Saturday, October 11, 2014

Local STL VHF Sprint - Labor Day Weekend

Last Memorial and Labor Day our local club sponsored a VHF simplex contest and it was a lot of fun.  I participated in both and learned a lot about simplex work on VHF.

The rules were :
1) Only use 8 simplex frequencies (pre-determined)
2) Points are awarded per contact per zip code
3) 1 pt greater than 50W, 2 pts 11 - 49W, 3 pts under 10W of power
4) Exchange : call sign, contact numbers, zip code
5) Record : contact number, call sign, zip code, time, frequency
6) Duration : 7pm to 10pm Sat of the holiday weekend

I learned in the Memorial Day sprint, the contesters who roamed around from zip to zip really racked up the points.  The base stations with large VHF antennas on the hills were working all the roamers and also racked up the points.

At my house, I have a standard J-pole 2M/70cm antenna from KB9VBR.  If you don't have time to make a J-pole, these are great antennas.  Mike makes them by hand and ships them to you fast.  The only issue I had about being a base station is my house sits down in a valley within STL city.  There is a section of the city called "The Hill" were 90% of the Italian immigrants settled and is home to some of the best restaurants around.  If you live in The Hill, you've got about a 600 foot elevation advantage in the area.  3 of the base stations were located on the Hill who racked up the points.  Their signal was booming anywhere I roamed.

After looking at he Memorial Day results, I decided to become a base station and chase the roamers.  I wasn't going to sit at my house, but set up a station on top of the tallest parking garage within miles.  I figured this would give me the best odds at working the roamers hitting all the zip codes around STL.  This would also give me a chance to research yagi antennas and mounts.  I wanted to get a yagi for satellite work and just to have one in an emergency, so purchased an Elk Log Periodic yagi 2m/70cm antenna.  I rigged up a small PVC base with some sand bags for support and poof, I had a great antenna system.  The Elk yagis are really good antennas, well made and portable, as the elements screw on from the each side of the base.

For the rig, I decided I wasn't going to use my HT, but use my base station Kenwood TM-V71A.  It's 50W on high, 10W medium and 5W on low.  Back in the 90's I had TM-V7A and always liked the Kenwood radios, so when I decided to get back into the hobby, my first radio I purchased was a Kenwood.  I then had to build a cigarette lighter to Anderson power pole converter, as I didn't have any way to power it.  I don't have a permanent wire setup to my car battery, so I decided just to run it off the cigarette lighter hookup which was fine on low to medium power.

I setup the rig in the back of my trunk, used an aux cig lighter plug in the back seat and ran the coax out to the yagi PVC pole.  Away we went!!!

I made around 30 contacts, but it wasn't enough to even get in the top 5.  As the night went on, I was working roamers that were throwing out contact numbers 15 to 20 above me.  I knew one of the mobile units and could see his path via APRS.  I think he hit 15 or 20 zip codes within the area.  He also had a good mobile antenna setup, so every zip code he worked 6 to 8 contacts before moving on.  I was chased off the parking garage around 8:30p due to lightening and headed back to the QTH.  I made a few more contacts at home due to being in a different zip code and called it a night around 9:45pm.

You learn quite a bit during these VHF simplex sprints on how far your equipment can really reach and for me, it makes you think out of the box.  I like getting out of the house and using my equipment in an "emergency" situation and this exercise defiantly lived up to that.  Can't wait for the next VHF simplex contest.

Operating out of my trunk

The setup with chair, Elk antenna and stand

Setup with storms rolling in

Pano from the top of the parking garage

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