Archive for August, 2011

ARRL UHF Contest Thread for 2011

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

1:25pm —  It’s about 80-82 and slightly humid today.  Partly/mostly sunny and light NE wind.  Just sat down and got everything squared away out here in the shed, no idea what bands are like.
2:25 — Have a nice relaxed and efficient start.  Already caught a few rovers, and signals in various directions.  Everything seems to be working fine here, praise the Lord.  900 and 1296 into Chicago seemed way down, but that’s midday for you, I suppose.  900 and 1296 up to W9FZ in EN44 was very strong on a 138 mile path.   I’ve completed on 4 bands with W9GA, KO9A, K2YAZ, N9LB.   Activity seems pretty decent — W9FZ sounded very busy.
For those who are wondering, I’m QRV on 222, 432, 902/3 and 1296. 
222 is an FT-736 driving a TE systems 100w brick.  Pair of 17 el K1FO’s up 110′, 1″ hardline.
432 is an IC-575H driving RF concepts 100w bric.  Pair of 25 el K1FO’s up 110′, 1″ hardline.
902/3 is an FT-736 thru a DEMI 10w transverter.  Pair of 33el K1WHS up 80′, 1 5/8″ hardline.
1296 is a module in my IC-910H, 10w output.  Pair of 45el K1WHS up 80′, 1 5/8″ hardline. 
QTH here is a good one, only a few higher rolling hills nearby.  If I have one somewhat weak direction, it’s WNW thru NW.

4:30 —  What a nice day outside.  Not too warm, only a little bit humid.   Beautiful summer day.   Steady signals on the bands.  Little bit of DX with WA0VPJ/R on 222 from EN24.  Got 4 bands with W0ZQ/R from 43.   Nice steady, Q5 signals on 902 and 1296.  I have 46 total Q’s so far.
9:30 — Radar looks like I catch the southern end of a small line of storms going thru East-Central WI.  I need to wrap things up out here, and unplug. 
    Contest has been steady.  Not spectacular, but feel like I’ve done a good job of working ops in a 360, save for due north.  I’m at 96 total Q’s and 67 mults.  222 is at 32 contacts in 22 grids; 432 is 31/19;  902/3 is 15/13 and 1296 18/13.  I’ve made Q’s with a lot of rovers, probably 40% of my total Q volume.  NE8I in NW Lower MI, W9SNR, WB8BZK and K9JK in ILL, W0ZQ and WA0VPJ in MN and W9FZ in WI. 

   Anyway, that’s a bit of thunder.  Hope those of you who are on, get the goodies night can bring.

   7:20am Sunday — Had a nice sleep, woke up thinking “contest!”.  Flipped on the radar here in the house and see storms lined up all across southern WI.   So it’s going to be one of those wait-and-see deals.   
   One disappointing thing I’ve been pondering about yesterday.   The only station I’ve heard in a 70-mile radius surrounding me was W9GA.  Nobody was on from Milwaukee, or to the north, toward Green Bay and the Fox Valley.  I was out there for 8.5 hours, on 222 and 432 (both listening and CQ’ing often) and I’m confident saying the only southern WI activity was W9GA and N9LB, who is a little bit south of Madison.  I do know there were at least a few stations on from EN43; I simply haven’t connected with them.   Glad I’ve worked into EN34, 33, 32 and 24.   Getting those 4 grids is tough in any contest for me.
  
   9am– back out in the shed.  Everything hooked up.  Lightning crashes aren’t too bad.  Let’s see what we can work.
10:30 — it’s pretty slow, but some nice things happening.  Found W9FZ/R in EN42 and he was loud as usual from Dodgeville, WI area.  Got EN35 in the log with K0SIX and K0KFC.   Just got done working a very loud W9SNR/R in his EN62 stop.   Easy S9 signals on 902 and 1296, way better than y’day.  So thought to call a bit on 223.5FM, even with horizontal beams.  Well right away, N9UM comes back to me from EN52 suburban Chicago.   We were S7 to each other and he was on an indoor antenna.   So yeah, the band’s up to the south, lol.   I need to do more calling and less typing.
   1pm — Closing time.  Ended up getting to 40,050 for my claimed score.  Thanks W9FZ/R, K9JK/R and W9SNR/R for 9 Q’s in the last 15 mins. to push me over 40 K.  Band-by-band counts were:
   222  47 Q’s in 24 grids
   432  43 Q’s in 21 grids
   902  20 Q’s in 15 grids
 1296  24 Q’s in 15 grids
  
   Want to also thank K8GDT, N8AIA, N8WNA and K8JA for handing out some EN91 and EN82 goodies, about a half hour ago.   Heard someone in a bit of a ragchew super light on 222.110, off to my ESE, and I called hard in their breaks, trying to get their attention.   Once that happened, they swung this way and we got some nice Q’s in the log.  The 432 Q’s with N8AIA and K8GDT were especially satisfying.  One, because bands are flat and two, because K8GDT only has 25w (over a 353 mile path, no less!) and because N8AIA has bad SWR on 432, but we stuck with it until he came up on a little peak. 
    So as usual, the last hour was a little hectic, but that’s a lot better than dead air.

Rover Trends for UHF Contest TODAY are Very Good — Getting Excited Now.

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

   I’m not going to do a full rundown of the rovers here.   We have a great tool for keeping track of this via the Google Spreadsheets that W0UC has been creating these past few years.   Visit https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?authkey=CNPR64wB&hl=en_US&key=tdbIpXxVQCs82OvLTcoZX5g&hl=en_US&authkey=CNPR64wB#gid=0 and make sure to click on the “rover” tab on the lower left.  You will see at least 10 rovers scattered all across the Midwest.   More fixed stations are adding their plans this morning, too. 
   MN, MI, WI, ILL, IA, SD and parts of NE and ND should have rover activity, according to that spreadsheet.   Also know that there will be additional activity from ops that choose not to post their plans ahead of time. 
   Bands have been in good shape for most of the past month; and I had fog at my QTH this morning, which is usually a good sign.   
  
   This all sounds like a recipe for a good UHF contest.  As always, the more participation, the better.  There’s still a few hours for you to call a buddy, and let them know about this weekend.  (Contest runs from 1800Z today until 1800Z Sunday) 
   If all you have is 222/223 and/or 432/446 MHz, use it!  Get on and do what you can, with what you have.  Be patient and persistent.  Call CQ.  Don’t wait for others to start the party.  If all you have is FM capability on those two bands, then you want to use 223.500 and 446.000.  223.500FM actually gets some use in a V/UHF contest.  If there’s strong enhancement, expect some very pleasant surprises. 

   If you have questions about getting on bands like 902/903 MHz, 1296, 2304 and higher, today might be a good chance to ask a few quick questions on the air.  Or set up a time to discuss it further in an email or on-air QSO, after the contest is done.   10 gigahertz is very popular with some groups, and their contest season is coming up very soon.  This weekend would be a good time to network with those guys.

   I do plan on making website updates during the contest.  I’ll be watching radar to see how thunderstorms unfold in the SD/MN/IA/NE areas.  I’ll also be curious to see just how good the bands might get.  They might be in great shape even right away this afternoon.  But toward dark, I imagine they’ll improve quite a bit, where the thunderstorms aren’t a problem.

There Was Great Aurora (AU) Propagation Last Night. Is a Repeat in the Cards?

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

   I occasionally talk about auroral propagation, but haven’t in months.  The last few times we were hoping that the sun would send us VHF’ers some goodies, it disappointed.  Aurora can be like that, but it still pays to keep track of the possibilities.  Last night was one of those events that delivered.   The sun burped out a large solar flare a few days ago, and when that energy impacted the earth’s atmosphere late yesterday afternoon, the bands came alive. 

   An FM18 station worked about 20 contacts on 6m, including as far west as EM48 and as far south as EM73.  EM73 is awfully far south for aurora to occur — what a great catch!  The FM18 station also worked 4 AU contacts on 2m, with best DX in EN34. 
    I know several fellows reported that the AU was going as high as 222 at times, which is unusual.  
    Later in the night there were some real exotic treats on 6m.  Aurora can often spark a type of E skip called Auroral Es.  You won’t find me doing a technical paper on this or anything else, LOL.  I just know that a lot of times, when you have aurora, it can merge with or change over to E skip, and that’s when a lot of fellows work into VE-8 land, or KL7.   The only Alaskan I ever heard on 6m was KL7NO during an auroral Es event.   This was 5-6 years ago. 

    AU-Es happened last night, according to K0KP who posted to the NLRS list about 2 in the morning.   You want to find some rare DX on your grid maps?  Start looking for these grids, if your North American map is large enough:   FO62, CP38, DP20 and DO44.  Talking VO2FF, VE8EP, VE8NSD and VE6CMV respectively.   You can wait years to work grids like that.  
      When we stand a chance for northern lights, the bands can open up with the strange-sounding signal known as the auroral rasp, chirp or buzz.  A website worth monitoring is www.spaceweather.com.  Or check out www.spacew.com.  I’m sure there are others by now and if you know of a better one, share it with us, using the “comment” feature here. 

    With AU propagation you want to point antennas north (or anywhere from NW to NE, the favored direction can vary) and bounce your signal off of  the auroral curtain.  Everyone points north, regardless of where you are actually working a station.   I won’t lie; AU is a gain and power game.  Bigger, longer yagis and more watts gets the better results.  Those of you who are used to working at least some 6m E skip with dipoles, G5RV’s, lawn chair squalos, rain gutters or verticals probably won’t hear much on 6m AU.

Microwave Activity Day is ON — 1st Sat. AM of Every Month

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

   6:45am central — I should have thought to post this sooner, but it’s still very relevant.
   MAD or Microwave Activity Days are the first Saturday of every month.  Turns out today’s coincides with the UHF contest.  MAD days are usually from 6-7am until about 1pm.  Guys with gear for bands like 902/903, 1296, 2304, 3456, 5760MHz, 10 gig, 24 gig and beyond try to get on and test things, check propagation.  This is not a contest or sprint, it’s simply a monthly way to promote general microwave activity.   It is for everyone, everywhere on the uWave bands.  Talk it up in your area; don’t wait for someone else to do it. 
   2 meters is often used to help set up contacts, because let’s face it, the microwaves are awfully pointy and the odds of finding random Q’s are slim (although it can happen).  What I’ve heard is a lot of guys use 144.260 to look around and find uWavers to work.   I’m sure there are different protocols in different areas. 

   NE8I is out this morning in NW Lower MI.  Lloyd has been a supporter of MAD days for a long time, along with others. 
He sent the following post to the BC (www.badgercontesters.org) list on Thursday.
“This Saturday morning, before the contest is August Microwave Activity
Day. Oh, sunrise to 1PM or something. Me, till about 11AM. Then find
lunch. I plan to be on from AJ EN74at. Will have everything from 2M
through 47 GHz. Try to see what the band conditions might be for
Sunday. Plus a last chance to check things out.

Will be on 144.260 Move if congestion.  (I use) 903 not 902.
73  Lloyd NE8I/r   EN74 etc

One of the Better Net Nights — Here’s the Report.

Friday, August 5th, 2011

 

                  REMEMBER ARRL UHF CONTEST IS THIS WEEKEND  
    Runs 24 hours until 1800Z on Sunday.  Scroll down to my posts about the contest, if you want more info.  

    SOOO… the nets were a ton of fun Wed. night.  Not just the nets, but the overall general activity.  Everything was hopping.    We had DX, plus lots of signals on various bands.   6m had been open most of the day and early evening.  Guys who have been cleaning up on V/UHF the past few days were alive and well.  Guys were finding each other on 2m, or the ON4KST.com chat, and asking to run bands up thru 432 and in some cases, even 902 and 1296 MHz.  The ON4KST.com chat was very active and helpful for keeping track of the possibilities.  I’m very happy to report there’s now nearly 2400 registered for that real-time, free chat.  Plus every 24 hours, there’s 60-90 hams using the room from all parts of the USA and VE.   So glad ON4KST created that chat for IARU Region 2 hams on VHF/UHF! 
  
   Plenty of unusual grids were on Wed. night, and conditions were such that 400-850 mile Q’s were being made, especially as the night chugged along.  Wed.  was easily one of the most satisfying nights I’ve witnessed since I started this VHF promotion 3-4 years ago.   Not even talking about the nets so much, but really, the idea of dozens of guys working DX, using multiple bands… to me, that’s the whole point. 
   K8TQK net on 144.250 had 11 check-ins:   N8AIA, W8TUH and N8WNA EN82;  N0TTW EN32;  KR8T EN72;  KC8ZJL EN71;  W8AC and K8GDT EN91;  WA4REE EM65;  KI4ROF EM55 and K4YA EM86.   I was in the middle for that contact with N0TTW, and both Bob and Chris worked hard for that Q.  Good job guys. 
 
   I was on 144.240 Wed. night.  WB9LYH should be back next week.  If I had to get on, I’d talk funny because I’m having a filling taken care of about an hour before the net.
   I took 22 check-ins:  N9OLT EN64;  W8BYA EN70;  KR8T EN72;  WA8RJF EN91;  KC8ZJL EN71;  N9NDP and KC9UJY EN62;  KC9AZ and K9CCL EN61;  W9YZU and KB9WZJ EM69;  N8WNA EN82;  N9NMS EN52;  K8TQK EM89;  N0PB EM39;  N0TTW EN32;  KC9GMF EN53;  K2DRH EN41;  W0ANH EN47;  W9MP EN45;  K0SIX EN35 and N8PUM EN66.   I think I missed at least two calls that were right at the noise floor.  One was a 0, for sure, but I couldn’t get the location.  
   My conditions to Indianapolis were the best I have had on a net night.   They were pretty good to the NW, too.  

   KA0KYZ was having a ball.  He said that at midnight, he was still on 2m with N8DJB and K8TQK in OH, and KB9WZJ in Indy.  
   Terry mentioned he had a few equipment and operator issues so he didn’t start until about 9:10pm (central).   His 144.230 net had at least 20 check-ins.  Plus sounds like there was extra activity deep into the night. 
    KB0UCO EN33;  N9OLT EN64;  N0TTW EN32;  W8BYA EN70;  W9UIJ EN52;  N0PB EM39;  N9CUE and KB9WZJ EM69;  K8TQK EM89;  KC9GMF EN53;  N0WJY EN10;  KD0FEI and N0IRS EM29;  WB0ULX EN04;  W0ANH EN47;  W0PHD EN18;  K0SIX and KC0WHJ EN35;  WJ0W EN34;  N0DQS EN22. 
    Terry also mentioned that the next morning, he worked into EM86, East TN on 2m.

Lots of V/UHF DX Lately + Wed. 2m Nets ON Tomorrow Night

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

   Bands have really been in good shape.  Seeing all kinds of DX reports, especially the past few days.   One highlight is seeing both EN43 and EN34 working into South Carolina on 2m.   That’s some good long-haul tropo.   Hope many of you have been able to get on and enjoy it.  Late summer into early fall is the most reliable time of year for tropo (at least in the Midwest). 
  If these kinds of conditions can stick around until the UHF contest this weekend, we’ll be in great shape.   The UHF contest runs from 1800Z Sat., Aug. 6th until 1800Z Sun. Aug 7th.   More detail about the contest is here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=5010  

   Tomorrow night is Wednesday and that means our trio of long-range nets will be ON. 
   We kick off with K8TQK in EM89je, south-central OH, on 144.250, starting at 0030Z/8:30pm eastern.  Bob has been on the air a lot lately, taking advantage of the great conditions.  He has a great multi-band station; and gets out a long ways.  If you read the net report right below this post, you’ll see that K8TQK had a great net last week.  Many check-ins from multiple states and grids.  K8TQK starts his net by pointing  north, and then he goes clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so. 
   I take the 144.240 net tom0rrow night for a change.  WB9LYH will not be available.  I’m EN63ao, or 40 miles north of Milwaukee.  I start at 0100Z/8pm central by looking north, then I go clockwise a full 360 over the next 60-90 minutes. 
   KA0KYZ is on 144.230, from EN33qw, far SE Minnesota.  Terry gets on at 0200Z/9pm central.  Starts out looking east/northeast and goes a full 360 from there.   KA0KYZ would like VHF’ers to his NE/E/SE to know that he’s going to be looking harder for more contacts in those directions.  Not swinging the beams as quickly, and calling CQ more thoroughly.  Terry just got on VHF a few years ago and is really enjoying himself this summer.   I am extremely glad we have his enthusiasm and great signal. 

   If you want more info about Wed. nights, including other nets from EL99, EN91 and EM13, plus some helpful tips on how to get the most out of your time spent on the air, here’s a good post from July 18th:   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=5016

   The weak-signal side of V/UHF always needs more promotion and more signals on the air.  Do everything you can to talk up V/UHF in your area.  With great conditions lately, with summer contests, with weekly nets on many different nights and bands (see this post:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=5017), this is the best time of year.