Archive for May, 2014

144.240 Net Control Tonight Will be N9XKH in EN52il

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

   4:30pm Wed. 

   Just got word of a change in net controls tonight. 
   As mentioned back in a post dated May 9th at, WB9LYH was going to need some help this summer.  Turns out that Mark had something come up for tonight so having an alternate net control is a big plus. 

   I’m pleased to report that N9XKH on the IL/WI state line, about a half hour NW of Rockford, IL will be helping out. 
Dennis will call the net at (I assume) 8pm central and follow the same antenna pattern WB9LYH has.   But I’d be flexible tonight and see how it all unfolds. 

   Again, look toward EN52il (about a half hour NW of Rockford, IL or an hour south of Madison, WI) at net time and say hello to N9XKH Dennis. 

   If I get a net report from N9XKH, I’ll post it tomorrow or Friday.

222 Tuesdays Are Still Happening — Get Involved

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

   7:30am Tuesday

   Hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend. 

   Haven’t specifically said anything about 222 Tuesday in a while.  
   Long-time readers of this blog know that Tuesday has traditionally been the night for 222 MHz operations.  This protocol goes back many decades.  Monday was for 144, Tuesday for 222, and Wednesday for 432.  

   If you have gear for 222 SSB/CW or 223 FM, make a point of getting on Tuesday nights.  Call CQ, turn the yagi, look in different directions and start something.  Don’t fall into the pattern of ”just listening”.  If everyone is “just listening” then nobody will ever hear a thing.   This is especially important with quiet bands, to call some CQ’s. 

    222 Tuesday has had fairly regular activity out of MI and OH on/near 222.100 MHz, going back many years.  This activity continues, with K8TQK and his whopping signal helping to stir things up.  I’d tune into the 222.100 area on SSB/CW and start paying attention about 6:30-7pm central time.  Probably until about 8-9pm.  Do this any Tuesday evening.  If you’re not hearing anything in your area, then get a buddy or two on the air with you, call CQ in different directions and pull some signals out of the woodwork.   Keep at this for several weeks and as always — *spread the word*. 

    222 Tuesday is NOT a directed net.  It’s an informal chance for anyone with 1.25m gear to get on the air and work others.  It works best when many are on, from different states and grids.  Please spread the word about 222 Tuesdays and enjoy this great (underappreciated) band.   You can also log into the real-time ham chat (details are here: ) and follow the action there.

Two More Websites that Help Gauge Band Conditions

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

   1:30pm Thur. 

   Going thru the archives and I want to update a post I made on May 14, 2013.  

    Here are two links a lot of VHF’ers keep an eye on:
  1)  Shows real-time band conditions on 2m, based on reports from APRS signals.   
   Experienced VHF’ers will debate the usefulness of the APRS map.  It does sometimes show false openings, based on factors I don’t fully understand.  The APRS/mountainlake map also should *NOT* be used to tell you whether it’s worth getting on the air or not.  I see all kinds of nights where the map looks very dead, yet 2m SSB contacts are being made out to 200, 300, 400 miles.   
    Last night (May 21, 2014) the APRS map lit up bright red in a “starburst” pattern.  That’s a classic indication that there’s an Eskip opening underway and you need to take advantage of that, pronto.  
     It’s a good idea to study the APRS map at various times of the day, and during different weather patterns.  You learn things over time that way.  For complete beginners, there is often better propagation in the early to mid-morning, and again, toward sunset and into the overnight hours.  This subtle rise in propagation is most often noted on bands like 144, 222, 432 MHz and higher.  It is most likely to happen during periods of warm, humid, stagnant weather.  But it’s not limited to that.  There was a great weekend-long opening back in January of either 2010 or 2011.  Of course, it happened the weekend *before* the ARRL Jan VHF.   (Openings during contest weekends are paradise) 

   Don’t confuse tropo openings with sporadic E skip on 6m (50 MHz).  The mechanism that opens up 6 meters most often is sporadic E-skip, which has to do with the ionosphere and not weather conditions closer to the earth’s surface.  It’s a pleasant coincidence that sporadic Es is most common in May, June and July, and that tropo openings on the higher bands (tropo can also improve 6m conditions sometimes, too) tend to occur in the warmer months.   Tropo openings can also occur well into fall, if you get under a stagnant high pressure system with light winds and warm days.   When I see fog I also think of tropo possibilities.  Fog frequently occurs when warm, humid air is aloft, and colder, denser air is near the surface.  Warm air over cooler air is a good recipe for enhanced band conditions on V/UHF. 
   Honestly, if you want to learn more about predicting and taking advantage of tropospheric enhancement, you should do your own research.   There’s a lot worth knowing, if you have an inquisitive mind. 
   2)  Attempts to forecast band conditions up to 6 days in the future.  Some will also debate the usefulness of these forecasts.  Hang around hams long enough (or any kind of enthusiasts, whether its sports, politics, etc) and you will find just about everything gets debated.  
   I have been a lifelong weather geek so anyone who tries to forecast V/UHF band conditions much like a weather forecast is going to catch my eye.  The Hepburn forecast tropo maps have been around a long time. 
   What I will say is that if you notice a green, yellow or even orange/red opening is consistently forecast for more than just a day or two in a row, it becomes more likely that it will actually happen.  I also have noticed that no major, widespread, long-lived tropo opening (where you can work 400, 600, sometimes 1000 miles on 144, 222, 432 MHz and higher bands, sometimes for hours or a few days on end) happens without being forecast ahead of time by these maps. 
    What we don’t want VHF’ers to do is this:  Take a quick look at the Hepburn map, see black everywhere and say, “Well that’s it, no point in getting on the air and calling CQ.”  Because there are plenty of times where the bands are at least normal, or slightly enhanced, and the Hepburn maps miss it. 
    Save these links to your radio favorites.

Sporadic E skip on 144 MHz Occasionally Happens — Be Alert

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

   12:45pm Thur.  
   What follows is a revision of a post I first made in May of 2011. 

    Last night (May 21st, 2014) was the first sporadic E skip opening of the season (that I’m aware of) on 2m or 144 MHz. 

    Sporadic Es happens regularly on 50 MHz (from about May to Aug. with a smaller peak about Dec-Jan.) and “E skip” is a big part of why so many hams call 6 meters “The Magic Band”.  
   Sporadic Es is far more rare on 2 meters than on 6, so you really want to be ready for it and take advantage of the few times it does happen.  For Es to happen on 2 meters, you need the MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) to climb into the 144-148 MHz range. 
   Several ways you can be alert to this happening:
   1)  Find a fairly empty channel near the top of the FM broadcast band.  When E skip starts bombing in up to 108 MHz, you want to be extra alert.   (But there are many times where the MUF will go up to 108 MHz, but not get into the 2m band.) 
   2)  What a lot of VHF’ers listen for is when 6 meter E skip paths get short.  Typical one-hop range with 6 meter E skip is roughly 700-1500 miles.  When you start hearing stations on 6 coming in strong from 500 miles or less, that’s a good sign that the MUF is really climbing and 2 meter E skip may be developing or already occurring.  The typical pattern is for 144 Es to develop along the same path as the short 6 meter Es, but with the 2 meter stations farther apart.    In other words, if I’m in WI and I’m hearing short E skip on 6 meters say out to OH, then I might anticipate a 2m path to NY/NJ or New England.   Mind you, once the Es start, they can do anything they want.  Stay flexible and enjoy the ride. 
   3)  There are maps available on the internet that depict what the MUF is over different areas.  Go to this website:  You will see a dazzling variety of things.  Have fun.  🙂  What I specifically bring up to monitor the MUF over North America is this:

      I’d say E skip on 2 meters only happens about 6-12 times a year.  Unless you’re truly obsessed, you’ll be lucky to catch more than 3-5 of these openings.    2 meter E skip tends to be short-lived and not as strong as the Es on 6m.    All the openings I’ve heard were either in the late morning/early afternoon or in the early/mid evening.        
   It is extremely rare for the MUF to get as high as the 220 MHz band, (I did hear VA once on 222, very briefly) and to my knowledge, it has never happened on 70cm. 

    Here’s some friendly advice…   Short CQ’s are best on VHF.  Especially if you’re trying to work E skip, which can literally be in for only a minute or two.  I have had times where a guy 15 miles away is working all kinds of DX and I never hear a peep.  Then for say 30 seconds, I hear someone bomb in and abruptly fade away.  If you are calling long CQ’s or ragchewing during this time, you’ll never know I heard you.  Whenever I hear a guy start up with “CQ, CQ, CQ, CQ.   This is AB9XYZ, AB9XYZ, AB9XYZ.  CQ, CQ, CQ, CQ…”  I smile  because I know someone used to HF is now trying out VHF. 
    Use shorter CQ’s for VHF, especially if the band is open or busy.  A simple “CQ E skip, KC9BQA EN63, CQ” is more than enough.  Unkey, wait a bit,  then repeat.  Keep a little RF out there, but leave pauses for others.  Our openings are precious, so be efficient, concise and you will make more contacts. 

    Another piece of advice — yes, the call frequency is 144.200.  Yes, you should swing your beams around and call CQ anytime you’re near the rig.   Don’t fall into the trap of “just listening”.   If 20 guys listen and nobody calls CQ, what happens then?… (nothing)
    BUT… keep your QSO’s on 144.200 short.  If you want to have a ragchew, QSY up/down 10, 15, 20, whatever.  Main thing is to not tie up the call freq. for long, especially when the band might be open or busy.   I will say that in rural, isolated areas with few 2m SSB ops, there’s some merit to keeping .200 more busy.  Provided you take frequent breaks to invite others to join in or to let them use .200 to make their own calls for DX.  
    If you monitor 2m long enough with decent antennas, you will have special days where contacts are being made well beyond the usual 100-300 mile range.  On those days, you will understand why it’s important to not all clump together on 144.200. 
    New ops, especially those who are used to channelized repeater operating need to use their VFO’s and spread out from 144.200 when it’s busy.   Say you do catch a big E skip opening on 2.   Would you rather have 10 stations all fighting it out on 144.200, or would you rather hear clearer signals scattered from 144.170-144.230?    Let’s put it another way.   If you went to a grocery store and saw 10 people with full carts standing in one line, wouldn’t you slide over to the checkout gal who has nobody in line?

This Week’s 144.240 and 144.252 Net Reports

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

   Noon Thursday

   2 meters had excitement last night.  Reading thru the chat archives at I see that there was some sporadic E skip from roughly the mid-Atlantic to IA last night.  I imagine there are readers here who don’t even know Es is possible on 2 meters, (it happens all the time on 50 MHz in summer) and that reminds me to find something older I typed up and rebroadcast it here — soon.   Maybe as soon as later today.  Check back later, if you want to know more about sporadic Es on 144 MHz.  

   Here are the net reports:
   Last night, WB9LYH had 8 check-ins to the 144.240 net called from EN54cl, Central WI.  (Start time is 8pm central/9pm eastern):  K6VWE EN73;  KD8PA EN72;  W8SOL EN71;  WA9BNZ EN40;  W1JWS EN50;  KC9OVD EN41;  KG0SJ and W0WOI EN22 and KM0T EN13.  K6VWE is another new check-in to the net — welcome. 
   Mark reported that there was lots of noise, and also some bits of conversation from unknown sources at times.  That sounds like it might have been the Es trying to bubble up.   WB9LYH”s computer was down last night, so he couldn’t see the chat page, which was alive with reports of E skip.  

   *WB9LYH says that as of now, his schedule looks good for the next 4 weeks.  Expect the 144.240 long-range net from WI to be on every Wed. at 8pm central/9pm eastern*

     Back on Monday night, K8TQK had 20 check-ins to his 144.252 net, called at 8:30pm eastern from EM89je, south-central OH. 
    N8AIA EN82;  KD8JQ EN91;  W2UAD FN13;  W3IP FM19;  KB3TNZ FN11;  W8WG, W8PU and KB8GUE EM89;  W0LD FM05;  N1GC EM95;  WB4IXU EM86;  WD4NMV EM85;  W4LES, WA4NJP and W4IMD EM84;  KD8NYO EN81;  WA9M, WB8ART and N8XA EM79;  KJ4ZYB FM07.

Improve VHF/UHF Activity — Tell Hams What is Possible

Monday, May 19th, 2014

   12:15pm Monday 

   Warmer weather is building and that means better chances for band openings where contacts can be made beyond the 400-500 mile range.  Be alert for what’s happening, especially in the evenings, overnights and in the early to mid-mornings.  Help “create” more openings.  Get on more, call CQ more often.  Rotate your yagis in all directions.   Get out of the habit of  “just listening”.  If 20 guys are “just listening”, how many contacts get made?  

   There are 1000’s of all-band, multi-mode rigs out there.  Tell your ham buddies about what is possible on the SSB/CW portions of bands like 50, 144, 222 and 432 MHz.    Contacts are made well beyond line-of-sight range on the VHF/UHF  bands every day, provided you know when and where to listen.   No, you can’t do this with a H/T, rubber duck and 5 watts.  But it’s far from rocket science.  Just learn about horizontally-polarized antennas, lower-loss feedline, higher output power and find places to get those antennas up higher, in the clear.

WB9LYH Net Report for May 14, 2014

Monday, May 19th, 2014

   Noon Monday,

   WB9LYH had 10 check-ins to the 144.240 net last Wed.  Mark has resolved his antenna problem and should be good to go every Wed. night now.  He will be on again, this Wed. night, at 8pm central/9pm eastern.  Look toward EN54cl, Central WI.  WB9LYH’s antenna pattern from Central WI is NE to start, then E, SE, S, SW, W, NW and N over the next 45-60 minutes.  Help spread this info to hams everywhere.  Many times, guys give 2m SSB a try, hear little or no activity and give up.  This is a correctable situation.  
   There is activity on bands like 50, 144, 222 and 432 MHz 7 nights a week.  Take a little time and see for yourself at posts dated Oct. 13, 15 and 17, 2013 here at  I discuss the on-air activity options for all 7 nights of the week in those posts.  

    WB9LYH’s 10 check-ins last week were:  N8WNA and N8AIA EN82;  N9XKH and W9EWZ EN52;  WA9BNZ and W9BBP EN40;  W1JWS EN50;  KC9OVD and KC9RJI EN41;  and W0ANH EN47.   KC9OVD is a new call to this net, welcome to Keith and thanks for stopping by.

K8TQK 144.252 Net Report from Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday, May 19th, 2014

   11:45am Monday

   Remember that K8TQK’s 144.252 net is on every Monday at 8:30pm eastern.  Bob’s QTH is way up high in south-central OH, grid square EM89je.  K8TQK covers a 20+ state and province territory, under flat band conditions.  Talking as far north as Ontario.  To the east,  NY, NJ, VA + the Carolinas.  To the south, GA, AL, MS.  To the west, clear across IL to parts of MO, IA and WI.   This is a 300-400+ mile circle centered on south-central OH.  
   The antenna pattern with K8TQK’s 144.252 net is to start north, then go NE, E, SE, S, SW, W and NW over the next 45-60 minutes or so.   You can follow along at the ham chat, too.  Use the “IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432 MHz”.  
   Here’s K8TQK’s net reports: 
   On May 5th, the Monday 144.252 net from south-central OH was OFF. 

   Last Monday, May 12th, K8TQK had 21 check-ins:  N8WNA EN82;  K8KGM, W8WG and KB8GUE EM89;  W8SOL EN71;  W2UAD FN13;  KB3TNZ FN11;  AC3L/M FN00;  N1GC EM95;  K4TXI EM86;  W3IP FM19;  K4SAL FM05;  W4LES and W4IMD EM84;  WB8ART, KB9RDS and N8XA EM79;  WB7PMP EM88;  KI4ROF EM55;  KJ4ZYB FM07;  K9MRI EN70.

WB9LYH May Need Net Control Help Toward Mid-Summer

Friday, May 9th, 2014

   6:20pm Friday

   WB9LYH has been looking at his summer calendar and he may be gone for several nets.  He’s not sure of the exact dates, just knows that the potential is there. 

   In the past, I used to fill in, but I’m selling off my station and nearly all my rigs have sold (I will make a post updating my For Sale list).  I also used to help coordinate alternate net controls but I’m spending less time with the website and net matters.   (Posts dated March 15, 2014 discuss why I’m selling the station and my future plans) 

   What I ask is this:  If you have an interest in helping Mark out as an alternate net control, contact him directly on the net.  I would rather any interested parties work with WB9LYH directly on this.   Mark has been net control longer than I was by now, and if he cares to take things into 2015 and beyond, it will be his call.   He knows this; I’ve been emailing with him about my easing out for over a year now. 

   By the way, if you are wondering about the history of the 144.240 Wed. net, read this post:  Our Wed. net will be 6 years old this June.  Many good things have happened since then.

6 Meter Spring Sprint is This Sat. Night — May 10th

Friday, May 9th, 2014

   6:15pm Friday

   Want everyone to know the 50 MHz Spring Sprint is ON tomorrow night, running from 6pm-10pm in the central time zone, 7-11pm in the eastern time zone and on the off chance we have readers from far away, from 5-9pm mountain and 4-8pm pacific.  
   Or I could simplify and just say it’s on from 2300Z May 10th until 0300Z May 11th.  But I know that confuses some folks, every time.  Reason the 6m sprint uses UTC time is that with sporadic E skip season starting by May, there’s a chance the Magic Band could be open tomorrow night, so you want to have all US stations on at the same time, to maximize your chances of working DX. 
   Get on and enjoy the 6 meter sprint tomorrow night.  

   Full Spring Sprint info is here:   That post originally was made on March 31st.