(((((( 2017 ))))))


JUNE 2017 VHF CONTEST


 LEADING UP TO THE CONTEST

In October Ken "leaked" secret info about two new antenna projects for 2017. It was later revealed that those two projects are 2m and 222 super-LVAs (taller Large Vertical Arrays than the ones we've been using since 2009). For those who don't know, an LVA is a tall stack of end-mount short-boom Yagis. It is one of the only antenna styles to generate lots of gain into a wide beam-width. Using a long-boom yagi is like blowing through a straw to blow out a birthday candle; using an LVA is like removing the straw and blowing out additional candles to the left and right. Our super-LVAs are mounted to special homebrew towers which are secured at the bottom and top, but the middle can rotate 360 degrees. These new antenna systems have a lower takeoff angle and more gain than their predecessors, but we are keeping the old ones hooked up because history shows that it is best to have a large assortment of antennas available for constantly-changing band conditions. We now have 8 antenna choices on 2m and 8 choices on 222. In May, Ken and Al discovered wind damage at the contest site. It has been a very windy late winter and early spring season, and even more so, on the exposed hilltops. The mast that supports the 2m Quagi and a couple antennas for HF contesting had blown over. The "bunk house" camper that we use for sleeping quarters had been moved off its supports at one end. Those were returned to normal and the installation of the super-LVAs was also completed all before the month of May was out. The 2m LVA-6, is six 5-element yagis and the 222 LVA-8, is eight 6-element yagis. These are formidable antennas for a portable multi-op station.

  

CONTEST TIME ARRIVES

 The month of May ended with 3.4 more inches of rain than normal, an average maximum temperature 3.5 degrees lower than normal, and 24 days that were either partly cloudy or cloudy, according to the NWS. This dreadful pattern continued into June and had some of us getting nervous, but the situation started to improve a mere 72 hours before the contest. Temperatures began returning to seasonal norms, sunlight was on the increase, and rain was on the decrease.


Operators assembled at the contest site Saturday morning, and as usual, the refrigerator and coolers were full of enough great food and beverage to make it through at least a 3-day contest. We had huge volumes of chili, salt potatoes, sausages with kraut, several snacks, fruits, desserts, and our usual fine assortment of beverages. Operators for this weekend were Ken KA2LIM, Al W9KXI, Rob KB2YCC, Greg NX2W, Walt N2IK, Larry WA3CSP, Ray N3RG, Lu N2SLN, plus Dave N2LID visiting to say hello.

 

The contest begins and we are greeted with the 222 station going down. Ken worked on fixing that and the first 222 QSO goes into the log in the second hour and thankfully that station remains working for the rest of the contest. Just as he was done working on that, the computer network gave us issues and we had to log with paper and pen until it was back up. Once that was fixed, the main microwave station encountered issues on some of the bands. Ken worked on that and then tried the auxiliary microwave station and found issues on some of the bands there. It was all working fine just before the contest with no changes made since then. Ken had his hands full and didn't even get any operating time for the first several hours. But that gave us new resolve and we got our revenge on the bad luck:ge

 

We worked our first 100 stations on 2m in 218 minutes. At 9:51 PM local time Saturday we had a chance to view a fly-by of the International Space Station thanks to clear skies (ISS scatter, anyone?). After midnight the new 2m LVA really started to knock the trees flat. First it was 580 miles with Illinois station NV9L EN60, then 700+ miles with Missouri station N0JA EM49, then our best 2m DX of the contest: 927 miles with Arkansas station KG5MD EM36, which is our new all-time best non-skywave DX on 2m.

 

The tropo was still there when we re-started at 05:50 AM Sunday with us working into Alabama on 144 and 222 (752 miles).  K0TPP in EM48 in MO, who we had work the evening before on 2M, came on and said, when Ken was at the 2M position “Just want to let you know that you are running +20 over here into MO this morning”, that was using the new 2M 6x5 LVA. Even the propagation on 432 began improving with the departure of the previous day's problematic weather system. We worked into Tennessee on that band (662 miles).

 

Late morning arrived, and the upper bands slowed down while 6m ramped up with even better conditions than Saturday. The southeast US was coming in along with Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands. By late afternoon the band was open in two directions at once, when the mid-west stations began coming in at the same time. We hit 200,000 points at 1:25 PM local time and began wondering if we would hit 300k. Then in the final 3 hours, the double-hop showed up, including one station operating mountaintop portable at 9000 feet above sea level in the rare DN field. We hit 300k before sundown.

 

Folks who couldn't complete a QSO with us during the previous day's horrendous 432 propagation were starting to swamp us with requests for "2nd attempt" contacts as the upper bands started to experience evening enhancement again. It was around this time that the best DX on 432 was worked (which took place on our single 23-element Yagi) when we worked Missouri station K0DOK EM48 (753 miles). Not a peep was heard on any of the other antenna choices at that time and all the directional antennas were pointed at him. Thank goodness for the healthy assortment of tools for the job, or that contact wouldn't have happened.

 

The best DX on 222 also happened Sunday evening at 798 miles to Missouri station AB0RX EM47.

 

The best DX on 6m ended up being California station N6KOG CM97 at 2352 miles. Despite an uncertain start, we finished strong with a new record 66 claimed grids on 2m. We also claim a new record 41 grids on 222, and smashed the previous best DX record. Our old best DX record on 432 was also handily smashed.

 

Here is a states worked list for this contest by band:

6M       40 states

2M       24 states

222      18 states

432      15 states

 

Our raw score is:

Total contacts 1084

Total score       359,546

 

Band      Q’s/Grids

6M        552/128

2M        320/ 66

222       106/ 41

432       104/ 40

 

Of course the score will drop when the dupes are taken out, but that’s the nature of the beast. In spite of the problems, this was a fun time, AGAIN. First time operator at this station Ray-N3RG, fit right in, not only as a good operator but having fun and lots of kidding around. What a fun time. Remember, 

our number 1 rule is to “HAVE FUN” and we did.

Lu

N2SLN



January VHF Contest 2017

Wow! The weather was great here in FN12mg for the entire contest, mid 50’s on Saturday and 45 – 50 on Sunday, fog all day Sunday right thru to the end of the contest on Sunday night.  Our first January contest without bitter cold and blowing snow.

There were five op’s for the contest: W9KXI-Al, NX2W-Gregg, N2IK-Walt, KB2YCC-Rob and KA2LIM-Ken. The usual great selection of food for munching on, at will, and the usual great selection of beer to enjoy.

Only one small hick-up, with a filter cap going bad on one of the power supplies for an amplifier. We swapped the PS out and put the spare backup in place and we were back up and running. This all happened an hour and a half before the contest start, so everything else worked perfectly for the entire contest.

We only were on the bottom four bands for this contest and band conditions were pretty much non-existent for all four bands. There was a 2 minute ES opening on 6M on Saturday and the same thing again on Sunday into the lower mid-west both days and then back to flat conditions.

Some contacts worth noting:

·         Al at the 2M position working a station over 200 miles out that only had a vertical antenna and no amplifier.

·         Two different stations worked on 6M told us that we were their first ever contact on 6M.

·         One hour before the end of the contest working K9MRI – Joe, in EN70iu (446 miles) on 144 thru 432 in less than 5 minutes. Normally working K9MRI is fairly common for us, but the conditions, allowing contacts much beyond 200 miles, during this contest were terrible. Then, after working him on 144, 222(cw) and 432 (cw),  spending 10 minutes to complete the contact on 6M (scatter) via CW, using the 7x7 stack, the upper omni stack and the lower omni stack to make it happen.

·         There were a few stations that we could not complete with because they just disappeared into the noise never to come back. 

We thought, because of the poor conditions here at this location, that this would be a so-so contest. As it turned out, we wound up with our highest score ever for a January contest on four bands only (multi-limited) using SSB (a few FM contacts) and CW only. 

No digi-dork used.

Again 222 amazed us by the number of grids worked during the 33 hour contest time and we were only on the air for 29 hours. - Got to get some sleep some time.

A big thanks to all the operators who keep adding 222 to their stations.

Here are the numbers, for what numbers are worth:

Total Contacts             758

Total Multipliers           157

Total Score                 153,703

Band    Q’s/Grids

6          231/44

2          302/49

222      108/33

432      117/31

Most important

"WE HAD FUN"

Look for us in June when we plan to be on the air with 10 bands, 50 MHz thru 10 GHZ.    


Ken   KA2LIM   &   Al   W9KXI


##########2016 ##########

September 2016 VHF Contest

 

For the first time we had all ten bands running for a contest and I have to say, everything worked very well. The only hick-up was that the 6M 5x5 rotator would not turn. So I laid out a spare cable that I had on hand, hooked it up and the rotator was working. Al and I went back up to the station on Monday morning for clean-up. I plugged in the cable that would not work on Saturday and it was working again. Must have been a gremlin at work.

We operated with a limited crew this time, on hand Saturday for the start of the contest were:  Al-W9KXI, Walt-N2IK, Rob-KB2YCC, Ken-KA2LIM and longtime friend Al-WA1T. five operating positions were filled and no spare operators but we managed. On Sunday afternoon, Alex-N3NP showed up with his daughter – Veronica. They filled the 6M spot for a few hours and our young lady did a fine job of making contacts and adding them to the log. Thanks to all who worked us while Veronica was operating and she left with a big grin on her face.

Al – WA1T operated with us for the first time and put a lot of contacts in the log on 6M and 2M thanks to “CW”. (for those of you reading this and you don’t know or use CW, I encourage you to learn it and use it if you want to make the weak signal contact)

The operators worked smoothly passing traffic and coordinating contacts. All the equipment worked flawlessly, the newly installed filter on the 222 station, made by Don –W1FKF got a work-out and passed the test with flying colors. (Thank you Don for your help.)

Our best DX on 2304 was with Dale – AF1T in FN43 and on 3456 with K8GP/R in FM09. Our farthest 6M contact was in EL96. On 2M we worked FN54 and FN55 to the NE, FM16 to the S and EN70 – 74 to the W and VE3RX in EN96 to the NW. To top it off on 2M, we worked the elusive FN24 thanks to K2LDT/R. Also a special thanks to N2XRE/R for our 5 GHz contacts.

A big THANK YOU to all the rovers who went out and worked us. If I counted in the log correctly, I see 16 different rovers who worked us – WOW !

I can only give you our raw score and band break-down to show how much fun we had, especially on the microwave bands which we once said: we’re not gonna do that”.

Here are the numbers for what it’s worth.

Total Contacts – 849 (will drop a bit because of dupes)

Total Multipliers – 234

Total Score – 383,292

 

Break-down by band:

Band      Q’s/Grids

6M       235/51

2M       265/53

222     112/33

432     117/36

902/3   30/17

1296    35/17

2304    22/14

3456    18/9

5G        2/2

10G     8/2

Laser   5/2

I must say at this point, even though we had internet connection and had the ON4KST chat up and running, we did not use it to get contacts. We did it the old way of calling “CQ Contest” and working who came to our frequency. Five operating positions filled by five operators and no spare operators, there was no time to look at chat pages.

As usual, the food was great, the beer was great and best of all and the fellowship with each other was superb.

Just a bunch of guys “Having Fun”

 

Ken – KA2LIM



Report on the

10GHz contest - 1st weekend

by Ken-KA2LIM

10GHz Contest part 1 20-21 August 2016

On 19 August 2016, Warren-WB2ONA and his son Steve-KC2QBC along with Ken-KA2LIM, left for Vermillion, OH to operate in the 10G contest along the shore of Lake Erie. We arrived at our hotel around 6PM, got registered and set out to find our first operating location for Saturday morning, the start of the 10G contest.

Out first location was Showse Park in Vermillion, OH. EN81uk,right on the shore of Lake Erie with a good view to the west and east.

Then along came Bob – WB8VPD and another visitor, Gerry – K8GDT who had contacted me via email about coming to see our setup for 10G as he is interested in building up a station for 10G.      

From this location, we made contacts with WB8TGY, W2RMA in EN91kt,

VE3SMA, VA3ELE in FN02at,  K8JA in EN82ln, WW8M in EN82xf and VE3ZV in EN92op.

From here we moved to the East 55th Street marina in Cleveland, OH. No photos and only 1 contact with KE8U in EN81hu.  Gerry-K8GDT followed us to this location.

We then went to Township Park in Perry, OH – EN91kt. This was a great location with a wide open view west, north and east but with 8 stations already setup there, we decided just to say hello to everyone, look over the different equipment and move on to our nest stop which was:

 Walnut Beach Park, in Ashtabula, OH. EN91ov. From here we worked VE3FHM and VE3ZV in FN02at and VE3SMA, VA3ELE and VE3WJ in EN92op.

The last contact going into the log at 2347 UTC we made the decision to start operating the next morning from Presque Isle in Erie, PA, on the west end of the lake, before it got crowded with people. So we started the long drive to Erie, PA where we got a room thanks to Sue – N2CYM, Warren’s wife, who got on the computer back home and found a place to stay and reserved it for us. It is always good to have a logistics manager in backup. Thanks Sue.

21 August 2016

 

We were up at 0630 on Sunday morning, had breakfast at a Bob Evans restaurant and then headed for our first stop on Presque Isle EN92we where the wind was blowing and the water was rough.

A good view to the west and N-NE. Could not work K2DH, 100 miles to the north. But, we did work VE3ZV in FN02hu and VE3MSC in EN92lp who were farther away.So we dismantled and headed to our next stop which turned out to be the last location that we operated from on this adventure, that being Point Gratiot Park in Dunkirk, NY FN02hl.

At Gratiot Park, the wind was really blowing hard off the lake. Where I set up on the shore, I had 75 pounds of barbell weights tied to my tri-pod to keep it stable.

This turned out to be a pretty good spot to operate from. We worked the following stations in FN02hu – VE3SMA, VA3ELE, VE3NYZ and VE3ZV.   EN92ip - VE3MSC, EN92fn - VE3WJ and VE3MSC, WB8TGY in EN91uk. Warren also worked WB8VPD in EN91uk, I missed Bob. And the last one in the log for both of us was VE3FHM in FN03au.

It was getting late and we had an almost 4 hour drive home so we packed up and headed for Pine Valley - FN12nf for a good night’s sleep.

 

Some observations on my part, this being my first 10G contest.

1. Too many stations trying to talk on 144.260 (the coordinating frequency) at one time. Contact who you want to work on 10G and move 20 or 30 KC’s away, to do your coordinating.

2. Too many stations trying to make a contact on 10368.100 at the same time. Come on, spread it out.

3. Lots of stations setup at one location with no coordination between each other.

4. Provide your cell phone or home phone on the list that K1RZ publishes for everyone, to assist in setting up 10G skeds.

 

Over all, I had a great time. Don’t know why I waited so long to get on 10G. All ready have plans for improving my portable setup.

Thanks to all who went out and made contacts with us on this adventure. Looking forward to more contacts, with all of you on 10G.

And a special thanks, to Warren-WB2ONA for all his help and taking me along on this adventure.

Ken

KA2LIM

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------


2016 August UHF Contest

 

For the first time the K2LIM station had all the bands up thru 10 GHz. With Al-W9KXI, Rob-KB2YCC, Walt-N2IK and Ken-KA2LIM on board for this contest, we all agreed that we had a blast.

We want to say thank you to all the rovers that went out and worked us as well as all the fixed stations. Band conditions are always interesting and this time was no exception. Sometimes strong signals for the entire contact and sometimes very weak, so that we really had to work hard to complete the contact. And as always CW came through to put them in the log.

Farthest contact on 432 was with KB8U in EN71sw at 386 miles. Farthest on 222 was with WM8I at 315 miles.

Farthest on 902 was with AF1T in FN43cd at 270 miles to the East , followed by WA8RJF in EN91iq at 227 miles to the West and WA3EOQ in FM09jo at 218 miles to the South.

On 1296, AF1T in FN43cd at 270 miles followed by K1GX in FN31tt at 238 miles to the East and with WA3EOQ in FM09jo at 218 miles to the South.

On 2304, K1RZ in FM19jh at 205 miles to the South and K1TEO in FN31jh at 205 miles to the East.

On 3456, KF2MR/R in FN02wv at 75 miles.

Nothing on 5GHz and all out 10G contacts were within our own grid – FN12. We did have a partial with KF2MR/R in FN02. Both stations copied each other at different times and sent the exchange but then conditions went away before we could complete with the R for acknowledgement. Maybe next time.

 

Total contacts were 176 with a couple of dupes and a final raw score of 82,524.

Break-down by bands is as follows:

222 – 57Q/27G

432 – 55Q/29G

903- 10Q/13G

1296 – 20Q/13G

2304 – 9Q/7G

3456 – 6Q/2G

10G -6Q/1G

LIGHT 5Q/1G

Again, we had a blast and a special thank to the sponsors who stepped up to make this contest happen. Let’s do it again next year.

http://uhfcontest.org/ 

 

For the K2LIM team,

 Ken – KA2LIM

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


July 2016 CQWW VHF Contest

K2LIM Group

FN12mg

Operators: Ken - KA2LIM, Rob - KB2YCC, Gregg - NX2W, Al - W9KXI and Al - N4VC

Final score – 95,432

453 total Q’s

 

6M – 302 Q’s in 112 Grids

Best DX: EK71 2165 miles (3485.1 km) - YN2N - Nicaragua

We heard No one from FN24 on 6M.

 

From the numbers, it is apparent that this was predominantly, a six meter contest for us.  The contest was typical 6M on a hot summer day in rural upstate New York: long stretches of mediocrity that were interrupted with short sessions of intense activity.  Thank goodness for the six different antenna selections and the ability to rapidly switch between them as they all came in to use during this contest.  Our new friend Al – N4VC spent considerable seat time in this position and did a stellar job.  Al came to visit the site and was offered the operating seat with radio, logging software and antennas that he had never used before. AND…I suspect beam headings are more than a little different in FN12 than they are in Tennessee.  Nice job, Al.

 

2M – 151 Q’s in 46 Grids

No one in either FN23 or FN24 again for 2M.

 

Best DX: EN60 534 miles (860 km)   – N9XG

Followed closely by: EN61 519 miles (835 km) - KG9Q

 

This band was slow, real slow.  Additionally, most signals heard were down, really weak.  I can’t emphasize enough about how weak the signals were.  We have six different antenna systems on this band and none of them could pull out the really weak ones. I tried, I really tried but there were some that I just could not pull out of the noise. Normally strong stations out of Connecticut and the NE were weak and… some call signs from the NE were missing.  I suspect (hope?) that this (missing) was a combination of conditions and the 6M focus.

Speaking of missing, we had No EN81 or 82 contacts on this band.  

That…was a surprise.

 

We have had reports that we were heard in EN41 – IA and in FN55.  

Hopefully these grids will be in our log in September.

 

The Rovers.  What can I say?  You guys are Great!  From the logs, (in random order): N4TZH/R, KD5IKG/R, NG9K/R, AC0RA/R, N8KH/R, KF2MR/R, K2EZ/R, N1WK/R and WB2SIH/R. Thank you.

 

The equipment.  It all worked great.  No problems. No, no, no, no.  I stand corrected.  The cows got loose from the adjacent field and came up into our area. During the middle of the night they decided to use the bunkhouse (RV trailer) as a scratching post. I can tell you that a full grown beef cow or a Scottish Highland cow 


can definitely shake a two axle RV trailer.

 Suffice it to say that they also left their “calling card”. Enough said about that.

 

Our guest operator: We had one contact on 2M who became a guest and then became one of our operators: N4VC – Al Pierce from Nashville TN. We bumped into Al on 2M while he was visiting the Harris Hill, where a vintage (soaring) aircraft event was being held at the Harris Hill Glider Field .  In the end, Al came to visit the contest site and operated off and on for nearly the entire contest.  Al is another guy who said “he had fun”. That is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

 

Finally, the Food:

Polish sausage and sauerkraut, pasta salad, Jumbo shrimp (the size of Michael Oher’s thumb), beef kabobs, a selection of beers, water, lemonade and soft drinks. Breakfast: OJ, breakfast sandwiches and coffee.

A great selection.

 Al – W9KXI



 2016 June VHF


LEADING UP TO THE CONTEST

During the fall 2m Sprint 2015, Ken mentioned that he was working on a 5/10 GHz station for use at our contest site. One month later it was completed and ready for use in June 2016. It is a dual-band feed dish mounted directly to a weather-proof box containing all the electronics so that feedline losses are kept to a minimum.

 

In November El Nino treated us to some unusually sunny and warm weather in WNY. Ken and Al took full advantage of it by going to the contest site to do some antenna maintenance. They re-worked the 144 and 432 MHz long-boom yagi stacks. Our new thicker wall aluminum mast can handle higher wind loading, so the diamond stacks were changed to the H-frame stacking configuration. That's four 12-element yagis on 2m and four 25-element yagis on 432. Corrosion was discovered at several connection points and cleaned up. The phasing lines were upgraded to quarter-inch hardline.

 

We generated the highest grid count in the nation on 222 MHz in both June and September 2015 partly by using a large assortment of antenna styles. It was now time to head in the same direction with 432 MHz, so "Big Bertha" was resurrected. Bertha is a large homebrew quagi that had been in storage since the 2007 maiden voyage of the Grid Square Limo. Ken blew the dust off this gem, re-tuned it, and installed Phillystran overhead support lines on the 28-foot boom. Ken and Al installed this 33-element monstrosity on the same tower as the 432 "Long John" which doesn't look so long anymore. Now 222 and 432 each have 7 antenna systems for getting the signals through whatever mother nature brings.

 

By January Ken had completed a dual-stacked antenna system for the top of our microwave tower. It's a pair of E-Plane stacked 2.3 GHz loopers and another pair for 3.4 GHz all on the same horizontal mast. The azimuth beamwidth is about 5 degrees on these systems, and the 24 dBd gain produces about 250 watts ERP for each watt of input power.

 

Spring brought us a reminder of the challenges of the portable multioperator lifestyle. The wide temperature excursions and high winds on the exposed hilltop pulled guy stakes out of the ground, blew down our 5-over-5 element 6m antenna system, and pushed the 222 Long John tower and the 2m lower omni stack off vertical. Ken and Al pulled the affected 6m tower trailer offsite and rebuilt it, added hardline, replaced the reflector element on each antenna, and re-installed, upgrading from 3 guy ropes to 4. They did the same guy rope upgrade to the 2m lower omni stack. Then they pulled the 222 Long John tower back to vertical and now it has two guy ropes toward the west. They also had to re-dig a trench for a 4-inch PVC pipe that got uprooted. Inside the Gridsquare Limo upgrades included adding half-inch hardline jumpers, so now there is hardline at each station from the amplifier to the wattmeter to the antenna switch and out to all antennas. The main 222 tower got lots of upgrades in May: The long-boom yagi stack (four 16-element yagis) had new mast added to replace the bent one and was then converted to the H-frame configuration like the matching antenna systems on 2m and 432. The phasing lines and main feedlines on the long-boom yagi stack and the upper omni stack were upgraded to hardline. The finishing touch was a fourth guy rope added to the tower. The 6m lower omni stack was re-worked and the SWR came down to 1.5:1. Hardline was installed on the 2304 and 3456 MHz loop yagi stacks. Lastly, the new 5/10 GHz station was added right before contest weekend and the microwave tower was tilted upright, ready for action on all microwave bands from 902/903 MHz - 10 GHz.

 LU - N2SLN


Contest day arrived and the WX was not the best on the hill, wind was blowing rather strong and it stayed that way all weekend with periods of high gusts. In fact the wind was so strong it affected the turning of some antennas so that they would not turn.

 

Just into the contest I discovered that 3.4 thru 10GHZ was not working, but 903 and 1296 were just fine, so, I turned the top four transverter’s off and we went with just 903 and 1296 which preformed remarkably well seeing as the wind was whipping the mast on the microwave tower all around. In fact, at times it looked like a fly-rod whipping in the air.

 

Six meters was open all weekend but not that much to our location, in and out, going right over us and staying open to 1 land all the time. And of course, the upper bands supper for contacts when 6 is open.

That being said, we had a great bunch of operators on hand that did a stellar job of putting  contacts into the log. On hand for this contest were: W9KXI-AL, NX2W-Gregg, N2LID-Dave, N2IK-Walt,WZ1V-ron and W1QJ-Lou.  This was Lou’s first time operating at the K2LIM station and he spent most of his time in the 6M seat and an outstanding job, but best of all was he said:” he had fun”, that’s what it’s all about.

Absent was Rob-KB2YCC who’s job had him on the west coast for the week before the contest, so he and his wife did a trip to Alaska, and Lu-N2SLN the author of the first part of this report, who got a stomach bug on Friday before the contest.

 

Here are some statistics that Lou compiled:

 

6m VUCC achieved Sunday morning with the following contact:

QSO:    50 CW 2016-06-12 1411 K2LIM             FN12mg NF4A              EM70

Best 6m USA was this Idaho station (1996.5 miles):

QSO:    50 PH 2016-06-12 0403 K2LIM             FN12mg KI7BP             DN13

Best 6m DX was Canary Islands (3459.5 miles):

QSO:    50 CW 2016-06-12 2309 K2LIM             FN12mg EA8DBM            IL18

Best 6m DX to the south was the Caribbean island of Bonaire (2139.1 miles):

QSO:    50 PH 2016-06-12 1843 K2LIM             FN12mg PJ4NX             FK52

 

 Best 2m DX was Indiana at 491.1 miles:

QSO:   144 PH 2016-06-11 2019 K2LIM             W9VW              EM79

 

Best 222 DX was Indiana at 424.4 miles:         

QSO:   222 PH 2016-06-12 1907 K2LIM             K9EA                EN71le

 

Best 432 DX was Virginia at 321.4 miles:         WA4LM             FM27bq

QSO:   432 PH 2016-06-12 1350 K2LIM            

 

Best 902 DX was Vermont at 303.1 miles:        N1JEZ               FN44ar

QSO:   902 CW 2016-06-12 1348 K2LIM            

 

Best 1296 DX was Vermont at 277.1 miles:      W1AIM              FN34uj

QSO:   1296 CW 2016-06-13 0029 K2LIM

Our final score was 362,626 with a total of 895 Q’s break down by band is as follows:

 

6M      - 440 Q’s 162 grids

2M      -225 Q’s    51 grids

222     -  89 Q’s     35 grids

432     -101 Q’s    34 grids

903     -  19 Q’s    14 grids

1296   - 20 Q’s     14 grids 

 

EQUIPMENT:

Everything on the bottom four bands worked just fine with no problems with the exception of the 6M 7x7 antennas stopped rotating. A few days after the contest we found two wires on the bottom of the rotor broke off from the wind blowing stuff around. They have since been re-connected.

The microwave tower has since been re-built, all equipment tested and confirmed working so we are ready for the UHF contest in August.

 

FOOD:

The usual great variety of food was on hand, cold-cut platter for making sandwiches, cooked jumbo shrimp, breakfast sandwiches, chips, orange juice, coffee, a variety of beers, soda and lots of water.

 

2nd half of report - Ken

A big thanks to Lu for all his work on this report.

Ken KA2LIM 




January VHF Contest - 2016

 

The weather was something else for this January contest, temperature in the 40’s on Saturday and 50’s on Sunday. We even had the back door open on Sunday afternoon.

Band conditions were less than desirable to say the least. But we have a great bunch of operators that do their very best to work the weak ones and get them in the log. The Grand Prize this time goes to Al-W9KXI who worked a station on 2M who was in FN20 running 5 watts and then when Al was at the 432 position, He worked AF1T in FN42 who was running 12 watts. This is what makes it FUN.

The only hick-up occurred at 0730 local  time on Sunday when we suddenly lost all power. Went to check the generator and found the main breaker tripped and could not get it back in to working position. Went to start the back-up generator and the on/start switch was broke, worked fine 2 weeks before hand. Tried the main breaker on the big generator again and it engaged and we were back on the air. First time that ever happened, who knows why. Got a new switch ordered for the back-up unit.

The last contact went into the log at 5 minutes before the end of the contest. We wound up with 661 Q’s which will drop a few when the dupes are removed. Final score was 127,600.

Breakdown is as follows:

Band   Q’s/ Grids

6M    - 187/34

2M    - 256/45

222   -   97/33

432   - 121/33  

 

Operators on hand were Al-W9KXI, Gregg-NX2W, Walt-N2IK

Rob-KB2YCC, Larry WA3CSP and Ken-KA2LIM.  

Another good contest where we all had fun. See you in June 2016.

 

Ken – KA2LIM





-----------------2015-----------------


K2LIM September VHF Contest  2015

This contest was a more laid-back operation than in the past. Many of our group had other commitments, ie: family and one operation, so we were operating with a light crew that consisted of Ken-KA2LIM, Rob-KB2YCC, Larry-WA3CSP, Walt-N2IK, Warren-WB2ONA, Lu-N2SLN and new comer to VHF Jaye-K2ZT.

I arrived at site at noon on Saturday with Jaye in-tow and got things open up, plugged in, turned on and ready to go. There were 5 of us for Saturday until Walt had to leave for home around 8PM and Jaye went back to the motel where his wife was waiting. On Sunday Lu rolled in mid-morning and plopped right into a vacant seat, didn’t even have time to take his jacket off.

As usual, the food that was brought in (enough to feed twice as many as was there) was great along with a wide variety of beers to sample. What a great group of guys we have here.

 

The weather was something else at this location, rain and fog all day Saturday with the rain finally stopping around 11 PM Saturday night as the front pushed on thru. Sunday it was coooooold, thermometer in the Hornby room showed 58 degrees inside. All this poor weather provided very poor band conditions at this location.

On Saturday, Walt-N2IK did a great job manning the 6M position and putting contacts on the log from here to FL to the south and some from the SW of the US. On Sunday when I was at the 6M position in the morning I got a surprise and worked Steve-N2CEI/R in the Washington DC area as he was driving back to FL from NJ.

In my opinion this was a poor contest with practically no propagation and low participation. Our contact total and final score was way down from other contests but that’s OK because we do this to have FUN and fellowship with each-other.

We spent some time on Sunday trouble-shooting a problem with one of our 3456 units, narrowing down the problem to 2 things which I will work on at the bench at home. Did confirm that the contest station was working fine, that sure was a relief. We do have the microwave position working in pretty good order up thru 3456 and was able to make a bunch of contacts on 902/3 thru 3456.

The highlight of this contest, with the poor band conditions, cane on Sunday night when I got called by Dave-K1WHS FN43mj on 2M and he wanted to try 1296 and 2304. So I went to the microwave position and we completed on 1296 CW at 0134 UTC with signal at 319. Back to 2M to talk and decided to try 2304. We found each other’s dashes with honest 317 signals to start and finished with Dave’s signal building on this end to 579 as we completed and logged 0138 UTC. Dave’s signal was so loud I flipped the switch and put the audio on the speaker so the others in the station could hear the signal coming in. Back to 2M to talk with Dave and we were both amped-up about this contact. So we had FN43mj in the log. Too bad that K1WHS had water problems with his 3456 station as I think we probably could have completed on that band.  We did have a contact with K1RZ in FM19jh earlier on 2304. We are very happy that this band is working for us.

903 and 1296 worked fine as they always seem to do, 2304 made us happy and our 3456 contacts were all local to us as conditions just did not want to cooperate for any distant contacts on this band.

It was now almost 0200 UTC (10PM local), one more contact was made with NF2RS/R on 2M , could not find them on 432, so seeing as there was only 3  of us on site, we decided to pull the plug and head for home.

Our results is as follows:

Total contacts- 544

Total score     - 144,632

Band   Q’s/Grids

6              149/41

2              195/50

222           77/33

432           78/30

903           12/11

1296         17/10

2304           3/3

3456           6/1

10GHz        7/1


Best DX:

 50

WM5DX EM50 Mississippi 1062 miles

144

KT1R FN54 Maine 440 miles

with honorable mention going to

W8MIL EN74 Michigan 439 miles

 222

W8MIL EN74ic Michigan 439 miles

 432

K9EA EN71 Indiana 432 miles

 902/903

K1WHS FN43 Maine 315 miles

1296

WZ1V FN31 Connecticut 238 miles

 2.3G

K1WHS FN43 Maine 315 miles

Courtesy of Lu-N2SLN


Score has been higher in past contests but it is what it is. Again we met our Number 1 goal of HAVING FUN, good fellowship, good food and drink and contesting. Look for us in the 10M contest in December.

 

Ken

KA2LIM



K2LIM

2015 AUGUST UHF CONTEST

 

Well, we thought that everything was working up thru 3.4 GHz but as would have it, some boo boo’s surfaced with 2.3 and 3.4 GHz which resulted in me climbing the microwave tower to do some repair  which led to tilting the tower back down to get 3.4 GHz back up and running. 2304 was down and we never did get back up for the contest.  We did have 10GHz wide band working and managed a couple of contacts. Band conditions were TERRIBLE, I didn’t think that conditions could be worse than the CQWW VHF contest but they were and activity was way down from last year. Thank God for the rovers who provided us with a lot of contacts.

The re-configured microwave operating position inside the "Limo" worked very, very well and the newly installed "hardline" on the microwave tower is just the ticket to get "all" the RF to and from the transceiver  to the antenna's.

The food was great, again. And a good time was had by those on hand, W9KXI, KB2YCC, N2IK AND KA2LIM, for this 24 hour run. The bunkhouse again provided excellent sleeping accommodations of beds and mattress, much better than in a tent and on the ground.

 

Work is on - going to have 2304 back up for the September contest (low power for now) and if we’re lucky maybe 10GHz ( not the wide band) so we can do CW and possibly SSB.   

Here are some:

Comments from Al – W9KXI:

Random thoughts:

·        Worse conditions than the CQWW contest.

·        3 operating positions.  We needed 5 people, one dedicated to the internet activity.  Muti-tasking: operating  and internet with a cell phone in a fringe area was not a good idea.

·        We are in a fringe area for cell phone service.  Communicating with the internet through a "smart phone" was a P.I.A.. Press the "send" button and wait, press the "send" button again and wait; press the "send" button again and wait; press the "send" button again and wait; press the "send" button again and wait.  Finally thinking "to h**l with it and (eventually) it went.

·        OMG!! Thanks for the rovers who stuck in there with me!  At the risk of missing someone: KF2MR/R, N2DCH/R, N2QIP/R

·        Freaking weird condx.  [If  I didn't say "weird", they were weird!!]  John - N2DCH is (maybe) 50 miles from us.  John worked us on FM, on 1296 with a 1-watt hand held, and was 60 over.  We have never, never see a signal from John like that. Ever!

·        With all due respect to both K9MRI and to those guys with modest stations out there, K9MRI's 222MHz CW signal sounded like he was 700 miles away, on a 1/4 wave vertical (vertically polarized) and running 25 watts.  Tough, tough, tough.  Thanks for stickin' with me Joe.

·        Did I say these were worse conditions than the CQWW contest?  Another one like this and I'll move to the HF contests.


 

Final score was 32,760. Just a bit over half of last years score.

That’s all for now, stay tuned for the September report.

 

Ken – KA2LIM


 

·        

CQWW VHF 2015

 

What can I say, propagation was not here in the North-East and activity was way down from previous years for the entire contest period. Sporadic-E was true Sporadic-E on 6M, hear a call sign and then the band was dead.  

On our 2M station one of our antenna system was showing a high VSWR so we just put up a label that said: “do not use” as I had to leave the site at 4PM Saturday due to a prior commitment. We already knew that the hardline was A-OK because Al and I had checked it out before I left on Saturday and I removed the power-divider before I came down off the tower. I checked the PD Saturday night when I got back, expecting to find the problem there, but it checked out all OK.

So I climbed the tower Sunday morning and checked each antenna with the analyzer, no problem found. Now I’m really doing a head-scratch. So I re-attached all the antennas to the PD and hooked up the hardline and we tested it and everything was back to normal. Still don’t know what was going on.

We slugged it out for the rest of the day slowly putting a few more in the log. 2M was way ahead of 6 on Q’s and grid total, but with a few and I mean few, quick E openings on 6 the Q total soon caught up to 2M and the grid count went past 2M.

The high point for contacts, came at 40 minutes before the end of the contest when I was at the 2M position and worked K2DRH in EN41vr at 702 miles under flat band conditions. Bob was as ecstatic as I was, as he commented to this contact on the 3830 reflector as it being the high-lite contact for him.

We wound up with 359 Q’s and 111 multipliers. The break-down is as follows:

6M – 180 Q’s/62 Grids, 2M – 179 Q’s/49 Grids.  Total score – 59,607

Way down from last year, but it is what it is.

The food was good, the beer was good, the company was great and the sleeping quarters was super, utilizing the newly acquired 26’ camper trailer that sports 6 bunks, appropriately named “The Bunk House”. Op’s on hand for this outing were: Al-W9KXI, Rob-KB2YCC, Walt-N2IK, Larry-WA3CSP and yours truly Ken-KA2LIM.

 

Ken



June 2015 VHF Contest

PREPARING FOR JUNE 2015

 

In the June 2014 contest we had tremendous success with our 11-over-11 element 2m yagi stack on regular old troposcatter communications. On both days of the contest it was often outperforming the bigger 2m antennas. Bolstered by the real-world performance of that antenna style, Ken got right to work making a similar system for 222 MHz. In late June 2014 Ken and Al went to the contest site to install a 9-over-9 element stack for 222. Then the FM yagis on the top 3 bands got moved to the SSB/CW antenna towers. Next, Ken built a tower trailer for the addition of a quagi antenna for 222 MHz on a newly obtained crank-up tower. 

Eventually, a single extra-long-boom yagi ("long-john") would also be added to that tower as another tool in the toolchest for constantly-changing propagation. Another long-john was made available for 432 on its own tower. So the 222 MHz station now has seven antennas from which to choose, and the other stations have six antennas. 

The lower 2m omni stack was upgraded from two antennas to four, and early tests produced signals of S9+60 dB two grids to our north into VE3-land. Further testing of both omni systems produced contacts out to the upper mid-west on a random day about a week and a half before contest time. All of the main operating positions are now equipped with 8-position high-power antenna switches and meters. Several feedlines were upgraded to N connectors for better power handling capacity, and thanks to Warren WB2ONA, all feedlines were upgraded to hardline. Also, multiple spare rotors and spare control cable are now on hand, ready to quickly replace any that fail during a contest. Now we just need to solve the problem of the birds that showed up again this year with an appetite for electrical tape.

 

OPERATING JUNE 2015

 

Ron WZ1V returned for more June contest fun at K2LIM limited multi-op. Our main man Ken KA2LIM would be away on a family commitment for the weekend. Al W9KXI and Rob KB2YCC were in charge and were on site Saturday morning making final preparations. Gregg NX2W, Larry WA3CSP, and Lu N2SLN were also on site. We are no slouches in the food and drink departments: Gregg provided Saturday's lunch in the form of subs customized to each person's liking. Then there was also a monster-sized pot of chili which seemed to taste even better on the second day, plus three containers of homemade ziti. Several coolers contained our usual highly varied selection of drinks to wash it all down.

 

Additional info re the food:

Saturday:

Gregg - (lunch) made to order subs;

monster shrimp (as big as a 3 year old's foot)

Supper

Larry - FN11 Chili

Lu - Mom Schaefer's Ziti

Sunday

Bkfst

Al - Bkfst sandwiches by Mickey D's; OJ; coffee

Lunch

Walt - sandwich fixin's (nice bread, ham, imported Irish cheese, special mustard); Fruit

Supper

leftovers

A WIDE selection of beers

 

 

A few minutes before contest start time, Al got on 2m to secure our run frequency, then the contest was on. Tropospheric ducting prediction maps had shown a chance of some slightly enhanced conditions to the northwest, but we didn't work anything beyond our usual troposcatter range. The 2m lower omni stack was the dominant performer from the start, producing a tall pileup that lasted a couple hours. We also worked into FM06 on that antenna, and worked a QRP station in FN31 on it. For most of the rest of the day it was difficult propagation on all the bands--stations would call us, then after we tried answering there was dead air. Subsequent repeated attempts usually failed. But one bright point was working Puerto Rico FK68 on six meters followed by the Bahamas DXpedition in FL15. There were a few ionoscatter bursts that permitted us to work the occasional new grid such as EL29 and EL49, but no long-lasting band openings. The 222 station had an occasional transmit problem, but Al and Rob took care of that. Then two fuses blew on the 2m amp power supply, but Al replaced them and they held for the rest of the contest. There had been a tremendous amount of moisture in the air and bright sunshine warming the ground all day, so we hoped that evening enhancement would help us on the upper bands. The air temperature cooled quickly Saturday evening probably because of the north winds, but we never did get any extended paths.

 

We powered down in the 1:00 AM hour with a score of 98,000. Many of us retired to the 6-bed camper for the night. This portable 26-foot sleeping quarters is the newest upgrade to the contest site and is a welcomed addition. It was put in place more than a week before contest time; it even has electricity available while the main generator is running. This year the overnight temperature was forecast to be in the upper 50's, making the interior of the camper just right for sleeping.

 

We got back on the air Sunday morning with the first contact going into the log at 5:45. Al was on the scene early, providing breakfast sandwiches and orange juice to give us a morning boost. Walt N2IK arrived at 9:00 and brought fruit, cheese, cold cuts, bread, and award winning mustard to keep us going. 

Alex N3NP and crew arrived at 11 AM. His daughter, who is less than 10 years old, did some operating and added to our log. Dad said if she enjoys VHF contesting she can get her ham ticket. Also onboard with Alex was Vinnie K2VT who is the President of the Binghamton, NY Amateur Radio Association. 

The tough band conditions persisted into the second day but so did we. It was starting to remind us of June 2013 when there were no solid band openings on 6m and no DX on the upper bands. 

Gregg had to leave at noon, and not long after that we began hearing lightning static on any west-facing antenna. Al brought up the radar loop on his tablet and it showed a squall line marching our way, but the worst of it was projected to pass north and south of us. 

Team Alex left at 2 PM, and we soon began watching the distant hilltops to the southwest disappear as they got overtaken by rain. Then the rain hit us hard at 3:30. The noise on the metal roof of the Hornby Room was so loud you almost couldn't hear yourself talk. Back inside the Gridsquare Limo we began monitoring a lightning map webpage, and most of the activity was passing north of us. A Flash Flood Warning was later issued for areas to our east. 

On 6m we heard C6ATA again (and he was in there again the day after the contest). We somehow managed to squeeze in a contact with W0W EN48 on a burst of propagation that lasted a few seconds, but we didn't work any other stations in that area for many grids around. 

Walt left at 8 PM, so we were down to 4 operators for 4 operating positions at 3 hours to go. The lightning static got so bad (regardless of antenna bearing) that we sometimes had to pick out a callsign one letter per transmission on the weakest stations, and the QSB was terrible all weekend. 

We finally got a break by getting in on some evening enhancement by working new grids EM88 and EM79 on the 2m 4-stack yagis. But the best DX on 2m was 508 miles with a northwest Indiana station in EN61, the best on 222 was 386 miles into EN71 and the best on 432 was 291 miles into EM89, not bad for poor band conditions. We also made a contact all the way to Cleveland on 223.500 FM simplex. Six meters finally woke up and we were able to have a fairly good run into 4-land for a couple hours.

 

The contest ended, and the numbers showed that we didn't work as many stations or grids as last year's incredibly lucky June where there was sporadic-E and tropo in the same contest and no lightning static. But for the second June in a row, we did hit 3-digit numbers of QSOs on 222/432, and we did so under worse propagation. Upgrading to hardline paid off right when we needed it. The new 9-over-9 yagi stack on 222 worked well, and initial reports are that the new 222 quagi (actually an old one that we used years ago that was pulled out of storage)  outperformed the 222 M2 long-john.

Band  QSOs   Grids

------------------

50    377     83

144   313     56

222   103     38

432   112     34

---------------------

TOT   905    211

 

Claimed Score: 236,320


Lu - N2SLN


*********************************************************************************************

January 2015 VHF Contest

 

The weather here in FN12mg was as about as perfect as could be for a January contest, sunny and mid 30’s temperature wise. The contest started and was immediately apparent that the conditions for contacts were really strange. No stations were being heard from South thru the East. Six meters was really dead, everything was normal local contact with one 30 second opening into EM64 with AH4QR at 1612 utc on the 25th.

Band condition were really strange on 6 thru 432 with signals coming in strong and then totally gone before the exchange could be completed. My personal feeling is that the cause of this was the low pressure system off the east coast that created a frontal system in-land that literally stopped signals. As the front moved east we were able to start working stations to the S and SE on Sunday and then to the E late Sunday evening.

The only problem we experienced was at 0720 Sunday morning, local time, the 222 transverter died. No power out at all, so a trip home to retrieve my home station transverter put up back on the air but with lower power out.

The generator ran flawlessly after some maintance, that was performed on it, in  December. It was started up 2 ½ hours before the contest start and ran continuously for 36 hours without even a burp.

The food was outstanding as usual, more than we could eat the entire weekend. And of course there was some outstanding home-brewed beer to sample as well.

 

For a contest with the strangest conditions that we have ever experienced in a January contest, we actually came out with our highest score ever in a January contest. Our stats are as follows:

Band       Q’s      Grids

6M         228         39

2M         295         47

222         94          36

432        109         33

 

Total score submitted: 143,995

 

Not bad for a bunch of guys “Havin’ Fun”

Ken – KA2LIM




------------------------------------2014----------------------------------

December 10M Contest

We decided to have a bit of fun on 10M and operated in the multi-operator/single transmitter HP class. Needless to say we had a blast, putting over 1700 Q's in the log, worked 80 countries and 49 of the 50 US states, (was anyone on from RI) ? Just over 500K in points which ain't even in the running when you look as scores, submitted for our class, on the 3830 reflector.

The four who operated were; Al-W9KXI, Rob-KB2YCC, Walt-N2IK and Ken-KA2LIM. We took it easy with each operator in the seat for 1-2 hours at a time. No doubt a laid-back operation for HF as compared to most on HF who seem to get pretty wound up, (you can tell by their voice). What a blast, looking to do it again because as always "we had fun".


August 2014 UHF Contest 


The final preparation for this contest started in the first week of July and was completed on Friday 1 August, just ready to start the contest on Saturday 2 August at 1800 utc. On hand for the contest were Al-W9KXI, Rob-KB2YCC and Ken-KA2LIM. We all arrived on site at 12:30 local time and had lunch, then started the generator and turned on all the equipment. We had everything working on 222 thru 3.4 GHz and immediately worked WA2FGK on 902 thru 2304 with the signal on 2304 the strongest, running +20 db on the S meter. WOW!!!! We were getting excited! Contacts came slow with only 17 in the log in the first hour but we kept plugging along. After 2 hours of operation we were at 60 q’s in the log with several contacts and grids on the upper microwave frequencies.

At some point Rob decided to put a Bird watt meter in line to check the power output on 1296. Put a brand new slug (not a Bird) in the bird watt meter, keyed the IF rig and nothing reading on the meter. Tried it again 3 or 4 more times and still nothing. So he then put in an old bird slug that only read to 1GHz and it showed a reading. Holy smokes! , a brand new slug that did not work. So Rob dropped it (the brand new slug) on the counter and tried it again, the meter wiggled a little, so the next move was to throw it on the floor, put the slug back in and it was working perfectly. Moral of the story: try the hammer method before giving up.

At 0314 utc (1114 pm local time) we were at 122 contacts and the bands were very quiet so we shut down for the night and went to get some sleep.

Got up at 05:40 (local time) got the coffee pot going, had a breakfast sandwich and by the time we got all equipment up and running, were calling CQ contest by1015 utc (06:16 local time) and the first log entry on Sunday morning went into the log at 1027 utc. Just about 1100 utc we heard Warren-WB2ONA/R calling us on 146.55 to get directions into the station site.

Warren and Rob getting 24 Ghz setup

A pleasant surprise for us having Warren stop by and we had a great time talking and then setting up the 10GHz and 24GHZ equipment to make some contacts. Warren left for home around 1530 utc and made a stop in FN11 to work us on 222 thru 3.4GHz for a new grid on the upper frequencies a half hour before the end of the contest. Thank you Warren. We worked a couple more stations just before the end of the contest for our best effort to date in the UHF contest.


WB2ONA/R MOBILE

Break down by band:

Band     Q’s    Grids

1.25      47        24
70cm    58        24
33cm    19        13
23cm    24        15
13cm     6          5
9cm       2          2
3cm       1          1
1.2cm    1          1

total score – 64,005

Total contacts – 163

We want to thank everyone who took time to work us and a special thanks to all the ROVERS who went out and activated so many grids and gave us so many contacts. Here is a list of the rovers in no particular order: AB2YI/R, K1DS/R, KF2MR/R, N2DCH/R, N2QIP/R, VE3OIL/R, WB2ONA/R.

We had a great time operating, great food again, a few refreshments and a great time rag chewing with Warren. Got a few things to tweak before September but we are looking forward to the September contest. For the K2LIM contest group,

Ken KA2LIM

CQWW VHF 2014 

 
The CQWW VHF contest started off very slow here in WNY with just the normal close-in grids being worked on both 6 and 2. The first ES contact on 6 was logged at 1809 utc into FL - EL89 and then gone. At 1813 the next ES contact was made with K0HA in EN10 and then a couple more into FL over the next 5 minutes and then gone. We made several 2M contacts at the 500 mile +/- distance but this is normal from our location with flat band conditions. This continued for the rest of Saturday until we quit for the night at 0330 utc to get some sleep.

On Sunday, 6M started popping in and out at 1236 utc and continued that way all day never getting any strong lengthy ES opening. We did manage to work stations as far west in the following grids: DM12, DM26, DM42, DM45, DM52 and DM65. XE2JS in DL68 and XE3DX in EK36 which is way down in the southern - most part of Mexico. Many partial contacts were never completed or logged on 6M at they were there and gone before the exchange could be completed. And, we were aware early on in the contest that our total contacts were way down from last year, just seemed that participation was way down this year, at least from our location here in FN12.

All our equipment worked fine with the exception of the long boom 2M Quagi showing a high VSWR again. Thought we had it fixed. So, I tilted that tower down and 30 minutes later had the complete feed-line replaced and the tower back up and the Quagi was back working as it should and it again produced some contacts for the log that could not be heard on any of the other 2M antennas.

The food was again GREAT and several flavors of home-brewed beer on hand for sampling. We even took some food home because 4 guys can only eat so much. Those on had this time were: Al-W9KXI, Rob-KB2YCC, Larry-WA3CSP and Ken-KA2LIM. We all had FUN and enjoyed each others company while plugging away to “put ‘em in the log”. Our final numbers were way down last year and it has proven that the high numbers and scores that have been reported come from the middle of the US where they had long ES openings on 6M and looks like some tropo on 2M, that did not happen here.

Here is our break-down:

Band Q’s Grids

 6     258     82

2      149     43

Score – 56,000

Looking forward to the UHF contest on August 2-3 and of course the September VHF contest on 13–15 September 2014. Hope to work you then.

Ken – KA2LIM

June 2014 VHF Contest

THE EXCITEMENT BUILDS

In October the wx was still nice enough to get lots of work done in preparation for the 2014 VHF contesting season. So after the 432 transverter got repaired and re-installed, Ken and Al continued working on the 432 equipment by bringing home some of the antennas and re-tuning them for flat SWR. Other changes included upgrading the feed lines to half-inch hardline and N connectors on that band. By early November the upgrades were complete, and now all five of the 432 MHz antenna systems were ready to crank out the RF like never before.

The January VHF Contest saw the blowout of the 2m amplifier power supply, with blue flames dancing around inside the cabinet. So in March, Ken and Al traveled to Lunar Link in Connecticut to get work done on both the 2m and 222 amp power supplies. Damage photos reveal that a filter capacitor exploded, creating a PCB trace blowout in the 2m amp PS and leaving smoke stains on the inside of the cabinet. K2LIM holds the distinction of being the first to have a Lunar Link PS fail. The portable multi-op lifestyle is not easy on equipment. All filter capacitors were replaced with new shorter ones, freeing up some room for a cooling fan. A heavy-duty transformer and new cap board were ordered for the 222 amp PS. Now all the power supplies are the same and are interchangeable should one go down in the heat of battle.

Upgrades of a different sort were needed at the contest site this year. Ken and Al visited the site in April after an exceptionally harsh winter here in the northeast. Ken discovered damage to several of the power dividers, as well as damage to much of the electrical tape, some of which is used for securing feed lines and some for helping weather-proof the connectors. The power dividers had their top panel and bottom breather screens removed. We figured the damage must have been done by the hawk that had been observed in the past sitting on the 2m upper omni stack. But there were small nesting materials discovered inside the main generator's throttle opening in June. While Ken was removing them (for the second time), he got scolded by a persistent (is there any other kind?) red-winged blackbird. It had also pulled insulation from behind the metal part of the windows on the Grid Square Limo. By the weekend before the contest, the site was mowed, all nest materials were removed, all holes plugged, repairs complete, and to finish it all off we now had a great looking set of steps installed at the back door of the Limo.

THE EXCITEMENT ARRIVES

Operators began showing up Saturday morning and the Hornby Room started filling with great food and drink. At one point or another during the weekend we had pulled pork in one crock pot and baked beans in another. There were bacon and egg biscuits as well as cole slaw, macaroni salad, and potato salad. We also had beer-brat-with-pepper-and-onion sandwiches, oatmeal, and zuchini bread. For dessert there were brownies and fresh-made Caribbean Rum Cake. For snacks there were potato chips, at least 3 flavors of cheese, and 3 varieties of fresh fruit. To wash it all down there was a large assortment of beverages, including sodas, bottled water with flip caps to prevent spillage in the Limo, hydration drinks, and beer, including two chilled homebrews on tap.

After a fabulous lunch and some great chit-chat, we climbed into the Grid Square Limo. Operators available for this weekend were Ken KA2LIM, Al W9KXI, Rob KB2YCC, Walt N2IK, Alex N3NP, Larry WA3CSP, and your author, Lu N2SLN. The contest was on, and 2m jolted forward and took the immediate lead in QSOs. Try as it might, 6m could not get past the dominating performance of the 2m station even with 22 E-skip contacts on 6m (4 of which were from the Midwest, the remainder were from the southeast). Two meters beat six meters to 100 QSOs at 6:50 PM. Afternoon turned to evening and the 2m station really started to nail the DX. We worked grids on 2m that the 6m station normally works on sporadic-E. We worked 662 miles into Tennessee grid EM66 and 660 miles into Wisconsin grid EN53. The 600+ mile category is new territory for our 2m tropo capabilities. Two meters was still in the lead by the end of the first day. We pulled the plug around 1 AM and ventured outside into our vehicles and tents for some shut-eye in 47 degree weather, the coldest June contest night that I can remember. The wind was forecast to decrease and the humidity was supposed to peak around sunrise, so we were hoping to catch some early-morning tropo on the upper bands as predicted by tropo maps.

The early risers among us got right back to work Sunday morning and the first contact went into the log in the 6 o'clock hour. The tropo did arrive, because we worked a 622-mile contact with a Wisconsin station in EN52 on 2m, followed by working an Indiana station on the 2m LVA who said we were S9 (from 478 miles away). The middle part of the day was dominated by several 6m openings all to the southeastern US, and the 6m QSOs finally surpassed the 2m QSOs before noon. We ended up working all available Florida and Georgia grids on 6m. On Sunday afternoon Rob, who can read the skies like no one else, noted that the right kind of clouds were in place for good results on the higher bands, and he indicated that the weather maps he viewed earlier in the day looked promising, too. Sure enough, on Sunday evening the best DX arrived for the upper two bands. The 222 station worked 424 miles into Indiana grid EN71 and the 432 station worked 508 miles into northwest Indiana grid EN61. The performance upgrades to the 432 station were very visible in the form of not only breaking into the 500+ mile category, but also a new record number of QSOs and grids for us on that band. We also managed a new record number of QSOs and grids worked on 222. Both of the upper bands recorded a 3-digit number of QSOs for the first time. Some of the normally lesser-used antennas were pressed into service like never before in this contest. For example, more than one operator noticed that the 11/11 stack on 2m was pounding the southern locations better than the higher gain and lower radiation angle antennas on both days of the contest.

Here is a map with the X in the grid showing all the grids in FL and GA worked on 6M



A big thanks to the 26 rovers who put contacts into our log. The most worked rover was K8GP/R with 18 QSOs. K2QO/R was close behind with only 1 less QSO, but had planned from the start not to put in the usual big effort. NN3Q/R was next with 14. The most worked Canadian rover was VE3SMA/R with 13 QSOs followed by VE3OIL/R at 11 QSOs. Speaking of rovers, notable contacts included running into some famous people. Steve Kostro of DownEast Microwave was roving as N2CEI/R and his wife Sandra as K4SME/R. We made a 6m contact with Sandra who was in EM70 on Sunday morning, then we worked Steve in the afternoon also in EM70, then in the evening there was Sandra again, this time in EM80 almost 10 hours after the first contact with her. Overall I don't think I've ever seen the Limo more busy than it was in June 2014. Our FM simplex activity was higher than other years, there was E-skip and tropo in the same contest, and our equipment is in better shape than it ever was before. Our equipment worked flawlessly with the exception of replacing the rotor on the 6m LVA, but that took only 10 minutes, and we had five other 6m antennas to use during that time anyway. Ken checked out the removed rotor and found nothing wrong. Then the 6m LVA got hung up again. Ken climbed the tower to find the top thrust bearing hanging up. A bit of oil and the problem was solved.

Band Q's Grids
6m 469 94
2m 338 59
222 111 40
432 139 42
-----------------
TOTAL 1057 235

SCORE: 307,145 
 

Lu - N2SLN

January 2014 VHF Contest

 K2LIM Report

 First I must apologize for being late with this report as I have been sick since the end of the contest and am just now getting well, so am typing this from my notes.

I arrived on site at 1030 AM, got the generator running and heat going to warm up the Limo and equipment. Everyone else arrived by 1PM when we had lunch and got ready to get some seat time. Operators for Saturday were: Ken-KA2LIM, Al-W9KXI, Rob-KB2YCC, Gregg-NX2W and Walt-N2IK with Larry-WA3CSP arriving on Sunday .

About 10 minutes before contest start, Rob chatted with Mark-K2QO who was over Buffalo way for a few minutes, all our equipment was working just fine. Two minutes before start time, blue fire and snapping and crackling danced all over the power supply for the 2M amplifier and then the amplifier died, we all just sat there looking with our mouth wide open amazed at what we were seeing. The lights never dimmed and not a breaker tripped in the panel, guess the grounding worked.

After a few minutes into the contest, we discovered that we could not hear anything thru the 432 transverter, TX was fine and power output was fine, so we went direct to the transceiver and 432 was working as it should.

Al headed to his house to get another PS. A few minutes later Ken decided that he should go home and get his PS also. It turned out to be a good move to have both spare amplifier PS’s as the 222 amp PS died a bit later.

Meanwhile the 2M station was limping along at 50 watts. Ken got back and changed out PS’s and the 2M amp was back up and running but as we progressed thru the contest, we had many stations telling our other operators that “You got a problem on 2M, many stations calling you and you do not seem to be hearing them”. Well, we were working some stations on 2M but not what it should be, so we started un-hooking components and re-hooking all day long and never really finding the problem. Ken spoke with one of the operators at W3SO on 6M and they were complaining about the very poor band conditions that we were experiencing also, thus we were blaming our 2M problem on band conditions.

(I might add here, that the band conditions were the worst of any contest since we have been operating from our FG12mg location)

Needless to say our 2M count was way down by the time we shut down on Saturday night. To top it off, It was cold outside and the wind was howling. During all this mess with our 2M station, the PS for the 222 amplifier died so we swapped it out with the spare that Al brought (a bit heavier duty one) which should make the 222 amp run at 1KW+ but it did not. Still ran around 500W and began to sag thru the rest of the contest, guess we got a bad tube there.

We all got back on site between 0630 and 0700 AM Sunday and again thing were not right at the 2M position so, Ken went back home and got his 2M deck, brought it back and swapped out the contest station 2M deck and WAAA-LAAA, we were hearing the weak and very weak stations again on 2M.

 (A big thank you to all the stations that came back on Sunday to work us that we missed on Saturday).

 I’ll list here some of the other problems that occurred:

External speaker at the 2M position blew out – dead-no work

A pre-amp on 2M died

Had to swap out a antenna switch on the 432 station

3 rotors for the 6M station would not work in the –zero weather

The good things to report:

1. That the newly installed “hardline” (after the September 2013 contest) for all the antenna’s on our 432 station really made the difference in making contacts under very poor band conditions. (A special thanks to Warren-WB2ONA for supplying the hardline)

2. The food was outstanding – as always

3. The beer was great.

4. We worked thru the problems and stayed on the air.

5. The fellowship with each other was great and again “WE HAD FUN” .

 So, the list is made out for things to repair and check out and get back in working order before the June contest.

Our final count that was submitted is as follows:

Band        Q’s         Grids

 6             192            34

2              222            45

222           74             30

432           87             28

Total contacts - 575

Total multipliers -137

Total score -100,832

Not bad for a bunch of guys "HAVING FUN"

A big thank you to all who worked us and “a special thanks” to the rovers that braved the extreme weather to go and activate grids. 

Hope to work you all during the June 2014 VHF contest.

Ken KA2LIM

---------------------------2013------------------------------

September VHF 2013

Things started shaping up in August for the September contest with many different operators committing to coming and Lu –N2SLN planning on a 6 grid rove with a friend. I arrived at the gate entrance to the K2LIM station before noon with my nephew Matt, not a ham yet, with Rob – KB2YCC right behind us. Soon after, Al -  W9KXI arrived followed by Paul – KE1LI and Tom #2 – KB1ORX and Tom #1 – KV2X and Larry – WA3CSP. Wow! 8 operators on site and ready to go.

I got the generator running and everything turned on while everyone was unloading and setting up food in the kitchen area of the “Hornby room”.  Once that was done we all partook of some “pulled pork” sandwiches and fresh done “salt potatoes” that came from my garden earlier in the week, plus some home brews, 5 different flavors of beer with 3 home-brewed flavors “on tap”, plus water and some soda. Food for the weekend consisted of: pulled pork, salt potatoes, pickled eggs, (Tom #1’s famous) salsa with 3 different chips, vegi trays w/ dip, fruit tray w/ dip, cheese, (3) home-made apple pies and a bowl of candy. For breakfast on Sunday there were pancakes w/ scrambled eggs and sausage links and ham and cheese and eggs on biscuits and sausage and eggs and cheese on biscuits, orange juice and coffee. For a late lunch we had hot sausage with peppers and onion sandwiches. We do eat very well.

The seats were all filled at start time and we were off and running. Well, crawling at first as it was a couple of minutes before the first entry went into the log. My nephew Matt who is age 15 was on hand for his first experience in contesting and observed for the first 3-4 hours. When he said he was ready to try his hand, we put him in the 6M seat as things were pretty slow there. This was also a new experience for Tom#2 KB1ORX at a multi station.

Early in the afternoon of Sunday, I was at the 432 position in the middle of a contact with John - N2DCH/R when the transverter locked up in TX and I had no receive. After checking things over and then swapping out the IF rig, the same thing was still happening, TX lock-up and no RX. So I removed the transverter and ran direct from the FT-847. We were back on the air with 432 but our receive sensitivity was down from what it should be but we were back up and running. This was the only “hic-up” for the entire contest. The computers worked flawlessly, the logging program – VHF Contest Log by N3FJP, the newest version by the way, 4th time using it since the June contest and it worked very smoothly. Editing and corrections can be done on the fly with the corrections taking affect immediately. What a great improvement to this program.

Larry – WA3CSP left about 7 PM Saturday evening as he had a funeral memorial to attend on Sunday morning. He survived all the high-power RF with his newly installed pace-maker and is still with us to contest again. Activity on the bands petered out about 1130 PM local time on Saturday night, so we shut down and went to bed.

I was up at 0530 on Sunday, got the generator running and the station back on and ready to go. Made a few contacts on 6 and 2 before the others started rolling out of bed, Paul and Tom #1 started fixing breakfast about 0830 and we ate in shifts so the seats were always full. Walt – N2IK arrived mid-morning and Alex –N3NP arrived on site late morning.

Band conditions were non-existent all weekend so it was a real plug-fest to put contacts into the log. Alex headed for home about 4PM, Paul and Tom #2 headed back to CT about 5:30 PM followed by Walt heading for Syracuse before dark.

At 2338 UTC, I worked W4NH in EM85 (GA) on 222 and then on 2M. Heard W4IP call and work W4NH, I Called W4IP but could never get his attention. Shortly thereafter, Al was operating the 2M station and worked W4ZRZ in EM63 (AL) on the upper Omni stack. Switched to the 4 stack beams and could not hear him, went back to the omni’s and completed the contact, then worked him on 222 on the omni’s and 6M, a distance of 780 miles. Then we worked AA4ZZ in EM96 (NC) on 6,2,222 and 432 a distance of 530 miles. Some other long contacts were:KX4R in EM73(GA) – 723 miles on 2M, KG9D in EM56(TN) on 6M, K9MRI in EN70(IN) on 432, WA9KRT in EN61(IN) on 2M. A great brief opening to the Southwest and then Rob-KB2YCC took Matt outside and showed him the high-altitude ice clouds that gave us the brief opening in that direction up through 432 MHz .

Earlier in the evening, just before dusk, we saw a hot air balloon floating in our direction and the closer it got the lower it was going. The cold air was pushing it down. We could see the pilot flaming franticly to keep altitude but he was coming down, and he did in the brushy field next to us. Soon he got enough heat back into the balloon and up he went and floated right across in front of our location but going down again headed for another “open” field just north of us. Everyone got some great photos of this event.

In summary: 

largest number of operators on hand for a contest

meeting and making new friends

no rain, no visits from the neighbors (cows)

good food, good conversation

the opportunity to introduce a young man to the wonderful world of VHF/UHF amateur radio who is now studying to get his license and turned into a pretty good operator by the end of the contest getting experience in the 6M, 2M and 222 seat.

Beautiful sunsets which produced some fantastic photographs, beautiful sunrise

great fellowship

visit by a hot air balloon

working into “4-land” on 432 phone

no activity on 2.3 & 3.4 GHz at this location

only one break-down (432 transverter)

some 2M and 223 FM activity

three home brewed beers: stout, a fresh hop ale and a triple-hop ale

Total contacts – 755

Score – 202,950

6M  - 245Q/48G

2M  - 263Q/52G

222 – 105Q/41G

432 – 108Q/35G

One of most fun and successful contests we have had.

CQWW VHF Contest

 Well the CQWW VHF contest for 2013 is now history and the crew at the K2LIM station had a blast. Lots of really good food and fun contesting. Six meters gave us some good openings and we put 374 contacts and 122 grids in the log on 6 meters with DX contacts into the Canary Islands, Portugal, Bahamas and Puerto Rico. 2M was pretty good also with 201 contacts and 48 grids in the log, not as many as last year, but any time we go above 45 grids on 2M is good.
Over-all, pretty darn good for a 27 hour contest that basically shut down at midnight and didn’t start back up until 6 AM Sunday morning. Lots of VE's on again and a lot of rovers out again.
Many comments from stations all over as to “how loud and strong you are” on both bands, and you are the only station we are hearing in your direction. Our final score was 131,750 and a total of 575 contacts.

Ken

June 2013  Report

PRE-CONTEST

The work for June 2013 started right after the June 2012 contest, with Ken KA2LIM and Al W9KXI traveling north to pick up The Beast, a 60-foot telescoping tower for 432. They mounted the 4x25 long-yagi array to it, and the bottom of that array is now at about 65 feet above ground. This new system later proved itself by working 443 miles on groundwave from WNY to Indiana in this contest. The former tower is being used for other 432 antennas--the LVA (Large Vertical Array, a stack of multiple short-boom yagis) and a stack of two 15-el yagis.

In August, Ken got another tower trailer put together and installed a homebrew 11/11 stack for 2m which would later work great in launching signals over the hills during the January VHF Contest. In September he did a rebuild of the 6m 7/7 stack, installing new matching sections and new elements while going back to the former element spacing. In October Ken and Ron WZ1V began evaluating new logging software as well as a new stand-alone chat program for communication between operating positions. Also in October, Ken went to the PackRat/NEWS conference. He saw the presentation by K8GP which included information about the 6m LVA systems that are used there. He also talked with VHF Superstation owner Marshall K5QE about the same topic. When Ken got home, work began right away on a 6m LVA design to be employed at K2LIM.

By November the 6m LVA was complete, and we now have 3/3/3/3 elements rotatable in all directions on a separate tower, an antenna system with substantial gain into an impressive azimuth beamwidth of 55 degrees between 3 dB points. Unfortunately, November 2012 also brought the discovery of antenna damage from Superstorm Sandy. The first clue was a Sumac tree across the access road to the contest site. Ken and Al found damaged towers, masts, and antennas blown out of alignment (see photos on our website). Oddly, the two 432 towers were unaffected and they are the tallest ones we have. December brought an FM tower raising party. The top antenna, a homebrew quagi for 446.0 FM simplex, is now at 27 feet above ground.

In the weeks before the contest, the 2-stack horizontally polarized omni on 2m was upgraded to a 4-stack. The difference was more than anyone could have imagined. Al W9KXI tested them out the weekend before the contest and was raving about them. He worked 441 miles into EN70 with 5x6 signals on both ends, and predicted that this would be our workhorse antenna on 2m for the contest. We were now in a good position for some amazing results on 2m and eagerly awaiting contest weekend.

CONTEST
Many of us arrived at the contest site in the 11:00 AM hour in order to get some training on the new logging software and chat program. Both were working nicely. The new logging software can handle 6-digit grids which helps in aiming the narrow-beamwidth antennas, and it processes information faster in a networked environment. The new chat program is also quicker and easier to use than the old one. It helps in passing stations to other bands more efficiently, and that's good for
everyone involved.

After saying hello, returning borrowed equipment, setting up sleeping quarters for the night, and moving food and drink into the Hornby Room, the operators at K2LIM entered the Gridsquare Limo and filled the seats at each operating position. Operators throughout the weekend were Ken KA2LIM, Al W9KXI, Rob KB2YCC, Walt N2IK, Dave N2LID, Larry WA3CSP, Alex N3NP, and your author, Lu N2SLN. Gregg NX2W was not able to join us this time, but provided contacts from home. Tom KV2X was in rover mode for this event and would end up putting in a fine performance.

Starting on all bands through 3.4 GHz, the contacts came in steadily Saturday. Despite Saturday being 28 days after the big 6m opening in the spring 6m Sprint, there were no big openings to be had this day, so the "28-day rotation of the sun trick" didn't work. Nevertheless, we did manage a few single-hop contacts in the second hour, with the farthest one being Texas station WB5TUF in EL29 (1367 miles). Later in the afternoon, team KC2SFU/R stopped by to check out the Limo on their first rover trip. Later that evening when 11 PM hit, we figured the excitement would drop down. But all of a sudden there was KF7NP in Arizona on 6m--the only double-hop contact of the entire contest. Lu looked up at the antenna switches and noticed that the contact was made on the 4/4 stack pointed NE--the contact was made off the back of the antenna! Late-night sporadic-E seems to be a recurring theme in 2013: The peak nighttime hour of 6m sporadic-E reported in the January VHF contest was 0300-0400 UTC, exactly what we had in June. The excitement died back down in the 12 AM hour. We had just decided to call it quits for the day and were all reaching for the power switches, when K1WHS jumped in there and called us. We worked them on all 4 bands, which fired up another burst of activity. Then the lights dimmed and we heard a groaning noise. Murphy has struck. The power supply on the 432 station malfunctioned and took out the IF radio and transverter with it. Our 432 station is down. We borrowed equipment from the microwave station to get a secondary 432 station on the air, but now the microwave gear would have to sit idle for all of Sunday. The backup 432 station would not have the performance of the main station, but it was better than nothing (and we did pick up a new grid in the final 3 hours of the contest with it). Better for this catastrophe to happen late at night than in the heat of battle, I suppose. Our best DX on 222 and 432 appears to be the 443-mile contacts with Indiana station K9MRI EN70.

Sunday brought slightly more 6m single-hop than the day before, but still no strong openings. We worked a few stations in the EM field mid-day, mostly gulf-coast grids. While at the 2m station Sunday afternoon, Lu brought up the software's grid map and noticed that we still hadn't worked FN24 on 2m, a rare grid but very much within our station's capability. So the lone quagi at 31 feet was assigned that task. Entering FN24 into WinGrid to get the beam heading, Lu turned the 15-el homebrew quagi, threw the antenna switch, and called CQ. He was immediately answered by K2LDT/R who was in FN24 and a new grid was colored in on the map just like that. Without having a spare antenna handy for specific jobs, we may have missed that one. A while later, Alex arrived for some operating, and brought a sample of his latest of many inventions: A very clean, robust drive-on mount for rovers and portable operations. This was a great design incorporating weight saving techniques, plus it had smooth welds, beautiful anodized tubing at the base, and an innovative engineering technique to prevent mast slippage without the use of a keyway.



The final 20 minutes brought some unexpected excitement. Ken worked a 508-mile contact on the new 2m 4-stack omnis to northwest Indiana, grid EN61, on a flat band. This antenna turned out to be the main hardware highlight of this contest as Al predicted, and what great timing given the lackluster conditions on 6m. More than one operator at K2LIM reported a pileup on 2m groundwave as a result of this amazing antenna, and breaking 300 QSOs on 2m for the first time ever is just more proof of the 2m station's incredible capability, not to mention beating 6m in number of QSOs in a June contest. I'm almost afraid to think what this antenna could do in September if we get tropo in any direction.

A special thanks to the rovers, who provided us with an astonishing 171 QSOs not counting Saturday's microwave contacts. That's a staggering 21 percent of our QSOs that would be missing without the rovers. This is an all-time high number of rover contacts for K2LIM. There was a particularly high number of Canadian rovers in our log in this contest--11 to be exact. VA3ELE/R provided us with a 301-mile 2m contact into EN95, our only contact with that grid, and one that brings back memories for Ken and Rob who activated that grid one decade earlier. KV2X/R reports working K2LIM on all bands from all grids--a clean sweep! There were a lot of sore ears after straining to work stations under the toughest June band conditions in years, possibly ever. Al reports more CW contacts than ever, and several contacts on 432 that just wouldn't have happened without CW. But because of dedicated operators and the intriguing contacts we make in every one of these VHF contests, we do not need to rely on points for our happiness. Plenty of fun is available at K2LIM without a 6m band opening, and we are looking forward to having lots more fun in the July CQ Worldwide VHF Contest.
Lu - N2SLN

January 2013 Report---------------------------2012----------------------------September 2012 VHF Contest

Saturday morning, I arrived on site at 1000 am. First on the list, after unlocking the door, was to turn on the propane space heaters and then start the generator so the electric baseboard heaters world make heat also. Then I unloaded, food and drink while waiting for equipment inside the “Limo” to warm up before turning on. Rob – KB2YCC  arrived about 1030 followed by Gregg – NX2W. The weather was a balmy 40 degrees, so the snow was mostly gone and then was all gone by the end of the day.

After an hour of heat running, we turned all equipment on and I proceeded to get the computers running and the logging program up and running in idle mode. After an hour of being up and running, Murphy hit for the first time when an “error” message appeared on the screen of every computer. I dumped the program and loaded another logging program, which preformed flawlessly until contest end.

Next to arrive was Larry – WA3CSP, so now there were four of us so all seats would be filled at contest start. We all had some lunch and finished with lots of spare time before contest start. We were light on operators this contest with Al – W9KXI on a trip with his sons to MI, which he turned into a 2M rove on the way back on Sunday. This was serving a dual purpose, 1: Al having some fun roving and 2: to see how far out Al would be able to hear us while roving using a squalo mounted on the roof of his car.

All repairs had been made to the masts that were damaged from hurricane “Sandy” so we were good to go; more on this later. The contest started and I was at the 6M position and right off, got 4 or 5 reports that “my audio was distorted”.What the heck is going on here? No settings have been changed! While checking it out with K2DH, I changed antennas and the problem went away. I went back to the upper omni stack and the distortion returned. Then I see the VSWR is high. Murphy strikes for the second time, and our upper omni stack, which is an excellent performer for putting contacts in the log, is out of commission for the rest of the contest.

The contest progressed at a slow pace with very low activity in our immediate area and very few stations being heard farther out in all directions. Our score by 9PM on Saturday evening was a discouraging 35000, it was not looking to be a very good contest but we were eating very good, “as usual”. There was a pot of chili, a pot of meat balls in tomato sauce with home-made rolls, a pot of potato stew with ham and bacon. A couple bags of corn chips and salsa, home-made nut and fruit bread and water and some home-brew beer to drink. By 10 PM the bands were practically dead, so Rob and Larry headed for home.  With the weather staying calm and warm in the mid 40’s, Gregg and Ken, who planned on staying over night at the site, manned the four positions which was not hard to do as there were no stations being heard. So, at 1130PM we shut all things down, except the two propane heaters and went to bed on a cot in the “Hornby Room” and a mat on the floor of the “Limo”.

I got up about 0640 on Sunday morning and the temperature was still 40 degrees F outside. Got the generator started and equipment turned on and were back at contesting around 7AM. Then shortly after 8 AM the wind started to blow, a front moving in from the west, and it kept blowing and getting stronger. Then it began howling and for the first time ever, while we were on site, the wind was rocking the “Limo”. Holy Crap! Now granted, we are at 2000’ elevation with an open horizon in all directions, but wind gusts and speed has to get above 50 mph for this to happen. Later reports from the local weather showed that’s what the wind was, just like hurricane Sandy. I was looking out the front window of the “Limo” (south) at the 6M antenna’s and said to Gregg: The 6M 4x4 mast is bending!” I watched it bend in the wind from vertical to a 30 degree bend, Murphy strikes again! With the 4x4 stack now aiming at the ground, a high VSWR on the upper and lower omni stack’s, we now have three antenna systems out of commission on 6M.

Gregg and I plugged along manning 4 positions. 6 and 2 were producing contacts, but 222 and 432 were sketchy to say the least for our area. Rob arrived back on site just after mid day so we were back to 3 operators and we were also on the look out for W9KXI/R on 2M. Rob got a text from Al saying that that he was leaving the Detroit area and headed back toward Pittsburg, PA where his one son lives and was making a few contacts with some locals in MI and then OH. I learned later that, around 2 PM, Al now in EN91, began to hear the K2LIM station calling CQ contest. We were 300+ miles apart. He then made contact with a couple of locals and alerted them to point toward FN12mg to try to work us. I was at the 2M position and did hear a very weak 8 station calling. We tried on CW but band conditions changed and he totally disappeared. I continued to call CQ in the direction of the weak 8 station and heard a weak signal again. At 1943 UTC I completed the SSB contact with W9KXI/R where he was in EN91 at just over 290 miles straight line distance.  At the completion of the contact, I discovered that the “peaking” of Al’s signal did not correspond to a “true” heading.  (This again verifies a discussion about a “skewed path” that Stan – KA1ZE and I have had many times). I consider this contact with W9KXI/R (one of our team members) the highlight of the January 2013 VHF contest for the K2LIM station.

The contest plugged along with sporadic openings on 2, 222 and 432 where we were run ragged putting contacts in the log and then all would go quiet. 6M provided a nice opening late Saturday night into the south and south west and again Sunday night in the same direction. There was a single contact to the NW with W0ANH in EN47 at 1925 UTC on Sunday, there and gone and no other stations in that direction.

As the contest was closing, the last two entries were on 432 with W3HZU in FN10 at 0358 UTC and the last with KB3XG – John in FN20 going into the log at 03:59:55, what a great way to end the contest.

The 2M station and antennas preformed flawlessly, the 222 station and antennas preformed flawlessly with the newly installed (after hurricane Sandy) omni 4 stack above the 4 stack beams really working well. The 432 station and antenna preformed flawlessly, just poor band conditions making the q’s/grid count low.

The 6M station preformed great even with three antenna systems going down on us, the three remaining (5x5, 7x7 and the new 6M LVA) worked great. There was no single antenna that was the dominate performer on any band. This was a contest of constantly changing the antenna switch at each position, literally from one contact to the next and some times in the middle of making a contact.

The wind blew all day on Sunday finally subsiding around 9:30 PM and of course with the wind came the cold with the temperature dropping into the low teens by contest end. The food and beer wasgreat, as usual.

Our score and numbers were way down from last year, here they are:

Band Q’s/ Grids

50 180 / 51

144 233 / 49

222  65 / 27

432 59 / 21

Claimed score: 97828

 but: we had FUN and that’s the bottom line.

Ken KA2LIM


A bit of preparation on Wednesday and Friday before the contest and we were ready to go. The crew this time out consisted of Al-W9KXI, Rob-KB2YCC, Larry-WA3CSP, Dave-N2LID, Walt-N2IK, Alex-N3NP and Ken-KA2LIM. Most were on site well before the 1800 UTC start time and enjoyed a sub for lunch to get fueled up for the contest. The food for the weekend consisted of the famous Zucchini Beef Bake made by Jeanie – XYL of Ken, a crock-pot of baked beans, fresh fruit, some great cheese, brownies, sausage sandwiches for Sunday morning breakfast, coffee, orange juice, a very good pork and vegetable crock-pot that cooked all day Sunday, for dinner around 5 o’clock and of course some very good home-brewed beer to help wash this great food down.
Ken was up just after 6AM Sunday morning and got the station back up and on the air. Contacts were really slow in coming. Not much heard from the 1 call area and I am sure the storm that came up across NYC, that produced tornados and the large frontal system that passed over up late on Saturday, moving east contributed to lower activity. 6M opened shortly after 5pm local time and stayed in for just over 2 hours before closing down. I could hear stations just South of us working some in South America and saw reports later of many stations East of us working SA also, but nothing here. All contacts were state-side.  2M was the work-horse band this time that produced the most Q’s. The newest antenna’s for the 2M station, stacked 11 element beams (totally home made) really worked well. So we now have 5 antenna systems to select from on 2M. For the 4th time in a row 222 produced more Q’s and grids that 432. After the other contests we thought that we had problems with out 432 system, but it turns out that is not the case. The 432 station really worked well with no problems except for a connector that started indicating a VSWR problem. The culprit was identified and replaced and all was and is good. It is just goofy band conditions and my personal feelings that many operators do not want to spend enough time to make the contact on 432.

For the second time in a VHF contest we provided 903 and 1296 to make contacts with those who needed FN12 and we are pleased with the contacts that we made and feel that we have these 2 bands working very well. So the winter time project is to complete, rebuilding the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz station with the transverters going to the top of the tower in order to make things better here to make the contacts on these bands also for those who need FN12 on these bands. You can expect to find us on these bands for the June 2013 contest.Might even work on getting 5GHz operational for another contest, stay tuned.

We had a few break-downs but not bad over all. The rotor for the FM beams started not wanting to turn but got it going by shaking the tower, it got changed out on Wednesday after the contest. The rotor control for the 6M 4x4 stack blew a fuse and after replacing it, the rotor would not turn so the beams were stuck to the west. Not a totally bad, we just used them for contacts to the west. Took the rotor out on Wednesday after the contest, took it home and it is working all ok, turns out the rotor cable is the culprit. That wire will be replaced.

The 7x7 6M beams have developed a higher than desired VSWR, so we tilted the tower down so a re-work on the beams can be done over the next couple of weeks.

One of the computers kept going “Blue Screen of Death"because of too much heat but we solved that problem by putting the edge of a 2 note pads under the back edge which allowed more air to the fan, problem solved for the moment and final correction and modification completed Monday after the contest.

Over all it was a real slug-fest to put Q’s in the log because of poor band conditions from the storms and frontal systems moving thru our area. But I want to say a big THANK YOU to all the rovers that went out and activated multiple grids, without you our score would be much lower.

Our raw score is as follows:

Total contacts – 658

Total multipliers – 184

Total raw score – 162104

Breakdown by band, Q’s/Grids:

50     -  226 / 54

 144  -  234 / 50

 222 -   89 / 36

432 -   84 / 28

903 -   11 / 7

1296 -   14 / 9

 Here are the grid maps by band showing the grids worked. Disregard the wording on the photo that says QSO made by KA2LIM, It is just a program that I entered the contest log data into that let me generate the maps. The red X shows the grid worked.

Six Meters:

2 Meters:

222 MHz:

     432 MHz:     

 

903 MHz:1296 MHz:

Look for you in the January 2013 VHF contest.

Ken KA2LIM

                           August 2012 UHF Contest

The K2LIM station was on for the August 2012 UHF Contest and staffed by Rob – KB2YCC, Al – W9KXI and Ken – KA2LIM. The weather was hot, hot, hot and dry.

The equipment worked with no hiccups but activity seemed to be down. As it turned out, the conditions here left a lot to be desired also. We were able to make contacts into OH, MI, VA, MD ME on 432 for the longer haul but the in close stations was another story, difficult to say the least and some not at all.

At 2050 UTC Murphy passed thru and waved his wand. Al and I were sitting there talking, as the contacts were verrrry slow in coming, when I saw the computer screen on one of the logging laptops flash and go blank. Holy cow! all our data is gone. We did a search on every computer for the back-up data but all we could find was empty files. So, we jotted down as many call as we could remember onto “PAPER” and started logging again in the computer. As we made contact later in the contest with those we had already worked, we got fills from them and began re-constructing the log. After the contest, I sent out emails to those we had not contacted and put out emails to the reflectors per our lost data. It took two weeks to hear from everyone but I was finally able to complete the log. A big THANK YOU to all, for your help by sending the information of our contacts with you from your logs so I could rebuild “our log”.

We learned some things as we continue to play with the microwave bands and will be making some changes to the station setup that we believe will help to make more contacts. Never could really figure out what happened that resulted in the lost log data, we believe is was a combination of several things and have made notes so as to try to not have this happen again.

Food was again, GREAT, beer was tasty and cold. Three guys can only eat so much!

Our total contacts were down from last year but poor band conditions and low activity contributed to this.

We had:

92 contacts

63 multipliers

20790 total score

Band       Q’s/Grid’s

222           39/24

432           37/24

 

903             5/5

1.3            10/9

2.3             1/1

Looking to work you all in the September VHF contest.

 Ken ~

                                                                                 CQWW VHF 2012

A light numbered crew this contest, Al, Ken and Rob on Saturday with Gregg rolling in early Sunday morning. I got on site about 11:50 AM and Al got there about noon. Fired up the old gas generator for this contest as we were only running two bands. Turned on the equipment and no problems. Rob got on site around 1:00 pm; we cooked some hotdogs, all beef –Angus, to tease the 4 legged neighbors, for lunch. We were in the seats and calling CQ at 1800 UTC (2 pm local). The contest started out slow with sporadic, sporadic E openings on 6M.

2M

We were looking for some tropo on 2M to the W as the VHF propagation map was showing intense areas to our W. It never really materialized that great but we did manage some decent long haul contacts on 2M. The farthest was into EN65 at 750 miles and EM76 at 660 miles. I believe that we worked the most grids on 2M this contest than any other, 57. And that is staying put on one frequency calling CQ Contest. I know that we missed some other good ones that were on and out there, like FM 05, 06,07 and EM84 to the S, EN83, 84 and EN73, and the EM and EN 60’s grids to the W. Also missed FN51, 53 and 54 to the NE that was activated by a rover.

A couple of stories

#1

So, I’m on 6M and work a guy in FN03 who in on a hilltop, then ask him if he has 2M. He says I only have a handi-talki for FM with 5W power. I said; we can do FM and told him 146.55 simplex, let’s give it a try. Rob turned on the 2M FM stuff, made sure the FM (vertical) beam was pointed at FN03 and called, NOTHING. Called again, listened and changed to the Iso-Pole vertical and there he was, so we worked a guy on a hilltop who was using a handi-talki with a rubber duck antenna” with our vertical and could not hear him on the beam..

All you FM guys...pay attention to that...you can work people on FM during a VHF contest or ANY time simplex. If we had more local support durning the contests from our local FM guys, we may have won a few of these contests. Want to work us on FM during a contest??? email us and we will set up a sked.

#2

The best one was when my cell phone rang, while I was at the 6M position and Al was at 2M. This guy is on the phone and says: I can hear you very well on 2M, you are running S9 to 15 over but I can’t get you to hear me. I’m in CT in FN31 and I really want to work you and need your grid for a new one for me. I have a 4 element yagi on my chimney and 100 watts, can you listen for me? (And he wonders why we can’t hear him.) So I said “sure-no problem”. I alerted Al. So he put the beams at him and called. Well it was touch and go but we got him in the log.

Now the kicker is that I was on the phone with him and can hear Al next to me in the Limo in my right ear and then hear Al in my left ear, thru the phone with a small time delay just as loud over this guys rig out in CT. Holy Crap!

Turns out, he looked up the call on QRZ.com, got my name and address, called info and got my home phone, called and got my wife who in turn gave him my cell phone number so he could call me on the hill.

So the analogy of this is: the new amplifier is definitely making a difference. We are being heard consistently out in the 350+ mile range with a strong signal and making contacts with very little effort and no enhancement out to 600 miles.

Antenna wise, there was no dominate antenna in our arsenal this contest. It changed from contact to contact. We had the new Bird antenna selector switch installed for this contest and it worked well but it will be changed back to the Alpha-Delta switches as they are easier for everyone to use. Going to put the Bird at the 222 position.

6M

6M was in and out on Saturday and the same again on Sunday. Most was N-S and some into the SW with the farthest contact being with XE2AU in DL81. Nothing on the west coast. I did get a report from N2CEI in FL and he worked into the W and NW and the Caribbean. He had 405 Q’s and 140 Grids on 6M. There were better openings in other parts of the country on 6M.

The amplifier worked flawlessly running at 1K continuously. Again as on 2M there was no particular antenna system that dominated. The change made to the stacking distance of the 5x5 made a big difference there. Toward the end of the contest the 5x5 became the dominate antenna with the upper omni’s being used occasionally. While I was at the 6M seat, I did use the 7X7 to get some contacts. I found that the 4x4 was not the ones for this contest.

Food and Beverage

Well, as usual we ate very well. With just 4 of us, we did in the “all beef-Angus) dogs and potato salad. Killed a crock-pot of ground beef and pasta with tomato sauce. Sausage and egg sandwich’s on Sunday morning, a pot of coffee, orange juice and a coffee cake. Lots of ice water, Pepsi, Gator-Aid and eight, yes (8) different beers to sample. Al and I toasted another fun contest at the close with two bottle’s of 4 year old stout sipped from our Sam Adams beer glasses that Gregg gave us. It was SMOOOOOOOTH and tasty.

Summary

As we were shutting things down we did find that the power supplies for the amplifiers were plenty warm. Warm enough that they will have fans added. The PS for the 432 amplifier has a fan built-in so there will be no issue there but the other 3 will have fans added, - problem solved.

This was a fun contest, our highest score for a CQWW VHF to date.

Here are the numbers: 543 Q’s 150 multipliers score 114,300.

6M 324 Q’s/ 93 grids, 2M 219 Q’s/ 57 grids

We are very thankful for the rovers that go out including two of our own crew this time, Larry - WA3CSP/R and Lu - N2SLN/R. We also had 3 rovers with a clean-sweep which included Larry and Lu, and Bill – VE3CRU/R, who I believe was the only VE rover out. Nice going guys.

Ken

KA2LIM

          K2LIM - June ARRL VHF 2012           

At the beginning of 2012, the January VHF contest at K2LIM provided a rare event with a 6m band opening on each day. In fact, the operators at K2LIM did so well that they beat their September score. No one would have predicted that a January VHF score would be bigger than September. I wondered if the exceptional conditions were an effect of the strengthening solar conditions as we approach the projected May/June 2013 peak of solar cycle 24. It was probably a safe bet, since June 2012 would later produce our highest grid count ever on 6m (229 claimed grids), the first 6m band opening to Europe, and the strongest 2m sporadic-E seen since the maiden voyage of the Gridsquare Limo in June 2007.

-      -      -      -      -

Right after the January contest, the first hardware upgrade being discussed was a generator. Alex N3NP ( who collects generators the way serial killers collect bodies) offered us an air-cooled diesel generator. This was a 4-cylinder 10 kw continuous / 15 kw surge military surplus unit weighing in at 1200 lbs. Since it was sitting on a pallet, Ken KA2LIM started right in constructing a generator trailer and by February the generator was at Ken's house getting some refinements.

Later that same month Ken did some antenna modeling and decided that the new 5-el yagi (which already performed well in the 6m fall sprint) needed a twin. Out came the 5/5 stack. The 6m antenna lineup was now ready for June with a specially-designed 4/4 stack that was new in September, the old 7/7 stack of a few years, and the new 5/5 stack, as well as a lower omni stack and upper omni stack. But is there really that much difference among antennas? Why not just run the highest gain antenna you have and forget about the others? Read on...

Operators began showing up to the contest site Saturday morning. Vehicles were parked, tents and other sleeping quarters set up, and food and drink brought into the Hornby Room (the room attached to the Limo). If people in Florida can have Florida rooms, then people in Hornby, NY can have Hornby Rooms. The Hornby Room was added right after the previous June contest and now provides a sturdy, rainproof and windproof kitchen away from home, with a raised floor and plenty of table room as well
as a small refrigerator, microwave, and lights.

We had baked beans in one pot, meatballs and red sauce in another. Also a pot of chicken Cordon Bleu wrapped in bacon and needless to say all the crock pots were emptied. In the coolers was macaroni and potato salad and I forget what all else. And I must mention the outstanding Blueberry coffee cake that Larry – WA3CSP made, it disappeared also. There were the usual snacks and a keg of Cow Snot Stout to quench everyone’s thirst plus some other assortments of beer, soda, juice and ice water. On Sunday morning, Dave – N2LID did his magic and put on another fine breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and ham along with fresh brewed coffee to get everyone’s energy level up

Operators missing were Gregg - NX2W whose workplace needed him to help cover for 4 co-workers who were sick or on vacation and Walt N2IK who was in Boston for a wedding.

Operators present were Ken KA2LIM, Rob KB2YCC, Dave N2LID, Larry WA3CSP, esteemed first-time guest and renowned weak signal VHFer Ron WZ1V, your author Lu N2SLN, and Al W9KXI who graciously supplied everyone with their favorite submarine sandwiches. After some good conversation and lunch, contest time was upon us.

Here’s Ron – WZ1V at the 222 position watching Rob – KB2YCC working someone on the microwave bands:

Activity started out quite good for flat band conditions (no Au, no sporadic-E, no tropo). Contacts were coming in at more than one per minute for the first hour. Someone noted unusually high activity levels from Canadian stations right from the start. Sure enough, we worked 7 different stations from VE3 land just in the first hour--four of them in the first 5 minutes. In the second hour six meters finally opened and we worked W7XU EN13 South Dakota, but for the whole day the band never produced any openings longer than 3 consecutive contacts. One other notable 6m contact was C6ABB in the Bahamas, our only DX toward the south. Rob was going to stay on the air late; Lu was going to walk to his van for some sleep, but just then the rain went from heavy to complete torrent (about 10 seconds after Al left the Hornby room for the night). So while Lu was waiting for the rain to subside, he went back inside the Limo. It turned out to be a good thing because we ran into K1TEO again and while Rob finished working him on some of the higher bands, Lu discovered VE3NPB/R in the 1:00 AM hour and worked him on 3 bands to help finish up the first day.

Ken kept his promise to wake up early Sunday and get back at it starting on 2M at 5:10 AM and then running into the first 6m sporadic-E contact of the day before 7:00 AM. But contacts continued much the way they were Saturday, with the occasional single-hop station popping in and right back out. Al made a morning run for some orange juice which would be much appreciated in the high heat and humidity later. Then in the 8:00 hour we had our first significant run on 6m, working a bunch of stations in 0-land. Could this be a sign of a stronger day on 6m? Our first station in the DN field came in at 9:02 in the morning, then DM showed up 9:22, EL at 9:36, and FN74 at 9:46. It seemed like 6m didn't know where it wanted to go next. Contacts on the higher bands slowed a bit as they always do when the single-operator stations begin focusing their attention on 6m openings. 
But one notable contact was with a hiker in the Catskill Mountains of NY who showed up on 432. N2SPI/P was operating backpack portable on Hunter Mountain at 4,000+ feet elevation, and made contact with us over a path of 140.1 miles. We proceeded to work him on 2m as well. Ron disappeared into the 6m chair for a long time in the middle of the day and had a good run, reeling in a whole bunch more contacts for us as the band strengthened yet again.



Alex N3NP showed up as promised, and went straight to the generator to find it running smoothly. After some operating he went into the Hornby Room for a break and chatted with Lu and Rob. Ron decided to leave for home about 4 PM as he had a 6 hour drive ahead of him and I might add that I believe that Ron was our lucky charm for this contest as you will see in the final score and band break down.

While some good conversation was going, I thought I heard Ken, who was at the 6m operating position, say "G4" in a rather excited tone and I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny if Europe were coming in right now." Then a few minutes passed and I heard him say "IO" and thought to myself, "Wow, that happens to be a grid field somewhere in Europe, too." So I asked Rob if there was any chance Ken was working Europe, and Rob said, "Ken is POUNDING Europe right now!" After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I ran inside the Limo to see the whole thing for myself. Looking at the logging software on the nearest computer, I could see a number of oddball call signs and grids in there already. I went to see which antenna was being used for this amazing event, and it was the 4/4 stack! Ken's specially designed 4/4 stack (whose design should remain a secret) was pulling in the European signals like a magnet. The big brother 5/5 stack and the behemoth 7/7 stack just couldn't touch it and had to step aside for this one. The tally ended up being 40 contacts into western and eastern Europe, with the longest contact of the entire contest being 9A4A (Croatia) in grid locator JN74, for a path length of 4,353.6 miles (about 93 percent of the path length to Hawaii). Forget about picking up new grids, we were picking up new countries. We ended up with 10 of them...Great Britain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Netherlands, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, France, and Luxembourg. Yes Ron, you left too soon.

When Eu dropped out, the band opened toward the west again, and I got a long turn in the 6m chair. This time the single-hop and double-hop stations were coming in at the same time. I kept the 4/4 stack pointed at the Canadian maritime provinces since I was still picking up the occasional new grid from VE9/VE1/VY2, but used the 5/5 stack pointed W as the workhorse antenna and kept the 7/7 positioned at 275 degrees for Hawaii. Later the band conditions intensified even more when I started hearing backscatter signals from local high-power stations from around the northeast, such as K1TEO, K1TOL, and some of the multi-op stations. The double-hop got so strong that I worked a string of five consecutive stations in CM98 (California) at one point. Then we became the backscatter--I started hearing other stations from around the northeast jump in and call us. Here we are in WNY, pointed west, working stations in Maine at 5x5, stronger than if we had pointed at them and tried ground wave!

The June contest had one more fireworks display waiting for us. At less than 90 minutes to go in the contest, our 6m paths suddenly dropped to 425 miles and we worked into FN46 (Quebec), which is just two grids north of where Mount Washington, NH is. You know the old saying, "Whenever the 6m paths get short, keep a careful ear on 2m because it could open next." Sure enough, four minutes later Ken had just enough of an opening to work 2 stations in South Dakota (in two different grids) on our 2m long yagis, and within the same minute the E-skip was gone. But a second wave came in 16 minutes later, and Ken nabbed another South Dakota station in a third grid. There's no better way to end a contest than to see a W7 callsign in the 2m listings, or a DN grid for that matter! Having 73,000 watts ERP on the 2m long yagis doesn't hurt either. 




Just at dusk, Al shouted out that “we have company” Looking out the front window we saw our guests: That came thru the electric fence. Ken ran out and hollered at them to get where they belonged and back they went into their field. Never a dull moment. 
 

We ended up with our highest QSO and grid total ever on 6m at 612/229. That's like achieving VUCC twice, then working 29 more unique grids just for fun (all within 33 hours). Our 6m signals were heard in the following 16 grid fields around the world: CM, CN, DM, DN, EL, EM, EN, FL, FM, FN, GN, IM, IN, IO, JN, JO. We also came in with our highest grid total ever on 222 at 36 grids. Breaking 400,000 points for the first time is kinda nice, too! With 70 antennas in the air, it's getting tough for incoming radio signals to travel past FN12mg these days. 

Our final raw score and band break down is as follows:

 Raw score – 422,576

Q’s – 1061

Band Q’s/Grids

50 612/229

144 278/50

222 90/36

 432 81/28


Not bad for a bunch of guys “Having FUN” 73 to the group and thanks for a memorable one, Lu N2SLN 
 

                    January 2012 VHF Contest                  

K2LIM

We had everything ready to go a few days before contest start so all we had to do was arrive, turn things on and operate. Well we arrived on site on Saturday with the last operator arriving about 50 minutes before start time. But, ‘ole Murphy is always lurking around and he did his thing right away before the start of the contest. All the equipment was on just waiting to go and suddenly there was sparks and smoke coming from under the bench by the 2M position. Upon investigation, we found that the transformer for the 2M amplifier had shorted and burned out. Holy Schamolie! So a quick trip home to get a back-up amp and we were ready to go before contest start.

Just before the contest started, the "server" computer had a Hard Drive failure.

I pulled the Ethernet cable and we tried to get a second computer to work as the "server", that didn't work and we were under pressure and didn't have time to work through it. I had installed a back-up plan after the September crash so with a few clicks, each positions computer was setup as "stand alone" so we could log independently. I then had to make the trip home to get the 2M back-up amplifier. While I was gone, Al worked on the server computer. He decided, with nothing to lose, to try to "kick start" the dead computer by dropping the computer on the desk. 1st time didn't work but the 2nd time it did work. I arrived back on site, installed the 2M amplifier and then after a few minutes of investigating, I discovered that the cable for the server had been plugged into the wrong port. I changed the plug, reconnected the server laptop to the network, rebooted the program and the network was back up and running. So rather than chance any more boo-boo’s, I manually entered the data from each stand-alone log into the network log, which took about 45 minutes and the rest is history.

The next thing that “ole Murph touched was the 4 position antenna switch at the 432 position. It was an older Alpha-Delta switch and the internal non-metal components appear to be Teflon-like and can’t take the heat that is generated at 432 MHz’s, so they melted. We changed the switch out to a newer Alpha-Delta switch and no more problems, it stayed cool for the rest of the contest.

Operators on hand on Saturday were Ken-KA2LIM, Al-W9KXI, Gregg-NX2W, Dave-N2LID and Walt-N2IK. The contest started out and activity seemed to be slow and down and as we later found out, it was due to the weather. South and east of us there was bad conditions with snow and ice. We dodged the bullet here, with about 3 inches of snow max. It got cold but that was all. Had a decent ES opening on 6M late Saturday afternoon which helped bring the score up a bit but is was on track with September so it was looking like another low score contest coming.

Conditions were really weird on 432 with most signals right at the noise level coming up and back down below the noise floor, like a wave. As a result, 222 was producing more Q’s and Grids. Sunday started out quiet and slow, the first contact came around 0630 local time and did not pick up until after 0800.

We were at 4 operators on Sunday so each position was filled. Walt had to leave just after 1pm local time and as he was getting out of the 6M seat, Alex-N3NP walked in and took over on the 6M position. Then 6M popped open into the south and Alex got his baptism by fire on 6. He did a good job handling the pile-up and added about 15 new grids to the count. What a nice “late Christmas present” and for the contest. Alex stayed until 5:45 when he had to leave to pick up his wife and kids so we were now down to 3 operators. I took over on 6M and continued adding Q’s until about 7:40 pm when the ES finally dropped out with Al and Gregg holding down the other 3 positions.

Gregg had to leave just before 7 PM so that left Al and I to hold down the fort until contest end. We kept plugging away adding to the score right up to the very last minute of the contest. I was able to work many on 432 with CW which helped bring up the Q count on that band. I will give the score and breakdown by band at the end of this report.

I must tell about the food as it is always good every contest. There were subs for lunch before the contest start. Zucchini/corn beef bake, Chili with corn bread on the side, two kinds of stew, wieners in barbecue sauce, some great Irish sharp cheese, crackers, banana’s, grapes and tangerines for the other meals and I know I forgot something. For breakfast there were breakfast sandwiches and sausage sandwiches. There was hot coffee, tea and hot coco. And of course water, soda, gator-aid and of course BEER that included a keg of Irish Red Ale (home brewed of course) some bottled stout and a growler of ale from a local micro-brewery.

This crew always seems to eat very well.

All in all this turned out to be a pretty decent contest, and we didn’t have to drive through 2 feet of snow, like last year, to get to the site. And we wound up with a higher score than in September. A big “thank you” to all who got on to work us in spite of the bad weather that some of you had that hindered your operation.

Here is our score and band summary.

Score – 136,080

   50         144        222      432

314/68   218/43   68/30   71/27

Look to work you in the June Contest.

Ken

KA2LIM

--------------------------------2011--------------------------------

September 2011 VHF contest 

Preparation for the September VHF contest started about two weeks prior with a work party day that consisted of mowing around the site and brush trimming along the access road and putting up the newly built 4x4 6 meter beams.



Saturday of the contest, Ken arrived on site just before noon followed by Al and by 1245 the rest of the team was on site. Equipment was turned on and checked and ole’ Murphy stopped by. There was no direction on the indicator meter of the rotor control of the new 6M 4x4 stack. All the wire connections were check and still nothing. Oh well, we could and did look out the window to check on the direction it was pointed and after about an hour into the contest, the meter started working.

The next thing that ole’ Murph touched was the 2M station. VSWR indicated a dead short on the stacked beams and was high on the LVA and upper omni stack. Ken climbed the tower and pried the plug from the bottom of the power divider on the LVA and water poured out. Then up to the beams and by standing on top of the tower he could just reach the power divider for the beams. He pried the plug from the bottom of that power divider and water poured out. The top omni’s power divider could not be reached. Then re-checking the VSWR on the two antenna systems showed the LVA to be back to flat and working A-OK but the beams was still showing a high VSWR. Removal of the power divider the day after the contest showed that water had caused a short from the center conductor to shield on one connector of the power divider causing the problem. A fix has been made so this problem will not occur again. Next the stacked omni’s for 6M showed a higher than usual VSWR so am sure water is the problem here also. This will be corrected on another day to the site. After all we had over 8 inches of rain and high wind from the hurricane and tropical storm that had got us in a two week time period.

Everyone got the food set up in “The Hornby Room”, enjoyed a sub for lunch and was ready for the start of the contest.

About 45 minutes into the contest, the logging program crashed and all the data was lost on the server. Everyone had been hand writing on a note pad at each position and there was current data on each laptop at each position so nothing was lost. Ken got a “stand-alone program running on each computer and logging continued, just no network to send messages and see who had been worked on what band. After about 4 hours of working on the server, Ken got the network running on all but the 2M computer. Late at night all the log data from 6, 222 and 432 had been merged to the server, manually and those four computers were talking to each other. The 2M computer continued to operate as stand-alone which was only an inconvenience that did not let us see the total score until that data was inputted, again manually, the day after the contest.

Ken took the computers home to work on the problem. After about an hour of checking it was discovered that a necessary file within the program was missing. A quick un-install and re-install of the program on the server, correcting the path on all the other computers and everything was back operating just fine. Needless to say, there are now back-up folders with the complete files that will provide a quick fix should this ever happen again.

Band conditions for this contest were flat, flat, and flat from this location. We got none of the morning scatter on 6M that some experienced in other parts of the country on Sunday morning, and got none of the aurora that many others worked. All of us noticed that the signals received on the bottom four bands seems to be at a very low angle on both receive and transmit at this location which was indicated by the antenna system that we had to use. I might say at this point that the newly added 4x4 stack on 6M proved to be the work-horse antenna system for that band. We heard and worked stations that could not be heard on the 7x7 stack and or omni’s. The new 4x4 stack is one wave length above ground which no doubt was the contributing factor with the low angle of signals coming into this location.

With the network being down we were guessing at our numbers as compared to last year and were thinking we would be close or maybe just above, more on the results later on.

The food department was GREAT again. Subs for lunch on Saturday, There was macaroni salad, potato salad, two kinds of salsa for the corn and potato chips. Fresh watermelon and cantaloupe, all-beef kosher dogs from the grill, baked beans and of course home-made stout and red ale plus an assortment of other specialty beers and soda and gator-aid and water to was this down with and apple pie for desert. On Sunday morning Walt and Tom did up a pancake, scrambled egg and sausage breakfast along with orange juice and coffee to top it off. For Sunday afternoon and evening eating we had pulled-pork barbecue sandwiches plus the salads and beans and of course more beer.

Sunday afternoon we could hear the static crashes on 6m which indicated a storm coming. About a half hour later we saw it coning from the SW moving toward the NE. When it got due south of us it stalled, about 10 miles away, with lots of BIG lighting. Suddenly it started coming due north straight at us. We quickly decided that we would turn things off, ground the antenna’s and wait it out. The storm moved in and then stalled right over top of us with lots of that BIG lighting. No lighting hit on us or near by, thank GOD, but waiting for the storm to move on was the safe thing to do. Radio contest is not that important. After an hour we were able to get back up and running.

Having the capability to work FM on 2, 223 and 440 with our stand-alone FM radios and antenna’s proved to be an asset which resulted with more FM contacts this contest, mostly coming from south and east of us, than all the other contests combined. I might note here that we consistently worked VE3CRU/R on 223 FM ,out to around the 200 mile range, who was running 25 watts. Also worked a station in Ohio and another station in FM29 with no problem.

It should be noted here that activity was down from the areas affected by flooding from the hurricane and tropical storm. Understandable and we pray for those folks.

The crew this time consisted of KA2LIM-Ken, KB2YCC-Rob, W9KXI-Al, WA3CSP-Larry, N2IK-Walt and KV2X-Tom. Even though Murphy showed up and caused some annoyances, we worked thru them and had a good time. Our score was a bit higher than last year with the following breakdown:

Band Q’s Grids

50- 167 41

144- 217 49

222- 67 34

432- 81 32

Total score: 106080


Best of all, We had FUN and that’s the bottom line.

Ken

KA2LIM

ARRL UHF Contest - August 6&7 2011

Operating for this contest: Ken - KA2LIM; Rob - KB2YCC and Al - W9KXI

OK. Let's show the end results first:

127 contacts

64 multipliers

Raw score – 26112

The Fun Factor was: HUGE!



222 MHz – 56 Q's / 27 Grids

432 MHz – 62 Q's / 30 Grids

903 MHz - 4 Q's / 3 Grids

1.2g MHz - 5 Q's / 4 Grids

2304 MHz - Ø

3456 MHz - Ø

The Details



Ken was already on site getting the equipment running when I arrived at 12:15 with the traditional subs for lunch. Rob arrived shortly after me with the equipment for 903, 1296, 2304 and 3456 MHz. In the end, there were a number of last minute activities associated with getting our top four bands operational that kept both Rob and Ken busy until the contest started.

By shortly after 2 o'clock…Rob had found that two of our UHF amplifiers were not functional. So…we were "barefoot" on 2304 and 3456 MHz with 1 watt on these two bands for this contest. Murphy strikes… the first time!

At 2 o'clock, the contest started. Wow! We were busy! Busy enough that we didn't get a chance to have any lunch until about 3:30.

Sometime during the first hour, Murphy struck again, for the second time. This time it was in a manner that we had never seen before - the server deleted all of our entries! To add insult, it created a back-up file of… a blank log book! An hour into the contest and our log said we had zero contacts. While it was still clear in our heads we generated a list of calls from what we had written down on the scratch pads and that we remembered working. As I write this record, a good share of the log, with the correct information, has been recreated with the assistance of the great operators that we worked.

Other Murphy events:

#3 - A failure of the rotor on the 222 MHz LVA. Fortunately, (I guess) the LVA was pointed SE.

#4 - Totally inaccurate readings on the rotor controller for the top four bands. We had to resort to "lookin' out the window". Note: this works fine…as long as there is sun light.

The High Points (my opinion) in random order:

· Working EN61 (with no apparent enhancement) from our FN12mg location on 432 MHz; nearly 600 miles.

· the great Rovers that we worked during this contest and … all of the other contests.

· The great operators that stuck with us (me) during marginal conditions to insure that we both got an accurate exchange.

· Thanks too, go out to those operators that got on with their one or two band stations. Your participation in these contests is very much appreciated!

Propagation

Unlike last year where the higher frequencies provided us the much needed extra points, this year, 432 & 222 were the work horses; looking at the logging program, Rob could have left the equipment for our top two bands home because we had no contacts on these bands.

We all commented that conditions to the east, for the last two contests have not been great…it's almost like there was a wall between us and the guys in the Great northeast. Now…having said that, we finally did begin to hear (and work) the guys "out east" after 10am on Sunday. Thanks for bein' there!

Our weather was not the best for making contacts. Friday's rain cleared up for Saturday afternoon but we had to deal with puddles and damp ground throughout the day (Saturday) and fog Saturday night. The fog did not facilitate UHF contacts…at all and killed any microwave contacts from our location. Sunday morning it rained and rained and rained finally clearing just before 2pm.

The good stuff - The Kitchen

After Saturday's casual lunch, dinner Saturday night was grilled beef, salad by Robin (Rob's wife) and nice fresh bread. Beverages, for this weekend, were both some homebrew as well as a selection from select small and micro breweries.

Sunday breakfast was fresh perked Columbian coffee, orange juice and Jean's (Ken’s wife) Zucchini bread with butter.

The K2LIM team looks forward to working you in the September contest!

73, Al - W9KXI

CQWW VHF 2011

K2LIM

 Five of the K2LIM group assembled on 16 July 2011 at our contest site for the running of the CQWW VHF contest around noon. Once the food was unloaded and setup on the tables in our "new" (Just completed) kitchen and break room, we took time to enjoy some subs and a cold drink before the start of the contest. The new room is named "The Hornby Room" because we are located in Hornby, NY. , after people in Florida have Florida room's, is really nice and cool even in the 90+ heat we had on Sunday afternoon.

 

  There also was a modification to the 432 station win the weeks before the contest to get ready for the up coming UHF contest. The 432 station was turned so the people running the 432 and 222 stations would not hit each other with their chairs. Now the 432 station sits like the 6 meter station and is out of the center path.

No big events to report on, everything worked as it should with just one hick-up on Sunday morning when the 6M amplifier relay stopped keying. So, we swapped it out and replaced it with the back-up amp and was off the air for less than 5 minutes.

Band conditions were flat on 6 meters on Saturday so we were able to work a lot of stations on 2 meters. A nice grid worked (somewhat rare) was FN51 on both 2 and 6. About 4 hours before the end of the contest on Sunday, 6 meters opened into the southern US and mid-west US. It also opened into the Caribbean, Central and South America and north into Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. We worked the following DX: XE, VP5, YV, VO1, VY2, FM8, PV, PJ2, 9Y4, and C6. The newly re-built 7 element beams worked really well.

Of course when 6 meters opened up no one was on 2 meters. Our score was down from last year but that is reflective of practically no opening on 6 meters.  The 2M antennas preformed really well. This was the second contest using the new 4 stack of 12 element beams on 2M. The 400 to 500 mile contacts were really no effort and its kind of nice to do that.

Our final score was 83440.  Band Q's and Grid break down is:

6M  - 238 Q's 94 grids

2M  - 179 Q's 46 grids

The operators on hand were: KA2LIM - Ken, KB2YCC - Rob, W9KXI - Al, WA3CSP - Larry and N2IK - Walt. As usual, lots of good food and a variety of different beers to sample. Sunday morning we were treated to a Navy breakfast by "The Ole' Anchor Clanker" - Larry, of sausage in gravy on toast and lots of black coffee. What a great way to get ready for another day of contesting.

We had enough operators on hand that some of us were free to do some maintenance  work like tilting down the micro-wave tower to do some antenna repair from damage from the wind over the winter and spring tornado's.  We also got the rotor out of the 10M tower for repair. So, next up is the UHF contest in August and the plan is to be on the air with 222 thru 3.5 GHz

A great time was had by all again. See you in the next contest.

Ken

KA2LIM

K2LIM June VHF 2011

The wet spring here in WNY had me way behind on getting the updates done to the contest station. Finally in the middle of May I was able to get into the site and start work. The updated consisted of removing the 6M beams which had been totally destroyed by the high winds and tornados (yes tornados) that hit our area in April.

I had the 2, 222 and 432 antenna's, new power dividers, coax harness's and cross boom all built, so it did not take only a couple afternoon's of work to get the new antenna systems in place. Now there are 4-12 element beams on 2M,

 4-16 element beams on 222

 

and 4-25 element beams on 432.

The stacking configuration for all is a diamond configuration. I decided to go this way because of less wind load than an H frame as the wind blows at this location "ALL" the time.
I totally rebuilt the 6M beams at home and got them installed and in the air with the help of Al - W9KXI the week of the contest.

The stacking distance for the beams is 5/8 wavelength for reasons I wont go into detail here but it proved to work out very well during the contest.

 The week of the contest I worked on constructing the new 10' X20' addition off the side of The Limo for our food and rest area. This has a raised floor so we no longer have the mud to walk in when it rains. On Wednesday I put up the rafters with the help of Dave-N2LID while Al did some weed whacking and brush cutting. Then we covered it with a tarp that covered the top and front. On Thursday I added tarps on the side while Al did some more weed-whacking. The tarps are a temporary thing as I will get the metal roof and sides on before the CQWW VHF contest in July.

Then we fired up all four station making sure that all antenna's worked properly and the amps were working properly, ect. ect..

We took Friday off to rest a bit before the weekend. I arrived on site on Saturday at around 10:30 to get everything up and running. By 11:30 the team started to arrive and proceeded to setup their tents and get the food set out in the kitchen area. We enjoyed the great subs that were brought by Al for lunch, discussed the new antennas and getting used to the narrower beam width and got in the seats 5 minutes before the start of the contest.

On hand at the start were: KA2LIM, W9KXI, N2LID,NX2W AND KV2X. KB2YCC arrived later in the afternoon to round out the number to 6 operators. On Sunday, N3NP arrived and brought along WA3LWR so Bob could check out the station.
Back to Saturday: 6M was popping in and out before the contest and of course was flat at the start of the contest. 6M would open and close for the entire contest but most everyone got a chance at working the pile-ups. The new 6M beams preformed outstanding, nothing more I can say about them.

The contacts plugged along on all four bands slowly adding to the total. We went to bed at 1:30 am with just over 100K points in the log. Gregg and I were up at 0:530 and I started calling CQ on 2 and 6. One operator can cover both bands for a short while. By 0:800 everyone was up so Dave prepared another OUTSTANDING contest breakfast of pancakes with "real" maple syrup, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns. We sure do eat good. I forgot to mention that Tom brought his "famous" HOT salsa that burns going in and out. There was shiskabobs for supper on Saturday and baked beans and cooked potatoes plus all the snacks. and of course this was all washed down with a variety of beers to sample that included home brewed Stout, Double Red, Pilsner and some purchased commercial stuff that was ok also. On Sunday there was a pork in BBQ sauce along with potato salad that we worked on until the end of the contest. Again, GOOD EATING.
The new stacked beams preformed VERY, VERY well. Every station that we could hear on 222 and 432 we worked, resulting in our highest Q's ever for these two bands. Had no problem working into FM06 on 432. Not bad considering that activity was down for this June contest. Several station that I talked with had the same complaint about low activity, especially out in 1 land. Where were the station that we use to always work????
Weather wise, a big storm came out of the West on Saturday, split and went N and S of us with the big lighting going around, we got rain.

 On Sunday morning we were socked in with fog in the morning and then in the afternoon we got hail and rain mixed, very heavy rain. The tarp leaked a bit but much better than the old setup and our feet stayed dry with the raised floor. The metal roof and side to come will correct the leaking problem of the tarp.
Only two problems for the entire contest> First the rotor for the 222 LVA antenna’s stopped working so we hand to go back to turning manually, not a problem, more an inconvenience and second the antenna selector switch on 432 bothered, so we swapped it out for a new one, took about 3 or 4 minutes, and that was back working. First time in several contests that everything went smoothly with the exception of the two problems mentioned.
On Monday, al and I went to the site and cleaned up, nested the 432 tower, tilted down the 6M tower, because of wind. Removed the 222 LVA rotor and was out of there in less than an hour. By the end of the day, I had the antenna selector switch repaired, found the problem with the rotor, two broken wires at the connection screw terminals on the bottom of the rotor, Repaired, checked and working all ok.
The contest ended without the usual last minute barrage of stations. Our score was down a bit from June 2010 but I will credit that to lower activity especially on the upper bands. Tom did a grid analysis of our 6M contacts and we worked all the grids in Florida including the Keys.


So our preliminary numbers look like this:
band> Q's> grids
6> 489> 163
2> 258> 50
222> 93> 33
432> 94> 30


Score: 309120 

all for now
Ken
KA2LIM

January 2011 VHF Contest

K2LIM 

On Wednesday the 19th I made a trip to the contest site to do some last minute updates to the operating positions. The Snow was about 5 -6" deep in the fields and 1-2' in the road. I had to use a 4 wheel drive truck that I borrowed from Keith, the land owner to break a trail in across the field. Then I drove right in with my van. Thursday night we got 6" of snow and when Al and I went to the site on Friday the 21st, I had to use my 4 wheel drive vehicle to break a new trail in as the old path was filled in. Al followed me in with his 4 wheel drive car. He got stuck twice but it was a quick dig-out with the shovels and we got to the site.



Saturday morning I left at 1100 local time to go get the heat running and equipment running. The temperature dropped over night so was now in the teens. The wind bled all night and the tracks were all filled in and several drifts. One about 3-4' deep on the road by the end of the 6M tower that I shoveled the wheel paths out before driving on into the site. Gregg arrived at the site and got stuck where I had shoveled the wheel path. Got him dug out and on in to the site. I got the heat going and then drove back down thru the field to the road to make the pathway better and packed so Al could drive in. Also at the site there was now a snow drift about 4' deep on the east side of the "Limo" and the 6M trailer was covered as well as the 432 trailer. Larry and Walt came with Al so we were in good shape with a tot al of 5 operators.



Next I got the new computers for logging setup and networked and I have to say right now, this was a great upgrade, as the data input from any one computer is updated to the entire system in about 4 seconds max. Got all the equipment running, check the power output on each band, everything was working in good shape and then Murphy stepped in the door and the 50 amp power supply transformer burned out with now power draw. We changed out to the spare on hand and we're back in business.



The contest started and all position were filled and in operation. About 1 hour into the contest, we suddenly had no output power on 432. I monkeyed with the amplifier and could not get any power out. So I drove home and got a spare 432 amp and brought that back and put in line. Back up to 300W out and now we are having big time trouble hearing stations very close. So, back home I go and retrieve another transceiver. Get back, swap the rigs and we still are having receive trouble. Meanwhile, 2 and 6 are plugging away putting entries into the log and 222 is working well. Oh yes, we are adding 440 FM contacts from some local's.



Murphy stepped back in and there was a flash and all 12 VDC was gone at the 222 position. We initially thought another power supply died but we unhooked the lines from the power supply and it came back to life. The crowbar circuit works. So I started unhooking units from the power strip one by one and finally found a dead short on the newly installed desk light. Hooked everything back up and 222 was back running, then I repaired the light , re-installed and everything is running smoothly except 432 is still not working.



When signals just disappeared on 222 in the middle of a contact and then re-appear a few minutes later, I began to think that part of the 432 problem was band conditions. After all the temperature out side was 0 degrees but nice and toasty inside. We finally shut the 432 station off and concentrated on just 3 bands. Contacts petered out around 11 pm so we headed home for some sleep at 1145pm. Gregg decided he would stay all night as he had to leave mid-day on Sunday for work.



Walt and I arrived back on site shortly after 0700 Sunday morning. Gregg had the generator all gassed back up and it was nice and toasty inside the limo. I brewed a pot of coffee, Al arrived with breakfast sandwiches and we were back at making contacts on 3 main bands with an occasional 440 FM contact. Mid morning, ole’ Murphy came by again and the 440 FM rig died. Holy Crap! 432 is really a problem child this contest.

Gregg had to leave about 1 PM so Walt rode out with him to return home to Syracuse, NY about a 2 hour drive. Rob arrived on site about 4:30 pm after having a heck of a time driving in. He said: let’s try 432 again. So we hooked up the beams direct to the rig I had brought from home and there is no power output. Holy Crap! Murphy‘s back.

So, I took it out of like, put the original transceiver back in, hooked up the transverter, hooked the solid state Amplifier in line, turned everything on, tuned around and am hearing signals on 432. WOW! Don’t know what is going on but we’ll take it. We are showing about 85 watts out and every station that I call comes back and I can HEAR them. So for the last 6½ hours of the contest we had all 4 bands on and I was trying to make up on 432, with the farthest contact into FM27 to the south. Our 432 Q’s and grid’s really suffered this contest.

In the Food department we had subs for lunch on Saturday and there was a crock pot of chili with corn bread muffins, a crock pot of beef stew with rolls, snacks included chips and cookies. On the liquid side, Gregg had his trusty coke and Ken brought a 5 gallon of Creamy Stout. Holy Crap! These guys emptied that keg. On Sunday morning we had Coffee and sausage sandwiches for breakfast and worked on the rest of the chili and stew through out the day. Rob brought some more subs when he came so as usual we ate very well and washed it down with home brew.

We did not venture very far out to make holes in the snow drifts as the temperature was dropping and it was well below 0 degrees. The sky was clear and full of stars. I will insert some comments from Al at this point.


A fun weekend. Thoughts/comments (in random order)

· I only got stuck twice…and that was on the first trip in.

· The in & out was the roughest drive that our Honda Element has ever taken.

· The lower 2 meter Omni's. (They are 1-1/2 wavelengths off the ground.) I worked one station in central Ohio on them that I could not hear with: a) the upper omni's, 2) the LVA and 3) the stacked beams.

· Dealing with a pile-up on 2 meters.

· The (frightening) cold (outside) both Saturday and Sunday night.

and…

· The sunrise on Sunday morning…driving through the field…the "fire in the sky" as the sun "peeked" over the horizon, igniting the ice crystals and snowflakes in the air with a fluorescent orange color. I would have stopped to photograph it but I was afraid that I would get stuck.


This was the first contest with us using the new callsign K2LIM. It went very well and we only had to remind a few stations that it was a new callsign when they insisted that it was KA2LIM because that is what came up in their data base. Shame, shame for relying on a data base and not listening to the call sign.


This was not our best January contest score wise. 432 really hurt us being down for all but about 7 hours of the contest. But, we had fun and that’s the bottom line. Although as we were cleaning up to go home, the comment was made; is it really worth it to run the snow drifts and brave the -0 weather for the January contest. HMMMMM! Food for thought….


We wound up with 575 contacts and 118 multipliers for a total score of 80,830. The band break down is as follows:

50 – 186/35

144 - 279/47

222 – 71/23

432 – 39/13


As you can see, the 432 stats are low as we missed many stations that we could never find again late in the contest. It is what is it so now I have until June to work on the break-downs and hope and strive for less break-downs.

When I got home at 1150pm Sunday night the thermometer on the garage shower -16 degrees and was still -16 at 0730 Monday morning.

Here are some photos from the site:

September VHF Contest 2010

Preparation for this contest really started during the August UHF contest, with discussion about some antenna's to add to the station, so at the start of this contest there was a lower stack of 2 Omni’s for 2 meters and 222 and a 4 stack for 432. Also I added rotor's on the LVA antenna system on these three bands.

Ken and Al went to the site on Friday and got the awning for the kitchen set up and did a basic check thru on everything and all was good to go for the contest. Ken arrived on site at noon followed by Al and the rest of the crew arrived by 12:45. Operators were: W9KXI-Al, NX2W-Gregg, N2SLN-Lu, WA3CSP-Larry, N2IK-Walt, KV2X and KA2LIM-Ken. KB2YCC-Rob was on a trip and N2LID-Dave had a last minute change that kept him from operating. We ate lunch at 1pm and went over the changes and additions to the positions and were in the seats and ready for the clock to strike 2.

The contest started and immediately a problem developed on the 2 meter station. The transceiver would cut in and out, audio would be distorted and then clear up and be clean. Then the amplifier would cut back and the power output would drop off and there would be interference with the 432 station. All connections were checked with no remedy to the problem. The transverter was taken out of line and just the IF rig hooked direct to the amp and still the problem remained. So, Ken went home to retrieve another if rig and a 2 meter back-up amplifier. Meanwhile an old Kenwood TR-9130 with a solid-state amp, our microwave liaison rig, was pun in line to keep us on the air. Ken monitored the 2 meter frequency while returning to the site and still heard an audio distortion on the signal. Arriving back at the site, the rig and amplifier from home was installed and guess what? The problem was still there. Murphy said: "I ain't leaving".

So next, I separated the two 50 amp power supply's that are run in parallel, that supply the 12.5vdc to the rigs and accessories on the 2M and 432 side of the station with one running the 432 position and the other for 2M. Slight improvement but still a problem. So, now I got out the volt meter and Al and I proceeded to check the voltage on each power supply. PS #1 showed 11.64 vdc and would not go up or down when the adjusting knob was turned. PS#2 would show 11.5 to 15.5vdc when the adjusting know was turned. BINGO! We've got a bad PS. So we put a new (spare) PS in and everything was operating as it should.

Oops, now the 432 if rig is showing high vswr from the transverter. What the heck is going on? This worked perfectly for the June contest and the UHF contest. So, I pulled the transverter out of line and just run the FT-847 and everything is working correctly. Oh yes, could not get the tube amp for 432 to work so we limped along with a 100W brick, but it worked.

The 2M station was intermittent or off the air for just over 3 hours and was still the work horse band for this contest with the highest Q's and grids of our 4 bands. 6M and 222 just plugged along with no issues.

Saturday evening, Keith, the guy who owns the land and lets us have our contest station located where it is, showed up and ate some food, drank some homebrew and got a tour and rundown on how things work and was impressed and had a good time. Got to keep our host happy.

Now it time to cover the food department because we get together to eat, drink homebrew and contest in that order. There were subs for lunch on Saturday. Chips and Doritos. Tom brought some great homemade salsa that was hot - WOW, it burned on the way in on the way down and on the way out but it sure was good. There were burgers and dogs - gone. Chocolate chip and sugar cookies - almost gone. Shrimp - gone. Mini candy bars for snacking - gone. For breakfast on Sunday morning there was blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup and scrambled eggs, sausage patties, ham slices and home fries with diced onions and red peppers - gone, and a couple of pots of coffee - gone. Walt did a bang-up job preparing breakfast. Thank you, Walt.

Larry showed up with more cookies and Al plugged in the crock-pot of chili to get ready for a late dinner and you guessed it, - gone. Ken brought a 5 gallon keg of just taped AS stout and a 1/3 keg of Cowsnot stout and the last mug was drawn at 9pm Sunday night with the keg blowing just air. What a thirsty bunch.....

Now let’s talk about the contest a bit. Needless to say there were no band openings at this location. It was flat, flat, flat and to top it off the activity was way down from past years. We really struggled to make contacts. We sat with the voice keyers running calling CQ and not putting a contact in the log for an hour. This was not a one time occurrence but happened several times during the contest. A lot of call signs missing from the log this time that have always been there in other contests. If not for the ROVERS, there would have been even less contacts.

A special thanks to the following rovers who were consistently there as they moved from grid to grid; K2LDT/R, AB2IY/R, VE3SMA/R, VE3OIL/R, VE3CRU/R, WA3PTV/R, K2QO/R, NN3Q/R, W1RT/R, KE2ME/R, N3XUD/R, W1AUV/R, KC2PLJ/R, KB3STA/R and W2TAU/R.

Without you guys and other rovers who I missed listing here, this would have been a real bust.

As long as I'm on the soapbox here, let me say that the clubs did a mighty fine job with their members, of NOT getting on the air to support activity for the contest. Not just the local clubs but some of the better known VHF clubs in a 300 mile radius. Off the soapbox.

Our total score was way down, especially for 4 bands when we turned in a score of 105K for the CQWW contest with just 2 bands. So here is the breakdown by band and the score.

Band Q  /  G

50 - 176/  37

144 - 224/ 44

222 - 66/   27

432 - 78/   32

Total score - 96320

Another VHF contest season is over and as usual we achieved our goal of Having Fun first and contesting second. Don’t forget the fall sprints.

Look for you in the January 2011 VHF contest.

Ken

------------------------------------2010-----------------------------------

ARRL UHF CONTEST

We prepared for the 2010 UHF contest with a newly erected tower for the microwave antenna’s only and a new rack-mounted system for the 903 thru 3.5GHZ transverter’s.

The antenna’s are 2 – 33 element looper’s for 903, 2- 45 element looper’s for 1296, a single 76 element looper (blowtorch) for 2304 and a single 112 element looper (another blowtorch) for 3456. There is a 4 element 2M beam mounted below all the loopers, used for 2M liaison freq.

The rack mounted system inside the limo consists of a Yaesu FT-847 for the IF rig. For 1296 the IF is 28mhz and the power output is 60 watts. 903, 2.3 and 3.4 use 144 as the IF and power output is at 50 watts. Switching between these three transverter’s is done by a manual switch. A dedicated 2M multi-mode transceiver (25-180W) for liaison on the microwave bands. The rotor is a HDR-300 for accurate aiming.

The operating crew consisted of KA2LIM, KB2YCC, WA3CSP, W9KXI AND NX2W. Everyone was on site by an hour before contest start getting the new system hooked up and ready to go. Food and beverage was on the light side with the contest being only 24 hours long. We even had a pizza for early nite eating.

The band conditions left a lot to be desired to say the least. All the 222 contacts were pretty good signal wise, just a bit of QSB. 432 was goofy to say the least. Lots of QSB with signals completely disappearing at times and unable to make contact with the station that was just worked on 222 in close but working stations 400 miles out. 903 and 1296 were fairly good out to 200 miles. Then it got mostly nil for contacts, sporadic with an occasional contact being made beyond the 200 mile range. 2.3 and 3.4 produced no Q’s at all. Could not even work K2QO/R in FN03, FN13 and FN02. We thought something was broke here, trying repeatedly with WA2FGK, who’s signals were way down on the bottom four bands, but an after contest check of these two systems showed them to be working in good shape. Just lousy band conditions.

We had a great time talking, eating and sampling beer and celebrating Al’s birthday on Sunday. As we always like to have fun on these get-together’s, Rob and Ken snuck up on Al, from each side and kissed him on the cheek and hollered HAPPY BIRTHDAY Al ! Everyone had a good laugh with Al being “red faced” and saying, you darn guys, you darn guys.

We finished out the contest at a pretty slow pace with all our contacts being on four bands. A total of 103 contacts and a total of 62 multipliers. The break down by band is as follows.

 222 45Q/25 Grids      432 40Q/20 Grids      903 9Q/ 8 Grids           1296 10Q/ 9 Grids For a total score of 22692.

Not bad for a station set up out in the middle of nowhere and no club participation for contacts within a150 mile radius. Again, a great time with good friends. Look to work you in the September VHF contest.

CQWW VHF 2010

The contest started off as a “almost no contest” with all the commitments that popped up at the last minute for the team members. Ken and Rob arrived on site at noon on Saturday and proceeded to get things ready to go. The contest started and 6 meters was flat and dead. After one hour into the contest we had only worked two stations on 6 meters while 2 meters was steadily adding contacts to the log.

By 4 pm, Ken had to leave for a prior commitment and Gregg arrived to operate for a couple of hours because his vacation time had been canceled at work and he had to work the entire weekend.

Ole’ Murphy snuck in again and did hid usual dirty tricks. First the VSWR was high on 2 of the antenna systems on 2 meters and as a result, we worked the entire contest on the 2 meters LVA antenna’s. Then the 6 meter amplifier had a relay hang up and we could not hear anything so, a quick change of amplifier’s and we back and running on 6 meters. While Ken was gone and the bands were completely flat late Saturday afternoon, Rob and Gregg decided to tilt up the newly installed microwave tower that has the antenna’s for 903 thru 3.5 ghz. Wow, it sure looks nice !

Rob and I decided to call it quits for the night around 0130 local time. There had been a late afternoon opening on 6 and the score was at around 30K in points.

Sunday morning brought some tropo for both bands and we began adding to the log. Six meters really opened up just before 1000 local time and we were working station all over North America and Mexico and 2 meters was steady but never really got hot.

In the food department, it was pretty light this time as 2 guys on site for the most part of the contest can only eat so much. So, we got by with sub’s and a pizza but had cold water, gator-aid and of course, homebrew.

On Sunday, Al arrived on site around 2 pm with some sub’s for mid day lunch and Gregg got back shortly after 3 pm. We were steadily adding contacts to the log right up to within the last minuet of the contest.

Well, this turned out to be our highest score for the CQWW VHF contest thus far and we did it with a 3 man crew, most of the time with just 2 of us and at times 1 working back and forth between both positions.

The numbers are as follows: [2M – 146 Q’s and 40 grid squares] [6M – 345 Q’s with 124 grid squares] for a total score of 104,468 points.

Getting ready for the UHF contest in August.


Ken

KA2LIM

June 2010 VHF Contest

The June 2010 VHF contest saw the KA2LIM contest site in good shape with everything working and ready to go. The contest started at 1800 UTC on Saturday and 6 meters was the hot band with openings to all parts of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. 

Murphy snuck in the back door, with the audio output on the 432 station so low it was difficult to hear anything. A quick swap of transceivers and 432 was back up and running without another glitch. Then 'ole Murphy moved to the 222 position. The relay in the transverter started hanging up in transmit again in spite of the correction made over the winter per the directions of Steve at DEMI, and the addition of fans for cooling. So Ken made a trip home to retrieve the old Yaesu FT-736R. 222 was off the air for a bit over an hour, but once back on it was working fine with the exception of the voice and CW keyer not keying the amplifier automatically so we had to do the keying manually.

Six Meters stayed hot with 2 Meters also seeing some E's. We worked the entire west coast and everything in between along with several DX contacts on 6M. I might add here that all contacts were answers to our calling CQ Contest. Our longest 2M contact was into Alabama, grid EL49. with 6 and 2 having such good conditions, 222 and 432 suffered in the number of contacts.

During the contest from 7 -9 pm local time on Saturday and Sunday we called CQ and looked for FM contacts on 2, 223 and 440. The KA2LIM contest group sponsored a FM simplex contest within NY and PA to encourage those who are FM bound to find out how far they can transmit and how many can be worked without using a repeater.

There were six of us available at all times and a total of eight for the entire contest. The group consisted of Rob-KB2YCC, Al-W9KXI, Dave-N2LID, Larry-WA3CSP, Gregg-NX2W, Lu,-N2SLN, Walt- N2IK and Ken-KA2LIM. Also some guests who are interested in VHF/UHF visited the site. They were: Chris-AC2CS, Dave-N2DLP and Alex-N3NP.

I shall mention the food department here: The usual fine selection was brought by everyone. Subs, chili, cookies, sweet rolls, burgers, hotdogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, cold slaw, chips and dip, water, soda and of course homebrew to wash it all down with. On Sunday morning Dave put on another fine breakfast consisting of french toast with real maple syrup, scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee. WOW! we sure do eat good.

Rob stayed up until after 4am local time on Sunday morning and was still hearing 6 meter beacons but no activity, everyone had gone to bed. Ken was up at 6am on Sunday and back at calling CQ contest. Soon Walt and Al appeared then Gregg and we were back at it. Six was really sporadic on Sunday, not as solid as Saturday but we still kept putting new multipliers in the log. With less activity on six, the contacts on the upper two bands began to pick up and we added more multipliers.

Some time during this endeavor, we pulled up the new microwave tower with the antenna's on it. But, 'ole Murphy struck again and the stainless steel mast bent on the way up. Ken climbed the tower and attached a rope to the mast in order to pull on it and bring it back to a somewhat straight position. Later in the day as Ken was pulling on the rope to bend the mast slightly, the mast gave way and in slow motion, proceeded to fold over. Thus we got the photo for our QSL card for the June contest.

A new antenna switch system was installed on the 6M station which allows us any combination of the 3 antenna's. A definite plus was achieved here. As conditions changed, we were able to change to the antenna or antenna combination that worked the best. We slso added a rotator to the 2M LVA stack, thus allowing the LVA to be rotated from the operating position, another good move. Rotors will be added to the 222 and 432 LVA's before the UHF contest.

The last entry went into the log at 0259 on 2M and another contest became history as we achieved our best score to date. The break down is as follows:

Band Q's/grids 50 645/170 144 295/52 222 65/28 432 74/27 total raw score 337386.

Lu-N2SLN did an spread sheet on our 6M contacts and it showed that we hit VUCC in 7 hrs and 12 mins and worked 39 states and 5 DX during the contest.

 Ken did a breakdown on the other 3 bands: 2M - 52 grids, 15 states and Canada 222 - 28 grids, 11 states and Canada 432 - 27 grids, 11 states and Canada and the best thing of all, We had fun. See you in the CQWW VHF contest in July.

Ken KA2LIM


January 2010 VHF Contest  **2nd Place Finish**

The decision was made to operate the January 2010 VHF contest from our site that we acquired in June 2009. I went to the site on Wednesday before the contest to make sure everything was ready to go. Access to the site had to be by my 4 wheel drive mule because the new access road had snow drifts up to 6 feet deep in a couple of places. Of course I got stuck twice getting to the site but got dug out and once I got all the way in, I turned around and went back out thru the path and then back in and it was no problem.

The contest crew was short in participants this time due to some having to work, some traveling, and other commitments. We had a new operator this time, N2IK - Walt Bordett from Syracuse, NY. I arrived on site Saturday morning about 1100 am local time and got the space heater running, generator going so the electric baseboard heaters could get to working also. In 30 minutes the inside of the Limo was so warm it was like being in Florida. Walt arrived about noon and called me so I could go out to pick him up and bring him in to the site. I went over everything with him so he would be some what comfortable when operating. Rob could not arrive until around 6 pm because of a family commitment, so it was Walt and I to work the contest for the first 4 hours. Of course, first thing the 2M station would not work. The amp would not key and the voice and cw keyers would not key the transceiver. What the heck is going on, it worked fine in December when Rob was working meteor scatter. I called Rob and he brought the back-up 2M amp up as he had just enough time before he had to go to his family commitment. I got everything hooked up with an alternate keying configuration and we were ready to contest.

Walt operated the 6 meter position and I worked the 2M position and would go to 222 and 432 as needed. Rob called just before he left to come to the site to see what we might need, so I had him bring another transceiver for the 2M position. When he arrived, I swapped the transceivers, and had got the 2M amp keying in the mean time, so hooked everything up and the 2M station was back operating like it should. We contested along as a moderate clip just adding contacts with no propagation enhancement at all. Walt and I left just before midnight to go to my house for some sleep. I have to say here that Walt did a really good job by putting 110 6M Q's in the log from a very flat band before moving out of the seat, way to go Walt! Rob stayed and operated by himself until 2am before going home for some ZZZZ's with the score at 41k.

Walt and I got back to the site just after 7am and started in again. Contacts were sporadic but we were putting new grids into the log so the multiplier total was going up. Walt had to leave around 0930am to head for home so I was operating solo until Larry - WA3CSP arrived just a bit after 12 noon. Rob got back around 2pm so we operated a bit easier with one operator running the 222 and 432 positions. The relay in the 222 transverter started hanging up again and then all of a sudden all 12vdc on the 432, 2M side of the Limo went out. After a few minutes of testing it was narrowed down to the power supplies. Checking one at a time we found that one of the 50 amp power supplies had shorted out inside. Unhooked it and we were back running with one. Even though it put a bit of a strain on the one power supply it continued to work the rest of the contest.

The team decided at the end of November to sponsor a local FM simplex contest within the January VHF contest to promote interest in simplex operation. We promoted it with fliers at hamfests and announcements on area 2M nets and on our website. We called it the FN12 FM Challenge. We limited it to one frequency on 2M and 223 and 440 to keep it simple. Participants were encouraged to make as many contacts with each other and the scoring would be the same as in the January VHF contest .And, it worked to some degree as we heard many station on calling and we also worked many of them. I think that those who participated in the FM simplex challenge found out that they could make contacts a lot farther than just to the repeater. Lesson learned for us here is that the Omni-directional verticals are going up before the June contest along with the vertical beams that we already have so that we can work more FM stations.

Late Saturday afternoon, it started to rain and we got some brief and I do mean brief openings along the storm front to the west and south west, working as far west as EN71-74 on 2, 222 and 432. A note here is in order, that most of the stations that we worked in EN71 on the three upper bands were worked with the Omni’s. To the south we worked into FM06 on 2M and tried very hard to complete a contact into FM16 but it just did not happen. To the east it was FN42, 43 and 44. Very few stations were worked in 1 land. FN15, 25 and 35 was the farthest grids to the north. To the south and southeast, we worked a bunch of Packrats. I am sure this was due to the fact of the Packrat club doing a big push for their members to get on for the January contest.

Time to mention the food. Scaled way back due to only 3 of us there at any one time. There was the cabbage-pork-apple mix that Rob brought and a meat-corn-cheese dish that Ken brought, plus subs. There were some chips and chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. Larry brought banana-nut bread and apples. And of course there was plenty of stout to wash it all down with. By the way, Walt is a connoisseur of stout, so he fit right into this group. Well, needles to say that food went home because four guys can only eat so much.

As we neared the end of the contest we would set a goal for the score and then meet it in a few minutes so would up the goal again. Kept doing this little game and had fun and lots of laughs with it. So this brings us to the results of our run in this contest. Without a doubt, this was our highest score ever for a January contest. Here is the break down:

6M 188 q's / 35 grids

2M 265 q's / 42 grids

222 64 q's / 26 grids

432 69 q's / 25 grids

Total contacts..........586 Total QSO points....719 Total multipliers......128 Total score..............92082

Not bad for a bunch of guys having fun. Ken KA2LIM

Sept 09 ARRL VHF Contest **4th Place Finish**

WOW! What a fun filled weekend. Preparation for the contest started on Thursday 10 Sept 09 with Ken going to the site and putting down the outdoor carpet for the kitchen area, getting the awning cover out and in place, tables out, and so on. On Friday Ken and Al returned to the site and finishes and the prep work for the weekend which included getting a keg of Cow Snot Stout and a keg of Pilsner on ice in the newly built cooler to be ready for the weekend.

Saturday 12 Sept, Ken arrived at 11:00 a.m. and got the generator fired up and turned things on for a final check before the contest started. Everyone else arrived between 11:30am and 1:00pm bringing food, snacks and refreshments. The team this contest consisted of: KB2YCC- Rob, N2LID-Dave, NX2W-Gregg, WA3CSP-Larry, W9KXI-AL, KV2X-Tom and KA2LIM-Ken. We had plenty of time to get the tents and trailers setup for sleeping that night. Al brought small subs for lunch which hit the spot for a quick snack. We went over a couple of changes that had been made at the operating positions and we were ready to start contesting at 2:00pm. Everything was going smoothly on all four bands until all of a sudden the power output dropped on 432 and our ability to hear became intermittent. Rob and Al worked on that problem which included a trip home to get another amplifier and test the backup amp that did not want to work when put in line. We limped along with 40 watts out for about 1 ½ hours while they changed amps in and out trying to isolate the problem. Long story short, it turned out to be the preamp being intermittent. That was replaced and we were back up on 432. After 4 hours into the contest the points total indicated that were on the way to a fairly decent score.

Band conditions were pretty flat, no opening on 6M at all. It was just a slug-it-out for 6. All through the day Dave would mention, what smells like it is burning, Rob would reply that it was probably the 2M amp as were using a new (to us) amp for this contest, more on that later.

On the 2M station we were using a Johnson Thunderbolt 6N2. Ken acquired this amp back in the spring. This Amp has been completely re-worked with a heavy duty Peter Dahl transformed and G3SEK solid state relay boards added. It presently is running a pair of 4cx250b's and produces over 600 watts out. It worked great for the entire contest without a hitch and helped produce the most Q's and grids for four bands. Antenna systems are still the same.

The 6M station has a change on the antenna system with a second Omni being added, so we now have stacked Omni’s as well as the stacked beams on 6M.

The 222 station had one change made for this contest, that being, removing the single KB6KQ Omni and adding stacked Par Omni-angle's. Nothing wrong with the single Omni, but the unavailability of another KB6KQ Omni made for a move to the Omni-angle's and it proved to be a good change.

The 432 station stayed the same except for the hick-up at the start of the contest.

Now back to the contest: Everything was running pretty smooth until about 8pm local time when all of a sudden a cloud of smoke started rolling out from under the bench were the 6 meter and 222 amps are located.Smoke was pouring out like a fog machine and in a matter of seconds the entire Limo was filled with smoke. Everyone was diving for the exit doors. Ken grabbed a 10” fan that we have that was in the front of the limo and plugged it in and in less than a minute the limo was cleared. Upon checking the amps it was discovered that the transformer in the 6 meter amp burned out (melted). Our second “Murphy” hit of the contest. Ken and Al made a trip to Ken's house to get another 6 meter amp and we were back up with full power in less than an hour from the blow-up. I told you I would get back to the smell that Dave mentioned earlier on in the day. It just took a while to find the source. After this incident everyone commented that no one thought to grab a camera to get a photo. Oh well, it makes for another good story.

Around 12:30am, Tom had just gone to bed, Al had left for home and Dave was headed to bed. Ken said we may as well shut down and get up early because there was NO activity. Rob and Gregg, who are both 2nd shift workers, said "we'll stay up for another hour and then shut down". Ken was at the 2M station and heard a couple of guys talking, he broke in and then said I guess I worked you, the one stations said I don't have you in my log here, it turned out to be K2DRH in EN41. TROPO OPENING..... Dave heard the conservation and came back to occupy the 6M seat. We then proceeded to work a very nice opening into the mid-west until 02:00am when there was no else to work, not because of band conditions dropping out but because I think everyone went to bed. So we shut down at 02:15am with over 90K in points and went to get some sleep.

Sunday morning we were back at the contest just before 07:30 a.m. Al started the coffee pot going and by 08:30am everyone was up and about and Dave was busy preparing the great breakfast that he always puts on. There were pancakes with butter and your choice of maple syrup or honey, scrambled eggs and bacon and of course coffee. Larry brought a great coffee cake that just hit the spot for desert for breakfast. Yes, I said desert for breakfast. This is a good time to cover the food. There was a Crockpot full chili and corn muffins to go along. A rice/cabbage/pork apple dish that Rob had made (disappeared first with the chili not far behind). There were hamburgers and hot dogs with all the fixings and corn relish. Streamed clams (200) with melted butter on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.(Gone) Two kinds of chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies and sugar cookies.(Gone) Snacks and dip and homemade salsa(awesome), Holy crap! Tom, that was HOT! But gooood Soda and water and of course, cold home-brew to wash it all down with.

The contest continued with conditions changing throughout the day as different weather patterns moved through the area. At one point on Sunday afternoon there were no signals at all on the bands so we all sat outside in lawn chairs and joked and laughed for ½ hour. We noticed that there were many call signs from the 1,2,3 and 4 call area missing from the log this time that have always been regulars. Not due to band conditions because we worked all the 1 call area states and all the grids except FN45, FN53,54,55,56 on all four bands and toward the south as far as FM08 on 2 meters. The contest ended without the usual mad rush of contacts at the end. VE2DC in FN35 was worked for a new multiplier on 2M just 2 minutes before the end and also on 6M for a new multiplier at one minute to go for the last contact in our log for the contest. Amps were cooled down and turned off, rigs turned off and we had our usual discussion session as Ken stored the log data and transferred copies of the data to take home and transfer to the master log. Everyone got some “Limo Bookmarks” to take home for a memento of this contest. Final cleanup was left until the next day when Ken and Al returned to the site. In one hour everything was cleaned up and packed away for storage and/or take home.

This was our highest score for a September contest to date and we are of course happy with the results. 2M was the workhorse band and 222 and 432 provided some pretty good numbers also. Here is the break down:

Band Q's/Grids

50MHz 245/50

144MHz 290/56

222MHz 105/38  

432MHz 90/37

Score: 168120

Pretty good for a bunch of “Guys Having Fun”

2009 Perseids Meteor Shower  For the Perseids meteor shower this year, Ken and I deceided to see what we could work from the hill top in the limo. We got everything up and running and Ken sat down at the six meter position and I at the 2 meter position. We started by working some "local" contacts and then at 5:27 utc I worked into EM35 (Arkansas) then EL89 (Florida), EM26 (Oklahoma), EN53 (Wisconsin), EN41 (Illisnois), back into Florida and finally into EN34 (Minnesota). Ken worked a lot more then I did on six meters and also worked a little further to the west. My wife Robin (KB2YVA) came along to watch the show outside while it was clear out. Even though the moon was bright in the sky, she still saw some nice meteors. Check out the screen shots of the grids worked on 2 & 6. There was some nice tropo contacts in the early hours of the morning and when we left the site, we soon found out why we had such good tropo. There was a nice layer of fog in the valley, warm ground, cold air, perfect for  tropo conditions. The shower made for a long night as we got to bed around 7 a.m. est but it was worth it to pick up some new states and grids.

Rob KB2YCC

August 2009 UHF Contest **4th Place Finish**

This years ARRL UHF contest found the KA2LIM team back on our Hornby, NY hilltop. With the 222 MHz and 432 MHz antenna systems still in place from the previous contests, all that was needed was to get the 903 thru 2304 equipment installed and running. Ken had modified the original tower trailer to support the 1296 and 903 arrays for transport to the hill top. With trailer in tow, we headed up the hill to get set up on Saturday morning. After arriving on the hill top, set up began outside on the microwave tower and inside setting up the 903, 1296 and 2304 stations. Out on the tower we had 4 1296 loops, 2 903 loops and a single “blow torch” 2304 loop. After running all the coax runs into the limo, the microwave arrays were cranked into the air and the rotor was synced with the antennas. Into the limo we went to hook everything up. Hooking up everything inside went fine until we started to test things out, that is when “Murphy” reared his ugly head. We had set the 2304 transverter up in the six meter position since we were not using six meters for this contest. The 2304 had a 144 IF and we got reminded something that we had forgotten, that radio doesn’t work on 144 MHz for some reason, a fact which had gotten lost in our brains thru the years. (We like to call them “extra” moments). After moving the 2304 station to the 2 meter position we had output on 2304, how about that. We did not make any contacts on 2304 because we discovered that front end on the transverter was blown. The output was fine and driving the amplifier to ~60 watts, we were being heard just fine 4 grids away. So, back to Down East Microwave that will go to be fixed. We got all the remainder of the bands going just before the contest started and away we went. 222 MHz turned out to be the work horse this year. With the addition of the LVA antenna system and changing to a transverter for 222, the difference was a big plus on that band. 432 MHz was a close second with contacts and grids. In previous contests, 432 would out perform 222 hands down, not anymore with the new 222 system (come on guys, get on 222 and enjoy the fun). We had FM radios set up on 222 and 432 and they provided a few contacts as well. 903 MHz performed very well as we could work 95% of the contacts that we passed over from the other bands. 1.2 GHz worked ok and some nice contacts were made on that band but we could hear people that we could not work. It was not until the end of the contest that we discovered that while testing, someone (the team knows who) had hooked up the antenna direct to the radio and not though the pre amp and amplifier. We were running ~5 watts out from the radio, not 60 watts from the amplifier like we should have been (there is another “extra” moment again). All in all, we had a ton of fun with good friends, good food and drink and good times. That’s what it’s all about. Rob KB2YCC

July 2009 CQWW  **4th Place Finish**

This year we operated with a smaller crew but still had a FUN filled weekend. Dave-N2LID was out roving, Lu-N2SLN was out roving, Gregg-NX2W has his vacation time screwed-up so he had to work and Tom-KV2X had things to do for family so that left Rob-KB2YCC, Larry-WA3CSP, Al-W9KXI and myself to man the stations. I arrived at the site at 10:00 a.m. to get things up and running. After doing some general maintenance stuff, I turned on the 6 meter rig at around 11:00 am and heard some stations to the south via E-skip. Worked CO8LY/P and EA6SA, chatted with a local, KA2OIG for about 15 minutes and then just listened while getting the logging network up and running. True to form, propagation on 6 meters completely disappeared by the time of the contest start time. All contacts on 6 and 2 were pretty much local until WZ8DX in EM79 was worked on 2M at 2044 UTC. We thought thing would start to open a bit, but that didn't happen, back to local contacts. Thank God for the rovers. At 2310 we worked VO1GO in GN38 on 6 meters then a few minutes later into GN37 and GN29, FN25 and FN45. Six finally opened a bit to the northeast. Shortly after 0130 UTC six meter contacts swung to the west with contacts into EN and EM area. We also got some tropo on 2M into this area which gave us a bunch of grids and contacts. We all went to bed around 1 a.m. (local time) as things were dead. I got up at 6 a.m. (local time) on Sunday and started calling on 6m and 2M. Thank God for voice keyers and the close proximity of our 2 and 6 meter operating positions. Soon Al appeared and made coffee and then sat down at the 2m position. The first E-skip contact of the day was at 1237 UTC into EL86. 6M then popped in and out until around 1730 UTC. We did work CO8LY/P in FL10 and ZF1EJ in EK99 during this short opening and of course FL, GA, TN, LA and the rest in-between. Then it was back to local contacts. Now for the food: There was shrimp, zucchini beef-bake, pork BBQ (wild boar) that Larry brought, this stuff was great, all beef hot dogs cooked on the grill, chocolate chip cookies, mini donuts, coffee cake for breakfast on Sunday morning, fresh brewed coffee, milk to go with the cookies. You can't eat chocolate chip cookies without milk, (they are pretty good with stout too), cold water and of course home-brew. There was a wheat beer, pale ale and "Cow-Snot Stout". This is the first time that food and beer came home, but not much. Hey, four guys can only eat and drink so much. We didn't have "the Big LID" on site to help eat. The contest ended with our score down by 10,000 from last year but not bad for poor band conditions. We wound up with 444 contacts and 127 multipliers, total score was 77724. 6M - 276 Q's / 81 grids, 2M - 168 Q's / 46 grids. The 2M score was pretty good, all via TR or TROPO. Maybe next contest we'll try some 2M EME on the moon rise. The equipment worked flawlessly. Received comments from several rover stations saying our signals were the most consistent signals on the bands and that they could always find us. It was another great weekend with good friends and good food and great beer. And, are you ready for this: We had FUN. Relax - it's only a contest.--KA2LIM

June 2009 **7th Place Finish**

This year we acquired a new location to contest from in WNY about 10 road miles from my home. The new site is FN12mg (Hornby, NY). Rob and I moved two of the tower-trailer's to the site on Friday before the contest. On Sunday, Dave, Rob and I went to the site and put up electric fence to keep the beef cattle off of the site and away from the equipment.
Monday, Al and I moved the third tower- trailer to the site and on Tuesday, we moved the Limo in and started the setup. By Thursday all was setup and ready to go. On Friday we setup the kitchen area and did a walk thru making sure that all was ready.

We were excited about this contest because we were going to use the new antenna's (LVA's) on 2, 222 and 432 that I built over the winter. On
2 meters we have four- 5 element beans stacked vertically along the side of the tower. On 222 there are six- 5 element beams stacked vertically along the side of the tower and on 432 there are six- 8 element beams, vertically stacked. Each stack is on their own mast that can be aimed and locked into a given direction. So now we can select between from the LVA or stacked Beams or an Omnis. Six meters stayed the same, stacked beams and an Omni at that position.

On Saturday, I arrived to the site shortly after 10am to get the computers up and running. Good thing I started early because the server computer would not work, Period! so pulled out the spare, swapped the hard drives, plugged it in and we're up and running. Next to arrive on site was Tom-KV2X. Tom usually roves with Bill-K2TER, but they did not go out this June so Tom came down from Rochester to contest with us. Everyone else dribbled in slowly, food was put in place in the kitchen, all got to meet Tom and then I did a quick run-down on the new antenna's, some new equipment that was added at each operating position, refresher on logging and we were ready to start the contest.

Lunch was provided by Al-W9KXI, in the form of ham or turkey subs. Tom brought a variety of snacks with some great salsa and there was five kinds of home brewed beer provided by Ken and Rob, our resident beer makers. I shall attempt to list all the food here but if I missed something please forgive me. My wife Jean sent a crock pot of her famous "zucchini beef bake", which as usual totally disappeared. There were three kinds of potato chips, spicy doreto's with hot salsa, potato and macaroni salads, Cole slaw, two kinds of hot dogs, salt potatoes with melted butter (real butter) prepared by dave-N2LID (alias: Big Dave or Big LID). There were candy bars for snacking and some peanut butter filled pretzels. Tom brought some cake with chocolate chips, which I never got to sample because it disappeared. Al brought a tub full of his famous "snicker doodle" cookies which disappeared also but I got to help make these disappear. For beverages we had lots of water, Gatorade, soda and home brewed BEER. The beer line-up consisted of a dark-dark stout and a pale ale that Ken brought. There was an IPA and another stout and another kind that I forgot that Rob brought. Needless to say, there was none left, only the empty kegs to bring home. This bring us to the Sunday morning breakfast. Tom and I had been at the 6 and 2 positions since six o’clock making contacts and around 8am Big Dave became "Dave the Chef" donning his chef's apron he proceeded to turn out a breakfast for us that would put a fancy restaurant to shame. the menu consisted of: pancakes and French toast with real maple syrup, scrambled eggs, bacon and/or sausage topped off with fresh brewed coffee. WOW!!!!! What a meal. Thank you Dave. Sunday noon meal was what-ever was left and a GREAT pot of BBQ-pork that Al made. Some put it in bread, some on buns and some ate it straight, from a bowl. Needless to say, the cooker went home empty.

At contest start on Saturday, six meters was open with E-skip and stayed open on and off until 9pm that night. Needless to say, the other bands suffered for contacts because everyone was on six meters. As the contest progressed, everyone got a turn and all four operating positions and by 12:30am we had surpassed the 100K point mark. Ken got up from his nap and checked the digital signals on 6 and 2 but was only copying stations that we had already worked. Keeping a digital sked request on Sunday morning into NC produced a 6M contact but could not make the 2M as a very strong station moved within 2kc of the sked freq and ended that.

The newly installed "LVA's" preformed superbly, everyone was impressed by the way they worked. If you were having trouble hearing or working a station on the beams or Omni, a switch to the LVA would result in a strong signal received and completing the contact. And the ability to be able to" turn" the LVA in a different direction when desired was an added bonus.

Sunday afternoon there was a sound that appeared on 432 that made everyone on New York State and Canada think that the frontend of their radios had gone bad. The signal strength at our location was 30+ at times. We checked in all directions and had a beam heading of 300-320 degreed which put it in the Rochester, NY area. Our resident expert, Larry-WA3CSP, an old anchor-clunker who worked with this stuff in the NAVY, says: it was definitely revolving radar. After about 2 1/2 hours of the continuous noise it stopped as abruptly as it started. Obviously someone got told to "turn it off".

Conditions really petered out near the end of the contest but over-all this was our highest points contest. We wound up with the following break-down:

TOTAL CONTACTS 901
TOTAL QSO POINTS 1033
TOTAL MULTIPLIERS 225
TOTAL SCORE 232425

BAND Q's GRIDS
50 542 126
144 227 43
222 67 30
432 65 26

222 was the surprise with more Q's and Grids than 432. I am sure that moving to the transverter and the addition of the LVA's helped considerably. But I also believe that there is an increase in activity on this band.

We added 2,223 and 440 FM this year with the FM rig at each respective operating position and the rotor control for the FM antenna's at the 222 operating position as the FM antennas were on their own tower. We did make several contacts which was encouraging enough to cement the decision that the FM will stay and we will be adding solid-state amps w/ preamps and going to the old tower-trailer to put the antenna's on for a little more height.

The operators for this contest were: Ken-KA2LIM, Rob-KB2YCC, Dave-N2LID, Gregg-NX2W, Lu-N2LNS, Al-W9KXI and Tom-KV2X. Larry - WA3CSP was not able to be with us this year because of personal reasons. We missed you Larry and our thoughts and prayers go out to you. Hope you can make it for the CQWW VHF contest in July.

The contest ended at 11pm Sunday night and we held our usual chat session and awards ceremony (3rd) that Al started. First award, a YAESU hat, went to Tom - KV2X. This was Tom's first time contesting with us and he plugged away diligently putting some amazing contacts in the log. The next award, another YAESU hat went to Dave - N2LID, for the outstanding breakfast that he prepared on Sunday morning and for keeping his promise not to yell at people on the air and give 'em HELL on and open mike for not following instructions. Dave did good, except there were usually three other open mikes. Then Al presented a third award. This one went to Ken - KA2LIM for brewing and bring, what all the others maintain, was the best stout ever. This award was a cap from the Big Sky Brewing co., Missoula, MT. with the Moose Drool brown Ale logo on the front. Thank you very much you guys, as I wear it proudly.

This contest goes down in the log as another great get-together where we stuck to our goal of "Having fun first”, eating GREAT food and drinking some GOOD homebrew.

All for now

Ken

January 2009  **9th Place Finish**

Because of adverse weather (hey, this is NY with a foot of snow on the ground), Ken and Rob (KA2LIM & KB2YCC) deceided to work the contest from Ken's house. They ended up with a top 10 finish even with the home location in the valley and less than good conditions. Again, good food with good friends.....

January 2008 

This contest we did from a hilltop near home. We did not have too much snow so it was an easy set up except for the very cold temperatures. The Limo served as well, not only to operate from but also to keep us warm. We had our usual wonderful food(1,2) and drink and a good time was had by all.

July 2008 CQWW VHF 

We operated this contest from our favorite hilltop near home. Ken, Dave, Rob, Greg and Al worked this one and...wait for it....had a blast as usual.

And Hey, ya never know when the cops might show up to see just what it is you are up to....no kidding...

June 2007

June 2007 found us on top of Mount Utsayantha in FN22. There was Ken (KA2LIM), Rob(KB2YCC), Dave(KC2JZK-a.k.a. N2LID), Greg(NX2W) and Lu(N2SLN). This was the first real trek for the "Limo" and things went well until murphy struck on the way up the mountain (story). We got set up on the 4 bottom bands and started to relax before the contest started the next day. Some locals showed up and it was a "homebrew" party the remainder of the night. Wow, what a great contest, we had our best 432 score (70 contacts), thanks to Greg (NX2W) who was persistant with calling CQ. We all got home safe to contest another day.

September 2005

Well, the September 05 VHF/UHF contest is now history so, thought I should report. As some of you may know, myself - KA2LIM and my radio buddy KB2YCC - Rob, like to activate needed grids during the two major VHF contests. Last year 2004 we operated /VE3 from EN94 and /4 from FM26.

This year, 2005 we went to FN22 in June with 6 thru 432 on the air. In mid-July we decided to go back to FN22 for the September contest adding 1296. This trip we took a relatively new guy to VHF with us, KC2JZK - Dave. Yes, he is definitely hooked now. We left on Friday afternoon around 4:00 pm and arrived on the mountain top just after 7:00 pm. Of course Murphy was with us, we had two hold-down straps break that held down the antenna's on the trailer and the driven element and reflector on the 222 was destroyed.

We use a 20 ft tip-over tower on a homemade trailer for 2M at 21 ft and 432 at 31 ft. 6 and 222 are on their own 20 ft poles with rotators. Antenna's are as follows: 6m - 5 elm yagi on a 17 ft boom; 2m - 15 elm quagi on a 30' boom; 222 - 22 elm quagi on a 27 ft boom: 432 - 35 elm quagi on a 29 ft boom; all are home built. 1296 - 19 elm loop (this will change) First order of business was to setup the canopy that we operate from. We finished with that some time after 9:00 pm. and went to bed, boy was it cold on top of the mountain. We got up at day-break and started to set-up the antennas. At around 08:30 am we took a break and went to town and got a good breakfast before finishing the set-up. Back on the mountain we got out the spare parts that we carry and re-built the reflector and driven element and one director on the 222 antenna and then finished the set-up shortly after 12:00 noon and fired up the generator; we were on the air. We made a few contacts to make sure everything was working and then took a break for lunch just before starting time.

It's 2:00 pm and the contest is on, I am on 2 and 432, Rob is working 222 and 1296, our first time with 1296, and Dave on 6 meters. It was slow and we were making contacts but just at a so-so rate. Then, Murphy struck again: suddenly the generator died. Out we went to check and the muffler had broke nearly off and hit the choke, choking the engine till it died. We got some wire and did a quick fix to get back on the air, 5 minutes later, it died again. There were some people working on the historical building there on the mountain, so I ask a fellow if there was a welding shop in town, he made a phone call and sent us to a guy down in town who brazed the muffler for us and would not take any payment what-so-ever. I got a longer cap-screw at the hardware store, and back up the mountain we went and put the muffler back on. Back on the air again, we were making contacts at a fare pace. When night time came, it got cold and Murphy is back. The cook stove ran out of fuel, maybe because we were running it for heat, Rob and I left to go to Wal-Mart 25 miles away at 12:15 am to get fuel. We worked Dave on 2 meters while we're driving to Wal-Mart. On the way back, aurora starts.... Get back; fill the tank, start fire, its cooold.. get back to working stations via aurora. Rob and Dave decide to get some sleep around 02:30 am and get in the van. I stayed at the radio on 6 meters making contacts via aurora and ground wave, interesting....farthest west was EN10 with everything in between. Should have got on 2 and 222, they were loud also but was having fun on 6 meters. Aurora finally died out around 05:00 am, so I crawled in the van and started it for heat.

Got back up at 06:30 am and went back to working the bands, kind of slow just the big multi - contest guys on, picked up a bit later but by 11:00 am on Sunday hearing mostly the same calls. Rob and Dave wanted to call it quits so at 11:30 so I made my last contact with N3IQ/R on 432 and pulled the plug. Rob and I both had to be to work on Monday morning. Tear-down and pack-up takes a minimum of 2.5 hours and we started down off the mountain at 2:05 pm arrived home at 6:00 pm, contest was still on but we were tired and had a great time. Rob worked around 200; Dave had over 150, not bad for his first time at really contesting. My final score was 281 contacts 344 qso points 125 multipliers for a total score of 43,000 single-op low power. Here is the break-down by band: 6M -125 Q / 45 G 2M - 95 Q / 40 G 1.25M - 25 Q / 15 G 70CM - 36 Q / 24 G 1296 - 1 Q / 1 G.

Not as many contacts as in the June contest but more grids and a better score. Maybe next time I will work for the entire time frame. Over-all I have to say that we experienced some pretty good tropo from out operating location with signals on 432 being stronger than on 2 meters, same for 222. Of course the aurora helped and was fun also. I worked a few of you in the Rochester area, can't remember who all, had a good chat with Mark - K2AXX, he said we were loud. Location, location, location - says it all. I will be on during the sprints in Sep and Oct. That's all for now.

Ken KA2LIM

September 2004

The team, consisting of Ken, KA2LIM and Rob, KB2YCC headed to Virgina Beach for the ARRL VHF contest. Ken, being a retired military man, gained us access to Camp Pendleton in FM26. We set up in the rifle range classroom building only to find that the generator had filled with water and needed help. After finding a repair shop (story) and getting the generator fixed, we were set and ready for the contacts to begin. We did manage to work a few freinds in FN12, including our good friend Tom Cook (WA2BPE -- now SK). There is nothing like setting up just over 1000 feet from the ocean and calling CQ contest from a fairly rare grid square.


Ken

KA2LIM