Archive for November, 2016

Big Night — 23 Check-Ins to 144.240 Net

Friday, November 18th, 2016

5:45pm Thur.

Last night, 144.240 net control WB9LYH reported, “Good propagation and lots of stations”.   I’d say!  23 check-ins were:  W8SOL and N9YK EN71;  W9EWZ EN52;  KC9RAP EN63;  WB8AHT EN72;  WA9JML EN51;  KG9QT, K9CCL, KC9RIO, N9JBW, K9ILU, KD9BGY, N9IYV and KC9AZ EN61;  WB9TFH EN53;  KB9MIV EM59, about an hour NE of St. Louis;  WB0SWQ, WA9BNZ and W9BBP EN40;  N9RXM EN41;  W1JWS EN50;  K0DPL EN42 and AB9QH EN62.
While we get good numbers from greater Chicagoland, I’m pretty sure we’ve never had 8 check-ins from EN61.   Nice turnout and thanks for the support.
Please remember to return the favor with the Thursday night Q5 net on 144.220.  Net control is N9JBW John, south side of Chicago, EN61.  Good signal and lots of check-ins to this friendly, active net.  Start time is 6:30pm central for earlybirds and regular start time is 7pm.

** WB9LYH WILL BE OFF NEXT WED. NIGHT FOR THE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY**  Please help spread the word, not everyone visits the website.  And by all means, if someone wants to make some noise and have a roundtable, go right ahead.
THE 144.240 NET WILL RETURN on Wed., Nov. 23rd, at the usual start time of 8pm central/9pm eastern.  Net control WB9LYH is located in EN54cl, central WI, near WI Rapids.  Mark has a big signal and is always looking to push the propagation limits.  We welcome all licensed amateurs, DX, semi-local or nearby.  From central WI, net control WB9LYH first points his yagis to the NE, then E, SE, S, SW, W, NW and N at the end.  Eastern time zone is always looked at first.
The net is informal and the purpose is to increase activity on 2 meter SSB.  We appreciate you helping spread the word — about this net or any of the other ones we’ve been publicizing.   And we always encourage VHF’ers to do their own CQ’ing, to help keep the bands alive at any time.

IF you haven’t visited in a while, I’ve gotten busy lately.  Made many different posts on Nov. 10th.  Some of those posts have slid off the front page so use the “older entries” tag at the bottom left if you want to scroll thru the older headlines.

144.240 Net *ON* Tonight from EN54cl @8pm central/9pm eastern

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

9:45am Wed.
Subject line says it all — our flagship 144.240 net called by WB9LYH in EN54cl, central WI, is on as usual tonight.
Last week’s 144.240 net report and a detailed description of the net have slid off the front page here at, due to all the posts I made on Nov. 10th.
Last week’s net report:

If you’d like a more detailed description of our 144.240 Wed. night net covering WI and surrounding states, visit:   Mostly the 2nd half of that post.

I should have tonight’s net report posted by tomorrow.

144.205 MHz Morning Group Is Active 7 Days a Week

Monday, November 14th, 2016

10am Monday

VHF’ers everywhere need to know about the 205MorningGroup.  In one form or another, this has been going on for 6 years.
If you’re in the Midwest, look east toward FN01 for activity on 144.205 every morning.  Start looking anytime after about 6 or 7am central.
Rather than type up another long post, read about the 144.205 Morning Group here:  Or visit:  to go straight to the source.
You can also log into the real-time ham chat (IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432MHz) and “watch” the 144.205 activity any morning.

K8TQK EM89je Calls Big 144.252 Net Every Monday at 8:30pm Eastern

Monday, November 14th, 2016

8:15am Monday

If you’ve been visiting for some years, you already know about many of the nets and activity nights we’ve been promoting since 2009.
But time passes, and (hopefully) we get new visitors, so I like to repost info and keep it fresh.

There’s a big 2 meter SSB net on Monday nights.  It’s called by K8TQK Bob, who’s located in EM89je, or south-central OH.  Starts at 8:30pm *eastern*.  It’s on 144.252 because K8TQK has a big birdie right on 144.250.  Bob has long yagis and good power from a hilltop QTH and he gets out forever.  When I was on the air, I could work him on a 392-mile path (from my QTH just north of Milwaukee) even under flat conditions 95% of the time.
The antenna pattern from K8TQK’s south-central OH location is North to start, then NE, E, SE, S, SW, W and NW over the next 45-60 minutes.  All times estimated, never know which direction might be busier on a given night.  As with any net, be flexible and patient.  Typically K8TQK is looking NW toward Chicago and WI about 8-8:30pm *central* time.

For some years, K8TQK partnered with us on Wed. nights.  The goal (with using a few strong net controls spaced apart by several hundred miles) was to cover 20-30 states.  Had a lot of fun with this and even now, with the switch to Mondays by K8TQK, his net follows an active one out of Northern GA.  There’s a lot to listen to on Monday nights.

Honestly, to stay on top of all this activity, a VHF’er should be logged into that ham chat.  Specifically talking about the “IARU Region 2 Chat for 144-432 MHz”   I haven’t been there in many months and just spending a half hour to buzz thru the chat archives (they have a dropdown menu in the upper left with several dozen useful options) I can see that nearly every night, there’s something going on.   This is such a valuable tool to help connect VHF’ers who might not otherwise know what’s going on.

N4PZ EN52gb Calls 432.110 Net — Mondays @8pm Central

Monday, November 14th, 2016

8am Monday

Last Thursday I made at least 9 or 10 posts.  Plenty of good info in those posts.  But I need to make an important correction about the 432.110 MHz net.
The 432.110 net is on *EVERY MONDAY NIGHT* at 8pm central.  Net control is N4PZ in EN52gb, which is about 100 miles west of Chicago or just SW of Rockford, IL.
Not only does N4PZ help run the net, but he has other guys in the Chicago area who look around and help find check-ins too.   As I’ve said before, good high-gain yagis on 432 tend to be very pointy so be patient and flexible.   This group uses the real-time ham chat at  You can follow along there.  If you want more info about the real-time ham chat, I made a post about it here at on Nov. 10th.  Scroll thru the post headlines to quickly find what you want.

On 432 MHz, N4PZ has 4 yagis up high and he runs QRO or high power.   Talking 1500 watt amps and can get out 400-500 miles (and he’s also a big advocate of CW, which is how you work the really weak ones, out 500-600 miles)
Don’t expect anything close to this if you’re running a single short yagi, especially if it’s not high up in the clear, if you’re using low power or using lossy coax (coax losses increase greatly as you go higher in frequency)
BUT… at the same time, get on with what you have and see what you can hear.   Don’t worry about what Big Guns have or being looked down upon.  There are many fellows with the N4PZ group the last 4-5 years who now have nice stations on 432, as they’ve made improvements over time to their antennas, feedline and power levels.
“Look up” N4PZ at and you can see what he’s about.  Lots of useful info and pictures there.

N4PZ runs his own email list for the 432.110 net.  Contact him directly at N4PZ (at) if you want more info.
N4PZ has a 432.320 beacon running 100 watts into a pair of big wheels at 70 feet.   Again, the location is EN52gb, about 100 miles west of Chicago or a little SW of Rockford.  The 432.320 beacon is on from 6am-7pm every day.  This is a great way to find out if your 432 antenna is working.  A beacon is also useful because you can compare signal levels at different times of the day, with different weather patterns, etc.

Again, this Monday 432.110 activity starts at 8pm central.   High gain antennas on 432 MHz tend to be very pointy.  Meaning you need to be patient and need to be pointed at the station you are trying to hear.  When I was on the air I can remember the thrill of hearing a signal building from nothing to S5 or more rapidly as the station rotated their yagi in my direction.   If I had tuned in for 5 minutes, heard nothing and given up, I’d have had no idea what I was missing.
N4PZ’s antenna pattern from the Rockford, IL area on 432.110 is first pointed SW toward KS then S, SE, E, NE, N, NW ending SW again about 9 PM CDT.
It’s worth noting that other stations in the Chicago area help out by looking in different directions.  If I were new to this, I would either point a little SW of Rockford and wait for N4PZ, or I’d nudge toward Chicago at intervals and see if I can get any of those guys’ attention.
This is a very active group.  They are always looking for new signals and to push the DX envelope.

Recently (as of mid-2016) N4PZ is also trying to get 1296.100 or 1296.110 MHz activity going.   Again, contact him directly via his email (N4PZ (at) if you have questions or want to help.

Link to Gain Chart for 100’s of VHF Yagis

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

4:45pm Thur.
This is it for today — I’ve made all the technical posts I wanted to.   It’s a great feeling to be caught up.

If you want a *thorough* link to the gain specs on more 144 MHz yagis than you ever knew existed, here you go:
Again, the detailed listings are for 144 MHz yagis, but please note the small print near the top also has links to 50 and 432 MHz yagi gain figures.

Q5 Net out of Chicago is on 144.220 Thur. at 6:30pm Central

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

4:30pm Thur
Expect more posts like this about different nets on different nights.  Keep checking back at if you want to know what’s happening on the SSB and CW side of VHF/UHF bands.  Our territory is roughly a 500-mile circle surrounding WI.  The message is to get on the air, tune around and let others know what’s going on.

For many years now, N9JBW in EN61, south side of Chicago has been calling a friendly net on Thursdays on 144.220MHz.  It’s called the Q5 net and they get out a long ways.  Under flat conditions, they can get check-ins from IL, IA, (eastern) MN, WI, MI, IN, OH, VE-3, MO and at least far eastern KS.  Probably KY and TN, too, if anyone down there looks north.

Many of the Q5 net regulars also check-in to our 144.240 Wed. net.  We appreciate this and wish their net well.

The Q5 net on 144.220 has earlybird check-ins at 6:30pm every Thursday and the regular net starts at 7pm.   As net control N9JBW John likes to say, “Check it out!”

Link To WA5VJB Cheap Yagi Designs + Add’l Antenna/Feedline Thoughts

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

4pm Thur.

Been a most productive day at   Nov. 10, 2016 has been the best day in several years, perhaps.  I’ve made 7-8 posts today.  If you’re a regular visitor and a lot of these posts are redundant for you, please scan the post headlines and grab what interests you.   If you’re visiting and you would like to share this info with other hams, by all means, please do so.  I don’t represent myself as an authority, I’m more of an enthusiast.  I hope to get guys interested enough that they will start to do their own research and keep learning from other sources.

I promised a post about the WA5VJB Cheap Yagis for 144, 222, 432, 902 and 1296 MHz.  There’s even a few antenna plans for the satellite bands in this link too.   If you have some homebrewer in you or have elmers or buddies who like projects here’s a fun way to save $$ on antennas.
Go to:

If you can follow the detailed plans, you will end up with modest yagis that work well.    Guys I know have made these antennas and have been very pleased.   I am not a homebrewer so don’t ask me for further details.   I’m just saying that these WA5VJB Cheap Yagis are proven performers, if you can homebrew.   They are not DX monsters, but they are no joke, either.  They would also make a great project for a club to work on.
I will also add that someday, I hope you want to get out even farther and you will move beyond the Cheap Yagis.  Doubling your boom length (as long as you can do it safely) really make a big difference.

That’s the short story.  If you have another few minutes, what follows is additional info that will help you improve your station.

I try to periodically make posts geared toward newcomers to weak-signal VHF/UHF.  I’ve made all these posts before, but many of them are years old and only the hardest-core obsessive will use the search feature here at to find what they’re looking for in the archives which go back to 2009.
I try to make posts that will help VHF’ers hear more signals, get out farther and know where and when the best times are to hear more signals.  Far too many hams give up on the SSB/CW side of VHF too soon  because they expect instant activity.  It’s not like that, unless you’re in a major metro area or a heavily populated part of the country.

One needs to know where and when there are known sources of activity.  Plus the better your station is, the more you can take advantage of the superior range SSB on VHF offers.

I’ve said this dozens of times before at  Antennas are the most important part of a SSB/CW/Digi station on VHF/UHF.  Period.  Stop buying expensive rigs and hooking them up to cheapo antennas.   Put your VHF money in antennas first.   Get a horizontal yagi, longer the better, and get it up in the clear.  If you can go really high (SAFELY) so much the better.   But mostly, if you can just get clear of most obstructions (esp. those in a direction where there’s lots of activity) you have a real good start.
Get good feedline.  Stop losing decibels in the coax.  Line losses increase quickly on VHF and UHF.  Start thinking in terms of 9913 (at a minimum) and more like LMR-400 or 600.  If you have runs longer than 100′ or you’re on frequencies as high as 432 MHz or higher, consider investing in hardline.  The post right below this one at (dated Nov. 10, 2016)  has links to low-loss coax charts.

I was just digging around in my own archives and I think that’s a really good post from 2011.  It is long, so read when you have 5 minutes and take what you need.   In that post, there are concrete ideas and strategies that are very worthwhile.
Remember — I encourage you to share this info with your ham buddies or club.  If it helps get more signals, plus happier and smarter operators on the SSB/CW side of VHF/UHF, then Mission Accomplished.

Don’t Skimp on Coax — Link to a Good Loss Chart

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

3:45pm Thur.

When trying to work farther on SSB/CW bands like 50, 144, 222, 432, 902 and 1296 MHz your coax or feedline is important.   To make these 200, 300 mile contacts, (farther with band enhancement) you want every last db you can get.   A few db may be the difference between no signal and good copy (with headphones) in the S1 range.   You don’t want to wimp out on coax.   Here’s a link that shows the loss characteristics with various coaxes.   I found these links by Googling “coaxial cable loss chart”.
Some will say that it’s not worth getting concerned about a few db’s.   I’d say that any way you can improve your system by at least 1 or 1.5 db, you will notice an difference with marginal signals on weak-signal V/UHF.  You start gaining a few db’s with a better yagi, plus a few db’s with better coax, use a good preamp, quality headphones… it adds up quickly.
Main point is that while cheap coax may be OK on HF, it will seriously degrade your signal on VHF/UHF.  If you’re going to the trouble of putting up good antennas, then don’t throw away your signal with cheap coax.   If you have coax runs of 70-100 feet, you want to be at least in the 9913 or LMR-400 range, especially above 2 meters.   If you have a run of more than 100 feet, (especially on 432 MHz and higher) then LMR-400, 600 or perhaps even hardline is necessary.

Another Propagation Aid — Real-Time APRS Map for 2 Meters

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

2:45pm Thur.

Here’s a link a lot of VHF’ers keep an eye on:

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.
* *There is no substitute for getting on the air and calling CQ yourself.**  If 20 guys are all “just listening” on 144.200 and nobody makes a call, guess how many signals are on the air — yep — ZERO.  Call CQ into an empty band.  Not for huge long stretches of time.  Don’t take over the airwaves or hog the 144.200 call frequency.  But do call a few short CQ’s in different directions.  Those guys out in the sticks really appreciate it when you turn their way.

You don’t need enhanced propagation to have fun on the bands.  But it’s great to know when there is enhancement because those are exciting times.  When the APRS map link above starts turning yellow and especially orange, see if is confirmed by the beacons you listen to.  You want to take advantage of band enhancement.  It’s fun to tell your local club or your ham buddies you worked a guy in Oklahoma, 700 miles away,  on 144.200MHz the other night.

Just like with beacons (in the post below this one, dated Nov. 10, 2016 at 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.  Had 3 days of icy fog and boy were the bands open to the East Coast.   I know a guy in Milwaukee who has about 10 elements and 100 watts on 144 and this was the first time he’d been on for a true band opening.  Boy was he excited to work NJ and NY.

Propagation is a fascinating topic.  I’m not a heavily technical guy.  Suggest you Google around if you really want to learn various aspects of propagation.