WA4ZKO – 2012 June VHF Contest Wrap-Up

Well the 2012 June VHF Contest was a lot of fun this year. There did not seem to be many “locals” on but there was plenty of action on 6 meters to keep things interesting.

My weekend was full of distractions so it was a lot of short spells of  operating. Family and work kept me away from the radios late Sunday afternoon and evening. I gather I missed another big 6m opening on Sunday evening. Oh well that’s the way it goes anymore.

Saturday afternoon was a lot of fun. Worked the following non-stateside DX on 6m:

NP4A Puerto Rico FK68 (in DX Window)
C6ABB Bahamas FL15 (50.160)
T48K Cuba FL10 (in DX Window)
CO2KK Cuba EL83 (in DX Window)
XE3N Mexico EL60 (50.157)

One of my “tinker” projects this year is to record some of the fun and or more interesting QSO’s. I found that the easiest way is to just use the Signalink interface/soundcard that I usually have wired into the rig’s data port. SSB audio isn’t exactly high fidelity to begin with and the Signalink approach works well enough and saves on additional wiring to tap in the RX/TX audio chains. The Signalink’s frequency response is optimized for the digital modes (1 to 2.5 KHz) so you don’t get full range audio but good enough for this use.

Since CO2KK is probably one of the most famous Cuban hams, I have posted a recording of my contest QSO with him here. As you can tell by the recording, the DX Window was a tad crowded ;-) The impressive part of the contact was that he was only running 3w to a G5RV HF antenna. The afternoon would yield the above DX and several Florida grids on 6m.

Saturday evening would be mostly locals with some eskip slowly building into Colorado and Wyoming around 2200-2300z. Lot of the usual DM78 DM79 6m folks went into the logs. Around 6pm I worked W0ETT /rover in DN53 for a fairly rare grid square. I tried to make it a point to thank each rover I worked this contest. With gas in the $3-4/gallon range you know it costs them a good chunk of $ in fuel alone to go running around activating all those grids.

Later Saturday evening I would get some 6m eskip to VE2 land around 8pm. Around 9:30pm I would work W9RM in slightly uncommon but not rare grid of  DM58. I would then run across the AA4ZZ crew in EM96 (N. Carolina) and work them on groundwave. Then I would have a nice chat with local & new 6m op Lonnie KI4WEF. After that I would call it a day. Don’t know if I missed much later that evening or not.

I would start Sunday morning by trying to get some activity going on the higher bands and would find both 2m and 432 fairly quiet. I would work Mike KY4MRG down near Richmond/Lancaster on 2m. Shortly after that 6m opened up to the MN, WI, and VE4 areas. VE4TV in EN19 would make a nice Canadian grid for the logs.

By around 10am Sunday morning the band would shift around with North and South Dakota and even some IA grids showing up on 6m. EN42 (NE Iowa) got my attention as that was starting to get “short” so I kept an eye on 2m for signs of 2m eskip but no sign of it. This rather wide opening to 0-land would hold till roughly 11am when 6 meters began to shift to the west back into the Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming areas.

Around 1pm Sunday afternoon I would work Larry N0LL out in EM09 Kansas. He was one of my first 6m contacts and as a fellow hunter/farmer I always enjoy talking with Larry. Shortly after that I would run across the K9MRI/4 EM87 Grid Expedition and wind up having a nice and informative chat with Don WA9KRT who was running the 432 station here.

There had been mention of them going back down there for the July or Sept VHF Contest, but it sounds like this will be it for this year. I suspect the decline in 2m plus activity down that way and nearly $4/gallon gas does not help promote such operations. That said, big hat tip for them and all the /portable and /rover operations this year. Don’t take them for granted!

By about 2pm Sunday afternoon I would have added some more CO/WY and a OK station/grid to the logs. I would also add W3DHJ /rover in semi-rare CO grid DM77 to the logs around 2pm. Shortly after that I had some other commitments come up and that would be about it for Sunday. I gather there was a very nice 6m opening to the Pacific Northwest and other areas that evening, but I missed it. Oh well, I had plenty of fun as is.

I gather some of the northern tier states got some 2m eskip Sunday night!

My final tally would be 87 QSOs, 52 grids, 18 states, and 5 DXCC countries on 6 meters. The 2m/432 side was way down (guess everyone was focusing on 6 meters, grin) with 5 QSOs, 5 grids, and 3 states on 2m. Only 2 QSOs, 2 grids (EM87 & EM96), and 2 states (KY & NC) on 432. So 94 QSOs for a claimed score of 5,664. About half what I did last year but not bad for a few hours of total operating.

Now looking forward to the July VHF Contest which is probably my favorite VHF contest. Till then enjoy the nice propagation and let us hope the sun cranks up enough we might see some F2 this fall.

WA4ZKO

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