The Jr Senator from Kentucky Schools the Senate

Posted in Jeff's Take, Kentucky, Politics with tags , on May 21, 2013 by WA4ZKO

Lately I’ve tried to refrain from politics on here, but this is hard to describe as anything but a home run by Senator Rand Paul.

For the record I’m not saying what Apple is doing is great, but it is legal. You will also notice that execs from the likes of GE, Facebook, and Google were not dragged up there. Have you paid attention to the news of late regarding how much taxes they avoid? Interesting eh?

and there is more…

It’s about  time someone called the Congress out on their hypocrisy and brain numbed populism. It’s no wonder these jackwagons have the popularity numbers that barely cover their close friends and family.

Admittedly being from Kentucky I’m biased, but Senator Paul….you rock! Judging by some other comments on this speech, I’m not alone.

Needless to say the “elites” (in both parties) will not be happy with Mr. Paul on this one. Needless to say Senator Levin wasn’t too happy that a Junior Senator from Kentucky rained on his parade.



WA4ZKO 2013 432 Spring Sprint Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags on April 26, 2013 by WA4ZKO

Well I never expect this Sprint to have much activity in this area, but I can usually work a few locals. This time around it was a bust. Zero QSO’s and 0 grids. One very dead sounding band. Thankfully I semi-planned for it to be “slow” and had several other projects to work on while monitoring things.

Didn’t hear any sign of local activity on the band. I was in and out of the radio room at times, so maybe I missed someone. I know my radio and antennas are working as I heard Jimmy W4ZRZ (EM63) very faint from down in Alabama.

Oh well, log wise a bust, but project wise I got a couple other things done. Let’s hope the 6m Sprint brings more activity and some eskip if we are lucky ;-)

Don’t forget the big June VHF/UHF Contest is going to be here before we know it.

NOTE: I will not be on for the 902+ Sprint. Too far out to tell for sure, but I plan on being on for the 6m Spring Sprint.

Here are some more upcoming VHF/UHF Contests:

May 4, 2013:
6am-1pm local
Microwave/902+ MHz Spring Sprint

May 11-12, 2013:
2300-0300 UTC
50 MHz Spring Sprint

June 8-10, 2013:


WA4ZKO 2013 2m Spring Sprint Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , on April 14, 2013 by WA4ZKO

Well the 1st Spring Sprint is traditionally slim pickin’s at best around here, but this one was a bit better than expected. I was active for maybe 2 hours max with a couple breaks and distractions.

Final tally was 9 Qs, 7 grids, 4 states (IN, KY, OH, TN) for a normal score of 63. Best contact of the night looks too be  K8GDT up near Cleveland OH in EN91BF at 233 miles.

Don’t know what the “distance scoring” score would be nor do I really care. IMHO the distance scoring stuff was probably well intended, but I feel it is unnecessary and does nothing to even the playing ground. It just creates additional headaches for folks. Heck I’m like a lot of folks and I don’t even bother with submitting logs for the Spring Sprints.

I think we would be far better off relaxing the VHF+ contesting rules and getting back to a more “get on the air, work some grids, just have some fun, and who really cares who wins or not” approaches versus all this worry wart nonsense that is probably doing far more harm than good. Lot of this stuff reminds me of politicians who seem to think they can make life “fair” and/or legislate evil out existence.

Hey if they really want to make things fair, then it can’t just be distance scoring. I would suggest distance  combined with at least ERP factored in. Really Jeff? Yeah…which of the following is a more commendable QSO/contact:

1.  A “big gun” working say 500 miles on 2 meters with a big multi-yagi array and a kilowatt amp.

2. A “little gun” working the same distance  with a single yagi and 100 watts.

Point made eh?  Of course where does this stuff stop?   Distance, ERP, miles, AHAAT, etc etc?  ’nuff said.

Moving on….

Was nice to hear KY4MRG on in KY along with N9TZL in Corinth. Great to hear some activity out of TN (KE4TWI) although it’s still awfully quiet down that way in comparison to years past.

There seemed to be some activity down in the Atlanta area. Around 9pm I heard someone on 144.200 give a grid of EM74TM (northern GA), but I could never get a full call or get their attention. I would heard a couple folks down that way with the same result. Pretty sure I could of added 2-3 more nice contacts to the logs once they beamed north. Hint to the guys down that way…look north some more, grin.

Well here are my logs for that evening:

K8TQK   EM89JE  OH  144.195 USB  89 miles
K8GDT   EN91BF  OH  144.210 USB  233 miles
WA9M    EM79NC  IN  144.205 USB  33 miles
N9TED   EM68VH  IN  144.210 USB  85 miles
KY4MRG  EM77RP  KY  144.205 USB  70 miles
N9TZL   EM78RM  KY  144.215 USB  13 miles
K8DZ    EM79VN  OH  144.210 USB  69 miles
K9LQZ   EM68WO  IN  144.200 USB  77 miles
KE4TWI  EM66VC  TN  144.207 USB  194 miles

Not a long list, but frankly I was only expecting about half that.

Remember the 222 MHz Spring Sprint is Tuesday April 16th. Then the 432 MHz Spring Sprint will be Wednesday April 24th.

Barring any schedule changes I should be on for the 432 Sprint.


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 432 Sprint Wrap-up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags on October 4, 2012 by WA4ZKO

Well I didn’t go into this one expecting a lot of activity and the band was flat. Not a trace of any beacons to the north or south. I didn’t check the beacon subband later, so maybe band conditions improved later. Still it turned out to be a decent little sprint compared to what I expected.

I didn’t get started till around 7:20pm. My first contact of the night was WA9M in Lawrenceburg, IN. Then I managed to get Bob K8TQK up in EM89JE off the back of his beam which confirmed the rig & antenna were working fine.

Next I would spend some time working KG4WLX 187 miles to the south down by Knoxville, TN in EM86AA. It was a weak path but we managed a legit contact with a few tries to catch things on QSB peaks. This would be the best DX of the night. Also great to hear some activity out of the Knoxville area for a very refreshing change. There was another KE4 station down there, but I just couldn’t pull out a full call. I’m pretty sure I heard K1KC down in Georgia once, but not enough there to even attempt a QSO.

Ended up with the following 4 QSOs:

WA9M EM79NC IN 33 miles
K8TQK EM89JE OH 88 miles
KG4WLX EM86AA TN 187 miles
K9MRI EN70IU IN 154 miles

No sign of anyone else on in Kentucky. Not a peep out of the SW OH/Cincy area. Still a bit jazzed to hear some east TN activity though.

All in all not bad for a 432 Sprint in this area on a flat band. Actually just 1 QSO short of my 2m Fall Sprint log. 4 QSOs, 4 grids, 3 states, and about 1 hour total operating time for a barn burner score of 16 points.

Well that pretty much wraps up the 2012 VHF+ Weak Signal contest season. I haven’t compared my #’s to 2011, but it’s been pretty good year. It was a fun year with several nice surprises for those that were active and patient enough. I think my only regret was not being on the air more.


WA4ZKO 2m Sprint Wrap-up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , on September 24, 2012 by WA4ZKO

Well I was on the air a lot more for this one than I was during the September contest. As expected things were pretty slow. The band seemed to be pretty flat, but conditions seemed to improve just a bit later in the evening.

Was good to hear locals Bob WA9M (Lawrenceburg, IN) and Allen W8KHP (Hebron, KY) on. Semi-local Bob K8TQK up in EM89 was very active, but I think he struggled to stir up much activity too.

I heard no rovers active in any direction. Suspect the near $4/gallon gas is not helping ;-) I saw a photo in the September 19th 144.205 Newsletter from where K1DS/r took a shot of a gas pump showing his $100.90 fill-up total during his rover operation…speaks volumes.

I would wind up with 5 QSO’s, 4 grids, and 4 states:

Claimed score will be:  20 points

Most notable contact of the night was the last…the 404 miles to Dave K1RZ in Damascus, Maryland. Dave was right at my noise floor and I doubt my SNR was any better on his end. We both dug into the noise and made the contact happen. Good ears Dave!


WA4ZKO Sept VHF Contest Wrap-up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , on September 12, 2012 by WA4ZKO

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.