Ham Radio

K7BWH: DN08 Expedition, June 2018

Barry K7BWH and Rod WE7X activated rare grid square DN08 in the June 2018 VHF Contest. This web page reviews our planning and results.

We spent the June 9-10 in DN08 (northeast Washington state) during the contest, and then I traveled alone eastward starting Monday, June 11.

If all goes as planned then I'll knock on Craig K9CT's door and collect my pizza. :-)

Map of DN08 in Okanogan, Washington

This is a cross-country expedition in three parts:

  1. DN08 Expedition, ARRL VHF Contest, June 9-10 (link)
  2. Southern Idaho, DN22-23, DN32-33, and DN42-43, June 12-14 (link)
  3. Coast-to-coast grid trip, Idaho to North Carolina (link)

DN08 Expedition

Dates: June 7-8 scouting
June 9-10 contesting
Bands: 6m only
Frequency:  Standard 6m watering holes:
SSB - 50.125 MHz
FT8 - 50.313 MHZ
MSK144 - 50.260 MHz
Mode: If the band is open, I'm on SSB for efficient contacts.
Otherwise, CW and FT8 as appropriate.
Sequence: I'm always first sequence for digital modes in all directions.
FT8 version: WSJT Version 1.9.0 released 5-28-2018.
Please be sure you have the latest WSJTX software, too.
I will not use DXpedition mode.
WSJT setup: Your WSJT configuration to work me:
  • File > Settings > General: Enable VHF/UHF/Microwave features.
  • Enable NA VHF Contest. This lets you receive my grid square.
  • Enable Auto Seq.
  • Disable Tx even/1st. I'm always first sequence in all directions.
  • Disable DXpedition Mode.
  • This enables the proper grid exchange for ARRL contests. It works on both FT8 and MSK144 modes.
Time: 7 am - 7 pm Pacific.
I'm camping in primitive areas and sleep when it's dark.
Schedule: 6 - 10 am, MSK144
10 - 2 pm, FT8
Spotting: Please spot me on ON4KST, on the PNWVHFS email reflector, and on your favorite services.
I have cellphone but not internet access in DN08.
Callsign: K7BWH - I'm not a rover; do not use /R.
Cellphone: 425-503-5548
Please email me your own phone number in advance. I usually ignore unknown callers.
QSL: Paper QSL is preferred. Be sure to include both your and my grid square.
LotW is okay but it'll be several weeks. Be patient - paper QSL will get my quickest reply.
Location: DN08se33 is by the lookout tower on Gold Mountain, DN08.

Results

I am very pleased to report that after trying to work Joe Fleagle W0FY for a day and a half, the ionospheric clouds came together for just a few minutes and we completed our contact, providing Joe with his second-to-last grid needed for FFMA on 50.313 from my mountaintop portable station in DN08se to his place in EM48rp. How satisfying! Our two mornings of meteor scatter at 1,500-mile distance never did work at all. Then there was no skip to be had on Saturday. Joe and I managed to snag a brief spot where everything finally lined up for this awkward distance and completed with about -8 dB signal strength.

I feel my grid expedition is worthwhile for this contact alone. Thankfully I also worked many others that expressed interest in this grid: Roger W9FF, John W0JW, Lance W7GJ, along with some five dozen random contacts in the contest. My apologies to those who tried and couldn’t complete.

I spent some hours reaching for Craig K9CT but the double hop distance didn’t pan out for us. Shucks, I really wanted to collect on his offer of pizza!

Diary

Wed June 6, 2018 - Load the car. This takes all day.

Thu June 7, 2018 - I drove seven hours to visit my sister in Washtucna, reach the edge of DN08 and take a motel. On the freeway I heard a 1-hop opening to California and New Mexico.

Fri June 8, 2018 - I drove unpaved roads to mountaintops and forest service lookouts for scouting. Preferred destination is Gold Mountain DN08se33. Although I had eight places marked on the map, I actually visited only two spots. It really takes a long time to drive anywhere on unpaved roads. 

Sat June 9, 2018 - Rod WE7X and I are in position on top of Gold Mountain DN08se in the NE corner of Washington State. Who ordered the rain?? At least it keeps the bugs down. Fortunately my e-mail connection works. It turns out I had to move off of 1st period to avoid a local station (W7MEM) that is extremely strong. 

Planned Contacts

Joe W0FY got me started with his note of Feb 17th 2018 addressed to the PNWVHFS. Here's my list of those who want DN08 as of 5-22-2018:

  • Joe W0FY - DN08
  • Roger W9FF - DN08
  • Craig K9CT - DN08
  • Danny N5OMG - DN08
  • Al K8SIX - DN08
  • Steve W5KI - DN08, DN23, DN42
  • Jim KO9A - DN08
  • Dan K1TO - DN08, DN42, DN43
  • Bill W7QQ - DN08
  • Any more? Email me at barry@k7bwh.com

Actual Route

My Garmin Nuvi GPS navigator recorded a track all the time it was turned on as shown in the map below. Zoom and pan to examine waypoints in detail.

Background

My favorite part of ham radio is hilltopping and the Pacific Northwest has some of the most scenic and mountainous terrain in the country. I've activated all the grid squares in Washington and Oregon and proudly show the Lewis & Clark certificates framed on my wall. However, my exploration a few years ago in DN08 was rushed and incomplete so I'm going back to update my maps and work as many people as possible from there. This time I'll have decent power and antennas, so Rod WE7X and I will explore DN08 and then camp on one good hilltop for the VHF contest June 9-11, 2018.

After the contest, I will continue eastward alone and explore and activate six of the Southern Idaho grid squares.

From Idaho, I'll continue solo to North Carolina while continuing to activate as many grid squares as possible. EM87 and EN02 are in big demand so I will linger there for some extra hours and set up my most capable station.

Wish me luck!

Barry K7BWH
barry@k7bwh.com

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