Archive for July, 2013

950+ Mile Tropo This Morning From WI to LA (EN54/53 to EL39)

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

   2pm Saturday —
   Checking my email on the road and have more great news to share.  Also want to teach a bit of a lesson here — the lesson being to not rely solely on the APRS maps or the Tropo Forecasts, and to call CQ and hear for yourself what band conditions are like.  

    WB9LYH and N9DG had a nice surprise this morning.  Others may have too, but I’m going off of N9DG’s post to the Badger Contesters email reflector (shared here with N9DG’s permission).   N9DG in EN53bj heard WB9LYH in EN54cl working someone on 144.200 this morning.  Duane discovered it was long-haul tropo to KE5JXC in EL39uw, far southern Louisiana.   Duane worked KE5JXC too, and then was very pleased to also work KE5JXC on 222.100 and 432.100.   Contacts were also made to Central Arkansas.  

    Again, with his permission, here’s what N9DG posted to the BC reflector.  The starred part is my emphasis. 

   “Worked some stations in central AR this morning and another station in Southern LA – EL39 ~970 miles from here. KE5JXC in EL39 was easy to work on 144, 222, and 432 with SSB sigs in the 54 to 57 range.  **What was interesting though is that the moutainlake APRS map didn’t really show that a path was there, in fact it look rather ho-hum to the South from here at that time. So the APRS map doesn’t always really tell the whole story for what paths are actually possible…**
   In a separate email to me N9DG added: 
   “So the main take away message is that folks should not become too dependent on those propagation prediction aids for deciding when to get on. I even find myself being guilty of doing exactly that. One of the main reasons I made the specific effort today to have things fired up was that I am well aware of the patterns in the past where there is often tropo type conditions after a weather front moves through and we are in a relatively stagnant air mass. Just like we have now.”

   Duane
    N9DG”

   KC9BQA finishes by saying:
   I’m glad the predictions of DX on 2m for this weekend have come true.  I suspect there will be more tropo for days to come, based on continued warm and humid weather, with no real change in the overall weather pattern.  Tropo tends to be best toward sunset, overnight and into the early/mid-morning hours.   My understanding is that tropo occurs when you have warm air aloft and cooler air near the earth’s surface.  This is also known as a temperature inversion.  Temperature inversions often produce enhanced band conditions on VHF/UHF.   Tropo also can happen around weather fronts.  I can think of instances where conditions were enhanced ahead of a cold front, along a warm front and as N9DG said, after a front or storms move through. 
   It does not have to be summertime for tropo to happen, but it’s most common in mid/late summer into early fall.    At least that’s the story in the Midwest and Great Lakes.  Other parts of the country have different weather patterns and tendencies. 
   Sometimes warmer air moving in after a cold spell can trigger enhancement in the wintertime.  There was a dandy tropo opening 3 years ago back in January.  It was accompanied by dense ice fog every morning here in southern WI, and many of us worked out to the east coast on bands like 144, 222 and 432 MHz.  I’m sure those with 900, 1296 and higher microwave bands had long-haul DX, too.   Anytime there’s fog, there’s a good chance the VHF/UHF bands are enhanced. 

   If someone has a well-written explanation of how/why tropospheric enhancement occurs on 50 MHz and above, by all means, share the info using the “comment” feature.   

   Here’s to more DX on the VHF/UHF bands!

New Beacon on 144.293 From EM58bn (St. Louis Area)

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

   1:30pm Saturday

   I have good news to share from KM9O Dennis.  Some of you may have already heard this new beacon, and here’s the story in KM9O’s words.  Take note that Dennis was writing this info for an audience of primarily FM hams and non-hams. 

   “A new VHF radio propagation beacon in the 2 meter band is now operating on 144.293 MHz 10 watts CW, using the call sign W9ABG at EM58bn.

The primary purpose of the beacon is to test for tropospheric openings, which occur (under certain temperature conditions) in the troposphere. This allows VHF signals to “ride” its path resulting in contacts being made 200-300+ miles.

Beacon messages usually are transmitted in CW, contain a call sign, and location. In this case the call sign for the Antenna Builder’s Guild W9ABG is used. EM58bn is the location grid square – Ofallon, Illinois.

The antenna is a full wavelength of 9 AWG aluminum tension wire, polarized horizontally, at a height of 60ft. Being bi-directional, the two lobes are oriented towards St. Louis and Indianapolis.

The feed line is 130ft of 450 ohm Window lead. A link couple balanced tuner is used to match the antennas 120 ohm impedance to the transmitter. It also allows for tuning to other frequencies. Coax isn’t used do to inherent loses over such a length. When transmitting low power levels, eliminating loss is critical.

Typically, a receiver with either a side band or CW mode is needed to listen for beacons, but an FM receiver can be used by turning the squelch down and listening to the “blanks”.

Reception reports can be sent via email to millerd18@yahoo.com or via post to Box 932 Ofallon, Illinois.

73 Dennis KM9o”

Wed. 144.240, Mon. 144.252 and Tues. 222.100 Reports

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

   6:15am Thursday

   It got down to 56 here at daybreak.  Nice change from the recent warmth and especially the humidity.   But it’s mid-summer and warm weather will be making a comeback.  Along with the warmer weather will come increased chances of tropo openings.  Back on June 20th, I made a post about tropo potential.  The link to that post is here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=7197  
   Also, if this is one of your first visits to kc9bqa.com, remember to let hams with an interest in VHF/UHF band conditions to know about the following websites:  You have the real-time APRS map at:  http://aprs.mountainlake.k12.mn.us/ 
   And the forecast tropo conditions at:  http://www.dxinfocentre.com/tropo.html  
   For a more complete description of these websites, refer to this post:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=7081

  
   On to the net reports…
   I was swamped last night.  Had 23 check-ins, by the time I wrapped things up at 9:30pm central.  I joked with several guys that 6 meters must not have been open last night, we had so many guys monitoring 144 MHz.  (This is not a dig at 6m, not at all.  I love the DX and activity that’s on 50 MHz.  I joke with guys that given a choice between listening to same old boring me or working DX on 6, I’d choose the Magic Band) 
   I don’t think conditions were anything special last night, but I sure was amazed at how quiet the band was here.  I have a fairly quiet QTH, but it’s not nearly as quiet as it was when I got on the air back in 2003/04.  Last night, I could have heard a  pin drop in every direction.  So last night was very enjoyable.  Thanks everyone for coming out and saying hello. 

   Please remember that the Q5 net out of Chicago is on every Thursday, on 144.220, at 7pm central, hosted by N9JBW in EN61.  

   My 23  check-ins last night were:  KB5ZJU EN63;  N9OLT and KS8B EN64;  WJ8L, KR8T and WD8LDL EN72;  VE3ZV EN92;  KD8KCF EN81;  W8SOL EN71;  K9LQZ EM68;  K9GY, KC9RIO and N9JBW EN61;  N9NDP EN62;  WB9TFH and N9DG EN53;  W9EWZ, KC9CLM/M and NT9E EN52;  KG0SJ and WB0YWW EN22 and thanks to W0ANH EN47 and N8PUM EN66 for staying up on a night where I wasn’t able to look north until 9:15-9:25pm. 
   A few notes… KD8KCF is a new check-in to this net.  Thanks for saying hello and glad to see you’re getting on for 222 Tuesday.   Good to hear from KB5ZJU in Sheboygan.  Was very surprised to hear K9LQZ running S3-5 on peaks from far southern IN.  I know Lowell had some check-ins last night and when I get his list, I’ll add it to this net report.  
  EDIT @7am Friday:  K9LQZ in EM68 emailed his check-in list from Wed. night.  Turns out the thunderstorms were well east of him by net time so Lowell worked KY4MRG EM77;  KI4ROF EM55;  WA9M and K8DZ EM79; KC9BQA EN63 and WA9KRT EN61.   Thanks guys, for getting on.  

  Remember that WB9LYH will be back next Wed., July 17th.  K9LQZ is *not* available on the 3rd Wed. of the month.   The early call for July 24th is that WB9LYH and K9LQZ will both be *ON*.   Of course, we always announce the net plans here at kc9bqa.com on Tuesday or early Wed. of every week.

  
   On Monday night, K8TQK had 19 check-ins to his 144.252 net, called from EM89je, south-central OH @0030Z or 8:30pm eastern. 
   KC8TRL and KD8KCF EN81;  N8AIA and N8WNA EN82;  VE3VII FN03;  VE3KCY EN93;  W2UAD FN13;  W9KXI FN12;  WD8CHR EN90;  AC3L/M FN00;  WT8E, W8WG and KD8DJE EM89;  WB4IXU EM86;  KY4MRG EM77;  WA4REE EM65;  KI4ROF EM55;  KB9RDS and WB8ART EM79.  

   Every Tuesday is 222 Tuesday — the national activity night for 1.25 meter band ops.  The idea is for everyone with 222 to get on/near 222.100 starting from about 0000-0200.  Call your own CQ’s, turn the beams, try to stir up activity in every direction. 
   K8TQK reported the following activity on Tuesday night:  VE3ZV EN92;  N8AIA and N8WNA EN82;  K8GDT EN91;  WB4IXU EM86 and KD8KCF EN81. 

   Everyone have a nice weekend and keep your fingers crossed for good tropo openings on bands like 144, 222 and 432 MHz.

I Call the 144.240 Activity Net Tonight — 8pm Central/9pm Eastern

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

    7am Wed.

    WB9LYH is off tonight, so I will pinch-hit and call the 144.240 net.  I’m 40 miles north of Milwaukee, grid square EN63ao.  I start at 8pm central/9pm eastern by looking N, then NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, and NW over the next hour or so.  All licensed amateurs are welcome.  Our nets are informal, the purpose is to increase activity on the SSB portion of 2 meters.  
    I will also be monitoring the ON4KST.com ham chat — we use the IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432 MHz.   Need more info about the ON4KST.com ham chat rooms?  Go here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=1072  This chat is free, no BS and it’s available anytime, day or night.  Busiest times tend to be the mornings, evenings and weekends.  I see that by now, 3812 VHF’ers across the USA and Canada have registered for the chat. 

    K9LQZ plans to also be on 144.240 tonight from EM68, southern IN.  But for the 3rd week in a row, it looks like thunderstorms are going to be a problem.  Plus K9LQZ is not available on the 3rd Wed. of the month, which falls on July 17th.   Maybe we’ll have better luck as we head into late July and early August.  I’d really like to see the K9LQZ portion of our net get some traction.   We are trying to expand our reach into places like W VA, western p0rtions of VA and the Carolinas, along with all of KY, TN, downstate IL/IN/OH, and northern parts of GA, AL, MS, along with portions of MO and AR.  But it’s hard to do that if we can’t safely get K9LQZ’s signal on the air on Wed. nights. 

    I will post a net report sometime tomorrow.

6 Nets Every Monday on 144 MHz SSB + 432.100 Activity

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

   6am Sunday

   May as well post the wealth of Monday options, in a very wide area surrounding the Midwest and Great Lakes.  I’m not saying this covers every last net (readers, always email me with details of anything I’m missing) but I know these nets are alive and well.  I also know the net controls have stations capable of getting out 300-400+ miles.  Help spread the word.  

   The main message is I want hams to know that Monday is a big night for 2m SSB activity across much of the USA.   Many times, guys give 2m SSB a brief try.  They don’t know where/when to find signals, and lose interest.  If the 700,000+ hams in the USA and Canada all knew the info below, we’d have several thousand new ops within a month.   12-13 years ago, I had *NO* clue guys worked hundreds of miles on 144, 222 and 432 MHz, using SSB mode and horizontal yagis or loops.   Like most Joe Q. Hams, I thought 2 meters meant local repeater operations in FM mode. 

   1)  K8TQK is on 144.252 at 8:30pm eastern time, from EM89je, south-central OH.  Giant signal that covers many states and VE-3.  Bob’s antenna pattern is to first look N, then NE, E, SE, S, SW, W and NW over the next 45-60 minutes.
   These other nets are farther away from WI, but with summer here, there will be nights with enhancement, so it’s good to know all your options.  I’m sure there are other Monday nets, but I’m trying to stick within a Midwest/Great Lakes/Plains territory. 

   2)  W4TMW calls the North GA net from EM84ni on 144.210 at 8pm eastern.   His antenna pattern is to look *south* first, then SW, W, NW, N, NE, E, and SE over the next 30-60 minutes or so.   I’ve seen net reports of W4TMW’s and they include plenty of signals beyond 100-200 miles so this is a popular net with good range. 

   3)  W5VHF Net at 8pm central on 144.190.  Net control is KD5ZVE in EM26, OK.  K5SW Sam is the backup if Jimmy can’t go.  Not sure which directions they rotate in.   I’ve seen net reports where they have 30-35 check-ins, so again, this is an active, popular net with good reach. 

   4)  Rochester, NY net at 9pm eastern on 144.260.  Don’t know much about this one.  You could Google Rochester VHF Group and learn more that way.   I do see VA3VEC on the ON4KST.com chat, promoting this net on Monday nights, so it is up and running. 

   5)  Guelph, ONT net at 9pm eastern on 144.245.  Net control is VE3XTM in EN93.    Because VE3XTM runs multiple nets on different bands and nights, there’s a post specifically about his nets.   Click here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=6606

   6)  Rocky Mountain VHF runs a nice slate of nets on various bands and nights.  Visit   http://www.rmvhf.org/wordpress/?page_id=1239 for the full scoop.  Their 144.220 net is on Monday nights at 8pm mountain time, from the Denver area.

   7)  N4PZ in EN52gb (a little SW of Rockford, IL) calls for activity on 432.100 every Monday at 8pm central.  He has a box of yagis and QRO, so his 432 signal gets out a very long ways.  I’m told Steve starts out looking east, and I’m unsure what happens after that.  I would point my 432 yagi at EN52gb and simply wait to hear something.  I am also told that this 432.100 activity repeats on Thursday nights, too.  Same start time of 8pm.

MN and MI Have 2m and 6m Activity on Sunday Nights

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

   5:45am Sunday
   On Sunday evenings, you have multiple options on 2m and 6m, from MI and MN.  

  1)  K8NFT calls the Sidewinders Around Michigan net on 144.155 at 9:30pm eastern Sundays from EN62xt, far W MI, near Grand Rapids.  Bob starts out looking N, then goes clockwise, or E, S and W as the net progresses.  

  2)  K0SIX calls a net on 50.175 at 8:30pm central Sundays from EN35dj, or an hour north of the Twin Cities.  Vince has a very big signal and can work out to 300-400+ miles via normal “groundwave” on 6m (to stations with horizontal yagis pointed at him).   Not sure about the antenna pattern K0SIX uses for the net, but I know that he’ll be on the ON4KST.com chat (IARU Region 2 chat for 144-432 MHz, or try the 50 MHz chat, as well.  I’m sure you can have more than one chat open at a time.) 
   *EDIT July 7th, 2013 — K0SIX had wind damage to his tower a few weeks ago.  Vince might not be able to call the 50.175 Sunday night net.  I’d listen anyway, and see if a) K0SIX is back up and running or b) if anyone else from MN is pinch-hitting. *  Someone please remind me to amend this post when K0SIX is back up on 50 MHz. 

  3)  KA0PQW calls a net on 144.260 at 9pm central Sundays from EN33iu, far south-central MN.  Matt also has a nice signal — I can usually work him on a 265 mile path when we’re pointed at each other.   I’m not sure of the antenna pattern KA0PQW uses, so just point toward the middle of the MN/IA state line and wait for his signal to peak up.   
   If KA0PQW needs a night off, then K0SIX (EN35) or KA0KYZ (EN33) pitches in on 144.260.

Wed. 144.240, Mon. 144.252 and Tues. 222.100 Reports

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

   5:15am Sunday 

   Hope everyone had an enjoyable 4th of July holiday.

   Let’s get the net reports posted.
   On Wed. night, WB9LYH in EN54cl had a good group on 144.240.  Mark reported good signals and his 16 check-ins included:  N9OLT EN64;  KA0RYT EN35;  N8WNA EN82;  WB8ART EM79;  W9EWZ and KC9CLM EN52;  W8SOL EN71;  W8BYA EN70;  WJ8L EN72;  KC9RIO, K9CCL and N9JBW EN61;  WB9TFH EN53;  WA9BNZ and W9BBP EN40 and KG0SJ EN22
 
   K9LQZ was ready to get on 144.240 but like last Wed., he had lightning in his area (EM68, southern IN) at net time. 

   **144.240 NET CONTROL LINEUP FOR JULY 10TH IS KC9BQA EN63 on @8pm central/9pm eastern and K9LQZ EM68 on @9:20-9:40pm eastern.**
   Early forecast for July 17th is that WB9LYH will be back on 144.240 at 8pm central/9pm eastern.  K9LQZ is OFF the 3rd Wed. of every month. 

    Back on Monday night, K8TQK had 19 check-ins to his 144.252 net called at 8:30pm eastern from EM89je, south-central OH.  The 19 check-ins were:  N8WNA and N8AIA EN82;  N2CB EM75;  W8SOL EN71;  VA3VEC FN14;  KD8FHY and K8GDT EN91;  W9KXI FN12;  AC3L/M FN00;  W2UAD FN13;  VE3KCY EN93;  W4TMW EM84;  KA2KQM EM74;  WA4REE EM65;  KI4ROF EM55;  W9SR EN70;  WB8ART and KB9RDS EM79 and KC9CLM EN52.  

    Every Tuesday night is 222 Tuesday, the national activity night for the 1.25m band.  Idea is for 222 ops to get on/near 222.100 and call CQ in different directions.   Do this from about 0100-0200 UTC and you should be in the sweet spot.  If you turn on the rig and are “just listening” don’t expect to hear much.  If 10 or 20 guys are all “just listening” how many signals do you think anyone will hear??   That’s right — zero.   The message is this: when bands are quiet, you need to call CQ and start something.   222 Tuesday will work if enough ops get on and call CQ in different directions. 
    One area that does have regular 222 Tuesday activity is around OH and MI.  Here’s what K8TQK reported to the ON4KST.com chat page:  K9MRI EN70;  N8WNA and N8AIA EN82 and KD8KCF EN81.  K4QF EM64 was also in the chat, but he couldn’t hear K8TQK on 222.100.   
    Please help spread the word about 222 Tuesday.  And don’t forget — it’s not a net.  It’s a general activity night that works best when many are calling on/near 222.100 from different states and grids.

WB9LYH EN54 and K9LQZ EM68 *ON* w 144.240 Net Wed. Night

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

   9:30am Tuesday

   As mentioned in last week’s net report, WB9LYH and K9LQZ will be on 144.240 Wed. night, trying to stir up activity in a very wide part of the Midwest/Great Lakes and Mid-South.   WB9LYH EN54 will start at 8pm central/9pm eastern.  Mark looks NE first, then E, SE, S, SW, W, NW and N over the next hour or so.   His territory goes as far east as western NY and PA, as far south as KY and TN, as far W as KS, NE and the Dakotas and N into Ontario. 
   K9LQZ will be on from EM68 from 9:20-9:40 eastern.  Lowell looks E first, then SE, S, SW and W.   His goal is to find activity we can’t usually reach from WI. 

   If you want more info about how the 144.240 Wed. nets work, scroll down the “front page” to the June 25th post.  Everything is explained there. 

   We always ask that VHF’ers everywhere help spread the word about this net and any other regularly scheduled activity.   We also think it’s important to be a CQ’er.  Don’t fall into the trap of just listening to one net for a half hour or so every week.  The way to a truly healthy 2m SSB band is to have many ops calling CQ in different directions, whenever it’s convenient.