Archive for April, 2009

2009 432 MHz Spring Sprint soapbox

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio with tags , on April 23, 2009 by WA4ZKO

Well my fairly long running trend of beating my last years score came to an end last night.  Did have some fun though and got a lot of little things done in the radio room in the breaks between activity (what little there was).

Short version:

4 QSO’s, 2 grids, 3 states. Best DX was KA1ZE/3 from FN01, about 414 miles which ‘taint too shabby for 432 and a flat bad, but Stan has  big setup…that helps!  Claimed score, a whopping 8 points.

Same contest 2008 was 8 QSO’s, 6 states, 5 grids for a score of 40 which is my best ever for this always pretty  “slow” contest.

Long version:

Not that the EM78/EM79 area has ever been a big hotbed of 432 activity, but activity levels continue to seem way down. Seems to be the trend of the last couple years. Again I felt like I was the only station on in EM78 and Kentucky for that matter, not a sign of anyone else on in your own state is not a good thing ;-)

The band seemed at best flat, and likely below average in many directions. The WD4GSM/B in EM86 is usually just barely detectable on a flat band, not a trace of it last night. The K4IDC/B down in Tennessee is usually stronger but still just above noise floor on a flat band, not a trace of it. Remember WD4GSM is only about 300mw ERP, K4IDC is about 10w and path losses on 432 are much higher than on say 2 meters. Both may be off the air or the band was just way way down that way.

The slow action had a perk, I got to work on several little projects in the radio room as I let the voice keyer work it’s magic. I had a couple N to SO239 adapters in the 432 feedline circuit and had been wanting to take the time and clean that up. Took the time and fixed that up. Now the 432 feed is either 7/8″ LDF, LMR400, or 9913F (real Belden stuff) for the rotor loop, and nothing but N connectors involved. Judging by the signal levels of the few EM79 guys on and the nice long shot to KA1ZE/3 in FN01, seems to be working great.

I am a little disappointed by the fact that it appears yet again I was the only one on in KY. Says something when you don’t even work your own grid and state.  Local activity appears to be down about 75% lately.  Hopefully this is just the result of it being very early in the VHF Spring/Summer DX season, an extended solar minimum, and of course the economy (heck we blame everything else on it, grin). Hopefully the 6m sprint, the June contest, Field Day, and the July contest will be much busier. Time will tell.

432 MHz Spring Sprint is tonight.

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio with tags , on April 22, 2009 by WA4ZKO

Just a reminder….

The 432 MHz Spring Sprint is tonight, from 7-11PM local.

More info here:

http://www.sysadnet .com/vhfsprintrules.htm

From the looks of the Hepburn Tropo forecasts, looks like conditions will probably be flat.

I’ll be on for most of it from EM78pp.

73 & have fun!
Jeff
WA4ZKO

WA4ZKO – 144 Mhz Spring Sprint wrap up/soapbox

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, Radio Communications on April 10, 2009 by WA4ZKO

12 Q’s, 9 grids, 6 states, total score 108.

I did better this time around than last year! The band seemed to be flat, maybe up some to the E and NW.

Worked KA1ZE/3 Stan from Tolland, CT up at his contest site in Pennsylvania (FN01xx) about 420 miles out. This was my farthest contact of the evening.

W9GA Ken in Wisconsin (EN53WE) about 361 miles out.

K4QI with a nice signal from North Carolina, FM06 about 350 miles out.

W8ZN Terry way over in Virgina, FM19bb about 370 miles out.

The continued “silence to the south” is starting to worry me. What has happened to the Tennessee stations? Admittedly I did more “hunt & pounce” this time around, so maybe they were doing the same and we just missed each other. I did spend a lot of time listening to the south and called during a few spells. There used to be several folks routinely active in Tennessee.

The trend of no one on around Lexington and Louisville continues. I think I was the only station on in Kentucky! If others are on the air contesting, I sure didn’t hear them! Kind of glad I didn’t make the Black Mountain run for this one due to weather concerns. With the “silence of the south” continuing, probably best that I stayed in Northern Kentucky.

It’s hard to say for sure if the apparent trend of lower activity is something to worry about. When the solar cycle is low and 6m is only hopping during “easy season” I tend to think a lot of the VHF/UHF weak signal folks pursue other interests and forget about the VHF/UHF activities. Seems like I remember this trend from the 1990’s, but it is worrisome. Today the hobby is also competing against a never ending deluge of new tech/internet “fads” for folks time/interest.