Here’s my follow-up report on my activity in this past Southeastern VHF Society sponsored Fall 2m Sprint. Thanks to Terry W8ZN, I had the opportunity to operate the K8GP contest station during this 4 hour event. The Grid Pirates had just come off an ARRL Sept VHF contest and we had stripped most all the contest equipment from the buses. Fortunately, Terry was up performing some testing afterwards and left one Elecraft K3 and a computer and of course the 2m amp ‘moose’ in place. The station had performed quite well at the beginning of the month where I had a good time sharing the band and working some good DX with Terry and my dad (Rich K1HTV).
I have never had the time to operate a Sprint, but Sunday night and Monday I was looking at the projected surface forecast maps for the upcoming evening and I thought this could be an exceptional night to operate from the hill (FM19bb @ 1800′). I was watching the weather maps and the real-time 2m APRS tropo feed and signs seemed to indicate a possibility of enhanced conditions. I noted these maps looked similar to Sunday mornings maps during the ARRL Sept. VHF contest where again we had some good tropospheric enhancement on 144 MHz and above to the west and southwest. This eve we were right on the edge of a high pressure area. There was a low pressure front squeezing the high from the west and another front that had just passed off the east coast. If we didn’t get into the opening, the folks to the southwest and northwest were sure going to have a good time. Below is a Hepburn tropospheric prediction map, as well as some animated maps I created from GOES IR satellite, NOAA surface weather maps and the 2m APRS live tropo feed. All show tell tale signs of ‘magic’ conditions. Click the bottom 3 maps to view the animation.
Just before I left work to head to the hill I saw a post from W9RM EN52 “WA1ZMS/B FM07 LOUD” and I knew this was going to be a fun night.
I got to the hill around 6pm, flipped on the 2m amp and transverter in the white bus and moved over to the red bus. There I had to move an old Dell GX280 computer and monitor into the 2m position, down from where Terry had it setup testing the microwave station earlier. I powered up the K3 and antenna switching system and tuned down to listen to the WA1ZMS beacon and RX seemed to be working. I met Terry on the air at 630p and he helped me test transmit and audio settings. Fortunately the old computer had N1MM Logger so I quickly configured that and made a few audio recordings and tested CW keying. All was a go. I was happy to see that the PC also had TotalRecorder on it, so I set it up to record MP3 audio in one minute chunks. Hopefully I would catch some QSOs I could playback later. Back to the band and I hear and work K7BV/4 in FM04, which is promising and just before 7p I ran across Dave K1WHS FN43, said hello and good luck and the sprint was on. I tuned around the band and worked Dave K1WHS, Dave K1RZ and Jeff K1TEO and then settled in on 144.215 to call CQ.
After contacting several FN2x and FN3x stations I began hearing and logging stations out to the south and mid-west. The first DX in the log out that way was K4YA in EM86, followed by N9TZL in EM78 then N9RXM in EN41 and the band never quit after that. It seemed I had little time to watch the various internet resources to schedule QSOs, though I did keep an occasional eye on ON4KST page to see who was spotting who. My first hour was a 62 hour, just about 1 QSO per minute and grabbed 31 grids. The next hour was just about 2/3 that rate but like the first hour QSOs from all directions, NE, N, NW, W, SW
Below are my grid maps for my log for the evening. One plots actual station markers for each QSO and the other is a shades grids map showing number of QSOs per grid. You can click in either the small map or click the View Larger Map and then click on a grid or marker to show more info about the grid numbers and call signs I contacted.
Check out my Google Maps and Cabrillo Log page if you would like to plot a map of your log similar to above.
The last few stations in the log were W9ZIH EN51, KB5MR EM25, K9MRI EN70 and WM8I EN80. Right at 0300z I heard a W0??I but couldn’t complete. On the drive down the hill and talking with my dad via the K8GP repeater system he said he saw several chat posts from stations out west who were hearing me. He mentioned it was W0WOI in EN22 Iowa who called in at the end. He also noted N0IRS in EM29 MO as well. Alas, that would have been 2 more new grids to add to my total. No complaints here though, it was a great time. Thanks to SVHFS and the propagation gods 🙂
Some best DX stats for the night with QSOs > 650 miles:
WB9TFH, W9NHE, AC9BJ/R – EN53 @ 654 mi
KI4ROF, KI4ROX, N4LI – EM55 @ 660 mi
N4ION – EM62 @ 685 mi
NG9R – EN40 @ 704 mi
N9RXM, K9AKS, W9UD – EN41 @ 712 mi
W2AGR – EM47 @ 721 mi
KA9FOX – EN42 @ 747 mi
KA0RYT – EN35 @ 933 mi
W5VTM, K5SW, KB5MR – EM25 @ 973 mi
Final score 163 QSOs and 67 grids = 10,921 points.
Grid totals break down are as follows:
FN43(1), FN42(1), FN32(1), FN31(5), FN30(4), FN25(2), FN22(1), FN21(3), FN20(12), FN15(1), FN14(1), FN13(6), FN12(4), FN10(5), FN04(2), FN03(3), FN02(1), FN00(1), FM29(5), FM19(8), FM18(9), FM17(5), FM09(1), FM07(2), FM06(1), FM04(1), EN93(3), EN92(1), EN91(5), EN90(4), EN81(3), EN80(4), EN71(2), EN70(2), EN62(1), EN53(3), EN52(6), EN51(1), EN43(1), EN41(3), EN40(1), EN35(1), EM98(1), EM96(1), EM95(3), EM94(1), EM93(1), EM92(1), EM89(2), EM86(1), EM84(3), EM79(1), EM78(2), EM77(1), EM76(1), EM75(1), EM74(3), EM73(1), EM69(1), EM66(1), EM65(1), EM62(1), EM58(2), EM57(1), EM55(3), EM47(1), EM25(3)
Last but not least an attempt to share what I heard during the event. I used TotalRecorder to record the Line-out of the K3 and break the audio into one minute chunks. I wrote a few scripts to parse my log and create a link to the time stamped MP3 files. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to perfect the quality of the audio, so it sounds a bit distorted and there is a slight hum, but you can still copy most of what I heard. If it doesn’t work for you – sorry. This is all experimental.
Click a call in my log below to play a QSO. It will start ~1 minute prior to QSO time and play in a streaming audio player above the log for a minute or two after. Once the player says “Buffering…” play is over. Try clicking another call. You can also try to play the entire 4 hours by clicking here. This starts a bit before the sprint. The player’s forward and reverse, play and pause buttons should all work and allow you to jump around the audio clips.
andyz – K1RA