CQ WW VHF – Just Another Day of Sporadic-E

You just have to love VHF contesting….hours of boredom punctuated by the excitement of band openings. Unlike HF contests, you never really know what you are going to get in terms of propagation.

So it was with the CQ Worldwide VHF Contest this weekend. It started out really slow on Saturday. I mean really, really, really slow. There were not many local stations on the air, so it was tough sledding on both 2 Meters and 6 Meters. (Yes, the CQ WW VHF Test is two bands only: 2 Meters and 6 Meters…and those are my favorite bands to work anyway.)

Then later in the afternoon, I hear Louisiana stations coming in on 6 Meters. Then the magic sporadic-e clouds shift and I am working the east coast, all the way up into the New England states. Later the propagation shifts to the midwest and it was Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and Kansas. I was working them as fast as I could and had quite a pileup into DM78 Colorado. The band stayed open till about 9 PM local…just when I thought it was done, another station would come booming in.

Sunday started out slow but during the morning I worked the Pacific northwest on 50 MHz, including several contacts into Canada. This opening was not as strong, but it kept me busy until the afternoon. Then it was picking up everyone I could on 2 Meters. Again, local participation was surprisingly light…not sure what’s up with that.

Band  Mode  QSOs   Pts  Grd
50     CW     1      1    1
50    USB   259    259  112
144    CW     1      2    1
144   USB    14     28    7
Total Both  275    290  121

Score : 35,090

All in all, a great time was had by me.

73, Bob K0NR

FCC Adopts Changes to 97.113

The FCC has adopted rule changes to Part 97.113, allowing employees to communicate on behalf of an employer during emergency preparedness drills.

I’ve posted several times about this topic, see EmComm Trouble, Time to Change the Rules,  FCC Moving Ahead on the topic.

The new version of the rules are listed here:

§ 97.113 Prohibited transmissions.  
(a) * * *
(3) Communications in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer, with the following exceptions:
(i) A station licensee or control station operator may participate on behalf of an employer in an emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drill, limited to the duration and scope of such test or drill, and operational testing immediately prior to such test or drill. Tests or drills that are not government-sponsored are limited to a total time of one hour per week; except that no more than twice in any calendar year, they may be conducted for a period not to exceed 72 hours.
(ii) An amateur operator may notify other amateur operators of the availability for sale or trade of apparatus normally used in an amateur station, provided that such activity is not conducted on a regular basis.
(iii) A control operator may accept compensation as an incident of a teaching position during periods of time when an amateur station is used by that teacher as a part of classroom instruction at an educational institution.
(iv) The control operator of a club station may accept compensation for the periods of time when the station is transmitting telegraphy practice or information bulletins, provided that the station transmits such telegraphy practice and bulletins for at least 40 hours per week; schedules operations on at least six amateur service MF and HF bands using reasonable measures to maximize coverage; where the schedule of normal operating times and frequencies is published at least 30 days in advance of the actual transmissions; and where the control operator does not accept any direct or indirect compensation for any other service as a control operator.


The FCC does allow for drills that are not government sponsored, but did include some time limits on these exercises. At first glance, these rules look reasonable to me. What do you think?

        73, Bob K0NR

2010 Colorado 14er Event

The Colorado 14er Event will be held on August 8 this year. This is the premier mountaintopping event for amateur radio. The basic idea is to have fun making ham radio contacts from the 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado.

Actually, we’ve started to see some of the 14,000 ft peaks in California on the air, too! Very cool. Rumor has it that some of the New Mexico hams might be active on the highest summits in that state (none are above 14,000 feet though). I don’t know whether the Kansas folks are going to brave the extreme conditions on Mount Sunflower this year or not. (That’s the highest spot in Kansas.)

Some of these stations will be on HF, activating Summits On The Air (SOTA) peaks.

For more information see:

The 14er Event Web Site

The Ham14er Yahoo group

I hope to work you during the event.

73, Bob K0NR

Here Come the Chinese Radios

I happened to be in Hong Kong on business and wandered around the Kowloon area looking for electronic gadgets. I started noticing several different models of handheld transceivers, some of them marketed as ham radios. I counted at least 10 different brands of equipment, all made in China.

A Wouxun radio caught my eye, as I recalled some discussion about these radios being available at Dayton for a very reasonable price. I took a look at it and was pleased with the look of the radio. The price was right, too…less than $100 US.

This Wouxun KG-UVD1P is a very capable dualband 146 MHz/ 446 MHz radio. The whole idea of such a low cost radio had me hooked…I basically wanted to know if the radio was any good….so I bought one. (I have to confess that I forgot to negotiate a lower price which is common in these Hong Kong shops.)

I took the radio home and have been playing with it. So far, I am very impressed. I’d like to find some time to check out the performance with my test equipment, but that will have to wait. I’ve also noticed that there are some reviews and mentions of this rig on the internet: eham.net, W2LJWouxun web site and hamradioshop.it .   The N9EWO has quite a bit of detailed information about the radio on his website. He points out that this radio is not really a full dualband transceiver…the VHF and UHF receiver share some circuitry such that you can’t actually receive two signals simultaneously.

So here come the Chinese radios. Not a big surprise as many low cost electronic devices are manufactured in China. However, the Big Three (Yaesu, Kenwood and Icom) are Japanese companies and as far as I can tell have kept most of their manufacturing in Japan.

Amateur radio transceivers are a mature technology, so expect to see more of these Chinese radios showing up in the US.

Your Mileage May Vary, All Disclaimers Apply.

– 73, Bob K0NR

Update 10 July 2010 : there is a Yahoo group for discussing the wouxun radios.

Update 18 July 2010: Wouxun US website: http://www.wouxun.us/