So You Just Can’t Do Decent VHF/UHF Antennas — Try Roving or Hilltopping!

   I never know who all visits this website.   I hope many VHF’ers do.   Talking thousands,  because we need more activity on the weak-signal portions of bands like 6m, 2m, 222 and 432.   
   Any of these posts, you are more than welcome to share with hams in your area.  That’s the whole idea, to spread the word.   March, April, May is when hams are getting outside and making improvements so this is the perfect time to do some promotion in your backyard.  

   We all know plenty of hams who just have tough or impossible antenna situations.  Some of those guys end up being the most valuable VHF’ers in my log.   How?  By taking their radio show on the road and being rovers in the contests or going hilltopping/portable at any old time.   A very capable rover I know is a commercial pilot and lives in an apartment near the airport.   So he’s chosen to enjoy V/UHF by having one of the best rover setups in the Midwest.   He’s been doing this for many years and he must have thousands of Q’s in his logs.   Plus having the pleasure of experiencing every kind of propagation mode known to VHF, and enjoying a ton of beautiful scenery along the way.   I’ll have links to rover pictures below.  

     A 2011 VHF/UHF contest calendar is available at this link:    http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4624   Feel free to pass that info around to hams everywhere.  
    If you’re unfamiliar with VHF/UHF contests, you may not know about rovers.   Rovers are our single best friends, in my opinion.  They set their vehicles up with rigs and antennas for various V/UHF bands and drive to high or clear spots in various grid squares to make contacts in the contests.   (Here’s a few grid square map links:  http://www.oema.us/files/Amateur_Radio_US_Grid_Square_Map.pdf and http://www.newsvhf.com/grid-na.gif
    If you have never pursued VHF because you are antenna-restricted or have a poor QTH, you can turn the tables by becoming a rover.   I have worked rovers with medium to long yagis out to 300 miles on 2m, 222 and 432.   100-150 miles should be doable from good rover locations, to well-equipped home stations.  In the case of someone like W9FZ, I can work Bruce 100-150 miles on higher bands like 902/3, 1296 and 2304.    Of course, if 6m opens up with sporadic Es, then the 500-1200 mile paths are big fun.    A 2-element Moxon or horizontal loop or dipole is what most use on 6 meters.   Remember that the 6m Spring Sprint is on Saturday evening, May 14th.   It starts at 2300Z and goes until 0300Z (10pm central/11pm eastern)   That would be a great time for a newbie rover to get their toes wet, in advance of the main summer contests. 

    Allow me to steer you toward 3 sources of rover eye candy.   Even if you don’t care about VHF, most hams will enjoy these 3 links below.  
   http://www.k0gem.us/  (click on “rover station” on the left)
   www.qrz.com  (enter N0DQS for the callsign lookup and make sure to look all the way to the bottom.  The 2 pictures at the bottom are the best)  
   http://w9fz.com/janvhf08/page_travelogue.html  (make sure you click on the “photo album” tab on the upper right. )

   Without a doubt, my best VHF/UHF contest memories always include multiple rovers that I was within range of.   It’s a ball tracking where they are and collecting all the new contacts I can make with them each time they enter a new grid. 
    Most US cities have a 4-grid intersection (or grid corner) near them.   A fantastic way to jump start VHF contesting activity is to get some your buddies together and activate the nearest grid corner.  Even if you start small, your locals will appreciate it.   As you grow, you can scout out high spots, add new grids, get longer yagis for greater range.   Remember if you’re just starting  to rove,  that the two bands you want be the loudest on are 1) 2m or 144 MHz and 2) 6m or 50 MHz.  In a VHF contest, nearly all initial contacts take place on 2m or 6m, and then if the two of you have higher bands in common, you go up from there.   
    I almost forgot this valuable link:   http://www.confluence.org/   I don’t think a lot of hams know about this, but for rovers or FFMA’ers, it’s a great tool.   Click on that link and enjoy looking at pictures of exact locations where lines of latitude and longitude meet.

2 Responses to “So You Just Can’t Do Decent VHF/UHF Antennas — Try Roving or Hilltopping!”

  1. Terry Says:

    some really quality info here!!
    Tnx Todd!

  2. Keith KA9RSL Says:

    Great info. I have worked vhf many years from home and portable stations. Just started roving. It is a lot of fun and I would encourage anyone who can’t put up big antennas to try it. It doesn’t matter if you have the high score in a contest or only make 5 or 6 contacts. Everyone wants to work a rover and you get the feel of being a DX station without the cost or time investment of traveling to an exotic island.