′ at 8pm, as usual, on 146.430 FM simplex.    Conditions could be above average — hope we have a good turnout.  

   Staying on FM simplex for a bit, we also have Week #3 of the new 146.460 FM simplex net hosted by Dave WV9E out in EN43 Onalaska, WI  (N side of La Crosse).    It starts at 8:30pm central.  
   Not sure how many SW WI/NE IA readers we have here, but please spread the word about Dave’s new net; he’s working very hard at it.    I know he also has plans to go hilltopping as net control so stay tuned there.   A hilltop net control is a dynamite idea, especially considering how high some spots are in his part of the world.  

    If you’re looking for horizontal (SSB) activity, every Thursday you have 2 options.  
    N9JBW runs an active net on 144.220, starting at 7pm central/0000Z.   John’s in EN61, south side of Chicago.   I’m told he starts out looking east, and goes counter-clockwise, or N, then W, then S.   Heard he had 20 check-ins last week.  
    This Thursday will be the 3rd week of a new 222.100 SSB net from McHenry IL, EN52.   NT9E Dave calls CQ, starting at 7pm central.   Believe he starts south, and also swings CCW.   He will be in ON4KST.com chat, so you can always coordinate there, as well.

WB9LYH has 26 (EDIT — 28) check-ins to 144.240

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

   Tonight, WB9LYH heard from:
   N8WNA EN82;  KC8TJB and W8RCM EN72;  WD9DSN and KB8U EN71;  KB9RDS EM79;  K9XV, KD4GSL and W9YZU EM69;  K9KBZ and W9GA EN53;  KE8JA EN62;  N9JZN EN51;  W1MRK EN52;  WB9PNU EM48;  WA9BNZ EN40;  W0FAY and N0RWR EN42;  N0IRS EM29;  WB0YWW and KG0SJ EN22;  WV9E EN43;  K0SIX EN35;  KC0TRX EN34;  N9KOR EN44 and KC9BQA EN63. 
   We also had KM0F in EN04 and VE3KRP in EN58 on board, but no Q.    Oh yes, want to acknowledge that W8ARY out in EN91 was copyable, but doubling with some MI stations.   When LYH called ARY a bit later, the path must have dropped out.  
  EDIT:   Heard from WB9LYH today — Thursday.    He wanted me to know that he worked both W0ANH EN47 and VE3KRP EN58 as he was wrapping the net up.    So it was 28 total check-ins.  

   Tonight’s treat was hearing from the St. Louis area.   We know there’s activity down there, and we were glad to hear from WB9PNU tonight.   John said WB9LYH was 5×4, on the 410 mile path.  

   Ton of guys in www.on4kst.com IARU Region 2 chat for USA/VE on 144 MHz and higher.   I hope many were able to use the chat to make their own contacts.   WB9LYH working 26 guys is very nice.   What’s even better is if 26 guys start calling CQ in various directions, expanding the activity.    That’s always been the long-term goal in both WB9LYH’s and my mind.   I don’t see myself running nets for many years — the goal is to get activity to where it’s self-sustaining. 
   In fact, if enough guys got on and called CQ a few times a week, there’d be so much activity that nets wouldn’t be necessary.   Keep that in mind, folks.    The VHF’ers are still out there — there’s more than I ever realized.    The trick is to somehow increase activity.   Fortunately, activity has increased the past few years, and more options are coming on board all the time.

    With the 144.250 Badger Contesters net, I had 5 check-ins.  
    WD9ITJ, WB9TFH and W9GA all EN53;  KB5ZJU EN63;  WB9MXX EN62.  
    We slid into ragchew mode before 9pm/0200Z.  
    A few guys were teasing me that WB9LYH is stealing all my checkins.   I know they were smiling, but so everyone understands, I’m thrilled that WB9LYH is putting that killer signal out far and wide.   I’m a DX’er and contester first,  so anyone who can make 300-400 mile Q’s has my admiration.    To me, the biggest thrill about weak-signal V/UHF is being able to work 100, 200, 300 miles routinely.   (And yes, the occasional band openings that go out 500-1000 miles, plus the common 6 meter DX via Eskip in the summer)
   
    At this time in 2008, there was little activity or diversity on 144, on Wed. nights.   Now you can count on big fun, every week.   Guys from the Dakotas to MO/KS, to IN/MI and OH are involved.   That’s huge progress and I hope it keeps going.   
   The ON4KST.com chat is going to be a real home run, to quote KB9RDS.  
   The new WIVUCH  (WI VHF/UHF County Hunters award program)  already has a lot of in-state guys talking.   Wait til that word spreads.   Lots of good things going on; can’t wait to see what summer brings.   Here’s the link to that WIVUCH Award program      http://kc9bqa.com/?p=2122   Check it out and start logging WI contacts on any V/UHF band so you can get your award.   The program is for hams anywhere — not just in WI.

144.240 and .250 nets *ON* Wed. night

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

    The long-range net is called by WB9LYH Mark in EN54cl, middle of WI.   He comes on 144.240 at 0000Z/7pm central, with stacked 17B2’s and 500 watts from a ridgetop location.    Routinely works Detroit/Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Omaha/Lincoln and north into EN58, Thunder Bay, ONT.    We are always looking for check-ins within 400-500 miles of WI.     The idea is to make this net a focus for 144 activity across a large area every Wed.    Please spread the word.   We are looking for more check-ins from SW ONT, W NY, W PA, OH, S IN, KY, S IL, all of MO, IA, NE, outstate MN, SD and ND.   Also U.P. of MI and southern VE.  
     Here’s how it works:
      At 0000Z, you guys out east want to be ready.   By 0015 or so, ‘LYH is turning SE, more toward OH and IN.   By 0030 or so, he’s turning S more toward WI/ILL/MO.   By 0045 or so, he’s more SW, toward IA/KS/NE/S MN.   By 0100, he’s west toward the Dakotas and Twin Cities.    All times approximate +/- number of check-ins – be patient and flexible.    WB9LYH is done at 0130Z, usually looking north at that time.

     The best way to keep track of all this is to join the free chat we use.   I type in frequent updates about where WB9LYH is pointing and who he’s working to the IARU Region 2 (USA/VE — all are welcome)  144, 222, 432 and up chat room at www.on4kst.com.    7 simple steps to get signed up to this free, no B.S. chat are at   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1072   Save that info, and get yourself registered.   Once you are registered, you can join in the chat any time you care to.   We really have fun in there on Wed. nights.     The room is open 7/24/365, and over 540 hams have registered in less than two months.    Bring a buddy or two into the room and say hello.  

    You are also encouaged to use this chat yourself, to try and coordinate other activity on 144.230 and lower, with anyone, or on any other V/UHF bands.    Even if you have no hope of hearing WI, join the chat and get comfortable with a new way to make more contacts on V/UHF.    Again, the chat is for everyone.   

     I call the Badger Contesters net on 144.250, starting at 0130Z or 8:30pm central on Wed. nights.   I’m located in SE WI, 40 miles N of Milwaukee.   My net is turning into more of a S WI/NE ILL net.   If you’re DX, you are better off trying for WB9LYH.  (Or coordinating your own fun via the guys in the chat room)      
    What I do is gather a group of S WI/N ILL guys, and we have our roundtable for 30-60 minutes.    Lately, I’ve been calling it a night after we’re done with the roundtable.    

    The main thing is that between WB9LYH and I, we get 30-40 guys on the air weekly, which is exactly what V/UHF needs.    If hams in other areas start making their own contacts, we can make Wed. a can’t-miss night for 144 SSB.    If you want a Q with me, say so in the chat and I’ll try to point your way after 0200-0230Z.

Known Tuesday V/UHF Activity in Midwest/Great Lakes

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

    Remember that every Tuesday is 222 Tuesday, which is a general 1.35m activity night for all of USA/VE.    No single area of focus, no net controls.    Get on/near 222.100 SSB/CW and call CQ, swing beams, see who’s out there.    If you’re FM-only, see how well you do on 223.500 FM Simplex.   
    Spread the word to everyone you know with 222/223 gear.    Most activity has been in the 0000-0300Z timeframe.    Because 222’ers tend to be spread out, many have been using http://dxworld.com/220prop.html to find more activity.   Of course, now that we have the 144, 222, 432 MHz and up chat room for USA/VE at www.on4kst.com, we encourage you to use that instead.   It’s a far better option.   7 simple steps for getting signed up are at http://kc9bqa.com/?p=2185

    If you’re looking for 6m and 2m activity on Tuesday nights, and you’re within 100-200 miles of SW Lower MI, then be aware of these nets:   (Also note that there is AM activity — only AM activity I personally know of in our region.)    

This info comes from Gary  K8BKB.   This info is also on his qrz.com page.   Print it out and save it, if you’re wanting to do something on 2m or 6m on Tuesday nights. 

      Here’s the full line-up of nets out of Kalamazoo, MI (EN72 — SW Lower MI).  
    
Check out our West Michigan VHF nets:
TUE 7:15 PM Eastern–144.222Mhz–SSB Net–WJ8L Net Control K’zoo, MI 
TUE 8:00 PM Eastern–144.222 Mhz–Amplitude Modulation –WJ8L Net Control K’zoo, MI
TUE 9PM Eastern–50.3 Mhz–West MI Six Meter SSB net–K8BKB (K’zoo)
TUE approx. 9:30 Eastern–50.4 mhz–West MI Six Meter AM Net–K8BKB (K’zoo)
SUN 8:30 PM Eastern–50.4 Mhz–Six Meter Classic Radio Roundtable–K8BKB (K’zoo)

Monday V/UHF activity — 144.250 and 432.100

Monday, March 15th, 2010

     On Mondays, you have N0PB Phil’s SWOT net on 144.250.   Phil has a very nice station from EM39, North-central MO.   I hear him regularly at my QTH.   Phil’s been at this for many years, and gets many check-ins. 
     N0PB starts out on 144.250 at 7:45pm central, or 0045Z.   He calls for early check-ins for 15 minutes with a pair of omni loops.   At 8:00pm, or 0100Z, he switches to his yagi, calling south at first; then east about 0115; north about 0130; west about 0145 and back to south at 0200.  

    The 432.100 activity is hosted by N4PZ Steve from EN52gb, or just WSW of Rockford, IL.   Steve’s been coming on at 8:00pm central, or 0100Z, and I’m not entirely sure which directions he points at what times.   This isn’t so much a formal net as just some guys getting on 432 and creating activity.   
    N4PZ has a very strong station on 432, and gets out a long ways.   As you get higher in frequency, the beamwidths on the yagis become narrower.   You may think you’re not hearing anything from N4PZ, and then he turns the yagi your way and bam, you hear him well.  
   If you want more info about 432.100 Monday night activity, try http://dxworld.com/uhflog.html    I imagine in time, most of the participants will start using the www.on4kst.com  144, 222, 432 and up chat room.    (IARU Region 2)

Many V/UHF options on Sundays in Upper Midwest/Great Lakes

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

   I am not aware of any regular V/UHF activity on Saturdays on any weak-signal band within 300 miles of SE WI.   If someone knows of any, please forward the details.  

    Sunday is a busy radio night with nets/activity.    A net that’s been on for months now is hosted by K9TMS Tom out of EN52wi, far NE ILL.   It’s a SWOT net (www.swotrc.net) and is on 144.250 SSB, starting at 7pm central.   He is horizontal, and gets a mix of polarities checking in.  

    The focus then shifts to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.    NLRS (www.nlrs.org — is a great weak-signal website) hosts Sunday activity on multiple bands.    All times central. 
    K0AJL Andy in St. Paul (EN34kw) recently volunteered to perk up their 432.120 activity period, from 8:00-8:15pm.   Nice going Andy on keeping 432 alive. 
    N0KP Dave in Shakopee (EN34gt) often hosts on 222.120 from 8:15-8:30pm.
    K0SIX Vince in Big Bear Lake (EN35dj) reliably calls their 50.175 net from 8:30-9:00pm.   Very nice 6m signal from Vince.   Good guy, and always looking for more check-ins. 
    KA0PQW Matt in Ellendale (EN33iu) is on 144.260 (yes, .260) at 9:00pm.   Another good guy who wants check-ins from a wide area.   Not many on weak-signal from EN33, but I work Matt often in contests.  
    NOTE:   You may not want to rely on NLRS’s website regarding net details.   They seem to be outdated.   I’m going off what I’ve either a) heard with my own ears or b) read via recent email.     
    But if you want general weak-signal education, NLRS’s website is very good.   I especially recommend reading anything to do with Rovermania!   We should have more Rovermania! all across the USA.

    We’re not quite done with the Sunday lineup yet.   Also have 6m and 2m activity out of SW Michigan.  
    Sunday             8:00 P.M.      50.150 USB     N8QEM    (EN72au)
    Sunday             8:30 P.M.     144.155 USB    K8NFT     (EN62ws)
    Those times are also central.  
   
    Print this info out and save it.  
    I’ll talk about our Monday options in a future post.

Need to Make Something Clear

Friday, March 12th, 2010

     Want everyone to know that using ON4KST.com chat is not necessary to enjoy VHF in general.   Or for enjoying our Wed. long-range nets, or anything else.   I know a lot of guys don’t have computers near the rigs.   Or they may just enjoy radio, with no other distractions.    The radios, the signals on the air are #1 priority.   Everything else is secondary. 
      I should remember to say this more often, but I forget.   Please enjoy V/UHF however you enjoy it.   If the chat is too “busy” or “assisted” for you, that’s understandable.   It’s not for everyone.     To me, chat is a powerful tool that can connect guys who wouldn’t otherwise know who all is on the air.    So if it helps activity, then I’m all for it.   But we have many net check-ins who I know couldn’t care less about internet chat, and that’s FB with me.

New Folks Probably Have no Idea What a “Grid Square” is

Friday, March 12th, 2010

    You can tell a ham has moved past the repeater stage of V/UHF’ing when they start talking about their “grid square”.   Using Maidenhead grid squares is how weak-signal V/UHF’ers identify what area they are from.   We keep track of grid squares in contests, try to work new grid squares for awards, etc.   You can learn as much as you want via Google.  
     One colorful grid square map is at:   http://www.oema.us/files/Amateur_Radio_US_Grid_Square_Map.pdf    A simpler one is at:  http://www.newsvhf.com/grid-na.gif    I have several of those on my radio desk.    Actually, that www.newsvhf.com website is an excellent site for learning all about weak-signal V/UHF.   There are many other V/UHF groups scattered across the USA with fine websites.
      Here’s a simple way to look up your own grid square.   Enter your callsign on qrz.com.   Hit that “search” button on the upper left.   Click on the green bar.   The 10th line of info has your grid square.   If you’re a beginner, I’d just worry about the first four characters.   The extra small letters after the numbers really pin your location down to within a few miles.   If you simply know your 4-digit grid square, you’re well on your way.   
     Now that you have a grid square map and know your grid square, you might want to know about the VUCC award program that ARRL sponsors.   http://www.arrl.org/awards/vucc/  takes you to the main page.     Many V/UHF’ers work toward VUCC on bands like 50, 144, 222, 432, 902, 1296 MHz and higher.     I worked my 100th grid square on 144 SSB this past September.   It was EN90, E Central Ohio.   Sorry I’m not sharp enough with computers to know how to create an image you can view.

Long-Range 144.240 SSB Net (Wed. night, 0000Z) from WI Explained

Friday, March 12th, 2010

   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=2167   Is a good post to print out and save.    Refer back to it if you forget where/when/how our net works.  
   Also note that after every net, I post a net report where I run down who all checked in and from where.   It helps our check-ins feel more connected, since many won’t hear each other, being spread out over such a wide area.   Let me find a sample net report to post as a link…. aha, this is an excellent one:   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1270   This net was back on Oct 28th, and we managed 44 total check-ins.   I was really happy when I wrote that.

Sign-up Instructions for ON4KST.com IARU Region 2 144/222/432 MHz and up chat page.

Friday, March 12th, 2010

   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=2185    Everything you need is at that link.  

   This chat is a good place to learn how V/UHF works.   I know this because when I was getting started 7 years ago, I hung around the 6m chat page and soaked up info like a sponge.  
   Nowadays, I especially like using the chat to connect VHF’ers in distant areas, who can use chat to point their beam antennas at each other, and make contacts they’d never know were possible.  
   For now, the chat is busy on Wed. nights, for sure.   Last night (Thursday) was also busy, and Tuesdays should be as well.   I imagine guys will be using it plenty on weekends, of course.

   Please note that ON4KST is the creator and administrator of all rooms.   I’m simply a ham who had a notion to take the activity to the next level, promotion-wise.   I don’t own the room, the Midwest doesn’t own it, the room is open to all.   My biggest hope is come summer, we will have dozens and dozens in there from all parts of the country.