ARRL June VHF QSO Party
Class: Single Op Port QRP
Operating Time (hrs): 17
Band QSOs Mults
6: 33 24
2: 17 11
222: 5 5
432: 8 6
Total: 63 46 Total Score = 3,496
I operated from Woodall Mountain, Mississippi's highest point in EM54vs at a
towering 806 feet for the fourth year out of five in this contest.
I added a number of new things to the VHF portable station this year: a
10-watt 6m rig, small amplifiers to get to 10 watts on 2m and 432, a third
element on 6m, and a DEMI 222 MHz transverter.
Saturday was difficult on all bands. 6 meters had only brief openings, mainly
to the southwest, and I heard very little activity on 2m and up.
6 continued to disappoint Sunday save for some very brief openings, with much
more activity on 2, 222, and 432. There were a couple of hours Sunday
afternoon with frequent bursts and pings, but nothing strong enough for my 10
watts to a low 3-element Yagi to work. One signal I found remarkable was that
of Ed, N4HID in EM66, who had a loud signal on and off all day on 6 meters.
Our QSO was my first ever with KY on 6m. Fellow Alabama Contest Group member
Cort, K4WI had a strong signal from EM62 at times as well.
Conditions on 2m Sunday were good. My best 2m DX was K5QE in EM31 at 398
miles. I was joined on the mountain Sunday afternoon late by AF5PO from nearby
Farmington, MS who set up his own 2m SSB portable station for a couple of hours'
activity near the end of the day. Jon had not been aware that I was operating
from Woodall, but I was happy to share the hilltop since it was getting pretty
boring up there as activity slowed greatly Sunday afternoon!
I made my first ever 222 SSB/CW QSOs this weekend with the FT-817 driving a
DEMI 222-28 transverter to a 6-element homebrew Yagi I built from the WA5VJB
design. The stations I moved from 2m to 222 had better signals -- and reported
receiving me better -- on 222 than 2 meters, so I was very pleased with my
initial excursion on this band.
With the increased complexity of my portable station this year, I expected
there to be problems, and I was right...
I found that my logging computer was generating far too much noise with the
antennas so close by, so I switched to a Minilog and dupe sheet with manual CW
keying on Sunday.
I lost some QSOs on 432 due to a coax problem that I didn't realize until I
could not hear W4ZRZ -- who normally has one of the strongest signals on 432 --
at all! I tracked the problem down to the small coax jumper that attaches
directly to the 432 driven element and terminates in a PL-259 -- the connector
was bad and actually pulled right off the coax! Rather than give up 432 for
the remainder of the contest, I fashioned a new feedline out of one of the
spare coax jumpers I brought, making a Field Day-style repair on the spot with
some well-placed tape! It worked well enough to net me seven more QSOs in five
more grids, with W5ZN providing my best 432 (and 222) DX at 198 miles. I
apologize to the handful of stations whom I lost and did not get a subsequent
opportunity to QSO on 432.
I had some difficulties on 222 interfacing the PTT signal from the rig to the
DEMI transverter interface box and on to the transverter, but I made do this
weekend by manually throwing a switch and keying the transverter with a code
key on each transmission! I had designed and built an interface to get the
FT-817 to work with the system, but I clearly don't have the bugs worked out
This will probably be my last June VHF Contest from Woodall. It is not a
suitable site for nighttime operation, and leaving before sunset has cost me
too many 6 meter QSOs for me to be competitive. I won't rule out a trip up
there in the Hilltopper category of the CQWW VHF Contest or as a rover in other
contests, but I think I'll try something different in the next ARRL VHF 'test.
Saturday was frustrating, but Sunday was fun, and all things considered,
there's a lot to be happy about with this effort. I beat my score from last
year despite much worse conditions on 6, broke new ground on 222, and turned in
my best effort to date on 2m and 432. Thanks as always to all of those who dug
out my weak signal.
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