Fred Fish Memorial Award #2 Goes to Texas Ham


Llewellyn “Pat” Rose, W5OZI, of Junction, Texas, is the recipient of the Fred Fish Memorial Award (FFMA) #2. Thanks to a recent Grid DXpedition by Russ Dwarshius, KB8U, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rose earned FFMA #2; FFMA #1 was awarded posthumously to Fred Fish, W5FF (SK), himself. The ARRL Awards Branch received and approved Rose’s QSL for his last-needed grid -- CM79 in California -- on July 8, 2010.

The Fred Fish Memorial Award was created in honor of Fred Fish, W5FF (SK), a legendary VHF+ operator who became the first amateur to work and confirm all 488 Maidenhead grid squares within the 48 contiguous United States on 6 meters. Rose is the first amateur to duplicate Fish’s feat. The FFMA will be awarded to any amateur who can duplicate Fish’s accomplishment.

Grid square CM79 is one of the more difficult grid squares to activate. According to Bill VanAlstyne, W5WVO, the logistics of how to activate CM79 have been discussed [on the FFMA Yahoo! group] for a couple years now. “Russ [Dwarshius, KB8U] is basically following the only realistic approach to activating this grid from land -- ‘realistic’ meaning (a) it’s physically possible to do it that way, and (b) the radio capabilities provided by the approach should result in strong enough a signal over wide enough a range of azimuths for the effort to be worthwhile,” he explained. “For example, running 5 W to a whip antenna from the western slope of the mountain (or from the beach) would be a lot easier, but it would not meet the (b) part of the realistic test. Very few QSOs (if any) would result.” VanAlstyne runs the FFMA Yahoo! Group.

VanAlstyne said that there is a primitive campground accessible by car, just north of the CM79 grid corner: “From this campground, a trail runs roughly south-by-southeast up the ridgeline of Chamisal Mountain. Near the peak of the ridgeline, about a 90 minute hike from the campground, the trail comes within about 70 feet of the grid corner (though it never actually crosses into CM79). The exact grid corner is located down the hill southwest from the trail. The location is carefully located by GPS and the batteries and transceiver are placed there. An extender cable for the rig’s detachable front panel is then run up the hill to the ridgeline where the operating position and antenna are set up. It is necessary for the antenna to be at the ridgeline in order to get any RF out to the east.”

Dwarshius set up his operation in accordance with the VUCC/FFMA rules as a “grid corner” operation. Working him only once counted for four grid squares: CM79, CN70, CM89 and CN80. VanAlstyne explained that this approach satisfies the VUCC/FFMA requirement that some part of the operating setup be located in each of the four grid squares, to within the error limits of the GPS, which must not exceed 20 feet. “Modern GPS receivers can get you to within 5 feet, so meeting the accuracy requirement is not difficult,” he said. “You can activate four grids by doing this sort of approach around a grid intersection point, or two grids by doing it along a grid boundary.”

ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, said he hopes that the Fred Fish Memorial Award will help increase 6 meter activity and that it “will stimulate the activation of rare grid squares in the 48 contiguous United States, both by getting a grid’s native amateur population interested in operating 6 meters, as well as by going on so-called ‘Grid DXpeditions -- extended portable operations from a rare grid.”

To qualify for the FFMA, hams must submit confirmation of 2-way contact with all 488 grid squares on 50 MHz; any mode may be used. There are no endorsements and no recognized tiers of progression. The rules for the award will strictly follow the rules of the ARRL VUCC program. Of particular importance is VUCC Rule 6 that states that all QSOs submitted for credit must be made within the same 200 km circle. For example, this prohibits a station in Oklahoma from submitting grids worked while on vacation in North Carolina. While the award is open to all amateurs worldwide, American and Canadian applicants must be a member of the ARRL to participate, as per VUCC rule 1(a).