Tag Archives: vhf

6 meters opening to South America

5 element 6 meters yagi directional antenna at WA4NZD

5 element 6 meters yagi beam antenna at WA4NZD

At the end of the work day last Friday, I noticed DXmaps showed 6 meters QSOs from the southeast U.S. to Latin America.  And so as soon as I finished work, I went to the club station to see for myself.

I heard some 6 meters signals but they were weak.  I therefore decided to assess conditions.  My first check was to listen for beacons below 50.08 MHz, but I heard none.  I then tried scanning the beam 360 degrees while on the CW calling frequency and on a couple of CW frequencies higher, but heard nothing.  However I had heard some SSB phone higher up and went back there.  At first I just noticed relatively local phone stations, but I didn’t hear their contacts.  I then tuned to the phone calling frequency, and then a little lower.

And there was the first DX!  CE3SX in Santiago, Chile, at FF46, on phone SSB.  6 meters was indeed alive, at least to the south.

But the band conditions were tenuous.  The signal was ghost-like, as if not fully there, and difficult to copy.  Eventually I copied the call sign and QTH.  Then I called, and right away had a successful QSO.  I don’t know how easily he copied me, but he got my information right away.

I then went back to a stronger phone signal, and worked WA3VXJ, Karl. He was talking from near Pittsbugh, PA, but he was operating remotley through Skype from Englewood, FL, EL86.

Given that the signals were weak, but there, I then tried working CW and JT65.  I made two JT65 contacts without much trouble, with LU8EX in Argentina GF05, and with CX5BL in Uruguay GF15.  I saw on the display, more faintly, signals from two N3 stations in the FM grids, but they disappeared before I could get to them.  Meanwhile both of those South American stations stayed on JT65 for awhile, but I didn’t hear anyone they contacted.

I then moved down to the CW section, below 50.11 MHz.  I heard two strong stations in south Florida, and worked them: AE2DX in EL88 and  WC4H in EL95.  I heard them work other stations both south and north.  When I tried scanning the beam north though, I couldn’t find any signals.  I even tried calling CQ.  I therefore decided to keep pointing south, and work what I could in that direction, while there was an opening.

Again, all the South American stations I heard were weak and ghostlike, as if coming through shimmering waves that distorted them.  But they didn’t fade away.  I took the approach to listen carefully to the ongoing QSOs, to glean all their information first.  Determining the callsigns was difficult, as a “dit” or “dah” could fade out.  But they kept calling CQ, and often enough they kept working other stations.  I had to listen many times before I felt reasonably sure of the callsigns.   I then tried contacting.  I succeeded in contacting: PY2RN in Brazil GG66 Sao Paulo,  PY2XB also in Brazil GG66, ZP6CW in Paraguay GG14, ZP5SNA also in Paraguay GG14 and close in frequency too, and LU5FF in Argentina FF99.

By then I was getting tired.  But I got in one more phone QSO with a strong station in Florida, Rudy WD4AB in Miami EL95.

Later during the weekend I looked up the stations I contacted on QRZ.  Many of them had substantial antenna systems for VHF and above.  Perhaps that accounts for how the South American operators could copy me quickly.  It is as if I walked into another special part of the ham radio forest, with specialized foresters and hunters.

As one who had been away from ham radio for awhile and who is not familiar with VHF, I value having our club station available with its capabilities.  I have the chance to try more bands and modes than I’ve done before, in new situations, including ones like this, with a 6 meters opening. Our experienced members have been developing our station equipment.  That’s good for them.  And it is also good for our new and less experienced hams.  We have a good asset to help us develop our experiences.

Below are e-QSLs we received from the 6 meters opening. Most also confirmed on LoTW right away.

AE2DX EL88 FL, CW QSO

AE2DX EL88 FL, CW QSO

LU8EX GF05 Argentina, JT65 contact

LU8EX GF05 Argentina, JT65 contact

CX5BL GF15 Uruguay, JT65 contact

CX5BL GF15 Uruguay, JT65 contact

PY2RN GG66 Brazil, CW contact

PY2RN GG66 Brazil, CW contact

ZP6CW 20141004 WA4NZD 6m CW GG14 Paraguay

ZP6CW GG14 Paraguay, CW contact

LU5FF FF99 Argentina, CW contact

LU5FF FF99 Argentina, CW contact

73, Gary WA2JQZ

2013 NASA Picnic & June VHF Contest

Posted by Gary WA2JQZ with Rob KB5EZ.

We are catching up with interesting stories that we didn’t have the chance to write earlier. This story is now also posted in our Activites menu.

[You can click on images to see them larger.]

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Marshall Amateur Radio Club tent set up in the NASA Family Picnic area. We had the portable mast with a rotatable VHF antenna. Rob’s G5RV Jr wire antenna was strung to the trees.

On a sunny Saturday June 8, 2013, the Marshall Amateur Radio Club took part in the annual NASA Family Picnic at MSFC. We set up under a tent, surrounded by child-friendly activities and other clubs.  But also the band stage was located not far away. We had access to power. And, a water cooler was conveniently located right next to us.

Don N4MSN set up a portable antenna mast close by, from which we deployed a VHF antenna. Rob KB5EZ set up a G5RV jr wire antenna in the trees for HF. We operated with the Yaesu FT-950 for HF and 6 meters, and the FT-897 for VHF/UHF.

DSCN3478

Portable mast with VHF antenna

The weather for the day was beautiful. Many people of all ages stopped by to visit us. Members of the club took turns talking with folks and operating the radios, and enjoying the day. The center director and his wife dropped by the tent at the beginning of the event. We made a lot of folks aware of the club as well as ham radio in general.

 

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Alan WB5RMG discussed ham radio by the Marshall Amateur Radio Club tent.

N4CNY

John N4CNY

We made a few HF contacts, mostly digital modes due to the QRM (loud sounds) from the band on the nearby stage. Yet that weekend also was the ARRL June VHF Contest, and we succeeded in making a few local phone contacts on 2 meters as well.

Matt KA0S and Rob KB5EZ

Matt KA0S (ex-KI4EUR) and Rob KB5EZ.

Several young boys and girls, with their families, spent time with us. Some were delighted to have us teach them Morse Code and help them practice. According to their interests and curiosity, we showed educational brochures, engaged them with some deeper understanding and fun, and talked about next steps they could try.

Ghee

Ghee WL7C with a young visitor. The ARRL pamphlet says, “Dreams begin here ….”

Ghee

Studying Morse Code sheet while Ghee WL7C took a radio break.

Matt KA0S (ex-KI4EUR) and Jenny M

Matt KA0S (ex-KI4EUR) and Jenny M. operating.

After the picnic concluded some members returned our equipment to the shack, and continued to operate for the ARRL VHF Contest into the evening. Some members returned to the shack on Sunday too, and again continued to operate for the VHF Contest.

During the picnic, propagation at 50 MHz and above was poor. But back at the shack, 6 meters sometimes opened to the U.S. southwest. And then we had 6 meters “magic”.

Below are some of the eQSLs we received from our VHF Contest contacts. Some QSLs are from north Alabama where we are located. And some come from the openings to Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

 

AK4QR 20130608 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF EM64 AL_50pc K4TD 20130608 WA4NZD 6m CW EM64 AL_50pc NM5S 20130608 WA4NZD 6m CW DM75 NM_50pc W0RIC 20130609 WA4NZD 6m SSB DM79 CO_50pc W4YZJ 20130609 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF EM64 AL_50pc WA4DXP 20130608 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF EM64 Huntsville AL_50pc W4ENN 20130608 WA4NZD 6m CW June VHF EM64 AL_50pc KJ4UGO 20130608 WA4NZD 2m SSB June VHF EM64 AL_50pc W0FRC 20130609 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF DM78 CO_50pc NQ7R 20130608 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF DM42 AZ_50pc

 

And that’s how the story almost ended. We had a beautiful day, and we enjoyed it. We shared our hobby and interests with out visitors, and in turn stretched their horizons and interests. We enjoyed working together. We enjoyed operating on the radios and talking with folks near and far. And we got to participate in the VHF Contest too, especially with some nice propagation openings…

But the following year, we received a surprise in the mail:

June 2013 VHF 2

We had been awarded First Place within the Limited Multi-Operator category, for the Alabama Section, for the June 2013 VHF Contest!

Probably not many other folks in Alabama operated in this category. But nonetheless, that was sweet!

Field Day 2014 is here .!.

Has it really been a whole year since Field Day ?
(updated 20140629)
The club has had a lot of activity getting ready for the summer contest season, and this weekend will be a focal point. I wanted to start a new post, and let everyone know that WA4NZD will be active in the “1F” category, as our facility at NASA/MSFC is an informal auxiliary EOC that exercises to support both the Marshall and the Redstone communities. We will run one transmitter, which covers 160m thru 6m. We will also have an active VHF station to cover VO-52 satellite, 50MHz, 144MHz, 432MHz.
Surely you can find us somewhere. Work us everywhere you can.

Oh, and to find us, if you already have access to the base – please drop by to see whats a goin on. https://wa4nzd.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/quick-maps/

We hope to come back and update this post thru the weekend, so check back.

UPDATE: 20140629 – back for more . . .

The log indicates that KA0S was here until 03:45 local, and I was back at 08:15 after leaving at 01:00 CDT. WA2JQZ got here at 09:30, with fresh muffins and coffee. N4CNY just arrived as well, and is going to listen on 6m. Only one contact on 6 this morning, from Texas, and 2 meters has only been a little noisy.

20140628_4227ax

N4MSN, W4VM, KK4RPQ, KK4TJP, N4CNY, WA2JQZ, WB8ELK, N5AYD, WB5RMG

We had a pretty good crowd at times last nite, several distinguished guests.

20140628_4222acx

CW contact with W3CWC, via VO-52

Field Day dramatically increases the challenges, even for CW via satellite. WB8ELK finally pulls one out on our second VO-52 pass just before it goes LOS over the Pacific Ocean. WB5RMG makes sure it logged. Thanks to W3CWC for that contact, worth 102 points for us (including the satellite bonus) .!.

Another update to come later…
Thanks /;^)

2014 update

(Gary – WA2JQZ has been invited to contribute to the blog)

Although we’ve been quiet for awhile here, we’ve been focused on the club and we’ve been busy.

Since the last post here,
•we’ve been repairing our antennas and building new ones,
•we upgraded our CW capability by repairing our straight key,
getting a Vibroflex standard keyer paddle,
and building a Winkeyer kit (during the furlough),
•we’ve been operating portable and QRP in the field around Huntsville and on Monte Sano, on phone, CW, and JT65,
•we’ve become more active in contests,
•we won First Place in two 2013 ARRL contests within the Alabama Section for multi-operator, low power:
for the ARRL DX Contest in March, and the June VHF Contest,
•we’ve been getting on the air more, having casual QSOs, and getting to know more hams,
•we attended the Huntsville and Birmingham Hamfests,
•we’ve been having interesting guest speakers,
•we’ve been cleaning the station and we got better seats,
•some members have been volunteering in the community,
helping with a new high school radio club, giving license tests,
and working with ARES,
•some members have been working on upgrading their licenses,
•and more.
And we’ve been having fun.!.

We’re now getting ready to participate together in ARRL Field Day.

And we’re preparing for a Special Event in July!

– Gary

Jan VHF Contest

Wow, we had some serious fun yesterday…
Neil, Marvin and I had a great time with the contest. (More fun today !)
These are not like a DX pileup type contest, but once you work a station,
you try to coordinate and work them on other bands as well…

We run in a “limited multi-op” category, so we sometimes had all three bands
going at the same time. The limited means we only submit contacts on three
bands (50, 144, and 432 MHz), rather than ‘unlimited’ which could also
include 220, 901, 1296, 2406, etc…)

Later in the evening the 6m band came back to life, with contacts to the
north east (best DX was New Hampshire @~1000 miles), and then the midwest
with stations in KS, NE, CO, OK . . .
Marvin and I were there until nearly midnite.!.

When we left there were 52 contacts in the log, with 23 grid multipliers.
The score showing in the log program was 1357 points.

This runs until 10pm CST, and I’ll be back out there shortly.
I need some more to eat, and maybe a nice hot shower first.
I’ll post this on the blog, along with a screen grab from last night of the DXmaps.com 6m map.

Jan VHF map

last night’s 6m activity from DXmaps.com

Thanks  /;^)

June is a busy month

There are several events in the month of June for the ham radio world. Two of my favorites are the ARRL June VHF QSO Party, and the annual ARRL Field Day. The MSFC Amateur Radio Club participated in both activities this year. Here are some pics in a gallery (click one for the slideshow) . . .

Here are some links to more pics from WB5RMG for June 2012 activities :
GigaParts celebrates Ham Radio Day in Huntsville AL.
Full photo gallery for WA4NZD club activities for June 2012.

Don’t forget, we also have a monthly meeting, gathering ~4pm CDT, 2 Aug 2012. The short meeting typically starts by 5pm in Bldg 4622. Click for maps.

Thanks  /;^)

An After-Action Report

On June 14th, 2012 – members of the Marshall Amateur Radio Club participated in a severe weather exercise conducted by Marshall Emergency Management. Many of our members have received SKYWARN Spotter training from the National Weather Service, and also participate in similar training activities with their municipal emergency management agencies in their respective communities. These types of exercises provide us with an opportunity to interact with multiple resources and to help facilitate communications directly supporting the immediate response, and follow-on recovery efforts.

For this event, we staged two radio operators at our club radio station in Building 4622, much as we might during an actual tornado watch event. When the Marshall EOC notified their storm spotters via the commercial 800 MHz radio system, we received that notification as well, and established the Marshall Amateur Response Net on our radio system. We check-in club members from their work areas, as well as other participating stations. The goal here was to evaluate how well our personal hand held radios might be able to communicate with each other in the event of a live situation. During this exercise we established communications with 14 other stations, including the Marshall EOC, the Huntsville-Madison County EOC, and the Fox Army Medical Center. The remaining stations were individuals in various buildings about the center and around town in Huntsville. We primarily used a ‘full-duplex’ repeater system located on the Arsenal, but we also exercised a communications path via a ‘simplex’ or a ‘direct point-to-point’ method. In some cases the direct path offered better signals. We have some follow-on recommendations for our group – to be better prepared for next time.

This exercise was a great opportunity to demonstrate our inter-operability and effectiveness in collaboration with the Marshall EOC. We confirmed an ability to sustain completely independent communications channels between our radio station and the EOC. We received a simulated emergency weather report on our ham radio channel, and then relayed that message to the EOC over the commercial radio service. Under extreme/unusual conditions, we must be prepared to support communications that may be very time-sensitive and essential to the safety and well-being of center personnel. We felt that this was a very successful and useful exercise.

The Marshall Amateur Radio Club greatly appreciates this opportunity to contribute to the emergency preparedness environment at the Marshall Center. We are looking forward to future collaboration. We are also looking forward to meeting more folks interested in the personal radio hobby, that might be interested in learning more about ham radio and participating in our club activities.

Thanks  /;^)