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[CQ-Contest] CW Skimmer via 3G Wireless on FD

To: "cq-contest reflector" <cq-contest@contesting.com>
Subject: [CQ-Contest] CW Skimmer via 3G Wireless on FD
From: "Dave Hachadorian" <k6ll@arrl.net>
Reply-to: Dave Hachadorian <k6ll@arrl.net>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2011 14:04:23 -0700
List-post: <cq-contest@contesting.com">mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
I'm spending the summer in Big Bear Lake, CA and operated with 
the local club on Field Day.  Our FD location is not very good, 
so we do a lot of S&P, rather than CQ'ing.  This year, I thought 
it would be fun to tap into a remote CW Skimmer to make the S&P 
less boring, especially late in the contest, when most of the 
stations are dupes.  The only practical Internet access at the 
site is via the 3G Network, so I splurged $62 for a 3G 
radio/modem and one month of no-contract, prepaid, network 
access.  It worked out great, and added a significant fun factor 
to the CW operation.

The 3G Radio/modem was an Ovation MC760, purchased used for $42 
from EBay. It can be also be purchased new at Walmart, Radio 
Shack, Best Buy, etc.

The 3G network provider for this device is Virgin Mobile's 
Broadband2go prepaid, no-contract service.

Info on the MC760, Broadband2go plan rates, and coverage maps can 
be found here:

I chose the 30 day, 500 MB $20 plan, not really knowing what the 
data volume of Skimmer spots would be.  It turned out that over 
the entire Field Day period, data volume was only about 6 MB 
total.  Next year I will purchase the $10, 100 MB plan, just 
before Field Day.

The 3G link was totally solid for the entire FD period, even 
though the laptop was inside a metal RV, with the little USB 
stick surrounded by radio equipment and wires.

After I got home from FD, I did an online speed test, and the 
download rate was 329 kbps, with an upload rate of 409 kbps, 
totally adequate for Skimmer spots, casual web surfing, and 

For a remote Skimmer, we connected to VE7CC-1 Telnet node, and 
limited spotter state to Utah only.  Utah has two excellent 
Skimmers, located fairly close to our Southern California 
location.  Some of the spots were barely audible, but not really 
workable from our weak signal, but the majority of them were very 

In all, it turned out to be $62 well-spent, adding a lot to the 
enjoyment of FD.  Next year, it will cost only $10.

Dave Hachadorian, K6LL
Big Bear Lake, CA


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