Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MUD 2016

MUD 2016 is now history.  October 13-16 saw the gathering of some of the finest minds in Amateur Radio microwave operation gathered together at the Earth City Holiday Inn.  We had ops from England and from Australia share their experiences. 

MUD 2016 provided an antenna testing range and a room for preamp measurements.  I had two preamps measured  (432 and 1.2) by Dick, WA2AAU and he gave me an  excellent tutorial using HP test gear.  Thank you Dick!

Everyone involved with MUD did an excellent job and we received many compliments.  In addition to providing some writing consultation, my photos were selected for the cover of the MUD 2016 Proceedings! 

Al Ward, W5LUA made a number of 10 GHz EME contacts with Europe.

The banquet was excellent and the attendance prizes were very nice.  I know we had some difficulty procuring prizes, but it all worked out.

Monday, October 3, 2016

MUD 2016 Conference in St. Louis

(October 13-15, 2016)
There are less than a week until Microwave 2016 will be underway.   Please see the MUD web site for a complete schedule including a list of Speakers and topics. 
Here is a quick snap shot of what to expect at MUD 2016:
·        We are also fortunate to have Ward Silver and Steve Bible to speak at the Friday and Saturday lunches. 
·        Al Ward will be giving live 10 GHz EME demonstrations on Thursday and Friday evenings. 
·        Antenna Range on Friday Afternoon with Kent Britain
·        280 Page Proceedings
·        Noise Figure testing with Tom Holmes
·        Hospitality Room
·        Friday Evening Swap Meet
·        Saturday Banquet with guest speaker Richard Heuermann, NASA Solar Ambassador
"Hubble Highlights: A Quarter Century of Discovery"

Walk-in registrations for one day available, but you won't get any meals (these have to be ordered week ahead) and we can't guarantee you a copy of Proceedings (available until we run out of supply). 
There are still rooms available at the Holiday Inn – Airport West at the special conference rate which includes a free breakfast buffet on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  We have ran past the date that they were holding a block of rooms for us so please book early as the rooms may be sold to others.  Use the link from the “Hotel” tab on the MUD 2016 WEB site to get the conference rate at the hotel
We look forward to seeing everyone in St. Louis
The Microwave Update 2016 Committee

Monday, September 19, 2016

ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest 2016, Round Two

   Potential microwave site near Taylorville, IL EM59ik when the corn is not so high or soy beans are growing.  It's on a high hill, but crops grow right up to the tower.

Saturday, September 17, 2016:  Round Two of the ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest.  I wasn't able to participate
in Round One, a month earlier, as a result of a death in the family.  So, I was really looking forward to
getting on the air for round two.  Most of the Illinois microwave ops were heading for Lake Michigan.  I chose to stay
close to home and to activate grid square EM59ji from Ohlman Cemetery.

Unfortunately, Herbert, AF4JF wasn't able to participate and Harry, WA0CNS went to High Ridge, MO to
activate grid square EM48rl a distance of 94 miles.  Saturday morning, Harry was looking into a dark
cloud from the ridge and the vegetation had taken over since he was there last.  I was looking into some
fog banks.  We tried to work each other, but conditions were not good at all.  I wasn't able to hear the
St. Louis beacon, WB9PNU/b until about 45 minutes later and then it was only just above the noise level and then only for about 10 minutes.
Temperature was in the low 70s.  Unfortunately, Harry had limited time so we called it a day.  I called
Ron, W9ZIH in Malta, IL EN51nv, but we weren't able to work each other.  We've done it before from that
spot, but Ron is looking into a hill towards the southeast.  We need enhanced conditions and Saturday was
not providing us any.  Ron said he wasn't working anybody on Saturday. I also tried working Greg, KA9VDU
 in EN53ms (WI), but no luck either.

Disappointing to say the least.  However, wishing to turn lemons into lemonade, to borrow a cliched phrase,
I decided to scout out some potential microwave sites.  A chap told me that there was a hill between Nokomis,
IL and Taylorville, IL on the blacktop road that might fit the bill.  I found the site about five miles south
of Taylorville on Nokomis-Taylorville blacktop road and the intersection of E. 700 North Rd, EM59ik.

The site looks promising.  There is a FM tower and a former Western Union twin tower on the property, but
tall, microwave absorbing corn stalks surround the entire site.  This site will only be useable when the
crops are lower.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I went on into Taylorville, ate lunch at Sangchris Lake
State Park and went on home for the day.  We'll see what Sunday will bring.

Sunday morning, I went to my favorite site east of Virden and only 10 miles away EM59dm.  I could actually copy
the WB9PNU beacon, but nobody to work.   The beacon's telemetry indicated the beacon is putting out 1.18 watts,
12.9 VDC, and temps of 98 and 92 degrees.  Afterwards, I called Ron, W9ZIH on the phone and we tried on 3 cm,
 but again no joy.  I drove up to Elkhart, IL, about 40 miles away, to check out the hill in the afternoon.  I tried working W9ZIH
from RT 66, just north of Elkhart EN50ga, but band conditions just weren't there.  I couldn't get up on the hill,
and it is forested.  I drove to Mt. Pulaski, ten miles to the east, but no suitable sites were found there.  I
drove to Lincoln, IL, but cornfields were everywhere.  High spots were privately owned and forested. 

At this point, I gave up, but at least I scouted out the area.  Just west of Elkart on I-55 is a smaller hill with
views to the south, west and northeast.  East is looking into Elkhart hill.  There are two farmhouses on top of the
smaller hill and I am thinking about asking them for permission to operate sometime in the future.

So my 10 GHz and Up contested resulted in 0 contacts and 0 points and over 300 miles driving scouting out potential
sites.  Disappointing, but fun nonetheless.  I've been able to eliminate a lot of sites off my list.  All-in-all,
not a bad way to spend the contest weekend with no 3 cm propagation.

de Ron, KO0Z

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Besides hearing Dr. Kennedy, KH6/K6MIO speak at the CSVHFS conference in Rochester, MN on Solar Cycles and C25 (Maybe?) which is always worthwhile; seeing Al Ward, W5LUA demonstrate 10 GHz EME QSOs all three days of the conference was a great treat!

Al used JT software and CW.  He made EME  QSOs with stateside ops as well as European ops.

Al is running 50 watts into his dish.  Al measures noise off of the moon to accurately point his dish.

2017 Solar Eclipse

While attending the CSVHFS conference in Rochester late July, a bulletin board caught my eye.  As we are making preparations for this year's ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, next year's contest proves to have an added bonus!  In 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse the day after the contest (Aug19-20) on the 21st!

Please note in the picture below that a number of microwave groups are making plans to be active during the eclipse.  SLAMS has been included!  What an exciting opportunity!

 The St. Louis area will be along the path of totality.

Let's bring this event up and start making plans for to participate and coordinate our efforts with the other microwave groups!

 Ron, KO0Z

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"ARRL" UHF Contest 2016

>>> The ARRL August UHF Contest for 2016 has been cancelled, while the ARRL VHF Contest Revitalization Committee considers alternatives. <<<

This text is from an article on the ARRL web site, look here.

However, HAMs will still have a contest. Look here for details.

Aug. 6-7, 2016, 1800z Saturday to 1800z Sunday

     After ARRL announced that it would not sponsor the UHF contest in 2016, a group of radio amateurs from coast to coast came together to make sure that the contest does occur as scheduled on Aug. 6-7, 2016 (1800z Saturday until 1800z Sunday).
     The sponsoring group includes the leaders of several large VHF-oriented clubs, two volunteers who write contest results articles for QST, the editor of the "World Above 50 MHz" column in QST, two people with extensive computer log-checking expertise, and others who are concerned about the future of contesting on the amateur bands above 222 MHz.  We believe that continuity is important in amateur radio contests.  We do not want even a one-year hiatus for a contest that has been an annual tradition for almost 40 years.  While we welcome the efforts of ARRL's leaders to develop a new kind of UHF contest that could be held in the spring of 2017, in the meantime we are committed to hosting a first-rate UHF contest in 2016.

73 Herbert

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ARRL June VHF Contest

I am getting more and more into contesting.  It's addictive!  VHF contests can be either very exciting or somewhat boring depending on propagation.    The weekend of June 11-12 was a boon for six meters!  I made it a point to work 2 meters, 70 cm and 23 cm, but the main action was on six, which shifted the focus from the higher bands onto six.  I had a lot of fun.  I went to the Egyptian Hamfest and had breakfast at Uncle Lennie's and then onto to Ohlman Cemetery, EM59ji, which as it tuns out, cost me points in the contest.  But I attended knowing that was a possibility.  Seeing everyone at breakfast and learning more about the microwave signal source was well worth it!

When I arrived at EM59ji, it was hot, humid, sticky and very miserable.  Temp was 94 degrees.  I set up my 3 cm rig and tried to copy the WB9PNU beacon but nothing was heard.  It was 1:00 pm and usually that is the case around that time.  I tried working Ron, W9ZIH but we couldn't hear each other.  Zack, W9SZ was QRT.  So I packed up and got home in EM 59ck just before a T-storm moved overhead from out of the northeast to the southwest.  I checked W0SM's rainscatter and I had a path back to the beacon.  I set up my 3 cm rig in the garage, pointed the dish northeast and I was able to copy the WB9PNU beacon via rainscatter!  It didn't last all that long and my 10 MHz oscillator wasn't up to temp so the signal sounds even "wattery" than usual with rainscatter.  I posted the rainscatter video on my facebook page:

Central States VHFS Conference

Many SLAMS members are also Central States VHF Society members and this organization, besides promoting VHF,  does promote and support microwave development and contesting.   In fact, Bruce, W9FZ is offering a Microwave 101 course at the conference for newbies!   The conference is coming up July 28-31 in Rochester, MN at the Kahler Apache Hotel and waterpark.  A reminder that the deadline for lower rates is just around the corner:  June 27th.  Go to for more information.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

New Slams Tradition - June Breakfast at Uncle Linny'

We've started a new SLAMS tradition of combining the ARRL June VHF Contest with the Egyptian ARC Hamfest and our monthly breakfast at Uncle Linny's in Pontoon Beach, IL.  I was glad to see everyone.  Summer arrived and it was HOT, HUMID and STICKY.  Around 10:00 am we left the hamfest went to Uncle Linny's and enjoyed a great, reasonably priced breakfast.  Herbert has done some tremendous work on a really inexpensive microwave signal source.  I just ordered mine on Ebay.  See AF4JF's posting on his blog site for more information.

After breakfast we headed our separate ways around 11:15 am.  Debbie and I went to Ohlmann Cemetery in EM49ji.  I arrived around 1:00 pm, set up my 10 GHz rig and listened for the WB9PNU/B.  I didn't hear a peep.  It's been nine months since I last powered up the rig.  I called Zack, but he wasn't out and about for the contest due to car troubles unfortunately.  I called Ron, W9ZIH and we couldn't hear each other.  Drats.  Maybe something wrong at my end.

Debbie and I made it back home in EM59ck and about 20 minutes later a t-storm from out of the northeast heading southwest was upon me.  I powered up my 10 GHz rig, aimed it northeast and lo and behold, I could hear WB9PNU/B about 529 via rainscatter!  My rig still works!

After posting these photos I am returning back to the ARRL VHF contest.  Visiting with everyone cost me a few points and mults, but it was well worth it to see everyone!

Sam, Rich, Jim and Herbert.  Debbie is in the purple, but not shown fully in the picture

                                                         Herbert and Harry

                                The Arduino Shield connected to Arduino which in turn programs a microwave signal source with ADF4351 good for 10 dBm!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

MAD Day May 7, 2016

Herbert AF4JF, Harry WA0CNS and Jim N5MU met on the hilltop in EM48rq for Microwave Activity Day today (remember, MAD Days are every first Saturday of the month). The task for today was 24GHz.

We have tried 24GHz from this location several times. Everything looked OK today, Harry and Herbert have copied each other in the parking lot. Harry moved to the valley approx. 3.8 miles away and set up there. Herbert and Jim copied his signal well, but Harry didn't hear us down  there. The station on the hill (on picture) was only about 1 mW of power while Harry's station was close to one watt RF. 

Another interesting problem was the wind. Not only did we have problem hearing anything between the gusts, there also was a mechanical problem. The dish on picture was mounted on long piece of aluminium which was vibrating in the wind, causing the dish to lose aim. Yes, 24GHz beam from a dish of this size is quite narrow and difficult to aim.

The other tripod usually holds 10GHz dish. That band is "trivial" for short distance like this :-)
We didn't even try today.

73 Herbert

Saturday, April 23, 2016

MUD 2016

Microwave Update 2016 will take place in St. Louis this year. Click on this link to find more info.

73 Herbert