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

Michael Clarson wv2zow at gmail.com
Tue Feb 2 12:18:35 EST 2016

Sean: No magic answers, but a few suggestions. Instead of bandpass filters,
you may (to save some money) use half a diplexer as a low or high pass
filter. For example, a 6/2 diplexer on the 2 meter radio will keep 6 meter
energy out of the 2 meter radio.  The FT-857 really needs some help on
receive on 2 and 432. Maybe that should have been the 6 meter radio and the
7000 the 2/432 radio. Advanced Rcvr Research has some preamps that connect
in the feedline and automatically switch out for transmit. CW would add a
lot. It would make your low power signal stand out a bit on 432. Contact
rate on VHF is slow enough so you may get repeats without much objection.
Getting stations to slow down on VHF is a lot easier than on HF. SSB and a
yagi on 222 would help also. Good luck in June, and don't forget the CQ WW
VHF in July -- 6 and 2 only.--73, Mike, WV2ZOW

On Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 11:58 AM, Sean Waite <waisean at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> This weekend I was part of a new multi-op team running as K1SIG out of New
> Hampshire. We had two ops at the station, myself (WA1TE) and Chris KG6CIH.
> We were at the QTH of KG6CIH, and he's done some VHF contesting before but
> my contest experience has been limited to a few HF contests here or there.
> We have a few other members that may join us at times, but they were unable
> to make it this weekend.
> We chose to run as limited multiop, low power this weekend. The choice was
> fairly simple, as we had no gear above 100W and only HTs above 70cm. We
> realize that the biggest thing we can fix is location, we were kind of in a
> hole surrounded by trees (New England!), but otherwise we had a lot of
> downtime to discuss what we can do to improve the station.
> Our station for the contest looked like this:
> Yaesu FT857D for 2 and 70cm sideband and FM
> Icom IC7000 for 6 sideband, we could have done FM but didn't
> Alinco DR-235T for 222 (FM only)
> These were fed to a set of beams on poles lashed to a porch - a 15el
> Diamond A430S15 for 70cm, a 7el M2 2M7 for 2m, and a 5el beam for 6.
> Including the height of the deck, the 2 and 6 meter beams were maybe 15-20'
> off the ground, the 70cm beam was stacked over the 2m beam with another ~7'
> of height.
> On 220 we had a j-pole vertical in a tree about 70' off the ground.
> The 2 and 70 beams were fed through a diplexer with a single piece of
> LMR400 clone back to the 857, the 6m beam was a straight shot with LMR400
> clone to the IC7000. I think the j-pole is also using the same LMR400
> clone.
> If we swung the beams more North we were aimed basically directly at the
> house, so that's not ideal, but we'd need SIGNIFICANT height to get above
> the trees, and even further height to get out of the valley. A different
> operating location is definitely in the cards, we're just working on where.
> I was running the 2/70 station, and KG6CIH was on the 6/222 station. He
> would pick up most of the contacts on 6 and then punt them over to me to
> work on 2 if possible, and 70 if we were extremely lucky (only made 4
> contacts on 2 grids on 70). He would occasionally call on 222 and try and
> move people there after making a contact on 2 or  6. I also would call on
> 2, and while it was a bit slower we did make contacts .I would sometimes
> jump onto 146.52 and call to try and dig up a few more contacts. It was
> definitely worth it.
> We had a good bit of quiet time (had ~90 total contacts, 99 points with 13
> band-grids for 1287 points claimed) over the weekend, so we were trying to
> figure out what to improve beyond location.
> The immediate, low effort wins we could come up with were bandpass filters
> and low noise amps on the antennas. On 2 and 70 this would look like beam
> -> bandpass filter -> LNA -> diplexer -> radio, similar on 6 without the
> diplexer. While there were very few stations we could almost-but-not-quite
> hear down in the mud, there were still a few.
> Another win that we'll have shortly is a dedicated 2m FM radio, I purchased
> a Yaesu FT2900R for my own use as well as to have dedicated to 2m FM during
> these contests. It wasn't super active but it seemed worth it to be
> monitoring as much as possible. We were polarized wrong with the 2m beam
> for FM, but it still worked, we'll likely go with another J-pole or similar
> unless we decide to get another beam for 2m FM - probably a long term
> thing.
> We're also going to look into a 1.25m transverter to get us SSB on that
> band.
> Is 6m FM worth investigating, or listening to?
> The only other thing I can think of to improve our scores is maybe to toss
> in CW. I'm a very raw CW operator, QRS PSE is my favorite set of letters,
> but I'm improving so that might get us something. We didn't have a key this
> weekend (of all the crap I drug along with me that we didn't end up using,
> for some reason my paddles didn't cross my mind).
> Other than location and height of antenna, is there anything else we can be
> doing to improve our ability to make contacts? Right now we think it's best
> to focus on the 4 lowest bands, at our current location even 70cm is rough
> and we'd like to get the more common bands ironed out before opening
> ourselves up to the unlimited category and more bands.
> The immediate exposure for 900 and 1.2, if we went that way, would be
> slapping beams on our Alinco HT's and trying to work those bands FM with
> very little power. We're not concerned about those bands yet.
> We also discovered things like the ON4KST and Ping Jockey chats after the
> contest was over, so those may help in the future.
> Sorry for the thesis, we're just excited from the contest this weekend and
> are looking to improve some things before the September contest rolls
> around. Any tips or pointers for how we could make our station better are
> welcome, or any links to sites that give us similar pointers.
> Thanks, 73 and good contesting
> Sean Waite, WA1TE
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