[VHFcontesting] K7XC/R Limited Rover 2014 ARRL JAN VHF Contest

Tim Marek via VHFcontesting vhfcontesting at contesting.com
Tue Jan 27 14:16:14 EST 2015

2015 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes

Call: K7XC/R
Operator(s): K7XC
Station: K7XC

Class: Limited Rover LP
QTH: North Texas
Operating Time (hrs): 6

 Band  QSOs  Mults
    6:  15     3
    2:  22     5
Total:  37     8  Total Score = 296

Club: DFW Contest Group


Something Happened as I was on the way home from my first Rover outing in

It started out typical for a initial outing with a newly equipped vehicle... As
this in NOT my first rodeo, alot of the mistakes I made in the past were not
repeated and the antennas were stable, well matched, and played well. The radio
and coax switches were well placed, tested and performed well. 

This is trip #1 for the 1990 Ford Ranger as a Rover platform. As anyone who
daily drives a vehicle of this vintage will tell you, breakdowns happen... and
Saturday was no exception. It began innocent enough, some quick checks in the
driveway showed it working well but the battery was not supporting the radio at
full power unless the engine was running. I figured it was due to the smaller
than normal wiring used when I installed the 2M FM rig with what was on hand at
the time. I finished up the final touches and took off. 

The station was playing well for a ailing IC-746 only putting out 50W. Headed
North on Hwy 34 to EM13, then EM22, and EM23...  The truck had been running non
stop now for 4 hours, wasn't overheating, or anything... As it got dark I turned
on the headlights, heater fan, running lights, and still managed to work some
more folks as i worked my way home. 

About 30 miles later, I smelled some fowl stench of hot wiring and then the
headlights dimmed! Oh Crap... its either the battery or the alternator, or
both... so i turned off everything and drove with only running lights till I
had no choice not to. This lil truck has never been stressed like this
electrically and now I'm finding it's weak link...

I slip into Terrell, TX (where we reside) and about 4 miles from home the truck
shudders, looses power, having barely enough left to make it up a small rise
into the Taco Bell parking lot where it coasts into a spot under a huge
streetlamp. It's barely running... I pop the hood, grab my $2 DVM from Harbor
Freight, and check the voltage at the battery... 7.14 volts! It stammers on a
bit more then dies. No change 7.14 volts... then slowly it starts to rise....
settling in at 11 volts or so... Clearly the alternator or regulator is dead,
or maybe the fuse, as the battery isn't being charged. 

A call to my lady has her on her way w/the industrial grade jumper cables... I
check the battery terminals and am shocked to find the Negative terminal's bolt
is loose! I thought I checked this the day before and cleaned them and it turns
out I got distracted... and DID NOT! Seems I found the cause of the problem....
Goes to show you... forget one tiny detail and your dead in the water. 

As I am waiting, I clean both terminals and battery posts and ensure their
properly tightened this time. Rosie arrives with her truck... I am so tired i
try to make dam sure to hook them up correctly on her vehicle &  damned if
I don't hook them up backwards on mine! A short but brilliant arc as I yank it
off, reverse them and let the battery charge. Thank god for heavy duty jumper
cables as the cheap ones would have melted in half leaving me stranded for
sure! After 30 mins of charging, It started OK, I grabbed the cables off both
vehicles, checked the voltage and yep, still not charging! 

Thankfully I'm 4 miles from home and gently ease it there. Digging my battery
charger out, I hooked it up, closed the hood and let it charge all night. 

After a late breakfast I finish checking it out... Yep, Dead alternator... I
was to be in EM11 by now... Disappointed, I close it all up and go back to bed
and sleep some more.  

Thanks everyone for the Contacts! 73s from EM 12/13/22/23 de Tim - K7XC -
EM12ur... sk

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