Author Archives: Bill Mitchell (AEØEE)

September VHF Contest 9/8-9

This weekend is the American Radio Relay League’s September VHF
Contest, which runs from 1:00 PM CDT Saturday through 9:59 PM CDT
Sunday. There is going to be a lot of rover activity near the Twin
Cities, so be sure to hop on—especially if you can run SSB or FT8 on
6 m and 2 m. Even if you’re FM-only, listen on 146.550 FM simplex
and 446.000 FM simplex. Full rules here.

To make things more interesting for FM-only stations, I recommend
focusing on 4:00-4:30 PM Saturday, 8:00-8:30 AM Sunday, and 9:30-9:59
PM Sunday—or rather immediately following the Bloomington Amateur
Radio Association’s Sunday night net at 9:00 PM that takes place on
the 147.090+ repeater.

For the contest, you need to exchange and log callsigns and grid
squares, as well as recording frequency, mode, and time of the
contact. Bloomington and the south metro is in EN34 (echo november
three four), central and north metro should check here.
The pace of the
contest is usually slow enough that paper logging is a reasonable
choice—but you will probably want to enter it into a computer (e.g.
here) to submit for log
checking.

Sample exchange:
* 146.550 FM *
[K0BBC/R]: CQ contest, kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover!
[W0ZQ]: Whiskey zero zulu quebec
[K0BBC/R]: Whiskey zero zulu quebec, echo november two five
[W0ZQ]: Echo november three four. Move to 446?
[K0BBC/R]: Sure! Kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover
[W0ZQ]: Whiskey zero zulu quebec to 446.000
* Switch to 446.000 FM*
[K0BBC/R]: Whiskey zero zulu quebec, kilo zero bravo bravo charlie, rover!
[W0ZQ]: Kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover, echo november three four
[K0BBC/R]: Echo november two five, thanks for another band, see you in
the next grid!
[W0ZQ]: Thanks! Whiskey zero zulu quebec
[K0BBC/R]: Kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover, anyone else on frequency?
[K0BBC/R]: Kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover back to 146.550

Coordination via non-amateur means (internet, cell phones, etc.) is
explicitly allowed for this contest as long as all necessary
information is exchanged over the air. That means you can phone or
text someone and choose a frequency and time (generally “now” or “in
five minutes when I get this thing set up”) to have a contact. This
is particularly useful with stations that have directional antennas or
if you want to make sure you get a contact with.

One place to look for activity is the Northern Lights Radio Society’s
activity spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet shows the bands and modes of both fixed stations
(first tab) and rovers (second tab), as well as the rover location
plans and contact info.

Another good place to go is the W0UC spots page.

If you have 6 m capability and can run WSJT-X, get on FT8! Make sure
you enable the VHF/UHF/Microwave features and check the “NA VHF
Contest” box. There should be some FT8 activity throughout the day.
Early in the morning (5-7 AM) you might also try WSJT-X’s MSK144 mode
to bounce signals off the ionized trails of meteors.

Want more action? Hop in your vehicle and join the Saturday
afternoon/evening rover pack near Winsted, MN! Even with just a
handheld, you will be able to work several other rovers at the corner
and run up a big score.

Using APRS or looking for rovers? Check out aprs.fi and the Mountain Lake APRS propagation page.

Some VHF contest resources can be found in Membership section of this website.

June VHF Club Challenge

On behalf of the Bloomington Amateur Radio Association, I would like to issue a challenge to local clubs around Minnesota (including their membership in surrounding states): can you get more stations on the air and logs submitted for the ARRL June VHF Contest than BARA?

With Field Day on the horizon, the June VHF contest is a good opportunity to get operators on the air and making contacts, even if it’s only on 2m/70cm FM. It would be fun to see if you can put your microphone where your mouth is and make a few contacts during the June VHF contest. The contest runs from 1:00 PM CDT Saturday 6/9 (1800z) to 9:59 PM CDT Sunday 6/10 (0259z Monday 6/11).

To make things a little less intimidating, I suggest three half-hour FM focus times during the contest, 4:00-4:30 PM Saturday 6/9, 8:00-8:30 AM Sunday 6/10, and 9:30-9:59 PM Sunday 6/10, using a frequency of 146.550 MHz (and 446.000 MHz). With these focus times, a casual operator doesn’t need to spend the whole weekend looking for contacts, and there’s even a category exclusively for FM-only operators.

The information exchanged is your four-character grid square, and you will need to log frequency, call, grid square, time (UTC) and mode. In Bloomington and the southern Twin Cities metro the grid square is EN34, but you should check yours before participating in the contest.

If you are interested in a quick overview of how to participate in a VHF+ contest, complete with recommended scripts for contacts, I urge you to take a look at this 2-page guide. For a more detailed discussion of VHF contesting, including modes other than FM, there is a longer guide here. Full rules for the ARRL June VHF contest can be found on the ARRL website.

Make sure that after the contest you submit your log to the ARRL! You can enter the data from paper logs and submit them directly using this web tool.

I hope to hear you on the air!
Bill
AE0EE
President, Bloomington Amateur Radio Association

The forecast on Sunday afternoon looks quite nice, so I’m planning to operate portable on 20 meters at Kenwood Park, somewhere on the hill near the center of the park from 2-5 PM CDT. If you’d like to come by and join me, you’re welcome to do so. It’ll be a bit like Field Day, except shorter (but very likely good weather). Bringing a pair of headphones/earbuds and a logging device (pad of paper, notebook, phone, computer) is recommended.

Left to my own devices I’ll be operating using Morse code, but I’ll have capability for all modes including voice, FT8, and RTTY for anyone who wants to join in and doesn’t know code by ear.

April Meeting Canceled

After consultation with the forecast products from the National Weather Service forecast office in Chanhassen, we have decided to cancel the in-person meeting tonight. Heavy snow throughout the day will make travel difficult this evening, and the BARA meeting is not sufficiently important to hold in-person.

However, we will take this opportunity to make use of the BARA repeater (147.090 MHz, +600 kHz offset, no tone), and will hold a net at 7:30 PM CDT. The BARA amendment vote will be held in May.

I hope to hear you on the air tonight!

April 3 Meeting: Bylaws Change

At the February meeting, a change in the Constitution and Bylaws was proposed to eliminate the requirement to hold a post office box. We did not reach a quorum at our March meeting. The change is now on the agenda for the April 3 meeting (7:30 PM, Haeg conference room, Bloomington Civic Plaza). The document showing the changes (eliminating the post office box requirement, updated dates, and a few minor corrections to names and locations) can be found here.

Meeting Date Change: Next Meeting Tuesday Feb. 13

Because of a conflict with precinct caucuses on Tuesday Feb. 6th, the BARA meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday Feb. 13th. We will still meet in the Haeg conference room at Bloomington Civic Plaza at 7:30 PM, and our program will be on Logbook of the World.

As a reminder, if you haven’t already downloaded the TQSL program and submitted your request for a certificate, you should do that soon. To get your certificate you will need to receive a postcard the ARRL sends through the postal system, which can take a while. Instructions on how to do all this can be found here.

Similarly, the November meeting has been rescheduled to Tuesday November 13th, 2018, to avoid conflict with the general election. See the Secretary of State’s website for information on voter registration, early/absentee voting, sample ballots, polling places, and other elections-related information.

VHF+ Rover Slides from Dave, W0ZF/R

Dave, W0ZF, has made his slides on VHF+ Rover operations that he presented at our September meeting available. It was great to hear a lot of activity on the air this weekend for the September VHF contest, and it’s not too early to start planning your rover adventures for June. You could make plans for January, too, but that often involves extra challenges here in Minnesota.

ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance Contest

This coming weekend is the ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance Contest. Taking place on the VHF, UHF, and microwave bands, all licensed US amateurs have full privileges for frequencies in this contest. Most of the action will take place on weak-signal modes (single sideband, Morse code, and various digital modes), but there is still room to play on FM!

All it takes to get started is a dual-band FM handheld. Under the rules of the contest, you can coordinate contacts (i.e. plan frequency, mode, and time with another station) via internet, cell phone, or other amateur band. For FM on 70 cm, set your radio to 446.000 MHz and make sure that the radio is set to simplex (no repeater offset). You will also need to know your 6-digit gridsquare.

If you’re interested in getting into VHF/UHF contesting, there are two guides under the Membership | Resources tab. One is a two-page quick-start guide to VHF/UHF contests, and the other is a more comprehensive introduction to the subject.

With FM contesting, it helps to target a specific time to get on. I’d encourage everyone to try to be on from 4:00 PM to 4:30 PM local (2100-2130z) on Saturday, and 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM local (1700-1730z) on Sunday. I hope to hear you on the air, and don’t forget to submit your log after the contest!