Archive for 6m spring sprint

WA4ZKO – 6m Spring Sprint Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags , on May 29, 2013 by WA4ZKO

Well I finally had time to go over my logs and do a final tally of my 50 MHz Spring Sprint results. Sorry, the schedule has been a tad crazy here with work, family, and other hobby projects.

When all is said and done, about 3 Hrs of operating yielded:

QSOs:  79
GRIDS:  29
DXCC:  2 (USA and Canada)
MISC:  3 Canandian Provinces

Traditional score:  2291

Distance based score:  Don’t know and don’t really care.

Conditions were good this time around. Due to it being a bit early in the spring/summer e-skip season, the 6m Spring Sprint is usually pretty slow. If you are lucky you might get a brief opening to Texas or Florida. There was nothing slow about it this year! The band opened to the northeast and remained open for pretty much the entire Sprint. I think this caught a lot of folks off guard.

I came in the radio room around 2315z and found the FN4x grids coming in and the band either quickly built from there or word got out that there was a nice opening in progress. Before long I was working grids that were getting “short” for 6 meter e-skip. I would check 2m SSB from time to time but never heard any sign that 2 meters was open.

I did not notice any of the locals around Cincinnati on the air. Dennis N9TZL and Lonnie KI4WEF were both on in EM78 and somehow we all 3 managed not to work each other ;-) Gives you an idea of how busy the bands were. I would camp out with the beam aimed at about 70 degrees for the evening and get some good runs of contacts.

The bottom of the band was a zoo of folks talking and calling over top of each other (hey guys…SPREAD OUT when the band is open!), so I did my usual “go high” approach. I did most of my “camping on a freq and CQ’ing” at 50.210 and 50.243 USB. This approach worked well and garnered many comments from folks about the lower QRM levels “up here.” I made most of my contacts this way and have found this technique to be effective once the band gets busy.

This kept me busy at times working one QSO after another into grids that are not exactly common on 6m here (eg FM17-19, FN10, FN20, and FM29) was a blast. Judging by my mailbox lately, seems others were happy to get EM78. Several of these cards had comments along the lines that they have been needing EM78 for years.

Here is a quick grid map of what I worked:

A very nice, fun, and BUSY 6m Spring Sprint. I had a blast! Let us hope this bodes well for conditions in June/July!

Don’t forget that the ARRL June VHF Contest will be here very soon. Due to a packed June schedule (work, personal, and hobby wise) I will not be doing my usual compiled “plans listing.”

I should be in EM78 for the June VHF Contest, but suspect I’ll only be able to work a portion of it and probably just Saturday evening.

That’s the wrap for now.


WA4ZKO – 6m Spring Sprint Wrap-Up

Posted in Contesting, VHF-UHF with tags on May 25, 2012 by WA4ZKO
Well the hopes for some good 6m propagation didn’t pan out Saturday evening and the bands were pretty dead in EM78. Sunday afternoon had some light 6m e-skip but a day late for the sprint. That is just the way the 6m propagation game goes this early in the e-skip season. Always wished they would have the 6m Spring Sprint later in the month.7pm rolled around and I checked the beacon sub-band and found nothing there to get excited over. Tuned the band a bit finding nada. Well I did hear KG8FE up in Ohio calling CQ and I tried trice to answer him without a response back. So I went to work on other projects outside while stopping in to check the band from time to time.With the sun about set, I decided to come back in around 8:30 PM’ish to see if things had picked up any. I also wanted to work a portion of the Armed Forces Day Crossband Military-Amateur Communications Test that was going on. Not much to be found on 6m, but found a local (KI4WEF, Lonnie) calling CQ on 50.125. We moved up to 50.145 and had a good QSO as he checked his rig and new 6m antenna out.After chatting with him for a bit I took a break to go see if I could hear the Navy/Marine Corp MARS station (callsign NBL) up at the sub base in Connecticut (Groton/New London) on HF. I found their 7 MHz signal swamped pretty badly with QRM, but the 14 MHz signal was pretty good. I fired up Fldigi and copied them sending the AFD Secretary of Defense (SecDef) message on 14.393 USB in MT63-1k mode. Couple screencaps of this can be found below:

NBL preparing to send:

NBL sending:

Shortly after 9 PM I finally got halfway serious about working the contest and proceeded to give the rotor a good workout trying to snag some contacts. With a dead band and very few locals to be found it was tough to stir anything up.

Just before 10pm K9LQZ over in Indiana would answer one of my CQs and we had a nice QSO. He gave me some exciting news regarding a planned EM87 operation during the June VHF+ Contest. I’ll detail that in a separate message.

So here’s what I wound up with, 4 QSOs, 3 grids, 3 states.

KI4WEF  EM78RM  KY  12 miles
K9LQZ    EM68UK  IN   89 miles
K8TQK    EM89JE   OH  87 miles
N4MRM   EM78BD  KY  73 miles


2009 Spring VHF/UHF Sprints announced

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio with tags , , , , on March 22, 2009 by WA4ZKO

For the VHF/UHF Weak Signal folks, John, K9JK, has officially announced the 2009 Spring VHF UHF Sprints.

The announcement and rules can be found here.

In short:

The 144 MHz Spring Sprint will be Monday, April 6, 2009.  Runs 7PM-11PM local time.

The 222 MHz Spring Sprint will be Tuesday, April 15, 2009. Runs 7pm-11PM local time.

The 432 MHz Spring Sprint will be Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Runs 7PM-11PM local time.

The Microwave (902 MHz & up) Spring Sprint will be Saturday, May 2, 2009. Runs 6AM-1PM local time.

The 50 MHz Spring Sprint will run from 2300 UTC on Saturday, May 9, 2009 to 0300 UTC Sunday, May 10, 2009.

Note: there’s a 2 week turnaround time from the contest to it’s log submission deadline. Be sure to get your logs ready and sent in. I don’t know why this window has to be so short, but it is what it is.

Also it helps to know your 6-digit grid square, but it’s not mandatory.

In not so short….

The VHF/UHF Spring Sprints are a great chance for you to dust off the rigs after the long winter and check them and the antennas out before the bigger contests of Spring/Summer arrive.

A lot of us prefer these “Sprints” over the bigger contests for a variety of reasons:

1. The contest window is only 4 hours and typically on a local evening.  The 6m Sprint is the exception, mainly due to the need to leverage the potential propagation of this band. Granted, eskip is not real likely on 6m this early in May. I really think they should push this one up into late May, IMHO. The 4 hour window just works better for most of us than trying to be on for an entire weekend in the bigger contests.  Few of us have this much spare time anymore.

2. The rules are pretty simple.  Get on the air, use packet clusters if you want, use the web clusters, and make some contacts. The entry classes are kept simple, the rules are about what’s needed for 99% of things, and it’s just generally a fun, friendly contest to work , with minimal bureaucrats just  trying to make things more complicated than they have to be.

3. It’s a good deal for those that want to rove or operate portable. If you can sneak away from work at 4pm/5pm local, you’ve probably got 2-3 hours to find your way up to your favorite rover/portable locations. Since it’s a single band, you don’t have to pack a lot of gear and antennas if you don’t want to.

4. If you’re of the competitive type, the fact that these are single band contests, helps level the playing ground. The bulk of us are probably only in the “little gun” category.

5.  For those that are not really into competition, the Sprint contacts are simpler and the pace is usually considerably slower than the bigger VHF+ contests.  Many prefer this approach, some don’t.

Some changes I’d suggest?

1.  Personally, I think that  pushing the times back to 8PM-Midnight would be better for many folks. Many of us work till 5PM or 6PM and may have a long commute home after work. I’ve noticed that  a lot of the time the activity does not pick up till later in the evening. 7PM-8PM can be pretty dead around here, but that often changes after nightfall when folks come in from yard work and so forth.

2.  I think the 6m Sprint would benefit from being later in May, early June. This would increase the chances that it would benefit from stateside eskip openings.

3. I’m not sure why the 6-digit grid square stuff is necessary. Okay, maybe it could be helpful on UHF and up where the beam patterns are often really sharp. Other than that, I’m not so sure as to the real need. I don’t care one way or the other.  I’ve heard folks commenting that it’s more of the one person or little group trying to address/inject their personal pet peeves via adding to the rules that have been more than adequate for decades. Again, it’s not mandatory so no biggie…for me at least.

Other than those three extremely minor suggestions of mine, these are great little VHF/UHF Contests to work. Get active, get on the air. You don’t have to be strictly competitive, just get on the air and have some fun handing out your grid to folks. You can make it complicated or you can keep it simple, just get on the air.