Archive for the Ham Radio Category

WA4ZKO – 2015 2m Fall Sprint Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF with tags , , , , on September 22, 2015 by WA4ZKO

I didn’t get started till around 7:30pm and operated off and on as I had other projects going on. Probably spent a total of 2.5 hours on the air. Did a a mix of hunt-n-pounce operating and some extended CQing that gave the rotor a good workout.  Activity was about what I expected for a Fall Sprint, slim pickins ;-)

Conditions seemed flat in most directions, but there was some real nice enhancement off to the south into N. Georgia where I worked K4CKS in EM74 and KX4R in EM73 at 313 and 326 miles respectively. Best DX of the night was W3IP over in Virginia by Mt. Weather (FM19) at 368 miles. W3IP was weak here, but the NW Georgia stations were both booming in nicely. Shame there wasn’t more folks on the air down in northern GA/AL areas…used to be a bunch of guys active down there. As usual, not a peep heard out of Tennessee and I think Dennis (N9TZL) and myself where the only ones on in Kentucky.

144 MHz Fall Sprint Results
Call:  WA4ZKO
Class: Single Op
Operating Time:  2.5 hrs
QSOs:  9
Grids: 8
Score: 72
States:  6  (KY, OH, IN, VA, MI, GA)
NOTES:  120w to 10 elements at 58′

Oh well, I had fun and these Sprints seem to fit my limited contesting time better than the big weekend contests. I do wish they’d push these Sprints back into late October/November. That way the rovers might get to take in some Fall scenery while out rovering and help justify the time and gas.

Still a big ? on my availability for the 222 MHz Sprint. I’ve contemplated going down to EM86NV (Black Mountain) if my schedule works out. Problem is with so little activity (even on 2m) out of the south anymore, it is tough for me to get motivated enough to make that 4 hour 1-way drive into the middle of nowhere ;-)

I “might” go out hilltop portable in EM78PQ on the 29th and try working the 222 sprint with a modest setup (25w, 4 el yagi) as kind of a transverter test. If I do that it’ll probably just be a short 7pm till 8:30-9pm deal.

So far my schedule is looking good for the 432 Sprint on October 7th so I’m planning to be on for that one.

Well here are the remaining Fall Sprints and dates:

220 MHz    7 pm to 11 pm local time on Tuesday September 29
432 MHz    7 pm to 11 pm local time on Wednesday October 7
902 MHz +  7 am to 2 pm local time on Saturday October 10

More details and full rules can be found here.


WA4ZKO – June VHF Contest Wrapup

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF with tags , on June 17, 2014 by WA4ZKO

Well this contest weekend was a good mix of radio fun and family. I really didn’t operate as much as intended, but still managed to get in about 2 to 3 hours total time in.

Total of 52 QSOs. The band breakdown:

6m    30     22      13
2m    22     12       7
432    7      6       6

With everything else going on, my operating was kind of sporadic at best. Basically come in, check the bands, work a few folks, then leave the radio radio room to spend time with family and work on some outside projects.

NOTE:  The following is just my observations from my sporadic operating time and I’m sure I missed a few openings.

Saturday afternoon was pretty much work the local/semi-locals and that was it. 6 meters just didn’t open up any till the evening so it was a mostly 2m/432 day. I gather there was some eskip in the northeast and west coast areas, but it just wasn’t getting into this area. Around 8pm 6m would open a bit to Texas. Around 11pm I would hear a 6 and 7-land station trying to come up out of the noise floor, but the band faded out about that time.

I did have some fun on 2m/432 Saturday night so it was far from a bust. I worked well into VA, PA and WI. I worked the W3SO folks over in FN00 (PA), the W4IY folks in FM08 (VA), NW IL, and several southern WI folks. Best 2m DX was probably N9DG in EN53 at 423 miles. Best 432 DX was W4IY in FM08 at 298 miles.

Sunday morning just before lunch I clearly came in on the end of a decent 6m opening to the west. 6m was open to TX, OK, KS, and CO with big signals, but I had to QRT for lunch and family. I returned around 1:30pm to find just the 0-land folks still in there and a Florida grid or two coming in. I checked the DX window and found a very lonely ZF35EJ (Cayman Islands) in there about S5 and worked him on first call. I would then work the only rover I heard all weekend, AL1VE /R out in DM99.

I never heard Dan K9ZF /R on this weekend. I would later see where he was sick Saturday.

Don’t know much about how the rest of Sunday went as I was occupied with family and outside projects for the rest of the afternoon/evening.

Score wise? Some have noticed that I have not submitted a log for any of this years contests. I’m not planning on entering this one either. I’ll let others collect KY band certificates, my file cabinet is getting full of them, grin. Even if I was retired and had all kinds of time to devote to aggressive contesting, I doubt one could win the whole thing from this area with the low local/semi-local activity levels we have now.

Are you getting out of VHF/UHF Contesting Jeff?

Nope. There are several things at play here. I just really don’t care to compete or enter these things anymore. It’s mostly that I simply don’t have the time to devote to contesting like I used to and the rule/paperwork headaches just aren’t worth fooling with anymore.

I can now operate as I wish without worry of running afoul of some rule on this or that. As several others have commented, the “rule/contest worrywarts” tried to fix things that worked fine for decades and managed to do far more harm than good. Now they set around wondering why so many of the reliably active “old hats” are either getting out of contesting or (like myself) just don’t bother with turning in logs.

Maybe it’s the “grumpy old man” kicking in, but hobby stuff should be fun. I can get all the paperwork, short reporting deadlines, and rule compliance headaches I need by simply going to the day job.


2013 CQ WW VHF Log Reminder

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF with tags on August 3, 2013 by WA4ZKO

NOTES:  Not to be the “cranky old guy” but something tells me if they keep shortening things up a lot more VHF ops are just not going to fool with turning their logs in. While admittedly this contest is not a big deal with most logging software, they seem to forget that many VHF ops are not retired, do well to get on the air for a few hours, and juggling many other priorities ;-)

I have heard more than one VHF op comment that they are getting “awfully demanding” for folks that take months to get the results out and often a year before awards are sent out. It’s hard to argue that one. Oh well, IMHO it’s like so many things in our hobby anymore…we often seem to be going out of our way to shoot ourselves in the foot with actions not consistent with goals ;-)

SOURCE FOR BELOW:  John K9JK on behalf of Steve N8BJQ

2013 CQ WW VHF Log Deadline Reminder

Posting on behalf of Steve Bolia, N8BJQ, Contest Director.

Remember that the deadline for submitting logs to be eligible for award consideration in this year’s CQ WW VHF Contest is this coming Sunday, August 4th at 2359 UTC. From the rules: Logs received after the deadline will be listed in the results but will not be eligible for an award. Extensions may be granted by the director for a valid reason if you contact the director before the deadline.

This is significantly earlier than the September 1st deadline of recent years but at least we can be thankful that the deadline was not shortened to the FIVE days after the end of the contest deadline of the CQ HF contests.

More than 700 call signs are presently on the Logs Received list so many of you have already submitted but Steve has room for many more logs!

Steve is also looking for input for the results article that he will be writing so he’d appreciate whatever you might have. Please contact Steve via e-mail: sbolia  AT   woh. rr. com

Thanks for reading.

73 & Good VHF,
John, K9JK

Upcoming 2013 ARRL VHF Contest and Notes

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF with tags , on January 2, 2013 by WA4ZKO

Happy New Year to everyone. Guess it’s time to get back into the swing of  things.

The ARRL January VHF Contest is coming up on January 19th-21st. More details and rules here:

Unless something changes, I will be working that weekend and unable to participate in this one. I wish everyone good luck and maybe the weather will cooperate enough that a good crew of rovers will be out and about.

6 meters has been hopping some over the last few days. Maybe the eskip will carry over into the contest. Unlikely considering how late in the month it is, but you never know with 6 meters.

I’ll try to get an updated VHF/UHF Calendar posted in the coming days.

I think the new “FM” only category kicks in with this one. I have mixed feelings on this, but probably wise to keep an ear on the common simplex frequencies and see if you hear anyone. Remember (best I can tell) 146.520 is off limits to contesting. I tried to prod the VHF Contesting list folks into coming up with a list of FM “hangout” freqs by band. That quickly turned into a big mess of excuses and arguments and I don’t think much came of it. The ARRL hasn’t exactly helped either so I don’t expect to see much out of it, especially in this area.

Some updated SWPC forecasts and data are out on the current solar cycle. Even though the “bar” for Cycle 24 wasn’t very high to begin with, it is starting to look like it will likely fail to even reach the smoothed SSN 90 prediction. We are now far enough into this cycle that the data clearly shows this cycle is under performing:

Granted past history shows that the ol’ sun can always surprise us. Time will tell, but the recent data is what it is. Don’t fret as there has been some decent propagation on 10 and 15 meters.


WA4ZKO – 2011 ARRL Sept VHF Contest wrap up

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF on September 24, 2011 by WA4ZKO

Yeah I’m a little late, but since I’m stuck inside working today I figured I’d catch up on some VHF+ postings and calendar updates. I’ll try to get a wrap up for the June/July contests posted when I have time to go through the logs and notes.

Not much to report on the 2011 Sept VHF Contest. My results 0 QSO’s, 0 Grids (duh), and 0 points. Admittedly I was distracted working on other projects Saturday and gave up on Sunday as I was feeling ill. Saturday the bands were dead and I frankly did not hear any locals on and no sign of any Rovers. I was in the shop most of the time and within ear shot of the receiver. When outside I came in several times to check the bands and frequently gave the rotor a serious workout.

There was no sign of a 6m opening, but that was not surprising given the time of year. I gather activity levels were somewhat better in the northeast and around the great lakes.

After the great conditions we had during late spring and early to mid-summer…I’m really not complaining. It was a great year for VHF DXing, one of the best in several years. With the improving solar conditions I suspect 2012 will be even better.

Lately the SSN and Flux are starting to get up there pretty high at times. I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see some weak/brief 6m DX this fall. So I wouldn’t pack the 6m rig away just yet. Even if this fall disappoints, I’d venture to say Fall 2012 will get interesting ;-)

The ARRL sent me some wallpaper this week where I won Kentucky in the Single Op/Low Power class on 6, 2, & 432 during the 2010 Sept VHF Contest. I sort of had to chuckle at it. Looking at my 2010 logs for that contest I see 22 QSOs and a score of 546. Something tells me I might of been the only KY station on if I won the state on all 3 bands with that meager score ;-)

There was an interesting paragraph in the ARRL cover letter that came with my Sept 2010 Award. It pertains to the 2010 contest, so keep that in mind. I’ll quote the paragraph below:

In general, band conditions were not all that great with the exception of some nice “tropo” in the Midwest. As it turned out, activity decreased in virtually all operating categories with 488 log submissions this year versus 595 in 2009. Most importantly, the number of Rover logs was down significantly with a major impact on the number of contacts and grids available to all operators.

IMHO 2009’s Sept VHF Contest was a pretty good one, at least compared to recent years. Seems like the Sept VHF Contest is on a declining trend lately. That said, VHF activity during the June and July contests seems to be doing really well.

I’ve always felt that they should move the ARRL Sept VHF Contest up into early August for a much better shot at 6m openings. Then put the ARRL UHF contest in September. I suspect many ops just get out of the “mood” for VHF DXing by the time mid-September arrives and the number of 6m openings have faded away.

Rover activity levels? Well we’ve all noticed the big decline in rovers around here. I’ve worked a few out west lately on 6m openings, but that’s about it if Dan (K9ZF) is not out locally in IN/KY for us. I honestly can’t recall the last time I worked a rover down on the VA or E. TN mountains. Years ago there would be several of them out and about down that way. I will occasionally hear a rover up around the Chicago area, but never have any luck getting their attention. I don’t think they listen this way much ;-)

Reasons for the Rover decline? The obvious guess would be the economy and gas prices. Best I can tell (looking at my work mileage logs) gas prices were just under $3/gallon in Sept 2010. This year gas prices were dancing up against $4/gallon. Guess we’ll have to wait till the economy turns around and we get a clue about an energy policy before we can expect the Rover levels of the 1990’s/early 2000’s to return.

Don’t forget to try and work the Fall Sprints. I missed reminding folks of the 2m spring last week…oops. I’ll get an updated calendar and some reminders out in the coming days/weeks.

I’m in the midst of working on the tower and the VHF/UHF array is impacted by the work. As such, I’m off the air for a few weeks. I hope to be back up and running for the 6m Fall Sprint. Work schedule and weather will determine if that happens on schedule or not ;-)


Updated – 2010 VHF+ Contest Calendar

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, VHF-UHF with tags , on September 17, 2010 by WA4ZKO

September 18-19, 2010:
ARRL 10 GHz & Up Contest

September 20, 2010:
144 MHz Fall Sprint (SVHFS)
Full rules (PDF file)

September 28, 2010:
222 MHz Fall Sprint (SVHFS)
Full rules (PDF file)

October 2-3, 2010:
ARRL EME Contest

October 6, 2010:
432 MHz Fall Sprint (SVHFS)
Full rules (PDF file)

October 16, 2010:
902 MHz & up Fall Sprint (SVHFS)
Full rules (PDF file)

October 30, 2010:
50 MHz Fall Sprint (SVHFS)
Full rules (PDF file)

October 30-31, 2010:
ARRL EME Contest

***** 2011 *****

January 22-24, 2011:
ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes


2010 Spring VHF/UHF Sprints

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio with tags , on April 9, 2010 by WA4ZKO

I think these dates are now official?

The 2010 Spring VHF/UHF Sprints:

144 MHz  – Mon April 12, 7-11 PM local
222 MHz    – Tue April 20, 7-11 PM local
432 MHz    – Wed April 28, 7-11 PM local
902+ MHz – Sat May 1, 6 AM – 1 PM local
50 MHz      – Sat May 8, 6-10 pm local

I don’t plan on working any of these sprints due to a busy work/travel schedule this spring and other priorities for my limited hobby time anymore.  I don’t think they’ll ever get wise, announce/publicize them properly, and schedule the 6m Sprint for a better date (hint, late May/early June).

I’d be tempted to operate portable in the 432 Sprint, but the activity levels in these has dropped off so much in recent years it’s just not worth the hassle IMHO.