Archive for February, 2010

146.43 FM Simplex Net Report — 6 check-ins

Friday, February 26th, 2010

   Low numbers but nice net tonight.   Plenty to talk about. 
   We had:
   KM4G, KG9FC, KX9N, W9GA and KC9NZR all EN53 and N9LOH in from EN52, Walworth Co.  
   Thanks for coming out and playing.   I think a lot of us (including me) are ready for warmer weather and better band conditions.   When it happens, it will be most welcome.  

   I’m going to bury a little nugget in here for faithful readers of the website.   I’ll make a bigger announcement down the road, but you may as well be the first few to know that I’m going to go forward with promoting and sponsoring a Worked All Wisconsin Counties on V/UHF Award.    Many details to be worked out, but the basic idea is this:   There are 72 counties in WI, and if someone eventually works all 72 on any combination of V/UHF bands (50 MHz and above) they will earn themselves a very handsome plaque.  
   There will also be nice certificates you can earn for working at least 30 WI counties on V/UHF.   30 counties will be the entry level, and we’ll then award endorsements for your certificate for achieving (just a rough idea) 40, 50, 55, 60, 65 counties.   Something like that.   
   EDIT — Mar 6, 2010.   I’m now comfortable with having 20 WI counties be the initial endorsement level.   This 20 county level is mostly to encourage newer stations to improve their antennas and get out farther.   If you’re someone who can work 20 WI counties in one contest weekend, then maybe hold off requesting your certificate until you get to the 30-40 county level.   Save poor ol’ KC9BQA some paperwork.  🙂 
   Confirmation will have to be via QSL cards or LOTW (LogOfTheWorld) — if I ever learn how that works.  I’m sort of old school with paper cards, but I know times are changing.    
   EDIT — Mar 6, 2010.    I’m going to lighten way up on QSL cards.    If/when someone gets close to the 72 county level, I then reserve the right to require QSL cards for the last 10-15 counties, or for any counties where V/UHF activity is known to be low or non-existent.   In other words, if something seems fishy, I’ll investigate.   Especially for the plaque award at All 72 Counties.   
    Those getting certificates at the 20, 30, 40 county level will basically be on the honor system.    Submitting the call, mode, band, time and location/county will be sufficient for lower level certificates.  
   This is obviously a long-term deal.   The start date is Jan. 1, 2010.     There is no finish line as such.   I may define one down the road, but it would be at least a 2-3 year window.   It will require a lot of guys spreading the word to all corners of the state.   I hope I get lots of help in the word-spreading department.   Oh, in case readers outside WI are wondering if they can earn the certificate and/or plaque, yes, you are welcome to compete.   I imagine some of our earliest certificates will go to out-of-state 6m operators.   
    With the WI QSO Party coming up on March 14th, it seems like right now is a good time to get the ball rolling.  

   I’ve put this info up on the website, so now I have to follow thru with it.  🙂    I’ve been thinking about it since Dec. so it’s time to get going.    I’ll have more to announce shortly.    Anyone wants to comment, I’m all ears.   

   A big goal with Worked All WI Counties on VHF/UHF is to increase activity in all corners of the state.   On SSB, CW, FM simplex, digital modes, too.   Some counties will probably require portable or mobile activation.   If guys/gals will run with this, it could be very interesting.      I can sponsor and promote it some, but it will take a Wisconsin-wide effort to really make it work.    I will need a lot of help reaching out beyond southern WI.

Spring VHF/UHF Sprint Dates Announced — Save these nights

Friday, February 26th, 2010

   I was poking around with Google yesterday and found info about the 2010 Spring Sprints.   They will run on the following dates.  
  144 —  Monday, April 12th  7-11pm your local time
  222 — Tuesday, April 20th  7-11pm your local time
  432 — Wednesday, April 28  7-11pm your local time
  Microwave sprints  (900Mhz and higher)  — Sat. May 1st  6am-1pm your local time.   
   50  —  Saturday, May 8th  6-10pm your local time

   The link to full info is at:

   The sponsor of these sprints is K9JK John from N ILL.   He’s roved in the V/UHF contests going back at least as long as I’ve been contesting (2003-04)   John’s a good friend of V/UHF and I’m very proud of him for stepping up and taking this responsibility.   We want to support the Spring Sprints so save these dates and start spreading the word.  

   For those who have no idea what a Spring Sprint is, here goes:   As you can see from the schedule, they are one-band, one-night deals.   No major time commitment, no disruption to your weekend, and no “running the bands” like we do in the ARRL multi-band contests.    It’s a different contesting format, and a little more casual than a full-blown ARRL contest.   It’s a great opportunity for newer contesters to get some experience.   The rules also encourage “rookie” operators, read up on the details at the link I provided.  
   Here in the Midwest, the sprints get strong participation.    I know the 144 sprint last year was the most enjoyable one so far.    I had 32 contacts in 17 grids, on a night with average propagation.  

   These sprints will have an exciting twist on scoring.   Trust me, it will really perk things up.  
   EDIT:   March 9th — Now the word is out that this year’s Spring VHF/UHF Sprints will have distance-based scoring for the first time ever.    Very exciting — whole new way to evaluate your station and your listening skills.   Full details about the distance-based scoring are within the Google Groups link up above.    

   Save these nights, and spread the word.

146.43 FM net Thursday at 8pm will be *ON*

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

    Even though we’re off SSB on Wed., I’m available to take the 146.43 FM simplex net at 8pm central time on Thursday.  
    Spread the word, let’s keep getting new guys involved with simplex work.    If you know of someone who needs to be added to an email reminder list, email me with their info and I’ll be happy to add them.

144.240 and 144.250 SSB nets Wed. are *OFF*

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

    Since Mark and I are unable to take the nets Wed. 2/24, we’ve put out a call for anyone, anywhere who wants to create their own activity.   I’d choose 144.240 at 0100Z first, because that net has clearly had consistent numbers from a wide area.    Most folks by now are tuned into that freq. starting at 0100Z in the east, 0130 or so to the south, and 0140-0200 to the west and north.    Problem is, nobody’s contacted me to say they’re willing to help, so I guess you’re on your own.   
     Main thing is it’s a waste to have 15-30 guys tune into a dead frequency, nobody says anything, and then nothing happens.     I wish when the nets have to be off that a bunch of guys would just open up, contest-style, and see who all is around.    If Detroit/Cleveland, plus that good Indy area, plus St. Louis/KC, plus Omaha/Lincoln all got on and CQ’d, looking around, you’d have one heck of a night on 2m SSB.   Of course, I’d hope the closer-to-home-guys — talking WI/ILL/IA/MN — would participate, too.  

     Get in the  144/432 chat room Wed. night and someone do something.   Have fun, make noise, swing beams around and call CQ on 144.240.   QSY up/down if you have to, once contact is established.

New 146.460 FM Simplex net out of La Crosse area

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

    And here’s more excitement this morning.    WV9E Dave in EN43 Onalaska has been working for some time to get an active 2m FM net going in his region.    Last night, I got email from Dave announcing that they are ready to go, starting Thursday. March 4th at 8:15-8:30pm on 146.460.  
    In Dave’s own words:

  “Greetings all:

   As per input from various hams in the area I have decided to run the local FM simplex net on Thursdays evenings.  I will start to monitor at 8:15 and start calling “CQ” at 8:30pm.   I chose 146.46 as an operating frequency as there are some 2 meter ops in the area that have some of the old channelized/crystal 2 meter rigs and that seems to be one of the most standard channel/freqs.
   Unless I hear there is an interference issue, the net will be Thursday, 8:30 PM on 146.46 Mhz simplex FM.  The official date of March 4th for a start.   I will have an extended email out about the format in the next few days.  I will also create an information page on my website, check , any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks for your interest and 73.
Dave, WV9E”

     I email frequently with Dave, and know he’s been eager to get this started for some time.    This has an excellent chance of being a popular, well-attended net.   The La Crosse area has turned out in spades for the last 2 ARRL Jan VHF Sweepstakes, both on SSB and FM.   They have several active clubs in their region to spread the word to.   They also have areas of FM interest to draw on from just outside of La Crosse, namely the Dubuque IA and Portage/Baraboo WI areas.  
     I am also relieved to hear that this net will not be at 8pm, because I’m on 146.430 with our FM Simplex net at that time.   Having these nets back-to-back means that when conditions start improving, it’s possible you’ll be able to hear 2m FM simplex activity across the entire width of WI, on Thursday evenings.       


New 222.150 SSB starting this Thursday

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

    Received exciting email over the weekend.   NT9E Dave, from McHenry Co. ILL will be starting a 222 SSB net this Thursday from 7-8pm central time.   His grid square is EN52vi, and McHenry is about 60 miles NW of Downtown Chicago.   Here’s his email:
    “For Publication 

    The McHenry County Grid Rats will be starting a 222 net on Thursdays from 7-8pm starting Feb. 25th.   Net freq. will be on 222.150.   Net control will be NT9E until we can establish a rotating schedule.    I will start south and then (call?) every 45 degrees, counter clockwise, around the compass rose.   Hope to see you there.
     Dave NT9E”

     Please help spread the word about this new net.    It’s good to have a pair of weekly options for playing on 222.

222 Tuesday *ON* tonight and every Tuesday

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

    Know that 222 Tuesday is *ON* every Tuesday.   It’s a nationwide effort to promote more activity on/near 222.100 SSB/CW and 223.500 FM simplex for the FM-only guys.    Get on, call CQ, swing beams around, spread the word.    Most folks have been getting on between about 0100-0300.    Some use the 222 Propagation Logger.   
    The guys from the Dakotas down thru Texas have really been having fun with 222 Tuesdays, and I know of consistent activity in FLA, the area surrounding MI/OH, and on FM out toward CT.     I hope others are spreading the word in their own area.

    This is only as good as you make it.   You want more 222 activity?   Then create it.   Find a buddy and make some noise.   “Just listening” is useless.   Why?   Because if 10 guys all listen, each of them will think nobody got on.    Right?? 🙂 

    I wish guys everywhere would use free real-time VHF/UHF chat to better coordinate activity.   But many have been using the regular old 222 Prop Logger, which is way better than nothing.

    For those who like a little bit of history, here goes:    Remember, I’ve only been a ham since 2002 and on the air since 2003.   Which in ham radio years makes me almost a newbie, LOL.    But V/UHF used to be a lot more active.   Can’t tell you how many old timers have told me that back in the 60/70’s, 6m and 2m had multiple QSO’s going on most every night.   Then repeaters became more and more popular, and simplex activity tailed off.  
    Well back in the day, Monday night used to be considered 144 night.   Tuesday was 222 night.   Wednesday, 432 night.    So that’s the historical link to 222 Tuesdays.  

    For many years, ending about 2008, K8TQK and K4TO hosted 222 activity on Tuesdays with great stations.    Then in Sept. 2009, I heard that N8WNA EN82 and KC8QAE EN91 had restarted 222 activity on Tuesdays.   I thought this was a fantastic idea.  We all knew each other from email and my 144 nets, so I asked them if they minded me promoting via email.    They were fine with that, so I got busy and that’s how we got here.  
    There’s a great opportunity here to improve a band that is far too quiet.   I hope by the end of 2010, we have doubled (or more!) the weekly activity levels on 1.25/1.35m.

MRAC FM Simplex Contest was a lot of Fun.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

    I only had time to do the 146/147 MHz portion of the MRAC FM Simplex Contest yesterday.   That was from 1-2pm.   Activity levels were very strong.   146.550, 146.565, 146.580, 146.595 were almost always busy.   147.540-147.570 was busy some of the time, as was 146.490.   I tried to make 146.490 my CQ frequency, but honestly, not that many guys were tuning down there.   I had better luck doing search and pounce (S&P) up closer to 146.55/146.58.  

    Got 23 contacts in that 1 hour.   Heard from several rovers, which was great.   NZ9I, K9FI and N9UUP were all workable.   I heard others working K9IZV, but I couldn’t copy Warren.   I know there were at least two rovers in the Chicago area, but that’s a stretch on FM simplex.   (Not on SSB — I work K9JK and WB8BZK on SSB from Chicago in every ARRL VHF Contest)  
     KX9M was portable from Lapham Peak.    N9FSE was portable from Holy Hill.   Agreeable weather (low 30’s and cloudy, no real wind) helped with the rover/portable activity, I’m sure.   

     Best DX was KC9CUK Erich, who’s in Marengo, IL, with a nice antenna up 100′ or so.   He was about S3, and easily workable.  
     If anyone has stories about the contest, I’m all ears.   Hardly anyone submits comments here, so go ahead and fill us in.

8 check-ins for 146.43 FM net tonight — still ragchewing at 9pm

Friday, February 19th, 2010

    Tonight, we heard from:
   KM4G  Germantown;  WB9TFH West Allis;  KC9IGD N side of Fond du Lac;  KC9PQF West Allis;  KB9VSA Cedar Grove;  KC9NZR/M near Jackson;  K9IKE Brown Deer.    Now K9FI checking in at 9:05 from Brookfield.    We’ve basically been in ragchew mode since 8:30pm, so it’s nice to keep the activity going.  
   I think this was KC9IGD’s first time into the net, and it’s always good to hear from the FDL area.   Over time, I bet we’ve had at least a half dozen guys from up that way.   We never seem to hear from north of FDL, and I know a lot of guys in the Fox Valley are workable from my Sheboygan Co. QTH.    If anyone has ideas about how I can put the word out up that way, I’m all ears.  

   I’ve got plenty of ideas for getting more than just southern WI involved with doing more on V/UHF, but I need good ways of getting the word out in those directions.   Always looking to get the word spread as far as possible.

146.43 FM Simplex Net *ON* Thur night — 8pm central

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

   Subject line says it all — the 146.43 FM net is *ON* as usual, at 8pm/0200Z.    Hope we have a good turnout in advance of the MRAC FM Simplex Contest this Sunday, from 1pm-3:30pm central time.