WA4ZKO – 2015 2m Fall Sprint Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF with tags , , , , on September 22, 2015 by WA4ZKO

I didn’t get started till around 7:30pm and operated off and on as I had other projects going on. Probably spent a total of 2.5 hours on the air. Did a a mix of hunt-n-pounce operating and some extended CQing that gave the rotor a good workout.  Activity was about what I expected for a Fall Sprint, slim pickins ;-)

Conditions seemed flat in most directions, but there was some real nice enhancement off to the south into N. Georgia where I worked K4CKS in EM74 and KX4R in EM73 at 313 and 326 miles respectively. Best DX of the night was W3IP over in Virginia by Mt. Weather (FM19) at 368 miles. W3IP was weak here, but the NW Georgia stations were both booming in nicely. Shame there wasn’t more folks on the air down in northern GA/AL areas…used to be a bunch of guys active down there. As usual, not a peep heard out of Tennessee and I think Dennis (N9TZL) and myself where the only ones on in Kentucky.

144 MHz Fall Sprint Results
Call:  WA4ZKO
Class: Single Op
QTH:   EM78PP
Operating Time:  2.5 hrs
QSOs:  9
Grids: 8
Score: 72
States:  6  (KY, OH, IN, VA, MI, GA)
NOTES:  120w to 10 elements at 58′

Oh well, I had fun and these Sprints seem to fit my limited contesting time better than the big weekend contests. I do wish they’d push these Sprints back into late October/November. That way the rovers might get to take in some Fall scenery while out rovering and help justify the time and gas.

Still a big ? on my availability for the 222 MHz Sprint. I’ve contemplated going down to EM86NV (Black Mountain) if my schedule works out. Problem is with so little activity (even on 2m) out of the south anymore, it is tough for me to get motivated enough to make that 4 hour 1-way drive into the middle of nowhere ;-)

I “might” go out hilltop portable in EM78PQ on the 29th and try working the 222 sprint with a modest setup (25w, 4 el yagi) as kind of a transverter test. If I do that it’ll probably just be a short 7pm till 8:30-9pm deal.

So far my schedule is looking good for the 432 Sprint on October 7th so I’m planning to be on for that one.

Well here are the remaining Fall Sprints and dates:

SPRINT     DATE/TIMES
220 MHz    7 pm to 11 pm local time on Tuesday September 29
432 MHz    7 pm to 11 pm local time on Wednesday October 7
902 MHz +  7 am to 2 pm local time on Saturday October 10

More details and full rules can be found here.
73
Jeff
WA4ZKO

WA4ZKO 2014 2m Fall Sprint Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2014 by WA4ZKO

The Quick Summary:

4 QSOs for roughly 1/2 hour total operating time.

BAND    2m
QSOs     4
GRIDS    3
STATES   3

BEST DX:  Not sure where N8XA was, but guessing K8TQK at 81 miles (EM89JE)

SCORE:  A whopping barn burner score of 12, grin.

Hey, I’m not complaining considering how thin the local activity levels have become, a flat band, and only running QRP to a halo antenna.

The Longer Version:

Well I was a few minutes late getting started, could only operate for short periods of time since I was at work, and only running 4-5w to a halo antenna at 20 feet. Thus I didn’t go into this sprint expecting much, especially after how low the local activity levels were during the Sept VHF Contest.

The 2m SSB noise floor was surprisingly quiet considering I was operating just a few feet from a small server farm. I had the little Yeasu FT-817ND rig on a 12v 12 Ahr LiFePO4 battery that can run the rig on high power for several hours. I used this battery pack during Field Day for HF Robust Packet APRS with excellent runtime. I just setup on top of some nearby file boxes and logged contacts the old fashioned way (pen and paper) for later entry. A shot of this impromptu portable setup is below:

20140922_2m_Fall_Sprint

I forgot to pack a coil of RG-8 with me, so I had to use a pretty lossy run of RG-8X. I could work everyone I heard with one exception. I heard N8QAZ near Columbus Ohio well, but could never get his attention. He was CQ’ing way too fast without much of a receive gap in between CQs so I only tried him a few times before moving on. Gotta slow it down if you want to hear the weak ones.

First QSO of the evening was Dennis N9TZL in EM78qx and easy at 23 miles. Last QSO was N8XA who was also portable somewhere in EM89.

Well I got on the air and made a few Qs, worked some grids and 3 states with just QRP. Better than not being active at all. The FT-817 has opened up some portable operating options and fun. I should of bought one years ago.

Well it’s officially Fall this evening and that wraps up the 2014 Summer VHF contest season. From here it’s the 222 Fall Sprint on September 30th. I will not be active for that one. Considering the low activity levels on more popular bands, very hard to shell out the cash for a 222 transverter right now.

Next possible contest for me will be the 432 Fall Sprint on October 8th.

Then it’s the 902 MHz and up Sprint on October 18th. While I have given thought to a 1296 transverter (just like with 222), around here 900 MHz is a lost cause due to all the Part 15 wireless internet systems all over the county. At least around here, we (hams) have essentially lost the 33cm band to WISP QRM from one end of the band to the other.

Oh well, hope to hear you on for the 432 Sprint.

73
WA4ZKO

WA4ZKO 2014 ARRL September VHF Contest Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , , , , on September 21, 2014 by WA4ZKO

Well, as usual I hoped to be more active in this one than I was. I spent a good chunk of the weekend to/from or at the hospital. For those not in the loop, my Father has been facing some serious health challenges. He is doing somewhat better now, but far from out of the woods.

Even with everything else going on, I still managed to get on the air briefly at times over the weekend. It was a good to get a break away from everything else going on. I got in the shack for a few minutes late on Saturday afternoon then a bit longer in the evening after sunset. Then on Sunday it was just a few minutes around 1pm and that was it.

 

The Quick Summary:

16 QSOs for roughly 1 hour total operating time. Not too bad all things considered.

BAND    6m  2m  432
QSOs     2  10   4
GRIDS    2   9   4
STATES   2   7   3

BEST 6m DX:   W4IY FM08 at 397 miles
BEST 2m DX:   N3HBX FM19 at 402 miles
BEST 432 DX:  K8EP FM09 at 389 miles

SCORE:  Looks like about 300.

That said, since I don’t have the time to operate in a competitive manner anymore I don’t worry much about scores and log submissions. I find it much more enjoyable to just get on the air, give the grid out, put a few Qs in the logbook and call it a day. Plus if I don’t submit logs, then I can operate however I want without worrying about running afoul of some silly rule/rule change some worrywart wanted.
 

Longer Summary:

My first QSO of the contest was AK3Q down on the river in Bellevue, KY and the struggle he had with hearing me on 2m SSB at 33 miles had me worried that something was wrong on my end considering what I had aimed his way. I suspect he was using a vertical and down behind a lot of terrain. Either way, good to hear a new call on 2m SSB. I probably missed others, but he was the only KY station I heard on the air. Wow.

My worries were very short lived as I immediately worked W8SPM over in FM08 with ease. I think he said he was portable (and QRP ?) up on Spruce Knob, WV which is 279 miles out. The FM08 contact was followed by expected big signal levels from WB7PMP in EM88. Then a nice 402 mile 2m contact with N3HBX in Maryland a few miles north of Washington made it clear my 2 meter SSB gear was working just fine!

As expected, the cold front that came through just prior to the contest wiped out what was nearly daily nice inversion tropo in the area. The band was pretty flat to my west, but there seemed to be some enhancement off to my east. I could hear several of the guys to the east fussing that the band was in great shape over there, but not very many folks active. Here locally the usual hotbed of Cincy area activity was strangely silent for a major contest whenever I checked the bands.

It sounded like there might of been a rover or two up around the Chicago area, but as usual no joy in getting their attention. I thought I heard some activity in the noise floor to my south (probably the Atlanta area folks), but didn’t work anyone down that way.

Granted I need to be careful judging activity levels considering how sporadic my own operating was. I undoubtedly missed a few folks. Still, for a major contest the bands were pretty empty around here.

I gather 6m opened to the Colorado area on Sunday evening. Hopefully some were able to get in on that opening. I only worked a couple stations on 6 meters. 2 meters seemed to be where most of the action was when I was active.

Some nice comments and “thanks for the 2m beacon” were received. Good to know folks find the 144.276 EM78RP beacon handy for evaluating the band and antennas.

Since the 432 side of my FT-847 is acting flaky, I used the FT-817ND rig and a 100w brick for my 432 contacts. I really didn’t expect too much from the 817’s receiver on 432, but it pleasantly surprised me. It seems every bit as good as the 847’s UHF side…maybe a bit hotter? Combined with the 100w amp it proved it can get the job done.

Oh well, now on to the Fall Sprints.

 

WA4ZKO

WA4ZKO – June VHF Contest Wrapup

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF with tags , on June 17, 2014 by WA4ZKO

Well this contest weekend was a good mix of radio fun and family. I really didn’t operate as much as intended, but still managed to get in about 2 to 3 hours total time in.

Total of 52 QSOs. The band breakdown:

BAND  QSOS  GRIDS  STATES
6m    30     22      13
2m    22     12       7
432    7      6       6

With everything else going on, my operating was kind of sporadic at best. Basically come in, check the bands, work a few folks, then leave the radio radio room to spend time with family and work on some outside projects.

NOTE:  The following is just my observations from my sporadic operating time and I’m sure I missed a few openings.

Saturday afternoon was pretty much work the local/semi-locals and that was it. 6 meters just didn’t open up any till the evening so it was a mostly 2m/432 day. I gather there was some eskip in the northeast and west coast areas, but it just wasn’t getting into this area. Around 8pm 6m would open a bit to Texas. Around 11pm I would hear a 6 and 7-land station trying to come up out of the noise floor, but the band faded out about that time.

I did have some fun on 2m/432 Saturday night so it was far from a bust. I worked well into VA, PA and WI. I worked the W3SO folks over in FN00 (PA), the W4IY folks in FM08 (VA), NW IL, and several southern WI folks. Best 2m DX was probably N9DG in EN53 at 423 miles. Best 432 DX was W4IY in FM08 at 298 miles.

Sunday morning just before lunch I clearly came in on the end of a decent 6m opening to the west. 6m was open to TX, OK, KS, and CO with big signals, but I had to QRT for lunch and family. I returned around 1:30pm to find just the 0-land folks still in there and a Florida grid or two coming in. I checked the DX window and found a very lonely ZF35EJ (Cayman Islands) in there about S5 and worked him on first call. I would then work the only rover I heard all weekend, AL1VE /R out in DM99.

I never heard Dan K9ZF /R on this weekend. I would later see where he was sick Saturday.

Don’t know much about how the rest of Sunday went as I was occupied with family and outside projects for the rest of the afternoon/evening.

Score wise? Some have noticed that I have not submitted a log for any of this years contests. I’m not planning on entering this one either. I’ll let others collect KY band certificates, my file cabinet is getting full of them, grin. Even if I was retired and had all kinds of time to devote to aggressive contesting, I doubt one could win the whole thing from this area with the low local/semi-local activity levels we have now.

Are you getting out of VHF/UHF Contesting Jeff?

Nope. There are several things at play here. I just really don’t care to compete or enter these things anymore. It’s mostly that I simply don’t have the time to devote to contesting like I used to and the rule/paperwork headaches just aren’t worth fooling with anymore.

I can now operate as I wish without worry of running afoul of some rule on this or that. As several others have commented, the “rule/contest worrywarts” tried to fix things that worked fine for decades and managed to do far more harm than good. Now they set around wondering why so many of the reliably active “old hats” are either getting out of contesting or (like myself) just don’t bother with turning in logs.

Maybe it’s the “grumpy old man” kicking in, but hobby stuff should be fun. I can get all the paperwork, short reporting deadlines, and rule compliance headaches I need by simply going to the day job.

WA4ZKO

WA4ZKO – Sept VHF Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , on September 21, 2013 by WA4ZKO

Well as somewhat expected for this time of the year, 6 meters never opened up so it was a mostly 2m & up show. I wasn’t very active during Saturday afternoon other than briefly checking the bands from time to time. Was more active on Saturday evening.

Just before dinner I stumbled across N8JQR/R (K8TQK at the mic) working their way into EM88. After that they headed to the corner of EM78, EM79, and EM89 and I worked them with ease in all four grids on 2m and 432. They didn’t have 6m gear with them, but still some nice grids/bands to add to the logs.

Around 9pm I would come in and work a couple hours of the contest. Things seemed really slow here locally. I would add WZ8D, W4NH, N8ZM, AA4ZZ, K8EP, and K5QE to the logs before calling it a night. Would end the night by working K5QE on meteor scatter (FSK441) with some pretty good burns observed.

I would wind up with the following:

TOTAL QSOs:      20
TOTAL 6m QSOs:   6
TOTAL 6m Grids:  6
TOTAL 2m QSOs:   8
TOTAL 2m Grids:  8
TOTAL 432 QSOs:  6
TOTAL 432 Grids: 6
CLAIMED SCORE:  520

Interesting when your 432 QSO & grid count matches your 6 meter totals.

All in all a pretty good run for the limited amount of time I had, band conditions, and lack of local/semi-local activity. Thankful for the N8JQR rover being out there. I gather propagation on the higher bands was pretty good Sunday morning (figures, grin).

Heard K4TO on from Winchester, never worked him though. Talked to KI4WEF on the 440 repeater as we tinkered with meteor scatter, but we never really made a valid contest QSO ;-) Oh well, anymore I just enjoy getting on the air for a few hours and handing out EM78. IMHO, far more fun when you don’t go taking contesting too seriously. Just get on the air, make some Qs, and have fun doing it.

REMINDER:  Monday evening is the Fall 144 MHz Sprint. Not sure if I will be around for this one or not. Tropo forecast looks interesting.

September 23, 2013:
144 MHz Fall Sprint
http://www.svhfs.org/2013fallsprintrulesv1.pdf

 

WA4ZKO

2013 CQ WW VHF Log Reminder

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF with tags on August 3, 2013 by WA4ZKO

NOTES:  Not to be the “cranky old guy” but something tells me if they keep shortening things up a lot more VHF ops are just not going to fool with turning their logs in. While admittedly this contest is not a big deal with most logging software, they seem to forget that many VHF ops are not retired, do well to get on the air for a few hours, and juggling many other priorities ;-)

I have heard more than one VHF op comment that they are getting “awfully demanding” for folks that take months to get the results out and often a year before awards are sent out. It’s hard to argue that one. Oh well, IMHO it’s like so many things in our hobby anymore…we often seem to be going out of our way to shoot ourselves in the foot with actions not consistent with goals ;-)

SOURCE FOR BELOW:  John K9JK on behalf of Steve N8BJQ

—-
2013 CQ WW VHF Log Deadline Reminder

Posting on behalf of Steve Bolia, N8BJQ, Contest Director.

Remember that the deadline for submitting logs to be eligible for award consideration in this year’s CQ WW VHF Contest is this coming Sunday, August 4th at 2359 UTC. From the rules: Logs received after the deadline will be listed in the results but will not be eligible for an award. Extensions may be granted by the director for a valid reason if you contact the director before the deadline.

This is significantly earlier than the September 1st deadline of recent years but at least we can be thankful that the deadline was not shortened to the FIVE days after the end of the contest deadline of the CQ HF contests.

More than 700 call signs are presently on the Logs Received list so many of you have already submitted but Steve has room for many more logs!

Steve is also looking for input for the results article that he will be writing so he’d appreciate whatever you might have. Please contact Steve via e-mail: sbolia  AT   woh. rr. com

Thanks for reading.

73 & Good VHF,
John, K9JK

WA4ZKO – 6m Spring Sprint Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , on May 29, 2013 by WA4ZKO

Well I finally had time to go over my logs and do a final tally of my 50 MHz Spring Sprint results. Sorry, the schedule has been a tad crazy here with work, family, and other hobby projects.

When all is said and done, about 3 Hrs of operating yielded:

QSOs:  79
GRIDS:  29
STATES:  12 CT, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, VT
DXCC:  2 (USA and Canada)
MISC:  3 Canandian Provinces

Traditional score:  2291

Distance based score:  Don’t know and don’t really care.

Conditions were good this time around. Due to it being a bit early in the spring/summer e-skip season, the 6m Spring Sprint is usually pretty slow. If you are lucky you might get a brief opening to Texas or Florida. There was nothing slow about it this year! The band opened to the northeast and remained open for pretty much the entire Sprint. I think this caught a lot of folks off guard.

I came in the radio room around 2315z and found the FN4x grids coming in and the band either quickly built from there or word got out that there was a nice opening in progress. Before long I was working grids that were getting “short” for 6 meter e-skip. I would check 2m SSB from time to time but never heard any sign that 2 meters was open.

I did not notice any of the locals around Cincinnati on the air. Dennis N9TZL and Lonnie KI4WEF were both on in EM78 and somehow we all 3 managed not to work each other ;-) Gives you an idea of how busy the bands were. I would camp out with the beam aimed at about 70 degrees for the evening and get some good runs of contacts.

The bottom of the band was a zoo of folks talking and calling over top of each other (hey guys…SPREAD OUT when the band is open!), so I did my usual “go high” approach. I did most of my “camping on a freq and CQ’ing” at 50.210 and 50.243 USB. This approach worked well and garnered many comments from folks about the lower QRM levels “up here.” I made most of my contacts this way and have found this technique to be effective once the band gets busy.

This kept me busy at times working one QSO after another into grids that are not exactly common on 6m here (eg FM17-19, FN10, FN20, and FM29) was a blast. Judging by my mailbox lately, seems others were happy to get EM78. Several of these cards had comments along the lines that they have been needing EM78 for years.

Here is a quick grid map of what I worked:

http://tinyurl.com/pszsmdq

A very nice, fun, and BUSY 6m Spring Sprint. I had a blast! Let us hope this bodes well for conditions in June/July!

Don’t forget that the ARRL June VHF Contest will be here very soon. Due to a packed June schedule (work, personal, and hobby wise) I will not be doing my usual compiled “plans listing.”

I should be in EM78 for the June VHF Contest, but suspect I’ll only be able to work a portion of it and probably just Saturday evening.

That’s the wrap for now.

WA4ZKO