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ARRL June VHF Contest   2017   Jun 10   Claimed Score

Click on a call below for a list of all the contests for which that call sign is listed as an operator. Click on the [email] link to send an e-mail to the contester who posted the claimed score.

Call: WØZF/R
Station: WØZF/R

Class: Unlimited Rover HP
Operating Time (hrs): 21

Summary:   Compare Scores
Total:8451Total Score4,590


Club: Northern Lights Radio Society

Comments:     [email]     2017-06-16 20:30:19
6m: 100W, Moxon at 13' 2m SSB/CW: 25 W, 6 el at 12' 2m FM: 50 W, mobile dual-band vertical 432 SSB/CW: 175 W, 15 el at 11' 440 FM: 50 W, mobile dual-band vertical Grids activated: DN75, DN85, DN95, EN05, EN15, EN25. For several weeks, the W0ZF/R team of Dave (W0ZF), Matt (K0BBC) and me (AE0EE) have been planning a rover expedition to DN75 and DN85, in southeastern Montana and northwestern South Dakota. Two years ago in the VHF contest, we roved to the MT/SD state line at Camp Crook, SD, and found a good VHF operating spot at Capitol Rock, Montana. We figured it was time to go back, and that this time armed with MSK144 for meteor scatter, we'd do a little better about handing out the rare grids to folks who needed them. Friday morning, we met around 6:30 or 7 AM to get the antennas on the mast, the mast in the tower on Dave's truck, and the cables all connected and secured. Three hours later, we were on the road. The goal was to reach Ekalaka, MT, in DN75, in one day, allowing us to warm up for the contest with meteor scatter Saturday morning from DN75. Ekalaka is only about an hour away from Capitol Rock, so we would have time between the end of most of the meteor scatter and the beginning of the contest. We could use that time to explore or make equipment preparations. The drive along I-94 through North Dakota was generally uneventful, though with the high winds the antennas and mast were given a thorough shake-out. We made a few QSOs on 6m on our way, mostly on JT9. As darkness fell and a thunderstorm headed our way, we neared Ekalaka (pop. 332). Being the hopeful ham that I am, I gave two calls on 146.52 FM simplex. Shockingly, I got a response. One of the four licensed amateurs in Ekalaka was monitoring 146.52 and called us back. We exchanged location info, realized we were quite close and getting closer, and arranged to meet by the hotel for a tour of the rover station. Tom, KG7YZK, told us that we were the first station he'd ever heard on 146.52 (we hadn't heard much of anyone out there before either). When we met up in town, he gave us a few ideas of good VHF+ operating locations nearby and how to access them. Saturday morning we ran meteor scatter from main street, and were able to contact Vince, K0SIX, (among others) to get him one closer to the Fred Fish Memorial Award. After the contacts stopped coming, we tightened down the U-bolts in the mast base for travel. We stopped by the hardware store to get a cotter pin to replace one which had sheared off the quick-release antenna mount on our way to Montana. Lesson learned: the quick-release plates are not intended for taking down the interstate on a windy day. We headed out of town with instructions from one of the locals about how to get to the county's high point, which is on public land. Unfortunately he wasn't able to join us to show us exactly how to get there, and while we got close, we ended up operating from a nearby spot that wasn't as high. It still had pretty darn good takeoff angles in most directions, and we suspect we saw Devil's Tower about 50 miles distant. The band was mostly closed and the contest was on, so we decided to take the opportunity to run-and-gun over to Capitol Rock, which we were familiar with and which was closer to the grid boundary. By the time we reached Capitol Rock, there was a bit of an opening, and Dave worked on our Worked-All-Texas-Hams award. With a little downtime, I explored the geology of Capitol Rock which had been tantalizingly close two years ago, but which I hadn't seen from closer than a quarter mile. A nearby butte looked like a nice spot to take some photographs, so armed with my camera and FM handheld, I headed up while Matt tried some repeaters with his handheld. As I reached the top, I heard chatter on 146.52 FM from near Buffalo, SD (25 miles E). I gave a few CQ calls, but with no response. After taking some photographs and enjoying the scenery, I headed back to the truck. When the pileup had been worked down, we headed on our way toward dinner in Buffalo, a quick stop in Slim Buttes, and the hotel in Bison, SD. As we wound our way down the hills, we again heard chatter on 146.52, and called them. We had a quick conversation with a pair of storm spotting tour guides, then worked them again after we crossed the DN85 grid boundary a mile or two into South Dakota for some much-needed multipliers. At Slim Buttes, we fired up the K3's transverters and the amplifiers in preparation for running 144, 222, and 432 MHz. Unfortunately, we had some issues with the amplifiers. Magic smoke was released from the 222, and something weird was happening with the 144 amplifier. We continued on to the hotel as darkness fell. Sunday morning, we again got going early on meteor scatter. With power lines over most of the streets, we looked for spots out of town. Although we found one, it was several miles from the hotel, so it would be difficult to get between the two (or to breakfast). We ended up operating across the street from the hotel, near power lines that were remarkably quiet. Again we handed out meteor scatter contacts, now from DN85. K0SIX got in the log, adding a second new grid this weekend! With dry weather, when the meteors stopped producing contacts we took a look at the amplifier situation. Antenna spacing may have been an issue, so with a dead 222 amplifier, we took down the 222 beam and widened the spacing of the 50, 144, and 432 MHz antennas. Although the 2m amplifier was still acting strangely, the transverter was good for about 20-25 W, so we decided to get going and run barefoot there---it's not like we were likely to use it much anyway. A few hours later we neared the descriptively named Mobridge, SD, where there is a BRIDGE over the MO River in DN95. Seeing a wonderful takeoff angle toward Minnesota, we set up on a ridge and pointed east. After a few minutes, we again worked K0SIX on 50 MHz MSK144. On FM, we worked SD section manager Chris, KI0D/R for a pair of bands, and arranged to meet for lunch and a quick dual-band FM rover-pack across the DN95/EN05 boundary. Late afternoon was pretty slow, but we worked Lloyd WB0ULX on a few bands from a couple grids. As we neared the Buffalo Ridge, he mentioned that the bands were starting to open toward the south. With the band up and down quickly, we decided to throw some CW at the problem: JT9 is too slow for the fast fading, and MSK144 has too few operators (yet). Although we had planned to use F-key CW from N1MM+, the software wasn't configured quite properly and so there was keying but no modulation or power [rig configuration problem solved Monday]. We were behind schedule and my short-leashed iambic paddle was deeply buried in the bed of the truck. Getting to it would be quite a bit of time and effort, when we wouldn't be making contacts or miles. I reached down and got the J-38 straight key, and went to town. Two hours and a second rover grid later, I'd added about 25 contacts with quite a few new grids. As the contest came to a close, Matt mopped up the few stations left that we could hear on 6 m SSB. We arrived safely at Dave's just before midnight. There were a lot of highlights from the expedition: FM simplex with Tom in Ekalaka for his first QSO on 146.520, making QSOs on meteor scatter, helping Vince cross off about 10% of his remaining grids for FFMA, hearing another station on FM simplex in DN85 and getting the rare DN85 multiplier, meeting with Chris, and an epic 2-hour run on a straight key (18-20 wpm at 60 mph). We learned that the quick-release plates are not intended for interstate driving, that the JT modes (both JT9 and MSK144) are extremely useful for rovers, and that a preamplifier for 50 MHz is very useful with the K3---many times we couldn't quite hear stations that were calling us. Hopefully for next time we can upgrade the laptop so we can move from 100 Hz to 200 Hz tolerance on MSK144, and we can get the amplifier/transverter issues figured out and remedied. So that's my story of the W0ZF/R expedition to DN75, DN85, and grids homeward. Bill, AE0EE EN34