Rover Location Database

September 2018 VHF Contest

Sept 08 2018

K7BWH Visits Mt Pilchuck in CN98

Barry K7BWH on Mt Pilchuck

Why Mt Pilchuck? I need to get QSL cards for 6 meters in CN98. The best spot is the grid is the premier location on this ledge on the side of Mt Pilchuck, CN88bb. I was there six years ago in 2012 but only carried 2 meters. This was my chance to activate it on 6 meters as well.

I brought a modest station on this trip, since I didn't have the energy this week to assemble the high-power grid expedition station.

Choosing my call sign was a problem. I couldn't use 'K7BWH' because I wouldn't spend the whole contest in one spot. I couldn't sign "/Rover" because it's such a pain to use it in WSJT-X. If I used 'K7BWH' in both places and claimed one was a check log, then ARRL would score one of the locations as zero points but it's hard to predict which spot. So I finally settled on borrowing the club call sign K7VHF for Sunday so I could play on the air from home.

I brought a modest station. I just didn’t have any energy this week to prepare the high-power big-antenna station. I brought a barefoot 9100, 3 elements on six, and 7 elements on two meters, and run it from a Honda 2 kw generator. Turns out this was plenty on Mt Pilchuck. My station would have gained 13 dB if I added the amp and bigger beam - wholly unnecessary!

Portland CN85 to the south was loud and I also worked CN84. Mark VE7AFZ/R to the north was easy copy in all three places I worked him. Dave VE7HR also had a great signal here. I even worked VE7DAY in CO71 - great fun. I heard Mark W7MEM in DN17 to the east but I guess he never heard me; I was facing a big hill in that direction.

Often I was the first to work a new player on the band, leaving the crowd to tail-end him in a big mess while I switched to my other band.

I almost feel guilty, but I just love these outings where all the contacts are easy. If I could hear them at all, they usually replied on my first call. Also I really like being the DX and have people find me. I got lots of “thanks for the new grid” reports. I operated about 7 hours and scored around 3,000 - which will be among my best total scores.

On the other hand, FT8 made very few contacts and some of those hams struggled with 'VHF Contest Mode' settings which horribly slowed down the contact. Anyway, SSB is much faster and easier for stations which are easily heard, as today.

The weather was 55-60 degrees, overcast and a mild breeze all day. Not bad but I failed to bring clothes warm enough to sit motionless in a chair all day. Good thing I brought furniture pads, as always, to use as blankets. Their primary use is to protect my car's interior and keep things from rattling on rough roads.

At 6:00 pm I began tear-down and packing up. At 6:45 pm I was on the slow pothole-filled unpaved road headed down the mountain. It took about two hours to drive home to Lake Forest Park.

On Sunday I used my home station with a seriously compromised antenna and location. I live in a small enclosed valley with hills nearby on all sides. A multi-band dipole can be coerced into tuning up on 6 meters. A whip on the chimney provides FM simplex on 144 and 432 MHz. This was as useless and frustrating as Mt Pilchuck was fun and rewarding. I made ten contacts all day and even the big guns could barely hear me. Oh well, at least got to operate as K7VHF for a day!

Gosh there were a LOT of portable and SOTA and Rover stations this weekend! Incredible. Heartwarming. I am amazed. Nice job guys, thanks for going out.

Barry K7BWH

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