Archive for June, 2009

July 18-19 CQ WW VHF Contest 6 and 2 meters only

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

    I hope everyone who went out for Field Day is recovering nicely.   🙂  While I’m exclusively a 50 MHz and up guy, it is exciting to see how much enthusiasm Joe Q Ham has for FD.   I”m not on  HF,  but I totally understand why so many love FD so much. 

   I was invited to be co-captain of the 2m and 70cm Ozaukee Radio Club effort this year, and I now know that FD is really about HF, and not very much about VHF.   We had a pretty good setup for 144/146 and 432/440, but activity levels were almost non-existent.   I know the station worked well, because our farthest contact on 2m was with a Peoria, IL-based station. 
    But calling CQ Field Day on 144 SSB and especially on 146 FM (using the generally accepted FM contesting frequencies of 146.55 and 146.58 — no contesting on repeaters, nor on the National Simplex Call Freq. of 146.52) was mostly an exercise in futility.   The one exception was 6m, or 50MHz.  There, the band was open to different parts of the US for some time, mostly Saturday, and dozens of contacts could be made.  So 6 meters was worthwhile. 

     But FD is now behind us, and I’m all about V/UHF so I’m very excited that the July CQ WW VHF Contest is just around the corner.  This contest is for 6 and 2 meters only, and nearly every ham has at least one of those bands.  So this is the single-best contest to start trying some V/UHF contesting. 

    It’s also quite possible (likely, really) in July that 6 meters will open up 600-1200 miles (or more) via the sporadic E skip propagation mode, so you can get a great taste of DX.   You do not need a super-station to work E skip on 6m.  It is true that those with yagis will hear the band open up earlier and longer, but I just wish everyone who has ever assumed that 6 or 2 meters is strictly line-of-sight would at least get to work one 6m sporadic E opening once in their ham radio life.   It would really open up some eyes (or ears, hihi) 

    A horizontal loop (or halo or squalo) up about 20-30′ is a great starter antenna on 6.   If you can do a 3 element or 5 element beam, so much the better.  Also know that many HF antennas will load with an acceptable SWR on 6 meters.  Dipoles cut for 6 meters are a quick solution, too.  Be creative and try it out. 
     May-August is peak E skip season, so the time is right, RIGHT NOW.  50.125 is the SSB calling frequency, and work *only* up from there.  50.100-.125 is the DX window by gentleman’s agreement.  USA/USA QSO’s there are frowned upon.  50.080-50.100 is for CW only, and you can work anyone there.  Below 50.080 are countless propagation beacons, and you can tune around there to hear where 6 is open to.   50.060-080 is for US beacons, and 50.000-.060 is home to worldwide beacons.  It is possible that you may hear a VE or XE beacon, or perhaps even one from the Caribbean. 

    Now back to the nuts and bolts of this CQ WW VHF Contest for 6 and 2 meters only, starting 1800Z on Sat. July 18th, and running until 2100Z on Sun. July 19th…

  Here’s a link to the rules:

   I will be promoting this contest very hard.  I’m looking for operating plans from rover stations and fixed stations alike.  This is a great contest to rove in because it’s only 2 bands and 2 antennas.  This is a great contest for FM-only stations to at least get on 52.525 (FM call freq. on 6 meters) plus 146.55 and 146.58 and see who they can work.  I’m going to be promoting a specific angle to get the FM stations involved, so stay tuned to this website.  

    If you enjoy ham radio stories, I invite you to read my write-up about the July 2006 CQ WW VHF Contest.  It remains the most fun I’ve ever had in a V/UHF contest.   I can’t guarantee that conditions will be quite that good, but the probability is the highest in the summer months. 

    I can also tell you that if FD had taken place on Friday, June 26th this year, instead of Saturday, it would have been a legendary FD from a 6 meter perspective.  6 was wide open all across the USA and even to the Caribbean, Europe and Africa on Friday.    Don’t believe me?  W9GA in Germantown has been on 6 since the 70’s and he’s worked about 110-120 DXCC on 6 alone.  Despite this, W9GA worked 3 new ones on 6 this past Friday.   Talking D44, YU and LZ.  He tried for an hour for 4X and just couldn’t get thru.  So yes, 6 has that sort of potential.   They don’t call it the Magic Band for nothing. 

    Here’s the link to my personal story in the July 2006 CQ WW VHF:  It’s long and full of passion.   If you read it and something clicks in you, then you owe it to yourself to get setup on 6 meters and start having your own good memories.

Enjoy V/UHF? Become a Badger Contester

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

   I am a Badger Contester, and I invite you to become one, as well.   
   The website is at   Who joins the BC’ers?  Anyone who enjoys V/UHF weak-signal work.  Meaning you enjoy getting off the repeater sometimes and seeing what your 6m, 2m, maybe your 70cm station can do on its own.  You do not have to have an engineering degree, or have long yagis up high to enjoy membership.   IF you do have significant V/UHF experience, you’ll have plenty of company with the BC’ers.   There are many active members in BC who have decades invested in V/UHF work. 

   The BC’ers are a fairly low-key, no-dues, low-stress outfit.  The main thing we have in common is a love for V/UHF, plus we definitely encourage both experienced and new V/UHF contesters to get on the air and have a ball during the various contests.   After all, the V/UHF contests are the best time to see 50, 144, 432 MHz come alive on the SSB side.  

    Here’s a link to a full contest calendar for this summer:
    You will notice the next contest is July 18-19, and it’s 6 and 2 meters only, which is a lot of fun.  I’ll talk in detail about the July CQ WW VHF in a separate post, but for now, start making plans to operate on 6 and 2m in three weekends.   For beginning V/UHF operators, it’s the absolute best contest to start with.   Chances are if you’re reading this, you have either 6 or 2 meters, so you’re ready to contest, right now. 

    The Badger Contesters have a fairly active email reflector, and instructions for signing up on are on the home page, on the right.    The instructions about joining the BC’ers are spelled out if you click the “membership” link on the upper left.   Again, we’d love to have you — regardless of experience or equipment.   If you do join the email reflector, please take a few minutes to introduce yourself, tell us about your station, and ask any questions you have. 
  Also take note of this link:    That link shows a graphic of the BC’ers 175-mile radius.  You’ll notice that large parts of N ILL, NE IA and W MI are within the 175-mile circle centered on Oshkosh, WI.   If you live within that circle,  join the BC’ers.  It’s free and there’s no obligation. 

    By joining, then your V/UHF contest scores are eligible for inclusion toward the larger BC club competition.  We had a lot of success “getting out the vote” in the January ARRL VHF Sweepstakes, and placed #1 in the country (medium-club category) for total number of log submissions with either 27 or 28 logs submitted.   We couldn’t have achieved that honor without a lot of smaller contesters helping out.  So don’t think that a modest effort isn’t worth the bother.  It IS worth it, and hey, everyone has to start somewhere.  (Just like I got started back in Sept. 2003) 

    If you have specific questions about joining the Badger Contesters, feel free to email me or leave a comment here on the website.

144 SSB and 146.43 FM nets *ON* this Wed. and Thur.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

   Been several days since I made a post, so just wanted everyone to know I’m alive and we’re sticking with the regular weekly net schedule.  

   144.240 SSB net starts at 0015UTC or 7:15pm central on Wed. and is designed to find stations in outstate WI/ILL, plus all of MO/IA/MN and U.P of MI.  I do not look east with the 144.240 net. 
   I start out at 0015 by looking to my SSW, thru Rockford, Peoria and toward St. Louis.  I call “CQ Activity Net” and listen for any callers.  I do this at least twice before swinging the beams clockwise, only about 10 degrees at a time.  I stop calling when I get to my N/NNE, which is looking thru Green Bay into the UP of MI.  

   With the 144.240 net, the check-ins are fairly spread out, so I encourage the use of this page:  for better coordination.  I try to type in who I’m hearing, and you can also “raise your hand” if you are monitoring. 
   You can also use that page to let others know you are looking to work the various net check-ins yourself.  If you do QSY, please go down, because I use 144.250 for another net right after the 144.240 net is done. 

   That leads us to the 144.250 Badger Contesters net.  It starts at 0130 or 8:30pm Wed. nights and just like with all my nets, the only purpose is to stir up activity on 2m SSB.  Listen along or say hello.  Stay as long or as little as you like.   You do not have to be a Badger Contester to check in — all are welcome.  
   However, we’d love to have you join the BC’ers, and I’m going to address that in the next post I make.  

   With the 144.250 net, the bulk of our check-ins are from the Milwaukee/Chicago corridor.  So I start that net out by looking only south, getting a list.  Once I’m done with the check-ins from the south, I start swinging the beams clockwise, a full 360.  As I swing the beams, I see who else I have for check-ins and once I’ve done the full 360, I go back to the south, and we start the net, giving every check-in a chance to say hello.   

    On 2m SSB, I have about 100w out, into a 16-el beam on a 26′ boom, up 70′.  Horizontal polarization.  I get out pretty well with that, and have had check-ins up to 200-400 miles away, with normal conditions and a good station on the other end. 

    We’re always looking for more activity, so please pass the word of these nets around. 

    The 146.43 FM net is at 0130UTC  or 8:30pm central, on Thur. evenings.  I am only omni (vertical polarization) on FM, but the omni is up 90′, so I do OK.   Because I’m omni and FM, the range is down from the SSB net, but it’s a good time for getting the repeater guys to try something on simplex.  I call for check-ins from local counties first, and then call for “anyone, anywhere”.  If you’re more than 50-60 miles away, the “anyone, anywhere” call is your cue to jump in.  We always listen for light-copy stations, so if you’re hearing something, do try to check-in. 
    Can’t wait for some nights where the propagation is enhanced and we get a burst of DX-type check-ins.

146.43 FM simplex net *ON* tonight — 8:30pm

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

144.250 Badger Contesters net — 14 check-ins

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

   Again, signals were nothing special considering how warm and humid it was, but we did have a good group.

   K9FI            Jerry   EN53    Brookfield          S1
   N9TF          Gene     EN52   Mundelein          S3
   KA9OFA   Pancho  EN63  Milwaukee         S1
   KC8ZJL     Dennis   EN71   NW Ohio           S7 peaks  
   N9NDP     Harvey   EN62   Kenosha           S7
   AA9GC     Herb       EN63    Milwaukee      S7
   N9WU      Rick         EN53   Germantown   S0  
   W9GA       Ken          EN53   Colgate             S9
   KA9AAB  Bob         EN53   Kewaskum       S9
   N0IRS      JD             EM29   K.C., Mo.         S1  
   N9JKX     Dan          EN64    Algoma            S3 peaks
   N9HZ       Brent       EN71   Goshen, IN     S2
   W9IPR    Tom          EN53   Cedarburg      S9
   KC9KPV   Randy    EN53   mobile near Jackson   S7

Good nets tonight, glad storms didn’t develop

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

   We had 8 check-ins to the 144.240 early net.   Conditions were very average, but worked a variety of grids and directions.  My 144 band was super-quiet tonight, and I could really copy the S0-S1 signals. 

   W9CWD      Joe    EN53  Fitchburg, WI     S0 but Q5 with 3 watts
   WB9HLM   Kevin  EN53  Oregon, WI       S9     Kevin’s 1st time checking in, thanks for the shout.
   KB5ZJU     Phil    EN63   Sheboygan Falls   15 over S9   Phil’s got some antenna improvements slated for 2m, both vertical for FM and horizontal for SSB.  
   KC0CF       Mike    EN32  Stanhope, IA     S7  
   W9HQ       David  EN43   Westby, WI        S3
   KA0PQW   Matt   EN33   Ellendale, MN   S2
   K0SIX      Vince   EN35   Big Bear Lake, MN   S0
   K0CJ        CJ          EN34   Burnsville, MN   S0
   Want to acknowledge that K0AWU heard us very light, and I heard snippets of CW, but couldn’t pull it out. 
   Thanks for the try from EN37, Bill. 

    Let’s do the 144.250 Badger Contesters net report now.

144.240 and 144.250 nets *ON* tonight — no storms within a few hundred miles

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

    We do have a 60% chance of t-storms tonight in and around SE WI, but apparently they’re going to hold off until later.  So I’m comfortable calling the 144.240 and 144.250 SSB nets *ON* tonight.  Hope we have a great turnout, and I wouldn’t be surprised if signals are enhanced, with the warm, humid weather.  

    One of these nights, we’re going to see the band open up and have check-ins from 200-400 miles away.  I hope tonight’s one of those nights. 

    If you’re new to the website, the 144.240 net starts at 0015UTC, or 7:15 central.   The 144.240 net only looks SSW, SW, W, NW and N from my location, 40 miles north of Milwaukee.  The focus is outstate WI and ILL (Milwaukee and Chicago are welcome to use the 144.250 net at 0130UTC or 8:30 central), as well as all of MO/IA/MN and the U.P of MI.  If conditions allow, we’re always listening for weak ones in AR/KS/NE/Dakotas. 

    With the 144.240 net, we tend to have widely scattered check-ins.  Consider using this real-time VHF chat to have a better idea of who I’m hearing, or to raise your hand if you want me to look extra hard for you.

    As with any net I run, everyone is welcome, the only purpose is to stir up activity on lesser-used portions of 2m. 

    The 144.250 net starts at 8:30pm central with me looking south toward MKE/CHI, where most of our check-ins typically are.  With the right conditions, we have heard from downstate ILL and even into TN.  Once I get a list of the “local” check-ins from MKE and CHI areas, I then swing the beams (clockwise) a full 360, calling CQ frequently.  If you hear me peak up on you, drop your call in there and we’ll get you on the list. 

    I run these nets every Wed. so listen along and say hello when you have the time.  We’ll be here, and in case there’s bad weather, know that I always announce the nets yea or nay here on this website.

Lots of visitors today means someone must have shared a link to this site — great news.

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

   If this is your first or second visit, thanks for stopping by. 

   I’ve been posting here since early April 2009, and I’m all about increasing activity levels on V/UHF within a few hundred miles of my SE WI QTH.  If anything I share here helps increase activity in other parts of the USA, that’s great, too.    This post is aimed at beginners to V/UHF. 

   I haven’t posted much the past several days, and typically when there’s a lull, the number of visitors goes down, too.  Today is different.  I’ve had 80-some visitors, so I suspect that somewhere in cyberspace, some ham-related site gave old a plug.  Which I appreciate.   I also hope you realize that you get the most out of this website when you take some time to go thru the various pages, and carefully read what I’m saying.  This is not fast-food hamming, but the longer you hang around, the more things start to make sense.  If you have questions, feel free to use the “contact me” button or email me at the addy I have up on  Everyone who has an interest in doing more than just repeaters on V/UHF is important to me. 
    I just got started 6 years ago, and I remember how hard I had to look all over the internet to figure out how to have a first-rate signal on the SSB side of V/UHF.  It shouldn’t be quite that hard, so I’m here to help (hopefully, LOL!) 

   The next contest I’m going to promote is the July CQ WW VHF.   It’s 6 and 2 meters only, which appeals to less-experienced contesters.  Why?  First, because even very basic VHF’ers typically have 6 or 2 meter rigs, or both.  So in theory, anyone with a rig and an antenna can easily play in this contest, which runs from 1800 UTC Sat. June 18th until 2100 UTC Sun. June 19th.   (1pm Sat. to 4pm Sun. central time)   Just know your Maidenhead grid square (a Google search will explain grid squares) and call CQ contest on 6 or 2 meters, and you’re halfway home.  It’s not nearly as difficult as some think.  

   I’ve got a nice station with stacked beams up high on a variety of V/UHF bands.  Those beams are horizontal polarization, which is the norm with SSB work, just like vert. pol. is the custom with FM work.  Under flat band conditions, I can work similarly-equipped stations out to 200-400 miles.  A more modest station with say at least a 9 or 10 el beam up 30-40′ on 2m SSB will work out to 100-200 miles.  I know this because I talk with these guys on mjy weekly 2 meter nets every week.  (Wed. night is net night and those are explained in various posts here on the website.)  
    With the occasional band enhancement, I may work out to 600-1000 miles.  This doesn’t happen that often on 2 meters and higher, but when it does, it’s a real thrill.   I do know some FM-only guys who work DX with vertically-polarized beams, but I’d say 80-90% of the DX on 2 meters, 1.25m or 70cm is being done with beams up as high as you can get them, horizontally-polarized, and using SSB mode, which travels farther than FM, watt-for-watt. 

   Now the 6 meter band, (or 50 MHz) that’s a different story.  If you’re new to V/UHF, you should know that very modest stations and antennas will work DX across the USA and Canada, and sometimes into Mexico and the Caribbean via sporadic E skip propagation.   E skip is seasonal, and May-August is the most common time.  In a good strong E skip opening, you hear some very interesting stories of guys working 1000 miles away on rain gutters, simple verticals, HF beams that load up with a little help, etc.   6 meters is the one place where the little guy can truly work some exciting DX.   Use the 50.125 call freq. and work up from there.   Below 50.125 is reserved for the DX window.  This means USA/USA contacts are frowned upon between 50.100-50.125.  It’s a gentleman’s agreement on 6 meters.   There is a CW subband on 6, from 50.080-50.100 so if you enjoy CW, call away in that portion.  There are also a variety of propgation beacons from 50.060-50.080.  Tune around and see if you have a local beacon, or better yet, keep tuning to hear DX beacons come in and let you know that 6 is opening up.  Also know that while the little guns do enjoy a 6 meter opening, the guys with antennas designed for 50 MHz reap the largest benefit.   By the way, the angle of E skip varies, but most of the time, it’s high enough that horizontal beams or loops up only 20-30′ are in the most favorable reception area. 

    I promote a lot of contesting activity on V/UHF.   I’m also different from most contesters in that I go out of my way to seek out new hams who don’t fit the typical contesting profile.  Why?  Because I don’t think there’s nearly enough activity on V/UHF in general, and I think a lot of us “weak-signal” guys don’t reach out to Joe Q. Ham very well.    Weak-signal refers to those who use horizontal pol. antennas and SSB, in an attempt to work beyond the typical limits of repeaters or FM simplex.

    In general, those who enjoy repeaters and ragchewing will tend to stick with the FM side of V/UHF, using vertical antennas.   Which is just fine.  🙂   Repeater and FM work on 2 meters is truly bread-and-butter hamming, so enjoy yourself and use your licensed privileges.  But I’d say at least 1 or 2 out of every 10 of the repeater hams is at least curious about the flat (or horizontal) side.  Those are the hams I frequently appeal to.  

    Why do I love contests so much?  Because it’s the single time when V/UHF comes alive with a variety of signals!  
    In a typical contest, I will operate many hours (it’s your choice how hard you care to play) and work at least 75-150 stations on a variety of bands, across a several hundred mile radius.   That’s under normal band conditions; no special enhancement.  Now if you add in an E skip opening on 6 meters like we had 2 weekends ago, then you’re off to the races.  I worked 310+ stations on 6 in about 120 grid squares (spanning 30-35 states and a few VE provinces) in the ARRL June VHF QSO Party June 13-14th.  Also worked plenty of local and semi-local stations when 6 wasn’t wide open.   Talking on the 2 meter band, the 1.25 cm (222 MHz), 70cm (432 MHz) and even some higher microwave bands. 

    What does this have to do with you, the new visitor to this site?   Well, I bet you if I walked into a regular ham radio club meeting, got up and spoke about the part of hamming that I love best, 70-80% of those hams in attendance would only have a very vague notion of what us SSB’ers do on V/UHF.   To me, that’s a learning opportunity.  

    If you enjoy DX on V/UHF, or want to know more about how to work it, you’re at the right website.  When will you work at least some DX?  In a contest.  Why?  Because of the sheer numbers of hams that get on and enjoy the activity. 

    So like I said above, the next contest is July 18-19th, on 6 and 2 meters only.  Even the most inexperienced V/UHF’er has 2 meters.   Here’s the link to the contest rules:  Nowhere in those rules does it say you have to have long yagis up high to enjoy yourself.   It’s totally true that the winners will probably have bigger stations.  But how sad would it be if the dozen or so big stations in a region only had each other to work in the contest?    I would lose interest in a heartbeat.   So I feel strongly about finding, educating and encouraging newcomers to the SSB side of V/UHF.  

    Where I’m especially different from most is that I do try to encourage even FM-only stations to get on and try a contest.   Just to get your feet wet.  The problem with promoting FM-only stations to try V/UHF contesting is that 95% of traditional V/UHF contesting is done with those horizontal beams (or horizontal loops) and SSB.  So if you’re going to try some FM contesting, you either need to be near a larger concentration of hams, or you have to talk your buddies into getting on the air and trying something different.  Preferably both.  

     Your best opportunity is July 18-19th, with the CQ WW VHF Contest.  Again, it’s 6 and 2 meters only, so you won’t have guys getting lost up on 222, 432 or the microwave bands.  
    If you’re reading this from somewhere other than the Milwaukee area, it’s going to be up to you to do some promotional work to get your FM buddies on.  I’d suggest narrowing the focus down to a few hours, to maximize everyone’s time investment.  It’s a lot more exciting to work a dozen or two dozen stations in a few hours, than it is to have a contact or two every hour for an entire contest.  I’d talk the FM contest idea up on repeaters, at local club meetings.  I’d send friendly, encouraging emails to various ham groups you know have reflectors.  I’d also talk things up at your local Field Day, so you can get busy this weekend. 

    If you are going to do some FM contesting, then you need to operate on 2 meters vertical pol., on 146.55 and 146.58.   Unless it gets really busy, those 2 frequencies should be adequate.  Know that you don’t contest on repeaters, and you also leave the national simplex freq. of 146.52 alone, as well as the adjacent channels of 146.505 and 146.535.   If you operate 6m FM, I’d suggest the common call freq. of 52.525.  If it gets busy, tune around a little bit and find your own clear air.   If it gets really busy on 2m FM, then I’d use the simplex freq’s between 146.40 and 146.49.  

    Please, do NOT operate FM mode on the SSB portion of 2 meters, which is from about 144.150-144.250, with the calling freq. of 144.200.   If you have an all-mode rig for 2m, and all you have is vertical polarization, feel free to tune around and work who you hear.  You’ll suffer from 20db of cross-polarization loss with the SSB’ers, but you’ll still hear signals you can work.  Hopefully enough signals to convice you to work some horizontal antennas into the mix, so you can hear what you’ve been missing!   Do not monopolize the 144.200 or 50.125 call freq’s on 2 and 6m.  Make your calls there short and to the point, and don’t get into ragchews there, especially during a contest.  If you want to continue with someone, ask them to QSY up or down 10-20 kc. 

    Expect weak signals and embrace them.  Use headphones so you can hear the distant grids.  Don’t hesitate to call or work someone who is light copy.  Full quieting is not the norm on the SSB side.   If you’re contesting on FM, lower your squelch as much as you can.  You don’t want to only concentrate on the S9 local signals.  You also don’t want to call on top of more  distant stations that are trying to be heard. 
    Don’t hesitate to find your own freq. and call CQ Contest, like the others are doing.  You have every right to contest; same as any ham.  If you aren’t comfortable CQ’ing right away, it’s understandable.  Then just listen to what’s going on for a few hours and get comfortable.  It’s supposed to be fun.  🙂 

     This post has gotten way too long, so I’m going to cut it here.  I will have additional info for the SE WI FM contesters, as well as links to specific posts I have made here, that will help.  

    Again, any questions, ask me and I’ll try to help. 

    73, Todd  KC9BQA   EN63  or 40 N of Milwaukee

Nets another game-time decision tonight — 60% chance of storms

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

   Subject line pretty much says it all.  I should know more by about 5-6pm and as always, I’ll announce the nets here, either yea or nay.

Enjoyable 146.43 FM net — 11 check-ins

Friday, June 19th, 2009

   Band conditions weren’t anything special tonight, but we had a nice group.

   KA9AAB    Bob        Kewaskum      50 over S9
   KC9KPV    Randy    Germantown   S9
   KC9NZR    Rich        West Bend      50 over
   K9FI          Jerry      Brookfield       S3
   KA9OFA   Pancho  Milwaukee     S3
   KC9PQF     Tom      West Allis       S3
   N9JIY       Mike       Jackson          S9
   W0FAY     Bill         Dubuque        S3  peaks     Bill turned his vertical beams our way and said hello when he could hear us thru his local QRN. 
   AC9RL       Ron       Kenosha         S3
   KM4G       Marv      Germantown   S3 from the mobile
   W9GA       Ken       Colgate             S9

    Field Day is a week from Saturday, and several of us ragchewed later about FD plans.