June ARRL VHF Contest soapbox


Good contest with average tropo condx on 2M and up and 3 or 4 openings on 6 that I found, both Saturday and Sunday. I’m sure I missed a bunch running around the other bands and chasing rovers. One very nice thing about this contest was that I was always busy. In recent years the lower overall activity has led to some dead times but even in the last hour I was running around the bands working stations. No dull moments this time around. On 6M I worked some double hop on Saturday, mostly into AZ, NV, NM and XE. On Sunday not as much but did work 1 CA station toward the tail end of the opening Sunday evening, as well as some WTX and XE stations. There was some good tropo on 2M Sunday morning into my area but I never worked anyone. Not sure if I was too low to get into the duct or if I wasn’t in the right place at the right time. I also suspect that many of the Midwest stations stay on 144.200 and that frequency was used by a local most of the day Sunday making it unusable out here. My score is the 6th highest I have ever submitted for a June contest, and best since 2012. In looking back I see a large difference in the make up of my scores compared to other top years. 2M QSO’s are way down, a consistent trend in recent years. Also, not too long ago I would work 5 or more rovers who had most or all of the microwave bands with them, leading to much larger microwave QSO totals and grids in the past. There were quite a few rovers out this time around which is great, though all but a couple were bottom 4 bands only. Overall the station worked pretty well with the only real issue that 5G and 10G are not working right. For the first time in years my 2G and 3G stations played well which was nice. Thanks for the QSO’s and special thanks to the rovers! Jeff K1TEO


WZ1V FN31:

It was all about 6 Meters. It was open here all day Saturday until around 9 PM. Same on Sunday. There was double-hop both days. Mexico, Cuba, Bahamas were all loud. When 6 was open, the higher bands were mostly deserted. I think this was my best ever 6M score. TNX all. -73, Ron WZ1V


Average contest, last year was better. I only operated early AM and late Sunday due to a family event. Worked a major pileup on 6M at 2213-2315. K0TPP in EM48 heard by CQ call on 144 Sunday early, I didn’t hear him that would be a cool contact. Managed to also work XE2JS in DL68. 432 beam acting up, time to replace. Waiting on HLV-1000 BEKO and Acom AS600. Dave, N2SLO

KA1ZE/3 FN01:


What a great way to spend a hot weekend!

Moving permanently to Florida and operating the station remotely in north central PA certainly has challenges. Thank goodness Chris, NG3W has volunteered (an occasional pastrami sandwich) to be the manager of the station. A text to Chris and he capably gets the station up and running…

The weeks leading up to the test I operated on MSK144 meteor scatter and JT65B EME. My antennas are stacked vertically and having a small beam width only allow me to see the moon for 35 mins. This contest the rising moon was at its apogee position and would make QSOs pretty difficult. The time was also not good. European stations were also enjoying sleep time so no QSOs made my log this contest. MSK144 added 6 Grids to my count so was worth the effort.

I found tropo conditions to my West spectacular beginning 0403Z getting KG5MD EM36 in my log. Ronnie was my longest tropo contact at 850+ miles and had a weaker but easy to copy signal. The band likely was open through the night and my Sunday morning session had distant stations until 1340Z. Sunday evening the band was also enhanced to my west. EN50 station Bob, AA9MY 600+ miles got in my log with a very big signal. This condition persisted all the way to the end of the contest. Many of the stations already worked were calling to let me know they were still hearing me right up to the contest end. It was only fitting that Ronnie, KG5MD was rag chewing with me running 10 watts as the contest ended. My best non blob (?? hihi) CW qso was with Greg, KX4R EM73 666 miles. Conditions were enhanced to the south as well but nothing in comparison to the southwest.

I would like to thank the 205 morning regulars who found me and got in my log. Several were new grids and the only station from their Grid. I also would like to thank all the rovers for finding me. VE3SMA/R contacted me from 7 grids and VE3OIL/R from 6.

This was my highest Grid total…… I had a blast!!
73, Stan



Here’s info on the ‘suspected’ elevated duct at W1VD Sunday morning during the June contest. Signals for the most part were weak and stable at about 10 dB out of the noise … with a few stations reaching 20 – 25 dB out of the noise. Biggest signal was from W5ZN who reported not hearing many other stations. Local contacts during that time have been edited out. Most of the OH stations listed are not workable under ordinary conditions. It will be interesting to see what other mountain top stations worked.

Jay W1VD

Jay W1VD
added one new grid EM93 !! to my grid map..
What a difference a year makes in propagation and scoring. The contest started off with no tropo enhancement at all due to a week of slowly increasing temps into the 90s and strong winds. After a very rainy May the skies dried up and it hasn’t rained since before Memorial Day weekend. Essentially flat conditions on 222 and above and depressed for 2M and 6M. Electrical power distribution noise was high due to two weeks without any rain and lots of dust in the air. The contest started with 6M dead and lots of electrical noise buzz on 6, 2 and even 222 (thankfully blankable). There was hardly anyone on and the few signals that were there were noticeably weaker than usual. I started off with a local who want to ragchew then caught K9CT 75 miles away and even his excellent signal was not as loud as usual and got worse as we went up in frequency. After failing at 902 we had S5 signals on 1296 with QSB, a really bad sign since Craig is usually S9 plus. The 902 fail was on my end, the sequencer PTT was intermittent and decided to quit mid QSO, an easy fix but it set the tone for the weekend. We picked up 902 later in the evening but signals were still pretty depressed, at least on my end. The first three hours had QSO rate averages under 20/hr and were spent chasing rovers and calling CQ with little response! Finally a little Es around 2100 on 6M to 5 land put some QSOs in the log but the band quickly filled with CQers to feed off the greater W8/W9 population. I think it’s against the law to S&P in Texas, so the well dries up quickly and run rates fall really fast when its open that way. S&P on this end becomes necessary to maximize grids. Around 2230 I had an hour to W1/2 which normally produces very high rates but the opening seemed very spotlight to small footprint specific areas and wasn’t really very strong. Except for a few short lived bubbles, that was it for Es for the day. The rest of Saturday was spent with under 20 hours struggling to get QSOs in the log. There was just nobody out there on 2M past about 200 miles or so and my total 2m Qs were way down from past years. Few rovers were out and those that were there were far enough out to require coordination. Many out in the field could not put up their all their antennas because of the high winds. And if you don’t get anyone on 6M or 2M, you can’t QSY them to the other bands. There was some decent tropo to the east well after dark but few took advantage of it. KA1ZE/3 at over 550 miles was S5-7 on CW and copyable on ssb for over an hour. K8GP/R called me on CW from FM08 over 600 miles away. But even after we tried to tell everyone on ON4KST that it was open, there were no others. WSJT at night was very productive and getting on the PJ page helped me put a lot of good mults in the log, but the low numbers at the end of the night were pretty depressing causing me to stay up way too late. I’d pay for that the next day. Sunday morning came way too soon after less than 2 hours sleep. My morning sked with K0AWU at 400 miles failed after 222, there was just no signal propagation on 432 even for JT65 to hear. 2M was a veritable wasteland with no signals to be heard and mostly unanswered CQs. 6M was dead all morning. During a rover run with AC0RA/R (who I eventually swept on all 8 bands in every grid he visited) Wyatt failed to hear me on 1296 when he was plenty strong. After running the other bands and letting him go I troubleshot it and saw no power out, quickly determining the transverter itself had no output. Luckily I had an identical spare transverter due to a previous failure some years ago, jacked it in and got it all working again. I texted him and luckily he was still in the same grid, so we easily completed on 1296. Finally about 1PM 6M opened for an hour and I had a good solid rate to W1/2 but still the opening was pretty narrow footprint and did not include much of FN31/32/42 where the real big numbers are. It soon died off and I had a totally depressing slow afternoon where my lack of sleep caught up with me making it even more tedious watching FL and TX dominate the QSO maps with almost constant callouts. It finally perked up again around 2300Z when the Es finally drifted somewhat west with a slow but steady opening to FL and the Caribbean that stayed for at least 2 hours that added lots of mults but I was probably on the fringe so it was never crazy strong or very deep. There also was a smattering of 5 land contacts from time to time. This is the usual time folks start getting on for the evening and it really disrupted the flow of stations to work on 2M and QSY to other bands limiting the totals on 2M even further. Es ebbed and flowed for the rest of the test with low rates and finally opening to the NW with double hop to a few CN grids, but to all very low density areas with few stations. 2M was still not very productive and I didn’t hear any 8s or work nearly as far to the east as I usually do. Considering how poor conditions were for most of the contest I’m not unhappy with about half the score of last year, but it won’t go on my list of memorable contests. Normally I start this with comments on what I had to do to get the station up and running for the contest but I decided to do it at the end this time so you can skip reading it if it doesn’t interest you. This time was a real bear. The spring WX was really wet and nasty with a lot of thunderstorms and wind and lots of broken and uprooted trees. One lightning event just before Dayton we heard a loud POP from the shack and the whiff of burnt something. Never could figure it out until I looked at the tower top and it was all wrong. The controller on the main VHF 130 foot rotating tower with the rotor motor and gearing at 80 feet apparently got bit and failed shorted, putting voltage to the motor and turning the top until the fuse blew. The top 50 feet was all twisted up the wrong way, the steel coax guide standoffs were broken and the rotor loop coax and amp/preamp power and control cables were wound up tight and crushed into the gearing. Those rotor loops I just replaced last year .. mangled! Amazing what damage a 1/3 HP DC motor and a 2500:1 gear ratio can do when it runs free in one direction. I’m sick of messing with FSJ4 Superflex. While the Andrew (now Comscope) specs never say anything about it, two knowledgeable sources told me “OH Yeah everybody knows that was never intended to be used outdoors”! Everybody? News to me and lots of others I’ve spoken to! I’ve been using it on the tower for 15 years and getting a lot of water incursion problems into the connectors. Seems the outer jacket is not bonded to the copper spiral outer coax conductor and any jacket imperfection will cause day/night temperature cycling pressure differential aspiration of humid air to get between the jacket and the copper (like what happens with the air plenum inside 9913 water hose). When this cools at night the water condenses and stays behind building up between the jacket and the copper shield, then runs right down the spiral into your perfectly sealed connectors from the inside. No way to stop it besides cutting some of the jacket off to let it drain before it gets into to a connector. So this time I went with LMR600 but not the ultra flex. Too many stories about the 600uf air foam dielectric softening and distorting due to sun and RF power heating causing the center conductor to migrate and short out to the braid inside the bends. At first I thought I would do the expanding helix method, but that requires way too much coax for the loops around a tower section to get the 3 or so wraps required to make it work right and still be less lossey than more flexible coax like RG 213. 600 is stiffer than superflex (and similarly the solid center conductor can work harden and internally break) so that required a redesign of the swinging gate and standoff arm to limit the motion even further. Most of that stuff was mangled anyway. All 8 rotor loops, one power cable for the tower mounted power supply and four control cables had to be replaced or repaired as well as lots of hardware. It took me 7 days of hanging on a safety belt 3-4 hours a day (at 66 I just can’t do those 7-8 hour marathon tower sessions anymore). Of course it was hot and of course it was windy. One thing that really amazes me is the black files. Why they like to swarm around the rotor at 80 feet in the air is a mystery to me. Glad those hard biting deer flies don’t like to go that high. I used to wear a net hat until I discovered a British antiseptic called Dettol. Nasty smelling stuff, but it’s almost magic the way it repels black flies and other gnats. Not one bite but lots of cuts and abrasions. But I couldn’t even get to the tower work until after I took down the broken trees threatening my house, one of which snapped off at about 20 feet in the air still partially attached and hung up in another tree by my garage. It was still 2 feet or more in diameter at the break. Quite a challenge to handle safely since it had to be sawed off bit by bit on the top of a ladder and then the trunk that had to weigh close to a K pound pulled down with a come along and sawn up. A lot of stuff to deal with. Somehow it all got done and I finished on Thursday before the contest. Glad I’m retired and had the time. Who says contesting doesn’t get you to do any physical exercise! 73 de Bob2 K2DRH
 Enjoyed the contest this year despite having other commitments to take care of. Think this is my best score in recent memory… The weather flipped from cold and wet to hot and sunny just in time here. Fortunately 6 m opened at opportune times, and a few JT contacts were added including South America, Caribbean and Central America. Nice to see the CW sub band full of stations, and I think I worked everyone in Florida this year hi. Actually made some contacts on 2304 which was nice! More work to do on the microwave station. Great to hear so much Canadian activity including rovers and multop. Best DX was K1RZ in FM19 on 902 and 1296 with my 10 watts, and K0TPP in EN48 on 144, and W4IY plus G8GP in FM08 on 222 and 70 cm. Lets hope the new UHF distance contest is as much fun.

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