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Re: [VHFcontesting] Where should we focus first on our station?

Subject: Re: [VHFcontesting] Where should we focus first on our station?
From: Sean Waite <waisean@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 2016 14:15:48 -0500
List-post: <vhfcontesting@contesting.com">mailto:vhfcontesting@contesting.com>
Woah!  A lot of really good responses really fast, thanks everyone.

I am smacking myself for not bringing my paddles along. During one really
slow period I was trying to figure out how to get the 857 to work on CW
using the up/down buttons on the mic, but I was unable to figure it out. It
would have been pretty awful anyway - hard to use and my poor skill would
have been atrocious. I need to get on the air on CW more, I am a no-code
Extra but I really enjoy the mode (I guess you could call me a some-code

We're definitely considering operating either portable, at my QTH or
somewhere else. Everything we have is rigged up in a temporary fashion, so
it's not terribly difficult to relocate. The big problem we're running into
when discussing portable operation is power - large deep cycle batteries
are expensive, generators are noisy and frowned upon in some places, and
both are too heavy to haul to the top of a mountain on foot. We're active
on SOTA, so it's a familiar thing for us, but we'd need to find a place to
drive in. There's also the consideration that a lot of the really good
places will be occupied or will close at dusk and force us to break down,
drive off and re-set up the next morning. I guess setting up next to a guy
with a pile of GHz bands makes those contacts real easy (free multipliers!)

We knew being in a valley wouldn't be great, but we had never run multi-op
on one of these things before and figured we'd see how everything went
together and then deal with a different location later. We surpassed
KG6CIH's previous single-op high score for the January contest, even with 6
not pulling it's weight and the dead-quiet 2m and 70cm - we'll consider
that our win for this year. My previous score was 0, so we did infinitely
better than that.

It's good to know that the 857 (A borrowed radio, but one that may show up
from time to time) is less sensitive on 2 and 70 than the IC7000, it was
something we had considered may have been happening but we didn't have any
other data points to go on.

We know that getting 220 sideband is a priority. With the other FM bands,
we have the radios and I know I made at least one if not more contacts with
people running FM only, so if we've got the rigs we feel it's worth at
least tossing up an antenna and monitoring. It's an easy way to snag
another few contacts, if not multipliers. We made 220 contacts, but it was
pretty much dead. Work with what you've got though, and we had 2 grids on
220 so even that little bit helped.

We rotated the beams fairly regularly, even wearing a groove into the deck
on the 2/70 stack. They were rotated by hand, but we pointed them this way
and that depending on what was going on. We tried to keep the two masts
aimed in the same direction to facilitate handoffs

Our goal is to do incremental improvements to the station, but it's nice to
have a goal to work towards. If every time we operate we do a little
better, that's a win in my book.

If we're buying a filter or diplexer/duplexer anyway, is it worth just
going straight to the filter? The intention is to reduce the noise floor as
much as possible before it gets to the LNA, where it'll be amplified again.
The only time I noticed interference was when we had the 6m beam pointed
directly at the 2/70 mast, right into the rear lobe of those beams, I could
hear a bunch of noise on 70 when we transmitted on 6.

The contest was definitely fun, with entertaining moments of one of us
stopping dead in mid-sentence to dive for the radio when we heard another
station calling, or flying outside to manually turn the beams around when
we caught someone weak in the rear lobe or just at the edge of the beam.
There was a lot of downtime, but with each improvement that should get less
and less.

I'm looking forward to hearing from others!

Thanks and 73
Sean WA1TE
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