ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance Contest
Class: Rover LP
Operating Time (hrs): 6
Total: 164 Total Score = 115,550
Team: Californians and friends visiting Colorado
A group of us decided that the new 222 and Up Distance Contest was a good
occasion to do something new: operate in Colorado, more than 1,000 miles from
our homes in California.
So W6TE, K6MI and I drove to Colorado in separate vehicles outfitted with gear
for all bands through 10 or 24 GHz plus extra equipment for five more people
who flew in. Our team--we called ourselves "Californians and Friends
Visiting Colorado"--included these people (in alphabetical order): K6MI,
N6EY, N6KLO, N6KYS, N6NB, W6JMK, W6TE, and WB6ITM. It turned out to be a very
talented group ranging from people who have been licensed for 60 years to
someone licensed five years (16-year-old Kaylie Boyer, N6KLO--who proved
herself to be a diligent station builder as well as a great operator).
We did okay in the contest, but we also learned a lot about Colorado
propagation plus Colorado's bumpy dirt roads and steep mountain roads. That
led to two other lessons: 1) after driving a thousand miles, budget some time
to test everything and fix whatever is broken BEFORE the contest; and 2) don't
expect mountain-to-flatlands propagation to be the same as it is in
California--instead check out the path BEFORE the contest. We all lost
thousands of points for failing to follow those rules. For me, the tiny but
BIG problem was a broken SMA connector on 3456 MHz--a 10-point-per-km band.
That one failure cost me over 37,000 points. And having to change our plans on
the fly cost us precious time and even more points.
It was fascinating to operate on the microwave bands in Colorado for the first
time. We saw things we don't often see at home, like rain scatter so bad that
10 GHz signals sounded like aurora-reflected signals. We also saw violent
tornado-like conditions with ferocious rain and fierce winds in August--a
rarity at home. Some of us who were on 14,000-foot Mt. Evans bailed quickly
when a big storm hit. In the flatlands, I had no choice but to lower the tower
on my tower trailer and hope a menacing storm would pass quickly without doing
any damage (it did).
Would we do it again? Probably, yes. With what we know now we could turn in
much better scores if there's a next time. But personally, I'm thinking that
after 60 years on the air it's about time for a rocking chair at home in
California, not a tower trailer on an interstate highway.
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