Re: Sept VHF
It was an interesting September VHF contest here. Although
participation is nothing like the summer contests, there was
plenty to keep me busy trying to manufacture points. For better
or worse, activity has indeed migrated towards digital. It was
amazing to see short-lived 6m Es throughout the contest, as
stations from almost every direction would pop in on FT8 long
enough to decode and then disappear into the noise -- too short
for FT8 and too weak for ssb or cw. I benefited greatly from the
WSJT-X automatic uploads to pskreporter, which provides a
real-time reverse beacon, propagation, and activity map. I did
manage to snag W5PR in EL29 on FT8, but he was my only Es QSO. I
was surprised to see that W9RM did not make any Es contacts, as
his callsign appeared prolifically in the FT8 spots, especially
from midwest stations. East of the Mississippi seemed to be lit
up with FT8 spots for most of the contest, but spots don't
necessarily mean a QSO took place.
There were about 5-6 stations at direct meteor scatter distance
from me that were likely doing unattended monitoring of 50.260 and
uploading spots. To test conditions, I would fire off some CQs in
their direction and watch the spots pop up about a minute later.
I can confidently claim that 6m meteors were there all weekend.
Many ops still seem riveted to FT8, despite the obvious pings they
must see coming in that are far too short to decode. A QSO might
only be a mouse-click away on MSK144. I made two dozen meteor
scatter QSOs on 6m MSK144. Also got one logged on 2m towards the
end of the contest, when there wasn't much of anything else going
on. The points incentive on 2m does not warrant spending the
better part of 30 minutes chasing a multiplier for a single-op.
There are well understood physical principles in play that make
meteor scatter much harder on 2m than 6. Under-appreciated and
underutilized is 6m meteor backscatter. This is a great way to
work those miserable grids that are too far for tropo and too
close for direct meteor scatter. I heard many Colorado, Arizona,
and New Mexico stations on backscatter and even worked some of
I worked Arizona stations AI1K and N1RWY direct on 2m FT8. The latter took two tries. The first attempt he decoded me easily yet I saw not a trace. We tried again a few hours later and he was loud enough to work ssb. He has a 5000 ft mountain directly in front of him, so maybe there's some weird diffraction effect happening.
W0AMT/R covered the 90-mile path from DM55 to DM65 on 446.0 FM.
That one is going into the NMVHF DX database. Think I got Duffey
from every grid except one. Sorry I missed the El Paso guys;
wanted to thank K5LA for elmering me on the superflex feedline
On the digital controversy... I think there are valid arguments on both sides. WSJT was not designed to replace analog radio but to complement it. I use it to great advantage for weak signal VHF and want to mention a few things that seem to get overlooked. First, it's not plug-and-play radio like packet or D-star, for example. Considerable skill and experience is required to use it to maximum effect. Second, it allows QSOs to happen on otherwise dead bands, pretty much the situation we encounter every September on 6m. Third, this software represents an extraordinary advancement of technology. The cost to develop something like this commercially would be many millions of dollars, yet ham radio gets it for free. I feel thoroughly honored and privileged to have the opportunity. Finally, I find that making a difficult digital QSO is every bit as exciting and compelling as the traditional modes. Try it yourself or at least get a demo before dismissing it.
73 Mike WB2FKO
On 09/10/2018 03:58 PM, Keith Morehouse wrote: