Archive for April, 2011

Net Report — WB9LYH Has 16 Check-Ins and KA0KYZ 15

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

   Looks like Terry KA0KYZ in EN33qw (far SE Minnesota) had his best net night on 144.230, since he switched the start time to 0200Z/9pm central.  I imagine as the days grow longer and the weather warmer, more ops will get on board here.   Help spread the word about this net because we want everyone to know it’s out there, to take advantage of when we get band openings in that 500-1000 mile range.   Terry has a new preamp that he’s fired up about, and with good reason; he’s hearing very well. 
 
    WB9LYH had good prop last night on 144.240, and 16 check-ins:  KC9BQA EN63;  N9OLT EN64;  W8BYA EN70;  N9NYA and WV9E EN43;  KR8T EN72;  KC9AZ EN61;  VE3LPY EN82;  KA0PQW EN33;  KC9RJI EN41;  WB0YWW and KG0SJ EN22;  K0NY EN44;  W0HXL EN21;  WA9BNZ EN40 and KA9DVX in EN51. 
    It may be that Mark will want to change his start time to 0100Z, with the longer days and nicer weather keeping more guys outside later.  I’ll ask him about that and we’ll keep you posted here if there’s any change.  We’ll certainly be here at the same time next week — 0000Z/7pm central/8pm eastern on 144.240.  

    KA0KYZ’s said he had good activity in all directions on 144.230.  Which is exactly what we want.   He heard positive comments about the 2m Spring Sprint Monday night  (my report is down this front page).  Terry also said everyone’s anxious for band openings and better spring weather.  
    His 15 check-ins were:  K0NY EN44;  N9OLT EN64;  WV9E EN43;  WB9LYH EN54;  KA0PQW and newcomer KC0AAB from EN33;  KC9BQA EN63;  KC9RJI EN41;  N0IRS, WR0F and KD0FEI all EM29;  W0HXL EN21;  KG0SJ EN22;  K0SIX EN35 and N0PB EM39.   Not sure if WR0F has ever checked in, either.  I saw his qrz.com writeup and he’s got a great multi-band weak-signal station. 

    K8TQK had a commitment yesterday and was unable to call his 144.250 net from EM89je. 
    Look for Bob and his huge signal most Wednesdays, at 0030Z, or 8:30pm eastern.  I will always announce his plans on this website.   K8TQK has reach up north to WI, MI and VE3-land; east out to NYC, NJ and the Mid-Atlantic coast; south into the Carolinas and N GA, and southwest and west into AL, MS, KY, TN,  IL and MO.   If you are within 500 miles of south-central OH (farther once we start getting nice openings with warmer, more humid weather) you want to be on board Wed. nights and look for K8TQK.   His signal + good activity can be the focus for making 2m come alive across multiple states and grids. 

    I checked into a new net for me last night.  Wanted to see if I could hear anything out of K8ZWY on 144.230, from EN91kk, at 0100Z/9pm eastern.   Well, I had some noise in that direction, but I did hear something and with W8BYA’s kind help in the ON4KST.com chat room, I knew it was my turn to transmit.   I said hello and I guess I was heard by a few of the guys out there.   Wish I had a quieter band, but it was fun anyway.  Thanks to K8ZWY Jim for putting up with a really weak-signal check-in.    
    Want to thank N8WNA for letting me know about this net.  For a long time, I thought there wasn’t anything within 500 miles of WI on Wed. nights.  That’s why I chose Wed. nights for long-range 2m nets, when I started this all up in June of 2008.  Didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.

Tonight’s Midwest 2m Net Info + My 2m Sprint Report from Monday Night

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

   Are right here on the front page, about halfway down.   All 3 net controls should be ON tonight.   EDIT — 7:25am — As mentioned above, K8TQK has emailed to say he is OFF 144.250 tonight — another commitment has come up. 

   Let’s help make 2m come alive tonight.   Say hello to the nets, if you care to.  If nets don’t interest you, know that we encourage all VHF’ers to call their own CQ’s on 144.220 and lower.  This spreads activity across the band, from many states and grids.   Talk up VHF to your buddies and club; it’s the best time of the year to start getting involved. 

   The 2m Sprint had great activity in the Upper Midwest; I made 50 Q’s in 4 hours.   Read all about it by scrolling down this page a little ways.

Two Resources for The Magic Band — 6 Meters/50 MHz

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

   If you’re new and don’t know about 6 meters, your timing is perfect because from (roughly) May thru August, the 50 MHz band is frequently open (via the sporadic E skip propagation mode — Google it) to all parts of the USA, and occasionally the world.   6 meters  is where you get the most bang for your DX buck on VHF, by far.   Plus, with the solar flux increasing above 100 and 10m coming alive, we’re getting to the point where 6m could open up worldwide via F2 propagation.  (Again, Google it)   2011 and 2012 have the potential to be the best 6m years since about 2000-2002.   It’s that 11-year sunspot cycle coming to a peak. 
 
   The 6m guys have a great resource in the FFMA Yahoo email group.  FFMA stands for Fred Fish Memorial Award.  To quote from the FFMA homepage, “In 1995, Fred Fish, W5FF (SK) completed the amazing achievement of working and confirming all 488 grid squares in the continguous 48 states on the 6 meter band”   
    Click on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FFMA/ and get the story for yourself.   There are currently 3 FFMA award winners, and I suspect we’ll be adding more for years to come. 

    For my money, FFMA is probably the most proactive group I can think of on VHF.  If you join and follow along with their email list, you learn about all kind of rare grid activations that everyone on The Magic Band benefits from.   Plus you get solid advice on how to operate properly.  It’s just a fantastic list, and if you’re newer and join, do everyone a favor by being a good listener for some time.  They’ve got a nice thing going there, and I’d hate to steer a troll or loser their way.  
     If you’re new and want to start operating on 6m, there’s a bit of a learning curve.  The band can get very busy, and it pays to be a good operator by learning the protocols that have been in place for a long time.  I learned at least half of what I know about 6m, by observing the chat at the ON4KST.com 50 MHz room.  (Years ago, the chat site was www.dxers.info and I see this morning it’s back online, in a different format)  
    A very good 6m resource is:  http://www.smirk.org/     I haven’t visited SMIRK (Six Meter International Radio Klub) in some months and I see the website has gotten a nice facelift.   Looks good!   Once you’re at the SMIRK site, I suggest you take time to read and reread this part:  http://www.smirk.org/opaids.html   I see there’s plenty of 6m propagation info at the bottom.

Do You Want to Improve On-Air Activity Levels?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

     Had an interesting ragchew with a veteran VHF’er last night, toward the end of the sprint.  He was of the opinion that activity nights like we (I) promote, are hurting overall activity levels.   (meaning the other nights of the week and weekends).  In other words, he’d enjoy a return to the days of 20-30 years ago, when more guys just got on the air, on their own.  And called CQ, and had enjoyable ragchews.   Well this fellow has A LOT of company, let me tell you.    If I had a dime for every time a veteran VHF’er has told me how much things have gone downhill…

    The ragchew I had last night was respectful.  This gentleman doesn’t have internet so he’s hearing about what I promote 2nd hand.  He doesn’t have the full story.  His concern is one I share, though.   I absolutely agree with him that there should be more general activity on weak-signal bands like 6m, 2m, 222 and 432 MHz at any old time.  Seems like a million hams think there should be improvement.  What we need is a few thousand who will help.     Sitting back and simply waiting for VHF/UHF to get back to where it was 20-30 years ago is not enough.  

   Weak-signal VHF/UHF is a great story that needs to be told to the 730,000 hams in the USA.    (sourcehttp://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_amateur_radio_operators_are_there_in_the_US)   I wonder how many of those hams actually know you can work 200-400 miles on 2m SSB/CW?  Bet it’s less than 10%.  They need to use a 7-10 element *horizontally* polarized yagi up 30-50′ (longer yagis up higher get the best range), fed with decent coax, plus about 50-100w output power.   
     I’m confident once every ham knows they can reach out anytime and work DX in the next state or even better, possibly work guys 500-1000 miles away on 2 meters, with good band enhancement, some will be interested.    So many hams now have all-mode capability on 6m and 2m anyway.  All they need to do is add a horizontal antenna and they’re on their way.   Or if they have a poor QTH, go hilltopping or roving and become the DX everyone’s looking for. 

    

    BUT… if those newer guys don’t hear signals soon, then they’re going to lose interest.  That is why there needs to be regular activity that they can count on.  Like nets and activity nights.   A lot of guys are very busy nowadays.  They don’t have hours per week they can spend in front of the rigs.   If I/we can steer hams to where and when they will hear actual transmissions, they are far more likely to stay interested.    In time, their confidence will grow, and hopefully they’ll call CQ’s, and increase activity on their own, rather than relying on a net control to be a leader. 

   So there is no confusion about my goals with promoting V/UHF hard the past few years —
   1)  I do this so all of V/UHF can benefit.  I am not trying to bring attention to myself or to get more Q’s in my log.  You’d be surprised how many guys assume this.  
   2)  If enough guys got on and called CQ at any old time, we wouldn’t need nets to ensure activity. 
   3)  Every licensed ham should at least be aware of the DX possibilities, everyday, on 6m and 2m SSB, plus bands like 222, 432 MHz and higher. 
   4)  I now know there are far more VHF’ers than I ever dreamed.  The goal is to get them to play radio more often.  There’s a lot of apathy out there, to be blunt.   If every weak-signal V/UHF’er with a functioning station got on for one hour per month, the bands would be busy a lot of the time.  “Just listening” does NOT count for being on the air.   The best cure for a dead band is to call CQ.  
  5)  I have said this time and time again in emails and at this website:  “do your own part to improve activity levels.  Once net control has passed you by, make your own CQ’s and contacts on 144.220 and lower.   If 30, 40 guys say hello to net control, that’s nice.  If  many guys in different states and grids are making their own contacts, then 2m SSB really comes alive.”  
   6)  “Also, if a net doesn’t interest you, realize we encourage all our check-ins to do their own CQ’ing down on 144.220 and lower.  Get on and enjoy the activity however you care to.”  
   7)  Once you have a QSO started, please QSY off the 144.200 call freq. and leave it open for others.  There are so many good reasons for this, it deserves its own post.   If you are in an isloated area, there’s some merit for keeping your activity on .200 longer.   Leave long pauses and invite others to have the freq. if they want it for calling CQ’s.   Not everyone wants to join your .200 ragchew.  It’s a calling freq., not a ragchew freq.   Your rig has a VFO —  use it by going down or up 10 or 15 kc with the contacts you started on 144.200.

Wed. Long-Range 2m Nets ON This Week

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

    Our long-range net controls plan to be ON this Wed. evening.  
    WB9LYH is on 144.240 from EN54cl at 0000Z or 7pm central/8pm eastern.    
    K8TQK is on 144.250 from EM89je at 0030Z or 7:30pm central/8:30pm eastern. 
    KA0KYZ is on 144.230 from EN33qw at 0200Z or 9pm central/10pm eastern. 
    I’m sure there will be plenty of talk about the 2m sprint last night and the 222 sprint coming up on Tues., April 19th, plus the 432 sprint on Wed., April 27th. 

    Remember there’s also a net out of the Cleveland, OH area on Wed. nights, at 9pm eastern on 144.230, hosted by K8ZWY, Jim, who’s in EN91kk, about 30 miles east of Cleveland.    
 
    If you want more info about our Wed. night nets, it’s here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4275

2m Sprint Looks Like 50 Q’s in 26 Grids — Great Turnout

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

   11pm Monday —
   Very good activity tonight.  Really happy with the turnout; this was a great way to get spring started.   Propagation was no better than average, but when enough signals are out there, that’s all you need.  
    Was pleased with 3 contacts from the EM field:   W9GKA EM58cp;  K8TQK EM89je and N0IRS EM29se toward the end. 
    Rovers I worked were:  KA9RSL in EN61xe and EN70ax;  WB8BZK/R in EN62ad and EN52xb;  NE8I in EN74at and EN64xt;  KE6CBR in EN43wa and EN52ax.  Ended up working  K9JK in all 4 of his grids, EN61ax, EN51xx, EN52xa and EN62ad.   This means rovers were nearly 1/4 of my total Q’s.  Gotta love your rovers.   🙂
    Best DX east was VE3ZV in EN92vw (629km);  southeast K8TQK in EM89je (631km);  south W9SZ/P in EN50ue (380km);  southwest N0IRS in EM29se (730km);  west WB0YWW in EN22uk (527km);  northwest K0SIX EN35dj (498km).   If anybody was on to the north of me, I wasn’t aware of it and if I missed you, I’m sorry. 
    States/provinces worked were:  MN, IA, MO, WI, IL, IN, OH, MI and Ontario.   I was heard by W0HXL in EN21 eastern NE, but my noise level to the WSW was too high for me to hear him.  

    The 222 sprint will be next Tuesday, April 19th.   432 sprint is Wed., April 27th.  I won’t be on for the rest of the sprints as my station has multiple problems.   Glad 2m still works on the shorter (70′) tower.   There’s a chance I’ll be on for 6m, but that isn’t until Sat., May 14th.  
    If you want the full sprint schedule, go here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4328

    Oh yes — if you care to submit your own sprint report, I’ll take it here.   Use the “comment” feature.    If I get a barrage of them, it might take me a day or two to “approve” them.

More Spring Sprint Rover Plans — 2 Meters, April 11th

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

    I’ve learned of at least three more rovers that plan to be out for the 2m Spring Sprint on Monday, April 11th.   K0GEM will be roving in EM39, EM38, EM28 and EM29.    KE6CBR will be roving in EN53, EN42, EN43 and EN52.  These plans are in addition to KA9RSL activating EN61/71/60/70 and WB8BZK roving in EN52/62/51/61.   And… forgot to mention that NE8I is likely to get on from good locations in W MI, EN74at and EN64vm.  Lloyd NE8I is also likely to go out to the same locations in the 222 and 432 sprints. 

   I’ll type up a better post later on, but just wanted to keep the Spring Sprints on everyone’s mind.  Who else is going out roving?   If you’re looking for a more detailed post about the Spring Sprints, everything I know is at this post:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4404

   EDIT — EARLY SAT.  —  Also have word from KI4RIX, who plans to be up on a mountaintop in EM97.  Unless we have great prop on Monday night, that’s going to be a real challenge from WI and points west and north.  But we have a lot of readers from  MI/IN/OH, and they’ll want to know about an EM97 mountaintop activation.  So I’ll include KI4RIX’s plans here.  My intention with this website is to list all known possibilities within a 400-500 mile range.     
    KI4RIX went on to say, “I should be a bit above 144.2 on ssb and also on 146.550 FM.  We’ll see if I manage to get the 13el yagi in working order or not…if not, 3el yagi and/or skeleton slot.”

April 6th Net Reports — WB9LYH Has 24 Check-Ins; K8TQK 11 and KA0KYZ 7 Last Night

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

    
   Last night, WB9LYH on 144.240 @0000Z reported good propagation to the east.  Mark took a lot of check-ins in all directions:  N9OLT EN64;  KF8MY EN84;  N9NDP EN62;  K9EA and KC8ZJL EN71;  W9MP EN45;  K8GDT EN91;  KC9AZ and N9JBW EN61;  VE3LPY EN82;  W0VB EN34;  W9YZU EM69;  WA9BNZ EN40;  KC9RJI EN41;  WB0YWW, KG0SJ and WB0YNA EN22;  N0IRS EM29;  W0HXL EN21;  K0NY EN44;  KA0PQW EN33;  WD0BGZ EN10;  KC9EGV EN55 and VE3KRP EN58 from Thunder Bay, ONT. 
   KA0KYZ on 144.230 @0200Z heard from:  K0NY EN44;  N9OLT EN64;  WB0YWW, KG0SJ and WB0YNA EN22;  W0HXL EN21 and W0MTW EN24.  Terry reported that his band was pretty lousy.  He was hoping for better conditions with the warmer weather and lighter winds.  
    K8TQK, who is on 144.250 @0030Z from EM89je, south-central OH, had 11 check-ins:
    KD8OEK; KC8IS; KG8EK; KD8DJE; NS8O and W8WG all EM89.   WB8AUK and KB8JNE EN80;  N8WNA and VE3LPY EN82;  and K8GDT EN91. 

   IF YOU”RE LOOKING FOR 2M NETS TONIGHT —  Remember there’s plenty of options on Thursday nights.   Want more info about N9JBW’s Q5 net or the SWOT net hosted by AB8XG?  Click this link:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4201 
Plus WV9E Dave from EN43, just north of La Crosse, WI is on with his 146.460 FM Simplex net at 8:30pm central.  All are welcome.

More Info From N8WNA About 222 Tuesdays and Why I’m no Longer Promoting It.

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

    N8WNA John reported that 4 guys from MI and OH had a pleasant roundtable on 222.100 (USB-mode) last night.   MI and OH is where the latest version of 222 Tuesday started, so I’m glad to hear they’re still enjoying it.  I emailed John today and he knows I wish them the best.   I still hope that 222 Tuesday will work out across much of the USA and VE. 
    Myself, I’ve stopped promoting 222 Tuesday, but that’s just a personal choice.  If other guys can somehow create widespread 222 activity across the USA and VE, they should.    I tried hard and I don’t feel it made much of a long-term difference.    If all you wanted was a short story, you’re done.   🙂 
   
   If you care about having regular activity on 222 (outside of contests and band openings) then take a few minutes and read on.  Maybe some good can come of this.   I think there’s a formula out there that will spark regular 222 activity, and I hope someone finds it. 

   As VHF’ers go, I’m one of the newer ones.   I will tell you what I know about weekly activity on 222, since I got on the band back in early 2004.   At one time, K8TQK and (I’m told) K4TO had regular activity or a net on 222.150 (I think?) for several years at least.   I can remember veterans telling me they got out a long ways and guys had a lot of fun with it.  Not sure when that faded away.  Guessing about 2008.    
   In the early fall of 2009, I heard from N8WNA and K8GDT that they were restarting 222 activity on Tuesdays.  I thought this was a great idea and I asked them if they minded me promoting it.  They said “go ahead” and for some time, “222 Tuesday” was going pretty well.  I would read email about activity from Texas up thru the southern Plains, plus in FLA, and southern New England.  I would make contacts with at least 6-12 guys from a wide area surrounding WI (mostly to the east).   If at least 2-3 dozen guys still got on (AND called CQ because “just listening” is USELESS on a dead band) most Tuesdays, from a variety of states and grids, I think you’d have something. 
    I promoted 222 Tuesday by sending weekly email reminders to all 222’ers in my logbook, plus some word of mouth referrals from other guys who thought it was a good idea.  I also made posts to the 222 Propagation Logger at http://dxworld.com/220prop.html plus in time, the VHF reflector at w6yx@stanford.edu.   So in theory, most of the 222’ers in the USA and VE, should have at least known about 222 Tuesday.   I doubt that 20% ever got on, and certainly no more than once or twice.  
   My conclusion is the majority of weak-signal guys with 222 gear are on for the contests and perhaps the major band openings.   Which I actually understand because really, I’m a contester at heart.    If you love contesting, you should get on 222.  Why?  Because I’ve had at least 3 contests in the last 3 years where I’ve made over 60 Q’s on 222 alone.   (Aug 2008 UHF 66 Q’s;  Aug 2009 65 Q’s and Sept. 2009 VHF 68 Q’s.)  It’s a great band.   Just don’t expect to call CQ at any old time and find activity.   Kind of the same deal with 432.  

    It became clear to me last winter that 222 Tuesday was really dying off.  My own 222 station hasn’t rotated in months, but I never saw anything on the ON4KST.com chat (IARU Region 2 Room for 144-432 MHz) and rarely saw anything on the Prop Logger.  
    About a month ago, I started asking questions about how to improve things.  Asked them via the Prop Logger, and that VHF reflector (which is alleged to be nationwide).  I referred those who were interested to this post at my website:   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4351   If you care about the future of 222 Tuesday, you are free to use that post as the basis for somehow motivating 222’ers, anywhere.   Or do it in your own way — I’m sure there are others with great ideas.
     Once I made that post,  I waited several weeks for any replies from anyone.   Received none.  That told me all I needed to know about me promoting 222 Tuesday any further.    I will concentrate my energy on the things that hams care about.  The 2m nets are going great and new guys are getting on all the time.    I can feel guys getting motivated by that — even after nearly 3 years.     

      I’m still rooting for 222 Tuesday and I hope it perks up with the nicer weather.    N8WNA assures us you can find 222.100 activity if you’re near MI and OH.   I  want folks to know that it’s not dead.  I’m just not promoting it anymore.

Trio of Midwest Net Controls For Wed., April 6, 2011 + New Info about 144.230 Wed. @9pm Eastern out of Cleveland Area.

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

    Our long-range net controls plan to be ON this Wed. evening.  
    WB9LYH is on 144.240 from EN54cl at 0000Z or 7pm central/8pm eastern.    
    K8TQK is on 144.250 from EM89je at 0030Z or 7:30pm central/8:30pm eastern. 
    KA0KYZ is on 144.230 from EN33qw at 0200Z or 9pm central/10pm eastern.

    Please help spread the word about these nets, and do your own part to improve activity levels.  Once net control has passed you by, make your own CQ’s and contacts on 144.220 and lower.   If 30, 40 guys say hello to net control, that’s nice.  If  many guys in different states and grids are making their own contacts, then 2m SSB really comes alive. 

    If you want more info about these nets, click here:   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4275
    EDIT — 12:30pm Wednesday — Got a nice email today from N8WNA John in EN82.  He reminds us there’s also a net out of the Cleveland, OH area on Wed. nights, at 9pm eastern on 144.230, hosted by K8ZWY, Jim, who’s in EN91kk, which looks to be about 30 miles east of Cleveland. 

    Remember to talk up the Spring VHF Sprints tonight, which start on Mon., April 11th, with 2m, from 7-11pm your local time.  Full Sprint info is here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4328   KA9RSL already has posted plans to activate EN60, 61, 70 and 71 as a rover on 2m.  WB8BZK will also be doing his NW side of Chicago route — EN52, 62, 51, and 61.