Archive for August, 2012

ON4KST.com VHF Chat Room Has Over 3000 Users

Friday, August 10th, 2012

  8:45pmThursday — 

   Both of the websites I’m about to share may help you make more on-air contacts. 
   Back in March of 2010, ON4KST was kind enough to create a free, easy-to-use chat room where North American V/UHF’ers can hang out, announce where they are pointing their yagis,  and see who else others are working.  Plus you can talk rigs, antennas, accessories, you name it.  
   It’s the IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432 MHz, located at www.on4kst.com
   By now, well over 3000 of you have registered.  I enjoyed spending a little time in there today, choosing the “chat review” feature from the extensive drop-down menu.  By reviewing a few days worth of chat, I can see the room is active, friendly and a great aid in bringing V/UHF’ers together.     If you have internet and a computer near your rigs, I’d check this out and see if it’s for you.  You are under no pressure to chat; there are plenty who simply observe in the background.   But I encourage you to at least post where your CQ’ing and who you are working. 
   Here’s my post with the 7 simple steps to get signed up for the on4kst.com ham chat rooms.
   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1072  
  
   In addition to the 144-432 MHz chat, there are many other “rooms”.   The 6 meter room is very popular.  Poke around and have fun. 

   Some still use the older and simpler 144 MHz Propagation Logger.  http://dxworld.com/144prop.html  No registration needed, and very easy to use.

K8TQK Has 18 Check-ins and WB9LYH 12 Last Night

Friday, August 10th, 2012

    8:30pm Thursday 
   
    Let’s get these net reports from last night posted.
    K8TQK kicked it off at 0030Z/8:30pm eastern with the 144.252 net.  Yes, 144.252.  Bob has to op there because he has a bad birdie right on .250.  K8TQK’s 18 check-ins were:  K8MD and N8WNA EN82;  WB8AUK EN80;  KC8YJB and KD8FHY EN91;  N9YK EN71;  W2UAD FN13;  N2RHL FN02;  VE3VII FN03;  AA4DD and K4YA EM86;  WA4REE EM65;  KI4ROF EM55;  WD4NMV EM85;  N4TLL EM87;  AC3L/M FN00;  Ky4MRG EM77 and a DX treat at the end, KA0KYZ in EN33, SE MN.  That’s about a 550-575 mile path between KA0KYZ and K8TQK.  Nice going Terry and Bob. 

    WB9LYH reported tough propagation in several directions.  His dozen check-ins with the 144.240 net at 0100Z/8pm central from EN54cl were:   N9OLT EN64;  N8WNA EN82;  WB9TFH EN53;  K9CCL EN61;  N9NDP EN62;  WA9BNZ EN40;  WB0YWW EN22;  W0HXL EN21;  WV9E EN43;  K0SIX EN35;  K8TQK EM89 and WB8AUK EN80.  Mark comments that WB0YWW made it with a good signal, with just 10 watts. 

     Plan on the same net controls for next Wed., Aug. 15th.   Hope we have a good turnout and even better band conditions.

EM58 To Be Activated This Saturday — Details Below

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

   6:30am Wednesday —
   ** IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR TONIGHT’S NET ANNOUNCEMENTS, THEY ARE TWO POSTS BELOW.**  I’ve had multiple updates both today and yesterday. 

   Also got email last night from KM9O in the St. Louis area.  Dennis is excited to report that he and at least one other ham will be able to put both horizontal yagis and parasitic multi-loops up at the 110′ level from 9am to 4pm on this Saturday, Aug. 12th.   They will be operating from the far western part of grid EM58, about a half hour east of St. Louis. 
   In Dennis’ own words…
“Todd,
Dennis KM9O here.
 This Saturday from 9am – 4pm+ We will be setting up VHF/UHF stations 
on top of St Ellen Mine Park in Ofallon, Illinois.
We will be on SSB/CW just to play around with VHF 110ft above what we 
normally would.
 The nearest aerial electrical lines are over 2000ft away so it should 
be quiet.   Could you put out the word to the VHF community that we’ll be 
operating as W9ABG?

 Cool weather is supposed to set in so we’re hoping for tropo.

 73 Dennis KM9O”

  KM9O did go on to say that they will be primarily on/near 144.200, and they will have 70cm capability, as well.  Please look toward the far eastern side of St. Louis this Saturday and give W9ABG the DX excitement they’re looking for.  With those antennas at 110′, you can imagine the range they’ll have.  

   (I know what many of you are thinking, and yes, I have gently asked them to consider doing this on a contest weekend, when there would be much more activity.  🙂 )

Fall Sprints Schedule Announced — 50 MHz is THIS SATURDAY

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

   6am Wednesday —
   We have a new wrinkle with the 6m Fall Sprint, that I just learned about via an email from K9JK, the Spring Sprint sponsor.  Glad I got this email from John, otherwise, I would have had no clue.   In the past, the 6m fall sprint was held in October, so please help by quickly getting the word out in your area.   
   It makes sense to shift the 50 MHz sprint to a time of year where there’s at least a fighting chance of an E skip opening.  Plus I’m told it will no longer conflict with the CQ WW DX Phone contest. 

   So here’s the scoop:
   **The Southeast VHF Society 50 MHz Fall Sprint is Sat., Aug. 11th, 2012.  It will run 4 hours, from 2000Z to 0000Z UTC time.  In the Central time zone, this is from 3-7pm.  Eastern would be from 4-8pm.**
    Go here for the full schedule and rules:  http://www.svhfs.org/2012fallsprintrules.pdf  
   Other Fall Sprint dates are:
   144 MHz —  Monday, Sept. 17th, 2012, from 7-11pm in your local time zone.
   222 MHz —  Tuesday, Sept. 25th, 2012, from 7-11pm in your local time zone.
   432 MHz —  Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, 2012, from 7-11pm in your local time zone. 
   Microwave (900 MHz and Up) — Sat. Oct 13, 2012 from 7am-1pm in your local time zone. 
   EDIT, EDIT, EDIT — 7am, Aug. 15th —  Got word that the Microwave sprint date has been moved up. 
   The new date for the microwave sprint is Sat., Sept. 29th, 2012, from 7am-1pm in your local time zone. 
  You can confirm the fall sprint dates for yourself here:   http://www.svhfs.org/
  Remember that 6-digit distance-based scoring will be used in the uWave sprint.   See the rules link above.

Long-Range Wed. Nets ON Tomorrow Night

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

  2:45pm Tuesday
  We’ll have our regular net controls tomorrow night. 
   K8TQK on 144.252 (yes .252) at 0030Z, or 8:30pm eastern.  Bob’s QTH is EM89je, which is south-central OH.  Bob starts out calling CQ to his north, then steadily moves clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so. 
   We also have WB9LYH on 144.240 at 0100Z, or 8pm central.  Mark’s QTH is EN54cl, right in the middle of WI.  Mark also starts out calling CQ to his north/northeast, then steadily moves clockwise a full 360 over the next hour or so.  
   All licensed amateurs are welcome.  The nets are informal; the purpose is to stir up more activity on less-used portions of 2m SSB. 

   Both K8TQK and WB9LYH have big stations.  Long (horizontally-polarized) yagis well above the horizon, with lots of gain, plus plenty of output power and great QTH’s.   You don’t need all that to have fun on “weak-signal” (SSB/CW) VHF, but yes, it does help.  😉    The point is both our net controls enjoy pushing the propagation limits and they appreciate DX check-ins.  Even if you’re 400, 500, 600 miles away, give a listen and see if the band is up.   We encourage everyone to spread the word about activity on 2m SSB, and we thank those who have helped us.

ARRL September VHF Contest is Sept. 8-9th, 2012

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

   2pm Tuesday 

    One solution for the poor UHF contest turnout is to turn over a new leaf and get involved with the ARRL September VHF Contest.  Here’s a link to the rules:     http://www.arrl.org/september-vhf
  
    I hope the ARRL September VHF is a lot more active and enjoyable.  It wasn’t that many years ago, that V/U veterans would tell you this was the best-attended event of the year.   Weather is still great, the summer schedule of running here, running there has eased up, and late summer/early fall often has the best overall band conditions on 144 MHz and higher. 

    The 2012 September VHF contest is on the weekend of Sept. 8-9th.  Starts 1800Z or 1pm central, and runs 33 hours until 10pm central Sunday night.  All bands 50 MHz and up are in play.  Time was, I could make 70, 80 contacts on both 6 and 2m in a September contest.  No special enhancement, no sporadic Es on 6m.   Just plenty of CQ’ing, turning the beams, looking and calling in all directions.   There were that many stations out there to work.  I know there’s still that many stations out there.  I have Wed. night net logs going back to June 2008 to personally reassure me.   Heck, you really want to get to know me as a rookie, way back in Sept. 2003?  Here’s a link to my first-ever contest report.     http://lists.contesting.com/pipermail/vhfcontesting/2003-September/003001.html
    That link will tell you that I back in the Sept. 2003 contest, I worked 66 QSO’s in 22 grids on 6m, and 81 Q’s in 25 grids on 2m.  Did this all with only 100w and with omni loops at 30-40′ just above the roofline of my house.   I didn’t get the longer yagis up on my tower until January 2004.   Also, that Sept. 2003 contest didn’t have any enhancement.  6m did try to open for less than a half hour, the way I recall it.   But I had a ball and I was hooked. 

    The trick to having a fun VHF/UHF contest is to have plenty of signals on the air.   Get the word out, and encourage hams in a friendly way to turn their gear on, call CQ and let others know they are out there.  The biggest challenge to overcome with V/UHF contesting is low activity levels.   I hope many of you will let your ham buddies know that we have some work to do after a dismal UHF turnout.  Let’s all make the 2012 ARRL Sept. VHF contest a high priority.   If you have an interest in roving, boy could we use you!  Don’t worry about perfection, just get out there with what you have and get in the game.  Remember that in a multi-band VHF contest, the majority of activity takes place on the bread-and-butter bands of 50 and 144 MHz, using horizontally-polarized antennas.   Yes, it would be great if every weak-signal operator could have a 6, 7 or 8-band station, and we hope you get there someday.  But honestly, having a good station on 6 and/or 2m will get you plenty of activity. 

    If you know of hams who are new to the VHF side of things, and might be unsure of how to “do” a VHF contest, first reassure them that they are friendly, relaxed affairs.  Pileups are few (at least in the Midwest),  and a newcomer will feel a lot more comfortable in a V/UHF contest than one on HF.  
    Then if they want to know more, I kindly refer them to my series of articles called VHF Contesting School.  You are encouraged to share this info with hams everywhere.  With well over 700,000 hams in USA (plus adjacent portions of Canada) I will never understand why so few know about or try a V/UHF contest.  Wouldn’t you think at least 3-5% would be on board?  All I can do is try to spread the word. 
    Here are the links to the complete set of VHF Contesting School articles.  Actually, much of the info below is helpful for general operating on the “weak-signal” portions of bands like 6m, 2m and 70cm. 
    These links are in order from a basic introduction, to antennas, to what bands and frequencies to use, and so on.  
   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1677   VHF Contesting School — Introduction.
   http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1689    Antennas – The Most Important Part of Your V/UHF Station.
  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1700    What Bands and Frequencies to Use.
  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1717     How to Log a V/UHF Contest.
  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1727    Helpful Hints — Being a Smarter Operator.
  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1737    Go Roving!   Put the Antennas and Rigs in the Mobile.
  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1740    More Detailed Rover Info.
  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1750    Rules and Scoring.  
   You are free to share the VHF Contesting School articles with hams everywhere.

2012 UHF Contest — One to Forget

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

   12:30pm Tuesday — 
   700,000+ hams in the USA (plus who knows how many in adjacent parts of Canada) and less than 150 will submit a log for the ARRL UHF Contest.  150 out of 700,000 is a very small percentage.  It continually amazes me, how few hams actually get on the air.  As a relative newbie, that’s something I would have never guessed, prior to getting my license in 2002, and getting a good station on the air by the start of 2004. 

   This is going to be a testy post.  I imagine I’ll adjust a few things once I see it in print.  I also want to put out the early word about the Sept. contest on the weekend of Sept. 8-9th, and get up this week’s Wed. net announcement.  Those will be separate posts.  I should be done in an hour or two. 

   I wasn’t on for the UHF ‘test this weekend.  Regret that, but it’s been that kind of summer.  I only had about 2 hours on Sunday morning, and if you know me, I don’t “get on to hand out a few points”.  I hate hooking everything up, only to have to unhook it an hour or two later.  So full disclosure, I didn’t help the contest one bit this weekend.   Problem is, this contest needs way more than just me to help it. 
   I did do a full effort last year, and the 2011 UHF ‘test was way quieter than any other since I got on in 2004.  Go back in the August 2011 archives, read for yourself.  Now in 2012, I’m reading about guys who had scores that were barely half of what they had in 2011.    The UHF ‘test has always struggled for widespread participation, but at least in the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes, we used to be the most active region, on a per-capita basis.   I don’t know what to think anymore.   I hope this is some weird 2-year collapse that will correct itself.   Rereading that last sentence, I realize I’m not being honest.  I think the UHF contest is done.  I thought it after last year, and was hoping this year would convince me otherwise.  
    ARRL nearly canned the UHF contest back in the early 2000’s, after years of declining activity.  Reason they didn’t was NLRS out of Minnesota.   (Visit www.nlrs.org)   NLRS did a fantastic, inspirational job of promoting their Rovermania for 5-6 years.  It had ripple effects far beyond MN borders.  It got me on 900 and 1296 MHz, which I *never* thought I would do.   Can’t tell you how much fun it was to have 4 UHF bands and to be making Q’s in all directions.  But as is the case with big pushes, Rovermania has faded and the fixed stations who were swept up in its enthusiasm probably aren’t as motivated now, either.  
    I don’t know why the UHF contest can’t get guys with 222, 432, 900, 1296 MHz and on up to get on the air, and I don’t know who can fix it.  But I hope someone figures it out.  It’s a contest worth having, if at least a few thousand hams nationwide will support it.  Maybe the UHF contest should be moved to a different time of the year.  As I mentioned in a previous post, http://kc9bqa.com/?p=6030 late summer is too crowded with too many V/U/SHF events all crammed together.  Now I’m just brainstorming, and I hate how this post is so disorganized, but I want to say this before I forget it.  Perhaps it’s time for ARRL to finally do one new thing in the V/UHF contests. 
   1)  Introduce distance-based scoring.   The whole goal or advantage of weak-signal (SSB/CW/Digi) V/UHF has always been to push the propagation limits, right?  Well for goodness sake, then let’s have at least one weak-signal V/U contest where making more miles is rewarded.   

  (Probably should start to allow at least some use of internet methods of posting/soliciting contacts, too.  Realize this will be more controversial.  5-6 years ago, I’d have said, “NO, I don’t want any real-time assistance in making Q’s”.  But CQ WW VHF already allows some use of internet, and let’s face it, 5-10 years from now, it’s going to happen anyway.  I’m no technology expert, but at some point, you’re going to turn a lot of newer hams off from V/U contesting if you can’t use the internet to some extent.)   

    The Aug UHF would be perfect to use as a test case toward exploring new ways of V/U contesting.  It’s already dying anyway.  What can radical exploratory surgery hurt on a doomed patient? 
   Yes, propagation was lousy for most/all of this year’s UHF.  Yes, areas of t-storms made operating difficult, especially on Saturday.  But despite all that, if there was enough participation, you could still have a decent contetst.

Last Night’s 144.252 and 144.240 Net Reports

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

   6:15am Thursday —
  Woke up eager to check the ON4KST.com ham chat archives from last night, and see how our net controls did. 
  Looks like K8TQK heard from 14 check-ins last night with the 144.252 net at 0030Z.  They were: 
  WB8AUK EN80;  KD8FHY, K8GDT, KF8O and KC8YJB EN91;  KD8DXC and KD8DJE EM89;  K4YA EM86;  N8WNA EN82;  WA4REE EM65;  KI4ROF EM55;  WA9M EM79 and KB3TNZ and K3MD FN10.   That’s a good group.  
  
   N9OLT pinch-hit for WB9LYH with the 144.240 net at 0100Z.  John’s in EN64, Green Bay, WI, and he had 8 check-ins, plus a few he probably couldn’t hear thru his noise level off to the east. 
   N9NDP EN62;  N9JBW EN61;  KC9CLM and W9UIJ EN52;  KA0KYZ EN33;  KG0SJ EN22, WV9E EN43 and W0HXL EN21.  John and Dick saved the best for last — that’s a good haul, Green Bay to Omaha. 
   Again, thanks to those who may have tried to check in from the E and SE.  John noted in the chat that he had bad noise in those directions.  Once again, there were some storms scattered about. 
   Thank you, Mr. N9OLT for calling the .240 net last night.  It’s good to have at least 3 of us in WI who are willing. 

   EDIT — 7:30am Thursday.   I’ve gotten email from WB9LYH.  Mark plans on taking the 144.240 net for the rest of August. 
Plan on K8TQK EM89je on 144.252 and WB9LYH EN54cl on 144.240 for next Wed., Aug. 8th.   (And probably the rest of the month, as usual.) 

    REMEMBER THE ARRL UHF CONTEST IS THIS WEEKEND.  FULL INFO IS JUST BELOW THIS POST.