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)