September 2007

Posted By: W3DIO

2007 September VHF Contest Report

The Preparation:

A few weeks before the contest we finally had good weather where it wasn’t blistering hot outside. That happened to be the weekend Dave was sick as a dog. So two weeks before the contest, We layed the mast over and finally installed new coax runs (LMR-600uF) for 1296 and 2304 and installed a new mount to put 2304 up on the mast. We also made sure we were prepared for 3456. All we have to do now is buy the antenna and put it up there and run the coax into the rover.

By the way, I want to give a plug to RF Connections. Izzy made up for us some really nice 42 foot runs of LMR-600UF male to female and double wrapped them with gorilla coax seal to stiffen up the ends. Now you may be saying, but I can solder on my own connectors. So can we, but the job they did was very professional and these things are going to last and work great for a long time!!! He also made up LMR-400uf 2 footers for connecting at the shelf to the amps. Thanks guys!!! Keep up the good works you have a customer for life with K3LFO and W3DIO.

We also had pulled all of the equiptment out of the back closet. When we put things into the closet in June we were in a big hurry at the last minute. Unfortunately because of that most of the sliding shelves wouldn’t slide. Coaxes were getting all tangled as they normally do. Snakes I tell ya!!! This time a short a short trip to Home Depot to get some screw down tie-wraps and presto chango problem solved. Dave routed all the coaxes through these tie wraps and made it so there was a tie off point for every shelf for power, PTT lines and coax. It is a very small closet but this made it alot more tolerable. Now every shelf can slide in and out with ease.

We still have not had a chance to pull the 2304 Transverter and Amp board apart and put it into a nice RF shielded box. Right now the transverter and amp board are a little too tall so they don’t fit on their designated shelf, so we put them on the bottom of the closet. We also did not have time to adjust the IF attenuation or the RX Transverter gain so we ended up leaving 2304 on the 706. Eventually the IC-706MK2G will be used only for square loops on 50-432. So this time out we had the 903 and 2304 transverters running on the IC-706 and 1296 running on the second TS-2000X and 6 and 2 meter square loops on the TS-2000x as well. We also did not get around to pulling the TE Systems amps out and putting on the bench to tune and align them. They still aren’t putting out their rated power. We will have to do that over the winter.

Dave recently started a new job back in July and has sorta changed what he is doing. He is now doing automation programming and engineering for Unix Systems. Also his job has asked him to crosstrain to help backup the Windows programmers as the need arises. So he has started to learn to do Windows programming in Visual C#. He’s been having a blast and as his first sample program he wrote an application that runs on his Windows Mobile phone (Tmobile MDA) that interfaces with his bluetooth gps (iTrek M6) and displays the Maidenhead grid square. It turned out to be an invaluable tool to know exactly where in a grid you were while mobile so you know when you’ve crossed into the next grid. He also has been doing alot of SOAP webservices for his job, so he wrote a SOAP webservice on his server at home to pass gps data to every 30 seconds. You can see the tracking information that was captured under “Contest Tracking” in the links section to your right. Be patient it may take a while to load as there are over 2000 mappoints marked.

Because we were rushing around at the last minute to get ready, we did not check the propane tank on the RV until it was too late. On the June contest we noticed that the valve on the propane tank was leaking when completely closed or completely open. Sounds like a simple solution. Well apparently it was still a slow leak in between. For the most part considering how warm it has been this only meant we didn’t have a refrigerator for the weekend as we typically run it off the propane tank when roving. Fortunately, Julie’s new husband had recently acquired a nice big cooler. We loaded it up with food and drinks and it lasted us most of the weekend before we had to put more ice in it again.

A few tests and made contacts up all 7 bands and we are ready. 2304 was still a little weak with K1RZ on receive but he could hear us fine. The receive gain in the receive transverter is turned up too high as we get S3 noise when there is no signal. We will need to adjust that in the future. We also found out later that K1RZ was actually running less power than we were and past experience has shown Jim’s driveway to be a bad path to K1RZ. So we went out on the road a little concerned about how we were going to do on our new band.

The Equipment:

TS-2000x (50/144/222/432 Primary)
TS-2000x (1296 Primary, 50/144/432 Secondary)
IC-706MK2G (903,2304)
DEM 222-28 for 222 Mhz
DEM 902-28 FOR 903 Mhz
TE Systems 1452G (144 Mhz – 350 watts)
Mirage C211G (222 Mhz – 110 watts)
TE System 4452G (432 Mhz – 175 watts)
SSB 3000 TX/RX Converters(2304)
Spectrian 2304 60W Amplifier board
Power System
2 – West Mountain Super Pwrgate’s
2 – 30 AH Gell Cell (Radios)
600 watt Power Inverter (RFI Quiet)
2 – Astron SS-30 Switching Supply (Radios)
Astron RS-70m 12v (Transverters/Amps)
Astron LS-35m 26v (Amps)
Onan 2800 watt Generator
Power, LLC 80 amp 4 port (75amp Powerpole)
power distribution block
DC Power, LLC 30 amp 5 port (30amp Powerpole)
power distribution block

The Configuration:

Band Power Antenna
6 meters 100W PAR Slightly UN-Stressed Moxon
6 meters (Secondary) 100W M2 6M HO LOOP
2 meters 350W Directive Systems
2 meters (Secondary) 100W M2 2M HO LOOP
1 1/4 meters (222) 110W Cushcraft 11 Element
70cm (432) 175W Directive Systems
70cm (432 Secondary) 50W M2 432 HO LOOP
33cm (903) 30W Directive Systems
33 Element Looper
23cm (1296) 150W Directive Systems
45 Element Looper
13cm (2304) 60W Directive Systems
45 Element Looper

The Trip:

WOW! What a fun contest weekend. This was our first trip out with the new Rover and most of the equipment, systems, and antennas in place. We have been working for over a year to build, shape, install, and test the equipment and systems for a 7 band expandable rover. This outing we had high power on 1296 and have added 2304.

Saturday we started out in fairly rare FM27 where activity was sparse. Things remained the same up into FM28 and FM29. None of the sites we stopped at were very high. I think the entire Del-Mar-Va Peninsula is below 100 feet AGL. Band conditions were flat. The high point was running up the bands with Dave K1RZ and concluding with a casual chat on 2304 where it was obvious that the 45 watts paying off.

Moving west across the bay we were almost out of FM18 before remembering we needed to make a contact and activate it. With both of us recovering from a bug the week before the contest we retired for the night at Dave.s house.

Sunday morning we made a really stupid mistake. After breakfast we drove a few miles away to a school in FM19. There were 4 or 5 gallons of gas left so we decided to operated for a while and then get fuel on the way up the road. We set up the mast and got on the air. During the first contact the generator quit, leaving us on battery power and without our upper bands. It seems a safety measure taken when the generator was installed prevents it from sucking the last bit of gas out of the tank. We had to stow everything to go 2 miles away to get gas. But wait a minute, we had wired the winch that raises and lowered the mast to the RS-70 power supply. No generator, no power, no winch, NO Drive with mast up! We were faced with spending an hour or so re-wiring the winch (with what?) to a battery. Dave comes to the rescue. He noticed that while trying to start the generator the volt meter on the power supply was fluctuating up and down. He turned to me and said keep running the starter on the generator. With what little power it was putting out he was able to lower the mast.

After returning to the school for an hour or so of operating we headed out to Sideling hill in FM09. Here the bands seemed to have a little bit of tropo enhancement. Activity was still a bit slow.

Moving down to FM08 we set up at Hogg Back overlook which has a northern to north Eastern view. Activity had increased vastly during the 2 � hour drive. Contacts into FN43, FN 42, FN41, and FN 51 were made like they were locals. We completed with W2SZ on all bands including 2304. The longer we were there the more activity built up. At one point Dave had a DX type pile up calling for 20 to 30 minutes on 2 meters. He just banged them out as fast as he could log them. Finally we felt we needed to break loose and run the bands with a few stations rather than just working 2m. It was fast and furious until the magic hour of 0300 hit and all got quiet again.

Any concerns we had about 2304 were definately eleviated as you can see below in our results, we made 18 contacts on 2304. Even though we could not hear K1TEO on 2304 because he had lost his amp prior to the contest, he was able to hear us nice and strong up there in Connecticut(FN31). Thanks Jeff!!

A special thanks goes out to Dave K1RZ who looks out for us when we are on the road!! Glad we were able to help you out with your relay issue before the contest. It’s the least we could do. We worked K1RZ 40 times! Dave is just a single-op and does all his own work and towerclimbing. Thanks for being patient when we had those pileups while we were in FM08us (Hogback/Skyline Drive).

Also want to thank K8GP(37), N3NGE(30), and K8EP(18) for your hard work and turning your beams to find us.

Thanks to all who worked with us and made it so much fun.

The Results:

    2007 ARRL September VHF QSO Party       K3LFO

    ROVER                            MDC Section

    Band      QSOs          QSO pts.      Mults.
    50         77            77            18
    144        111           111           20
    222        62            124           18
    432        67            134           18
    903        31            93            10
    1296       33            99            11
    2304       18            72            6
    TOTALS     399           710          101 + 7 = 108 

                          Claimed score = 76,680

5th place overall Nationally in the Rover Category with a “Top 10″ listing in QST!

1st place Rover in the Atlantic Division!

1st place Rover in the North East Region!

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.