Archive for January, 2012

Jan. 4, 2012 Net Reports — KC9BQA Has 18 Check-Ins and K8TQK 16

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

   Noon Thursday — 
   Conditions were better than last week.  I apparently had a horrible-sounding mic for the first half hour or so; sorry about that.  Imagine I might have missed a few in MI, OH or IN that couldn’t take the “picket-fencing”.  
   Had plenty of check-ins to the south thru SW, W and WNW. 
   Heard from:  N8WNA EN82;  N9NDP and WE9K EN62;  K9CCL and N9JBW EN61;  KY9E, N9DG  and WB9TFH EN53;  N9OLT EN64;  WB0MCO EN40;  WB0YWW EN22;  N9KOR and N8MD EN44;  WB9LYH EN54;  KR8T EN71 (off the back) and N0KK and K0SIX EN35.   WB0MCO is an all-time new check-in to the net from Burlington, IA.  Welcome and thanks for the visit.  Believe it was also my first time personally checking in N8MD and N0KK. 
   Want to thank K9UHF who is only about 10 miles away from me.  Dave has better ears than I and tried to help with several DX contacts that I had a hard time hearing.   We were being heardoccasionally in EM76 by N4PPG and EM77 by KE4LGL.   Plus K9UHF was able to make contact with K0CQ in EN32 and nearly completed with W0HXL out in EN21. 

   K8TQK’s 15 check-ins were:  N8WNA EN82;  KD8FHY, KC8YJB, NF8O and K8GDT EN91;  W2UAD FN13;  W2KV FN20;  W8WG and WT8E EM89;  W3BFC FM18;  KB9RDS EM79;  KB8TDA EN70;  N4PPG EM76;  KE4LGL EM77;  KI4ROF EM55 and KB3TNZ FN10. 

   Thanks for the activity on the first Wednesday of 2012.  Both K8TQK and myself will take the nets again next Wed — Jan 11th. 
   On Jan 18th, WB9LYH is scheduled to be back at the mic with his 144.240 net.   The net will benefit from the superior range Mark’s station has.   WB9LYH runs about 500w into a pair of 17B2’s from a ridgetop location.  I’m no slouch at 200w into a 16-el, 27′ long KLM yagi up at 70′.  But time and again, in A/B comparisons, I’ve heard Mark do a few S units better than I, even when he’s working someone 100 miles farther away for him.

Long-Range Nets ON Tomorrow Night. 144.240 @0100Z — KC9BQA EN63ao. 144.250 @0130Z — K8TQK EM89je.

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

   7pm Tuesday — 

   The headline pretty much says it all.  Every Wednesday, we do our part to help stir up more 2m SSB activity in a wide area surrounding WI and OH.   Tomorrow night’s no different.  Hope we’ll have a nice turnout and I hope many VHF’ers do their own thing, down the band, calling CQ in different directions and making some contacts on their own.   My point is that while we definitely appreciate check-ins to the net, our larger goal is to have a healthy band, full of activity at any time.  I spoke about this at length in a Dec. 27th at the bottom of this page.   

    Both K8TQK and myself start our nets by looking north, then E, then S, then W.  Bob’s rotation takes about 60 minutes, give or take, and mine takes closer to 90 mins.   You can monitor our progress via the real-time ham radio chat rooms.  We’re in the IARU Region 2 chat for 144-432 MHz.  This chat is open any time, day or night, and is available to licensed hams all across the USA, Canada and Mexico.  It’s free, no obligation and no B.S.  If you have a computer and internet connection near your rigs, get on board and see if you find it helpful.  The 7 simple steps to get registered are here:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the bands are a little better than avg. tomorrow night.  Warmer air is advecting from the south and west, over colder air near the earth’s surface.   Generally, this means good conditions.   The Hepburn Forecast Tropo Maps hint at this for 0000Z Thursday (6pm central Wed. evening).

ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes is Jan 21-22

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

   The first VHF/UHF contest of the year is always in mid-late January.  The other big ones are in June, July, August and September.  There are also single-band, one-evening VHF/UHF sprints in April and October.  Visit my website archives for the appropriate months and you’ll find plenty of contest information.  

   Here’s the link to the ARRL rules for the Jan 21-22nd VHF Sweepstakes: 
   In the central time zone, this contest runs from 1pm on Sat., Jan 21st until 10pm on Sun., Jan 22nd.  The busiest times tend to be at the start and toward the end of the contest.   Saturday evening and Sunday morning are good times to be on, also.  I encourage everyone to try harder and spend plenty of time calling CQ contest at different times during the weekend.   The VHF/UHF contests are more relaxed and friendlier than the ultra-busy HF contests.  It’s not unusual to hear fellows taking a minute to chit-chat and get caught up.  Plus, nearly everyone in the V/UHF contests gets plenty of sleep.  In the Midwest anyway, you will find almost no activity after midnight or before 6am.  I know this because I’ve given up trying, after 9 seasons.  Those who run the digital modes may do the bulk of their ops overnight, so keep that in mind.  I’m the wrong guy to ask about digital mode operation.   
    Farther down this post, I provide links to my series of articles called VHF Contesting School.  I wrote those articles when I was brand new in late 2003 because I couldn’t find enough info on how/what to do in a V/UHF contest.    You are free to share those articles with hams everywhere.  We always need more V/UHF contesters.   The majority of contacts in any V/UHF contest take place on the bread-and-butter bands of 6m and 2m (50 and 144 MHz).  Because most hams have one or both of those bands, we can easily develop more V/UHF contesters, if we take the time to show them the basics. 

   I love V/UHF contests because they make the bands come alive.   I enjoy active bands with lots of signals, and I love the variety that you find in a contest.   I love tracking rovers as they move from one grid to the next.  I love hearing stations from more than the normal 200-300 mile range, which means we might be getting band enhancement.  I love hearing 6 meters suddenly open up with sporadic E skip, which means I might actually get really busy, and put 30, 40, 60 or more contacts in my log inside of an hour.  

    As I said above, I’ve written a series of articles called VHF Contesting School.  They are thorough.  It may be more than a total newbie will want to read thru.  That’s fine, skim thru the articles, and take what you need.   Don’t worry about every last detail.  You can be a casual contester, and have fun on your terms.  
    These links are in order from a basic introduction, to antennas, to what bands and frequencies to use, and so on.   VHF Contesting School — Introduction.    Antennas – The Most Important Part of Your V/UHF Station.    What Bands and Frequencies to Use.     How to Log a V/UHF Contest.    Helpful Hints — Being a Smarter Operator.    Go Roving!   Put the Antennas and Rigs in the Mobile.    More Detailed Rover Info.    Rules and Scoring. 

   Again, you are free to pass this info along to licensed hams everywhere.  There’s 19 days until the Jan (2012) VHF Sweepstakes, so have fun learning and then put your knowledge to use on the air, having fun and making lots of contacts Jan 21 and 22nd. 

   Another great resource is  Here you can access audio and video clips of V/UHF DX being worked, plus listen to actual QSO’s that are made in V/UHF contests.  Let me dig around that website and see if I can steer you toward specific examples…  is a good one.   That link provides 19 minutes of action in the 2008 ARRL June VHF QSO Party, which had nice conditions.  I’m sure if someone started searching YouTube for V/UHF Contest clips, you’d find dozens of examples.

New VHF’ers Need to Know About Grid Squares

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

   6:30am Tuesday —

   Happy New Year, everyone. 

   You can tell a ham has moved past the repeater stage of V/UHF’ing when they start thinking in terms of grid squares.  The formal term is ” Maidenhead Grid Square”  You can Google that term and get all the info you want.  In practical terms, grid squares are 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. 
   One colorful grid square map is at  A simpler one is at:  I have several of those on my desk.   If those 2 links aren’t the sort of grid square map you want, use Google and keep looking. 
   If you want to know what your grid square is, again Google is your friend.  Two quick links I found are: and   Hope this helps.