Saturday, January 21, 2023

ARRL VHF Contest January 2023

Our first VHF contest in 2023, the "January ARRL VHF", just took place today. Weather was nice, almost 50F with plenty of sunshine, so Herbert AF4JF, Harry WA0CNS and Ron KO0Z decided to attend the contest as Rovers while Marshall WD9EXD attended from his contest QTH. We only operated for couple of hours on a few bands, but it was a nice start of the season.

Herbert AF4JF (myself) made 15 QSOs on 144 and 432MHz bands during first 3 hours of the contest and activated 2 grids (EM48 and EM49) as a Rover. Tested new small Yagi antennas (3 el. for 144MHz and 10el. for 432MHz). Much better than the loops I have been using before! I will have them mounted on a rotor installed on the luggage rack of my SUV for the next contest.

Several pictures to illustrate:

AF4JF/R in EM48qs

AF4JF/R (and Darcey "K9DOG") in EM49pa

Winfield Lock and Dam in EM49pa

Saturday, November 5, 2022

SLAMS Annual Chadler Hill Winery Meeting

Saturday, November 5, 2022, Herbert AF4JF, Darcy, Harry WA0CNS, Tammy KI7GVT, Kevin AD7OI, Debbie KC9ULA and Ron KO0Z gathered at Chandler Hill Winery near Defiance, MO for our annual get together.  We discussed our calendar of uW events/meetings for 2023's calendar, Kevin's plans to put a 10 GHz beacon near Hannibal and our 122 GHz progress.

Although it was windy, we were able to sit outside on a covered porch with propane heaters and enjoyed good food and great company!  A big shout out to Kevin and Tammy for making the trek from Hannibal to be at our meeting.

Left to right:  Tammy KI7GVT, Kevin AD7OI, Ron KO0Z, Debbie KC9ULA and Harry WA0CNS

Left to right:  Harry WA0CNS, Herbert AF4JF, Tammy KI7GVT and Kevin AD7OI


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

SPRINT Contests Fall 2022

The Fall series of SPRINT contests just finished. I was not able to attend the 144MHz segment, but managed to make couple of QSOs in the 222MHz, 432MHz and the Microwave contests. Just like I said - a "couple of" QSOs. Two in the 222MHz contests, two in the 432MHz contests and (wow), three in the Microwave contests. There was literally nobody to work. Certainly nobody local. The VHF+ activity in Saint Louis area is very low, not sure why.

I am attaching several pictures of my rover station.

AF4JF/R in EM49pa - 222MHz

AF4JF/R working N0IS from EM49pa - 222MHz

AF4JF/R from EM38px - 222MHz

AF4JF/R in EM49pa - 432MHz

AF4JF/R working WA0CNS from EM48px - 432MHz

AF4JF/R in EM48qs - 1296MHz, 2304MHz and 10GHz

AF4JF/R and Darcey in EM48qs,
just after working WA0CNS on 10GHz

Looks like a mess, but the rack worked nicely!
AF4JF/R just worked W9SZ/R on 1296MHz

New, promising location in Winghaven EM48os
AF4J/R tried to work N0OY on 1296MHz over 621km
(we both saw each other on the waterfall, but no QSO)

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Hepburn Tropo Forecast for the Aug 20-21 10 GHz and Up Contest

 It's helpful to check William Hepburn's Tropospheric Ducting Forecast page: for possible uW openings.  Here was his forecast for the 2022 ARRL 10 GHz and Up contest on Saturday, 20 August and Sunday 21 August 2022.  Credit goes to William Hepburn.  These forecasts can be very useful in correlating actual, observed field uW conditions with forecast modeling.

Monday, August 22, 2022

August 2022 ARRL 10 GHz and Up

 Saturday, 20 August, 5:00am, my alarm woke both me Ron KO0Z, and Debbie KC9ULA up.  After quickly showering, Debbie, Toula (our Aussie) and I met up with Herbert AF4JF and Harry WA0CNS in St. Peters by 6:00 am and formed a caravan up to Hannibal, MO EM49hq for the first leg of the ARRL August 2022 10 GHz and Up contest.  We were looking forward to meeting two, new SLAMS members Kevin AD7OI and his wife Tammy KI7GVT who recently moved from Arizona.  Kevin and Tammy are originally from Hannibal and both are experienced microwavers. 

 AD7OI has a very strong signal with his 10 GHz 60 watt signal!  We all met up just south of Hannibal at Lovers' Leap EM49hq.  This river ridge park is an excellent microwave location.  

Pictured left to right:  Debbie KC9ULA, Harry WA0CNS, Herbert AF4JF, Tammy KI7GVT and Kevin AD7OI at Lovers' Leap EM49hq, just south of Hannibal, MO.

 After our meet and greet, we set-up our rigs and began to make contacts.  One attempt was with some buddies near Cedar Rapids, but band conditions were not with us even with Kevin's 60 watt flame thrower.  However our group had much better luck working Gedas W8BYA, 337 miles (537 km) away near Ft. Wayne, IN!  We also succeeded working Zack W9SZ north of Champaign, IL in EN50rl 159 miles (256 km) to our east.  Zack went to another hill in EN50 for a successful 10 GHz Q.  

Ron KO0Z and Debbie KC9ULA crossed over the mighty Mississippi River to John Hays Recreation Area in EM49hr72. It is clearly visible a mile away as a gravel area from Lovers' Leap.

      The yellow arrow points to the Hays Recreational Area in East Hannibal about 1 mile away.

 Unfortunately Ron, Herbert and Harry were not able to make a successful two-way 24 GHz Q.  Herbert and Harry could hear me, but I was only able to copy one of them just for a short time, but not long enough to make a valid Q.  Drats.  But the weather was nice and the breeze across the river was welcome.

24 GHz dish pointing back across the Mississippi River towards Lovers' Leap EM49hq, 1 mile away from Hays Recreation Area EM49hr72.


Debbie KC9ULA is enjoying a good novel while her hubby Ron plays with 24 GHz.



                                 Toula, our Aussie is taking in the sights and smells of EM49hr72.


              Larry KA9GWM spotted our uW activity and stopped by for a nice "eyeball" QSO.



Once we completed our EM49hq Qs, our next stop further down MO Hwy 79 is Lousiana, MO.  Zack W9SZ was making tracks for Ohlman Cemetery EM59ji and we needed a clear shot.  This was our first attempt to work Ohlman from this location.  We arrived on site after 2:00 pm and set-up. Although, we had partly cloudy skies, rain clouds were forming to our east which gave us rain scatter opportunities.

We worked Gedas W8BYA (322 miles, 518 km) and Zack W9SZ  ( 98 miles, 157 km) from that location.  Lousiana is another good uW location towards the northeast through southeast along the Mississippi River.

              Kevin AD7OI's dish aimed  towards Zack W9SZ in EM59ji from Louisana EM49lk.


 Kevin, Harry and Herbert made two-way 10 GHz Qs with Zack from Louisana to Ohoman cemetery!

Our next Saturday stop would be the park and Cottleville, MO  EM48qs and Dow, IL EM49ua.  Zack left Ohlman and headed towards Dow.  In the meantime, we parted company with Kevin.  He headed back home to Hannibal.  It was great meeting him and Tammy for the first time.  We made plans to continue with the contest on Sunday.

   Tired, but not exhausted 12 hours later Harry WA0CNS and Herbert AF4JF made a successful 10 GHz two-way Q with Zack 25 miles away at Dow, IL.  EM48qs to EM49ua.

 Twelve hours later Harry and Herbert made a ten gig contact with Zack W9SZ in Dow.  As luck would have it with microwaving, the shortest distance contact proved to be the most challenging.  It took a few tries, but the effort was worth it!  A huge rainbow complimented everyone's efforts.  Fortunately for us we had a few miles to go before home.  Poor Zack had at least a 3 hour drive for him back to Champaign, IL.  

Sunday, 21 August 2021  

 On Saturday we all agreed to not get up so early on Sunday.  Herbert called me around 9:40 am and asked if I'd like to accompany him to Kingdom City EM38xw to work Kevin planning to set up somewhere Macon, MO.  Sure!  A tall coffee cup later from Flying J Truck Stop and armed with a banana and two apples I was ready!  We arrived at our location along I-70 about 3 miles west of Kingdom City EM38xw to work Kevin AD7OI.

Successful 10 GHz Q with Kevin AD7OI Sunday afternoon from EM39xw and EM39uf.  About 25 miles.


Herbert AF4JF tried to work Harry WA0CNS in EM48pq, near High Ridge, MO but no luck on this attempt.

                            A close up screenshot of our uW site outside of Kingdom City EM38xw


                                       Darcy checking out the sights and smells of EM38xw

 EM38xw, about 3 miles west of Kingdom City alongside the I-70 south service road.  It's a good spot in almost all directions.  Noisy with all the interstate traffic, but not a bad contest location.  AD7OI and KI7GVT joined us for another meet and greet and to check out this location for future reference.  Afterwards we headed east towards St. Peters and Kevin and Tammy went into town for lunch.

All in all, a great contest and 10 GHz outing.  As luck would prevail, we got our 24 GHz rigs working towards the end of the contest.  Next month!

More contest photos

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

KO0Z's Limited Participation in the Aug 2022 ARRL UHF Contest

 Usually I haven't been available to work the ARRL UHF contest in August.  The West Central Illinois Hamfest near Carlinville, IL used to occupy the first Saturday in August.  This year the hamfest was moved to the second Saturday in August.This year I can participate, but I'm still in the process of setting up my shack, and I am inching ever closer to getting back into contest mode.  I did make it by to see Herbert AF4JF at the nearby community college and we made plans to operate from EM38 on Sunday, August 7th.

Herbert woke up earlier on Sunday to attempt working tropo on 10 GHz. Not being as ambitious as Herbert, I sacked in a little later.  I only brought 24 GHz, 25 microwatts of power that Harry WA0CNS kindly lent me.  I left my St. Peters QTH around 7:50 am and I was on site, EM38 shortly after 9:00 am.  I parked nearby Herbert and set up, just to check our equipment.  My microphone wasn't keying up the rig for some reason.  Herbert's microphone worked, but he needed it to work Harry WA0CNS in High Ridge.

We decided I would send CW and Herbert would reply with USB.  I drove west along the service road about 8 tenths of a mile and found a nice, gravel, pull out to set up, well out of traffic's way.  It took some time to aim the dishes and to optimize.  Herbert's USB signal was very distorted, but I was able to copy.  AF4JF's location is EM38xw28 and mine was EM38xw18.  We made the two-way 24 GHz Q at 10:13 am CDT.  Our 15 mile, 24 GHz Q in July proved to be much easier!  Go figure!

All in all, it was a fun trip and I thank Herbert and Harry for the opportunity to participate.

               Ron KO0Z set up 24 GHz at a gravel pull out in EM38xw18.  8 tenths of a mile west of Herbert AF4JF.

                    Herbert AF4JF 10 GHz, 24 GHz, 1.2 GHz set up in EM38xw28

                                                             Screen shot of EM38 xw

                                                       Screen shot of EM38xw28 on the grid map.

Monday, August 8, 2022

ARRL UHF Distance Scoring Contest

Some members of the SLAMS group participated on the ARRL UHF Distance Scoring Contest on 6th and 7th of August, 2022, mostly to test our equipment before the upcoming ARRL 10GHz And Up contests.

Saturday the 6th was a very hot day, temperatures in 3 digits. We decided to start a little later in order to survive and even be able to get out the next day. We decided to operate from Saint Louis area (EM48) on Saturday, but go closer to the Kansas border (EM38) on Sunday.

I started at the Community College in Cottleville on Saturday. There is a nice county park in EM48qs (same grid as my house). I have set up at 4:00pm to try with Pete K9PW on 432MHz and 10GHz. However .. I forgot my antenna cable for 432MHz. Pete was located in EN51xr about 395km away. Although the location has a clear shot in the direction of 33deg. and I have worked stations from that area before, we did not make it on 10GHz.

My next try was with Harry WA0CNS who set up at High Ridge in EM48rl. We were able to make SSB QSOs on 10GHz and 23cm (the second one with just 2W of power on my side although I have had my 40W set up). Distance 33km.

AF4JF pointing towards WA0CNS from EM48qs

The day was crowned by a nice RS QSO with Gedas W8BYA on 10GHz. He was in EN70jt as usual and the distance was 515km. Ron KO0Z arrived at the park and we made plans for the next day.

My Sunday started a little inconveniently - by getting out of bed at 4:00am. I wanted to drive to EM38xw and be there when the sun comes out to utilize the morning tropo propagation. We (me and my dog Darcey) arrived right on time and started setting up at 6:30am.

Darcey making sure that I set up everything correctly

We got on 10GHz first and tried with Pete N0OY before the scheduled 7:00am .. but it didn't work. No tropo enhancement between us. We tried several times, then took a break to set up the other bands. And started noticing problems.
Brand new LMR400, factory made but not working

My 23cm did neither receive nor transmit. I spent some time troubleshooting to find out why no receive - the new cable that I replaced since yesterday not working. That was an easy fix (replaced it), but my PA was not transmitting. It was working fine just the day before .. I discovered a blown electrolytic capacitor when I checked it later at home. I have that PA for more than 10 years and I got it as old, used equipment, so that capacitor had full right to fail. It would just be nicer it if would do so at some other time, not in the contest far away from home ... long story short, I was only running 2W on 23cm.

Trying with N0OY from EM38xw

I didn't work Pete N0OY that day. No signal on 10GHz, not even on 432MHz. I have copied his 80W on 1296MHz but he didn't hear my 2W across 498km ...

I have worked Greg WQ0P on 23cm from there. He was able to copy my 2W on 1296MHz across the distance of 354km. Same with Harry WA0CNS who tried to find a location in his area to work me. He finally found a spot in EM48pq and worked me on 1296MHz across 119km. Not bad.

Ron KO0Z arrived with his 24GHz station and we tried to make a QSO on that band. I am running 100mW on 24GHz band, but Ron's station is in the range of microwatts. We have finally made a contact across 1.1km, but it wasn't easy. I will leave the details to Ron.

Working KO0Z on 24GHz using SDR Pluto and a laptop as my IF 

Everything considered, it was a successful contest, even with just 6 QSOs made during its 24 hour span. After packing everything, we went to explore the area and found an acceptable location for RS in the new grid EM39xx. We will test that next time.