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Glad we were able to make it happen during the contest!
On Sep 18, 2019, at 8:33 PM, John Klem <klemjf@...
I spent early Saturday afternoon in DM55 in the Cibola National Forest south of Thoreau, NM. In the couple of hours I had there, I enjoyed the 6m opening that stretched as far east as EM64 from my location. Later that afternoon, I drove to the Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area in DM56 and set up long enough to make a few contacts and check out the terrain for a return Sunday morning. I spent the night in Farmington.
On Sunday morning, I returned to Bisti and concentrated on making 6 m meteor scatter contacts, and that was reasonably successful. In the late morning I set out for DM66, traveling through Farmington after some backtracking to avoid what I was surprised to learn was probably going to be a 4WD trip across tribal land. In DM66, I was again surprised that my intended operating spot was apparently on tribal land (not sure how I missed that) behind a locked gate, so I had to settle for a large pullout on NM 550 northwest of Cuba, NM. By the time I got there, the worst of the rain had stopped, so I set up. Then the silent petition, "Please don't make me use meteors here," which was not granted.
Over the contest period, I made more contacts via meteor scatter than any other mode, followed by roughly equal numbers of SSB and FT8 contacts, and a few via CW. I made two non-digital contacts with anyone outside CO/NM on 6 m SSB. None into AZ on 2 m tropo scatter from DM55, despite decent power and antenna, which was disappointing. Perhaps I was just too distracted by the 6 m action to have given it a proper effort, or maybe everyone on 2 m there is now on FT8, which I didn't check. I'd be interested in knowing what it takes to work anyone via tropo scatter in AZ, particularly in terms of coordination.
I had the usual number of equipment, software, and mental failures: two cables, one brand new; several laptop reboots required; and you know the contest is almost over when you start to say things on Slack like, "Let's keep trying for a couple more minutes because for the last several I haven't actually been transmitting," instead of, "Guess the rocks are gone."
Anyway, final score 2204: 58 QSO points x 38 mults