Saturday, February 2, 2013

Six Meters

In January, I operated the ARRL VHF Sweepstakes contest. I guess they don't call it that any more, it's just the January VHF contest. I haven't operated this contest since 1992, and have done no VHF events since 1993.

Back then, I had two Microwave Modules transverters: MMT144/28 and MMT220/28. I modified the latter with a new crystal to be based at 222 MHz. I had an F9FT long-boom yagi for 2m, and nothing more than crossed dipoles for 222 MHz. With 10 watts out, it wasn't much, but I made several dozen contacts on 2m. I never did make a contact on 222 MHz.

I sold that gear when I moved from Stone Mountain, GA. Instead, I focused mainly on operating HF, which is plenty challenging.

Upon receiving the K3/100 from my XYL for Christmas, I naturally had to give 6m a try. I've never before had 6m equipment. Well, that's not true. For a while, in the early 90s, I had a JR remote-control radio system on 6m that I used to fly model airplanes. But, you couldn't talk on that radio, so it doesn't really count, does it?

I had already worked four contacts on 6m on December 31st. I figured the 100 watts would be plenty to work quite a few contacts. While I don't have a 6m antenna, I could load up what I had with the tuner and make do.

On Saturday, I was also working the NAQP Phone contest, but occasionally I would take a minute and jump up to 6m and tune around for some activity. Nothing.

Sunday afternoon, I spent about four hours in the shack, mostly listening to static. I worked a few local stations, who could just barely hear me. I was beginning to wonder if I would work anyone outside my own grid.

Then it happened -- an opening. Just before 2300z, I worked K1TR in FN42. Fifteen minutes later, the opening started in earnest. I worked seven other stations up in the northeast in the next 45 minutes, along with about three locals. By HF contesting standards, it doesn't sound like much. But the signals from the northeast were booming in, and they didn't have any trouble hearing me, unlike the locals. The conditions moved like a spotlight down the eastern seaboard, ending somewhere in Virginia.

How exciting! I'm going to have to improvise a real antenna before the next VHF contest. Something with a bit of gain. Maybe a Moxon, or perhaps a three element beam. Maybe I can hide in up on the hill behind the Micro-shack. Rotating it would be nice as well.

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