2016 September VHF Contest

I worked this contest, my first one in a year, from home in my stripped down shack. My gear is mostly packed away so I entered the FM-only category using a dual-band “mobile” radio on my desktop.

My goal was to hand out points to FM nearby FM stations, especially to Darryl WW7D /R. My secondary goal was to be able to submit a log and pump up the PNWVHFS participation figures.

I made about a dozen contacts in two grids, CN87 and (because I live a mile from the grid line) CN97.

I did not make any contacts with VA7FC, in spite of his enthusiastic text messaging to arrange something. There’s just no chance of CN79mq – CN87xn on my puny station using FM simplex.

All told, it’s simply nice to be on the air again.

CN82 and CN92

Current status:

CN82 – I worked three stations from the high plains valley at 4000′ in the Siskyoos on 6m. It was cold.

CN92 – I worked two stations from a high ridge above Upper Klamath Lake at 6000′ on 6m. It was cold again.  I worked a long time trying to reach Portland without success. Another 6dB from an amplifier would probably have helped.

Today – I’ll check another spot nearby (Mt Hagelstein) and then explore CN93 and find a good operating spot from among several candidates. I’m looking forward to meeting the pack train rescue mission and Rod.

Meteor scatter operation is not going to happen this trip, sorry. I need to rethink and redesign how a MS station will be setup in this truck. For now, it’s too ambitious for this trip.

Please track me on APRS and arrange contacts through the N5TM chat room. Use my “K7BWH Oregon” chat tab.

73 Barry K7BWH

Internet Access

I’ve struggled to find a good way of scheduling contacts. Should I use a spreadsheet, Word document, scratch pad, Post-It notes, electronic calendar with alarms or something else. All of these are problematic for a portable station in the field surrounded by chaos.

On this trip, I’ll try something entirely new for me. I will arrange for Internet access to help me announce activity and arrange contacts. This is unrestricted outside of contests.

Today I signed up with Verizon cellphone service. The Samsung Galaxy handset will provide a local WiFi hotspot for my laptop, which can then use Ping Jockey, email, chat rooms and other aids. This will be great! (Assuming it can get cellphone service.)

Daily Expedition Schedule

How should I choose my operating schedule?

The goal is to explore and hand out the grid contacts. This means a compromise between driving and sightseeing, and being on the air. This particular station takes a long time (upwards of 2 hours) to setup or tear down and stow.

I feel there’s only enough time in a day to set up once. And I want to do meteor scatter, and that works best in early morning, so I’m strongly motivated to camp out instead of using hotels. This will let me operate both evenings and early 5 am mornings. It will be living rough for five days, but that’s okay.

Now, as for the schedule itself…

I want to be easy to find on the air. Ideally, I’d just only use one frequency on six meters for all contacts on all modes. I know it’s non-standard but then at least if someone heard me they’d know what mode I’m using just by listening. The logical spot is 50.125, the national calling frequency, which is what everyone uses. However, this is certain to run afoul of some self-appointed frequency enforcer. So the next easiest place to be found is 50.128. This is a dandy place to be. Unless the band opens up. If the band opens, then my modest remote station is quickly blown off and I couldn’t hold the frequency, even if I’m in the rarest grid in the country.

In conclusion, I’ll operate SSB/CW all evening on 50.128. And I’ll operate FSK441 all morning on 50.270. I’m flexible – if “stuff” happens then I’ll have chat rooms and spotters to help coordinate changes. Hang loose and have fun!

Oregon Grid Expedition, April 1-5

Oregon-April-2014I have a big grid expedition coming up. K7BWH will operate portable in CN82, CN92, CN93, CN94, CN95 in the Oregon interior during the week of April 1 -5, 2014.

My goal is to give 6-meter contacts from these relatively unpopulated areas. I invite you to schedule contacts with me in the evenings and mornings.

Equipment: 6m5 antenna, 500 watts, 20’ mast, and some really good hilltops.

The schedule is to activate one grid each day from late afternoon through the next morning. It’s a five-day excursion with one grid per day. I’ll drive midday to explore and setup the next hilltop campsite. I’ll be on the air in the evening on SSB/CW and in the morning on FSK441 meteor scatter. And then break camp and head off to the next grid square to lather, rinse, repeat.

I know this isn’t the best time of year for either 6m propagation or meteor showers. But this is the only free time in my schedule for a while. The operating plan is simple: Afternoons are SSB/CW until dark. Early mornings are meteor scatter. I will have a dedicated expedition chat room while on location to schedule contacts (assuming cellphone network service). Of course posting spots are appreciated, esp on Ping Jockey Central.

Evenings

  • Evenings 5 pm – 8 pm PDT (0000 – 0300 gmt)
  • SSB/CW
  • CQ and listening 50.128 MHz

Mornings

  • Mornings 5 am – 9 am PDT (1200 – 1600 gmt)
  • WSJT FSK441
  • Dedicated chat room (details coming soon)
  • CQ and listening 50.270 MHz
  • Always sending on first sequence
  • Sending signal report (not grid)
  • Short tones on

Itinerary and locations

For schedule updates see my expedition blog at www.k7bwh.com or track me real-time on APRS using http://aprs.fi/k7bwh .

I will not have 144 MHz on this trip, and will not be operating the 2m Sprint on Monday, 4/7, and do not have EME capability.

Want a grid? Send me email off-list to schedule a contact. And use the K7BWH chat room (details soon).

73 Barry K7BWH
Seattle, Washington CN87xn
barry at k7bwh.com
Cell 425-503-5548

January 2014 VHF Contest

I operated as Rover in the Oregon coast grids of CN72, CN73, CN74 and CN75 on Jan 18-19 using 50, 144, 220 and 432 MHz.

This was pack roving (if you can call “two” a pack) with Rod WE7X /R. (ARRL rules allow up to 100 contacts with a single station.) It was great to have help wrangling a big antenna setup in the remote coastal area. Thank goodness Rod was along or I would’ve had great difficulty raising the antenna system. Plus, we circled a grid corner to activate CN84 and CN85.

I made about 100 contacts and 62 of them were with WE7X /R. My longest contact was 325 miles from Cape Blanco State Park CN72 to Paul K7CW in Seattle CN87.

Weather: Conditions were excellent for January but still cold: sunny days in the 40s and nights in the 30s with steady coastal breezes. But this is actually quite chilly for operating outdoors at the back of the truck and I felt like a popsicle for two days; I can’t imagine this trip in severe winter weather.

Distance: I love driving these resort destinations in January when traffic is so light. The total trip was 1042 miles from Seattle and back over five days and it went smoothly, averaging 1.9 contacts per gallon.

New gear: A new 6m5x and new aluminum mast worked well but setup and teardown each took an hour which cuts into operating time. The 6m5x is a big cannon for pummeling propagation into submission, but any antenna with an 18’ boom doesn’t make a nimble rover setup. I need to tune the setup procedures for efficiency and one-man assembly; I also need to re-think the mast as a raise-up design instead of tilt-up. A new battery and powergate worked like a charm in the back of the truck.

Murphy: Our 222 FM radios only intermittently communicated and we missed a bunch of these grid corner contacts. My laptop wouldn’t power up so I used paper logs instead. The computer problems would have cancelled my FSK441 meteor scatter, if I had been ready for it. The mast design and construction took all of my prep time so I wasn’t prepared for meteor scatter anyway. This trip was the first time all antennas had been stacked on the mast together and the first time the 6m5x was on the air. The 432 MHz 11-element yagi had tested okay on the analyzer but didn’t load up properly; I never did actually use it on this trip. I could have used another week to get ready. Or two. Maybe three.

Locations: My other hobby is recording all the places I’ve visited and publishing them online. There was no shortage of operating spots – the Oregon coast is an endless series of spectacular state parks, viewpoints, beach access points, RV parks and hotels. Numerous updates were made to the website for rover locations. See the updates for grids CN72, CN73, CN74, CN75, CN85 at http://www.k7bwh.com/rover_or.html

Next: The plan was to activate two grids/day from semi-rare locations. This turned out to be pretty ambitious for the time required for this equipment’s setup, teardown and driving. Next time, I want to try a one grid/day trip and have more on-the-air time and do meteor scatter ops.

My home is in Sammamish (near Seattle) but for sake of log entry, my contest entry section is Oregon because that’s where all the contacts were made. Unfortunately this trip was too remote to contribute to the PNWVHFS club score.

Claimed score = (124 QSO points) x (6 grids activated + 25 grids worked) = 3,844 points total

January 2013 VHF Contest

A lot has happened since my last VHF contest twelve months ago. I’m active in the PNW VHF Society as a Director and Webmaster. I’ve refined my equipment and tested new VHF techniques. And I finished activating all eighteen grid squares in the state of Washington, becoming the first person to win this award.

Now I am interested in VHF locations in Oregon, so this contest gave me a good chance to explore south of home.

I drove the I-5 corridor from Eugene, Oregon to Marysville, Washington during the 2013 January ARRL VHF Contest on January 19-20, 2013. The total distance traveled from door to door was 941 miles.

I operated 17 hours of the 33-hour contest, averaging 15.35 contacts per hour of activity. I averaged 5.11 contacts per gallon and 65.25 contacts per gas tank.

Results

The contest activity was steady along this route that includes major metro centers of Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and Everett.

Band Contacts Points Grids
50 109 109 14
144 119 119 13
432 34 68 5
296 32 Sum of Unique Grids
+7 One multiplier for each grid activated
39 Rover multiplier
Score = 11,544 = 296 points x 39 multipliers

Most Popular Contestants

  1. Eric N7EPD – 14 contacts
  2. Darryl WW7D /R – 12
  3. Tom K7ZL /R – 12
  4. Dale KD7UO – 12
  5. Bruce KI7JA – 9
  6. Jim K7ND – 9
  7. Tom KE7SW – 8
  8. Gary WA7BBJ /R – 7
  9. Mike WB7FJG – 7
  10. Merle W7YOZ – 7
  11. Ray W7GLF – 7

Barry's Ham Radio and Motorcycle Hobbies

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