September 2004

Posted By: W3DIO

2004 September VHF Contest Report

The Preparation:

We started preparations for the contest the weekend before. The Rover Assembly department was set up in the garage (XYL N3MZM had to move her car out!). This time the antenna was pre-assembled to check positioning, spacing, and size. Coax cables were connected, tested and some repaired. The new 222-28 transverter needed an antenna so an old Cushcraft was retrieved from under the deck where it has rested for about 15 years. It needed a little cleaning and retuning but seemed to function just fine! After the August UHF contest, we realized that our 1.2ghz looper had a cracked connector and needed a temporary repair until the connector assembly could be replaced. The peripheral equipment was mounted in a makeshift shelving rack and hi current power connections were wired in. After final assembly, all equipment was tested with the deep discharge batteries and antennas. We also took the time to test and verify that all coaxes were good and in the process discovered we needed to fix a few N connectors. We had every intention of not getting caught off guard with bad coax after assembly. We were trying to keep Murphy at bay as much as possible.

The decision was made to take a different vehicle this time. Dave’s Expedition was chosen for its size and comfort. This proved to be a challenge since it was more than a foot taller than my Escape that we normally take out. We spent most of Thursday (on vacation) installing the power wiring in the vehicle and wiring up the batteries with battery combiners and high current connectors.

Antennas assembled sans lower 2 beams
Antenna array set aside while mounting
rotor assembly on vehicle.
Rotor assembly being mounted on Expedition.
Antenna array mounted in rotor sans 2m beam which
was damaged during mounting.

Friday we re-assembled both equipment and antenna on the car. This is where the first Murphy strike occurred. In order to make space for an additional antenna on 432 and 222 we made an H-frame off of the main aluminum cross mast using PVC SCH40 piping. Using the PVC piping made the whole array quite light and we thought it would be easy to handle. We decided it would not be too difficult to just put the whole mast and array of antennas on top of the car fully assembled. With the 2 lower antennas removed from the array (one of the 432 beams and the 1.2ghz looper), it was a little lop sided and unwieldy. It got away from both of us and the driven element for the 2m beam was broken off saving the rest of the antennas. The repair was easy and only served to delay us for a short time. After all the antennas were mounted and coax run, we installed the radio rack in the car and hooked all the coaxes up to the various amplifiers and rigs.

MURPHY: 2m driven element was knocked off during attempt to
mount antenna array in rotor on top of the car. We had to take a trip
to Walmart to get the replacement screw to remount it.

After that, we began our RF testing. This is when the second Murphy hit us. Remember when we said that we tested all our coax??? Well we now had high SWR on the 432 beams. Dave, climbing through the sunroof, unplugged each antenna from the power divider one at a time and Jim tested it. The first antenna tested fine with no reflected power. The second antenna (higher one) had the high SWR. We debated on losing the antenna but then decided against it when we realized we had tested this earlier. With tools in hand, Dave took apart the N connector while standing on the driver and passenger seat through the sunroof. Sure enough, it had gotten twisted and was shorting out. After fixing that, we reassembled and tested the antenna by itself and saw no reflected power. Then we reconnected both antennas back to the power divider and it worked great.

Finally, late Friday night, all was ready. But wait, we haven’t had time to get all of our maps, lists, and software ready. Here we go again, starting off a contest without enough sleep!

Rover fully assembled and ready to go with repaired
2m beam as well as lower 432 and 1.2ghz beams attached.
TS-2000X, Rotor controller and paddle ready for operations.
Batteries and rig rack in car and strapped down. Fully tested
and ready to go on Saturday AM.

The Equipment:

TS-2000x (Primary)
IC-706MK2G (Secondary)
TM-742AD (waste of time??)
DEM 222-28 for 222 Mhz
TE Systems 1452G (144 Mhz – 350 watts)
Mirage D1010 (70cm Amp)
Power System
130 amp Alternator w/ auto battery
2 – 115 AH Deep Cycle Batteries (Radios)
2 – West Marine Battery Combiners
375 Watt Power Inverter (noisy)
75 Watt Laptop inverter (quiet)

The Configuration:

Band Power Antenna
6 meters 100W PAR Stressed Moxon
6 meters (Secondary) 100W 1/4 wave vertical
2 meters 400W(With Engine Running) 11 Ele 12′ Cushcraft
2 meters (Secondary) 50W M2 2M HO LOOP
1 1/4 meters 25W Cushcraft 11 Element
70cm (432) 50W 2 X 19 Ele RIW Home brew 12′
70cm (432 Secondary) 60W M2 HO Square Loop
23cm (1296) 10W Directive Systems
45 Element Looper

The Trip:

Our first stop was Cowan’s Gap in FM19aw near McConnellsburg, PA. For once we were on site at the beginning of the contest. We had planned for 1 � to 2 hours but we were having so much fun we stayed about 3 � hours before we pulled ourselves away and headed to the next stop. Everything was working just great. The bands sounded rather flat with just a little bit of tropo in to EN92. We heard K1WHS a couple of times but couldn’t get his attention on 2m through the crowd.

Bear Mountain in FN10db was our next stop. Again we had lots of activity. We caught W2SZ in FN32 on 6m and had some more tropo into EM88 and EN91. Again we stayed longer than planned.

We stopped on the side of the road in the lower SE corner of FN00 on the way south. We stayed just long enough to work some of the big stations and then moved on.

Next stop Sideling Hill in FM09. Upon arrival we decided it was getting late so we hit the hotel for a few hours and returned the next morning to continue. Here we caught W2SZ on 2m as well as a couple of other stations up that way.

Moving on south we entered Skyline Drive in FM08. The activity here was really exciting. We finally worked K1WHS in FN43 but it was on 432 only (We already have some goals for next contest!). We also picked up a few new grids to the south.

K3LFO/R Operating from FM08 on Skyline Drive

Once again we left for FM07 with barely enough time to get to it let alone find a good operating location in the dark. Dumb move! Huh? Well actually we did make it with about an hour or so left in the contest. We managed to work a few stations to get the grid activated. We were in such a bad area that we couldn’t complete on 1296 with W3IY who by then was just behind us but still in FM08. At this point Murphy showed up again. The U bolt came apart on the 6m Moxon and it fell across the 2m and 222 antennas. We managed to clear the debris to travel but the contest was over at that time!

MURPHY: The beginning of second murphy. The
secondary mast inserted into the main mast was not secured properly and vibrated the nuts off the u-bolt. Eventually this caused the antenna to fall and lay across the 220 and 432 top beam.


We doubled our score over our last outing in June and you can’t be unhappy about that! We set out to compete with ourselves and improve our station and I say we achieved our goals quite nicely. Out of everything we used here I have to give kudos to Kenwood for the TS2000x. The radio can just simply be described as awesome. With our fixed 1.2ghz looper and only 10 watts out, we just exceeded our expectations on that band and were amazed every time we worked someone that we were unable to work in previous contests. The DEM-222 transverter with only 25 watts out also outpaced our wildest expectations. Even though we had no major band openings on 6m and 2m, all in all this was one of the most exciting contests we have experienced to date.

THANK YOU to all the big guns out there (W3SO, K1RZ, K8EP, W4IY, K3EAR, K3EOD, K3YTL, K3DNE, and others) that made it a point of helping us work them on all bands. They made the operating easy.

Also thanks to Bill W3IY for all the rover design information that he shares on his web site and the support he offers. As usual we learned a great deal and are encouraged to continue as a Rover.

The K3LFO/ROVER team
Jim K3LFO ( and Dave W3DIO (


Band	QSOs	QSO pts.	Mults.

50      95	95		16
144	129	129		20
222	53	106		10
432	73	146		14
1296	27	81		8

TOTALS	377	557		68 + 6 = 74

		Claimed score = 41,218

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