Monday, January 25, 2010

VHF Sweepstakes

This weekend I dusted off my old VHF and UHF beam antenns (4-el and 6-el), and drove to the top of nearby Mt. Vaca (2900' elevation). I set up the antennas on a portable mast in the truck bed, driven by the Yasesu FT-857D and fed through RG-8 and a duplexer. During the setup it was hailing on me, but once things were setup the system worked well! I had my first SSB 70cm and 6m contacts, and made around 30 QSOs in total before I had to take the system down and get back. Lots of fun.

Main learning experiences were that I should have had the 70cm and 2m beams pointed in the same direction. When I was assembling the array I thought it was more aesthetic to have them pointed in opposite directions, but then everytime someone wanted to cross-band QSO, I realized I had to get out and turn the antennas 180 degrees! Another useful thing would have been to have a map and a compass to help orient the beam ... at one point, thick fog rolled in and I could barely tell north from south.

The above map shows the location, looking southwest towards San Francisco Bay. The beams worked MUCH better than the mobile whip -- climbinb up the mountain, I barely heard any stations with the vertical, but on top, I could hear many many stations -- some of which were S9+20!

From my location in grid square CM88, the furthest contact was in Fresno, around 175 miles away.