June VHF 2021 Summary

I went into this June expecting it to be a very casual effort from moment one – I screwed up and registered for a 5k on Sunday morning, so I knew that about 1/3 of my usual Sunday operating time was out from moment one, and at least an hour of Saturday because I’d want to actually get some sleep the night before. This seemed to be the vibe of a lot of people going into this June actually – some just getting on to toss points, others getting back into the swing after a little time out, and some just trying different things out (such as exclusive bands).

Getting started, I immediately broke from plans and decided that if I hit FN13 first, it meant that I could stay active later as FN02 is closer to home, so I hauled out to my place in FN13 and was on the air by 2:15. I was greeted by something new – a hum almost completely across 6m

I’ve been coming to this spot since I started roving seriously in 2017, and have never had this before. The only new factor that I can think of are the solar panels recently installed at the hotel that’s adjacent to this location as well as the ones at the mall about a mile away. I made due with the additional RF Noise, but this really needs to be addressed. About 25 mins, during my first 7 band run with another station, I was noticing an issue with SWR on 900mhz, it seemed to be an adapter based on the fact that if I shifted the transverter slightly, the problem went away. When I had the ability to swap it out however, it didn’t seem to help. Through the rest of the evening, I would just shift it around until the SWR came down, however this issue magically went away by the time I hit the next grid.

FN13 was not as productive as it usually is for me, however this is likely due to two factors- the additional RFI, as well as a lack of digital modes. While I had them setup and ready to use, I was experiencing an interfacing issue with my netbook, and wasn’t going to go out of my way for something I wasn’t crazy about using anyways.

Worked a little FM mobile on the road back to FN02, but had no calls back.

The spot I sit in FN02 is a usual and familiar location to most of the WNY Rovers, and I happened to run into a couple of club members there. They happened to be working 10ghz and up, so I operated exclusively 6m, and spaced myself a bit farther away from them while they were there. When they left I began calling on 2m, and managed to knock quite a few contacts out, running 7 band sweeps with a few stations. On my 3rd 2.3 ghz contact though I began to have a problem with the IF rig, and I thought it was related to SWR. I’d key up, and the radio would shut down – this was something I easily figured out on Sunday afternoon… but for the moment, to make the last contact, I just connected an HT to the transverter to work the last station.

It was about this point when the mosquitoes started getting really bad, and the SSB started drying up, so I decided that it was time to call it. Knowing it wasn’t going to be until Sunday afternoon when I would get back on, and only sitting at about 48 contacts, that was a little discouraging, but like I said, I didn’t go into this one looking to be competitive, I went in to get on the air and have fun.

I ran my 5k (which was actually a 5.5) with a PR of just over 26 mins – and happened to take 8th Place overall, not bad for having never done a live event like that before. I’ve done Tour De Cure, and am signed up for a couple of other events this year, however this was the first one I’ve actually done… and yes, there was a margarita involved… at 10am… still not as early as my wine class in college! Managed to hold 3rd place for a good chunk of the run, but on mile two I slowed down a little too much, and had a few people pass me. Picked it up again for the last .75 mile though! Lessons learned, and back to training for the next one!

After a quick shower and bite to eat, it was back on the road to meet up with the group for our grid blitz!

This was actually the first time I’ve had a radio dedicated to each band (shared IF for transverters though), and other than grabbing the wrong mic occasionally, it was nice to not have to worry about messing up frequencies. We did this in just about an hour and a half, which was a welcome change of pace from previous years. It was here that I figured out my issue with 2.3ghz pretty quickly as well… you see the power cord coming out of the lighter plug? Well – the 818 wasn’t fully charged, and the voltage drop was causing the radio to shut down on transmit. Simple, and if I hadn’t been so tired on Saturday, I probably would’ve thought of that immediately upon looking at the voltage readout on the radio itself. In any case, I was glad to have the band back to fully operational quickly.

From there I went out to FN12 for a bit, and while the spot seems to perform pretty poorly to the West, it has a fair shot to the North and South, and a fantastic shot to the East, being able to actually view the Rochester Skyline (Pictured Below). In the last three years that I’ve been setting up here, this often is my second best performing location, coming up just shy on FN02.

I headed back home to grab some dinner, and then it was out to FN03 to finish out the evening. From this location I made a few 7 band sweeps, and a handful of FM contacts to stations East, but I only worked from here for about an hour and 45 mins, some ominous clouds, and lightning spotted on the radar had me to a point where I’d rather get things disconnected and not fry any equipment than risk it.

With a projected score of 15,776, I’m pretty happy with the results for the handful of hours spent on the air. I just picked up a 1296 transverter before the contest, as in the day before, but didn’t have time to go through it, or rig up a power cable and such, so that’s the only thing I will definitively say that I’m hoping to have done before the next one. I always have great plans of adding or changing things before the next contest, but I’ll be honest with myself this time and just say that while there are changes I’d like to make, such as adding 5 and 10 ghz would be great, if I get to it, fantastic, if not, there’s always next time.

I don’t normally participate in the September contest, however I’m considering it to make up for some of the lost time with this one. If not, I’m definitely looking forward to January!

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