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Posted: 7/30/2010 3:29:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/6/2010 3:47:25 AM EDT by km]
Gamma762 and I and looking into a VHF DXpedition to Drummond Island, EN86 for the ARRL September VHF QSO Party.  We would like to hear from hams in the area or who know it well.  

Any help is welcome.  

Thanks


This trip is  on schedule.  We plan to be on Drummond Island about noon on Friday, Sept 10 to set up.   Operating on Sept 11-12.  Leave the Island on Sept 13

KA9RSL

QSL direct with SASE for our Drummond Island card.
Link Posted: 7/30/2010 7:35:14 PM EDT
I'm in Grand Rapids..  Not far enough north :(..

Link Posted: 7/31/2010 2:32:07 PM EDT
Enough details worked out today that the DXpedition has been announced on QRZ forums.   So I guess now we gotta make it work.

Radios
Icom IC-7000
Yaesu FT847

Antennas
6meter 3 element beam
2 meter 11 element beam
70 cm   6 element beam

222 mhz operation may be attempted if we can find someone to loan us a radio.
Link Posted: 8/3/2010 2:01:38 PM EDT
the replies to this thread in the general forum along with the private messages helped make the trip a go.  
Any more posts about it will be here in this thread.
The DX-pedition has been announced on QRZ forums,  Rochester VHF Group, ARRL Michigan Section and a few other places.  

We will be staying in this and have what looks like a very good operating location.  
A local Drummond Island ham hunted down the owner of the property that was recommended on arfcom and checked out on google earth.  
When he explained to the owner what we were doing he gave permission to use the site.  I'm excited now.  
Link Posted: 8/20/2010 4:06:13 AM EDT
The dx-pedition to Drummond Island is still on.  We thought we would have a couple other hams from my local club joining us but they both ended up with conflicts and had to cancel.  If we have one or 2 arfcom hams who would be interested in joining us contact me and I will get you more details.  We will be traveling north on 131 through Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Cadillac, MI so may be able to meet someone along the way.   Hope to leave northern IN late Thursday, Sept 10 or very early Friday morning so we can be on Drummond by noon friday.
Link Posted: 8/21/2010 12:17:18 PM EDT
Hope this goes VERY well and will be listening for you!

This is a long way's from the part of the U.P. we haunt unfortunately - some 250 plus miles - and even further from the part of the U.P. where we have a son at college, some 320 miles west of the Island.

73

Steve
K9ZW
Link Posted: 8/21/2010 2:01:10 PM EDT
Originally Posted By K9ZW:
Hope this goes VERY well and will be listening for you!

This is a long way's from the part of the U.P. we haunt unfortunately - some 250 plus miles - and even further from the part of the U.P. where we have a son at college, some 320 miles west of the Island.

73

Steve
K9ZW


The first site that I planned would have been closer for you.   I had planned to do EN67 at Copper Harbor, MI.   After talking to a ham on Drummond Island the plans changed.  For me this is about a 3 hour shorter drive and every bit as rare location.  I have amps that will allow us to run about 200 watts on 2 meters and 100 on 432.  6 meters will be 100 or 150 depending on which radio we use.  I have done VHF contesting but doing it portable is a first for me.  If this works I'm thinking about going back next year in June or Sept.  I will have the station set up in my 6 x10 foot utility trailer.  Another idea I had was to try operating a UP rover for one of the contests next year.  I could easily do EN85, EN86, EN75 and EN76.  Possibly even hit EN65 and EN66.  The antennas I have in mind for that wouldn't be as high.  They would extend about 20 ft above the bed of the pickup that would be pulling the trailer.  This test will give us an idea how we can do as a multi-op low power station.  With only 2 operators we will have our hands full doing everything.

Keith
KA9RSL

Link Posted: 9/6/2010 3:46:33 AM EDT
It's getting close.  

Gamma 762 will be coming here from IL on wednesday.   We will be leaving for Drummond Island on thursday.  That will allow us to explore the island and set up on friday.  Contest saturday and sunday.
Hope to work some arfcom hams on the VHF/UHF bands.
Conditions don't look real good on 6.   432 MHz will probably be tough for real long distance work.  Looks like 2 will be the most promising band.  Hope we see some good tropo like we had here at home a couple weeks ago.
A few 1000 mile contacts would be nice..... but I really expect 200 to 500 to me more the norm.

KA9RSL
EN86ea
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 4:18:05 AM EDT
Hmm, might have to put my 11-ele 2M beam up and see what I can do. Hope you guys have fun.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 6:14:13 AM EDT
I am 1150 miles SSE....   Will be listening.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 8:17:05 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Mndless:
I am 1150 miles SSE....   Will be listening.


I hope we can contact you.

but even if you aren't a serious contester get on and give out some points to others.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 8:49:45 AM EDT
Depending on what time I get home for the Badger Game in Madison on Saturday and possibly before going to work on Sunday I will have to listen & see if I can hear you guys and try a contact.  I live on Lake Michigan north of Milwaukee.  Would think I possibly have a chance of hear you guys.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 10:45:55 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/8/2010 9:25:11 AM EDT by Gamma762]
If you have SSB (or CW) capability on the VHF/UHF bands (like all of those IC706, IC7000, FT857, HF+6m, etc radios out there), contest weekends are the time to get on the air and give it a shot.  V/U "weak signal" work is frustrating to a lot of amateurs, it's a much different scene than HF.  Lots of listening to static and waiting for band openings... but on contest weekends there are a lot more people on the air so more "local" contacts are available as well as more traffic to be able to detect and exploit available propagation enhancements when they happen.

September is typically less productive for enhancements than the June contest but still a good time to be on the air.

For those new to V/U weak signal work... most all of this is done with horizontally polarized antennas, whereas most FM work is done with vertical.  Signal losses from polarization mismatch can be severe, on the order of 20dB.  Polarization is less of an issue if you happen to be dealing with a propagation mode that alters polarization like E layer ionospheric skip.  6m especially is available in many HF rigs nowadays and even a simple dipole cut to freq will get you on the air on 6m and can yield amazing results during band openings.

Calling frequencies for VHF/UHF SSB:
6 meters - 50.125, spreading up the band as conditions/traffic warrant... rare for folks to get above 50.200 though.  50.100 - 50.125 is the "DX window", reserved for long distance international/intercontinental contacts so don't go down from 50.125 for general traffic - but if you're hearing the Caribbean, Hawaii, etc by all means respond.

2 meters - 144.200, once again going up in frequency as traffic warrants, although this is less common on 2m than 6.

1.25m/222MHz - 222.100, and congrats on having an all mode rig for this band.  Hard to come by these day other than transverters.

70cm/432MHz - 432.100, very rare to have enough traffic to warrant moving up.

If you have 902 or higher equipment, you likely don't need my info to know what to do

If you only have FM capability:
You can still get on the air and have some fun, and maybe help out some of the competitive contest stations.  Many contest stations have FM (with vertical polarization) for "local" contacts, and points are points after all.  Contacts will be on the typical FM simplex frequencies with one notable exception - the common 2m simplex frequency is specifically disallowed for contest contacts, so do not use 146.520 for the contest.  Try the following on FM:
52.525
146.550
223.500
446.000

The contest exchange is callsign and "grid square".  Grid square is the 4 character coordinate designation for what 1°x2° lat/long area you are in based on the Maidenhead coordinate system.  If you don't know what grid you are in or how to find out, try this link -> http://www.qrz.com/gridfinder.   Note that the link will give you a 6 character location, for contest exchange you just use the first 4 characters, such as "EN86".  http://www.icomamerica.com/en/downloads/DownloadDetails.aspx?Document=415 is a grid map of CONUS in .pdf file form.  Please brush up on your phonetic alphabet if you're not accustomed to using it.  If you are calling CQ it's best to include your grid and/or general location (state, part of state) so that other stations can rotate beams toward you.

As a final note, the characteristics of VHF/UHF are such that one of the greatest operating aids is PATIENCE... such that you just leave the radio on, maybe give a CQ once or twice an hour... and listen. If you're driving, or around the house or whatever, just leave stuff turned on and listening to the calling frequencies.  The best chance for enhanced conditions are mornings and late evenings, but can happen any time... and some of the best really long range E skip can be in the afternoons. At some point, out of the static or silence, will emerge voices...
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 10:56:21 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/6/2010 11:01:49 AM EDT by Gamma762]
Originally Posted By WING25C:
Depending on what time I get home for the Badger Game in Madison on Saturday and possibly before going to work on Sunday I will have to listen & see if I can hear you guys and try a contact.  I live on Lake Michigan north of Milwaukee.  Would think I possibly have a chance of hear you guys.

There's a pretty good chance (with enough patience), especially if you have 2m SSB, as that's a largely overwater propagation path.  2m would be the band most likely to have some tropospheric ducting enhancement overwater although 6m or even 432 are possible as well if you have any of those bands.

I'm hopeful that the overwater paths over the Great Lakes will give us good propagation over the lakes and beyond.

I had the 6m contest antenna that I built up temporarily a couple nights ago for testing and had left the radio on, and got some nice E skip coming in on 6.  6 has been pretty dead but hopefully we'll get at least a few enhancements during the contest time.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 12:57:54 PM EDT
Yeah probably won't be able to hear you guys as all I have is a Yaesu VX-7R and a FT-8800.  But just maybe.  Not holding out hope though.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 1:40:18 PM EDT
I don't have a beam.....

Do you think a vertically polarized 6m and 2m moxon might work???

I could put those together pretty easily...

Take a bearing on the island and sit and listen...  :)

Link Posted: 9/6/2010 2:26:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/6/2010 2:40:26 PM EDT by Gamma762]
Would encourage everyone to get on the air and see what happens, regardless of whether you talk to our contest operation or not.  The nature of VHF/UHF is that band conditions are unpredictable and there's no way to know what will happen next weekend.  It could be anything from maybe a little overwater enhancement and brief tropo, to hours-long strong E skip openings that allows 1000-2000 mile 6m and even 2m contacts.  I've also seen 500+ mile tropo contacts on 432MHz and 1000+ on 2m.  Nothing is certain but the possibilities are tremendous - that's the mystique of VHF/UHF DX.
Originally Posted By Mndless:
I don't have a beam.....

Do you think a vertically polarized 6m and 2m moxon might work???

I could put those together pretty easily...

Take a bearing on the island and sit and listen...  :)

Why not horizontal polarization?  What radio capabilities do you have?

We're going to be shorthanded on operators, so likely will not have much time to put into FM operation. I think as plans go that we will only have a dual band (2m/440) vertical omni and radio for FM, but probably not much time to put into operating it.

I've thought about building a moxon but never have, went with a different antenna concept for our 6m contest antenna.

Originally Posted By WING25C:
Yeah probably won't be able to hear you guys as all I have is a Yaesu VX-7R and a FT-8800.  But just maybe.  Not holding out hope though.

If you have a beam, point it our way and try calling on 146.550 and/or 446.000, that's probably where we will be monitoring on FM.  And leave it on and listen.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 3:06:01 PM EDT
Why not horizontal polarization? What radio capabilities do you have?



Sorry, I ment horizontal...   I did read your post above...  brain fart....

I have an FT-857D...
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 3:16:55 PM EDT
If you have equipment for any of the VHF/UHF bands give it a try.   You may not work us but there will be a lot of other stations who will appreciate the contact.   The exchange is your grid square.  Contests are more fun when there is a lot of activity.  I know in New York there are a group tho activate fire towers  for the contest.  Since it is usually hiking in most are using HT's and sometimes a small portable quad.   Occasionally they will have a small SSB rig.  
http://www.firetowerradio.net/index.htm

It doesn't take a lot to get on the bands and have some fun.  


Rover stations are another way that some hams do the V/U contests.   They travel between several grid squares and can be worked from each square.
http://www.k0nr.com/rwitte/rover.html

We are doing a stationary portable station.  We will work the whole contest from one location.

Give it a try with whatever equipment and time you have.   Even a few contacts are great.   Then come back and post here about it.   We like to hear the stories.    OH.   PICS too.  
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 3:57:17 PM EDT
here is a nice google map app that lets you find a grid square and the distance between locations you may work.

http://f6fvy.free.fr/qthLocator/fullScreen.php
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 4:02:39 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Mndless:
Why not horizontal polarization? What radio capabilities do you have?



Sorry, I ment horizontal...   I did read your post above...  brain fart....

I have an FT-857D...


With a 857 you have no reason NOT to get on the contest.   put a couple beams on your car and go roving.  
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 5:11:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/7/2010 8:25:48 AM EDT by Gamma762]
Originally Posted By Mndless:
Why not horizontal polarization? What radio capabilities do you have?

Sorry, I ment horizontal...   I did read your post above...  brain fart....

I have an FT-857D...

Yeah, a moxon or whatever you can get ready on 6 and/or 2 and you'll probably make at least a few contacts.

Originally Posted By Mndless:
I am 1150 miles SSE....   Will be listening.

Oh yeah...  SSE is across the longest dimension of Lake Huron... the overwater takeoff should help quite a bit in your direction.  At least that's the hope.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:41:43 AM EDT
For anyone thinking about trying VHF/UHF contesting,  Todd,  KC9BQA,  wrote a good group of articles.

VHF contesting school articles.

If you go the the front page of his website he has a lot of news about VHF/UHF activity.

Also you may want to review the contest rules before this weekend.

ARRL Sept VHF QWO party rules.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:44:23 AM EDT
a sample of the QSL card I designed for this weekend.

Link Posted: 9/7/2010 9:27:22 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/9/2010 2:33:37 PM EDT by Gamma762]
Originally Posted By km:
For anyone thinking about trying VHF/UHF contesting,  Todd,  KC9BQA,  wrote a good group of articles.

VHF contesting school articles.

Pretty good info there, I especially liked the "cheap yagi" antenna link from his antennas page.  Those look to be very easy and economical to build, good choice if you want to put a couple antennas together for roving/hilltopping or the like.

I also appreciated his mention of the brilliance and tragedy of the 222 band... technically and propagation wise, it's an absolutely superb band... it's just next to impossible to find equipment for it. Last time I saw a used 222 all mode (Icom) radio on ebay it went for nearly $2,000, and it wasn't even the most recent model.  All the Japanese companies have now abandoned 222, but I keep hoping that some day, Elecraft, or TenTec, or someone will make a V/U rig that covers the band with a sufficient amount of power.  What I'd really like to see is a nice V/U radio that covers 6,2,222,432 and optionally 902 and 1296, although just a good (and affordable ) single band 222 radio would fill the gap in many operator's stations.  Trying to use an HF radio + transverter + power amplifier is just a PITA, especially if you're trying to do roving, or any kind of hilltopping or other portable operation.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 10:08:21 AM EDT
KC9BQA is a great guy, I have participated in a net or two when I am not working.  Met him at AES Superfest earlier this year in Milwaukee really great guy.  His website is very well set up as well.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 10:41:13 AM EDT
Originally Posted By WING25C:
KC9BQA is a great guy, I have participated in a net or two when I am not working.  Met him at AES Superfest earlier this year in Milwaukee really great guy.  His website is very well set up as well.


I have never met him.   We have talked on 2 meters and emailed.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 1:33:52 PM EDT
news flash.  we are now in St. Ignace, MI.  Looking out our motel room at the bridge.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 3:12:12 PM EDT
Are yall going to run any HF at all?
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 6:36:49 PM EDT
Originally Posted By RedHotChiliPepper:
Are yall going to run any HF at all?


I brought an antenna along for hf but don't think we will be putting up.  we have the 2 and 432 antennas up but had some problems and 6 needs more work.   hope to get it working in the morning before the contest starts.
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