VHF Sweepstakes on Mount Herman

For the 2011 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, I repeated the tradition of doing a winter assault on Mount Herman (DM79) on Saturday afternoon. As in past years, Joyce (K0JJW) joined me on the hike, but we also had some other folks along to make for quite a party on the summit this year.

James, Stu and Bob at the trailhead

Stu (W0STU) and I operated independent “Single Operator – Portable” stations from the summit. Stu conned convinced James (KD0MFO) to join him on this trek. We had hoped to get “Alpha Goat” Steve (WG0AT) to go with us, but he made some excuse about needing to prepare for an upcoming trip to Dominica (J7). (Instead of slogging through the snow, Steve wants to go to the Caribbean? Probably a good choice. See Steve”s video of his previous trip up Mt Herman here.) Dan (N0OLD) also hiked up a little later in the day to join us on the summit.

Bob K0NR setting up the Arrow II Yagi Antenna on the camera tripod

Trail conditions were good, with not much snow on the trail. There were definitely some icy spots such that we enjoyed the extra grippers attached to our boots. The weather forecast was a bit marginal, so we were prepared to deal with a snowstorm moving in on us. As I told Stu, the philosophy is “We’ll have a good hike and we might also have some fun working the radios.” In the end, the weather remained solid with only a few snow flakes and temperatures just above freezing. Dan and James built a small campfire (in an established fire ring) that really warmed us up.

Bob K0NR Operating the FT-817

My primary radio was the Yaesu FT-817, driving an ARROW II yagi on 2 Meters and 70 cm and a wire dipole in the trees for 6 Meters. I also had several handheld FM rigs along including one on 222 MHz. Overall, I made 83 contacts with 15 grids for a total score of 1725.

Group photo on the summit: Dan N0OLD, Bob K0NR, James KD0MFO, Joyce K0JJW and Stu W0STU

This may have been the most fun yet for the January VHF Sweepstakes. Of course, any day in the mountains playing with radios is a good day.

73, Bob K0NR

Logbook of the World – What Next?

ARRL’s Logbook of the World has gotten mixed reviews from the ham community. KB6NU asks Is it more trouble than its worth?, while VE3OIJ says he will probably never use it. On the other hand, K2DBK says you really should use it. The biggest beef seems to be around the level of security (and hassle) built into the logbook system. Someone said “LoTW has more security than my online bank.” Probably true.

I have been loading my ham radio log data into the Logbook of the World for QSOs back to 2002. Although I’ve seen quite a few QSL matches via LoTW, it has not provided any real benefit to me.

Last week, that changed. The ARRL turned on support for the VUCC award. Lately, I have been on the air for most of the VHF contests and not much else. So when I logged into the LoTW web page, I found that I have 123 grids confirmed on 6 Meters, which would qualify me for 50 MHz VUCC. (Actually, I had already qualified for this award years ago, the hard way, with paper QSLs.)

I am still working towards 144 MHz VUCC and have been working on getting QSL cards for these contacts. To be honest, I have turned into a QSL Slacker. I manage to respond to every request for a QSL …eventually, but I have been a slacker on pursuing QSLs that I need for awards. You know the reasons: it takes time, it costs postage, it is a hassle.

The answer is obvious: we need to confirm QSLs electronically. Push a button, upload your log and receive the instant gratification of a confirmed QSO. Life is too short to mess around with cards. Not that I don’t like getting The Real Thing in QSL cards…there is nothing like receiving a well-designed card and holding it in your hands.

The challenge is also obvious… the ARRL needs to turn on support for more awards (way beyond DXCC, WAS and VUCC) with the goal of providing a benefit back to the users of LoTW. Otherwise, the number of people bothering to submit logs will remain low, limiting the success of LoTW.

73, Bob K0NR

Freedom of Speech?

There are many email lists devoted to amateur radio topics, in particular on Yahoo Groups. These email forums are a great way to learn and exchange information. Usually these lists are created to hit a particular topic of interest. Over time, people stray off into other areas and start posting topics that are not appropriate for the forum. Eventually, the moderator steps in and shuts down the off-topic conversation.

What can happen next is the off-topic posters claim their right of “freedom of speech” is being violated. “This is America, and we have freedom of speech.”  (Kind of an odd statement since the internet is worldwide, not just a US concern, but I’ll set that aside.) This just happened a few days ago on an email list I use.

It has become all too common to hear people claiming “rights” that don’t really exist. US citizens might want to read the US Constitution once in a while, so they know what it actually says about freedom of speech:

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The US Constitution basically says that Congress cannot establish laws that abridge (limit) the freedom of speech. The amendment focuses on what the government is allowed to do to restrict the citizens. It does not mean that a citizen has the right to have their speech published in the local newspaper, sent through an email list, or posted on another person’s web site, etc. Newspapers, web site owners and moderators of email lists make decisions every day on what type of “speech” they are going to allow in their communication forum.

73, Bob K0NR

Announcing: Amateur Radio Technician Class – April 2 & 9

Ham Radio Two-Day License Class

Monument, Colorado

Saturday April 2 and Saturday April 9 (8 AM to 5 PM) 2011

Location: Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Station 1
Sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Radio Association

The Technician license is your gateway to the world-wide excitement of Amateur Radio …

  • Earn your ham radio Technician class radio privileges
  • Pass your FCC amateur radio license exam right in class on the second day
  • Multiple-choice exam, No Morse Code Required
  • Live equipment demonstrations
  • Learn to operate on the ham bands, 10 Meters and higher
  • Learn to use the many VHF/UHF FM repeaters in Colorado
  • Find out how to participate in emergency communications

There is no cost for the class (donations accepted)

However, students must have the required study guide:

Gordon West Technician Class guide, 7th Edition $20.95
And pay the FCC Exam Fee: $15.00

Advance registration is required (no later than March 25th, earlier is better!)

To register for the class, contact: Bob Witte KØNR

Email: bob@k0nr.com

For more information on amateur (ham) radio visit www.arrl.org
or www.wedothat-radio.org