WA4ZKO – 2m Spring Sprint Wrap-Up

Well as expected (and the tropo forecast indicated) I found the band conditions were flat to down on Monday evening.

I would wind up with 8 Q’s, 6 grids, 4 states (KY, IN, OH, TN), and Ontario. Not exactly a barn burner contest, but better than I expected. I was working on some other things in the shack and on HF from around 8-9pm so I probably missed a few more Q’s. Always seems like the first sprint or two are extra tough due to a lot of folks not being back active in “contest/DX mode” yet, not aware of the event, and so forth.

I turned on the rig right around 7pm local. Quickly did some beacon checks to find I could not hear the 144.286 EM86qv beacon which is usually a good indicator of the band conditions into the mountains off to my southeast. On a flat band the beacon’s signal is usually just above the noise floor and inaudible if the band is down much at all which makes it a good indicator for that direction.

I would then quickly find “ol reliable” Bob WA9M in EM79nc (Lawrenceburg, IN) on 144.210 for my first contact, grid, and state of the night.

While listening to the south I could just barely hear KA2KQM a couple times on peaks, but never worked him.  He is way down in EM73 in the mountains of northern Georgia and 286 miles out and some serious terrain between us. I don’t recall hearing him before so maybe we have a new station on down that way, cool!

Then I would stumble across Dennis, N9TZL down in EM78rm. Dennis had mentioned he would be on /portable for the sprint so I was not surprised to hear him on. Problem was his signal was very weak and distorted. He said he was on a backup loop antenna but I still had trouble believing how weak he was. I knew he should of been much stronger. We would spend a few minutes figuring out that his amp was acting up. Amp on = distorted audio and barely moving the s-meter. Amp off = S9+20+ signal and much better audio. Not good when turning your amp OFF puts 30-40 dB on your signal ;-)

I would hear a new (new to me at least) Kentucky station on. Mike, KY4MRG down in EM77 was easy copy at roughly 70 miles out. Mike was busy working someone else and I figured we would cross paths later on, but I never did work him. Outside of K4TO that grid has been pretty dead on V/U weak signal modes for several years now. Was good to hear a new call active down there!

I would then work N4QWZ down in EM66 (TN). Then it would be W8KHP up in Hebron KY (EM79) and KC9ELU in EM79HJ up by Greensburg, IN.

Later I would finally hear Stan KA1ZE/3, but his powerful remote station up in FN01xt (414 miles out) was weaker than normal. I tried calling him a couple times without much luck. I think Stan is running a 17B2 yagi (long boom, 17 element 2m “boomer”) at around 150′ and suspect he may of been beaming away from me. If that 17 el beam is anything like my 19 el 432 beam then it is very sharp in pattern. They give you serious ERP, but moving them 10-15 degrees is often the difference between copy and no copy. Had I caught him looking my way, I can usually work him fairly easily.

As the night went on I would take a break around 8-9pm for a HF net. I would get back on 2m around 9:15pm and work about one more hour of the contest before calling it a night.

In that last hour I would work K8TQK up in EM89 and net control for the 144.252 USB Net on Thursday nights at 8:30pm. Then VE3ZV up in EN92VW would give me the best “DX” contact of the night on a 375 mile path to Ontario. He was barely budging the s-meter and I doubt my 45w was doing any better, so it’s always nice to work a guy that has “good ears.”

Then the final contact of the night would be W9WZJ up on the west side of Indy in EM69TR.

I would hear a couple rovers up around the Chicago area buried in the noise floor but could not get their attention. My shot to the NW is super quiet so I suspect I’m just “out hearing” them. Guess I could get an amp, but I have always prided
myself in all my VHF/UHF contacts being made with 100w or less on a barefoot rig.

On the topic of Rovers…  Looks like maybe another year of rare rovers and where things are silent down in the mountains to the south/southeast. No sign of rovers on except to the NW.  Guess with the economy and gas at nearly $4/gallon, better get used to rovers being scarce.

Here’s the Q, grid, distance wrap-up in order of worked:

WA9M    EM79NC  33 miles
N9TZL   EM78RM  12 miles
N4QWZ   EM66OK  192 miles
W8KHP   EM79PC  30 miles
KC9ELU  EM79HJ  63 miles
K8TQK   EM89JE  88 miles
VE3ZV   EN92VW  375 miles
W9WZJ   EM69TR  118 miles

All in all, not bad at all for the first sprint of the spring and definitely not bad considering band conditions.

Reminder:  The submission deadline for the 2m Sprint logs is April 24th.

WA4ZKO

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