VHF June 2022

From Stu2
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Well, this was a very difficult contest. We made just shy of 600 Q's and about 136K points. It all started when I fired up my Honda generator. No AC output. Turns out - bad inverter, which is a $400 part. So a new WEN 2300 is on its way.

Thursday and Friday - Awesome

The wind was ferocious on Wednesday, so we didn't set up the dinning fly. We used my small A-liner as the kitchen. The new oven worked great and lasagna was awesome. Next morning, wind was still whipping, but we set up the tent anyway. Most of the grommets need replacing. WA0DYJ and I cooked breakfast in my A-liner. The omelets turned out fine, but it took us until noon to finish cooking and cleaning up. Way too much time to spend on breakfast. Feeding 11 people, one omelet at a time, was too labor intensive.

The small trailer was unpacked on Thursday and we started setting up antennas. It took a lot of people to figure out where to put the base of the station 1 antenna. Finally, the dust settled and we got to work. By Friday afternoon, the stations were assembled and the antennas were up! We tested for interference and decided we needed the band pass filters on 2M and 6M. We started the generators and it looked like we had enough power. Computer network even worked. Wow - ready to go by Friday evening!!

Saturday - Typical

On Saturday, I decided to install N1MM on a surface pro for the FM station. Something I should have done at home, but figured it would be a simple hour long job. Minimal CAT, simple networking, etc. WRONG It took me two hours to straighten out the networking. This never happens. It took me even longer to solve the WSJT logging problems on the other stations. Don't ask me what was wrong. I clicked so many buttons. All simple fixes I'm sure, but hidden within the menus, coupled with lack of knowledge. Finally finished around 2:30 local time, which is 1/2 hour after the contest starts.

The nits using WSJT, N1MM and our radios continued throughout the afternoon. We had timing issues. We didn't start N1MM in admin mode a few times and WSJT decodes didn't work. The good news: 6M was open! We worked EU and JA on WSJT. Something we have never done before. Then - we started seeing a weird problem on station 1. K3 saw high SWR and no power output. Although, K8GP heard us testing. I still don't know what's wrong. Probably a bad relay in the Q5 transverter. After dinner, the troubles seemed to go away. The guys operated until 2 or 3 in the morning. All was going well.

Sunday Morning - Gremlins

Rain started around 4:00AM. The small generator powering my trailer died. I got up, put on a coat and moved the plug from the dead generator (out of gas) to the generators powering the stations. Went back to bed. Got up around 5:30 to work tropo on 2M. I love doing this, so it's worth getting up. Raining harder, of course. Filled the small generator with gas, moved the plug back to the small generator and went to the trailer. Soaked.

2M was unusable. We have so many campers, somebody was obviously running a noisy battery charger. S9+ noise. OK - over to 6M. Second monitor dead. Reboot, restart the logging program, WSJT and 6M was ready. Press Enable TX in WSJT (no USB signals at all) and the generator died. Go back to bed - nothing works.

Around 8:30, the rain stopped and people started working on the generator. Got both generators going. Turns out the generator was overloaded. Once overloaded, you have to stop the generator and restart. Finally - back on the air. Yay!

Let's see how 2M works. No noise! Charger off, S1 noise level. Fine. Worked a station and wanted to run. 222. 222 - high SWR, no power output. OK - we had a problem with a connector when setting up the station. People didn't pay attention to the weight of the coax and the 222 connector pulled loose. We repaired it, but I forgot to tape it - requiring us to lower the antennas on Saturday morning. This was a new problem, but we're not tilting over the tower. Next - go to 432. high SWR, no power out. Oh boy. Maybe water in the coax at the antenna? (No, it was dry when we took it down Monday. So we still don't know.) So we emerge from the trailer to find - no breakfast. Luckily - we know how to cook pancakes.

Sunday Afternoon - Wonderful

New operators in the trailer - more training - more troubles. Finally at 12:00 - it was time to do something else like drink whiskey and tell stories. I had a great Sunday afternoon.

The crew kept the radios going through the rest of the contest. However, we were on FT8 only. No 432. No 222.

Monday - Great weather

Tear down went smoothly. We still haven't figured out how to get all hands on deck at a certain time. Instead of tackling the antennas, we did what we could until everybody was ready to help. We have so much camping gear that it takes a while to square away our personal stuff.

Driving down the mountain went pretty good until the masts fell off the small trailer. I didn't have a ladder, so I stood on top of my truck's bed cover. Undercover advertised it would hold a hockey team or something, so I didn't feel bad. Just got footprints on the cover, that's all. Found a key to the trailer, got the ladder and secured the masts.

Drive to the buffet in Harrisonburg went fine. We arrived around 1:30. After gorging ourselves on the great food. I drove to the gas station and filled up my gas guzzler with $4.69/gallon unleaded.

Can't wait for the September contest!

73 Stu2, W7IY