Sunday, September 15, 2013

September ARRL VHF Contest - Mt Vaca

For this year's ARRL September VHF Contest, I set up the portable system near the summit of Mt Vaca.  Mt Vaca is close to 3,000' in elevation and is located west of Sacramento in grid square CM88.  The mountain has good radio views of the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley.  The ridgeline is accessed by the 5-mile long narrow, winding, Mix Canyon Road; near the top, a private road turns to the south to access the commercial radio towers, and I turned north for another mile along the dirt road to a relatively open spot along the ridgeline.

The equipment I used was the same as in the June 2013 VHF contest:  the Yaesu FT-817ND QRP all-mode transceiver, connected to a 2-element Diamond 6 meter beam for 50 MHz, a 4-element Arrow VHF yagi for 144 MHz, and a 15-element Diamond  UHF yagi for 432 MHz.  All three antennas were mounted on a 20-foot Buddipole mast that I set in the bed of the pickup truck.  I also brought along the Yaesu VX-6R and a 5-element 223 MHz yagi for 1.25m FM contacts.  Power came from the 6.4 Ah LiFePO4 battery that I've used for contesting in the past; four hours of operation didn't deplete the battery enough to need the solar panels that I normally use.

This contest was just casual operating -- in that I set up around 1pm on Saturday, and took the station down just after 5pm.  There were quite a few other stations out there.  Some of the best contacts were KK6BQU in the South Bay (he was with me in the June Diablo contest), and AL1VE and others on Mt Shasta in the relatively rare grid CN81.  It was also great to hear quite a few of the contest regulars out there!

BandQSOs Grids
50 21 7
144 31 8
223 11 4
432 21 7

The weather was just about perfect -- temperature in the low 80's and virtually no wind.  All in all, it was a fun day to be doing radio on top of a mountain!