Thursday, December 13, 2012

Geminid Meteor Shower 13 December 2012

Before getting ready to turn in for the night, I tuned my 2 meter radio to 144.200 MHz.  I could hear about 5-6 pings per minute.  I wasn't hearing any CW or SSB, but I went outside here in EM59 and I was able to see two shooting stars.  I also looked at Andromeda, Jupiter, the Pleiades and the Orion Nebula.  When I came back inside to turn off the radio, I hear an op in EM58 making some Qs!  Darn I wish I had my tower and antennas up right now here in Girard!  Oh well, I am getting closer towards that goal!  Well, well, I just worked Smitty, W0DQY from a vertically polarized antenna!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


SLAMS had our last breakfast meeting on Sunday 2 December.  It was good seeing everyone in attendance and seasons greetings to all!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Last SLAMS Breakfast in 2012

Our next SLAMS Breakfast will be Sunday December 2 at 8:00am.
Location will again be at Denny’s.
Who can make it ?

73, John WB9PNU

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Contest Monster

It's been a while since anyone has posted on the site, so I thought I'd include this awesome photo of a nicely equipped and awesome rover.  I think I will model my rover after this model!  Hi, hi.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

SPRINT Microwave on September 29, 2012

Herbert AF4JF, Jim N5MU and Rich N0PQU met at YMCA in EM48sq for last microwave contest of the season. We didn't have big contesting plans, just intended to try with Zack W9SZ who went to EN50rl on 1296MHz/10GHz and Ron KO0Z who went to his new location in EM59cl this morning on 10GHz too.

Propagation didn't really look promising - a little Hepburn enhancement, some water vapors, but nothing really promising from our usual sources of prediction:

(I believe that this made the difference today)

The day started quite bad - Herbert has forgotten his 23cm antenna and Jim forgot to bring his antenna pole, so we have had to combine our hardware into one 23cm station. It didn't matter much, because we didn't work Zack on 23cm today. Zack copied Jim's signal S5 on 1296.100MHz but Jim didn't copy Zack this time. Oh well ...

However, after a year of trying and trying, we have both finally worked Zack W9SZ in EN50rl from YMCA in EM48sq! That is a #5 grid for Jim and #6 for Herbert from this particular location. Thanks for all your patience with us, Zack! There are no terrain obstacles between us, but the distance is over 160 miles, so it requires a little help from propagation. Following picture shows the terrain profile between both locations:

Wonder of all wonders, it has worked today! Zack didn't hear the St. Louis beacon on 10GHz, but he has heard a 2.3GHz beacon from Chicago unusually strong, so something has been happening this morning.

Following picture shows Jim working Zack on 10GHz. We have had to move Jim's station close to Herbert's, because there was no signal from Zack at all 10ft. down the parking lot!

We have tried with Ron KO0Z on 10GHz after working Zack, but didn't succeed this time. Well, we have always tried much earlier in the day before ...

One more achievement can be claimed today - Rich N0PQU tested his 10GHz transverter today. He uses a MACOM brick oscillator on 10224MHz with a mixer and IC251 radio (more info about modifying that radio here).

Signal from this simple transverter was very stable, Jim N5MU and Herbert AF4JF have both made SSB  contacts with N0PQU across the parking lot. Although there still are things to be improved, Rich has certainly made it to the qroup of 10GHz-capable stations in St. Louis area. Congrats!

73 Herbert

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SLAMS Breakfast Meeting on October 7th

Our next SLAMS Breakfast will be Sunday October 7 at 8:00 am.
Location will again be at Denny’s, I-270 and Dorsett Road.
Who can make it ?
73, John

Monday, September 24, 2012

SPRINT Microwave Contest

This coming Saturday, September 29th, is the day of SPRINT 902 MHz And Up Contest. Contest starts at 7:00am and ends at 01:00pm local (!) time.

Rules can be found here:

73 Herbert

Monday, September 17, 2012

EM49ua my fifth grid square!

This is the distant grain silo that reflected the signals from EM49ua!
Pointing towards EM49ua
A big thank you to Dave, KB0PE and John, WB9PNU for venturing out to the Dow site, EM49ua to put it on the air Saturday 15 September.  By six am they were up and running and they were able to work Garth, W0GR both CW and USB.  This makes another new grid for Garth!  Congrats guys.  Next they were able to hear Zack, W9SZ in EM50rl, but then his signal disappeared.  Evidently Zack's transverter went out of lock and they were unable to make a two-way, which was especially annoying because this is the first time John has been able to hear Zack from this particular site.  Drats. It is now around 7:00 am I am up and running and I am hearing the WB9PNU/b 5X7.    Telemetry indicates that at 12:58Z the beacon is putting out 2.45 watts, voltage is 12.94 volts, internal temp of 70.5 degrees and external PA temp of 49 degrees.  At 12:14Z I work Dave and John on CW with 599 signals.  At 13:06Z I work Dave and John on USB!  Propagation was so good that morning that I was able to hear Dave and John off the backside of my dish.  When I was swinging it back towards them I noticed that their signal peaked when my dish was pointed at a metal grain silo!  Sure enough, upon closer inspection, the angle of inflection equaled the angle of reflection!  Too cool!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

ARRL VHF Contest

Some SLAMS members will participate in the upcoming  "ARRL September VHF" contest:

From the ARRL web site:

The second full weekend of September. Begins 1800 UTC Saturday and runs through 0259 UTC Monday (September 8-10, 2012).

All authorized frequencies above 50 MHz (6 Meters).

Remember, every QSO counts!

73 Herbert

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More DX on 10GHz

Jim N5MU and Herbert AF4JF worked Garth W0GR across 185 miles long path between EM48rq and EM38ax on 10GHz at 12:24 and 12:27 UTC today.

Garth has a 2ft. dish in 1017ft. a.s.l. and 8W into long waveguide, he thinks that only 4W make it to the antenna.

Jim has approx. 2ft. offset dish with DEMI transverter, 2W at the feed:

Herbert has the same 2ft. offset dish with 10mW DEMI transverter and external PA, only approx. 1.4W at the feed:

We have operated from EM48rq, using a parking lot of St. Luke's Rehabilitation Medical Facility just above the "Butterfly House" near Chesterfield. This place is in 700ft. a.s.l. and has nice open view towards West:

I believe that these QSOs were made through "wapor duct" that gets created by evaporation around sunrise. First, we didn't copy Garth until sunrise and second, we were aiming our dishes 5.5 deg. up (I have a digital gauge for that). There were no signals audible when aiming at the horizon, but I have copied Garth S8 after raising the antenna! 

Tropo conditions were promising today, so it might also have been tropospheric propagation:

Garth did NOT copy the WB9PNU/B beacon today.

73 Herbert

Monday, September 3, 2012

Finally, I put Zack, W9SZ in the log!

I noticed on the Hepburn page that at 12:00Z on 3 September conditions between Girard and Urbana didn't look too bad. I phoned Zack and asked him if he'd be up for a sked. We decided to see what the morning looked like and then we'd decide.  Around 6:40 am my phone rang and Zack was on his way about one-half an hour south of his QTH to EM59wx.  I need to work EM59 so that sounded good.  Packing up my rig in the car, waiting for a train to cross IL Route 4 and getting some coffee for the trip, I was up and running by 12:45Z.  I normally can copy WB9PNU/b anywhere from S-1 all the way to S-9, but this morning I could only to pick out "peeps."  It was buried in the noise floor.  Not very promising.  The temp was around 72 degrees with a dew point close by because my windows kept fogging up and I noticed that the fog was increasing.  Zack reported clear skies at first, but later the overcast and fog I was experiencing affected him as well. 

I turned my dish towards Zack in EM59wx, a heading of 68.2 and a distance of 95.2 miles.  I transmitted and Zack wasn't able to hear me.  Next he transmitted and I was able to able to hear his transmissions!  Barely, but he was copyable!  I made a few dish adjustments and then he listened to me and he was able to hear me!  At 13:16Z we made the two-way on 10 GHz!

Hepburn page for 3 Sept, but for 18:00Z  at 12:00 Z it looked much the same, but the green area in IL didn't extend so far towards the east.

Waiting for the train to cross IL Route 4 near Virden.

WB9PNU/b is towards the rear of my dish and to the left of the barn.  Only heard "peeps" from it this morning.

Azimuth of 68.2 degrees towards Zack, W9SZ in EM59wx and 95.2 miles away.
Tnx Zack for going out this morning!  I now only need one more grid for VUCC!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

MAD Activity on September 1st and 2nd

We have set up at YMCA in EM48sq at early hour today - my 10GHz station was operational at 5:45am this morning. Reason for this early setup was a "sked" with Garth W0GR on 10GHz. Garth copies the WB9PNU/B beacon signals with significant strength almost every morning, so we wanted to try while remnants of the tropical storm ISAAC were still in the area. EM38 would be new grid for me on 10GHz. 

NOAA satellite picture

Rain Scatter conditions

I was hoping for Rain Scatter, but all the usable storms went North out of Garth's reach. The only one remaining didn't have much reflectivity and was moving North, behind a line of trees from my point of view.

However, we have set up close to Marine Ave. at the YMCA entrance. Jim KK0JIM came to participate. Note the orange flashing light in the middle of the picture at its bottom:

Well, we didn't work Garth, although we have heard his beacon from time to time. Signal was very weak and never lasted long enough to copy even a single character in morse code. Just a few beeps and elevated noise. Not good.

Sudden burst of wind finally turned the antenna over and everything landed on the road. This has never happened before, but I have never set up with that umbrella in windy weather. Anyway, here comes a solution that I will be using from now on:

We gave up Garth at approx. 7:30 and moved to the usual location in the YMCA parking lot to try with Ron KO0Z. Signals were not as strong as usual, but we made it, both CW and SSB between 8:05 and 8:25 this morning. Signals were coming from azimuth 19deg. while direct line between us was 33deg. Signal takeoff angle was approx. 15deg. Signal was showing signs of Rain Scatter distortion. Distance 65 miles.

This was new grid for Ron KO0Z and first QSO on 10GHz ever for Jim KK0JIM who also celebrated his birthday today! Congratulations and thanks for all your help, Jim!

Packed up and returned home after that.


Tried one more time on Sunday 09/02 in the morning, right before SLAMS breakfast meeting. Rainy weather, no luck, despite setting up across the road from the YMCA entrance. We have to bribe Mr. Hepburn for better propagation next time ...

Very inconvenient rain ...

Note my car parked across the street 
the tripod anchored by the heavy battery!

Garth was unable to copy the WB9PNU/B beacon on 10GHz this morning, not even on Spectran. Too much water in the air .. and Garth reported heavy groubd fog in his area. Well, next time ...

NOAA satellite picture from Sunday 09/02


Friday, August 31, 2012

31 August GOES satellite

GOES satellite 31 August water vapor.  Remnants of Hurrican Issac now over Missouri and Illinois.
I forgot to include the GOES Satellite water vapor image for today's QSO with W9ZIH

EM59cl to EN51nv 10 GHz QSO

Woo-hoo again!  With the advancing of Hurricane Issac's remnants, I was hoping that the increased gulf moisture would aid us in a two-way 10 GHz QSO.  Ron said he was up for it.  When I stepped out this morning to load up my car with the rig; I sure could notice the big change in humidity.  The temperature was a bit warmer as well (79 F).  Rain was falling south of St. Louis, but nothing but overcast skies over Girard, IL.  Ron, W9ZIH reported partly cloudy skies and a big band opening to the east coast from 2 meters to 23 cm!  He wasn't hearing the WB9PNU/b.

I was up and running by 8:35 and I could copy John's beacon S-2 to S-7 but the FSK sounded a lot like auroral buzz.  Rain scatter, I understand, can make that happen.  According to my smartphone it was now raining in St. Louis, but just a few sprinkles in EM59cl.  I gave Ron a phone call and he told me he was just beginning to hear John's beacon.  Next he listened for me and was able to pick me up!  We made the two-way at 1405 Z on 10 GHz!   This is a distance of 195.8 miles!

Notice the orange/brown dotted line which is the surface trough.
Hepburn page for today's 10 GHz QSO with W9ZIH
Like my previous post, I am including some WX related charts.  I think the surface trough (orange/brown dotted line) may be significant.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

10 GHz Q between EM38ax and EM59cl

Woo-hoo!  When I awoke this morning I noticed that Garth, W0GR had emailed that he was hearing WB9PNU/b over S-9 around 6:00 am.  It was now 7:15 am and when I telephoned Garth he said there was QSB, but he could still hear the beacon.  After seeing Debbie and Roman off to school, I trundled up to my new site in EM59cl and set up.  By 8:15 am I was up and running and I could hear WB9PNU/b only S-0 to S-1.  I wasn't expecting much this morning.  I pointed my dish towards 262 degrees towards Odessa, MO and tuned for Garth.  There he  was roaring in sending Vs!  I quickly gave Garth a call and he listened for me and we made the two-way QSO on 10 GHz!  Woo-hoo!  Tnx Garth for being there.  This is new distance record for me, 226.2 miles and a new grid square for both me and Garth!

I am including some WX related data related to today's QSO that may prove to be useful information.  The remnants of Hurricane Issac are expected in our area in about 24 hours, but perhaps the low associated with it is pumping up gulf moisture ahead of it which may be enhancing propagation.
GOES Satellite Water Vapor image.  Notice the front draped across the norther plains states and the remnants of Hurricane Issac centered over Louisiana.

NWS, STL WX radar

Hepburn page for this morning's QSO. Not spectacular, but the path was made.  It is very helpful when one op has a super station!

Today's WX surface map from NOAA.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Next SLAMS Breakfast

Our next SLAMS Breakfast meeting will be Sunday September 2 at 8:00am.
Location will again be at Denny’s (I-270 and Dorsett Road).
We should spend some time discussing our plans for upcoming contests.
Who can make it?
73, John WB9PNU

Sunday, August 19, 2012


For day two of the ARRL 10 GHz contest, KC9ULA and I went north of Girard to scout a new site.  About 7.5 miles northeast of Girard, IL, we found a soybean field that looked promising  I was able to hear the WB9PNU/b at S-9!  Herbert, AF4JF heard me pounding in on cw.  I have a clearer shot to the north towards Zack, W9SZ and Ron, W9ZIH.  This may be my new location from EM59.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

ARRL "10GHz And Up" contest by AF4JF

I have set up in EM49pa near Winfield, MO for the first day of the contest (Saturday 08/18). The intention was to find new location in EM49 closer to my house than the AT&T tower near Dow in Illinois where we usually go.

I have worked N5MU from EM48sq (27 miles) and WA0CNS from EM48rl (38 miles). Didn't work anybody East of me, probably thanks to the higher ground on the Illinois side of the Mississippi river.


I have set up at YMCA in West St. Louis County (in EM48sq) on Sunday 08/19. It was raining a little when I arrived at the hill, so I have "installed" an "all-weather-option" on top of my 10GHz station:

I have encountered Mr. Murphy today - found a damaged transfer relay at my dish antenna. The relay was switching (means clicking), but the "TX" path didn't connect. I have to check my sequencer before replacing that relay.

More details here and here.

73 Herbert

I appreciate everyone that went out today to participate in the contest.  The corn was too high at my EM59bc location so I went to the soybean field in EM59bd which is less than 300 meters away from the other site.  I worked Harry, WA0CNS and Jim, N5MU this morning!  I didn't hear Herbert, AF4JF in EM49 nor did I hear Zack, W9SZ in EM59.  Too bad Zack found a rough road that, I am sure, helped devour his exhaust pipe.  Tnx for the effort Zack!  I heard the WB9PNU/b the entire time I was there.  Most of the time it was S-9, but by 10:00 am it was S-2 to S-5 with lots of QSB.  Later I went to a cable TV site east of Gillespie, and I was able to hear the beacon, but only S-0.  Perhaps tomorrow will be better!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

ARRL 10GHz And Up

SLAMS will participate in the upcoming  "ARRL 10GHz And Up" contest:

From the ARRL web site:

Third full weekend of August and September. The dates are August 18-19, 2012 and September 15-16, 2012. Operations may take place for 24 hours total on each contest weekend. Each weekend begins at 6:00 AM local Saturday though 12:00 midnight local Sunday.

We will attend on both days. Currently, our intention is to form several groups and drive around our area to activate nearby grids.

73 Herbert

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Congratulations to Herbert, AF4JF on working Ron, W9ZIH this morning on not just 432 MHz and 1.2 GHz, but 10 GHz as well!!! Way to go H!!!
Here is a screen capture of the Hepburn Tropo forecast for 12:00Z on 5 August 2012.  Notice the blue section towards Malta where Ron, W9ZIH resides.  The front was just to the south east of St. Louis.  Herbert sure called this one correctly!

Monday, July 30, 2012

CSVHFC 2012 add.

Couple of pictures from the CSVHF Conference in Cedar Rapids:

Ron KO0Z introduced new member of his family .. this is K9DOG

73 Herbert