Posts Tagged ‘vhf/uhf’
For the 2019 CQ Worldwide VHF Contest, I did a modest effort on 6 meters and 2 meters using mostly SSB and FT8. I operated from our cabin (DM78av). We had some good sporadic-E propagation on 6m which enabled some long-distance contacts to the east. Then I noticed that 2 meters was also open so I quickly turned my attention to that band. While it’s common to have some sporadic E on 6 meters during July, having it on 2 meters is a lot less common. I was thrilled to snag 5 contacts to the eastern US on 2 meters.
One of the 2m contacts was with Jay/W1VD in Connecticut. Shortly after the contest, I got an email from Jay asking about my exact location for the contact, which I supplied using the 6-character grid locator (DM78av). He told me that it is very difficult to work Colorado on e-skip from Connecticut…the general belief among VHF enthusiasts is that they have to use another propagation mode to work the state. Well, apparently that is not true!
Jay also worked Ken/W0ETT in Parker, CO so this turned into a three-way email discussion. Ken is located about 80 miles to the east of our cabin, so my QSO with W1VD was at a greater distance. Jay investigated the ARRL records and found that these two 2m contacts were notable enough to “make the list” at the ARRL but they are not new distance records. See the ARRL records list here.
Here’s a snippet from the ARRL list, with my W1VD QSO shown as 2793 km (1735 miles). The W0ETT QSO is also shown on the list as 2674 km (1662 miles).
You can see W1VD’s station information on the QSL card above. Obviously, a nice setup. I was using a Yaesu FT-991 driving a Mirage amplifier with 150W output to a 2M9SSB Yagi antenna. My antenna mast is only 25 feet above the ground but I benefit from an excellent radio horizon to the east from 9630 feet in elevation.
73 Bob K0NR
Twitter is such a wonderful source of knowledge and a great place to pick up amateur radio operating tips. I saw this post from Johnny/W5KV, talking about getting a 146.52 sticker for his truck. (146.52 MHz is the 2m National Simplex Calling Frequency.) I’ve written about these stickers here: Get Your Mobile Frequency Sticker On
These oval stickers originated in Europe, to indicate the country where a vehicle is registered. In general, these oval stickers have become popular for indicating all kinds of things, including country, state, airport code, national park, etc. One of the most common stickers you’ll see has “26.2” on it to indicate the distance in miles of a marathon run. In other words, it means “I ran a freaking marathon” or maybe “I want you to think I ran a freaking marathon.” You’ll also see “13.1” to indicate the completion of a half marathon. Hence, W5KV’s comment about 6 full marathons. You will see other numbers used on these stickers, such as “5.56” for you firearms enthusiasts.
So I posted this photo of the back of my truck. My 146.52 is actually a magnetic sign, not a stick-on label but the intent is the same.
But of course, radio amateurs are always innovating to find new ways of doing things. Michael/K2MTS posted this photo of his vehicle with a dust-enabled 146.520 indicator on it.
Like many brilliant innovations, I immediately realized the advantages of using vehicle dust to indicate operating frequency:
- No cost to implement
- Flexibility: the frequency can be easily modified
- Text messages can be appended, such as “CQ CQ” or “Call Me”
One disadvantage is that it requires your vehicle to be dirty but that seems like a minor obstacle, easily overcome by a short drive down a dirt road.
73 Bob K0NR
Last night, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Amanda/K1DDN on the popular TWiT TV show Ham Nation. We discussed my book, VHF ham radio and SOTA. You can watch the whole episode here or view just my segment below.
There’s also a “photo appearance” by Stu/W0STU.
This book is about having fun with ham radio, primarily on the VHF/UHF bands. It covers the basics of VHF, with practical tips for getting on the air and “messing around with radios.” Topics include FM, SSB, repeaters, equipment, band plans, phonetics, portable operating, Summits On The Air (SOTA) activations and more. This book is a compilation of the best articles from the k0nr.com website plus some brand-new material.
The first section explains VHF/UHF concepts via tutorial articles such as “VHF FM Operating Guide,” “Getting Started on 2m SSB” and “How to Work a VHF Contest.” The second section includes blog posts from the k0nr.com website, such as “Choose Your 2m Frequency Wisely,” “VHF Grid Locators,” “Phonetic Alphabets” and “VHF FM: The Utility Mode.” The final section helps the reader understand mountaintop operating, especially Summits On The Air (SOTA) activations, including operating tips and trip reports.
The book is available from Amazon, in paperback and Kindle formats. The normal price for the print version is $22.95, but there is an introductory price of $15.95 through November 18th. The Kindle version is $9.95.
VHF, Summits and More
by Bob Witte, KØNR
While looking for our next SOTA adventure, I noticed a never-been-activated, unnamed 13er (W0C/SP-020) to the west of Mount Princeton. I checked various maps and it looked like there was a 4WD forest service road that went up to the adjacent saddle. So Joyce/K0JJW and I decided to give it a try.
We took County Road 306 west out of Buena Vista, towards Cottonwood Pass. Then we turned left onto County Road 344 which goes to Cottonwood Lake. We continued past Cottonwood Lake until we found FS 348, also known as Hope Gulch Road. We followed this road for 5 miles to the saddle.
The road was easy-peasy 4WD, no problem at all with our stock Jeep Wrangler. A Suburu-class SUV can probably make it but there are a few rocky spots on the road that will require special care. There were two water crossings, one of them with about a foot of water (across Cottonwood Creek). Now this was mid-October, so the streams are not running real strong. Earlier in the year, this could be a major hazard.
Warning: water crossing at Cottonwood Creek.
FS 348 is single lane, with long stretches without an easy passing or turnaround spot. We were happy that we only saw two other vehicles on the road.
We drove a bit past the saddle (where there is a small hut/cabin) and parked where a closed side road heads off toward the summit. We hiked up this closed and then vectored off towards the summit. The hike was only 0.6 miles and 800 vertical feet. However, there was quite a bit of talus to climb over which really slowed us down. The hiking route does not seem critical but following the top of the ridge seemed to be good.
Yeah, about the talus. It isn’t any worse than other rocky summits in Colorado but it seemed to catch our attention, usually in the form of “ok, I’ve just about had it with this talus.” A contributing factor was that both Joyce and I had foot/ankle injuries in recent years. So our unofficial name for this summit became Talus.
Joyce/K0JJW took the honors of completing the first SOTA activation of this summit by contacting Bob/W0BV on 2m FM. We also both logged these stations: KD0MRC, W0RW, W6JM, W0LSD and N0AJN.
We sat there quite a while just taking in the view. Mt Princeton is due east; Mt Antero and Mt White are to the south.
You never know what your gonna get on the first activation of a summit. On this one, it turned out to be a fantastic day. The weather was sunny, temperature about 40 degrees, a little too windy at times. Late in the season, we didn’t have to worry about thunderstorms moving in and blowing us off the mountain. I liked the combination of a good 4WD road, heart-pumping but not-too-difficult hike, a first-time SOTA activation and doing it all with my favorite hiking partner (and wife).
73 Bob K0NR
August 3 & 4, 2019
Saturday and Sunday
Amateur Radio operators from around Colorado will be climbing many of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains and Summits On The Air (SOTA) peaks to set up amateur radio stations in an effort to communicate with other radio amateurs across the state and around the world. Join in on the fun during the 28th annual event and see how many of the mountaintop stations you can contact. The covers the entire weekend but many mountaintop activators will hit the trail early with the goal of being off the summits by noon due to lightning safety concerns.
The event includes all Summits On the Air (SOTA) summits, which adds over 1700 potential summits! If you aren’t up to climbing a 14er, there are many other summits to choose from with a wide range of difficulty. See the Colorado SOTA web page at w0c-sota.org
Radio operators who plan to activate a summit should post their intent on the ham14er group via the ham14er groups.io website. Also, be sure to check out the event information at http://www.ham14er.org
Frequencies used during the event
Activity can occur on any amateur band including HF and VHF. The 2m fm band plan uses a “primary frequency and move up” approach. The 2m fm primary frequency is 147.42 MHz. At the beginning of the event, operators should try calling on 147.42 MHz. As activity increases on that frequency, move on up the band using the 30 kHz steps. Don’t just hang out on 147.42 MHz…move up! The next standard simplex frequency up from 147.42 MHz is 147.45 MHz, followed by 147.48 and 147.51 MHz.
For a complete list of suggested HF, VHF and UHF frequencies see this web page.
Warning: Climbing mountains is inherently a dangerous activity.
Do not attempt this without proper training, equipment and preparation.
There is a lot more information available here: www.ham14er.org
Sponsored by The Colorado 14er Event Task Force
Joyce/K0JJW and I were planning a trip to Alaska to visit several of the national parks. We had some time available while in Fairbanks to do some SOTA activations. We were traveling very light, so we took minimal SOTA gear: a pair of VHF/UHF handhelds and simple antennas.
We used my newly-fashioned antenna mount on a trekking pole we had with us. The trekking pole served us as as a trekking pole for hiking, a camera monopod and now an antenna support. It provides a handy way of supporting a vertical antenna and provides a little more antenna height when held up in the air.
I checked the SOTA database to identify easy-to-access summits near Fairbanks. There are several 1 and 2 point summits in the area with easy access. We were not looking for drive-up summits but we did want an easy hike.
I found that Dale/KL7R and Peter/K3OG had been activating in the area, so I contacted them via email and they both gave me helpful advice. We were a bit concerned about getting our four QSOs on VHF, but that turned out to not be a problem. We worked Dale from all three summits and he helped rustle up a few more stations to work. We had pretty good luck just calling CQ on 146.52 MHz. And I announced our presence and need for simplex contacts on the KL7KC repeater (146.88 MHz, 103.5 Hz tone).
We activated three summits:
Chena Ridge (KLF/FN-205)
We drove up Chena Ridge Road, then took a gravel road uphill towards the summit (I think it was labeled North Becker Ridge Road). At this point, we encountered a locked gate and parked there. Some locals wandered by and said that they hike up to the top every day, so come along. The hike was easy, less than one quarter of a mile with some elevation gain. At the summit is an FAA VOR site enclosed by a chain link fence.
Pedro Dome (KLF/FN-164)
Next, we drove north out to Pedro Dome, which has a substantial radio site on top. We took Steese Highway north from Fairbanks to Pedro Dome Road, a gravel road that goes right to the top of the summit. There are opportunities to make a wrong turn on the way up Pedro Dome Road but with a little care we were able to drive to the top. Despite the fact there are plenty of radio transmitters on the summit, we did not experience any interference on 2m and 70 cm. That summit has an excellent radio horizon, so it was easy to work stations in the Fairbanks area.
Wigwam Benchmark (KLF/FN-204)
Wigwam Benchmark is a summit that pokes up just north of Fairbanks. It is a bit more difficult to navigate because it in a rural residential area with lots of twisty-turny roads. I plugged “Noel Drive, Fairbanks, AK” into google maps, which got us very close. Then we drove to where Noel Drive meets Mia Drive and operated from the road. The area is heavily wooded and we did get attacked by the famous Alaskan mosquitoes, so we made our radio contacts and escaped quickly.
At one point, I told Dale that if we made one contact from one summit, we would be happy. But, of course, we tried for more than that and got it. It turned out to be a great day running around these summits near Fairbanks and making some radio contacts. Thanks to KL7R and K3OG for the assistance!
73 Bob K0NR