Adventures in ham radio

The CQWWVHF contest comes at the greatest time of the year in the Pacific NW. Summer is underway, typically with dry weather in the 70s or 80s. It helps that the contest comes at the height of sporadic E (Es) season. This year my enthusiasm wavered a bit as the weather forecast pointed to a weekend in the high 90s—pretty unusual for western Washington. And the Es season wasn’t very impressive. Even so I tried to muster all the enthusiasm I could, and ended up putting together a solid rover effort for a hot weekend.

Last year I had made elaborate plans for flying to different grids during part of the contest. There was just no time for that kind of thing this year, and the chance of low coastal clouds in the morning ruled out my favorite airport roving stops. So this one was completely out of the 1988 Toyota pickup. You know…the one without air conditioning.

The only real improvements to the station over last year were (1) the addition of a 4 ele WA5VJB “Cheap Yagi”, vertically polarized, for 146 MHz FM, replacing a 3 element version from last year, (2) extending the rear 2m yagi from 8 elements to 10 elements, and (3) using a spare Yaesu FT-857d to monitor and call CQ on 52.525 MHz FM with 100 watts instead of using a lower power Alinco 6m radio. The extra power achieved nothing, as I ended up with zero QSOs on 6m FM.

Plans:

The plans for 2015 were not all that different from the plans in 2014.

GRID Location Elevation Start Time (PDT) End Time (PDT)
Saturday    
CN98 Mt. Pilchuck 2700′ 11:00 AM 12:15 PM
CN88 Lake Stevens 400′ 01:30 PM 02:30 PM
CN97 Mud Mountain 1461′ 04:45 PM 05:45 PM
CN96 Carbonado 3200′ 06:45 PM 07:45 PM
CN86 Carbonado 3000′ 08:00 PM 08:50 PM
CN87 Carbonado 2167′ 09:10 PM 09:40 PM
         
Sunday    
CN76 Ocean Shores 16′ 07:15 AM 08:05 AM
CN77 Ocean Shores 15′ 08:20 AM 09:05 AM
CN86 Kalama, WA 1700′ 12:00 PM 12:45 PM
CN85 Kalama, WA 1785′ 01:10 PM 02:00 PM

The one big change over last year was the grid order on Sunday. In 2014, I started out near Kalama, WA and worked both CN85 and CN86 before heading to Ocean Shores, WA for CN77 and CN76. This year, I started out Sunday morning in CN76, then CN77, then a long trek to Kalama for CN85 and ending in CN84.

For the most part, I stuck to this plan and kept pretty much on time. The biggest deviation was shortening my stay in CN88 because noise levels were very high on 6m. Instead, I stopped by my house in CN87 where I set up in the back yard for about 30 minutes, made some fresh coffee, and retrieved the sun glasses I had left behind in the morning.

The Contest

I left home at 8:30am for the two hour trip to a landing on the side of Mt. Pilchuck in CN98. Rounding the final corner, across the road from my starting point, was a van, a tent, yagi parts, and two people. Brief introductions followed; what I saw was a pair of hilltopper stations being put together by K7RBW and W7DAO. They estimated getting their stations on the air shortly before I planned on leaving. This positive development meant that I would likely work CN98 on two bands from three different grids!

Ready to go from CN98

CN98 is always quite productive. Besides working from Portland (CN85) to Vancouver (CN89), I was able to work KF7PCL in Ocean Shores (CN76) on both bands. I also worked K7ATN, who was a hilltopper station (10w) south of Portland, and KD7UO, on Table Mountain in E. Washington (CN97), on 6m. Also notable was a 2m QSO with KG7OFQ, doing a SOTA activation on Mt. Catherine.

The next stop, CN88, is an elementary school in Lake Stevens, WA. In the past, this location has worked pretty well. This day, it was more difficult with high noise levels. Still K7ATN and KD7UO were both able to get through on 6m. Of course, K7RBW and W7DAO were booming in from Mt. Pilchuck in CN98.

As I mentioned, I left CN88 early and headed to my backyard, which was on the way to my next stop. While en route, I again easily worked K7RBW and W7DAO (CN98). But I also worked KD7TS (CN97), and K7ATN (CN85) this time on both bands using the small antennas on the front of the truck.

The next stop was Mud Mountain (CN97), which is a reasonably good location. Aside from working KD7UO on the other side of the Cascade Mountains, the rest of the QSOs were easy western Washington contacts. There was no signs of Es openings anytime up to this point.

CN96 is a spectacular rover location, located at 3,200′ along a ridge line on a gravel state highway. From this location I worked people from Portland to Vancouver, B.C. and west to Ocean Shores (KF7PCL). It was at this stop that I made my first and only Es QSO to K7JA in DM03. A little later I heard XE2CQ, and he caught the “rover”, but his signal vanished before completing the QSO.

Sunset from 3,000′ in CN86

A little down the road in CN86 (at 3,000′) is almost as good as the CN96 spot. I spent less time here because the Sunday route includes much time in CN86. A thousand feet lower, and a few miles down the road, is CN87 (again). I made a few QSOs before heading west to Ocean Shores. The 2.5 hour trip resulted in few QSOs, but there was some short bursts of Es propagation to tantalize me along the way.

Sunday morning in CN76

Sunday morning began in the Ocean Shores airport parking lot in CN76. This location doesn’t usually produce lots of QSOs, but is rich in multipliers. This contest produced a good number of both. A little after 8am, I crashed the weekly 2m weak signal net, and netops K7SMA and W7GLF kindly let me work folks. Immediately afterward, I moved a mile down the road into CN77 to successfully catch the tail end of the weak signal net. I worked KD7UO (CN97) on both bands. We had not worked from CN76, so I headed back to the grid to work Dale and a few other people I had missed in CN76 earlier. And then I headed back to CN77 to work a few new people that popped up during my second trip to CN76.

Low clouds over the Ocean Shores runway (CN76)

The CN7x extravaganza was followed by a long, lonely drive from Ocean Shores, WA to Kalama, WA for the last two stops on the north side (CN86) and south side (CN85) of Green Mountain. The CN86 stop was brief, considering I had spent hours in CN86 already, but I did get a couple of new multipliers on 6m out of it. The CN85 spot overlooks Vancouver, WA and Portland to the south and has good reach into Seattle. The stop produced 13 new multipliers, including KB7W in CN93 (on the other side of the Cascades), KF7PCL in CN76, and W7LOU in CN84.

Results:

Last year I made 223 QSOs for 103 grids on 6m and 110 QSOs for 33 grids on 2m, for 443 points times 136 multipliers, giving a preliminary score of 60,248. But last year the final few hours of the contest happened during an enormous Es opening on 6m.

This year I made 170 QSOs for 54 grids on 6m and 128 QSOs for 44 grids on 2m, for 426 points times 98 multipliers and a preliminary score of 41,748.

The score reflects a solid improvement on two meters and a near absence of Es on 6m. Not too bad.

Here is the breakdown by band and grid-activated of the QSO count:


Grid 6m 2m
CN76 12 14
CN77 13 12
CN85 22 14
CN86 25 10
CN87 24 16
CN88 11 9
CN96 23 15
CN97 14 14
CN98 26 24
Total 170 128
Points 170 256

And here is the number of multipliers by band and grid activated:

Grid 6m 2m
CN76 5 5
CN77 5 5
CN85 7 6
CN86 7 3
CN87 6 5
CN88 5 3
CN96 8 5
CN97 4 5
CN98 7 7
Total 54 44

Finally, I want to recognize the stations that worked me ten or more times (maximum of 18 = 9 grids x 2 bands):

  • 17 N7EPD
  • 16 KD7TS
  • 16 KD7UO
  • 16 KE7SW
  • 15 AC7T
  • 13 K7ND
  • 12 N7QOZ
  • 11 WA7GCS

Summary

The temperatures were in the high 90s much of the weekend. It didn’t really bother me until after the contest, when I got stuck for an hour in a traffic jam on the interstate. Aside from that minor issue, it was a terrific contest, even without much in the way of Es.

(Short link)

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Comments on: "WW7D roves the 2015 CQWWVHF contest" (3)

  1. Dave Palmer said:

    Thanks for the awesome write-up! Sounds like a great time. This contest was the first I’d done a rover operation and it was quite limited in time and grids but a good dry run. Hope to work you on the next one! 73, Dave N6KL

  2. Dave,
    Thanks! Glad you were able to get out and rove. We are about the right distance apart to work each other during an Es opening. I look forward to working you.

  3. […] 2017 route was refined from my 2015 route. Two years ago, I started in CN98 on the side of Mt. Pilchuck at close to 3,000′. This is a […]

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