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Soapbox for 2019
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HATE: Cabrillo format - what's wrong with a simple spreadsheet? LOVE: Getting on the air!
Operated from the home QTH this year. Good rain scatter opportunities both weekends which really made the contest activity "worthwhile". Shortest QSO distance was 211km and the longest was 484km all to rovers with the exception of one other home station. 10GHz QSOs NEVER GET OLD, still seems like "magic" even after being on the band since 2003. Non-contest 10GHz QSOs are becoming more difficult to get so much of the activity is portable based and all the area operators have been on the band so long that they only operate contests. Home stations are very limited in number out here in the upper mid-west. (6 stations in a 450 mile radius) A BIG THANKS to the Northern Lights Radio Society for actively promoting the micro-wave activity. 73 Bill K0AWU
August 17-18 2019 Block Island Rhode Island FN41ee with the Dale AF1T and Mickie W1MKY team, plus new team member Steve K3WHC. Contest Saturday morning started with the four of us on the porch before 1000 UTC, looking for the short-term sunrise enhancement that sets up on paths to the mainland early, almost every summer morning. Our first contest QSO was with Ray N3RG, fixed station, in FM29ki at 360 km. Ray has such a consistent 10 GHz signal from southern New Jersey – on Block Island, or from my home QTH, or from the other few sites I have been to in the Mid-Atlantic. By 1115 we had also worked Tyler KM3G portable in FM29ti at the northeast end of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, at 310 km. Tyler had previously only made a 10 GHz contact once - with Rover Rich and Al NN3Q, in the same parking lot. [KM3G Pictures]. Then John N9ZL FM08us at 630km’s. Four foot dish and 20 watts! Yikes! Worked John on sideband [Pictures at Blue Knob in September]. We also worked Rene VE2UG at his home QTH in FN35gs for 530 km’s. Plus a number of other contacts were completed that day and as we finished the day we felt we had a very good start. Sunday morning started off same way as Saturday. Everyone on deck at 1000 UTC. Many stations were worked across the Mid-Atlantic, western New York and across all six states in New England. At a certain point in the early afternoon we shut down due to close by lightning strikes near the border of Connecticut and Rhode Island, right on the coastline – not far from us. When we started up again, Steve K3WHC had set up his cell phone as a mobile hotspot, which provided internet service to his laptop. This feature allowed Steve to drive the teams pointing to stations across the region where more high altitude rain storm cells were displayed on the K0SM Rainscatter program on Steve’s laptop. And with close liaison using the cell phones allowed us to instantly share that awesome pointing accuracy with other distant stations. On rainscatter, with Steve “driving the train”, we four worked Kevin VE3KH in FN03cg at 713 km’s, Peter VA3ELE and Hugh VA3TO both in FN03vw at 621 km’s, Steve VE3SMA in FN03bi at 722 km’s [our Best DX for the two weekends] and Peter VA3ELE and Hugh VA3TO again now in FN14ba at 602 km’s – all on USB with very strong signals. It was a pretty exciting time over a period of almost three hours. In the middle of this time we also worked Andrea K2EZ/R at FN21ia, for what we think is her first 10 GHz contacts. We finished off the evening with a tropo contact with Brian N3OC in FM19le at 512 km’s. My total for the first weekend was 70 contacts, 50 unique calls and about 27,000 km’s. Be sure to Work the List. September 21 2019 at Big Pocono State Park in FN21hb with Bill W2RMA. We got to the east overlook and set up and again worked Ray N3RG in FM29ki at 316 km’s. I used Ray’s signal to calibrate the compass rose and we were off and running. Bill was using the Sun Calc app to fix our azimuth with the suns shadow back in the dish. Both worked well, and Bill’s app worked even better as we move around the mountain to get to the other overlooks. We quickly worked AF1T, W1MKY, W1GHZ and KB1VC on the islands and Tyler KM3G in SNJ. Then worked the K1GX in CT, K2DH and K2UA in FN42ad, and K1OR, N1DPM & AA1I on the northern tip of Cape Cod. And it was time to move to the northern / southern overlook. This took a little longer than expected, as had a cable disconnect in the ¼ mile transit. Regular stuff, but accounted for the 2 hours to make the move. Anyways got back on finally and worked Ray VE3FN in FN26rf on Mont Tremblant for 578 km’s. And then Ed W3EKT (my closest 10 GHz neighbor in Maryland) at FM19lg, providing Ed another new grid for his VUCC. We worked many mountain top stations across New England on Mt Washington and Mt Equinox. Plus connected with Peter VA3ELE who was roving over toward Montreal, but he had no south look, so he brought up his remoted home station near Toronto using his cell phone and laptop and gave us FN03dm at 450 km’s. Peter confirmed with ARRL that using both his stations could be counted for his score, so this was another new technology experience for us. We finished off the afternoon by shifting back to the east overlook and working Dale and Mickie in their other Martha’s Vineyard grid, plus George W1JHR and Steve K1IIG in CT. Then folded up everything transited to western PA. September 22 2019 at Blue Knob Ski Resort in FN00rg with Bill W2RMA, John N9ZL and Steve KB8VAO. It should be noted that a tropical storm (Jerry) was moving easterly in the western Atlantic toward Bermuda through this weekend. We felt that this depression would definitely modulate the 10 GHz propagation and I think it did. After the day long Blue Knob operations and connecting with many mid-Atlantic / New England / Upstate New York stations who said those low elevation stations were experiencing S9 10 GHz conditions up and down the coast. At the same time we at 3100 ft ASL could not work many of them, and could only squeak through to some that were 500 to 600 km out. And we found that we were able to work some of the other distant high elevation mountain top stations in New England with “normal” signals…not strong, but normal. And while we could work the distant islands off Rhode Island and Cape Cod, we seemed to be cut off from the lower elevation stations immediately to our east. In past years I had experienced early to mid-morning conditions where I could not work Blue Knob stations 160 km’s away until an “apparent layer” between my home QTH elevation at 800 ft and Blue Knob at 3100 ft, “burned off”. And at the end of the day on Sunday I never felt the apparent layer burned off. As we four ops on Blue Knob were squinched off from most close in lower elevation stations. Perhaps an effect of the relatively close tropical depression, departing to the east. Two experiences on Blue Knob are worth noting. Bill and I found we could do “Ski Lift Pole Scatter” with strong sideband signals with Kevin VE3KH at FN03cg and Peter VA3ELE at FN03dm, by finding strong reflections coming off a 40 ft high Ski Lift support metal pole about 100 m from our site, slightly off the direct path to the DX. Such reflections are another part of what makes this band so fun. And then after working K2DH, K2UA and N2MG in FN23nc at 439 km’s, Bill and I heard the amazing “WOW” exclamation from Rus coming over the liaison channel when John N9ZL turned his 20W and 4 ft dish at them. It was obviously a vast increase in strength from the smaller stations that we were using. It was amazing to see what John had built in both dish support structure, software driven positioning, and signal detection and display capability. And then I packed up the tri-pod and made a 4 hour sprint to the home QTH. September 23 2019 Damascus Maryland FM19jh at K1RZ The enhancement my neighbors reported in the middle of the day to the New England islands was no longer in place when I got home about 0030 UTC. I worked Dale and Mickie at 609 km’s and Paul and Matt at 519 km’s very quickly, although weaker than the two other locations I was at through the weekend. Finished the log out by working N3RG, WB2RVX and W3EKT. My total for both weekends was 122 contacts, 54 unique calls and 43,621 km’s with total score 49,021. After thought -and- Note to self. I should have taken my own advice. Get FT8 /WSJTX running on 40m (7074 kHz) where there are LOTS of signals, then put that same exciter and computer back on your transverter(s) and try VHF / UHF/ microwaves. During the week running up to the contest on Block Island we played radio more than last year, operating mornings and afternoons, and some evenings. One afternoon working closely with Roger W3SZ in FN20ag I got my laptop set-up for WSJTX modes in case an opportunity came up to use these modes for weak signal work on the contest weekend. In order to make that mode play I knew from my HF, VHF and UHF operations at home I’d need to verify those WSJTX modes work with my already disciplined, laptop and an MLINK 5 modem-controlled portable 10 GHz station. Roger’s fixed station had been set up for WSJTX for years so all we had to do was apply finishing touches to get my WSJTX set-up onto an already functioning laptop. Prior to leaving Maryland I worked with Bill W2RMA in EN90xh to learn how he sets up his FT-817 to work WSJTX on his rover tripod station. Bill uses the DG mode on the FT-817 to work me in Maryland over a 267 km path crossing multiple Appalachian mountain ridges – sometimes on FT8 but more often on JT4F. On 10 GHz JT4F mode is more tolerant over a difficult path, or a rain scatter path, or when one or both stations are drifting in frequency slightly. On Block Island that afternoon, after about an hour’s time, Roger and I got my radio sending FT8, but neither of us could get any decodes. We switched to JT4F and got nearly immediate decodes and a QSO on JT4F. [JT4F is not automatic, you have to manually sequence your transmissions]. I was now ready for anyone who wanted to try WSJTX. Did I try WSJTX with anyone in the contest? No. But I am ready now for next year if anyone else has pre-tested their gear BEFORE the contest...the pre-tested part is the take-away I had testing with Roger, should really weak signal work be required on a long distance contact, or a non-CW contact be required. The pre-test should have been before the Contest. HaHa
An absolutely fantastic contest! Highlights: Operating the first weekend with N2MG, who is new to 10 GHz and he had a great experience--he went out on the second weekend also and made a lot of great QSOs. The first day of the contest is move-in day for my son at Ohio State, so I was only able to be on the Sunday of the first weekend. Went to a single site for the entire day, which is a new thing for me, and had great results. The rain scatter was superb late in the day and led to many long QSOs, including my first ones over 500 km on 10 GHz. I added 24 GHz this year, so this was also my first day making 24 GHz QSOs and that was a real thrill. The second weekend, Dave, K2DH, and I did our New England loop again for the third year. Each year, we've added one more site--we're now up to six, which is quite a push. Conditions were mostly flat the second weekend except for some outstanding enhancement from Mt Greylock to the tip of Cape Cod, at 255 km. Worked K1OR at 255 km, my personal best on 24 GHz. From the other side of Mt Greylock I worked VE3KH at 544 km on 10 GHz, a personal best for that band, just a couple of hours later. We went to a new site in FN23nc this time and it worked very well to both east and west. We operated with N2MG from that site and from our final stop in FN23ea. Wrapped up with 119 QSOs--50 more than my previous best. Doubled my previous best score. Every year this contest gets better and better! The activity is growing nicely and more and more people are getting on the higher bands as well. I added 47 GHz capability between the first and second weekends and look forward to better results with that next time. Thanks for the great event! The only change this contest needs is more points for the higher bands. It's strongly justified by the effort and time that is required to add new bands--and we clearly want to encourage more people to do that!
First weekend was a bit of a washout. Radio worked, laptop battery did not. (The hazards of SDR.) The highlight was a very strong rain-scatter contact (with substantial doppler shift) with N2MG and K2UA as the first sign of thunder appeared. Second weekend, on Block Island, was spectacular as (almost) always. Weather was mild, conditions were moderately good. Rig was DEMI transverter and Ettus N200/UBX software defined radio with SoDaRadio software. Every contest brings a new list of "feature fixes" for the software.
Operating from the Midwest "blackhole" is challenging and fun. Illinois plains, cornfields and tree made wind blocks are not too conducive to 10 GHz signals. Combine the local geography with only three, active 10 GHz ops in the greater St. Louis area and this contest can be daunting in terms of racking up points. On the other hand, getting permission to operate from a former mine gob site with a wind turbine on top along with an awesome scenic overlook at an Illinois state park and the determination of three uW ops to have fun by employing a "shoot and scoot" style of operating made for quite a fun adventure. We didn't break any records, but we were QRV, we did showcase ham radio and we even made some rainscatter QSOs.
The first half was the best half! Rain scatter allowed me to work VE3KH, first VE station ever on 1oGhz! Added several new grids to VUCC. Second half was a struggle! Conditions were terrible across the flat lands and couldn't make all out effort due to family commitments but managed to have fun!
Thanks to everyone who was out working the ARRL 10 GHz contest! A rainy weekend, but that is good because it produced some excellent rain-scatter contacts. I'm still new at 10 GHz work, so there is much to learn. Seems like there was good participation and conditions were OK. The first weekend produced only one QSO. In the second weekend, I logged 17 QSOs to 8 grid locations, modes were CW and SSB. ( I was unable to complete several additional attempted QSOs. ) Equipment here: DEMI Transverter - 2 watts out 24” dish at 65 feet ( the appendage on the right is the elevation motor ) WR-90 waveguide to the shack, electronics are in the shack. FLEX-6500 IF radio I hope to complete a 10w amplifier for 10 GHz this winter. 73 Lloyd - N9LB
Had a great time teaming up with KB8VAO, W2RMA and K1RZ at FN00RG for the first time. We couldn't seem to work any close ones, but the long ones were coming in great. I worked my best 10G DX so far of 664km with AF1T and W1MKY.
My best showing ever in the 10GHz & Up Contest! I traveled with Peter VA3ELE on both weekends. In August we spent Saturday roving east from EN82OA at the west end along the north shore of Lake Erie with decent conditions. Lots of 10 & 24 GHz contacts with K9PW, K9JK & K8ZR as they roved east along the south shore, as well as many others. On Sunday we roved west starting around FN14 on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Tropo conditions were again pretty good but then in the afternoon the radio gods gifted us with a series of dense thunderstorm cells that rolled east across New York state towards New England, providing several intense rain scatter opportunities. We were able to work K1RZ, AF1T, W1MKY & K3WHC in FN41ee on Block Island at 622km from FN03VW and again from FN14BA which would have otherwise been a stretch via regular tropo. We also worked W1GHZ, W1AIM & N1JEZ in FN34OM at Mt. Mansfield Vermont and several others before the rain scatter dissipated. I've never experienced such intense rain scatter with S9+ signals. What a rush that was ! The September weekend was pretty lackluster compared to August. This time conditions on 10 GHz were flat with no enhancement at all. It almost seemed like we were in an RF vacuum compared to reports from some of the guys to the south of us. We drove about 7 hours from Toronto to start in FN36SJ near Trois Riviere Quebec. Despite being much further East we were unable to contact the guys out at Block Island and Martha's Vineyard even after trying from different locations. To make matters worse, high humidity rendered 24 GHz & above useless. With such poor conditions we had to work hard for each and every contact. Our only highlight in September was working Kevin VE3KH in FN03CG from FN35QI at Mont Shefford Quebec on Saturday night at a distance of 618 km, giving all three of us our personal best non-enhanced tropo distance records. Sunday was just as flat as Saturday as we continued to make our way west from FN25WK and ended the night at FN14SG. Overall it was a great contest as I more than doubled my previous best score and upped my personal best distance on 10GHz. I had a ball traveling with Peter and we got to take in some beautiful sites along the St. Lawrence Seaway, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. 73, Hugh VA3TO
left Pierre VE2GT right Jimmy VE2JWH FN35qi It's my best contest ever, We worked N1JEZ and W1AIM on mount Washington bouncing on a telecommunication tower and VA3TO VA3ELE on rain SCATTER, I worked a new Station and a new grid : VE3SMA FN14la 379KM with 200 milli watt
First time operating in the contest and it was a learning experience and most enjoyable. Thanks to Dave VE7SGI for loan of his setup which after some repair worked nicely. Can wait to complete my own setup for next contest. Lots to do.
Great rainscatter on 8/18 Best signal report: 2 dB above imagination
First weekend on Lake Erie was fun with some nice QSOs on the higher bands on Saturday, but very few stations left on the Lake on Sunday. Only made 8 QSOs on Sunday the first weekend. Was nice to make two QSOs on 76 GHz, for a new band for me in this contest. I was not able to operate the whole second weekend of the contest. Saturday morning I was setup on Lake Michigan at Grand Haven MI, and a new park 10 miles south of Grand Haven. I did well with 17 QSOs on 10 GHz that morning. Stopped at noon and headed home. Sunday morning I drove up to northern lower Michigan, on Lake Michigan, and the conditions were the worst I think we have ever had with rain all day. The guys on the other side of the lake had to deal with the rain too. So we spent most the day in a big picnic shelter, near the lake at Manistee and worked across the lake via rain scatter on 10 GHz only. Later John K9JK and I stopped in the dark to work K2YAZ on 10, 24, and 47 for close in set of QSOs, then it started raining again. So we called it a night and quit. I had planed on "running the bands" with WA8VPD after working K2YAZ, but the rain ended that. I think this is the first 10 GHz and up contest I've worked and not had a QSO with WA8VPD in my log! All in all, the conditions this year were not great, but it was great to make QSOs on four bands. Was a lot of fun seeing and talking to many old friends.
Another fun 10 GHZ Contest with all the challenges of finding good locations in the North Texas and Oklahoma area. Conditions were not as good as last year but increased participation helped. The rain showers here on the last Sunday made for several really interesting QSOs with amazing signals! Many Thanks to all the North Texas Microwave Society members for getting on the air and Special Thanks to Tony K8ZR for coming all the way from Ohio to rove for this contest!
Operated from Point Judith RI FN41GI in August, then Hammonasset Beach FN31RG in September. One day stints from both locations. My 10 GHz portable setup is 2 Watts to an 18 inch offset fed dish. Thanks for the QSO's. 73, Ron WZ1V