Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2009 ARRL June VHF QSO Party

My son Christopher (KC9JTL) and I had a blast in this, our second VHF contest (see Christopher in the July 2008 issue of QST magazine as part of the write-up of the January contest).

We had some antenna upgrades from that January contest. I homebrewed a 2 element coax beam for 6 meters and it worked better than I had any reason to expect. I also got the beams up on the roof this year, so we had much better coverage from our ridgetop location.

6 meters was a blast and Christopher really enjoyed being able to work station after station on that band. It was really cool to see the opening move from the southeast on Saturday afternoon up into the east and northeast, including French Canada on Saturday evening. Then on Sunday it opened to our west and northwest, but some to the south as well later that day. So we literally worked all over the country.

We added 222 MHz to our line-up late in the game after horsing around with the transverter throughout the contest. Once we got the transverter working, we did a quick antenna lash-up, with the coax soldered directly to the feedpoint of a WA5VJB "cheap yagi" up about 15 feet. In the end, we were able to make about five QSOs in four grids on 222 MHZ. That was pretty cool and a good learning time for KC9JTL.

We also had a dinky 6 element yagi on 432 MHz -- all that I had time for -- but in the end we actually worked 7 grids with that dude using only the 20 watts from the Yaesu FT-897D. Of course, the guys on the other end with umpty-ump element stacked yagis at a hundred and some-odd feet were doing all of the heavy lifting. But still, a QSO is a QSO.

The action opened up on 2 meters at the very end of the contest and we were running contacts right up until the curtain closed. Very exciting. When it was all done and we had a chance to catch our breath, Christopher said, "Do they have another one in the Fall?" I think he's hooked. I know I am.

Our station and antennas are modest, but the fun factor was huge.

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