I had such a great time participating in the ARRL VHF Contest this past Saturday and Sunday. As was my habit, I headed out to Hogback Mountain on the Skyline Drive. Hogback Mountain stands at a little over 3000 feet and has a good view of New England to the N/NE and Pennsylvania to the N/SW:
|Hogback Mountain, FM08|
|Spring on the Skyline Drive|
|The Shenandoah Valley, Virginia|
UR3LMZ. All my SSB contacts were at 8W. (Note: next time I'll reduce power further to 5W and go for the QRP category.) I also used my vehicle mounted Kenwood TM-D710GA for most of my early FM VHF contacts. I then used the KX3 for both VHF and SSB. I know, I know: my Yagi is clearly horizontally polarized. Still, I made plenty of FM contacts with little degradation of signal. Besides, the FM contacts were local.
|Elecraft KX3 with Upverter|
|My setup on Hogback. Flagpole holder, MFJ-1910 mast...and cooler.|
- I heard very little CW on the bands. I heard none--zip, zero--on the designated frequencies of 144.000-144.100 and only scant QSOs in the 144.200-144.300 range. I only made two or three CW QSOs myself.
- Once I started operating primarily from the KX3, I found that moving between bands/freq tiresome. Next time I'll add the following to memory before going to the field and make sure I know the procedure for doing so in the field:
- 144.100 (2M CW Calling/start of band)
- 144.200 (SSB 2M Calling Freq)
- 146.520 (2M Simplex Calling Freq)
- 420 (70cm CW Calling/start of band)
- 432.10 (SSB 70cm Calling Freq)
- 446.00 (70cm Simplex Calling Frequency)
- Future Plans/Expansion
- I normally operate as a limited Rover. This means that I must transmit and make contacts from more than one grid. I normally spend all afternoon on the first day of the contest on Hogback Mountain. I leave soon after dark so that I can see the sunset:
|Illuminated Clouds from Hogback|
On day two/Sunday, I go to Mass then normally park on the top deck of a parking garage in FM18 for a few calls to qualify. But this plan was impossible this year. The amount of RF pollution and new buildings invalidated this plan. I made a few contacts on FM, but that was it. For future contests, I will forgo parking garages and go a little farther to either Bull Run Mountain or Mount Weather.
- If I feel ambitious, I may add a 430 MHz Yagi similar to my 2M Yagi. I can stack the two on the same fiberglass mast and use a switch to go between the two. I also have a 6M Moxon that I built that I could press into service, but this might need it's own mast. It also doesn't breakdown so easy for the back of the jeep.
|Nice photo, but made zero QSOs on SSB with KX3 and Yagi. Made two QSOs on FM using Kenwood|
TM-D710GA mounted in my Jeep. Remainder of the QSOs made from my home.
- Results. At the end of the day, I made 55 QSOs from FM08 and FM18. All but four QSOs were from Hogback Mountain. Best QSO: W1VD, Burlington, CT (363 mi) on 8 watts USB. A personal best. Hogback Mountain (elev. 3000') sure helps.