Monday, June 10, 2013

VHF Contest - Mt Diablo

For the 2013 June VHF Contest, I again traveled to Mt Diablo to set up a QRP station.  The equipment I used this year included the Yaesu FT-817ND transceiver, connected to three yagi antennas.  For six meters I used a new Diamond A-502HB short-boom two element yagi.  For the two meter band I used the 4-element Arrow VHF antenna, and for 70cm I used a Diamond A430-S15 15-element yagi.  All three antennas were attached to a Buddipole 18' telescoping mast, and the mast was guyed to the bed of my truck.  The antennas were spaced so that the entire array could be rotated by hand.  New this year was 223.5 MHz FM, using a Yaesu VX-6R radio and a an Arrow 220 1.25m 5-element yagi on a photo tripod.

The radios were running on solar power, via the 6.4Ah LiFePO4 battery and PowerFilm solar panels that I've used previously.  With the bright summer sunshine both days, there was no problem with the solar power keeping up withe the load from the radios.  Typical power output from the panels was around 5 to 10 watts -- I didn't need any more than that to keep the battery topped off.

The new antenna system seemed to work pretty well!  I started the contest Saturday around 1:30pm, on a very hot day (98F!) in the summit parking lot just below the Mt Diablo main summit.  The higher gain of the antennas (compared to the Elk and HO Loop from last year) seemed to help make it easier to contact the DX stations.  Running QRP, it was good to have the extra gain.

Along with me this year was Henrik KK6BQU (operating low-power nearby), and Gary KE6QR and Dave N6ORB were already set up in the same parking lot.  Activity was fairly heavy on Saturday, and at sunset Henrik and I packed up and headed back to the campsite at Juniper Campground.  As we were packing up, the Mt Diablo Astronomy Club was setting up quite a few telescopes in the parking lot -- a number of them had questions about what were were doing with all the antennas!

Sunday was more contesting, starting around 9am and continuing to the contest end at 8pm.  Overall, preliminary totals indicate 248 unique contacts on the four bands this year.  By band, I counted 90 QSOs and 25 grid squares on 6 meters, 80 and 12 on 2m, 21 and 6 on 1.25m, and 57 and 8 on 70cm.    There were sporadic E openings to the mountain states on Saturday, and into Canada and Alaska on Sunday. 

Highlights included making contact with N7NW in Washington on 6 meters (who I had contacted by EME two months ago), hearing W6PH operating from Lone Pine, CA (on the other side of the Sierra Nevada), hearing new stations in the contest for the first time, and working the contest regulars.  It was also nice to see Henrik enjoying his first VHF contest, and nice having the company up there!


  1. Dave is too humble to mention that he took 5th place in the
    "Single Operator Portable" (SOP) category, not bad!

    I know, it was all for fun, but still nice to be recognized.

    _Rick WA6RAI

  2. Very nice! How did you attach those antennas to the BP? Are those special BP adaptors? Very interested in replicating your set up.
    Hope to hear from you!



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