2 Meter EME Trip to DN66db

Date/Time: Saturday - September 16, 2017 0900z start
Call: KB7Q
QTH: DN66db Captain Clark Fishing Access Site
Frequency: 144.138 MHz +_ QRM/Birdies KB7Q always first JT65b
Gear: 2x 9el. Yagis, 800 watts, K3 w/ internal transverter, excellent pre-amp, 2KW generator


Another run out to a rare grid. This one is to a superb site on the Yellowstone River three hours from home with a clear horizon. I'll go out the day before, set up, and be ready for my 0300 local moonrise.

DN66db - God willing and the river doesn't rise we'll be there.

2M EME Trip to DN56

Date/Time: July 26, 2017 1600z start
Call: KB7Q
QTH: DN56ac north of Big Timber, Montana
Frequency: 144.138 MHz +_ QRM/Birdies KB7Q always first JT65b
Gear: 2x 9el. Yagis, 800 watts, K3 w/ internal xverter, excellent pre-amp, 2KW generator

Chris, KA1D and I rolled out early to DN56ac. Even a K index of 4 didn't dampen our spirits. We got to our what was expected to be a quiet sand pit well off the highway only to find an accident between a big semi-truck and two pick-up trucks had just happened right there. There were no injuries, and the deputy sheriff seemed to have the matter in hand, so we eased past the wreck into into our spot and set up.

It was just our luck that the single power line for miles in any direction had really leaky insulators. The K3's two noise blankers knocked it down to reasonable level. Phew!

The moon came up right at 1600z and we were off to the races ... slowly. When I2FAK is "only" -20 you know things are going to a bit of a challenge. Conditions did improve and HB9Q proved to be our King of the Hill station with a -11 signal. Best DX was an easy QSO with ZS4TX.

At one point we went 62 minutes without a contact and then had a mini pile-up before things tapered off for good as Faraday locked us out to Europe. At one point we tried with SM7FMX for quite a while until he lost his moon, Mog peaked at -18, but no joy!

All and all a fun outing to show KA1D what this EME addiction is all about. Half way through our operation Chris was driving WSJT 10  like a pro and logging a contact every four minutes.

Contacts are up on LoTW and all direct QSLs are answered the same day I receive them.

Stations worked from the sand lot:
I2FAK (-20), EA8DBM (-23), OZ1LPR (-21), DL1KDA (-25), S52LM (-19), G4DML (-17), PA3FPQ (-19), UX5UL (-14), DK5YA (-16), DK3WG (-24), UT6UG (-18), HA8CE (-23), ES6RQ (-13), PE1L (-16), ES3RF (-20), DK3BU (-22), PA1GYS (-20), DL8FBD (-25), DF2ZC (-23), PA0JMV (-24), DK5SO (-22), DL8GP (-23), PA3CMC (-20), EA2AGZ (-19), ZS4TX (-22), RK3FG (-16), LZ2FO (-23), UA3PTW (-21), HA6NQ (-21), G4SWX (-26), UT5ZN/P (-21), DL8II (-24), I3MEK (-19), W5ADD (-20), HB9Q (-11), VE1KG (-24), G4FUF (-17).

Being tall helps! Packing up after 36 EME QSOs.


Even with disturbed conditions there were times with good action.

DN65/DN66/DN85 6M Grid Trip June 19 - 24

Equipment: Elecraft K3, pre-amp, KPA500 amp, 4 element Yagi and Honda 2kw generator.

Have camper will grid! Joyce and I spent a week kicking around eastern Montana and the very northwest corner of South Dakota. We were able to complete with several folks needing these rare grids. I'm glad I took my digital interface as there was plenty of action on JT65 and MSK144. CW was spotty, although I did get one decent opening where I could run 'em contest style for about 30 minutes.

Highlights: Working K1TO (Florida) on what appeared to be a dead band, and bumping K1TOL (Maine)  FFMA grid total up to 485 by working him from all three grids. Of course working IT9TYR made my whole week!

It was great fun to kick around this country before it got way too hot.
DN85 - The high lonesome. North Cave Hills, South Dakota
Out of nowhere comes K1TO!
DN65 - Red Shale Campground looking past the truck camper east.


Wyoming 2M EME Quick Trip

Date/Time: May 28, 2017 1600z until interest wanes
Call: KB7Q
QTH: DN44lw Yellowstone Park
Frequency: 144.138 MHz +_ QRM/Birdies KB7Q always first JT65b
Gear: 2x 9el. Yagis, 800 watts, K3 w/ internal xverter, excellent pre-amp, 2KW generator

A lovely day for EME in Yellowstone Park. 31 stations logged during disturbed conditions.
When I left the house for Wyoming the K index was 6 so I knew conditions would be challenging. Setting up was easy and I was ready when the moon cleared the eastern hills at 8 degrees elevation. At times signals were huge, and other times I'd go 30 minutes with a blank screen. Faraday rotation was fantastically fast at times - I've never seen 1 minute shifts before. I could only run 700 watts because of the high altitude effect on the generator i.e. less horse power. The second generator I borrow to put in parallel wasn't available. EA1YV showed great perseverance, we kept missing each other for over four hours until goddess moon smiled upon us.

OK1TEH and N1DNN were copied and answered several times, but no joy.

This trip I used WSJT-X v1.7.1 R7691 and thought it worked quite well. Decodes seemed faster, it just took a bit of fooling around to figure out how to make it pick the pile-up apart with the different control panel v. WSJT 10. My K3/transverter still seems to be high in frequency so I tried to compensate by dialing in a full KHz low - that works for me!

If there is interest I can do a Wyoming trip this fall to favor VK/ZL/JA etc. folks. Yes?

Making the contact with EA4CYQ for his 50th State. The pile-up was big time fun!
Stations worked: OH6UW (-25), OK1DIX (-9), OK1DIG (-9), OE3NFC (-18), EA4CYQ (-16), F6HVK (-17), LZ2FO (-17), G4SWX (-10), DL1KDA (-19), EA8DBM (-15), S53K (-12), RX3A (-13), VE1KG (-15), HA6NQ (-14), UT5ZN/P (-11), RX1AS (-16), F5AQX (-16), K2TW (-20), IK1UWL (-17), K9MRI (-15), HA8CE (-18), IK7EZN (-16), S51ZO (-19), DK5LA (-13), DK4RC (-15), LZ1DP (-15), W7JW (-20), EA8TJ (-16), DL1DWI (-10), EA1YV (-21), N7NW (-17).

Nevada (DN21) 2M EME - Moon Pass #2

Despite the wind and rain, and urban QRN I put 37 additional stations in the log during this pass. VK5APN motivated me to get back on after a brief nap for a sked and I'm glad he did as I worked three JA stations and XE2AT in addition. That made a total of 71 stations worked for the Nevada trip.

The noise blanker in my K3 really saved the day. The QRN was 12 db above my usual resting receive level, with some careful adjustment I was able to kill off the noise and keep going. I never knew that the noise blanker would work so well on JT65 signals. This is good to know going forward.

A casino RV Park is not the idea place for an EME effort, but with the high winds and rain the warm trailer looked like a better option with  the comforts of home and mains power. Operating in these conditions on the government land would have been wallowing in the mud - the clay in the west becomes "gumbo" when it gets wet! Who would have thought dry Nevada would get two big storms back to back.

I re-calibrated the K3 between sessions but it was still +700Hz in frequency, I'll have to figure that out - there is a quick mod to the ref. oscillator board I'll have to install.  The short term cure of course was to just compensate and set the VFO to 144.137.3 MHz.

Thanks to all the great EME ops for spreading out and to keep calling. I C U !

Logged this moon pass: VE1KG (-26), PE1L (-27), SM2BYC (-21), RW1AY (-26), OH7PI (-24), W4YTB (-22), PA5Y (-20), PA3FPQ (-27), DF2ZC (-24), W1PV (-21), DK3WG (-27), PA0JMV (-21), ES3RF (-19), DL8FBD (-25), DK5EW (-29), OK2PMS (-22), SM5DIC (-27), HA8CE (-25), PA3FYC (-21), I3MEK (-19), SK5AA (-21), DG0OPK (-22), OK1TEH (-23) single Yagi, DD0VF (-22) two Yagi, YU3CBZ (-20), DL7FF (-17), CT1HZE (-19), DL4KUG (-27), PA3CMC (-15), DL8DAU (-23) two Yagi, N1DNN (-23), KC4SW (-24), VK5APN (-22), JP3EXR (-19), XE2AT (-27), JA1PFP (-20), and JH0BBE (-27).

Signals were very good on this trip.

The station.


Classic basin and range country just south of Jackpot, Nevada between storms.

Nevada (DN21) 2M EME - Moon Pass #1

It was a long and challenging day, but it all worked out pretty well. I towed the RV trailer the 400 miles down from Montana in pretty high winds and occasional rain. I arrived at Jackpot, Nevada right around noon. Given the rain and wind I decided to keep all the comforts of the RV at hand and set the EME array up right in the RV park that is attached to the Cactus Pete casino. I was lucky to find a spot on the south side with a clear horizon and a nice grassy spot for the Yagis.

I did have some addition RF noise at times, but the K3's noise blanker really helped. It appears I was +700 Hz off in frequency also - I'll correct that for the second moon pass tonight. It rained most of the night, but thankfully the SWR stayed low.

34 Stations were worked with several being a new State for folks. Stations logged: I2FAK (-26), UA3PTW (-15), RX3A (-20), OE3NFC (-20), ZS4TX (-23), EA4CYQ (-23), OZ1LPR (-19), UT5ZN/P (-19), EA8DBM (-23), PA1GYS (-25), RX1AS (-23), K9MRI (-22), RU3GX (-24), ES6RQ (-14), OH2LHE (-20), PA3DOL (-24), RU3GX (-20), DL8GP (-17), W2DBL (-25), HA6NQ (-22), N0KE (-25), SM7GVF (-17), DK5SO (-25), SM7FMX (-20), N7SC (-19), NJ2R (-26), PA2CHR (-17), AA7A (-18), W7MEM (-22), N4QWZ (-22), W2HRO (-21), KK6FAH (-20), and KL7UW (-19).

Another storm with high winds and rain is predicted for tonight during the second moon pass. I'll do my best.
Between storms in beautiful Jackpot, Nevada DN21.

Wyoming (DN44lw) 2M EME Quick Trip July 2

All went pretty well this morning, signals were outstanding the whole six hours. I was a bit late out of the gate and was running less power then usual as I only had the use of one generator today. At 7,500 feet MSL the Honda generator is not making nearly as much horse power as at sea level, so I was down a full db on transmit. I couldn't get my GPS to time sync the computer so I had to do a crude manual time "hack" to get close. No worries - I called one CQ and there you all were!

 57 folks were logged from Yellowstone Park, Wyoming this morning. OH6LA gets the prize for tenacity, I probably called him 10x before we worked. I even managed to drop down a few kilohertz and work 6Y5AZ for a new country. It was also extra special to give Lothar, DK4TG, and Martin, OK1UGA their last State for the 2M W.A.S. award. How cool is that!?

I can't say enough good things about the new pre-amp WD5AGO built up for me. 

Worked:
 I2FAK (-21), PA3FPQ (-18), ZS4TX (-19), PA3CMC (-26), SM7GVF (-16), PA5Y (-22), DF2ZC (-27), RK3FG (-14), DK3WG (-18), PA0JMV (-18), RX1AS (16), EA2AGZ (-17), G4SWX (-21), RU1AA (-18), K9MRI (-25), S52LM (-20), DL8FBD (-20), OZ1LPR (-15), PE1L (-22), SM5CFS (-15), PA3FYC (-21), W2HRO (-21), I3MEK (-13), LA8KV (-19), DJ3VI (-22), HA6NQ (-18), DK5SO (-14), OK1UGA (-18 State #50), ES6RQ (-15), HB9Q (-14), SM2BYC (-17), F8DO (-19), DL8GP (-16), F1AFJ (-19), YU7XL (-25), SM5CUI (-23), DL4KUG (-26), DL7FF (-26), F5AQX (-23), DJ9MG (-25), OH2BYJ (-25), ON4KHG (-26), DK4TG (-24 State #50), F5LNU (-23), OH4LA (-22), DL8SCQ (-22), 6Y5AZ (-24), K5DOG (-25), N7SC (-17), KK6FAH (-21), F6APE (-22), AH6LE (-21), K1SCE (-23), KC2HFQ (-20), KB0PPQ (-21), AB1NJ (-19), and PY2GN (-23).

The new WD5AGO .25 db NF pre-amp really hears well..
Nice shady spot for the truck and not many folks around at the Big Horn Trailhead at sunrise.

Afternoon storms started rolling in and no response to my CQ's so time to pack up and get home.

South Dakota (DN85vs) - 2 Meter EME Session 4

Degradation was pushing 4.5 dB today and the moon skimmed my trees longer today so it was a tussle to work folks. I did work OE3NFC (-26), SP2FH (-26), and W2HRO (-20). This bumped the 2 Meter EME total for this trip up to 111 contacts. Tomorrow we'll tow the 500 miles home.

All the gear held up nicely and worked as it should.

A last look at some of the topography of the northwestern corner South Dakota.

South Dakota (DN85vs) - 2 Meter EME Session 3

I managed a "bonus round" of 2 meter EME today. Joyce and I arrived at Shadehill State Park mid-afternoon and found that our camping spot offered some EME opportunity. The increase degradation and tree line to the east presented a challenge, but who could pass up mains power.

Once I could elevate above the trees I started working 4x Yagi stations. In three hours I added the following folks to the log to bring the 2 meter total to 108 contacts: DK3BU (-19), PA0JVM (-22), G4SWX (-23), YU7AA (-18), DK9WI (-21), W5UN (-20), LZ4OC (-24), SV6KRW (-22), N8GTI (-27) and CX2SC (-28).

By the way Hugh Glass, mountain man, was mauled by a grizzly bear in this area in 1823. Check it out Here.

Swapping out the pre-amp is part of changing bands on EME. Nice trees!

South Dakota (DN85gu) - 70cm EME Session 2

A much better day on 70cm. I replaced the 2x Yagis vertically polarized  with a single 9wl Yagi horizontal. The lonesome Yagi, 500 watts, FT-991 and a fine, new K4EME .24 db NF preamp produced 14 contacts including a few four Yagi stations.

The moon actually  came up about 10 minutes before the time I had published, I called an early CQ and WA4NJP (-28) came right back even though I was still aiming thru a pine tree to nab his State #48. I was off to the races. Other stations worked: OK1DFC (-17) for State #46, OK1KIR (-21), UX5UL (-26), K2UYH (-23), UT5DL (-24), UR7DWW (-24), UT6UG (-25), DL9KR (CW 559) Q5 the whole QSO, US7GY (-28), DL8GP (-24), PA2V (-21), DL5FN (-17), and OH6UW (-28).

Making 19 total 70cm EME QSOs and nudging a few folks closer to W.A.S. made it quite worthwhile to bring the gear along.

I'll need to get a non-metalic cross-boom and revisit the 2x Yagi configuration going horizontal next trip.

PA2V four Yagis sure play! An easy QSO.

Only 12 feet of LMR-400 coaxial cable to the new pre-amp.

Sourth Dakota (DN85gu) - 2M EME Session 2

Conditions today featured very fast Faraday rotation at my moon rise and lots of Faraday lockup later in the session. Variety is always good! But I still managed 35 additional stations for a grand total of 98 contacts on 2 meters in two days. Outstanding - especially for two 9 element Yagis, 750 watts, and a pretty basic aiming system! Thanks for chasing me.

Folks did figure out I work the edges when five stations are on top of each other from - 100 Hz to +100 Hz. I found SM7GVF up around +700 Hz easily and worked DK9ZY first call down at -750 Hz from my center frequency while running today. Don't doubt how well dxpeditions see from these extremely quiet locations. I keep notes of who is where and try my best to get to everybody before Faraday shifts, but of course each QSO takes four minutes on JT65b and things changed fast today.

I packed up and beat a major weather front back to the trailer just before the driving rain and lightning hit. A tornado did touch down 50 miles to the west. This front will put an end to the heat wave.

Today's stations: DK5YA (-24), DK3WG (-27), DK9ZY (-26), UX5UL (-24), OZ1LPR (-19), SM7GVF (-25), DL7FF (-20), HA8CE (-24), UA4AQL (-19), UT6UG (-19), OH6UW (-23), PE1DAB (-23), K7MAC (-23), PG2M (-21), PA3FYC (-24), OH6ZZ (-23), KB8RQ (-11), GM6VXB (-20), W1PV (-20 State #46), YU7XL (-22), DJ9MG (-25), K5QE (-17), F5LNU (-19), WA7XX (-20), W5ZN (-15), DL8II (-20), N7NW (-17), DL1KDA (-26), DJ3VI (-23), DL4KUG (-27), DG0KW (-26), DK5LA (-15), DJ2TX (-25), KC2HFQ (-27), and N7SC (-26).

Part of the fun of these trips is finding unique places to visit.

South Dakota (DN85gu) - 2M EME Session 1

Today was a big day on 2 meters, I worked 63 stations. A times signals were exceptional and I had to urge folks to spread out more. I watched the edges like a hawk and made a point to work the weaker stations I found out there. I see from -1000 to + 1000 Hz.

My view of the pile-up. It is superb being miles away from man-made QRN.

Stations worked: I2FAK (-18), EA2AGZ (-23), RK3FG (-17), ZS4TX (-28), ES6RQ (-22), PE1L (-22), DM2BHG (-26), PA0JMV (-25), OK1RD (-15), RU1AA (-21), DF2ZC (-23), ZS5LEE (-24), LZ2FO (-26), RX3A (-21), F6HVK (-20), S52LM (-20), SM2BYC (-20), PA5Y (-22), UA3PTW (-15), RX1AS (-18), ZS6OB (-20), UA1MC (-25), DL8GP (-26), W2HRO (-22), G4CDN (-19), W8PAT (-27), PA1BVM (-22), F1DUZ (-22), ON4KHG (-26), DL8FDB (-24), I3MEK (-23), EA8DBM (-21), LA8KV (-26), DK5SO (-20), IZ3KGJ (-23), DL1RNW (-24), RW1AY (-19), IW4ARD (-19), SM7FMX (-26), SM5DIC (-20), S53K (-21), SK5AA (-20), DK4RC (-15), DL8YHR (-21), DL9MS (-19), SM5CUI (-23), OH4LA (-28), EA4CYQ (-19), VE1KG (-27), HA6NQ (-29), K5DOG (-25), EA1YV (-28), W5ZN (-16), KB0PPQ (-26), G6PHH (-26), K1SCE (-26), N1DNN (-21), K3JYD (-25), N4QWZ (-27), K5WBM (-20), K5LA (-18), JR3REX (-25), and K9MRI (-23).

A special thanks to Rene, PE1L for putting me on to an app for my cellphone to make the chat work much better.

Lone Tree Road into the operating site.
Two Yagis, two generators, one sun shade.

South Dakota (DN85gu) - 70cm Session 1

Well Faraday "non-rotation" seemed to rule the day. I worked five stations and worked too hard for each one. I suspect using vertical polarization is not a good idea - basically the two Yagi system didn't play well at all today. Logged: UA3PTW (-23), DL7APV (-18), DL9KR (CW 439), DK3WG (-24), and UT6UG (-22). It was great fun chasing DL9KR on CW, many times he was Q5 copy.

It was quite hot at the operating site 36 degrees C, but a really pretty location.

Time for a non-metalic boom and horizontal polarization.
The view 50 meters from the operating position, a nice place to play ham radio.


Quick Trip May 14 - 70cm EME Wyoming DN44lw

I found a place just 80 miles from my house in Montana where Route 191 dips into Wyoming, there is even a quiet trailhead with ample parking a 1/4 mile back off the road. As a bonus this is Yellowstone Park.

So Joyce and I took the RV and camped nearby to give 70cm EME a shot. Using  a single 9wl Yagi, 500 watts, and a Honda generator I worked the following folks during a single moon pass: WA4NJP (-18), OK1KIR (-17), HB9Q (-14), DK3WG (-16), DL7APV (-16), UA3PTW (-19), OK1DFC (-20), UT6UG (-20), LZ1DX (-16), G4RGK (-21), DL9KR (CW 559), UT5DL (-24), DL8GP (-29), UX5UL (-22), OH6UW (-27), K2UYH (-18), and DF3RU (-18 State #50).

Could this be the first EME operating from Yellowstone Park?

Simple, quick EME setup.
Folks were there waiting for my first CQ!

That's DL9KR's awesome CW signal going down the screen.

KH6/KB7Q Summary

So what to think about an "ultra light" EME dxpedition using SSPA amps and single Yagis? I designed the operation around being able to have access to the extra gain of moon rise using the Pacific Ocean - I got to do that for two of the five operating shifts, enough to know that really helped put folks in the log and made my small station work great.

I did not have access to a western window for Asia and eastern Russia so those folks were left wanting. Remember I'm balancing family time with lunacy. :-) I may return at some point with total focus on ham radio and bigger antennas.

Losing access to the first QTH was a setback, but certainly not the end of the world. The second location right at our rental house worked fine once the moon was at 4 degrees and above for the last three sessions. As a bonus cold beer was just a flight of stairs away!

I'd guess that my 2 meters signal was  down 2 db compared to the 2x 9 element Yagis I use back home. Here was a 12 element M2 Yagi and 800 watts. I also substituted LMR400 coax for LMR600 for the feed line because of weight considerations.

On 70cm my lack of experience with the greater Doppler shift showed, and Faraday would really lock me out for hours at a time, but giving DL7APV his 50th State was an honor and a pleasure. When signals were there they were quite good. My system was 500 watts, and a single 28 element Yagi, again with an LMR400 feed of 10 meters. 70cm needs more activity too.

Bottom line:
It all worked out great and exceeded expectations. 53 2 meter and 13 70cm stations were logged, giving folks a new State, grid, and DXCC country. It proved what an "Ultra Light" EME station can do.

All contacts are up on LoTW. QSL cards to my home address as listed in qrz.com will find me in about 10 days and I'll return a card promptly. QSL cards have been ordered.

A special thanks to Lloyd, KH6LC for his local knowledge and support, and Rick, N7WE for the use of his FT-897D for the 70cm station. Thanks also to W7GJ and PE1L, guys who's EME trips inspired me to try one myself.

Thanks for being there, it was a great adventure,
Gene, KH6/KB7Q

Aloha!