Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Main VHF+ Contests in 2015

We have an older posting with more contests on our blog site right here or here. Some of the links to contest rules weren't updated yet, so today's posting below only shows a few contests today. We will update this list as soon as the information becomes available.

First Saturday 
of every month
Microwave Activity Day (MAD)
Not a contest but a time to just get on
and generate some RF!

2015 ARRL Jan. VHF Sweepstakes
link for 2015 has changed, new link here
April - 
SPRINT VHF+ Contests
link for 2015 here
SBMS Contest(San Bernardino Microwave Society)
SBMS web site
contest rules in the (old) SBMS newsletter here
2015 ARRL Jun. VHF QSO Party
link for 2015 has changed, new link here
July 18-19CQ WW VHF ... T.B.D.
2015 ?
2015 ARRL UHF Contest
(220MHz and Up)
Rules here ?
2015 ARRL 10GHz+ Contest 1/2
Rules here
2015 ?
2015 ARRL Sept. VHF QSO Party
Rules here ?
2015 ARRL 10GHz+ Contest 2/2
Rules here
Sept - Oct
2015 ?
SPRINT VHF+ Contests
? Rules here - not updated yet

Saturday, November 8, 2014

FYB0 (Freeze Your Buns Off) Microwave Attempt

The weather forecast wasn't especially encouraging.  Debbie and I were up before dawn and we were almost ready to go by our planned time of 7:00 am and we were only 15 minutes late.  That's good for me, since I am on "Ochu time" which translates into at least being 30 - 45 minutes later.  Our eleven old son, Roman didn't complain and he, too, was ready for the trip.  My idea of putting some Anderson power poles on one end of a pair of wires and a cigarette lighter plug on the other as a means of hooking up my 10 GHz rig in the car to warm up the 10 MHz oscillator worked well.  I did not have my usual 20 - 45 minute waiting period.

By 9:00 am, I am up and running at the grid corner of EN50aa and EM59ax and not far at all from the corner of EN40xa and EM49xx (about 200 yards).  I first try  to work Zack, W9SZ on the hill in EN50rl about 81 miles away.  I can copy his signal just out of the noise and there is severe QSB.  Likewise with Zack.  We both are experiencing 30-35 mile/hour winds and the temperature is about 42 degrees.  It is cold outside. The 1.2 GHz antennas behave more like wind vanes so we didn't even attempt that band.  So, Zack and I almost made a two-way, but not quite.  Oh well.

I next called Jim, N5MU at the Y in EM48sq about 96 miles away and we tried, but neither one of us heard even a peep.  The same story with Jim and Zack.  At this point we are struggling to keep our dishes from toppling over in the wind.  The wind broke up any ducts that may have formed so we called it a day.

I gave Ron, W9ZIH a call, but he was in the middle of a 2 meter QSO and he'd be happy to work me later and that was very nice of Ron, but I decided not to struggle with the winds and raw temps so we agreed to make it another day.

The grid corner of EN40, EN50, EM49 and EM59 looks like it will work.  I met the manager  of the property and he'd check with his boss to see if I could set up in the actual corner.  Otherwise, he was fine with me staying of the field edges. 

So what did I learn on this excursion?
*  Zack, Jim, Debbie, Roman and myself are microwave troopers.
* It was COLD outside!
* Strong winds are not conducive to good microwaving
* My DC power cord from the van's cigarette lighter to my rig is a great idea!
* Quicker set-up time to get on the air.
* The new grid site looks promising.
* Starbucks coffee tastes even better in 42 F temperatures and strong, gusty winds!
* A big THANK YOU to Zack and Jim for braving the elements!

                          A view of EN50aa/EM59ax looking  towards St. Louis and Jim, N5MU in EM48 sq.

                        This a view of EN50aa/EM59ax looking towards Zack, W9SV at EN50rl

       Debbie, Roman and I stopped for lunch at the Golden Corral in Springfield, IL.  Notice the landmark smoke stacks from the electrical plant along I-55 about 2 miles away from us.

73,  de Ron, KO0Z

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November SLAMS meeting in Troy, IL

It was good seeing most of the SLAMS members at our monthly meeting.  This month it was held at the TA Truck Stop in Troy, IL just off of I-55.  We chatted about inexpensive modules to get on 10 GHz, 24 GHz activity and our plans to activate the grid corner of EM49, EM59, EN40 and EN50 this upcoming Saturday, November 8 at 8:00 am.  Zack, W9SZ drove down from Champaign, IL to my Girard, IL QTH and we carpooled the rest of the way to Troy.  Good company and good food!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest - Round 2

Saturday, September 20, 2014 the alarm wakes me up at 5:30 am.  I slowly drag myself out of bed, shower and start to pack our Dodge minivan with my 10 GHz rig, my Kenwood TS 2000X, my mast, 2 meter loop and seven element 70 cm rig. By 8:00 am Debbie and I are on the road to Mt. Sterling, IL EN40.  But first, I had to stop at a sporting goods store along the way to purchase another engineering compass.  I had misplaced mine from an earlier outing and I also needed to pick up a piping hot, venti Starbucks coffee!  Kip also insisted on her Starbucks, "Pupachino."

 About two weeks earlier, I had chatted on FM simplex with Larry, W9LEM about the Mound Cemetery possibly being a good microwave site.  He said the cemetery was good in all directions except towards St. Louis.  The hilltop would be better and he told me who to contact to secure permission to operate from there.  Although, Google Maps Directions claimed that driving time would be one hour and forty-five minutes, due to a apple fair and some road closures/detours it took Debbie and I over two and a half hours to get there.  As it turns out, Google Maps road names do not match what is actually there.  The town of Mound Station is really called Timewell, IL.  None of the road signs indicate Mound Station.  Route 2, which takes you to the cemetery, is not called that at all.  Debbie and I found a local, who was exceptionally nice, and he informed us that he's never heard of any road with a two in it.  When he asked us where we were going, he immediately pointed us in the direction of the Mound Cemetery blacktop. "You take this here road west, until you see some anhydrous tanks.  I don't mean to be rude, but do you know what anhydrous tanks look like?"  We assured him that we do, and then he told us to make a right and that would be the  Mound Cemetery blacktop, AKA, in Google Maps, as Route 2.  His directions were fine, and we found the cemetery.  It is a good spot, as Larry suggested, but it was indeed not good back to St. Louis.  The cemetery is on the northeast downhill slope of the hill top.  The hill top, of which the cemetery is a part of, was covered in unharvested corn stalks thereby rendering it useless for microwave.  However, a half mile away from the cemetery was a farm house was on an even higher hill with a view in all directions!

 By this time a large number of ops were gathered back in St. Louis to work Debbie and I and we were already about an hour overdue. The hilltop farmer's wife gave us permission to operate and in my haste to hook up my gear, I cross polarized my power clips to my battery.  I blew out the internal fuse to my MFJ battery booster.  I brought tools, but my tool kit didn't have any screwdrivers.  It didn't matter much.  I didn't have a fuse for it anyway.  Lessons learned.  I bypassed my booster and I did get the rig going, but it was 4 volts underpowered.  Twenty minutes later, I couldn't hear the beacon and I was unable to hear the ops back at the YMCA in St. Louis a distance of 94.6 miles.  They were unable to hear me.  Next I tried Ron, W9ZIH in EN51nv, a distance of 166.4 miles and he was roaring in at 599!  However with ZIH's rubidium standard he is always on .100, but I found him up at .115 and I was drifting.  Ron couldn't hear me.  Being under powered, I am sure my power was down considerably and no telling where I was at in frequency from a poorly heated TXCO.   Okay, lessons learned.  Debbie and I drove to the Peoria Hamfest where I bought some tools, some fuses, some adapters and some other parts, if needed to fix my booster.

 Debbie and I stayed overnight in Peoria and I was able to use our bed as a workbench and five minutes later the booster was repaired and everything was working correctly!  We were back on for Sunday!  On Sunday morning, we made the under 20 mile trek to Craig, K9CT's super contest station for Debbie to see and then we went on a quest to find a suitable microwave site to activate EN50.  This turned out to be no small task.  That area is close to EN40xr and EN50ar, but it is hilly, corn covered and there is an abundance of trees.  Most of Illinois is flat, but this area is not.  We spent two hours looking for suitable sites.  We had fun sightseeing, but crisscrossing the countryside takes up time.  Finally about 8 miles outside of Peoria we found a soybean field with a good view towards ZIH.  I gave Ron a call from EN50dq.  Ron was soon on the air and almost immediately we made a two-way 3 cm QSO - a distance of 94.1 miles.  Afterwards, I did try to hear the WB9PNU/b, but there just were too many obstructions between us.

As it turns out, this wasn't a productive trip in terms of making QSOs, but I did learn a lot and I had a lot of fun.  I need to make sure that I have a good tool kit, plenty of spare fuses for both the rig and the booster, lots of time to scout the area out and at least 45 minutes for my TXCO to stabilize. 

I wish to thank all the SLAM members that came out to work me.  We will do it again gents and this time, if I can again get permission from the farmer, I will activate EN40 for you from a good hill top!  Debbie and I made it back to Girard, IL around 5:00 pm, tired, but all-in-all a great weekend!

 EN40na hilltop looking back towards St. Louis.  Too bad I blew out my battery booster.  As it turns out with my TXCO not heating properly, signals shifted 15 to 25 kc higher on my FT 817.  I did tune, but maybe not high enough to hear the ops back in EM48sq.  Next time!

                                          EN40na wooly worm predicting a harsh winter

                    Me getting ready to listen for Ron W9ZIH.  I heard him but he didn't hear me.

 Another wooly worm predicting a less harsh winter.  He was about six feet from the other wooly.  Must be microclimate forecasting...

                                      Mound Cemetery, EN40na.  Good towards the west.

                               Mound Cemetery, EN40na towards St. Louis...not so good.

                               Mound Cemetery, EN40na looking towards the southeast, I believe.

                        Mound Cemetery, EN40na looking towards W9ZIH whic is northeast.

KC9ULA and Kip relaxing in the motel after a long day of microwaving.  This motel bed also served as my workbench to get my battery booster working again which allowed us to be QRV on Sunday.

                       Part of Craig, K9CT's super contest station in EN50 near Trivoli, IL

                                                  Looking north from K9CT's station.

                                                               K9CT's EME array.

                                            K9CT's antenna farm in EN50

                   My station operating on Sunday, 9-21-14 from EN50dq looking towards W9ZIH (northeast)  in EN51nv about 94 miles away.

                     It was a challenge to find a flat, "treeless" field to in which to operate 3 cm in EN50.

                                                          KC9ULA and Kip at EN50dq

                      EN50dq looking back towards St. Louis.  Not so good in this direction.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest

I arrived on site, EM59ji Ohlman cemetery and in the rain set up my station which consisted of my 10 GHz rig and my Kenwood TS 2000 and a halo for 2 meter coordination.  My red poncho was a life saver by allowing me to remain QRV throughout the rain.  This is my second time to be QRV in the rain.  The first time was with John, WB9PNU when he and I were in Edwardsville, IL EM58 working the gang back at the YMCA in EM48qs and Zack at Dow, IL EM49ua.  That was my first time working rain scatter which proved to be an invaluable lesson.  Around 18:00Z I tried working Harry, WA0CNS back at the YMCA, EM48qs - a distance of 81.5 miles (131.16 km), but the best I could do was copy his call sign prefix.  I was just above the noise level at his end but not good enough for a two way QSO.  About 20 minutes later I heard Jim, N5MU at Dow, IL, EM49ua - a distance of 62.5 miles (100.6 km) with a rain scatter sounding signal.  At 18:28Z we made the Q!  At 1935Z I coordinated with Al, W5LUA in EN51xr a distance of 175 miles (281.6 km), but I heard Al best not at a azimuth of 20.1 degrees but 49 degrees to the west.  I was working him rain scatter!  Because of my earlier experience with John and Zack W9SZ I recognized the signal characteristics and Al went up from a 519 at his 20 degree heading to a 579 off the rain scatter!  Thank you everyone for the fun event!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

ARRL UHF Contest 2014

For the second morning in a row, my cell phone alarm clock woke me up at 09:30 Z (4:30 am, CDT).  Yesterday, it was to get me up and going to unlock the venue for the West Central Illinois hamfest in Carlinville, IL.  Today, it awakened me to my trek to participate in the ARRL UHF contest.  Earlier, it dawned on me that I hadn't dragged my 10 GHz rig out at all for 2014 and I needed to rectify that omission.  A few days earlier, I posted with SLAMS asking if anyone was planning to participate in this contest.  Jim, N5MU wrote that he'd be available on Sunday morning.  We agreed to try and work each other at 7:00 am.  Jim went to the tried and true YMCA site in EM48 and I went to Ohlman cemetery hill, just east of Ohlman, IL. 

When my alarm woke me up from a deep sleep, I asked myself, "Ochu, what on God's green Earth were you thinking?"  I forced my self up, showered, dressed and loaded up the car and made the 42 mile trek to the cemetery, but not before first making a pot of coffee to assist me along the way.

It was spectacular morning.  The sun was peaking above the eastern horizon and it was awash in orange behind the low-hanging, fog banks.  The birds were chirping and there was the promise of working Jim, N5MU later on this morning.  Now, I remembered why I agreed to do this; especially so, since I just spent the prior day working on a hamfest!

I made it to Ohlman Cemetery an hour later after leaving my Girard QTH.  It was 7:00 am and I called Jim on the cell phone to tell him that I had arrived and that I would be up and running in about 20 minutes.  Less than ten minutes later I had the tripod set up and the 10 GHz rig warming up.  I erected my mast for my six element 70 cm yagi, connected the coax and hooked it up to the 817.  I gave Jim a call and we heard each other with no problem at 12:35 Z.  The S meter wasn't indicating anything, but we both had solid copy on USB.  An 81.5 mile QSO.  Now, let's try 10 GHz.  I was copying John, WB9PNU's beacon about a S-5.  It had been almost a year since I heard it last and hearing the beacon's CW telemetry was like hearing an old friend again after a long absence!

Peaking up on the beacon, I nudged my dish a degree or so to the south to hear Jim.  I could copy his CW about 519.  A short while later Jim was 579.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go back to him because my FT 817 wasn't keying up.  I could hear my rig's sidetone, but the rig itself wasn't keying up.  It turns out that, somehow, a menu setting had changed and once I found it, I was able to correct for it and I was putting out CW.  Jim and I made the QSO at 13:22 Z with 519 reports!

After working Jim, I swung my 70 cm yagi towards Ron, W9ZIH's direction and towards Chicago and I made some noise, both CW and USB, but to no avail.  I took down my portable station and soon I was on the road to nearby Pana for a sausage and egg McMuffin before heading back to Girard. By 10:40 am, I was pulling into my driveway.  All said and done, it was an exceptional start to my day.  Thank you Jim!

                                          ( About 4 miles east of Girard, IL.  Notice the sun and the fog bank)

                              ( A better shot of the fog bank.  A good day for microwaving!)

                                          (  My view to the south.  Notice the fog bank)

 ( Here I am on top of the Ohlman cemetery hill.  My 70 cm yagi and 10 GHz rig are visible)

                                           (Another view of the cemetery portable set up from EM59ji)

                             ( My view back southwest towards Jim in EM48, 81.5 miles away)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday April 19, 2014 SLAMS 24 GHz Show-N-Tell Breakfast

I went to bed on Friday evening looking forward to Saturday's 24 GHz show-n-tell breakfast!  I awoke at 5:30 AM to shower and to make the 100 mile trek from central Illinois to the Bridgeton, MO  Denny's restaurant. I arrived at 8:10 and I would have been there on time if it weren't for the over turned tractor trailer closing the on ramp from I-55 southbound to I-270 westbound.  I had to drive six miles out of my way to reroute myself back towards I-270.  The funny thing is that when I lived in St. Peters which is only about 12 miles away, I would usually arrive around 8:45 to 9:00.  I live 82 miles farther away and I'm usually on time!  Go figure!

Getting back on to topic it was great to see SLAMS next big project which is to be QRV on 24 GHz!  Herbert - AF4JF and Harry - WA0CNS are really making progress and they are anxious to generously share their knowledge with the rest of us by paving the way and showing us which pit falls to avoid!  These gents are true experimenters and I deeply appreciate their expertise!  Herbert and Harry have the 24 GHz beacon almost QRV with 250 mW out to a Alford Slot Antenna!  The beacon's IF and keyer need to be installed and then a suitable site to install it needs to be found.  Herbert and Harry plan to experiment with a few potential sites to see which one is most favorable for omni propagation.

It looks like a few of us are going with the DMC units.  I am expecting mine to arrive from Poland any day now.  I have an Elcom synthesizer that Herbert will program for me.  I also have a PyroJoe 24 GHz filter.  I have a dish for my unit and I am thinking about using a cassegrain prime focus feed.

Thank you SLAMS for placing that proverbial fire under my tush to assist me with getting my rear in gear!

                                                        Taking the meeting outside

                                    Harry-WA0CNS with his prime focus, cassegrain fed dish.

                                                 Close- up of the cassegrain feed.

                                Notice how the feed horn's shadow sits dead center on the dish!

                                                   ELCOM unit with 23 GHz highpass filter.

        Herbert's 24 GHz Alford Slot omnidirectional antenna for the beacon.

                                                    DMC Kompakt unit for 24 GHz

                                            Modifications made to the DMC unit.

                                         An insider's view of the 24 GHz St. Louis beacon.

                                                      Harry- WA0CNS does fine work!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

24GHz And Up Breakfast

The SLAMS will have another breakfast / meeting dedicated to microwave bands 24GHz and higher. This event will take place on Saturday April 19 at 8:00am. Usual location - the DENNYs restaurant on Dorsett Rd., just off I-270 in west St. Louis.

73 Herbert

Sunday, March 9, 2014

SLAMS Meeting Today

We have had another nice SLAMS breakfast at the TA restaurant near Troy, IL today (March 9). Total of 10 HAMs attended the breakfast. We have met another local HAM who was dining at the restaurant by coincidence. The place (at the local BP gas station) certainly is suitable for this kind of activity. Breakfast buffet with good selection or menu for these who prefer that. We will return to this location on June 1st.

Next SLAMS breakfast will take place at DENNY's on Dorsett, April 6 at 8:00 am as planned.

73 Herbert

Friday, February 28, 2014

Next SLAMS Breakfast - decision

Based on your feedback and weather forecast, we will postpone our next SLAMS breakfast. We will meet next Sunday 3/9 at 8:00am at the BP gas station in Troy, IL / Travel America (TA) center. No meeting this coming weekend.

I will bring my 10GHz station to that meeting.

73 Herbert

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Next SLAMS Breakfast


Weather forecast for this Sunday 3/2 is extremely bad. Even if it doesn't come to freezing sleet and snowy roads, we won't be able to have any activity outdoors after the breakfast. I would say that we should move it to next Sunday 3/9 and meet at 8:00am at the BP gas station in Troy, IL / Travel America (TA) center.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Next SLAMS Breakfast Meeting

Due to extreme weather conditions in the St. Louis area today, we are moving the SLAMS Breakfast to next Sunday, January 12. We will meet at 8:00am. The usual place - Denny's on Dorsett Rd., just off I-270.