Ham Radio

April 2011

Apr 27 2011

2011 UHF Sprint Contest

Grid square CN97an from 7 – 8pm
Grid square CN87xn from 8 – 10pm

I worked the 440 MHz sprint on 4/27 portable, that was fun. Made nine contacts in three hours; some of them were duplicate stations after I moved from CN87 to CN97.

Rookie: This is my first contest of any sort since 1973. Thanks to WE7X for equipment loan with 20 watts! Claimed score of around 3220 points; I'm sure I took first place in the “Sammamish Plateau Rookie Rover” category.

There was lots of "activity" in the air but it was mostly rain and wind. Nine contacts in three hours. I parked at two prime hilltop locations near Issaquah CN87/CN97 overlooking Puget Sound area; it would have been a spectacular view if I could see more than a few feet. Must go back if summer arrives.

Lessons learned:

  • Bring in coax through passenger-side window, then I don't get a lap full of water.
  • The value of antenna rotators is proportional to rainfall and wind speed (wish I had one!).
  • Hilltops attract rain and wind from all directions.
  • Roving and Sprint contests are fun. It's exciting to operate away from home and try new and different things.
  • Met some new and very helpful people in the area.

Apr 23 2011

Carbonado, Washington (idea)

Grids CN86-87-96-97
Lat 47.00000, Long -122.00000, Alt 1,600′
Dist from home: 62.9 mi/88 min drive, 40.3 mi S

I wonder if there are enough roads in this area near Mt Rainier to support grid square circling? One report shows hams camped on Poch Peak south of Carbonado for the June 2004 VHF contest.

A report from WE7X suggests: “Yes it can be done, but not in early spring time like this.

Highway 165, headed south out of Carbonado, is in CN87. About 6 to 7 miles south, you cross into CN86, and you are mostly in a river canyon for about 3 miles, before crossing into CN96.

Somewhere just before that, as I recall, the road turns to dirt. There is a lot of Motorcycle and jeep activity in the area, because the Evans Creek ORV park is just up the road a few miles.

There are several ways to get into CN97 from places along the route from Buckley to Carbonado. One is by heading due east from Wilkerson. It is only about three miles to the grid line. Another route, which I have never tried, is from an intersection well south of Carbonado, off Hwy 165 while still in CN87, at a fork to the left. There should be a sign referring to “Fairfax” there. Keeping to the right and up the hill keeps you on HWY. 165.

Going to the left, and keeping to the left at the next fork, heads up a road I've never traveled very far, but DeLorme says it goes into CN97 for a short distance-and then pretty much ends. The right fork follows the Fairfax Forest Reserve Road and heads to Ipsut Creek area. I've traveled that road east and then found my way south through the forest trails to the Evans creek ORV area. You will need more ground clearance than a normal automobile, and it would be foolish to try it without four-wheel drive. My Subaru Brat made it through with no difficulty.

With some effort, it is not hard to operate in those four grids, but propagation from some places may be rather difficult, and access is definitely seasonal.

The N7CFO Rover page lists an operating location in that area, in CN96, which is high up above the Evans Creek ORV park. It is a very good operating site, and up quite high. The road up there is quite passable, but quite rough, rocky, and slow going. The famous ‘Enterprise' bus has made it up there, and Lynn N7CFO as taken his trailer up there also. It has been used many times for portable operations, but is not an easy spot to try to get in and out of, for a rover operation. (It is not easy to pound guy stakes into the solid rock ground either) – Rod”

Apr 03 2011

Pine Lake Estates, Sammamish

Grid square CN87xn49hi Lat 47.580694, Long -122.043798, Alt 475' Dist from coffee pot: 25 feet W

I wonder how 2-meters sounds from my driveway? The results are in: They sound not as good as other places; I made a marginal contact to Stanwood and I was not heard in Portland. Today's propagation was fluctuating and Portland stations briefly rose above the noise floor but not enough to complete a contact.

Interestingly, another local station coming in weakly was using vertical polarization so I swiveled my beam from horizontal to vertical but got no improvement. However, conventional wisdom suggests a large improvement, 30 dB, can be obtained by matching receive and transmit polarization. It didn't do much for me, so perhaps the signal rotates through the path, or my beam was too close to the car and other objects.

I want to try this location again with my new roof-mounted beam and see what happens. Also I'm still having trouble with my cheapo mast stand on anything but level pavement. Note to self: build a drive-on mast stand base.

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