Archive for September, 2011

Microwave Activity Day (MAD) is ON — First Sat. AM of Every Month

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

   MAD or Microwave Activity Days are the first Saturday of every month.  It comes up quickly this week because Oct 1st is Saturday. 

   MAD days are usually from 6-8am until about noon-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 plans to be on from a high spot in EN74gc, south of Cadillac, MI.  Lloyd has been sharing the MAD info with the Badger Contesters ( email reflector.   W9SNR plans to be on from EN62cn or cc, near Kenosha, WI.   I’m sure others will be on, too, and the weather forecast looks reasonable.

Last Night’s 2m Net Reports — Lots of Excitement

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

   Last night’s nets had it all, far as I was concerned.  Plenty of activity in all directions, a little DX,  new calls on 2m SSB, a mystery check in ending in “Hotel” to my southwest that I just couldn’t dig out … you name it, last night delivered.   

   I do have an announcement.  *I HAVE DECIDED TO CALL NEXT WEEK’S 144.240 NET OFF*.  Next Wed. I will be doing the 432 MHz Fall Sprint, and will focus 100% on that.  So for Oct 5th, the 144.240 net is off.  (WB9LYH is unavailable).   I do hope those of you with 432 will get on, call CQ and spin your beams next Wed.  The early weather forecast looks mild, perhaps we can luck into a fall opening??  Fall sprint info is all over this front page, just scroll down a few posts. 
   When we come back on Oct. 12th, we’ll be starting with our winter hours.  That means the 144.240 net will start at 7pm central/8pm eastern until at least next April.   If you can help spread the word, I’d appreciate it.   I will post another reminder between now and then. 

    I asked K8TQK what he wanted to do next Wed. and *HIS NET WILL BE ON* He will stir up activity on 2m, and make some contacts on 432 along the way.   Next week, you can give Bob two contacts for the price of one, so to speak.   His start time on 144.250 will remain 8:30pm eastern for the winter — no changes with the K8TQK net. 

    Last night K8TQK had 17 check-ins:  KC9BQA EN63; W8KHP and N8XA EM79;  K8GDT and W8AC EN91;  K3IP FM19;  AC3L/M FN00;  W2UAD FN13;  W3BFC FM18;  KD8KZG EM89;  K4XXX EM97;  KI4ROF EM55;  KJ4UGO EM64;  WA4REE EM65;  KB8TDA EN70;  N8WNA EN82 and KR8T EN72.  Nice turnout in all directions of the compass. 

    Turns out K0SIX in EN35 got on 144.230 at 9pm central.  If you were using the V/UHF chat, you heard about this in real-time.  Vince worked VE3KRP EN58 (Thunder Bay, ONT);  WB0YWW and KG0SJ EN22;  AC0RA EN41;  W0HXL EN21 and N9OLT EN64.   

    With the 144.240 net, I took 21 check-ins, plus a near miss.  We had a good burst of activity to the north, right at the start and that set the tone for a busy evening.  N9OLT EN64;  W0ANH EN47;  VE3KRP EN58;  W9JN and grandson KC9TVG EN54, also N9QZD EN54.  KS8B EN64;  K8TQK EM89;  KR8T EN72;  W9YZU EM69;  K9CCL and N9JBW EN61;  N9NDP EN62;  N9UM EN52;  AC0RA EN41;  KC9GMF EN53;  WB0YWW EN22;  W0HXL EN21;  K9ALT and WV9E EN43 and K0SIX EN35.

    For those who like more detail, last night provided plenty of material.
    The best conditions last night were to my north.  Both W0ANH and VE3KRP let me know we had a good path.  N9UM got wind of this in the chat and was very interested in trying to work both Connie and Eddie on 432.  So I helped a little to set that up, and they took it from there.  (No, they didn’t make it) 
    Having a trio of check-ins from EN54 was nice.  W9JN’s grandson sounds good on the air and I learned that he’s 10 years old and plays both guard and tackle on the local football team, just not at the same time, hihi.  Welcome Jacob, to the net.  N9QZD is back on the air after having been off several years.  He’s got all the bands working and is loud.  Welcome back Pete.  
    The southwest thru west portion of the net had several pleasant surprises.  K9ALT and AC0RA are both new to the net, so welcome to Glenn and Wyatt.  AC0RA is a younger guy who has to go portable to operate VHF, outside Cedar Rapids, IA.  Wyatt and I have been emailing for some time, and last night was a good night for him to take his homebrew 2 and 6m yagis out to a high spot and do some testing.  I wasn’t sure we’d make it, but there he was, Q5 most of the time, on a 220 mile path.  Great job!   Wyatt’s looking forward to the January contest. 
     When I worked WB0YWW Bob, near Ft. Dodge, IA, I was surprised how quiet he was.  Bob often booms in.  That made AC0RA’s contact more impressive.  I knew from the chat page that W0HXL was out there, in EN21, Omaha, but I didn’t figure we had a prayer, given the light copy from WB0YWW.  Well, I was wrong.  Dick came up on a peak and we got each other’s grids and rogers, so we finally have a contact, after many months of trying.  The only other NE contact I’ve ever had on 2m was N0WF, back in July 2006.  Dick, if you’re reading this, I’m going to send a card out to you today.  Great contact and thanks for giving us something to shoot for most Wednesdays.  
    I never did find out who the mystery station was last night.  All I know is that several times, I heard something light off to my SW, ending in “hotel”.  It never got stronger than that.  I thought it might have been W0WFH in MO, but an email from Bill says he wasn’t on the air last night.

222 Sprint Report — 25 Q’s in 16 Grids

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

   It’s a shame that 222 can’t be the most-popular VHF band, instead of 144.  But it never will be, because of the lack of commercially-available SSB gear.  (I outlined the options in the post below this one.)   If you’re a weak-signal V/UHF’er, do yourself a favor and find a way to get on 222 SSB/CW.  Transverters are the best way to go.  I use a Yaesu FT-736R, and am very happy, but I also have stacked long yagis up 110′, so that’s really what makes the difference.  If I were more technically-inclined, I’d go the transverter route, and enjoy even better sensitivity. 
   At my QTH last night, 222 had such low noise levels, I felt like I could hear fleas whispering.   I feel like I worked everyone who was on, within a 300-mile radius.  I know I called in every direction, multiple times, in the 3 hours I was on.  (Sprint activity usually dries up after 10pm, regardless of the 11pm closing time — it’s been this way as long as I’ve been on.)  

   I don’t think band conditions were anything special at all last night.  But there was a decent variety of stations on, plus you had K9JK and WB8BZK roving Chicago, which helps keep things busy. 

   Here’s my log:   ND9Z and N9QZD EN54;  WB8BZK/R in EN52, EN62 and EN51;  KA0PQW EN33;  KD0KIH (at W0VB) EN34;  W9GA EN53;  WV9E EN43;  N9LB and W9RM EN52;  KB0PE EM48;  K9JK/R in EN52, EN51 and EN61;  KF8QL EN72;  K8TQK EM89;  K8GDT and K8DIO EN91;  Ko9A EN52;  N8AIA, N8WNA and K8JA EN82;  W8ULC EM79; and W9SZ/P in EN50. 
   The highlight was hearing something out of the St. Louis area.  Besides W9GKA who sometimes gets on for the ARRL ‘tests, we rarely hear anything from the St. Louis area.  So when I heard KB0PE come warbling in light to my SSW, it was exciting.  I made sure to blabber a little bit extra with Dave, and drop his grid and the words “St. Louis area” a few times.  Why?   Because I knew others in WI would hear me and would jump at the chance to turn their antennas and also work Dave.  My biggest smile of the night was when I said something to the effect of, “Well Dave, I’ll say 73 and step aside.  I suspect others up here may want to work you.”  BAM, 3 guys calling him all at once.  Just like 6m or HF, LOL.   

   Thanks to the Detroit and OH guys for getting on last night.  Thanks to W9SZ for going out /P when he really didn’t have any spare time.  Good to work KA0PQW in EN33 — very light copy but when the band is so quiet, it’s easy with headphones.  KD0KIH was able to get his feet wet from W0VB’s big station in EN34.  He sounded good, and was CQ’ing a lot — sounded very confident.  I was amazed how often I would hear his signal lightly, no matter which direction I pointed in. 

    I called toward IA and the KC Metro often.  Same with the whole EN44/34/35 region.  Nothing.  Not even a whisper of someone who was looking another direction. 

   Oh yes, I did have 3 intervals where I got on 223.500 FM and called CQ for several minutes.  I only got one bite, and it was a very surprised WB8BZK, who is used to hearing me on SSB.   I figured I’d pick up a few strays from the Milwaukee or Chicago areas on 223.500 FM, but nope.  I’m sure some were on, and we just didn’t cross paths. 

    432 Sprint is next Wed, Oct 5th.  I also have net control duty on 144.240 that night.  Not sure what I will do, at this time.  Guess I’ll ask the check-ins tonight on 144.240 (I have the .240 net tonight, not WB9LYH) what they think.   Watch, we’ll have storms or something crazy next week and the whole thing will end up being a moot point. 
    If you have 432, make plans now to get on.  Help spread the word in your area.  Because 432 is so pointy, swing your beams and call CQ *OFTEN*.
   IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR ALL THE SPRINT INFO, you can go here: or here:

222 Sprint ON Tuesday Evening, Sept. 27th, 7-11pm in your time zone.

Monday, September 26th, 2011

   Don’t forget about the Fall Sprints — all the info is here:
   We had a lot of fun with the 2 meter sprint last Monday, with very good participation in and near WI and ILL.  

   Tomorrow night is the 1.25 meter sprint.  The majority of the action will be near 222.100 MHz, using horizontally-polarized yagis with higher gain.   Most guys on 222 SSB are using either transverters or a Yaesu FT-736R or 726R, with the optional 222 band module.  *However* because of the lack of commercially-available gear for 222 MHz SSB, you will also have ops tomorrow night who will be trying to make contacts using their FM rigs.  The bulk of this activity will be on 223.500 MHz, simplex.  There is no contesting on repeaters.
   I make more FM contacts on 223, than on any other band in a V/UHF contest.  Even with my being cross-polarized to the FM stations, I manage to get into the Chicago area, about a 100-120 mile path. 
   Hope we’ll have lots of 222’ers on tomorrow night.  It’s a fantastic band with lower noise and (estimated) 20% better propagation, db for db, than 2m.  I wish everyone had and used 222. 

   The 432 Sprint will be next Wed., Oct. 5th, also from 7-11pm.  Again, if you want the full sprint schedule and rules, just click on the link at the top of this post.

Long-Range Wed. Nets are ON — K8TQK and KC9BQA Net Controls

Monday, September 26th, 2011

   I’ve gotten email from WB9LYH asking me to take the Wed. 144.240 net for the next several weeks.  It looks like Wed. night will be a darn sight better, weather-wise, than this morning is.  We’ve had a sideways rain, yet it’s a mild 59 degrees.   Sort of like what you might find at the British (golf) Open. 
   So look for me on 144.240 this week, and into October, too.  This week, I start at 0100Z, or 8pm central/9pm eastern.  Next Wed. Oct 5th, the 144.240 net will switch to the earlier start time for winter.  Starting Oct 5th, we will start at 0000Z, or 7pm central/8pm eastern.  I start out by looking north and I then go clockwise a full 360, over the next 60-90 minutes.  My location is 40 miles north of Milwaukee, grid square EN63ao. 
   All are welcome to listen along or say hello when they care to.  This net is informal; the purpose is to create more activity on less-used portions of 2m.  We appreciate you helping to spread the word.  I figure we’re far more likely to attract newcomers and keep veterans interested in 2m SSB, if they know where and when they can find activity on the airwaves. 

   K8TQK has his 144.250 net from EM89je, south-central OH every Wed.  Bob starts at 0030Z, or 8:30pm eastern time.  He also starts out pointing north, and then rotating the yagis clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so.  K8TQK has a huge signal, and can easily get out 300, 400, 500 miles.   Last week, he took check-ins from Central WI to NJ, to Central AL to Northern MO.   Help spread the word about Bob’s net and give him some DX to shoot for every week.

WD9BGA 144.298 Beacon is back ON from EN53ba

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

   Received good news via email this morning.  It said, “After a very long hiatus, the WD9BGA 2 meter beacon is back on the air.”   So I went out to the shed at midday and indeed, the beacon is back on the air.  Sounds good!  If the beacon is still at its previous location, it would be EN53ba, about an hour WSW of Madison, WI.   This was a very high spot, and this beacon got out very well. 
   I’ve lost track of how many VHF’ers have asked me (from all over the Midwest) if/when the beacon would be back on.   So “thank you, Karl”, from hundreds of us.  

   Been a long time since I’ve put up a link to beacon listings…   That’s for 144 and higher.  
   For 6 meters, use:

    In fact, that is a good link for V/UHF in general.   Lots of info in there.

    Don’t be discouraged if a beacon you see listed isn’t audible.  Beacon lists are hard to keep 100% up to date.  If you have info about a new beacon, or can confirm a particular beacon is now off the air, make a comment here and let everyone know.  EDIT — Sept 29th — IN FACT, I’D APPRECIATE IT IF GUYS WITHIN SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES OF WI would share what beacons they can regularly hear on 50, 144 MHz and on up the bands.  Ian K8MM has started things by reporting on a 144.273.8 beacon he hears from EN93.  Anyone else want to keep this thread going?

Last Night’s Net Reports

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

   Last night, K8TQK had 19 check-ins to his 144.250 net.  N8AIA EN82;  KD8FHY, K8GDT and KD8JRH EN91;  KC8ITN, KD8QLS, KD8KZG and W8WG EM89;  W2KV FN20;  WB4IXU and K4YA EM86;  KI4ROF EM55;  KI4PQE EM62;  WA4REE EM65;  N0PB EM39;  K9UHF EN53;  N9QZD EN54;  KB8TDA EN70 and N9UM EN52. 
   The territory Bob covered last night was from WI to NJ to AL to MO.  All on 2m SSB.  Makes me happy just to type that. 

   WB9LYH had 14 check-ins to his 144.240 net.   N9OLT and KS8B EN64;  KG0SJ and WB0YWW EN22;  K9CCL and N9JBW EN61;  N9NDP EN62;  N0PB EM39;  WA9BNZ EN40;  KA9DVX EN51;  W9YZU EM69;  K8TQK EM89;  W0HXL EN21 and KA0KYZ/P in EN24. 
   **PLEASE REMEMBER THE 144.240 NET WILL START ONE HOUR EARLIER EFFECTIVE OCT 5TH and continuing for the rest of the winter and early spring months.  The new start time will be 7pm central/8pm eastern.**

144.240 (WB9LYH EN54) and 144.250 (K8TQK EM89) Nets ON Wed. Night

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

   7:45am central, Tuesday morning.  

   Still can’t get over that 2m sprint from last night.  If you’d ever told me I’d work 30% more Q’s in a 4-hour sprint than in the 10+ hours I put in for the ARRL Sept. VHF (comparing 2m to 2m only), I’d have never believed it.   It was busy last night, lots of fun.  Most guys did a great job of spreading out from the 144.200 call frequency, too.  I was hearing signals from 144.170 up to 144.225, which is a lot more enjoyable (and effective!) than having a swarm of stations all QRM’ing each other on 144.200.   (I should enter this as a separate post).  

   Tomorrow night is Wednesday and that means more widespread activity on 2m SSB.   
   K8TQK kicks things off at 0030Z/8:30pm eastern with his 144.250 long-range net.  Bob’s in south-central OH, EM89je and he starts out looking north, then goes clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so.  If you know Bob and are comfortable giving him a little good-natured grief, make sure to ask him if he’s using his rotatable 2m yagi tomorrow night.  🙂   
    WB9LYH follows at 0100Z/8pm central with his 144.240 long-range net.  Mark’s smack in the middle of WI, EN54cl.  He starts out looking northeast, then goes clockwise a full 360 over the next 60-90 minutes. 

    Both our net controls love DX and testing the limits of propagation.  Do whatever you can to let those who are 300, 400, 500 miles away know that we’re out here looking for them.  I know many of you have helped spread the word so thank you.  

    Please remember that KA0KYZ’s 144.230 net from EN33qw, far SE MN is *off* until at least late Oct/early Nov.  If someone else out west is interested in pitching in, that would be great.  Terry started that net at 0200Z/9pm central.  

    These nets are informal; the only purpose is to create more activity on less-used portions of 2m.  As is the custom on 2m SSB/CW, most stations use horizontally-polarized yagis for maximum range.  If you are used to the FM side of 2m, and use vertical antennas, your range will be greatly reduced due to the 20db loss from antennas being cross-polarized.  But if you hear something in the USB mode, and you want to check in, by all means, go ahead.  
   (Long-term, using vertical antennas on SSB/CW portions of 2m doesn’t make sense.  May as well stay on repeaters, because you’re not getting the DX benefits we enjoy from using horizontally-polarized gain antennas.  Sorry if that sounds blunt, but it’s true.  We want and need new signals on weak-signal V/UHF, but there are certain rules of the road well worth paying attention to. )

    I realize not everyone enjoys a net.  Many prefer to do their own signal-hunting.  We encourage this.  In fact, if enough guys got on and called their own CQ’s any old night, we wouldn’t need nets to ensure activity.   We always encourage both our net check-ins and other stations to slide down below 144.230 and spread out and call their own CQ’s.   Several dozen stations working our net controls is nice.  Multiple stations spreading out and calling CQ is what really makes the band come alive.  We saw this last night with the 2m Fall Sprint.

2m Sprint Here Was a Great Success 42 Q’s in 20 Grids

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

  10:15pm — this is when a typical sprint dies down.  W9FZ/R entering EN54 is helping activity tonight, as is K9JK roving the Chicago grids. 
  Just wanted to say how great the turnout was tonight on 2m.  Final tally is 42 Q’s in 20 grids.  By comparison, in 10-11 hours of opping in the ARRL Sept VHF, I only had **30** Q’s and 18 grids the whole contest on 2m.    
  You might think conditions are enhanced, but not really.  I’d say bands are average to slightly above.  Maybe a little better the past hour or so.  But really, this sprint is all about the activity.   Nice job everyone.

   Next Sprint is on 222 MHz, Tuesday, Sept. 27th, 7-11pm your local time.   For complete Fall Sprint info, scroll halfway down this front page.

W9FZ/R Plans for This Evening’s 2m Sprint + WIVUCH County Activations

Monday, September 19th, 2011

  Heads-up everyone for enhanced activity tonight, in conjunction with the Fall 2m Sprint. 

Bruce, W9FZ will be going out tonight:
“I’m going to activate 3 (WIVUCH) counties on Monday night.   One will be before the sprint and 2 during the sprint.   Yeah, I know it lengthens the evening a bit, but I hope some ops–even if not county hunting will give me some activity from the early county.

Marquette county at 1800-1830 (central time) 144.190   I’ll carry those who want other bands confirmed to other bands.  I’ll be at either EN53jt near Montello or EN53lw near Westfield.

Then in the sprint, I’ll start EN53ls near Markesan for Green Lake County.   I’ll start as soon after the 1900L start time as I can get there.  While there, I’ll gladly carry guys to other bands who want it.   Just give me a hint you’d like to try another band.  I’ll stay on 144.190 or drift even further down to 144.180 for the remainder of the sprint.

I’ll knock off around 2030 (Local)  and drive to Wood County EN54dg SE of Wisc Rapids.  I hope to be on from there around 2115L or sooner.  Same drill on the other bands.

I may do an occasional CQ while enroute to the new grid because I’ll be pointing WNW towards MSP.
I’ll be chirping APRS on

Should be a fun sprint if Hepburn’s tropo forecast is correct.

Bruce Richardson W9FZ/R

KC9BQA adds:  If you’re looking for information about the Wisconsin V/Uhf County Hunters Award, it’s here:  All are eligible, both in and out-of-state hams.  Get at least 20 WI counties on any combination of V/UHF bands for your initial certificate.