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