Archive for November, 2011

Great Nets Last Night — 20 Check-ins to 144.240 and 24 Check-ins to 144.250

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

   Both WB9LYH on 144.240 and K8TQK on 144.250 had more check-ins than they have had in some weeks.  Lots of different grids and states getting on board, too.  Plus more new check-ins to the net.  Great to see.

   **JUST TO AVOID ANY CONFUSION — EVEN WITH TURNING CLOCKS BACK THIS WEEKEND, THE NET START TIMES WILL REMAIN THE SAME.  7PM Central for WB9LYH on 144.240 and 8:30pm Eastern for K8TQK on 144.250**

   WB9LYH on 144.240 is now starting at 7pm central.  This time change took place last month and will remain in effect until next spring, when the days get longer.   He’s in EN54cl, smack in the middle of WI.  Stacked 17B2’s and 500w from a ridgetop QTH.   Last night, Mark’s 20 check-ins were:
   N8WNA and KD8HLV EN82;  N9NDP EN62;  KC8ZJL EN71;  K9NLP, KY9E and WB9TFH EN53;  K8GDT EN91;  W9YZU EM69;  W9BBP and WA9BNZ EN40;  N9NYA EN43;  K9CCL EN61;  KD0FEI EM29;  W0WOI, KG0SJ, and KD0BQK EN22;  W0WFH EM48;  N0PB EM39; and N9KOR EN44.  
   Going off of my memory, I see 3 new all-time check-ins last night.  KD8HLV just put up a 11-element yagi at 50′ and was able to check in from just northwest of Ann Arbor, MI.  W0WOI has been hamming for nearly 60 years, and has many accomplishments on VHF.  I think last night was his first time saying hello to the net from northwest of Des Moines.   Another long-time VHF’er said hello last night, and that’s W0WFH (formerly WA0BKZ) from an hour or so west of St. Louis.  Very pleased to see that we can get out to Central MO, even on a cold, windy, rainy night.  That’s really impressive.   We’ve tried so hard thru the years to find more activity out of MO; maybe this will get the ball rolling.  The KC-area guys have always made it in to the net, no problem, so we know it can be done. 

   **Remember to return the favor with N0PB’s net on Monday nights, on 144.250, starting at 7:45pm central.  Phil’s been calling his SWOT net (www.swotrc.net) for probably close to 10 years, from EM39, north-central MO.  Phil has a very big signal, and gets check-ins over a very wide area.  He uses a pair of omni Big Wheels up high from 7:45-8pm.  Then at 8, he switches to a long yagi for the next hour.  Phil starts out looking south at 8pm, then east about 8:15, north about 8:30, west about 8:45 and then back to south at the end. ** 

   K8TQK had 24 check-ins last night with his 144.250 net.  I think last night, Bob had the best geographic reach I can recall since he got on board last year.  What makes this most impressive to me is that last night, I doubt band conditions were anything special.  With flat late fall bands, Bob worked from FN03 Toronto to the north, FM18 MD/VA to the east, EM84 Northeast GA to the south, EM55 western TN to the southwest, EM39 and EM48 in MO to the west and several check-ins from WI to the NW.   Fellas, this is on 2m SSB, using longer-boom yagis up high for maximum gain.  No tricks, no computers, no repeaters.  Just good ol’ long-haul VHF’ing.  We have 700,000 hams in the USA, and I doubt that even 10% of them know what is really possible on 2 meters.  I’m continually amazed more hams aren’t excited by the possibility of working 200, 300, 400 miles on 2m SSB/CW. 

   Anyway, here’s Bob’s 24 check-ins, as I copied them from the on4kst.com chat room:  N8WNA, VE3LPY, KD8HLV and K8JA EN82;  NF8O and K8GDT EN91;  KD8KZG and W8WG EM89;  K2PQI FM09;  WA3BFC (which is a busted call, can anyone help? ) FM18;  AA4DD EM86;  W4TMW EM84;   KE4LGL EM77 (we hardly *ever* have activity from KY so thanks for saying hello); KI4ROF EM55; W9YZU EM69;  N0PB EM39;  W0WFH EM48;  WA4REE EM65;  WB9TFH and KY9E EN53;  WB9LYH EN54; N9NDP EN62;  N8DJB EN81 and VA3ELE FN03. 

    Nice going everyone.  It’s a pleasure to type up net reports like this.

144.240 and 144.250 Nets Should be ON This Wednesday. REMEMBER WB9LYH on 144.240 now starts at 7PM CENTRAL

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

   The 2m SSB nets on Wednesdays continue to attract both veteran and newer VHF’ers.   You are welcome to listen along or say hello when it’s convenient.  All are welcome; these nets are informal and the purpose is to help create more activity on less-used portions of 2 meters.  Please help us spread the word.  Many times, the difference between someone sticking with weak-signal VHF or giving up is being able to hear activity at least once a week.   We’re trying to grow the hobby.  Will you help? 

   Also remember that both our net controls enjoy pushing the propagation limits.  They have big stations that get out a very long ways and want you guys 400, 500, 700 miles away to listen carefully and try for the tough contact.  

   On Wednesdays, we have WB9LYH in EN54cl, right in the middle of WI.  Mark gets on 144.240 at 7pm central, and starts by looking northeast.  He then calls CQ in a clockwise pattern, covering the E, SE, S, SW, W, NW and N over the next 60-90 minutes.  The eastern time zone guys need to be on board right at the start. 
   We also have K8TQK in EM89je, south-central OH.  Bob gets on 144.250 at 8:30pm eastern, and starts by looking north.  He then calls CQ in a clockwise pattern, going NE, E, SE, S, SW, W and NW over the next 45-60 minutes. 
   The net control start times are deliberately offset so that anyone can try for either net.  

   Beyond our two nets, there’s also Wed. night activity out of EN91, EL98 and EM13.  Wednesday has the most widespread activity on 2m SSB, across the eastern half of the USA and southern Canada. 

   We are *always* encouraging all 2m ops to do their part to make the bands more active.  Don’t just check into our net for a few minutes.  Use your own station to create more activity.  Go down below 144.220 and call your own CQ’s.  Swing your beams and look in all directions.  If enough guys did this at any old time, we wouldn’t need nets to ensure regular activity.  

   If you have internet and a computer near your station, here’s another potential helper.  Back in March of 2010, a free, easy-to-use computer chat room for all USA/VE ops on 144 MHz and higher was kindly created for us by ON4KST, who has a whole family of active and friendly chats across the HF and VHF spectrum.  
   It costs nothing to register or use these chats.  They are available anytime (but typically are most active in the early mornings and evenings and weekends).  No special software is necessary, nor is there any long-term commitment.  The resource is for you to use on your terms.   Over 2500 hams have already registered.   For the 7 simple steps to get setup for ON4KST.com ham radio chats, go here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1072

Reminder To Myself — Follow up With More Historical-Type Posts

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

   A few posts down this “front” page, I wrote about the history of the 2m SSB nets I’ve promoted on Wednesdays since July 2008.  It’s the October 20th post.  I want to continue in that vein later this week or weekend.  Talk about the various pushes over the years. 
   1)  The FM Simplex Nets on Thursday.
   2)  222 Tuesdays.   
   3)  WIVUCH (WI VHF/UHF County Hunters Award — website is www.wivuch.com).
   4)  The development of a 144 MHz and higher chat room for IARU Region 2 ops at www.on4kst.com
   5)  This website, which came online on April 1, 2009. 
   6)  Efforts to promote VHF/UHF Contesting in and near WI.  
   7)  The future of kc9bqa.com. 

   If you’re the type who likes a sense of how things have evolved, make sure to visit this website frequently over the next week or two.   There should be plenty of new posts.

6M Sprint Report — By far the worst I’ve seen in 9 years.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

   6:20am Tuesday morning —  This week’s 2m SSB net announcements will be up very shortly. 

   I try to concentrate on good news in this VHF/UHF blog.  I have a crabby, Vince Lombardi-type part of me that can really be unpleasant, if I let it run free.   Plus, I do realize that this is a hobby, not a competitive sport where the players (you readers) are getting a weekly paycheck while I try to whip us all into being winners.  🙂 
   Having said that…

   The 6m Fall Sprint Sat. night had very poor participation.    It didn’t help that it was going up against whatever HF contest was happening.  I know the HF bands (especially 10m) have come alive and many ops have been concentrating on that the past few months.   In the future, a 6m sprint should not be scheduled against any HF contest — especially one where the higher bands like 10m are likely to be wide open.  
   HOWEVER… I also know there are plenty of V/UHF’ers who don’t get on HF much at all, so even if we were up against a popular HF contest, there’s no way the 6m Fall Sprint should have been this slow.   From the reports I have read about the 6m sprint, it seems that perhaps 2-3 dozen ops were on in a multi-state area.  That is just brutally slow.   *Hundreds* of hams have 6m SSB capability within 100-300 miles of me.  That less than 2-3% of them chose to operate in a 6m sprint says something — something that is not good news.  I have had ARRL multi-band VHF contests where I’ve worked 70, 80 or more QSO’s on 6m, *without* any E skip to pad my totals.  Hell, I had 101 Q’s on 6m (in 28 grid squares) in the Sept. 2009 ARRL Contest.  Again, this was without any sporadic E skip.  

   Another thing I’m going to point out — the promotion of these sprints is sorely lacking.  I monitor a ton of VHF chit-chat via email.  I saw NOTHING in the way of promotion from the sponsors themselves.   How on earth will guys participate in these sprints if they don’t get several reminders?  If it hadn’t been for me promoting in the Midwest, (and WB9QZB who is very diligent about emailing reminders to various ham groups on Yahoo)  a casual operator wouldn’t have even known the Fall VHF/UHF Sprints exist.   I honestly think if you’re not going to promote the sprints, there’s little point in having them at all. 

   The VHF/UHF bands suffer from a lack of activity and it is getting worse.  If you don’t actively promote the times where there will be activity, then you’re really shooting yourself in the foot.     We all have to work harder at getting the word out. 

    It turned out I did not operate 6m on Sat. night.   My wife and I ended up enjoying a haunted Halloween campground deal some friends always go all out for.  I’m glad I did that instead.  I’f I had stayed home to make 10-15 contacts, I’d have been increasingly annoyed as the sprint crawled along.   

   If you were on the air but “just listening” then you didn’t help one bit.  On dead bands, you want to call CQ and start something.   If 50 guys are at their rigs, but each of them are “just listening” then how many contacts get made?    (  zero  ) 

   The Fall Sprints are now done. 

   The next VHF contest will be a much more active one.   It’s the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, held on the weekend of Jan 21-22, 2012.  Go here for rules and more details:   http://www.arrl.org/january-vhf-sweepstakes  All bands from 50 MHz on up thru 144, 222, 432, 902/3, 1296 and higher into the microwaves are in play.  The multi-band contests always do much better than the single-band sprints.  So start saving time on your calendar now.

   Have no idea what a V/UHF contest is all about?  Neither did I, 9 years ago.  Within a year — by late 2003 — I was hooked.  I love the contests because they are the single time I can count on widespread activity. 
    If you want to learn more about V/UHF contesting, I’ll steer you toward a series of articles I’ve written called VHF Contesting School.  The link to those articles is at:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4676   You are free to share that info with hams everywhere.   Those articles break things down into bite-sized pieces.  If you take some time to absorb what I’m saying, you’ll feel comfortable sitting at the rig and calling “CQ Contest”.