AZ/NM/AR/MS/AL State 23cm EME Activations

Date/Time: Late March to Late-April
Call:
KB7Q
QTH:
Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky
Frequency:
1296.090 MHz, KB7Q always 1st
Modes: JT65c preferred, listening on my echo. CW upon request.
Gear:
2.4M dish, 300 watts at feed, IC-9700, Leo Bodnar GPSDO, WD5AGO preamp
Note:
I expect to have Internet, and I'll come up on the HB9Q Logger

Schedule of operations:
Alabama (EM64) – April 21 Start 2000z     April 22 MR 2000z
Kentucky (EM77) - April 23 MR 2100z    April 24 MR 2200z

April 21, 2021 - EM64kq Wheeler Lake, Alabama
   
A very pleasant 200 mile ride up into Alabama on back roads this morning. Set-up went well and the moon was just clearing the only tree at our campsite when I started calling CQ. It was another flawless afternoon of operating 23cm EME with 39 stations logged.
    The big news was completing an easy contact with K2UYH for his State #50. He is just the third person to earn Worked All States on 23cm behind W5LUA, and K5JL. Congratulations Al!

    Ben, K4QF stopped by for a visit and he seemed to enjoy the show! 
 

    In the log: DL7UDA (-18), PE1CHQ (-17), HB9Q (-5), DF3RU (-15), SM6CKU (-17), OK1KIR (-12), OK1IL (-21), ON5GS (-21), G4CCH (-16), OK1DFC (-22), DG0FE (-21), PA3DZL (-18), DL8FBD (-25), ON4AOI (-23), K2UYH (-17), IK1FJI (-20), UA9FAD (-26), NC1I (-12), ES3RF (-24), K5DOG (-18), PA0BAT (-20), PA3FXB (-24), DF2GB (-18), G4DDK (-25), OM4XA (-21), W2HRO (-20), G4YTL (-23), N5BF (-24), VE4MA (-21), KA1GT (-21), W5LUA (-11), SM5DGX (-10), DF2VJ (-26), RN6MA (-26), KB2SA (-24), N1AV (-19), AA6I (-19), KD5FZX (-10).

Al fresco operating on the shores of Wheeler Lake, Alabama

 April 20, 2021 - EM53cu Grenada Lake, Mississippi
   
Today I got on at moonrise for three hours, and worked a final few folks. DG5CST was an easy CW contact at RST 519. On JT65c worked were PA3DZL (-16), DG0FE (-18), I7FNW (-18), RN6MA (-25), PE1CHQ (-16), UA9FEM (-24), and G4DDK (-25).
    This made 51 unique stations worked, many on more than one mode, for the Mississippi stop. How nice is that!? All the gear is packed and in the morning it's another 200 mile jaunt up to Alabama. 

Rub-a-dub-dub, an amplifier in a tub..

 

April 19, 2021 - EM53cu Grenada Lake, Mississippi
    I moved the dish to a better spot this morning, and swapped out the 12 year old LMR-600 feed line. The changes seemed to restore my signal nicely. Let's report those worked today by mode. On CW it was OK1KIR (529), G4CCH (529), SM6CKU (419), HB9Q (549), IK1FJI (429).
    On Q65-30B I worked 14 stations in 55 minutes as well as several others. Logged with the new mode were OK1CA (-16), OK1KIR (-16), PE1LWT (-26), IK3COJ (-21), ES3RF (-22), AA4MD (-20), DK3WG (-26), G4YTL (-23), DL7UDA (-20), PA0BAT (-17), DG0FE (-25), UA9FA (-23), KA1GT (-22), IK1FJI (-18), G4DDK (-28).
    JT65c produced also with the following folks logged: UA3PTW (-13), IK1FJI (-15), UA9FAD (-30), I5YDI (-21), PE1CHQ (-18), VE3KRP (-26), DF2GB (-20), ES3RF (-22), IK2MMB (-18), OM4XA (-22), RX6AIA (-26), DF2VJ (-25), KD5FZX (-9), ON4AOI (-28).
    I ran out of folks to work with plenty of moon left. 47 different stations have been worked from EM53 so far. I'll do a brief session tomorrow, then packing for Alabama.

April 18, 2021 - EM53cu Grenada Lake, Mississippi
   
A smooth 200 mile ride to MS, so I decided to throw the station together, and see who wanted to play 23cm EME. K2UYH nailed down State #49 on both CW and JT65c, and 19 others were worked - a great start to the Mississippi operation. We have a great camp site, and the weather looks to be perfect for the next few days.

In the log: DF3RU (-15), G4CCH (-14), SM6CKU (-22), DG5CST (-14), PA3FXB (-22), K2UYH (-16), N1AV (-21), SM4GGC (-23), W2HRO (-27), DL8FBD (-25), OK1IL (-21), HB9Q (-5), K5DOG (-22), DK4RC (-12), W5LUA (-23), OK1DFC (-23 Q65-60C), KD5FZX (-17 Q65-60C), VE4MA (-21 Q65 60C), K2UYH (CW), NC1I (-19), and KA1GT (-22 Q65-30B). LoTW up to date.

A perfect camping spot on Grenada Lake, Mississippi EM53cu

Mississippi Sunrise

April 17, 2021 - EM45dh, Arkansas
   
Today was a CW special. The following guys were logged on "Charlie Whiskey": DG5CST, G4CCH, OK2DL, IK1FJI, DF3RU, and HB9Q. HB9Q was Q5 on SSB, but I didn't have enough signal for us to complete. SP5GDM (-27), and PE1CHQ (-15) were added on JT65c to bring the grand total to 62 contacts with 54 different stations. On to Mississippi!

April 16, 2021 - EM45dh, Arkansas
   
A big, big day of 23cm EME - Arkansas must be rare! I completed 52 contacts with 50 stations made under cloudy skies, and a few rain drops. K2UYH was worked for his 48th State. My aiming technique was up to the challenge today.

Logged: HB9Q (-16 thru trees), DG5CST (-15), OK1KIR (-16), UA3PTW (-18), NC1I (-17), OK2DL (-11), OK1CA (-8), OZ4MM (-13), DL7UDA (-16), DK4RC (-8), IK1FJI (-18), PA3DZL (-16), ES3RF (-24), DF3RU (-17), DL8FBD (-23), G4CCH (-14), PA3FXB (-21), UA9FAD (-25), DG0FE (-18), OK1IL (-18), UA9FA (-23), ON4QQ (-19), DK3WG (-26), N1AV (-18), W2HRO (-18), G4YTL (-25), OK1DFC (-21), CX2SC (-27), PA0BAT (-25), OM4XA (-25), SM4GGC (-18), ON4AOI (-17), RA4HL (-19), IK3COJ (-18), DF2VJ (-26), K2UYH (-11), OK1KIR (CW 429), W5LUA (-9), IK7EZN (-21), SM6CKU (-9), I5YDI (-23), AA4MD (-22), KD5FZX (-9), SM5DGX (-8), VE4MA (-20), G4DDK (-30), N5BF (-24), VE3KRP (-29), PA2DW (-23), GM0PJD (-29), K2UYH (CW 419), K5DOG (-20). LoTW upload done.

Pile-up fun!

 
Out of the wind and rain, and plenty of folks to work. Perfect!
 

April 15, 2021 - Arrived EM45dh, 23cm EME set up
    Joyce and I arrived early at W5ZN's place. Set up was error free, so I was QRV much sooner then expected. I put the time to good use working KA1GT (-27), and KB2SA (-27). It took a while to get my azimuth ring aligned, but things finally came together.

Fitting in at the W5ZN antenna farm. EM45dh

April 6/7, 2021 - Bonus - 6M ops from DM73aq, Carrizozo, NM
   
We stopped at Valley of Fires BLM campground to hike the lava trail. I stuck up the 6M Yagi and over two days worked 34 station on a combination of meteor scatter, and ionospheric scatter. It was a pleasure to knock off another FFMA grid for several folks. Best DX was a midday shot to W0VVT 1,110 miles north using Q65-30A. The new mode continues to impress!

DM73aq - A horizon any VHF operator would love to have at home.

March 29, 2021 SW of Silver City, NM (DM52sn)
   
A perfect EME evening with a full moon, perigee, no wind, and a cloudless sky. A special thanks to the EU folks who got out of bed to work me - much appreciated. Worked: OK1DFC (-23), VE3KRP (-24), PA3DZL (-14), DF3RU (-10), CX2SC (-19), OM4XA (-24), SP5GDM (-23). KB2SA (-25), and W2HRO (-22). That makes 34 contacts total for the New Mexico stop.

March 28, 2021 SW of Silver City, NM (DM52sn)
    We drove the camper about 145 miles east into New Mexico, and found a great spot up on the Continental Divide at 6,400 feet. Setting up went well, and when the moon cleared a few low trees we were off to the races. It was an excellent session with 25 stations worked on a combination of JT65C, Q65-30B, and CW. No JA/VK/ZL activity however. :-(

Logged: K5LA on ground wave 115 miles, DG5CST (-9), UA3PTW (-12), HB9Q (-1), OK1KIR (-5), ON4AOI (-17), N1AV (-17), ES3RF (-21), DL8FBD (-19), SM6CKU (-11), DK4RC (-7), OK1IL (-15), OM3XA (-21), PA3FXB (-17), SM5DGX (-16), VA6EME (-17), DK5YA (-22), DG5CST (CW 429), OK1KIR (CW 419), W2HRO (-27), K2UYH (-11), DF2VJ (-25), KA1GT (Q65-30B -19), PA0BAT (-21), K4EME (-25).

Nothing like a full moon at perigee. Coyotes were howling!

Moonbounce does have a certain aura about it.  :-)

Tight quarters, but it works if I get all the cables correct!

March 19 - DM23vs Quartzsite, Arizona
Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you! Today was one of those days where the bear almost won. The 2.4M dish by nature of its size and stiff fiberglass ribs is sometimes difficult to open. Pointing straight up for a gravity assist helps, but imagine my surprise when I couldn't budge it past a certain point. Finally, I pulled the fabric off four rib-tips and was able to get going. After a pleasant afternoon of working folks on 23cm in both JT65c and Q65 30C/60C modes I sprayed the fabric on the dish with water and it stretched enough to get me back to normal opening and closing ability. As a ?bonus? I did blow my best pre-amp up by tripping on the PTT cable and disconnecting it. Who knew Murphy is a desert dweller!  I must say Q65 is an impressive mode. Even with faster 30 second sequences I was working stations easily. All in all not a bad session for the moon being at apogee. The next day we had serious winds so no EME.

 Worked: OK1KIR (-10), DF3RU (-13), ES3RF (-24), OK1IL (-15), HB9Q (-3), N1AV (-24), KA1GT (-25), SM6CKU (-9), N1AV Q65 (-20), KA1GT Q65 (-25), and KB2SA Q65 (-26).



A long day knocking trouble back, but rewarding. Open air shack.



Another KISS Amplifier - 6 Meter KW

 February 10, 2021

Es season cometh! Time to build a 6M amplifier for my grid square outings based on a W6PQL pallet.

W6PQL pallets are usually available in kit form or assembled.

I'm a big fan of KISS when building amps, that is "keep it simple stupid". I'm able to build these amps into a 12x8x3 inch chassis (Bud AC-424 chassis, BPA-1519 cover plate) with basic hand tools and a drill. I've not had much success using a power FET to switch the 50 vdc VDD line, so I use an old school mechanical relay. Ker-chunk!  However, I do use the W6PQL FET module both to switch the low level 13.8 vdc with the PTT line from the radio to pull the VDD relay in, and to send 13.8 vdc to the bias input on the amp pallet going into transmit.

I do mount a small fan inside the chassis to move some air across the output bits, and a bigger fan runs atop the heatsink - both fans run continuously. The 6 Meter amp will be the seventh one I've built. Of course one can certainly add protective measures like over drive, over temperature, and high SWR lockouts, but then we've moved beyond KISS! Lest Murphy hear me I'll just whisper this, " I have yet to blow up one of these amps".

I use a check list 100% of the time to make sure I'm connected to an antenna, SWR is good, drive level set, and the PTT line activates before operating. 

Over driving, or excessive heating will be what kills an LDMOS amp. Typically a shorted or open output line will blow up capacitors or vaporize the PCB traces and the device will survive. 

Step 1 - laying the chassis
Take a perfectly good, factory fresh chassis and immediately hack a large hole in the top side for the RF pallet's heat-spreader to just fit. Layout and drill holes, lots of holes. I used blue painter's tape (since removed) to layout most of the holes. The pallet hasn't arrived so a few holes have to wait unit I see how the VDD feed and low pass filter will fall. The pallet's copper heat-spreader will be secured to the heatsink and then heatsink will bolt to the chassis. But that all waits for the support circuitry to be installed along the internal side walls first. 

You can click on any of these pictures to expand to a larger size.

Lots of metal butchering on the 12x8x3 inch chassis.

Step 2 - Mount supporting electronics
In the picture below you can see that on the back chassis wall near the input end wall I've mounted the 13.8 vdc input socket, and the switched 13.8 vdc logic board for relays and bias. On the input side wall I've mounted the RF input RX/TX relay. The RCA socket for the PTT, and BNC socket for the RF input are yet to be installed, but the pilot holes are there. 

This is a 6 Meter amplifier, so antenna switching relays are internal unlike my 2M/70cm/23cm amps for EME that have a pre-amp, and the TX/RX relays out at the array feed point. You can see shoe-horning all the bits into the chassis takes some thought. 

The leads haven't been dressed yet with tie wraps. Excuse my mess. :-)

A long view showing the output RF relay, and the 50 volt VDD relay, I'm now waiting on a few parts before finishing off the support electronic wiring. The power relay is a $5.95 item from All Electronic with the contacts wired in parallel.

Five hours in, half way along. An RG-316 jumper installs between the RF relays.

Steps 3 - Therapeutic drilling and tapping
Time to lay out the holes to attach the heatsink to the chassis, then punch, drill and carefully tap for #8 screws. The aluminum alloy of the heatsink is pretty hard, so some lubricant, lots of reversing the tap to clear debris, and even taking the tap completely out a few times to clear the debris completely is the way to go. You don't want to snap a tap off - ask me how I know. The pallet with its copper heat-spreader will also be fitted to the heatsink when it arrives. Here's a link to the heatsink I use. A 6 inch long section of the 10.080 inch billet is good for a 1KW amp.

Slowly work the tap.  The tapped holes fall between fins.

Step 4 - Parts arrived, now the project can be completed
I'm 95% done. I laid out the 12 holes for the heat spreader to mate with the heatsink, drilled and tapped, spread a light coating of thermal paste on the heatspreader, and mounted the pallet. The 6db attenuator for the input was also mounted. So whats left? Basically a few pieces of coax to prepare for both the input and output relays to the pallet connections, the bias and VDD wiring to complete, and then a good, careful look at my work before applying power and checking the VDD idle current. I'm still deciding if the low pass filter will be internal or external.

Close to complete! Time to slow down and check my work.

 Step 5 - Initial testing with an ohm meter showed a short on the VDD line, W6PQL sent a new pallet immediately, and once installed everything worked as expected i.e. 4 watts of drive at the LDMOS device gives 950 watts output. I'm using a 6db attenuator pad on the input so it's actually 15 watts of drive from the rig. 

Bird 1KW slug almost pinned. Note the compact 50 vdc Meanwell power supply

23CM EME - MORE FUN

 January 3, 2021

The 1296 Mhz EME fun continues - a fantastic pandemic distraction. It has been an open winter so far, so going out to the barn and operating has been pretty easy to do. The dish gets mounted on the tripod, unfurled, and cables connected in about 10 minutes.

I finished out December adding W1PV (-20), and GM0PJD (-29) to the log. So far the new year has been fruitful with plenty of first time contacts. The last two evenings I've completed with CX2SC (-27), RD4D (-14), OH2DG (-10), OM4XA (-24), DJ3JJ (-25), LA3EQ (-30), UA9FA (-22), G4YTL (-26), PA2DW (-29), and N5BF (-21). That brings me to 57 initials.

Some baseline figures: I'm hearing the ON0EME beacon on 1296.000 MHz right at a steady -18db. The efficiency of my amp has dropped off, but I can still easily generate 350 watts that ends up being 275 watts at the feed - a comfortable level for the hybrid device that generates the circular polarity into the patch feed. So we press on. 

I've traded the 1.6 meter dish back to Paul, W2HRO, and have purchased a 2.4 meter version of the folding dish from him. Who can resist almost 4db better on both TX and RX - it was the best use for my stimulus check I could think of! :-) 

 

2.4 meter folding dish on the test stand.

23CM EME Goal Set, Goal Met

 December 11, 2020

When I started the 23cm EME project a few months back I hoped to be able work down to the level of a twin to my meager station. I'm a 1.6M dish, with 275 watts at the feed. Today I completed a JT65c contact with W2HRO and his 200w, 1.8M dish station. Both of us were using folding, metalized fabric dishes with patch feeds, all of his design, which made it even more fun. 

I also completed easily this morning with AA4MD (-22) to make it 45 unique stations worked on 1296 MHz in just over a month. Three CW contacts have been logged so far. I hope this suggests to others what can be achieved on 23cm EME with a modest station.

 

1.6M to 1.8M folding dish contact. Click on image to enlarge.

ARRL EME Contest Nov 28 - 29, 2020

     I went out to the barn both evenings, fired up the 23cm station, the propane heater, and had an absolute blast. For a small 1.6M dish, 250 watts at the feed, and being at apogee I still managed a great result with 29 contacts. I felt like the little engine that could! After European moonset the second evening I ran out of "dance partners" and called it good. I discovered when aiming elevated and south I got some pre-amp overload/hash from a cell tower 1/2 mile away. WSJT-X 2.3 rc2 was flawless. All in all a fun weekend and very rewarding to have the station working so well.

Stations worked: DL3EBJ, SP5GDM, OK1DFC, KN0WS (2x), KA1GT, RA3AUB, PA3FXB, OK1IL, PA0PLY, DL7YC, W6YX, VA7MM, K7CA, WA3RGQ, N5BF, KD5FZX, K2UYH, WA3GFZ, OK1KIR, ON5GS, DL7UDA, UA4AAV, K5DN, SM5DGX, OK2DL, IK5VLS, DF3RU, NC1I, IK2MMB. 

Waiting for moonrise - a good look at the patch feed.

More 23cm EME Action

November 21, 2020 

I set the station up out at the barn south of town in anticipation of the ARRL EME Contest next weekend and even with low declination I worked three stations while noodling around adjusting my audio levels and getting the space heater aimed just right on my toes! I must say the WD5AGO 0.2db NF pre-amp really hears well!

I completed easily with KD5FZX (-12), K5DOG (-17), and N5BF (-20). W3HMS was heard several times as strong as -25, but he didn't hear me. The next evening I added KA1GT (-26) to make it 19 unique stations worked so far on 23cm EME.

The 1.6M dish looks small out there in the countryside.

 
My signal as received by K5DOG and his 4.4M dish.

It's Alive (23cm EME)

 November 7, 2020

The Tohtsu CZX3500 isolation relay finally showed up - it got waylaid in the election mail-in ballot  onslaught up in the Great Falls distribution center. Anyhow, I put the 1.6M dish up just outside my condo and when the moon cleared the spruce tree I was in business. It was a very successful night - I worked 16 stations in 2.5 hours.

On JT65C logged were HB9Q (-8), PA3CSG (-19), PA3DZL (-17), DL0SHF (-7), NC1I (-18), SP5GDM (-27), K2UYH (-17), DK3WG (-30), PA3FXB (-24), UA3PTW (-19), ON4QQ (-30), ES3RF (-28), G4CCH (-13), IK3COJ (-19), DF2VJ (-30). On CW I worked G3LTF (419) easily. I’m very happy to try CW anytime folks think we can make it work.

I had about 250 watts at the feed, and this was my fifth EME band to put on the air from Montana. I’m hoping to be 23cm active for both nights of the ARRL contest later in the month (weather permitting) and hand out the Montana multiplier. Improvements to be made going forward - I have a superb preamp from WD5AGO to try out, and a few coax adapters to eliminate in the receive path.

W2HRO's dish design is extremely well thought out, it takes longer to assemble and secure the tripod than to mount and unfurl the dish. This is going to be a fun portable set up to take to Wyoming.

A stealth, folding 1.6M dish, a perfect match for condo living. 


My first 23cm contact. HB9Q was in the speaker. Listen.


1296 EME Project

 October 30, 2020

I'm piecing together a small (1.6M) 23cm EME station for home and portable operations. It will be good to get Montana going on 23cm EME. The project is 90% complete. I already own an Icom IC-9700 with GPSDO so the exciter was not an issue. The key part of the project - the small W2HRO folding dish antenna with patch feed has shipped. Paul's design work and implementation is amazing, my bet is that it will allow many more folks to play 23cm EME going forward.

This morning I completed the amp, based on a W6PQL 600w pallet, set the idle 50 VDC VDD to 1.7 amps and gave it the smoke test. Given the power limitations of the Hybrid combiner used with the patch feed to generate circular polarity I'd call 2.7 watts drive for 300 watts out optimal. 

Bench test results @ 1296.70Mhz
Drive    Output
1W        110W
2W        205W
3W        350W
4W        450W

A pre-amp, and the isolation relay should be here in the next few days. Then I'm ready to try my fifth EME band!

A pandemic moves ham radio projects along nicely. 500w amp.

Setting the VDD idle current on the 23cm amp.

W2HRO dish being tested, now headed this way.

A good look at W2HRO's craftsmanship.

222 MHz Nevada Trip

Dates: October 13/14, 2020
Call: KB7Q
QTH: DN21qx, Jackpot, Nevada
Frequency: 222.080 MHz MHz KB7Q always first, EME JT65b/Meteor Scatter FSK441
Gear: IC-7300->Q5 transverter->800 watt SSPA -> WD5AGO pre-amp -> Long Yagi,
Full elevation and polarity adjustment.
Note: Internet should be available - HB9Q Logger for EME, PingJockey for meteor scatter.

EME start times (MR plus az/el to avoid casino noise):
October 12 - Evening Meteor scatter/tropo
October 13 - 1200z EME
October 14 - 1230z EME
October 15 - 1200z Meteor Scatter  

  Thanks to N9HF's donation  I've added a fiberglass top section to my mast so I can twist the Yagi's boom to vertical to combat Faraday rotation as needed.   

   We had extreme winds on the ride down from Bozeman, so we had to throttle back to 55 mph to stay on the road. There was less wind, and a lovely sunny day upon our arrival for setting up.

The trip was a great success, several folks added to their W.A.S. count. WA4NJP (-20), N9HF (-25), K5QE (-21), K1OR (-25), W4ZST (-21) and W5ZN (-25) all logged on a moonrise session. Later in the afternoon KL6M (-25) changed the feed for his dish and we worked in five minutes, then it took almost an hour but K7EME (-27) and I completed. K7ULS, and NJ7A were worked on tropo, and W9RM added on meteor scatter. Conditions were quite good and being able to twist my Yagi to change polarity really helped at times.

More big  winds on the trip back to Bozeman, MT, but we took our time, and camped our last night of the RV season an hour from home. LoTW fed.

Fall colors are where you find them. 15 el. M2 Yagi.

The location turned out to be very quiet to the east out over the airport.


222 MHz Activity Weekend EME/MS

September 19-20, 2020
DN45lo - Bozeman, Montana

 Time to scratch the 222 itch before the snow flies. I'll set the station up out at the barn for the weekend. I can do both meteor scatter and monnbounce. The station is a single long Yagi w/elevation, superb WD5AGO preamp, and a LDMOS amp with 800 watts. 

Moonrise + ridge clearance times:
September 19, 2020 1630z
September 20, 2020 1745z

I'll use the HB9Q Logger to coordinate EME ops, and PingJockey for meteor scatter. 

I discovered +20 db of local noise on my moonrise to the east, but elevated above 30 degrees everything was fine. I worked KL6M (-25) and K1WHS (-21) both on a setting moon September 18th. The next day I logged WA4NJP (-25), K5DOG (-27), and W4ZST (-17). On the 20th W5ZN (-28) was added. For variety W9RM was worked via meteor scatter, and W7ID on tropo to help him complete his 222 VUCC award. All in all a very good weekend for 222 Mhz operations.

K1WHS between the birdies.

Single Yagi to single Yagi 222 EME contact with K5DOG. Sweet!

6M Meteor Scatter From DN44, Montana

August 26-28, 2020

Joyce and I were going out camping with the truck so I threw the IC-7300 and a 6M beam aboard for some meteor scatter fun. The first location at Beaver Creek was excellent for camping, but ringed by mountains - a very poor choice for meteors. We moved over to one of our all time favorite campgrounds at Bakers Hole just outside of Yellowstone Park and scored a prime spot with no obstructions in any direction.

Generally random meteor scatter conditions were fine and I made 23 contacts via MSK144, and was especially pleased to help W9RM, KY7M, and N7IR close in on their FFMA goal. I must say the IC-7300 continues to impress - both as a 6M radio and as the IF for my 222 MHz station's transverter.

Simple, 100 watt 6 Meter station in DN44kq.

Wyoming (DN44lw) 222 MHz EME

Date/Time: August 22, 2020 Moonrise over ridge @ 1730z
Call: KB7Q
QTH: DN44lw, Yellowstone Park, Wyoming
Frequency: 222.080 MHz MHz KB7Q always first, JT65b
Gear: IC-7300->xverter->800 watt SSPA. Long Yagi
Note: No Internet, but will indicate I'm headed out on the HB9Q Logger.

Another attempt to help guys knock off Wyoming.

I worked all I heard, but I need to hear more! The ride down to Yellowstone and the set up went smoothly. It was very, very smokey from the various fires around the west. For the first 1.5 hours I called CQ and watched a blank screen - finally Faraday moved off vertical polarity, and I started seeing and working folks. John, K1OR went into the log for his State #43. K5QE was the champ of the day with a -13 signal. Of course being near new moon and with the smoke I never actually saw the moon.

The new generator, #10 power cable, and being 2,500 feet lower in altitude this time meant I could see just under 300 watts more out of the amp. It was fun shoe-horning the gear into the car and being able to assemble and erect  the antenna in under 45 minutes thanks to my new, ladder-less system. LoTW fed.

Worked: K1OR (-24), W4ZST (-22), K7ULS (-15 tropo), K5QE (-13), and VE6TA (-19).

Bighorn Pass Trailhead - There are actually mountains out there in the smoke.
 

Backseat station: IC7300->Q5 transverter->LDMOS amp. Power supplies on the floor.

Marshall is simply LOUD! Four minutes and done.


DN54fw Wyoming Perseids Push

Dates: August 9 to 12, 2020
QTH: Beartooth Plateau, DN54lw, Wyoming
Gear: 6M 4el. Yagi, 100 watts. 2M 9el. Yagi 600 watts. 222Mhz long Yagi 700 watts.
Schedule:    August 10, 2020 0300z 6m meteor scatter, also 1200z
                      August 10, 2020 0545z MR 222 Mhz EME
                    August 11, 2020 1100z - 1400z 222Mhz Meteor Scatter (FSK441)
                    August 12, 2020 1100z - 1400z 2M Meteor Scatter (MSK144)
Internet: none

Well that was a glass half full/half empty trip! Six Meter meteor scatter was great, I was able to nudge a few guys closer to their FFMA award from DN54fw @ 9,700', but my 10 year old, well used and abused Honda generator didn't like the high altitude.
 
I was only able to see 350 watts out on 222 MHz before the generator would kick off line - so even though I copied K1OR -28 off the moon under less than idea conditions, he only saw me at -30 with no decodes. So it goes. I'll re-group and try to get Wyoming up on 222 MHz EME soon.
 
The new acquisition - 10% more power and a fresh engine.

The camping was superb, and it was great to get out of the house again during these pandemic times.

Treeline at 9,700' Beartooth Plateau, Wyoming. DN54fw.
  

The 222 MHz Project

July 17, 2020
I was looking for a project to keep occupied during these strange times and taking up the 222 MHz challenge seemed like fun. It took a few months to get all the pieces to Montana, and to build up an amplifier, but I think I'm ready. Tomorrow I'll set the station up out at a friend's ranch, tune the Yagi for best SWR, and see what we've got.

Basically the station is a IC-7300 serving as the 28 MHz IF, a Q5 transverter, and a 800 watt LDMOS amp based on a W6PQL module. The antenna is a 20 element Yagi graciously supplied by N9HF. I'm missing a pre-amp, but the transverter has a decent noise figure, and I should have one soon.

Update: It's alive! The pre-amp arrived, I debugged the station and fixed a bad "N" connector and so far have worked five stations on a combination of meteor scatter and tropo out to 918 miles. On moonbounce K1OR, N9HF, and N0AKC have been worked.

Immediate plans are to haul the gear up to the Beartooth Plateau (WY, DN54fw) for the August Perseids meteor shower and make some noise.

My first 222 Mhz EME contact with K1OR.


The bench test was successful. 4 watts drive = 700+ watts out.

DN48/57/58/68 Grid Ramble 6&2 Meters

Date/Time: July 7 - 14, 2020
Call: KB7Q
QTH: Northern Montana grids
Frequency: 6 and 2 Meter bands,  normal FT8 and MSK144 calling frequencies
Gear: 6 Meters - 4 el. Yagi IC-7300  100 watts      2 Meters - 9el. Yagi, IC-9700, SSPA 500 watts
Internet: DN57 for sure, DN48/58/68 probably.

It will take us a bit of time to get to DN68 so we'll overnight in DN57gb near the Lewistown, MT airport and make a major 2M meteor scatter effort (MSK144) the evening of July 7, and the following morning.  I will come up on PingJockey. Then on to the grids of desire further north!

The general plan is that over several days we hit DN68 near Malta, MT, work west into DN58 around Havre, MT, and then southwest to DN48 at Big Sandy, MT before heading home.

  July 7 - Arrived DN57gb by noon, 6M was open to the Midwest and then double hop to the east coast for a while.The cold front caught up to us and I had to QRT for an hour of rain and lightning. A funnel cloud was spotted 25 miles to our southeast. The band got really hot in the late afternoon and I was working both coasts at the same time. This my second visit to DN57 this summer.

July 8 - 2M morning meteor scatter was very slow, but five stations worked before we packed up and drove a couple of hours up to DN68bi. I set up in the town park at Malta, MT and worked an easy 100 stations on 6M with great Es propagation, again to both coasts at the same time.
DN57 total: 
6M Contacts 95 2M Contacts 9

July 9 - I'm working 6M meteor scatter this morning with success from DN68bi. 2m meteor scatter tomorrow morning. Lots of Es around already. We'll see what the day brings. Six Meters is rocking and rolling again at mid-day. Worked into Florida easily, but making an effort to look and work west coast also. The opening tapered off in the early afternoon.

July 10 - Some 2M meteor operating in the morning to finish DN68 operations. Then west to DN58lo in the rain. Raining hard, and too nasty to go up on the roof to mount the Yagi so I took a snooze for a few hours. I finally got the 6m Yagi up and it was double hop to the east coast, so I jumped all over it and gave several FFMA chasers a new grid. Bonus - Japan was in and I swung the beam and worked six or seven JA's and KL7NC as well.
DN68bi Totals:
6M 169 contacts  2M 7 contacts

July 11 - Solid morning on 6M meteor scatter, 16 stations logged from DN58lo. Slow afternoon, not much in the way of Es so I pre-staged the station for 2M morning meteor scatter ops from a superior location up the road about a 1/4 mile. We'll operate from the side of the road up there.

July 12 - I worked 2M Meteor scatter in the morning before I vacated DN58lo, 14 stations worked out to 1250 miles. Sunrise was quite the light show. We arrived DN48va on the Missouri River and found the band open strongly to the west coast. Then basically the band opened to everywhere USA, and I even bagged another Japanese station. After supper worked two stations on 6M meteors.
DN58lo Totals:
6M contacts 161  2M Contacts 15

July 13 - Excellent morning 6M meteor session handing out DN48va, followed by plenty of single and double hop to the Midwest and East Coast. Around noon a strong opening to Arizona showed up so I could work stations I missed in this morning on meteor scatter session. I'll finish up 6M ops late this afternoon and pack up for the trip home in the morning.
DN48va Totals:
6M contacts 135

I made 593 contacts for the trip - the propagation gods were kind! I don't know how it all could have gone better, I know many FFMA chasers worked me for new grids as they closed in on that elusive 488 number. Murphy was kept mostly at bay, he only managed to send an errant rock into the windshield of the truck as we worked our way thru the construction on US Route 2 aka "The Hi-Line". LoTW has been fed.

A special thank you to the many folks who made a donation to help with the cost of this trip - it is very much appreciated.

DN48va - Missouri River at Coal Banks Landing, Montana

DN58lo - pre-dawn 2 Meter meteor scatter action.


Early morning 2M meteor scatter station. So many wires!

Wall to wall JA stations on 6 Meters. Click to enlarge.

DN58lo - Little Rockies Mountain Range out there on the far horizon.