Sunday, September 11, 2011

September ARRL VHF QSO at CN98

The September ARRL VHF QSO trip started early about 7:30am Saturday morning, I packed up the VAN with food, drink, radio gear, Tess (my Dog), and headed for Green Mountain CN98. I wanted to be on site early to setup the Boddipole Antenna and get the radio set up, and have time to attempt to get the computer working.

On the way up to the mountain, I heard several 6 meter QSO's so I figured it would be a good day for the contest. I had plans to work mostly 6 meters, and a fall back plan to work 2 meters.

At the selected 3200' site, I decided to configure the Boddipole as a 3 element beam, which I had not done before. I supposedly have all of the correct parts for at least a 2 element 6 meter beam. I have extra parts, that maybe I could use them to expand the configuration to include the third element. With a little hook-or-crook, the three element bean was up and adjusted via the MFJ-269 Analyzer for a perfect match. Note: later I plan to run the configuration into one of the antenna analyzer software packages.

At the Contest Start Time of 11:00am Local, the band came alive with lots of Calls on 50.125MHz and 50.145MHz. Most of the High Power Stations quickly exchanged Calls and Grids, and then it was the QRP stations turn. Because of my elevation (3200') most of the Puget Sound stations could be heard and my QRP 5Watts was heard by most that I called. There were several rovers that were more difficult to confirm, but I confirmed all stations that I could hear.

Tess chased Grasshopper and played fetch, but it was too hot to spend too much time in the sun, we kept the VAN running, parked facing North with the Air Conditioner on.

After about two hours on site, I decided to pack up and move to a second location about 10 mile West on Mt Pilchuck (at 2400'), a place called the bench. I would have an unobstructed view to the South, I wanted to see if I could work into California. The road to the bench is very ruff where low vehicles can not make the trip.

On the way down Green Mountain and to the second site, I met another vehicle coming up the hill with a rack of very long UHF beam antennas. The previous day I had heard the someone was planning to be on the mountain with some Microwave gear and I wanted to meet and check out their operation. The person in the vehicle was Ray - W7GLF, we stopped and chatted a bit, he was looking for the vista at the 2900' level and he had not been on the mountain before. I explained it was further up the mountain, but the site is very narrow with diminished view as the tree have grown. I asked if he would mind if I came along to watch his operation. He said I was welcome,  he would continue up and I would follow, but I had to continue down the hill until I could find a spot to turn around. The dust on the road was bad, and therefore our separation between vehicles would work to our advantage.

After passing the 2900' level, with a light trail of road dust continuing up the hill, I realized Ray must of not recognize the site (even though it is the only south facing vista). We continued up the hill to the next major vista at 3000', Jay was parked waiting for me. The problem with this site is that it only faces North, and therefore unusable for Microwave communications to the South and West. I explained there is another site at 3200' (which I had left earlier) with good vistas of most Puget Sound  and maybe some to the West. Of course, straight South is Mt Pilchuck which maybe a problem for a microwave path to he friends near Mt Rainier. We decide to try it anyway.

Back a my initial site, I set up the Buddipole as just a 6 meter dipole, while Ray set up his Tripod mounted 10GHz Microwave link and his car roof top mounted long boom UHF antennas. He wanted to park is car in the intended direction because the UHF arrays were currently tied to the top. This site has a large vista, but only a little window through the trees to the West and maybe he could work his friends in that direction with the portable Microwave Dish. After coordinating on 2 meters, the 10GHz Microwave link was just not going to work (too many trees). They decided to try a mountain bounce off of Mt Pilchuck. It would be a 90 deg bounce off of the West end of the mountain. With a little coordination on 2 meters, it was successful, a CW and then a SSB contact was made.

Then Ray and his other friends on Mt Rainier (South) tried the same - it was not going to work. They figured Mt Pilchuck was blocking all UHF signals, they thought they might be lucky and get a little edge refraction over the long West slope of the mountain, but NOT.

The view to Mt Rainier was almost straight South, through Mt Pilchuck!

While Ray was trying to work his magic on UHF, I made several more local 6 meter contacts.

We decided to move down the mountain to the West end (at 2900') where Mt Pilchuch would not block  the view to the South.

The view to Mt Rainier was almost straight South, around Mt Pilchuck!

I would lead the way to the new site and park where Ray could have the primary spot for the narrow view through the trees to the South, to set up this Long Boom UHF Antennas and the 10GHz Microwave Dish. Parking along the road shoulder is very narrow (with a 1000' cliff), and therefore Ray had to untie the Antenna Rack on top of the car to rotate the UHF Antenna Array. With very little coordination, UHF QSOs were logged with Ray's friends at Mt Rainier. They decided to try the 10GHz Microwave link, it required a little more pointing but was equally successful. I logged a few more contacts on 6 meters, this time using my long whip on the VAN.

The two Green Mountain sites are located at the ends of the line on the following map:
The first site at 3200' is on the right end of the line, the second at 2900' is on the left.

I did NOT make it over to the Bench on Mt Pilchuck, which was my intended second site, all of the day was on Green Mountain.

It was  a great Radio day, and I met another great Ham Friend - Ray W7GLF (Green Leaping Frogs).

My only regret, I forgot to take photos.

Tess and I got home late, we were both, hot, dusty and wonderfully DOG tired.

Confirmed Contacts on 6 Meters, at CN98:
  • N7EPD CN87
  • N6LB CN88
  • KX7L CN87
  • VE7AUL CN88
  • W7IF CN87
  • KE7KRT CN87
  • N7EHP CN86
  • N7EPD CN87
  • WA7TZ CN87
  • W7BBJ/R CN98
  • WA7ATZ CN87
  • AB7P CN97
  • K7JX CN87
  • WB7UZO CN78
  • AD7DR CN88
  • K7MDL/R CN97
  • W7GLF CN98
  • K7JX CN87
  • WW7LW CN96
  • KD7UO CN97
Confirmed Contacts on 2 Meters, at CN98:
  • W7PNA CN88
  • VE7DXG CN88


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