John and I hadn't worked a contest together since January, and he recently finished a DEM 222 transverter and Directive Systems K1FO-style 222 yagi that we wanted to try. So, we planned a modest rover operation for this contest, with equipment for the four bands from 222 through 1296.
I pulled a few late nights applying the knowledge gained at Central States this year to tweaking up the amplifier on my 903 transverter. On the bench, it was happily making 10 watts, had a CW detection threshold of about -145dBm, and was within 200hz of true with the TS-790's 2m section as IF after warm-up.
We were embarrassed to learn at the Central States antenna range that John had cut the reflector too short on our 903 yagi, dropping about 6dB of gain! It looks like he mis-read his own notes and cut it the same length as the first director. Oh well, it happens. Actually, since we worked everyone we heard or heard about on 903 in the June contest, even with the reduced gain the antenna wasn't working badly! Since it was one of Kent Britain's designs, and he was running the range, we got some expert assistance adding a metal garbage-bag tie to the reflector to get the gain up where it should be... :-) So, I spent some time in the week prior to the contest cutting a new reflector, and tweaking the antenna. Got the SWR to 1.15:1, gain assumed to be ok.
While I was at it, I tweaked on our 1296 antenna a bit, getting its SWR a bit better than it had been. John also fabricated a second one which I fabricated a feed for and tuned. Both 1296 antennas got to about 1.7:1 and in the 11dBi range, which satisfied me for roving.
Saturday morning, John showed up about 9:30 and we starting putting things in the Trooper. The plan of record was to run the TS-790 on 70cm and 23cm, and use the 2m as the IF for the DEM transverter on 903. John provided his Icom 735 and new DEM 222 transverter, giving us four bands total. I bought a 2304 DEM transverter kit at Central States this year, but haven't started assembling it yet.
We stacked the antennas on the mast in my driveway, and proceeded to check everything out as quickly as possible. Everything seemed ok except 70cm, where we eventually realized the Kenwood was only making about 3 watts out, which wasn't enough to drive the Mirage brick to a useful level. After swapping cables and doing all sorts of other things, we finally admitted it was a problem with the Kenwood, and added John's Yaesu 736 to the stack for 70cm, leaving the 790 providing 1296 and the IF for 903. This required a detour to the shop to fabricate some additional power cabling, which took time.
Along the way, we worked the antenna-side N connector on my Diamond SWR/Power meter loose, and it quit working right. I've since looked at it on the bench and it appears easily fixable, but we'll see. In any case, before we even got out of the driveway, we'd killed a bunch of time diagnosing the 70cm problem and getting the Yaesu integrated into the stack, and had killed the SWR/Power meter. Not a good start!
We drove out to our favorite spot in the SW corner of DM89 near Matheson. The weather and operating conditions were good. Congrats to N0KE for being our first-ever contact on 222! We managed contacts on all of the bands we had.
After it felt like we had worked everyone we could find, we moved south at about 3:30pm local time to DM88, and set up in a so-so location, pretty near where we've been before. Since we knew N0KE was itching to get down off the mountain he was on and was waiting for us to move, we pulled a Red Green'ish hack and just duct-taped the antenna stack on the collapsed mast to the roof of the Trooper, with the antennas hanging down behind. This necessitated duct-taping the rear door closed over the coax, and caused the 70cm antenna to end up looking like it had been performing mud-flap duty, which it had! This shaved a good 10-15 minutes off our relocation time, and allowed us to catch Phil from DM88 before he shut down for the afternoon. And we figure if duct tape is good enough for Red Green, it's good enough for us!
The highlights in DM88 were working N0LL on 432, and giving a couple of folks DM88 for the first time on various bands. Also, we really appreciate K0RZ hanging around and working us on all bands we had in both grids! It was fun meeting Bill in Cedar Rapids at the Central States conference, and we're looking forward to giving him (and everyone else, too!) some new grids on the microwave bands as we get more gear together for future contests!
By the time we moved west into DM78, the weather was getting pretty dicey. We had thunderstorms all around us, and only a few stations were still on the air. Thanks to W0AH operating as KI0DF, who was up on Pikes Peak and gave us contacts on all bands except 903... Doug had managed to fry his 33cm transverter before we could catch him from DM78. Oh well, it happens.
With the thunderstorms looking persistent, we decided to call it a day around 6:30pm local time, and headed back to my place.
Sunday, I was itching to operate some from DM79, since we hadn't done it on Saturday and I do, after all, live in DM79pa! My 7-year-old daughter Elizabeth was also very interested in seeing what this was all about. So, we drove up the driveway to the top of the hill by our mailbox, and set up. Since I didn't have antenna turning help, I didn't put the mast up very high.
It was really frustrating. The 222 gear was working well, and I logged three contacts, with W0AH, K0RZ, and a new grid with N0IO. However, while I could hear fine on 432, the TX in the 736 went crazy on transmit. In talking with Bill about it on 222, it appears that this is a well-known problem in the Yaesu radios when the supply voltage gets low. Since I did not charge the battery overnight, we assume that's what the problem was. This took out 432 entirely, since the other rig was already believed to be toast. We worked hard to get K0RZ on 1296 with no luck at all hearing each other. That seemed really strange until I was pulling the antennas down and discovered that the feed line attachment to the driven element had cracked, and was no longer connected! So, no wonder it didn't work... And, since 1296 was such a total bust, we didn't try 903... It might have worked, it might not have.
All in all, Sunday morning's operation was pretty frustrating, but the three contacts did give us two multipliers... one for operating rover from DM79, one for working DM77 which we had not managed on Saturday. So, I won't complain.
All in all, not a bad weekend. It would have been nice if more folks were on, and I sure wish our gear had run better. But, we only heard a few folks we couldn't work, and so we can't help but be pretty happy with our effort! Now, to get things fixed/working for September...
N3EUA CONTEST LOG FOR: ARRL AUG UHF =============================================================================== Name of Contest: ARRL Aug UHF Call Used: N3EUA Call of Operator: N3EUA WD0FHG OPERATING LOCATION Grid(s) Activated: DM89 DM88 DM78 DM79 Location Name: Eastern Colorado ARRL Section: Colorado Entry Type: Rover =============================================================================== Valid QSOs Pts/QSO QSO Pts Mult 222 MHz 11 3 33 5 432 MHz 19 3 57 6 902 MHz 2 6 12 1 1296 MHz 10 6 60 4 Total All Bands 42 162 16 GRIDS ACTIVATED 4 Rover Scoring Used N3EUA CLAIMED SCORE: 3240 =============================================================================== I have observed all competition rules as well as all regulations for Amateur Radio in my country. My report is correct and true to the best of my knowledge. I agree to be bound by the decisions of the Awards Committee. Bdale Garbee N3EUA 08.08.1999 4390 Darr Circle Black Forest, CO 80908 =============================================================================== N3EUA CONTEST LOG FOLLOWS: column 1: frequency (MHz) column 6: complete exchange sent column 2: mode column 7: complete exchange received column 3: date (dd/mm/yy, UTC) column 8: indication of new multiplier '*' column 4: time (UTC) column 9: points claimed column 5: call of station worked note: Incomplete & Dupe QSO's in the log are listed with - 0 - points. N3EUA CONTEST LOG FOR: ARRL AUG UHF 432 SSB 08/07/99 1950 N0KE DM89 DM69 * 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 1952 KI0DF DM89 DM78 * 3 222 SSB 08/07/99 2000 N0KE DM89 DM69 * 3 222 SSB 08/07/99 2005 K0RZ DM89 DM79 * 3 902 SSB 08/07/99 2009 K0RZ DM89 DM79 * 6 432 SSB 08/07/99 2011 K0ULN DM89 DM79 * 3 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2015 KI0DF DM89 DM78 * 6 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2015 N0KE DM89 DM69 * 6 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2017 N9KC/R DM89 DM79 * 6 432 SSB 08/07/99 2020 N9KC/R DM89 DM79 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2024 K0RZ DM89 DM79 3 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2026 K0RZ DM89 DM79 6 432 SSB 08/07/99 2030 N0POH DM89 DM79 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2039 KC0COU DM89 DN70 * 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2101 N9KC/R DM89 DM89 * 3 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2102 N9KC/R DM89 DM89 * 6 222 SSB 08/07/99 2125 KI0DF DM89 DM78 * 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2147 N0KE DM88 DM69 3 222 SSB 08/07/99 2148 N0KE DM88 DM69 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2151 N9KC/R DM88 DM89 3 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2152 N9KC/R DM88 DM89 6 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2156 N0KE DM88 DM69 6 432 SSB 08/07/99 2158 KI0DF DM88 DM78 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2158 K0RZ DM88 DM79 3 902 SSB 08/07/99 2206 K0RZ DM88 DM79 6 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2210 K0RZ DM88 DM79 6 222 SSB 08/07/99 2211 K0RZ DM88 DM79 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2218 KC0COU DM88 DN70 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2219 K0GU DM88 DN70 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2220 N0UGY DM88 DM79 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2220 N9KC/R DM88 DM79 3 1296 SSB 08/07/99 2232 KI0DF DM88 DM78 6 222 SSB 08/07/99 2234 KI0DF DM88 DM78 3 432 SSB 08/07/99 2257 N0LL DM88 EM09 * 3 222 SSB 08/08/99 0012 KI0DF DM78 DM78 3 432 SSB 08/08/99 0014 KI0DF DM78 DM78 3 432 SSB 08/08/99 0015 K0GU DM78 DN70 3 222 SSB 08/08/99 0015 K0GU DM78 DN70 * 3 1296 SSB 08/08/99 0016 KI0DF DM78 DM78 6 222 SSB 08/08/99 1541 W0AH DM79 DM79 3 222 SSB 08/08/99 1547 K0RZ DM79 DM79 3 222 SSB 08/08/99 1622 N0IO DM79 DM77 * 3
For 70cm, we ran John's Yaesu FT-736, a Mirage amp making about 100 watts, and a Landwehr preamp mounted near my Rutland Arrays K1FO yagi.
On 33cm, we ran the TS-790's 2m section through a DEM TIB to a DEMI transverter making about 10 watts into a homebrew Kent Britain-style yagi.
On 23cm, we ran the TS-790 making about 10 watts into a homebrew Kent Britain-style yagi.
Power was from a 27DC-form-factor deep cycle battery for everything, feedlines were a mix of low-loss RG-8'ish sized cables with mostly N connectors. We logged on paper, and post-processed the logs using the VHF-DX software for Windows.