Date   
Re: [VHFcontesting] Pondering

Michael Daly
 

Keith,

I suggest you write an article about this and submit to the National Contest Journal.  It’s a great and timely topic.

 

Scott Wright, K0MD, is editor.  I copied him on this.

Mike, n5sj

 

 

From: nmvhf@groups.io [mailto:nmvhf@groups.io] On Behalf Of Keith Morehouse
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 6:40 PM
To: vhfcontesting@...
Cc: GMCC <gmc@...>; nmvhf@groups.io
Subject: Re: [nmvhf] [VHFcontesting] Pondering

 

This is all good and very true.  BUT, the problem is only a small percentage of ops on 6M during a June or July contest really CARE if they are winning or losing.

 

The vast majority of ops the "big guys" work during a killer run, be it on 6 during the ARRL June VHF contest or on 40 during Sweepstakes phone, are only there casually.  You or I can stand on our street corner box and preach the gospel of using SSB (OK, or CW...) during an opening, threatening hell-fire, damnation and, gasp!, a contest lost and the majority of those we work will think, "Why should I care ?  I'm not a competitor anyway.  I'm just in it for a contact, a new grid, for something to do untill the game comes on TV...".

 

FT8 (I separate that mode out as the real killer of contest rate - MSK144 & JT65 ENHANCE your score - FT8 does the opposite) is a fine mode, being used improperly by the very operators serious contesters need to put up 'the good numbers'.  You will probably not stop this by traditional means - such as education through mentoring or Contest University.  Heck, maybe it SHOULDN'T be stopped and just accepted as a natural change in the VHF contesting scene, like grid squares replaced ARRL sections as mults.

 

If that is the case, MANY traditional ops, unfortunately for the casual ops, those with some of the bigger signals, will leave (and are leaving...) the band for other endeavors more satisfying then mouse clicking all day.  If this was happening to HF contesting you would see rapid movement for change.

 

I believe the HF contesting movers and shakers don't realize or care that VHF has a problem that is lowering scores and diminishing contesting skills.  VHF contests, by definition, allow all modes to be used.  HF contests have CW weekends and Phone weekends.   

 

The question on 6M is not whether you love or hate FT8, it's a matter of fundamentally changing the state of the VHF contesting art for the worse.  If this is acceptable to the majority, so be it.  If it's not acceptable, what changes need to be made ?

 

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

 

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:30 PM Marshall-K5QE <k5qe@...> wrote:


The really great ops that sometimes visit here can do more than 200 contacts per hour. 
What that means is that if you are fooling around with FT8, making 30
contacts an hour(a fair estimate) while a big Es opening occurs, you
will lose the contest.  On the other hand if you spend loads of time
calling CQ on SSB, hoping for an opening that never occurs, you will
lose the contest.

The contest knowledge and skill is in knowing when to be running SSB,
when to be running MSK144, when to use JT65, and when to use FT8.  I can
almost guarantee that if you blindly park on one of the FT8 "watering
holes" for the entire contest, you will not do as well as someone that
uses a more "adventurous" approach.



Re: [VHFcontesting] Pondering

Arne N7KA
 

Contesting is not a concern for quite a few VHF/UHF folks who just want casual QSOs.  For example NMVHFS now  has 63 members, BUT in almost any contest I hear maybe 10-15% of quantity, MAX.  That has affected my contest activity, and also consider lack of 6M openings and digi modes robbing folks  from CW/SSB.  Rovers to me seem to have both good and bad affects.  I hear a rover working someone, the rover asks other bands?, then QSY.  Am I to sit there and wait for the rover to come back so I  can do the same thing, work them on 1 band then QSY to another, oh that next station now has to wait for the rover to return and repeat the process again.  Who can blame the rover in trying to maximize their score, though negatively affecting fixed  station scores.  Yes it nice to get rover mults but to what overall negative affect?  I have shut off the radio to enjoy some  other interesting event, like grass growing on my sandy 1 acre.  I  firmly believe separate CW/SSB from DIGI modes, have 2 contests.  Thankfully  VHF/UHF is not wall-to-wall contesting every weekend.

 

That's my personal opinion.  Take it or leave it.


Arne N7KA

On September 25, 2019 at 7:38 PM Bill <bill4070@...> wrote:

I've been lurking on this issue for some time now. I must say that the declining  VHF contest environment since the advent of FT8 has become masterfully defined by many.  I agree with most of the comments thus far: We cannot put that beautiful genie back in the bottle. Contesting life as we knew it has changed forever. We're doing a poor job of protecting our spectrum space by concentrating activity on a few channelized hot spots..... and so on.

I'd like to see some discussion about proposed changes.  I've heard some good ones: Allow points to be accrued by contacts made on different modes on each band. Have separate contests for digital and SSB/CW as examples.  So lets hear some chatter about solution proposals.

As long as the "submitted logs" metric is thought to be the accepted goodness factor, we'll have a difficult time convincing anyone that anything needs fixing. Average VHF QSOs per log is decreasing. So is activity on the higher UHF bands; and those are the metrics we should use in discussions about changes.

Bill W7QQ
DM75ao

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 6:40 PM Keith Morehouse < w9rm@...> wrote:
This is all good and very true.  BUT, the problem is only a small percentage of ops on 6M during a June or July contest really CARE if they are winning or losing.

The vast majority of ops the "big guys" work during a killer run, be it on 6 during the ARRL June VHF contest or on 40 during Sweepstakes phone, are only there casually.  You or I can stand on our street corner box and preach the gospel of using SSB (OK, or CW...) during an opening, threatening hell-fire, damnation and, gasp!, a contest lost and the majority of those we work will think, "Why should I care ?  I'm not a competitor anyway.  I'm just in it for a contact, a new grid, for something to do untill the game comes on TV...".

FT8 (I separate that mode out as the real killer of contest rate - MSK144 & JT65 ENHANCE your score - FT8 does the opposite) is a fine mode, being used improperly by the very operators serious contesters need to put up 'the good numbers'.  You will probably not stop this by traditional means - such as education through mentoring or Contest University.  Heck, maybe it SHOULDN'T be stopped and just accepted as a natural change in the VHF contesting scene, like grid squares replaced ARRL sections as mults.

If that is the case, MANY traditional ops, unfortunately for the casual ops, those with some of the bigger signals, will leave (and are leaving...) the band for other endeavors more satisfying then mouse clicking all day.  If this was happening to HF contesting you would see rapid movement for change.

I believe the HF contesting movers and shakers don't realize or care that VHF has a problem that is lowering scores and diminishing contesting skills.  VHF contests, by definition, allow all modes to be used.  HF contests have CW weekends and Phone weekends.   

The question on 6M is not whether you love or hate FT8, it's a matter of fundamentally changing the state of the VHF contesting art for the worse.  If this is acceptable to the majority, so be it.  If it's not acceptable, what changes need to be made ?

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:30 PM Marshall-K5QE < k5qe@...> wrote:

The really great ops that sometimes visit here can do more than 200 contacts per hour. 
What that means is that if you are fooling around with FT8, making 30
contacts an hour(a fair estimate) while a big Es opening occurs, you
will lose the contest.  On the other hand if you spend loads of time
calling CQ on SSB, hoping for an opening that never occurs, you will
lose the contest.

The contest knowledge and skill is in knowing when to be running SSB,
when to be running MSK144, when to use JT65, and when to use FT8.  I can
almost guarantee that if you blindly park on one of the FT8 "watering
holes" for the entire contest, you will not do as well as someone that
uses a more "adventurous" approach.




 

 

Re: [VHFcontesting] Pondering

Bill
 

I've been lurking on this issue for some time now. I must say that the declining  VHF contest environment since the advent of FT8 has become masterfully defined by many.  I agree with most of the comments thus far: We cannot put that beautiful genie back in the bottle. Contesting life as we knew it has changed forever. We're doing a poor job of protecting our spectrum space by concentrating activity on a few channelized hot spots..... and so on.

I'd like to see some discussion about proposed changes.  I've heard some good ones: Allow points to be accrued by contacts made on different modes on each band. Have separate contests for digital and SSB/CW as examples.  So lets hear some chatter about solution proposals.

As long as the "submitted logs" metric is thought to be the accepted goodness factor, we'll have a difficult time convincing anyone that anything needs fixing. Average VHF QSOs per log is decreasing. So is activity on the higher UHF bands; and those are the metrics we should use in discussions about changes.

Bill W7QQ
DM75ao


On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 6:40 PM Keith Morehouse <w9rm@...> wrote:
This is all good and very true.  BUT, the problem is only a small percentage of ops on 6M during a June or July contest really CARE if they are winning or losing.

The vast majority of ops the "big guys" work during a killer run, be it on 6 during the ARRL June VHF contest or on 40 during Sweepstakes phone, are only there casually.  You or I can stand on our street corner box and preach the gospel of using SSB (OK, or CW...) during an opening, threatening hell-fire, damnation and, gasp!, a contest lost and the majority of those we work will think, "Why should I care ?  I'm not a competitor anyway.  I'm just in it for a contact, a new grid, for something to do untill the game comes on TV...".

FT8 (I separate that mode out as the real killer of contest rate - MSK144 & JT65 ENHANCE your score - FT8 does the opposite) is a fine mode, being used improperly by the very operators serious contesters need to put up 'the good numbers'.  You will probably not stop this by traditional means - such as education through mentoring or Contest University.  Heck, maybe it SHOULDN'T be stopped and just accepted as a natural change in the VHF contesting scene, like grid squares replaced ARRL sections as mults.

If that is the case, MANY traditional ops, unfortunately for the casual ops, those with some of the bigger signals, will leave (and are leaving...) the band for other endeavors more satisfying then mouse clicking all day.  If this was happening to HF contesting you would see rapid movement for change.

I believe the HF contesting movers and shakers don't realize or care that VHF has a problem that is lowering scores and diminishing contesting skills.  VHF contests, by definition, allow all modes to be used.  HF contests have CW weekends and Phone weekends.   

The question on 6M is not whether you love or hate FT8, it's a matter of fundamentally changing the state of the VHF contesting art for the worse.  If this is acceptable to the majority, so be it.  If it's not acceptable, what changes need to be made ?

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:30 PM Marshall-K5QE <k5qe@...> wrote:

The really great ops that sometimes visit here can do more than 200 contacts per hour. 
What that means is that if you are fooling around with FT8, making 30
contacts an hour(a fair estimate) while a big Es opening occurs, you
will lose the contest.  On the other hand if you spend loads of time
calling CQ on SSB, hoping for an opening that never occurs, you will
lose the contest.

The contest knowledge and skill is in knowing when to be running SSB,
when to be running MSK144, when to use JT65, and when to use FT8.  I can
almost guarantee that if you blindly park on one of the FT8 "watering
holes" for the entire contest, you will not do as well as someone that
uses a more "adventurous" approach.




Re: [VHFcontesting] Pondering

Keith Morehouse
 

This is all good and very true.  BUT, the problem is only a small percentage of ops on 6M during a June or July contest really CARE if they are winning or losing.

The vast majority of ops the "big guys" work during a killer run, be it on 6 during the ARRL June VHF contest or on 40 during Sweepstakes phone, are only there casually.  You or I can stand on our street corner box and preach the gospel of using SSB (OK, or CW...) during an opening, threatening hell-fire, damnation and, gasp!, a contest lost and the majority of those we work will think, "Why should I care ?  I'm not a competitor anyway.  I'm just in it for a contact, a new grid, for something to do untill the game comes on TV...".

FT8 (I separate that mode out as the real killer of contest rate - MSK144 & JT65 ENHANCE your score - FT8 does the opposite) is a fine mode, being used improperly by the very operators serious contesters need to put up 'the good numbers'.  You will probably not stop this by traditional means - such as education through mentoring or Contest University.  Heck, maybe it SHOULDN'T be stopped and just accepted as a natural change in the VHF contesting scene, like grid squares replaced ARRL sections as mults.

If that is the case, MANY traditional ops, unfortunately for the casual ops, those with some of the bigger signals, will leave (and are leaving...) the band for other endeavors more satisfying then mouse clicking all day.  If this was happening to HF contesting you would see rapid movement for change.

I believe the HF contesting movers and shakers don't realize or care that VHF has a problem that is lowering scores and diminishing contesting skills.  VHF contests, by definition, allow all modes to be used.  HF contests have CW weekends and Phone weekends.   

The question on 6M is not whether you love or hate FT8, it's a matter of fundamentally changing the state of the VHF contesting art for the worse.  If this is acceptable to the majority, so be it.  If it's not acceptable, what changes need to be made ?

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG


On Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:30 PM Marshall-K5QE <k5qe@...> wrote:

The really great ops that sometimes visit here can do more than 200 contacts per hour. 
What that means is that if you are fooling around with FT8, making 30
contacts an hour(a fair estimate) while a big Es opening occurs, you
will lose the contest.  On the other hand if you spend loads of time
calling CQ on SSB, hoping for an opening that never occurs, you will
lose the contest.

The contest knowledge and skill is in knowing when to be running SSB,
when to be running MSK144, when to use JT65, and when to use FT8.  I can
almost guarantee that if you blindly park on one of the FT8 "watering
holes" for the entire contest, you will not do as well as someone that
uses a more "adventurous" approach.




Re: Frequency Calibration

KD
 

Thanks for the info John.  I don't think my frequency is drifting that much, if at all.  I question the reports I received due to the wide range, both positive and negative.  The rig has been on for about 5 hours now and on 20 MHz WWV I'm off about 0.37 Hz on average.  At 10 Mhz I'm off on average 0.22 Hz.  If I'm calculating correctly, that slope would infer that I would be off about 18 Hz at 144 MHz.  For MS work that should be more than adequate.

73 de N5KS - KD
DM95be40ei

Re: Frequency Calibration

John Klem
 

KD - The WSJT-X FreqCal process should reliably get you very close unless your rig is drifting badly.  You might try FreqCal at cold start, after 1 hour on receive, and after some high-duty-cycle transmitting to get your rig hot, and see how much they differ.

You can use some abbreviated version of the FreqCal process, maybe even just looking at WWV at the highest frequency you can hear well, as a sanity check.  I have a relatively new TS-590SG with TXCO and can clearly see the temperature drift from cold start this way, but it's not bad enough to produce the biggest errors you describe.   I believe you can safely assume that the error scales with frequency, so if WWV on 15 MHz appears off by 5 Hz, your frequency error on 2 m will be around 50 Hz.

Just let me know if you want further details.

John AA5PR

Re: [VHFcontesting] Digital and Q arrangement contesting

David Hollander
 

Thanks for sharing that Keith. That is how I feel too.

Nice meeting you the other night.

73,

Dave N7RK
--
Dave Hollander N7RK
Arizona Tube Supply
http://arizonatubesupply.com

Ham Radio Page
http://n7rk.com

Frequency Calibration

KD
 

I've run through the frequency calibration process in WSJT-X and up until the past week or so felt good about my rigs frequency.  However, I've worked a few stations that report I'm off frequency on 2M by anywhere from +1500 Hz to -600 Hz.  The -600 Hz report was from an op running with a GPSDO as was the +1500 Hz report.  I've had a couple of reports in the -200 to + 200 Hz arena from ops that have "calibrated" rigs.  So my question revolves around how to really determine if I am off frequency and if so, by how much.  I had my rig, a TS-2000, serviced in August, and the tech said it was now off at 10 MHz by 0.3 Hz.  The WSJT-X calibration process adjusts my 2M frequency by approximately 12 Hz, and I really question if I am off frequency.

KD - N5KS DM95be

Re: [VHFcontesting] Digital and Q arrangement contesting

Doug Gilliam
 

Well put Lew!  

Those of us who put a lot of expense, time, and skill into our stations, and who appreciate a hard fought cw contact, get frustrated with being thoroughly beaten by an operator sitting in his easy chair with a laptop and a good 6 meter opening.

BUT, I understand the value of these modes in bringing dx communication to those with smaller stations. It would have been great fun to have had FT8 when I was in a college apartment in the early 70s.

Having been continuously licensed for 52 years, I also remember the AM guys griping about the SSB guys in the 60s. I guess I will grumpily add FT8 to my efforts until such time that there are separate contests. 

Doug   WA7XX  DM42jh


From: nmvhf@groups.io <nmvhf@groups.io> on behalf of Keith Morehouse <w9rm@...>
Sent: Tuesday, September 24, 2019 7:53 AM
To: vhfcontesting@... <VHFcontesting@...>
Cc: GMCC <gmc@...>; nmvhf@groups.io <nmvhf@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [nmvhf] [VHFcontesting] Digital and Q arrangement contesting
 
... for what it's worth, Lew has nailed down my exact feelings and opinion of the current state of VHF contesting in this new world of FT8.  I approve of his post !

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

On Mon, Sep 23, 2019, 9:41 PM Lew Sayre <w7ew@...> wrote:
     Greetings to all Contesters,
K5QE has written up a fine article about VHF contesting and why we should
leave the contest rules alone. It is clear that K5QE cares deeply about the
subject. So do I. I have a different opinion on some of his assumptions so
I'm sharing them with you. My opinions may be worth exactly what it costs
you to read them but they may be representative of a significant number of
operators

K5QE wrote, "HF contesting is all about how you find stations not about how
you work stations".  I'd like him to explain more fully that statement to
Ops like KL9A, N6MJ, W2SC,CT1BOH and others who are  performing mutant like
operating by interleaving QSOs from 2 radios. Why do they do this?  I'd
guess that by developing their operating skills and winning contests they
are having fun. I'll get back to this idea of fun.

The ARRL did remove rules pertaining to the use of internet chat rooms and
telephones during contests a few years ago. Why did they do that?  It was
aimed at making it easier for stations to find other stations to work and
diminish slow times.  After reading K5QE's note it is clear that by making
VHF contesting easier it has been a great success with everybody having
more fun.

Then along comes Dr. Taylor with his brilliant weak signal modes in WSJT-X.
Now not only do the operators not worry about looking for stations but they
really don't need to know how to operate to the same extent as a CW, SSB or
RTTY operator. The FT-modes now allows minimally equipped stations to see
and work real DX. It is a whole lot easier and a whole lot of fun which
explains the runaway popularity of the FT-modes.

What we are experiencing is amateur radio evolution right in front of us.
Operators are voting with their computer mice over the other modes because
the FT-modes are easier than CQ or SSB or RTTY, and a lot of fun.

But there is a rub. There is a significant number of operators who have
developed contesting skills and derive their fun from exercising those
skills like the 4 stalwarts mentioned in the second paragraph. We have
already seen that by combining the FT-modes in a VHF contest with CW and
SSB that the pool of operators for the legacy modes is diminished. Since it
is not much fun for the CW or SSB Ops they'll find other ways to enjoy
their recreational time in the future such as SOTA, IOTA, golf or moving to
a state where recreational cannabis is legal.

The WWROF (World Wide Radio Operators Foundation) has the correct outlook
here. A few weeks ago they sponsored the first FT8/FT4 only HF contest
which was well attended.  The VHF contesting world needs to do the same
thing, which is to delete digital modes in the current VHF contests and
develop a separate FT8/FT4 only VHF contest.  This would provide a pool of
operators who would be having FT fun with a percentage of them becoming
bitten by the contesting bug and then developing the other skills necessary
to compete in CQ and SSB contests.

We do radio to exercise our radio skills which is rewarding and fun. The
contests we do should emphasize those rewards and, not by their very
nature, lead to conflict, malaise and unhappiness..The old VHF rules are
broken by the success of the FT modes. Separate contests will rectify the
situation.

73 and I remain,
  Lew       w7ew
_______________________________________________
VHFcontesting mailing list
VHFcontesting@...
http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/vhfcontesting

Re: [VHFcontesting] Digital and Q arrangement contesting

Keith Morehouse
 

... for what it's worth, Lew has nailed down my exact feelings and opinion of the current state of VHF contesting in this new world of FT8.  I approve of his post !

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

On Mon, Sep 23, 2019, 9:41 PM Lew Sayre <w7ew@...> wrote:
     Greetings to all Contesters,
K5QE has written up a fine article about VHF contesting and why we should
leave the contest rules alone. It is clear that K5QE cares deeply about the
subject. So do I. I have a different opinion on some of his assumptions so
I'm sharing them with you. My opinions may be worth exactly what it costs
you to read them but they may be representative of a significant number of
operators

K5QE wrote, "HF contesting is all about how you find stations not about how
you work stations".  I'd like him to explain more fully that statement to
Ops like KL9A, N6MJ, W2SC,CT1BOH and others who are  performing mutant like
operating by interleaving QSOs from 2 radios. Why do they do this?  I'd
guess that by developing their operating skills and winning contests they
are having fun. I'll get back to this idea of fun.

The ARRL did remove rules pertaining to the use of internet chat rooms and
telephones during contests a few years ago. Why did they do that?  It was
aimed at making it easier for stations to find other stations to work and
diminish slow times.  After reading K5QE's note it is clear that by making
VHF contesting easier it has been a great success with everybody having
more fun.

Then along comes Dr. Taylor with his brilliant weak signal modes in WSJT-X.
Now not only do the operators not worry about looking for stations but they
really don't need to know how to operate to the same extent as a CW, SSB or
RTTY operator. The FT-modes now allows minimally equipped stations to see
and work real DX. It is a whole lot easier and a whole lot of fun which
explains the runaway popularity of the FT-modes.

What we are experiencing is amateur radio evolution right in front of us.
Operators are voting with their computer mice over the other modes because
the FT-modes are easier than CQ or SSB or RTTY, and a lot of fun.

But there is a rub. There is a significant number of operators who have
developed contesting skills and derive their fun from exercising those
skills like the 4 stalwarts mentioned in the second paragraph. We have
already seen that by combining the FT-modes in a VHF contest with CW and
SSB that the pool of operators for the legacy modes is diminished. Since it
is not much fun for the CW or SSB Ops they'll find other ways to enjoy
their recreational time in the future such as SOTA, IOTA, golf or moving to
a state where recreational cannabis is legal.

The WWROF (World Wide Radio Operators Foundation) has the correct outlook
here. A few weeks ago they sponsored the first FT8/FT4 only HF contest
which was well attended.  The VHF contesting world needs to do the same
thing, which is to delete digital modes in the current VHF contests and
develop a separate FT8/FT4 only VHF contest.  This would provide a pool of
operators who would be having FT fun with a percentage of them becoming
bitten by the contesting bug and then developing the other skills necessary
to compete in CQ and SSB contests.

We do radio to exercise our radio skills which is rewarding and fun. The
contests we do should emphasize those rewards and, not by their very
nature, lead to conflict, malaise and unhappiness..The old VHF rules are
broken by the success of the FT modes. Separate contests will rectify the
situation.

73 and I remain,
  Lew       w7ew
_______________________________________________
VHFcontesting mailing list
VHFcontesting@...
http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/vhfcontesting

Slack invite

Mike WB2FKO
 

This is a reminder that the NM VHF Society has a slack channel in addition to this mailing list.  Activity can get pretty high during contests. Anyone interested is free to join at this link:

https://tinyurl.com/y43ol665

that can also be found on the CHAT page of nmvhf.org.

Mike WB2FKO

2 meter Sprint tonight

Tom
 

To All..
I will be active from Home QTH, DM42DW, tonight all 4 hours,, IF MOTHER NATURE does not upset my plans,, Storm and HEAVY rain predicted,,
I will be on 144.200 looking and calling and 144.210.also,,PLUS msk SH on, contest mode, me first looking east , North east way..call freq... or skeds..
If you want to make a sked,, My cell IS 419-370-8802..
Looking for ANY and ALL!!
See you Tropo and Ping Jockeys TONIGHT!!
Tom
N7GP
EX WA8WZG

2M fall Sprint tonight

Keith Morehouse
 

W7QQ DM75ao will be active in tonight's 2M Sprint starting at 7pm.  We will be watching the various Slack channels and listening and occasionally CQing on 144.200 or 144.150 meteor scatter using MSK144.  We can also run on FT8.

W7QQ & W9RM 

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

Re: Our rove for the 2019 September VHF contest was in turn, rewarding…

David Clark
 

Hi Duffey, 
Sorry to hear about your mishap, but I'm glad that you and Mike are OK.  Have a nice day. 
73 
David 
K5PHF 


On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 11:49:54 AM MDT, James Duffey <JamesDuffey@...> wrote:


Our rove for the 2019 September VHF contest was in turn, rewarding, frustrating, educational, and catastrophic. I roved with WB2FKO In this contest in part to learn WSJT and in part to have two operators, which is a big help in roving. I will deal with the catastrophic first; near the end of the contest, on our way back to Albuquerque we hit a horse with the rover just west of Whippoorwill, AZ. It was dark and the horse was black. We were not in open range, that is, the range in that area is fenced with gates and livestock is not supposed to be on the road, so it was unexpected. The horse is dead and the rover is likely totaled, although that is still up to the insurance company. It was (is) undrivable. Mike and I were examined by EMTs at the scene and other than a few scrapes and light bruises appear to be OK. Olivia’s brother Alex came up on Monday to pick us up and empty gear from the rover. We ended up back home about 1630 Monday.

This was to be a trip to learn how to use WSJT in the rover. Lots learned in that area. We spent the Thursday before the contest in my driveway doing a dry run. After a few issues we finally got everything working and made an FT8 QSO and an MSK144 QSO, so things appeared to be OK.

We started in DM64 and things went well, working a number of stations on SSB and CW. Signals seemed down from what I expected. We then switched to FT8 and picked up an Es opening and worked several stations. Signals were strong so we went to SSB and CW, but there was nothing. Calling CQ did not raise anyone. There were lots of looky-loos there, so we got in some good PR for ham radio. WW6V was among them and he stayed for a while to chat and watch us work. We got on the road and Mike worked several stations from DM65 while in motion.

The next stop was DM55 and we started having problems with the interface sending continuous dahs, no matter which mode we were in. It was intermittent, but the next day I discovered the paddle cord was frayed, so we solved that problem, too late, by carefully positioning the cord.

We then moved to DM44 in Holbrook, AZ, but couldn’t raise anyone on the way. We decided to have dinner before getting on the air. Denny’s seemed like a good choice, but it turned out to have a dysfunctional kitchen. We got on the air from the motel semi parking lot, which was pretty nice with clear horizons and low noise. The IsoPwr battery charger/isolator failed, so we had to hook up directly to the car battery and run the car. The battery booster also blew a fuse. I think there is something in the setup that draws more current than it should. When I disconnected the 222 gear it seemed to go away, so there may be a problem there. We worked some down into Phoenix, but signals were never strong.

After charging the battery overnight, We got up the next morning, with the purpose of working meteor scatter in the morning. For reasons that are still not clear to us, we didn’t work anyone in over an hour. PSK reporter indicates we were heard over a wide area, and we had lots of solid decodes. Nobody came back to us. I am sure it wasn’t a multipath problem. After a morning of this, we got back on the road to DM45 and set up in a nice spot with clear horizons. We got on the air and worked a few SSB/CW QSOs. With not much in the way of expectations, we switched to MSK144. Here, unlike in DM44, we had success immediately and put a half dozen stations in the log in half an hour, including some good grids. We then conducted the infamous “multipath” experiments with W9RM using a variety of WSJT modes and beam headings. 45 minutes later we decided to bag the WSJT modes and worked on CW. Too many scientists/engineers involved and not enough sense of contest urgency.

We then got on the road to DM45. I decided to take a BIA road through and above Keams canyon to avoid an extra hour on paved roads and that turned out to be a mistake. Never take an unpaved BIA Road! It had started to rain, which made the road muddy and slippery, but that wasn’t a problem until we had to descend down the other side of the canyon. It got steep and very slippery, similar to driving on ice. There were no guardrails and a very steep and high drop off, so we decided to stop until the road dried off. Despite not being able to point the antennas, which were pointed straight into the mountain, we got on the air, but I don’t think we worked anyone. We were still in DM44. After three hours it stopped raining and 45 minutes after that the road dried enough to travel and, although the sun had set, it was light enough for us to continue down the mountain. It was late by then so we decided to head back to Albuquerque.

About a half hour after that disaster struck and we hit the horse. This, from talking to people there, is a fairly common occurrence in this area. One of the EMTs said it was her third day on the job and this was the third time she had to deal with people in cars hitting livestock. No one seemed surprised that we had hit livestock and almost everyone had a story to tell of them or someone in their family hitting livestock.

With many (most?)people working WSJT modes, it seems like the VHF contests seem to have shifted from rate-oriented to activity-oriented events. Although many times rates could have been higher on SSB/CW, there was no activity to support them.

Not sure why, but it seemed after DM64 we never developed a rhythm. Some of this may have been due to having to shift from WSJT to the analog modes and some of it may have been that Mike and I weren’t familiar with each other’s operation styles. Anyway, I learned much about operating the digital modes that I can use going forward.



James Duffey KK6MC
Cedar Crest NM


Re: AA5PR/R Sept VHF contest rove

Jay
 

John,
Glad we were able to make it happen during the contest! 

Jay N1AV

On Sep 18, 2019, at 8:33 PM, John Klem <klemjf@...> wrote:

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

John AA5PR

AA5PR/R Sept VHF contest rove

John Klem
 

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

John AA5PR

Re: Our rove for the 2019 September VHF contest was in turn, rewarding…

Bill Mader
 

Glad to read you guys are OK!  

This will make an "interesting" article for the NCJ or other publication and a "great" presentation for the ADXA, once you fully recover.  While not in a contest, we wiped out a deer near the IL/IN border on the way to HamVention some years ago.  The truck survived after $4,500 State Farm paid, but didn't make it through the next wreck in 2005 when a guy ran a red light in front of me at the corner just beyond which I would have turned into the parking lot.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the convention this weekend.  We and our bags arrived in ABQ last night from PEI.  Our WAE SSB Contest was not quite the disaster, but less than it could have been.  Still, it was a great team-building exercise/experience and the girls had great fun touring the island.  There was some damage from hurricane Dorian, but at least the power was on at VY2TT when we arrived.

73, Bill Mader, K8TE
W6H NM Coordinator, Route 66 On-the-Air 4-13 Sep 2020
ARRL New Mexico Section Manager
ARRL - The national association for Amateur Radio
Duke City Hamfest BoD www.dukecityhamfest.org 20-22 Sep 2019
President, Albuquerque DX Association 


On Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 1:01 PM Mike WB2FKO <mph@...> wrote:
Her are some photos of the rover, taken at the wrecking yard in Chinle,
Arizona on Monday morning. WB2FKO

On 9/18/19 11:49 AM, James Duffey wrote:
> Our rove for the 2019 September VHF contest was in turn, rewarding, frustrating, educational, and catastrophic. I roved with WB2FKO In this contest in part to learn WSJT and in part to have two operators, which is a big help in roving. I will deal with the catastrophic first; near the end of the contest, on our way back to Albuquerque we hit a horse with the rover just west of Whippoorwill, AZ. It was dark and the horse was black. We were not in open range, that is, the range in that area is fenced with gates and livestock is not supposed to be on the road, so it was unexpected. The horse is dead and the rover is likely totaled, although that is still up to the insurance company. It was (is) undrivable. Mike and I were examined by EMTs at the scene and other than a few scrapes and light bruises appear to be OK. Olivia’s brother Alex came up on Monday to pick us up and empty gear from the rover. We ended up back home about 1630 Monday.
>
> This was to be a trip to learn how to use WSJT in the rover. Lots learned in that area. We spent the Thursday before the contest in my driveway doing a dry run. After a few issues we finally got everything working and made an FT8 QSO and an MSK144 QSO, so things appeared to be OK.
>
> We started in DM64 and things went well, working a number of stations on SSB and CW. Signals seemed down from what I expected. We then switched to FT8 and picked up an Es opening and worked several stations. Signals were strong so we went to SSB and CW, but there was nothing. Calling CQ did not raise anyone. There were lots of looky-loos there, so we got in some good PR for ham radio. WW6V was among them and he stayed for a while to chat and watch us work. We got on the road and Mike worked several stations from DM65 while in motion.
>
> The next stop was DM55 and we started having problems with the interface sending continuous dahs, no matter which mode we were in. It was intermittent, but the next day I discovered the paddle cord was frayed, so we solved that problem, too late, by carefully positioning the cord.
>
> We then moved to DM44 in Holbrook, AZ, but couldn’t raise anyone on the way. We decided to have dinner before getting on the air. Denny’s seemed like a good choice, but it turned out to have a dysfunctional kitchen. We got on the air from the motel semi parking lot, which was pretty nice with clear horizons and low noise. The IsoPwr battery charger/isolator failed, so we had to hook up directly to the car battery and run the car. The battery booster also blew a fuse. I think there is something in the setup that draws more current than it should. When I disconnected the 222 gear it seemed to go away, so there may be a problem there. We worked some down into Phoenix, but signals were never strong.
>
> After charging the battery overnight, We got up the next morning, with the purpose of working meteor scatter in the morning. For reasons that are still not clear to us, we didn’t work anyone in over an hour. PSK reporter indicates we were heard over a wide area, and we had lots of solid decodes. Nobody came back to us. I am sure it wasn’t a multipath problem. After a morning of this, we got back on the road to DM45 and set up in a nice spot with clear horizons. We got on the air and worked a few SSB/CW QSOs. With not much in the way of expectations, we switched to MSK144. Here, unlike in DM44, we had success immediately and put a half dozen stations in the log in half an hour, including some good grids. We then conducted the infamous “multipath” experiments with W9RM using a variety of WSJT modes and beam headings. 45 minutes later we decided to bag the WSJT modes and worked on CW. Too many scientists/engineers involved and not enough sense of contest urgency.
>
> We then got on the road to DM45. I decided to take a BIA road through and above Keams canyon to avoid an extra hour on paved roads and that turned out to be a mistake. Never take an unpaved BIA Road! It had started to rain, which made the road muddy and slippery, but that wasn’t a problem until we had to descend down the other side of the canyon. It got steep and very slippery, similar to driving on ice. There were no guardrails and a very steep and high drop off, so we decided to stop until the road dried off. Despite not being able to point the antennas, which were pointed straight into the mountain, we got on the air, but I don’t think we worked anyone. We were still in DM44. After three hours it stopped raining and 45 minutes after that the road dried enough to travel and, although the sun had set, it was light enough for us to continue down the mountain. It was late by then so we decided to head back to Albuquerque.
>
> About a half hour after that disaster struck and we hit the horse. This, from talking to people there, is a fairly common occurrence in this area. One of the EMTs said it was her third day on the job and this was the third time she had to deal with people in cars hitting livestock. No one seemed surprised that we had hit livestock and almost everyone had a story to tell of them or someone in their family hitting livestock.
>
> With many (most?)people working WSJT modes, it seems like the VHF contests seem to have shifted from rate-oriented to activity-oriented events. Although many times rates could have been higher on SSB/CW, there was no activity to support them.
>
> Not sure why, but it seemed after DM64 we never developed a rhythm. Some of this may have been due to having to shift from WSJT to the analog modes and some of it may have been that Mike and I weren’t familiar with each other’s operation styles. Anyway, I learned much about operating the digital modes that I can use going forward.
>
>
>
> James Duffey KK6MC
> Cedar Crest NM
>
>
>



Re: multipath

Mike WB2FKO
 

John's explanation has cleared up the physical picture I have of what is happening.  Two or more coherent signals traveling over different static paths and interfering at the receiver can't produce new frequencies.  All they can do is enhance or reduce signal strength, but there won't be any new harmonic content.  The path length has to be changing/moving to induce a Doppler shift.

If I assume a steady 10mph wind, pushing an air mass that can somehow reflect/scatter RF, I estimate a Doppler shift of about 7 Hz at 432 MHz. Stronger winds and higher carrier frequencies induce bigger frequency shifts. I am unsure if atmospherics can do this, but such a shift is consistent with the fuzz I remember seeing on the FT8 waterfall.  If the wind is steady, the signals should still decode. If the air mass is not moving steady, then the Doppler shift will fluctuate and and decodes may not happen. FT8 is not tolerant of frequency instability beyond ± 1 Hz. 

This problem should have been reciprocal, however, and Jay seemed to be decoding us just fine. This makes me suspect there was a problem in our setup.  I'm quite sure the audio level coming into WSJT was set below the point of clipping, although it might have been getting close. The indicator on the GUI turns red to warn the op of this condition, but I don't recall seeing that.

Didn't save any traces, so just going by memory.  I think the JT65 ghost signals (yes, they were weaker) were spaced at periodic intervals in frequency, suggesting a nonlinearity like clipping somewhere in the demodulation or decoding.

Mike

On 9/17/19 11:02 PM, John Klem wrote:
Actually, I'm saying the multipath you describe (time-invariant coherent interference) should not produce what you saw.  If I understand the physics correctly... 

If you consider a signal transmitted at a single frequency, you can scatter it however many times from however many static (not changing in any way with time) scatterers, but when you recombine all those linearly at any point (specifically the receiver), the sum will have the same frequency as the signal originally transmitted.  Only the amplitude and phase will be different in the final sum signal.  I think you can effectively consider any of the low-symbol-rate modes single-frequency for this purpose.  So I don't think time-invariant multipath explains what is happening here.

If your scatterers start changing slowly, you will see the sum signal at the receiver slowly changing in phase and amplitude, which would be typical fading.  The frequency remains essentially constant.  Again, not what you saw.

If the scatterers change rapidly, you could modulate the sum signal fast enough to create obvious sidebands.  It seems unlikely there would be anything like a natural modulator generating carrier plus one sideband, which is similar to what we've seen, but I don't know the math behind that.

I suspect there's some sort of moving atmospheric refractor creating a Doppler-shifted version of the original signal, but what is it and what is its path?  Maybe some sort of moving density boundary?  Maybe a big blob of something that is expanding or contracting?  Waves of some sort in the troposphere?Beats me, but I imagine someone with a good understanding of atmospheric science would have some ideas.

Do you remember, in the case where you saw four signals, were they equally spaced in frequency?

John AA5PR

Re: Our rove for the 2019 September VHF contest was in turn, rewarding…

Mike WB2FKO
 

Her are some photos of the rover, taken at the wrecking yard in Chinle, Arizona on Monday morning. WB2FKO

On 9/18/19 11:49 AM, James Duffey wrote:
Our rove for the 2019 September VHF contest was in turn, rewarding, frustrating, educational, and catastrophic. I roved with WB2FKO In this contest in part to learn WSJT and in part to have two operators, which is a big help in roving. I will deal with the catastrophic first; near the end of the contest, on our way back to Albuquerque we hit a horse with the rover just west of Whippoorwill, AZ. It was dark and the horse was black. We were not in open range, that is, the range in that area is fenced with gates and livestock is not supposed to be on the road, so it was unexpected. The horse is dead and the rover is likely totaled, although that is still up to the insurance company. It was (is) undrivable. Mike and I were examined by EMTs at the scene and other than a few scrapes and light bruises appear to be OK. Olivia’s brother Alex came up on Monday to pick us up and empty gear from the rover. We ended up back home about 1630 Monday.

This was to be a trip to learn how to use WSJT in the rover. Lots learned in that area. We spent the Thursday before the contest in my driveway doing a dry run. After a few issues we finally got everything working and made an FT8 QSO and an MSK144 QSO, so things appeared to be OK.

We started in DM64 and things went well, working a number of stations on SSB and CW. Signals seemed down from what I expected. We then switched to FT8 and picked up an Es opening and worked several stations. Signals were strong so we went to SSB and CW, but there was nothing. Calling CQ did not raise anyone. There were lots of looky-loos there, so we got in some good PR for ham radio. WW6V was among them and he stayed for a while to chat and watch us work. We got on the road and Mike worked several stations from DM65 while in motion.

The next stop was DM55 and we started having problems with the interface sending continuous dahs, no matter which mode we were in. It was intermittent, but the next day I discovered the paddle cord was frayed, so we solved that problem, too late, by carefully positioning the cord.

We then moved to DM44 in Holbrook, AZ, but couldn’t raise anyone on the way. We decided to have dinner before getting on the air. Denny’s seemed like a good choice, but it turned out to have a dysfunctional kitchen. We got on the air from the motel semi parking lot, which was pretty nice with clear horizons and low noise. The IsoPwr battery charger/isolator failed, so we had to hook up directly to the car battery and run the car. The battery booster also blew a fuse. I think there is something in the setup that draws more current than it should. When I disconnected the 222 gear it seemed to go away, so there may be a problem there. We worked some down into Phoenix, but signals were never strong.

After charging the battery overnight, We got up the next morning, with the purpose of working meteor scatter in the morning. For reasons that are still not clear to us, we didn’t work anyone in over an hour. PSK reporter indicates we were heard over a wide area, and we had lots of solid decodes. Nobody came back to us. I am sure it wasn’t a multipath problem. After a morning of this, we got back on the road to DM45 and set up in a nice spot with clear horizons. We got on the air and worked a few SSB/CW QSOs. With not much in the way of expectations, we switched to MSK144. Here, unlike in DM44, we had success immediately and put a half dozen stations in the log in half an hour, including some good grids. We then conducted the infamous “multipath” experiments with W9RM using a variety of WSJT modes and beam headings. 45 minutes later we decided to bag the WSJT modes and worked on CW. Too many scientists/engineers involved and not enough sense of contest urgency.

We then got on the road to DM45. I decided to take a BIA road through and above Keams canyon to avoid an extra hour on paved roads and that turned out to be a mistake. Never take an unpaved BIA Road! It had started to rain, which made the road muddy and slippery, but that wasn’t a problem until we had to descend down the other side of the canyon. It got steep and very slippery, similar to driving on ice. There were no guardrails and a very steep and high drop off, so we decided to stop until the road dried off. Despite not being able to point the antennas, which were pointed straight into the mountain, we got on the air, but I don’t think we worked anyone. We were still in DM44. After three hours it stopped raining and 45 minutes after that the road dried enough to travel and, although the sun had set, it was light enough for us to continue down the mountain. It was late by then so we decided to head back to Albuquerque.

About a half hour after that disaster struck and we hit the horse. This, from talking to people there, is a fairly common occurrence in this area. One of the EMTs said it was her third day on the job and this was the third time she had to deal with people in cars hitting livestock. No one seemed surprised that we had hit livestock and almost everyone had a story to tell of them or someone in their family hitting livestock.

With many (most?)people working WSJT modes, it seems like the VHF contests seem to have shifted from rate-oriented to activity-oriented events. Although many times rates could have been higher on SSB/CW, there was no activity to support them.

Not sure why, but it seemed after DM64 we never developed a rhythm. Some of this may have been due to having to shift from WSJT to the analog modes and some of it may have been that Mike and I weren’t familiar with each other’s operation styles. Anyway, I learned much about operating the digital modes that I can use going forward.



James Duffey KK6MC
Cedar Crest NM

Re: Our rove for the 2019 September VHF contest was in turn, rewarding…

Steve London
 

Glad to hear that you and Mike had only minor injuries.

Thanks for the FT8 QSO from DM55. One of the few times I was on during the 18 continuous hours of rain on Saturday/Sunday. You were weak (around -18, if I recall), but there was Es to southern CA, so you may have been strong, but 18 dB weaker than the strong Es signals.

73,
Steve, N2IC

On 09/18/2019 11:49 AM, James Duffey wrote:
Our rove for the 2019 September VHF contest was in turn, rewarding, frustrating, educational, and catastrophic. I roved with WB2FKO In this contest in part to learn WSJT and in part to have two operators, which is a big help in roving. I will deal with the catastrophic first; near the end of the contest, on our way back to Albuquerque we hit a horse with the rover just west of Whippoorwill, AZ. It was dark and the horse was black. We were not in open range, that is, the range in that area is fenced with gates and livestock is not supposed to be on the road, so it was unexpected. The horse is dead and the rover is likely totaled, although that is still up to the insurance company. It was (is) undrivable. Mike and I were examined by EMTs at the scene and other than a few scrapes and light bruises appear to be OK. Olivia’s brother Alex came up on Monday to pick us up and empty gear from the rover. We ended up back home about 1630 Monday.
This was to be a trip to learn how to use WSJT in the rover. Lots learned in that area. We spent the Thursday before the contest in my driveway doing a dry run. After a few issues we finally got everything working and made an FT8 QSO and an MSK144 QSO, so things appeared to be OK.
We started in DM64 and things went well, working a number of stations on SSB and CW. Signals seemed down from what I expected. We then switched to FT8 and picked up an Es opening and worked several stations. Signals were strong so we went to SSB and CW, but there was nothing. Calling CQ did not raise anyone. There were lots of looky-loos there, so we got in some good PR for ham radio. WW6V was among them and he stayed for a while to chat and watch us work. We got on the road and Mike worked several stations from DM65 while in motion.
The next stop was DM55 and we started having problems with the interface sending continuous dahs, no matter which mode we were in. It was intermittent, but the next day I discovered the paddle cord was frayed, so we solved that problem, too late, by carefully positioning the cord.
We then moved to DM44 in Holbrook, AZ, but couldn’t raise anyone on the way. We decided to have dinner before getting on the air. Denny’s seemed like a good choice, but it turned out to have a dysfunctional kitchen. We got on the air from the motel semi parking lot, which was pretty nice with clear horizons and low noise. The IsoPwr battery charger/isolator failed, so we had to hook up directly to the car battery and run the car. The battery booster also blew a fuse. I think there is something in the setup that draws more current than it should. When I disconnected the 222 gear it seemed to go away, so there may be a problem there. We worked some down into Phoenix, but signals were never strong.
After charging the battery overnight, We got up the next morning, with the purpose of working meteor scatter in the morning. For reasons that are still not clear to us, we didn’t work anyone in over an hour. PSK reporter indicates we were heard over a wide area, and we had lots of solid decodes. Nobody came back to us. I am sure it wasn’t a multipath problem. After a morning of this, we got back on the road to DM45 and set up in a nice spot with clear horizons. We got on the air and worked a few SSB/CW QSOs. With not much in the way of expectations, we switched to MSK144. Here, unlike in DM44, we had success immediately and put a half dozen stations in the log in half an hour, including some good grids. We then conducted the infamous “multipath” experiments with W9RM using a variety of WSJT modes and beam headings. 45 minutes later we decided to bag the WSJT modes and worked on CW. Too many scientists/engineers involved and not enough sense of contest urgency.
We then got on the road to DM45. I decided to take a BIA road through and above Keams canyon to avoid an extra hour on paved roads and that turned out to be a mistake. Never take an unpaved BIA Road! It had started to rain, which made the road muddy and slippery, but that wasn’t a problem until we had to descend down the other side of the canyon. It got steep and very slippery, similar to driving on ice. There were no guardrails and a very steep and high drop off, so we decided to stop until the road dried off. Despite not being able to point the antennas, which were pointed straight into the mountain, we got on the air, but I don’t think we worked anyone. We were still in DM44. After three hours it stopped raining and 45 minutes after that the road dried enough to travel and, although the sun had set, it was light enough for us to continue down the mountain. It was late by then so we decided to head back to Albuquerque.
About a half hour after that disaster struck and we hit the horse. This, from talking to people there, is a fairly common occurrence in this area. One of the EMTs said it was her third day on the job and this was the third time she had to deal with people in cars hitting livestock. No one seemed surprised that we had hit livestock and almost everyone had a story to tell of them or someone in their family hitting livestock.
With many (most?)people working WSJT modes, it seems like the VHF contests seem to have shifted from rate-oriented to activity-oriented events. Although many times rates could have been higher on SSB/CW, there was no activity to support them.
Not sure why, but it seemed after DM64 we never developed a rhythm. Some of this may have been due to having to shift from WSJT to the analog modes and some of it may have been that Mike and I weren’t familiar with each other’s operation styles. Anyway, I learned much about operating the digital modes that I can use going forward.
James Duffey KK6MC
Cedar Crest NM