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Surfin’: Not How to Contest

06/18/2010

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ rediscovers the fun -- and frustration -- of ham radio contesting.

In the not so distant past, I actively chased weak signal DX on VHF and UHF. I worked 50, 220 and 432 MHz, but mostly 144 MHz, where I managed to work 26 states, 3 DXCC countries and 1375 miles to N0LL in Kansas via E skip.

Whether on HF, VHF or UHF, active chasers of the DX know that you can add to the bottom line by working contests. So when I was actively DXing on 2 meters, I also participated in most of the VHF contests that came by.

Attending the Dayton Contest Dinner last month, I started getting the contest bug again and vowed that I would participate in the next VHF contest that came along. The ARRL June VHF QSO Party was on the air last weekend. Two meters is tied up with my APRS repeater, so I decided to try something different.

I have a like new, still in the box, ICOM IC-402 that I decided needed a workout. Saturday morning, I stopped by the local battery emporium, purchased nine C cells, loaded them into the 402, connected the Create log periodic and fired up the wireless at 2 PM local time.

With only 3 W and nine C cells, I decided to seek-and-pounce rather than seek you, so all weekend long, every hour or so, I fired up the 402 for 5 to 10 minutes and tune around the band looking for something to pounce upon. The 402 has a sensitive receiver and I heard a lot of stations and pounced, but I was not very successful catching my prey.

Truth be told, I completed only one contact during the contest: W2SZ/1 up on Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, about 70 miles away. I have a myriad of excuses for my poor performance: 3 W doesn't cut it, the log periodic has seen better days, trees are encroaching on the antenna, allergies, cat messing with my mind, laundry and so on. At least duping my log will be simple!

Well, there's always the CQ World Wide VHF Contest next month, the ARRL UHF Contest in August and the ARRL VHF QSO Party in September.

Until next time, keep on surfin’.

Editor note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, needs a bigger tower (to clear the trees). To contact Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog.

 



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