2023 ARRL June VHF


Not many changes to the rover since Jan VHF. Installed new N bulkhead connectors in the driver side rear quarter panel to eliminate the need for feedlines to come in through the back window. This is much cleaner and also eliminates a ton of work (and time) to weatherproof the window for each contest. Shortened all of the antenna feedlines and attached them to the new bulkheads and made new jumpers from the bulkheads to the bandpass filters inside. Overall a fairly simple change, but cleaned up some of the messy cabling and eliminated a big headache in preparing for each contest.

On to the contest! Without any great ideas for where to go in the weeks leading up to the contest, I finally settled on a plan a few days prior. I decided to hit a couple grids I hadn’t been to before (EM79 & EN70) in Indiana and then moving back to Illinois to a corner I’ve been to several times (EN50/51/60/61). So, with that in mind I did my usual virtual scouting for some potential spots to setup in EM79/EN70. What would we do without Google maps satellite view? A couple hours and some strategic map printing later, I had a decent idea of where I was going.

The spots I had picked out in the first two grids in IN are ~4.5hrs from home, so I was up and on the road early Saturday morning. I was hoping to be there a couple hours prior to the start of the contest to check the spots out in person and see if they were actually going to work. A little road construction and a couple less than optimal terrain issues later, all was well and I settled into a spot in EM79 with about an hour to spare before the contest started.

Tuning around the bands a bit prior to the contest, there was some activity to the west on 6m, so it looked like maybe the propagation gods were going to cooperate. As it turns out, they cooperated pretty much all weekend.

Got off to a little bit of a rocky start with some computer issues, but fairly quickly got that lined out. With everything working as it should again, it was time to try and get some Qs in the log. But, as is usually the case, it was all too soon to pack up and move. After a short drive and about 30m later I was back on the air in EN70. At the end of the day, I didn’t have nearly as many Qs in the log as I would have liked given the favorable band conditions, but it was still a fun day.

I was back on the road a little after 0200Z on my way back to IL. About half way through the drive a rest area presented itself and the van just kind of steered its way into a parking space. A couple hour nap was in order. Wanting to be in the new grid and operating in time to maybe catch some meteor scatter, I was up a few hours later and continuing on.

Made it to EN60, got setup, and was ready to go a little before 1000Z. I managed to get a few MSK Qs in the log over the next hour or so, but not as many as one would like. I thought I might have snagged a couple east coast stations on 2m, but never could complete any of them. Bummer.

The rest of the day was spent doing the usual couple hours in each of the four grids, jumping around the modes probably more than I should have. SSB and FT4 provided some quick Qs, but not very many of them at a time it seemed. Often times when I would scan the SSB portion of the band, it was still the same handful of stations that I had already worked. It was good for a handful more Qs when I moved to a new grid though.

By the time early evening rolled around, I was ready to get closer to home. Decided to pack up, head towards home, and maybe be there in time to get one more grid (EM58 aka home) in the last hour of the contest. That worked out and I was setup and operating from EM58 with about 45m of contest left. I quickly worked through a couple of the locals for some fast Qs, then spun through 6m again to work a few new ones.

All in all, it was certainly better than being at work, the bands were in good shape for pretty much the whole weekend, the rover functioned as expected (nothing broke, yay!), but the operator’s performance was less than stellar. Given the band conditions I think I could have done better. Spent way to much time jumping around bands/modes and not enough time just sticking to something and putting Qs in the log. Oh well, it was still fun and there’s always next time.

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’