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.



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