Monday, August 6, 2012

ARRL UHF Contest - Mt Vaca

This weekend I spent a few hours in the ARRL August UHF Contest. The contest ran from 11am PT on Saturday, August 4th to 11am on Sunday. On Saturday afternoon, I drove to near the summit of Mt Vaca, located just west of Vacaville, California. The summit is at close to 3,000' elevation, and is at the end of a 6-mile road up from the valley below. The road continues north along the ridgeline, and I found a good spot with reasonable views to the north, east, and south.

For equipment, I used the Diamond 15-element UHF yagi, an ARR SP432VDG preamplifier, and the truck's Yaesu FT-857D radio (20 watts on UHF). The first few calls had very weak return signals, and a quick check confirmed that the preamp has burnt out (how did THAT happen??). I disconnected the preamp, and ran the yagi direct from the '857.

Weather conditions were great -- clear and sunny with almost no wind. I operated on 432.1 for about 2.5 hours, and in that time managed to make a total of 8 contacts -- pretty much everyone who was on the band in the Bay Area at that time! Signals with the yagi (my first time using a high-gain antenna during a contest) were very strong. A station on Mt Diablo (about 30 miles away) was S9+. A station above Lake Tahoe (100 miles away) was S7. Overall, the contest was pretty quiet, once everyone had worked everyone else, all we could do is wait for someone new to join in.

After the contest, I operated as a rover (KB5WIA/R) and provided a few more contacts in CM88 and CM98 grids.

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