2022 ARRL June VHF


My last rover outing was the 2021 Sept VHF and over the winter I had acquired a fair amount of new gear that needed to be integrated into the rover setup. New bandpass filters for 6 thru 432, new (to me) amplifiers for 6 thru 432, and some other miscellaneous bits. Since I apparently didn’t think that was difficult enough to get going, I went and bought a completely new to me dedicated rover vehicle about three weeks before the contest. So, with the contest rapidly approaching, I set out to turn this new to me GMC cargo van into a fully functional Limited Rover setup. Luckily enough, I have some good friends that are always willing to help out… Long story short, after multiple full days on the weekends and several evenings, we managed to pull off what I thought might have just been impossible. On Thursday evening prior to the contest, I was finally able to actually fire up the radio and, again with the help of some friends, smoke test it all. Get drive levels set for the amplifiers, make sure the rotor turns, there is audio on SSB without any strange noises, etc. Everything checked out… we had done it!

After work on Friday I set out for southern Michigan where I planned to start out the contest at the EN61-EN62-EN71-EN72 corner. So far so good, around midnight local I tucked myself into the local Walmart parking lot with other wayward travelers to get a few ZZZs. Bright and early Saturday it was time to go actually put an eye on the spots I found via Google maps satellite view to make sure they were really workable. I’ve never been to this grid corner before, so not only was this a brand new rover setup, I was in a brand new to me area. Everything looked good and I got settled in and setup at my first stop in EN72.

Finally, it’s time to play radio. Saturday got off to a slow start for me. No real band conditions to speak of, but slowly but surely making some Qs. The new rover setup seemed to be working well and I was starting to get comfortable in the new operating position. After moving on to EN62, 6m started to open a bit with some activity from the east coast. Though there were several loud signals on the band from the east, trying to get any kind of run going was not successful. As it turned out, that would be the theme of the weekend for me. After moving again to EN71, it was much of the same conditions, with some additional activity from the southwest this time. While some band conditions were better than none on 6m, the constant QSB was exhausting. The NIL rates from FT8 Qs will surely be interesting I think.

I finally shut it down around midnight local and again tucked myself into the local Walmart for a few hours sleep before my long drive to the next grid corner. After a little sleep, it was back on the road early Sunday headed towards EN50-EN51-EN60-EN61. Again, this was a new area / grid corner for me, but the spots I had picked out on Google maps worked out well here too. While the bands did seem to be in better shape for me on Sunday, it was a lot more of the same. Many very loud signals on the band, but again I failed to get any kind of phone run going. It really just wasn’t my contest I suppose. After spending most of the day making my way around that grid corner, it was finally time to head closer to home.

On the way home I had planned to stop in EM59 and finally a mile or so from home in EM58. Though I had gotten on the road headed towards home a little later than I had hoped, I still had every intention of doing just that. So, at my last fuel stop in EM59, I looked around the parking lot for a place to quickly setup. After putting a splash of gas in the van, I quickly got setup and put on the headset. The bands were full. Best conditions I had seen all weekend. After running the bands with a couple locals I made a quick S&P run of the loud stations on 6m phone before getting back on the road. Thirty minutes later, I was quickly getting setup again in EM58 only to be greeted with 2m Es. What a way to end the contest. The last hour and a half or so I think was the most exciting part of the whole weekend. A rush to get some quick Qs from two additional grids and trying to soak up as much as I could of the great conditions.

All in all, it was an enjoyable weekend. 900 miles and 64 gallons of fuel later, I had made it back home. I don’t really want to even think about what that drive cost, but I’ve always wanted to do the rover thing, have finally gotten around to doing it, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let high gas prices take the fun away.

Thanks everyone for the Qs and see y’all in CQWW next month. Also, thanks again to Jeff K9KLD and Ron K9YY for all the help (re) building the rover.

Flex 6600 / Q5 Signal 5BVUX
50 - 200w - Par Moxon @ 18’
144 - 200w - Directive Systems 6el Rover Yagi @ 12’
222 - 100w - Directive Systems 10el Rover Yagi @ 10’
432 - 100w - Directive Systems 15el Rover Yagi @ 8’