CQ WW VHF Contest

This past weekend was packed with family activities, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate in the CQ WW VHF Contest. Finally, on Sunday morning, I decided to pack up and head to Mt Evans (14,000 foot mountain with a road to the top). Actually, the agreement with my spousal unit was that we were going on a mountaintop picnic that also happened to include a 2M / 6M ham station. I operated in the Hilltopper category (QRP power, operating for 6 hours or less).

The station was an FT-847 running 10W to a 3-element 6M Yagi and an 2M9 Yagi on 2 Meters. The antennas were on a 15-foot mast mounted on the hitch of my SUV.

I started operating around 1930 UTC and found 6 meters open to the midwest. Of course, 2 meters gets neglected by the single ops when 6 meter is hot, so not many QSOs on 2 meters. The contest ended at 2100 UTC, so my operating time was limited.

About 1.5 hours of operating netted:

36 grids on 6M, 2 grids on 2M
76 total QSOs
Score: 3116

Now I am wishing I had gotten up there early in the morning….maybe next year.
The 2 band format is really nice for a simple portable or rover station. As long as 6 meter propagation is good, two bands is plenty of action. Also, the Hilltopper category works well if you can’t spend the whole weekend playing radio.

73, Bob K0NR

Update on Ham Radio Podcasts

A while back, I published The Complete List of Ham Radio Podcasts. Well, it wasn’t really the complete list, it was just the podcasts that I knew about. Some additional ham podcasts have surfaced, so I need to update the information.

The first 3 are general news broadcasts concerning ham radio:

This Week in Amateur Radio This is the premier ham radio podcast with content that appeals to the general ham community. http://www.twiar.org

Amateur Radio Newsline The podcast version of the long-standing on-the-air ham radio news. http://www.arnewsline.org/

ARRL Audio News This is the audio version of the ARRL Letter. http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/

These podcasts are a bit more specialized and will appeal to a narrower audience:

Long Delayed Echoes Jeff KE9V does a great job of covering stories about ham radio with historical interest. http://ke9v.net/category/podcast/

Ham Radio Podclass This podcast will prepare you to take the Technician Class ham radio exam at an FCC Volunteer exam session. It is also interesting to listen to as a refresher course on ham stuff. http://www.hamradioclass.org/

HamRadioCast HamRadioCast is a Podcast brought to you by Studio1AProductions.com. The mission of HRC is to be a resource and reference for Amateur Radio hardware and software products. http://www.hamradiocast.com

99 Hobbies Podcast A ham radio podcast by KZ1O, mostly interviews with people doing a variety of ham radio activities. Ham radio is 99 Hobbies in one. http://99hobbies.blogspot.com/

KE6YJC Amateur Radio Podcast Focus is on how the internet plays a role in ham radio today. http://podcast.ke6yjc.org/

SolderSmoke Podcast Two amateur experimenters (KL7R and M0HBR) discuss workbench radio projects http://kl7r.ham-radio.ch/soldersmoke/

73, Bob K0NR

Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-121) Launched

NASA successfully launched STS-121 Discovery today, July 4th.

From the ARRL web site:

Three hams will be among those taking the trip to the International Space Station aboard Discovery. They are Commander Steven Lindsey; Pilot Mark Kelly; mission specialists Stephanie Wilson, KD5DZE, Thomas Reiter, DF4TR, Lisa Nowak, KC5ZTB; Michael Fossum and Piers Sellers. Reiter, a European Space Agency astronaut from Germany, will join the Expedition 13 crew of Jeff Williams, KD5TVQ, and Pavel Vinogradov, RV3BS, and will remain for at least part of Expedition 14. NASA is pinning its hopes on a successful Discovery mission, since the space shuttle is the only vehicle capable of transporting the components remaining to complete the ISS, including the ESA’s Columbus module, which has been outfitted to accommodate Amateur Radio. More information on the STS-121 Discovery mission is on the NASA Web site.

I had previously posted some thoughts on STS-121.

73, Bob K0NR

K0DK: High-Efficiency HT Antennas

It is well known that the standard “rubber duck” antenna that is supplied with a handheld VHF or UHF transceiver is not very efficient. It represents a compromise between size and efficiency, with size winning out. In other words, the antenna is small and doesn’t radiate very well.

I just came across an article by Dick Kiefer (KØDK) that explores this issue in detail, including a design for a 1/2-wave antenna for handhelds. I’ve been a big fan of telescoping 1/2-wave antennas. They are excellent performers while still being light in weight and compact for hiking and backpacking.

Brief highlights of the KØDK article:
For 2 Meters, a 1/2-wave antenna performs ~5 to 8 dB better than a rubber duck.
For 70 cm, a 1/2-wave antenna performs ~3 to 7 dB better than a rubber duck.

Not too surprisingly, the 70-cm (440 MHz) rubber ducks did a little better than their 2-Meter equivalents, since an antenna of a given physical length will be longer in terms of wavelength at the higher frequency.

Take a look at the article for more details.

73, Bob K0NR