DN25/35 Sula Peak

The view from Sula Peak looking at the Bitterroot Range. DN25/35
This morning I rolled out of Missoula early and beat-feet 90 miles down the Bitterroot Valley to Sula Peak, 6175' MSL. As promised I was QRV 2 meters by 12:30z. This was a double-gird as the parking area just in front of the fire lookout sits on the DN25/DN35 line. AA7A, KS7S, W7MEM, KC6ZWT, WA7HQD, K6EME, KR7O, and N0KE were worked fairly easily.

Now that the TE amp is working well it draws 28 amps, it tripped the thermal breaker on my Astron switching supply at one point. I need to re-connect a jumper inside that I installed to make the fan run all the time. I used a separate supply to power the K3. The four inch fan I have on the fins of the amp does a great job keeping things from going past slightly warm to the touch.

As I left a storm was rolling in. Good timing I'd say.

DN25/DN35 Double Header - Tomorrow

I'll head out to Sula Peak early tomorrow morning and shoot for a 1230z start time. This will be 2 meters only. I've been here before and I know that spot-to-squat that gives me the DN25/35 line.
I'll be on 144.144 MHz  first sequence FSK441, I should have Internet access. If Ping Jockey is still down I'll use the ON4KST 144/432 region 2 chat.

DN25/35 I did a 6M op from here two years ago.

I've been to the mountain - putting the W7GJ home station on the air

This morning four of us hamsters met up at Lance, W7GJ's QTH and uncorked his big arrays to work KH8/ZL1RS and KH8/W7GJ on 6 and 2 meter EME. A few challenges along the way, but we "got 'er done" as they say.

I'm thinking of a 2M trip down to Sula Peak for DN25/35 double grid operation. Any interest?

DN76cj Miles City, MT and R&R in Bozeman

We tried a different RV Park in Miles City this time and had a better horizon in most directions. I completed 6M meteor scatter contacts with W7KNT, N0LWF, W7MEM, and K7MAC. On 2M I worked W8BYA, WB0ULX, ND0B, WA7HQD, W9NHE, AI5I, K7ND, and K7MAC. I even had a brief double-hop 6M Es opening and worked 8 folks.

Time to leave eastern Montana, it is going to get hot out here, 95+ degrees temperatures are in the weekend forecast.

The TE Systems 2M amp is fixed.  It was the crappy factory solder job on the SO239 output connector - I'm glad I was able to trouble-shoot it in the field and had brought my soldering station along.

We're back in Bozeman for a few days, then off to Missoula to put the W7GJ home station on the air via EME to try and work Lance and Bob out on the KH8-dxpedition on both 6 and 2 meters. Lance kindly left me a 30 page manual on how to run his station. That's "run", NOT "ruin". LOL.

I'm thinking I'm going to just take the 2M gear with me to western Montana and do a more casual grid operation from there.

LoTW has been updated, and I did all the paper QSL card requests I found in our stack of mail last night, they'll go out today.

A big thanks to Mac, K7MAC for getting me to take 2M gear along - the 2M meteor scatter contacts were a whole bunch of fun, especially when I'd go out and find a really good high spot with the truck. Working W5UN on moonbounce was frosting on the cake.

Here's a visual summary of the trip so far:

DN75ax - Tongue River Road, Montana

DN75ax, aka "The Big Open"

Looking for W8BYA, I worked Gedas in about 3 minutes, nice 1100 miles QSO.
Up and out early for the 30 mile drive south into DN75, I was QRV by 1155z and K7MAC was waiting. DN65xx was just down the road too, but when I looked to see if I could do a double gird thing I had a road-cut blocking my horizon.

The 2M amp continues to be a pain. At one point I whacked it a good one and it started working again so I could complete with NQ7R and WA7HQD. There must be a cold solder join in there somewhere - I'll go looking later today. At least I've isolated the problem now.

Great heads-up on everybody's part when I lost the Internet. It was a super marginal signal and once the day started heating up I lost the path to the cell tower - God only knows where that was. I had just put the list out on PJ so I worked my way through it as best I could, and then called CQ in quadrants.

2M stations worked on meteor scatter: K7MAC, W8BYA, ND0B, KC6ZWT, AA7A, W9RM, KR7O, NQ7R, and WA7HQD. Nine stations for a morning's outing is fine with me.

Post Script - I pulled the bottom cover off the 2M amp this afternoon and the solder joint at the center pin of the output connector sure looked suspect. I re-flowed that, so we'll see if that was the problem.  It does put out an even 200 watts into a dummy load with no oscillation.

Man with a plan - DN75

The 2 Meter  set up gave me fits this morning. I'd work a station out to 1100 miles and then have trouble completing with a power-house like K7MAC at 600 miles. Sheer persistence paid off with 10 contacts. Sometime didn't seem right.

 Turns out the TE Systems amp is oscillating and hanging up at times refusing to go back to receive, and acting generally weird. I tried ferrite clamp-ons on the power leads, different length of coax, and checked the screws on the antennas T match and looked at the SWR etc. trying to fix the problem.

Big clue - Putting the amp into a dummy load fixed the problem, so it looks like just too much RF in and around the trailer - I know the house wiring for the RV runs through the ceiling. No matter how high I get the antenna it still persists.

The good news is that when the amp is happy it still puts out 200 watts. More good news was that I brought enough tools and a dummy load along just in case!

Anyhow I'll try DN75 2M only tomorrow with just the truck. Here's the plan given that I don't expect to have Internet:

I should be on 144.144 MHz around 1200z tomorrow morning. I'll call CQ generally east for 30 minutes, then shift to generally westerly 30 minutes and then south 30 minutes etc. If you hear me say something on Ping Jockey to help folks figure out what I'm doing. Who knows maybe I'll have Internet, but that's pretty "out there" country-side. I will send a 73 tone to help folks know we're complete.

The two times I've used the truck I don't remember having this issues, so that's a good thing.


DN68fl - Nelson Reservoir. MT and EME contact #1

I was ready for W5UN on my moon rise. Haven't made a 2M EME QSO in over 25 years.JT65b rocks.
The last 50 miles to the border was a narrow, rutted road so we chugged along at 35 mph when we could. Got set up here on the reservoir and worked 6M meteor scatter K7MAC, NS7K, and W7KNT. W7MEM logged on 2M. No Es at all.

Working W5UN on EME was a hoot; not bad for 200 watts on the wrong end of 50 feet of coax and a 9 element Yagi. I can hear Dave in the speaker as I type this.

Up at dawn the next morning and lots of 2M MS action: WB0ULX, K0RI, AA7A, WA7HQD, KU7Z, K7MAC, NQ7R. Slipped over to 6M and worked W9RM.

DO60aq - Saskatchewan Landing

Forest fire smoke making a hazy day on the South Saskatchewan River.

It seemed to take us all day to go 170 miles, talk about leisure travel. Probably that stop at Tim Horton donuts had something to do with it. Six meter opened a bit and managed 21 contacts.

Shifting over to 6M meteor scatter after dinner logged K7MAC (2x), N7CW, KF7CQ, VA6SW, KR7O, W7KNT, NS7K, NQ7R, W7OUU, and VE5UF.

Now that is one bad boy  meteor burn from KF7CQ.

DO53td - The Battlefords Provincial Park, SK

Putting things together. I fixed the coax routing on the 6M beam right after this picture.

This particular campsite has almost all the attributes of a great VHF site: a/c power, on a hill top with a  good horizon including a big lake to the south, no neighbors from southeast to southwest, on the outside of the loop, and NO mosquitoes. Did I mention no mosquitoes?! It is missing a key ingredient -  6M Es propagation right now - I'm scanning away waiting.

Nice sustained 6M opening late afternoon/evening. I worked 121 stations - best DX XE2S (MX), AC4TO (FL), and K1TOL (ME). LoTW has been fed.

I'm QRV 6&2 meters and meteor scatter will work too. One night here and on we roll farther south to DO60 I think.

Where does Waldo go next?

Where's Waldo - We're out in town basking in fast Internet and fast food and a Tim Horton donuts. It looks like DO53 Thursday, and DO60 Friday and back to the States Saturday to do some grids around Fort Peck Reservoir.

DO73ar - Anglin Lake, Saskatchewan

We're in the boreal forest lands and lakes now. Plenty of mosquitoes too.
Yesterday was a great day for 6M. The band was hopping, and my pile-up was like a 20 meter contest run. Love it. I worked 130 stations from VE7DAY (BC) to AC4TO (FL) to XE2OB/M. The solar flux is 200 right now so who knows what might happen today.

This morning worked 6M meteor scatter and logged W7MEM, W9JN, KF7CQ, K7MAC, KE7X, and N7BYD. My second contact of 600 miles with k7MAC was while he was on his halo omni antenna. :-)

Some nice pings from KE7X this morning.

DO61 - Blackstrap Provincial Park

It was worth going to a vantage point to work W8BYA @ 1260 miles.

What do you think a pawn shop would give me for this mess. The truck shack.
I'm getting pretty far north, but on 6M meteor scatter W7MEM, K0RI, and KF7CQ worked. 2M accounted for K0RI, K7MAC, KF7CQ, and W8BYA (1260 miles).

DN76 - Making a mountain out of a mole hill, then DN78

DN76ck - No horizon from 100 to 175 degrees azimuth - I sure know how to pick 'em.

Good 2M session again last night from DN76, Mile City. K0KUK, K7MAC, W7MEM, and N7NW logged. This morning we managed KB7ME, KF7CQ, N0KE, NQ7R, KC6ZWT, KR7O, KS7S, and ND0B again on 2 meters before we had to scoot. Lots of wind so no way to put both Yagis up at the same time without disaster.

I did have the 6M Yagi up for a bit and worked five stations.

In spite of my location, KS7S came blasting in from Arizona. Nothing like a 12 db burn to move things along.
 It was about a 225 mile travel day northward to Scobey, MT on the Canadian border. We're here in DN78gt camped right in the middle of town, but not too much line noise and fairly good horizons in all directions, those grain silos are out to the northeast and VE4-land.

The wind died! Both Yagis are up and I'm ready for a beer. The bar is just 50 yards away. Bonus!