The 1999 January VHF Contest with N1MJD/R


The 1999 January VHF Contest with N1MJD/R (as recalled by roving partner

As the January contest approached, we began to get indications that the
weather may not be that great. We had roved in the January 1998 VHF contest
through New England and experienced some of the most severe weather
conditions we had seen. Snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, fog and cold.
Probably the worst was when we ran into freezing rain as we left High Point
New Jersey. As we descended from that hilltop, we travelled through a major
portion of highway that was heavily salted. On close inspection after the
contest, we saw what the salt had done to our antenna systems.  Needless to
say we did not want to repeat this again.

Finally on Thursday night, before the contest, we made the decision to make a
radical change to our rover route and start in FM16 south of Richmond
Virginia. We spent Friday morning rigging all the antennas on the Ford
Explorer and by noontime were on the road for Virginia.

Our trip on Friday to FM16 was highlighted by one incident. We were on the
New Jersey Turnpike where traffic had slowed to a crawl. Suddenly along side
of us came a Honda Civic filled with teenagers. They instantly spotted the
myriad of aluminum on the roof of the Explorer and started blowing the horn
and flashing their headlights. One young man sticks his head out the window
and says "what's all that stuff?? You guys looking for tornadoes or
something???" I calmly rolled the window all the way down and reached around
behind me and grabbed our new mascot (a 2 foot high pink Energizer Bunny) and
held it up by the ears and said "No, we just caught him and I removed his
battery!!" Well, those kids about croaked..... Slowly the Honda pulled away
from us as I grinned holding up the Bunny. As you can imagine, the Bunny made
many more appearances during the weekend.

The weather for the start of the contest was great. Beau and I had lunch
while sitting in the grass in 75 degree heat in Victoria VA. Quite a change
for us northern Vermont boys who the week before had seen -25F.

At 2 pm we launched into the contest. It was somewhat disheartening when it
took Beau 1/2 hr to make the first 6M contact! The other bands were slow as
well. We also discovered that the 903 xverter was DOA. As we pulled into a
Motel for the night, we were only looking at around 30K for points. Not what
we had expected.

We were up Sunday morning bright and early and from the moment we turned the
radios on, it was non-stop. By the time we finished the contest in FN43, we
had racked up 764 Q's, 115 grids and 119,140 points, our best ever. We ended
up travelling 2000 miles and activating 16 grids.

The 3 most important things we have learned while roving are:

1.)  If you are going to activate a grid that runs parallel to the Canadian
Border (FN35), do not pull your 4 wheel drive vehicle off the road onto a
convenient turnout into the woods when you are within sight of the Border
Station. The Border Patrol Officers that show up with side arms and Bruce the
Police Dog will have no sense of humor as they ask "Are you American

2.)   If you own a Ford Explorer, be very careful where you place your 1/4
wave mag-mount vertical whip for 223.5 FM. It seems that the Explorer cruise
control does not take kindly to 150 watts at 223.5 N1MJD discovered this as
he was travelling at 60 mph outside of Hartford, CT. As N1JEZ keyed the mic,
the Explorer cruise control said "Let's go 90!!"

3.)   While searching back roads for that new "high spot" that will let you
work the world, be conscious of where you turn your vehicle around. One sure
sign of trouble can be the Rotweiller on the long chain in the front yard of
the driveway you just backed into. The second danger sign is the "New
Hampshire Militia Man" who shows up out of nowhere with the .357 magnum. He
most often will proceed to stick his head into your vehicle and want to know
whether you are "government men" or not. It will be assumed that you are one
because of your numerous antennas on the roof. You are probably there to "spy
on him". Explaining that you are not with the government takes a while and
tends to cut down on your QSO rate.

The above stories are true! Great Contest! Can't wait till June!

Beau, N1MJD & Mike, N1JEZ