QRT - For this trip

We'll head for home in Bozeman tomorrow, but the last month was fun - even if this wasn't one of the best Es seasons. Our travels took us to some wonderful spots. All the contacts should be up on LoTW now and I'll get any paper QSL requests done as soon as I grab my mail.

I packed up and bailed off of Sula Peak this afternoon just before the front hit. We had 45 mph winds here at the RV Park when I got back. The band had been flat for the last 3 hours up there.

A last look at the Bitteroot Range, as the clouds started arriving.

DN25/DN35 - The sequel

Good meteors this morning. Worked: K6EU, KU7Z, W9JN (1180 miles), W7OUU, KB7ME, KA9FOX (1132 miles), N7EA, VA7SW, KC7I, VE6CPP, VE7DAY, and W7ID.

Nice quick double hop opening on CW worked: N3LL, W4AS, N4ZQ, and K4NNX so far.

Windy and hot so we'll see how long I last.

Even hooked everything up right this morning the first time.
W9JN's 14 db ping, not bad for 1180+ miles.

Two pings from KA9FOX, 1132 miles. 9 and 14 db.


It was a good day up at the Sula Peak fire lookout on the DN25/DN35 grid line, but it was hot even being at 6,400'.

I worked about 50 stations as far east as W4, south to XE2, and places in between. I felt like I was just on the edge of the action all days long and only my high and clear position allowed me to hook into the skip.  Best DX: XE2OR, XE2S, NN4R (AL), K4PI (GA), K4YMQ (AL), and a 750 mile meteor scatter contact with ND0B in the afternoon - not the best time to expect that result.

I'll give it another shot tomorrow, starting at 1300z for some meteor scatter work.

Another look, and the storm that missed the peak.

DN25/DN35 grid line we're here

Looking west, the Bitteroot River just shining way down below.
Looking east.
Right smack on the DN25/DN35 line.

The "shack".

DN25xu - Tomorrow and Monday

Tomorrow we'll give DN25xu a shot from the top of Sula Peak. I should be on the air by 1900z. I'll go back up Monday morning for some meteor scatter actions with FSK441 also and stay as long as I can. I will have Internet access I just found out.

CW 50.099 Mhz moving to SSB up band  if I get a decent opening
ISCAT 50.260 MHz moving to 50.250 MHz when spotted
FSK441 CQ D10 50.260 MHz.

A bit of luck would be nice too.

Missoula, Montana

We're in Jim & Mary's RV Park in Missoula seeing friends and taking a break from all that white noise on 6 meters. We spent a total of five days in DN28 and worked 6 folks. Grr.
Even in B+W DN28 is quite the place for camping, fishing, and someday 6M!
 Anyhow - taking an RF break and then we'll see if we can get to the lookout on the top of Sula Peak Sunday afternoon/evening and Monday morning for DN25. If there is interest I can hang around and add more time.

A teaser photo from K7VK, this is what Sula Peak looks like on the DN25/DN35 line.


We're still in DN28 looking for Es. The single hop opening to NM/AZ/CA was one grid short of making it up here a few days back, so W7GJ got to take up the slack. We moved yesterday about 25 miles south and found a great Forest Service campground on Lake Koocanusa (Co-Canada/USA get it?). This is a great place to hunker down and stay out of the way of the holiday, so we'll be here for the next three days. The price is right too; $4.50 a night with my Golden Age Card.

No Internet here, but it's only a 25 miles run back up to Eureka, the Subway Sandwich shop, and Cyberspace.

The antenna is up, the gear assembled and we're scanning. Here are a few picture that share a feeling for Rocky Gorge Campground with you.

Lake Koocanusa

You can always do wheel bearings on the homemade RV.

Another look at the lake.


We found a great RV park in the Tobacco Valley (emphasis on valley after last night's hemmed in QTH) at Eureka, MT. I'm all set up and ready to go. We'll be here two days and then still be in DN28 when we move toward Libby, MT. Off to town, they're having a street fair.

DN28lv, all fat and sassy in an RV Park. Looking southeast. Canada is 6 miles north.


Arrived in West Glacier, MT after crossing the Continental Divide. Six meters is dead right now, but I'll scanning and will hit meteor scatter tonight and tomorrow morning. We're in the mountains so not a great horizon.

I was able to get out some on meteors: ND0B, K6EU, KU7Z, KB7ME, and KD7UO worked.

DN48kh - more Es action

It was very nice to get an afternoon opening to W9-land. It was plenty strong so after some urging I went to SSB for several contacts. 45 stations worked and some double-hop to the southeastern States mixed in. Best DX W4TV (FL), KJ4E (FL) and K2SX (SC).

Lots of campers moving into this place now for the weekend, so I'll have to be more judicious with my generator use in the morning. We headed to the mountains tomorrow. DN38 here we come.

I'll have my log up on LoTW tonight if the Internet hold up.

DN48kh - The meteor scatter version

I was tickled to work 11 stations on the burns this morning: W7MEM, K7MAC, KB5HMU, K6EU, ND0B, N0KE, KC0HLN, VA7SW, VE6CPP, KB7ME and K9YC. I'm learning that DN48 is a long ways from anywhere!

Tiber Reservoir campground - An island of trees in the vast northern prairie.


We had a windy hour's  ride over from Havre, MT to 12 miles south of Chester, MT on at the Tiber Reservoir. It was windy enough that the truck's 6 speed transmission spent a lot of time in 4th gear - a true Montana breeze. We found our way to the high spot above the dam in the VFW campground and got all set up. I have a great horizon in all directions.

Guess what -  the band opened! A very nice double-hop opening all the way to Maine and points south along the east coast. I worked 53 stations before things petered out. Best DX: K1TOL, K1SIX, N3DB, K3WC, W1IPL, K4QI, VE2DLC, K2ZD and loads of others. I had almost fogotten just how much fun 6 meters can be. The propagation would shift very quickly and some of the stations I worked were here and gone in 15 seconds.

It was great to get some action after one of the slowest weeks in June I've ever seen.

Now that is more like it!

Travel Day

DN48 bound, only a 70 mile day so we're slow heading out.
This is the storm we followed into Saskatchewan yesterday.

Day Off But ...

Ok Yank, let me see that ham ticket before you operate /VE5. From today's Fort Walsh trip.
 Off to visit the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan, but got on this morning and worked WC7V, and KE7NR on meteors before we hit the road. Big thunderstorms to the west so time to batten down the hatches.

A bit of enhancement let me see KE7NR, Don switching from RR tone to 73 tone. 1045 miles.

Probably shouldn't even mention - no Es has appeared in DN58 yet.

DN58dn - A Small Move

We're urban camping at the Havre Fairgrounds now. Just a 10 mile move to hookups and getting the A/C going as it will be 95 degrees today. Only worked W7MEM, and KB7ME on meteors this morning.

Mrs. KB7Q a.k.a. Joyce hanging out reading (not QST).


It was a slow day here in camp so I decided to try the newest meteor scatter program/mode PSK2K. Why not? It's free and there is enough support now to ensure a good chance of success. After reading the installation instructions several times, and following them carefully, going slowly step-by-step to create the folders and move the files around as specified  the program almost worked. It took a few more tests to get the sound card built into my microHam USBIII interface to output PSK2K audio to the rig - WIN7 is all fun and games when it comes to audio handling! Anyhow I was all set by late afternoon.

K7IP and K7EK served as my guinea pigs while I floundered thru a couple of contacts with them. My first impressions are a) my HP 1.6 GHz 3 GB RAM laptop computer is barely adequate to keep up with the hefty processing that happens on a meteor burst b) it really does work well and is worth the time spent exploring, especially if it delivers -8 SNR decoding ability. c) Just like WSJT re-reading the users guide really helps after you have used the program a bit. The buttons and program flow start to make sense d) things are much more automated then FSK441 and you don't get to see much of "what is behind the curtain".

The installation of the program is clearly the hardest part, but if you know WSJT-FSK441 you'll get the idea of how the program functions after a few contacts. 

My second contact using PSK2K.

Some PSK2K links:
An Overview
N5TM's PSK2K Excellent Site & Source of Helping Hands
PSK2K Users Guide


Another excellent meteor scatter session. K5WE (1117 miles), N0LWF, KB5HMU, W7OUU, K7IP, and KC0HLN (934 miles) logged.
K0YW worked on CW this morning also.

Nice FSK441 ping and a pinglette from K5WE, 1117 miles.

Looking south at the Bear Paw Mountains.

DN57 --> DN58dj

Still no Es, but a great session on meteors this morning before we broke DN57 camp. WA5TKU, W5KI, KE7NR, K7ULS, N0LWF, N7EA, KO9A, and VA7SW worked.

Packing up now to head toward Havre, MT. 

R26 tone from WA5TKU, Texas 1141 miles.

R26 tone from KO9A, Illinois 1105 miles, Jim was running 100 watts.                                     Hint: Just past 15 second hash marks! Burst is from another caller.
Arrived just south of Havre, MT mid-afternoon at Hill County Park, we have the whole west side of Beaver Creek Reservoir to ourselves. We stopped for a nice lunch in Chinook, MT. Windy, but station is all set up and ready. Es anyone? Anyone?

DN58dj, south of Havre, MT - Big Sky Country!


Still no Es, so meteor scatter using FSK441 is the only game in town, other then at Lucky Lil's casino. Worked N0KE, KB7ME, N7CW, KB7HMU, and KE7NR this morning. There is always the wildlife to watch!

Just in case you want to know where the RF black hole is centered.

DN56 --> DN57

I worked K7MAC, KB7ME, N7NW, and N0LWF on morning meteor scatter using FSK441 to finish up the DN56 stay. Then an easy 55 mile  ride up to Lewistown, MT and DN57gb. Quiet right now, but I'm all set up and ready to go. We're off grid in the Kiwanis Club rest area/park, so the generator is ready to run the amp.

The antenna on these trips is an M2 6M5XHP shortened to 4 elements. Director 3 is removed along with that boom section, director 2 is then moved 16 inches closer to the driven element - it rides on a new stub boom piece. This makes for a decent Yagi that is quite a bit easier to transport almost assembled, less of problem in crowded RV parks, and easy to man-handle into position even in wind. The mast is 3 six foot sections of aluminum cement float extension handles. SWR is excellent, as is F/B.

 Here are a few pictures Joyce took while I set the Yagi up here on the western edge of Lewistown.

Assembled boom and elements ride on the RV's ladder. Coax stays attached.

About 5 minutes and a 3/8" nut driver to assemble things.

Quick mount place secures the boom to the mast.

The antenna is light enough to man-handle into position. Note "rotator" line.

DN56 - Day 2

I had a good session on meteor scatter this morning. Eight stations worked as far east as IL and south to AZ: KB7ME, KS7S, W7ID, KB5HMU, K9MU, KC0HLN, K9CT, and ND0B.

I tore into the amp last night and found the low power side contacts on the open frame T/R relay to need some TLC. I guess even a 35 year old relay needs occasional service. The amp was back to its usual stable self this morning. The amp is a homebrew 3CPX800a7 I stuffed into an old Dentron case - only the power transformer, power switch, and T/R relay are orginal.

I still want an Elecraft KPA500!
We'll see what treats are in store for this afternoon. Drat - not a peep all the rest of the day!

Here's another view of our camping area. At least it was a great day.

DN56bk - Harlowton, MT

An easy 2 hour tow over from Bozeman to a nice town park with big campsites. Got the station set up and then spent an hour messing with the amp, it seems the T/R relay doesn't want to T/R - I'm working on it! It worked fine all last weekend. LOL.

Spotty, quick openings to the Midwest, 30 stations worked so far, all single hop to EN grids. We'll be here all day tomorrow.

QSOs uploaded to LoTW.

Lovely camp spot along the Musselshell River.

The amp gets stuck under the trailer's sofa to kill the fan noise.

Harlowton, Montana -- Main Street

Ready to Go

Tomorrow we're off to give several Montana grids a visit over the next month. DN56, DN57, DN58 are first on the agenda. Then westward all the way over to DN28. 

Equipment: 4 element Yagi @ 25 feet, K3 + pre-amp, 500 watts amp, 11,000 pound trailer pulled by a 3/4 ton Chevy truck.

Modes: Name it, I can do it. :-)

Off we go,
Gene, KB7Q