More History — The (now silent) Thursday FM Simplex Net — Ran From Aug 2008-Nov 2010

   If all goes well, I should make 3-7 posts like this over the next week or so.  If I get particularly focused, it may happen in just a few days.  It’s like the weather — hard to predict.    Some of these posts may get revised, once I see them on the website and scrutinize them.  I can be that way.   

   The first post in this series was about the history of the Wed. SSB nets.  The link is here:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=5363

   Shortly after I got the SSB net(s) up and running, I knew I also wanted to see what the FM simplex side of things was like.  I figured we could get more signals on the air that way, and that perhaps some would be attracted to a) SSB and b) V/UHF contesting if I promoted it occasionally, in a friendly way.   We did get a few to experiment, but mostly, I just learned to enjoy the company and try to keep my promotional agenda in check. 

   The first Thursday FM Simplex net I called was on Aug. 21, 2008, on 146.490 MHz.  It moved to 146.430 shortly after and that’s where we stayed for the next 26 months.  That first week, we actually had 17 check-ins.  Why so many, right off the bat?  Promotion!   I knew the only way I’d keep my interest up is if I emailed the heck out of various groups and let a lot of hams know when and where they could find the activity.  You’d be amazed how many guys will show up, with a few friendly reminders.   Plus you have to keep at it and be dependable. 

   I know of weak-signal VHF purists who will scoff at anything having to do with the FM side.   I’m not sure that these days, we can afford to be too snooty.  The activity levels are so low that we need to reach out.  That’s what the FM Simplex net was originally designed to do.  
   The Simplex net was a lot of fun.  Honestly, it was more fun than I had thought it could be.  I enjoyed the fidelity, not having to use headphones all the time, and I also enjoyed not having to swing a beam, and calling CQ about 30 times around the compass.  I did the large majority of the FM nets with a Diamond dual-band vertical up about 90′, using about 150w.  I never got enough DX check-ins for my tastes, but usually I could work a guy with at least a rooftop antenna out to 50-100 miles.   In time, I did find a way to rotate a 10-element yagi, and I advertised hard for guys out 100-200 miles away to try and check in.  I thought this would be a hit, but it never caught on.  I was disappointed by that.  I’m sure there are guys who have vertical beams and enjoy some DX work.  Wish I could have tapped into that.   Then again, the SSB nets have gone well the entire time, so it’s not like I’m starved for DX. 

   The bulk of our check-ins were in SE WI.  Some nights we had as many as 20 or 25.  We did get occasional activity from N ILL and W MI.  History buffs can go back thru the website and check out the net reports.  Any net I’ve ever called has a net report on this website, starting from April 1, 2009 onward.  
   The FM net  had quite a few regulars and we had a lot of fun going back and forth.  Because so many of the FM’ers can hear everyone else, it feels a lot cozier, compared to a longer-range SSB net.   I haven’t thought about these guys in a while and I’m smiling right now.   Lots of good memories and enjoyable personalities. 

   By summer 2010, the net numbers were dwindling.   I didn’t help matters any.  In August and September 2010, we had a mix of weeks where I was away or we had thunderstorms.  Consistency was lacking — let’s put it that way.  I always had a goal of putting on a big push of new publicity and somehow getting the net back to 10-15 check-ins, but then I quit smoking (Nov. 18, 2010) and quite honestly, I didn’t want to be near the radios for some time, because hamming was one of the places I enjoyed smoking most.   It was great having a separate shed with windows and a screened-in overhead garage door.   

   Long story short, the last FM Simplex net was on Nov. 4, 2010.  I kept holding out hope thru the winter of 2010-11 that I’d get motivated again, but I didn’t and I let the whole thing fade away.  It also was a time where I wanted to focus on the things that were working well, and the Wed. SSB nets continued to thrive so I put my energy into that.

   Not long after I started the Thursday FM Simplex Net, another FM net in Western WI got started.  It’s still on the air and I’ll happily refer you to it.  WV9E in Onalaska, (just a bit north of La Crosse, EN43) is on 146.460 every Thursday at 8:30pm central time.  Dave’s website is wv9e.net.  I know they run a friendly net and they will always welcome a newcomer, or DX.

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