Well as planned I didn’t have much time for contesting this weekend till late Sunday afternoon and evening. Several times during the afternoon I would take a break from being outside in some great weather to check the bands and find mostly silence.
Around 7:30pm I checked the band and found a very weak 6 meter opening to Florida. Signal levels were low and it sounded like stations a couple grids to the north were having better luck so I suspect EM78 was on the south edge of the opening.
Around 8:27pm I would come in and work N4BP in EL96 on weak 6m eskip. Then the Magic Band would toss me a very pleasant surprise. I’m slowly tuning up the band from where I had been camping out (50.130) and suddenly I stumble across PY2XB in GG66 (Brazil) CQ’ing at 50.137. I peak him on the beam as he works a 8-lander. I’m questioning if this is early F2, but tell myself the solar #s just don’t add up to F2. I would work PY2XB at 8:31pm and notice a familiar sounding light distortion on his audio. Signals were fairly strong, I gave him a pretty honest 56-57 report and got a 55 in return. I figured this path was the result of an e-skip hop south into the north end of a TEP path. Later analysis of other contacts would match up to that theory.
Nothing else out of S. America was noted here, but I could hear one end of 8’s and 3’s working that path. I suspect EM78 was right on the SW edge of the path. Interesting note? I did not hear anything out of Caribbean area…there had to be a fairly hot e-skip path. In hindsight, I should of checked for any Caribbean beacons. I also think this opening caught a lot of folks by total surprise as the pileups seemed light and slow to build up.
I would go on to work EL98 (KD2JA), EM85 (W4NH on SoCo Bald Mtn), and EN80 (N8ZM) and call it a night. No local activity noted, but I was only active for maybe 30 minutes max. Total of 5 QSO’s, 5 grids, 1 DXCC, and 3 states (FL, OH, NC) for a claimed score of 25 points. Hey…it’s better than nothing at all and working Brazil on 6m was a nice little surprise ;-)
Unless you are into EME or the Microwaves, the next VHF contest will be the 2m Fall Sprint next Monday evening September 17th (7pm-11pm local):
At this time, I plan to be active for the 2m and 432 Fall Sprints. While they are rarely hotbeds of activity around here they can get interesting if tropo kicks in.