Re: Sept VHF

James Duffey

Keith - Thanks for the kind words. 

Although I made 7 stops, I only visited 6 different grids, so we only missed in one,. I visited DM64 at its extreme ends diagonally, DM64xx near Moriarty, and DM64bw in the Malpais National Monument. That turned out to be a good strategy as I worked several AZ stations easily from the west end of the grid that there was no way to work from the east end. I may do more of that in the future. There was  lot of activity in AZ and the trip through the three western NM grids paid off. 

I was really surprised to hear you come back to my SSB CQ on 2M in DM74.  That was a nice QSO and one that I will remember for a long time. 

I echo your comments on troposcatter QSB. The amplitude of the QSB is pretty well defined at about 15dB peak to trough. The time period varies a lot, with time constants from fractions of seconds to minutes and even hours. So the rule of thumb is that if you hear someone and it is not a ping, chances are their signal will increase and you can work them if you put in the time, are patient and follow some kind of routine like taking turns transmitting on the first and second 30 seconds of a minute. As you know, we have worked a lot of QSOs this way, some in excess of 300 miles if I recall correctly. I have a modest set up in the rover; 100W to a 8ft Yagi up about 11 feet. 

W0AMT/r was also out in NM and gave out a lot of QSOs. Although QRP he had a good signal when I worked him and gave out a lot of grids. He also hiked to the top of Mt Sedgwick and had a commanding signal from there. Things have changed since I first started roving in NM and was the only NM rover for several years. 

My first rove stop ever was DM55 near Prewitt in 2007. I think WB2FKO was the first QSO I made as a rover. So, it is always nice to work Mike from DM55. It reminds me of my origins. For many years my rover was the only VHF contest station in DM55. W7QQ/has since activated it, and now N5SJ is active with a well equipped 2M station. N5SJ and I were joined by W0AMT/r this contest for three active stations in DM55.  Who would have thought?

There were lots of AZ stations on, and I know that they were worked by many in NM up to Santa Fe or maybe beyond? For many years I have been trying to work AZ from western NM to no avail, but I think it was always an activity issue on the AZ end as I worked lots of AZ stations from the western NM grids this year, as did N5SJ. I also heard the AZ stations working W7QQ, N5SJ, and others. 

I rate the September contest this year high. Part of that was my laid back rove plans and allowing enough time on Sunday to try long haul QSOs to AZ.

It is always nice to hear people’s contest experiences. It helps all of us be better. 

Not sure if either of these groups allow attachments, but as have attached a picture of the rover in DM55 with Mount Taylor in the background. 

James Duffey KK6MC
Cedar Crest NM


On Sep 10, 2018, at 15:58, Keith Morehouse <w9rm@...> wrote:

Not too much excitement during the September VHF test this year.  Conditions on pretty much every band/mode I have up seemed average to poor.  Maybe some of these comments will help someone.

Meteors were pretty poor after about 1300Z Sunday, although, a few hours earlier, they seemed to start well.  I was able to call CQ on 50.260, running split-mode and work a slow, steady stream of callers for about 45 minutes.  2M rocks didn't produce well, but I didn't really go at them aggressively or get too pushy on PingJockey, since I was mostly 'playing contester' instead of contesting.

Being September, there were no sporadic E openings on 6 that I noticed and even the be-all-end-all miracle mode of FT8 didn't produce any long-haul stuff.  Funny - I can recall working several stations in the 900-1100 miles range on ionoscatter using SSB or CW almost every contest.  One would think FT8 would be even better at that but there was seldom 'anybody home' on 50.313.  Hard to figure out what's really going on in the minds of the majority of FT8 mode users.  Also, meteor pings just play holy havoc with FT8 decodes - not as miracle as some make it out to be, 'eh ?.  My 6M go-to mode of choice for years in these conditions was always CW (you remember that mode, right ?)  I don't think that would get you too far now, unfortunately.

2M tropospheric conditions (if you can call them that in this part of the world) were average.  The rovers with decent antennas who got far enough east of the front-range foothills were easily workable.  Those that stayed close to I-25 ?  Not so easy.  I was able to work into DM89 and DN81 with good signals - both rover and fixed station.  The DM/DN-70's were not so easy.  Sunday mornings 2M "tropo" conditions were above average, with WE7L in over S9.  Unfortunately, there was hardly anybody else around.  Thanks to K0UK, who got on as promised, for the DM59 mult on 6 & 2, another hard to get one.

Rover station KK6MC once again showed how it's done.  I was able to work Duffy with relative ease on 2M from 5 of his 7 New Mexico grid stops and even a few on 6.  These Qs were 250-300 miles across a 14,000' mountain range 50 miles south of my QTH.  All but one QSO was on CW (you remember that mode, right ?)  Some 2M attempts were met with very bad QSB, but just sticking with it for a few minutes and waiting out the fade cycle, usually brought the signal back up to Q5 from in the noise.  This is a good point to remember if you're new to VHF or attempting a higher frequency band like 432 for the first time.  Stick with it - deep cyclic QSB is normal and what goes into the noise usually comes right back out again, although on 432, the cycle MAY take a few minutes (or longer).  This is not a western phenomenon - back in W9-land, it was very common for a long-haul attempt (400+ miles) on 432 to take 15-20 minutes and ultimately end up with Q5 signals both ways.  Whether the time spent is worth it or not in a contest situation is up to you, although the rules now allow even single op's to transmit on multiple bands at the same time.  That's something to think about when planning station architecture.

A new local showed up on 2M from about 3 miles south of me and proceeded to call CQ a bunch on 144.200, sometimes on top of the few front-range guys who were workable.  I worked him, thanked him for being on from my home grid, which is usually impossible to work and then we had a frank discussion on the why's and when's of 2M from the west slope.  Somebody gave him a 2M all-mode radio and antenna, then a few days before the contest, he caught one of those 'big' mornings into the front-range and worked WE7L at over S9 - then, he worked a guy up on Grand Mesa with a big signal (line-of-sight, of course).  So, armed with that 'knowledge', he was all ready to tear up the state on 2M SSB !  Hopefully, in the future, he will be more 'ear' then 'mouth', seeing he's down in the bottom of a canyon with 25W and a short beam fixed east.  Not much, but enough to be 40-over in MY receiver.  I guess I'm spoiled from having the valley pretty much to myself for the last 7-8 years :)

I worked George, AB0YM/R several times, including answering his FT8 CQ from DM89 on 6M for a new mult.  I again caution those who sign 'slash-R' with FT8.  What you think the program is sending might not be what actually goes over the air - I'll leave it at that as it will probably get fixed with the release of WSJT-X Ver 2.  George, if you read this, be advised you were S9 at the start of the contest on 2M, calling CQ in my face for 5 minutes when I was calling you.  I'm running considerably more power then you in your rover.  All I can figure is you were in motion and must have had a very high noise floor, either from the urban crud or from your own vehicle.  It Was VERY Frustrating :)

The biggest news is that the trash covering the entire 6M band, emanating from a local FM broadcast station, has been cleared up after a lot of tough work.  Many thanks to the responsible parties !


Keith J Morehouse
Managing Partner
Calmesa Partners G.P.
Olathe, CO

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