Archive for August, 2012

WA4ZKO 50 MHz Sprint Wrap-up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2012 by WA4ZKO

Well this one worked out about like I expected it would. 6 meters never really opened up. There seemed to be some weak signals coming in on meteor or FAI scatter at times. The band was acting like it wanted to open up to New England a couple times with K1WHS (Maine) popping in at times. I would also hear WD0T out in South Dakota coming in on what sounded like weak scatter, but I could never get his attention. I ran some 6m Olivia 16/500 at times on 50.29075 USB dial (1.5k waterfall) but had no luck stirring anything up there.

Very few locals were heard and I suspect the odd/new date and fantastic weather here had a lot to do with that. While I understand what they were trying to do with the date change, but that pretty much kills the idea of it being a “Fall” sprint. Personally I would rather see the 50 MHz Fall Sprint  pushed back further into November or December. That said, I’m sure it’s mission impossible to make everyone happy.

Admittedly the weather was so nice I wasn’t in the shack much myself except for a few breaks from working outside. I managed to miss working KI4WEF (local) and maybe a couple others. I would work N9TZL hilltop portable in EM78RM, K1WHS in FN43, then wrap things up with K8TQK in EM89 on groundwave would be my final contact.

So my finally tally is 3 QSO’s, 3 grids, 3 states.

Reminder, the next big VHF contest is the ARRL September VHF Contest on September 8-10th. Be here before you know it, so get your station ready for the last big VHF contest of the summer.



50 MHz Fall Sprint is Saturday evening

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , on August 10, 2012 by WA4ZKO

I bet this one snuck up on you like it did me ;-)

A quick reminder that the 50 MHz Fall Sprint is this Saturday. It’s a nice short duration contest with simple rules. Basically get on the air, make some contacts, work some grids, use spotting networks all you want, and just have some fun type of contest.

Begins Saturday August 11, 2012 at 4pm EDT and ends 8pm (EDT).

Full rules here:

This particular Fall Sprint used to be held at the end of October, but they have moved it up this year. Looks like they wanted to get a better shot at a late season e-skip opening.

I will try to be on for this one from EM78pp. We are looking at some very nice weather this weekend (esp for August) so I had other plans. I think I can multi-tast it in between other projects and be active for most of the contest.



Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags on August 6, 2012 by WA4ZKO

Well as expected the “pickings” were pretty slim for the ARRL UHF Contest this weekend. Anemic is probably the better word! I only worked a few hours of it on Saturday evening. I had some outside work to get done so I would work for a bit, then come in and work the 432 band as I cooled off.

It was hot, humid, and the band seemed to be either flat or down a bit. I could not hear any sign of the WD4GSM EM86 432 beacon and his 2m beacon seemed to be way down into the noise when I checked around 7pm or so.

There just wasn’t hardly anyone on. Not even the usual handful of folks over in southern Ohio (EM79, EM89, etc). No sign of any rovers in any direction. Maybe Sunday was better, but Saturday evening was pretty dead.

Suspect that nasty 30-40 cent jump in gas prices probably gave more than few potential rover/portable ops reason to say “I’ll wait till the September contest.” There were also some pretty big thunderstorm systems up in central/northern Ohio and Indiana. Aiming north I could hear them on 432 so you know those were pretty active storm cells! This composite radar shot from 8pm shows the storm locations and coverage:

Suspect those storms explained the “silence” to the north that evening.

I got started around 6:20pm and was literally right in the middle of setting up my log file for the contest when I heard Dennis N9TZL calling CQ on 432.1 USB. He was operating portable down in EM78RM in the south end of the county. We worked with ease (better eh) and it turned out I was his first contact. He would email me this evening and tell me I was his only contact. That kind of tells you how slim the pickings were.

Around 7:25pm I would work W9RM up in EN52 (Hampshire, IL). With Keith at about 311 miles out that at least reassured me that my system was working well. I think he runs about 200w to a 17 dBd yagi at 50′ and I was only running my usual 45w to a 15 dBd yagi at 55 feet. Nice contact for the conditions, but that would be it for the evening.

No joy with running on the Olivia mode later in the evening. I had a rough schedule with W2JCN in FN21WR, but considering I never heard a peep out of big gun K2LIM….we didn’t have much of a chance.

Later in the evening the band seemed to improve just a bit and I could hear the EM86 2m beacons and the new one down by Knoxville (EM76) pretty good. Here is a MP3 recording of the WD4GSM beacon on 144.2852, note the fade/flutter on the signal during the first 10-12 second “key down” tone:

So wrapping things up, the final tally my final tally would be 2 QSOs, 2 grids, 2 states (KY & IL), all on 432. Since I basically announced a Olivia UHF digital sched’ and was using the dxclusters some I will be entering this one in the MultiOp category. Claimed score is a whopping 12 points.

I will not complain much, I didn’t go into this one expecting much. It has been a pretty decent spring/summer VHF DX season. I have worked a few new grids and had some fun. In the end that is all that really matters. I only wish I had more time for it, but would rather work a few hours of a contest than none at all!

Reminder the next big VHF contest will be the ARRL September VHF Contest on September 8-10th. If we get some of that late summer tropo, that can be a real fun contest.



Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags on August 6, 2012 by WA4ZKO

Sorry for this late one, but work has had me just a tad busy ;-)

Well work had my radio time very limited for the weekend of the 2012 CQ WW VHF Contest, but somehow I still managed to pull off a pretty decent log.

Saturday afternoon I only got in about 15 minutes of operating. But with 6 meters open right then I quickly added 7 stations on 6m to the log:

NR5M   EM10  Texas
W9RM   DM58  Colorado – Keith out at his CO QTH.
KF0UR  DM78  Colorado
K6MYC  DM07  California on first call ;-)
K0NR   DM78  Colorado – Bill up at his cabin.
K5ZG   DM88  Colorado
W7QQ/R DM79  Colorado

If the K6MYC call sounds familiar, it struck me the same. Turns out that was Mike Staal of M2 Antenna and KLM Electronics fame:

To make that QSO even nicer…DM07 is a new grid for me. Guess I better get that QSL request out in the mail soon. Also a good lesson on why just sticking your head in the shack for just a few minutes may be well worth it.

It would later that evening before I got back in the shack. I would find 6 meters open to AZ, ND, UT, and NV for a bit before the opening died out. Pretty sure I missed a pile of 6m contacts earlier, but oh well. From that point on I would start focusing on 2m more and add KY, OH, IN, PA, and FN03 Canada to the 2m logs before calling it a night.

Sunday I would get on the air for about 20 minutes just before 2pm before work would distract me for the rest of the day. 6 meters was open good to Florida then and I even heard local KI4WEF working someone right after I did.

My final tally would be 28 QSOs. On 6 meters 20 QSOs, 19 grids, 9 states. On 2 meters 8 QSOs, 8 grids, and 5 states plus Ontario Canada. Will enter as Single Operator – Low Power and claim a score of 756. Not too shabby for around 3 hours total operating time and I managed to have some fun and get some work done too. Would prefer to of had more time in the shack, but hey some operating time is better than none ;-)