2009 ARRL January VHF Contest


January 17th & 18th, 2009
The HAMCOW rolled to a beautiful 830ft ASL hilltop in Pomfret, CT.
for the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes contest.  We were operational
on all bands from 50 MHz through 10 GHz!

Murphy was present and wreaked some havoc, but we were
determined and eventually won!  Team HAMCOW has compiled
an awful lot of equipment for the first time for this event, and
of course we had a few bugs to work out. 
Propagation was abysmal, but we stuck with the task
at hand and still turned out a decent score.

Check out our equipment list:

6 Meters: IC756PRO, & 6 element Yagi @ 40 ft. (Tower #3)
2 Meters: TS-2000, Home Brew dual 4CX250 amplifier (600+ Watts), & 14 element KLM Yagi @ 51 ft. (HAMCOW Tower)
222 MHz: FT-847, Converted FAA amplifier (260 Watts), & 12 element Yagi @ 45 ft. (Tower #3)
432 MHz: FT-847, Teletec amplifier (150 Watts), GaAsFET Preamp, 25 element Yagi @ 48 ft. (HAMCOW Tower)
903 MHz: TM-255 IF Rig, DEMI transverter, 50 Watt amplifier, 47 element loop Yagi @ 46 ft. (HAMCOW Tower)
1296 MHz: TM-255 IF Rig, DEMI transverter, HEMPT preamp, 32 Watt amplifier, 55 element loop Yagi @ 46 ft. (HAMCOW Tower)
2304 MHz: TM-255 IF Rig, DEMI transverter @ 1 Watt, 54 element loop Yagi @ 36 ft. (Tower #2)
3456 MHz: TM-255 IF Rig, DEMI transverter @ 1 Watt, 76 element loop Yagi @ 36 ft. (Tower #2)
5760 MHz: TM-455 IF Rig, DEMI Transverter, 0.5 Watt amplifier, GaAsFET Preamp, 4 ft. dish @ 32 ft. (Tower #2)
10368 MHz: TM-455 IF Rig, DEMI Transverter, 1 Watt amplifier, GaAsFET Preamp, 4 ft. dish @ 32 ft. (Tower #2)

We arrived on site around 3 PM on Friday to begin the setup.  Getting to the top of
the hill with the HAMCOW was a challenge, but thanks to KE1LI & N1ROZ, the
long hilly driveway was meticulously prepared and covered with plenty of
sand.  My trusty Tahoe was put into 4WD-Low and I carefully dragged the
HAMCOW up the hill on the first attempt!  We were prepared with tire chains
for all 4 tires on the Tahoe, but to everybody's amazement, we didn't need them!

A large area was snow plowed in the hay field, and I was able to easily jockey the HAMCOW
into position.  The temperature was in the single digits, and dropping fast!

One of the first things we did was put up the new TEAM HAMCOW banner!
It was a surprise and the guys loved it!  I followed up with a box full of
official TEAM HAMCOW T-Shirts!  Now we're styling!
Thanks to K1TLI for the banner, and N1DU for the T-Shirts!

The first order of business was to get the microwave tower erected.  The 4ft. dish for 5 & 10 GHz,
along with the Loop Yagi's for 2 & 3 GHz were hoisted in the dark.  The HAMCOW flood
lighting proved its worth for this effort.  Here KE1LI & N1JOY wrestle with cold metal!
It's close to zero degrees out at this point!

Here is the microwave antenna package, complete with transverters for
2304, 3456, 5760, & 10368 MHz bands!  The Loop Yagis' were for 2304 & 3456,
and the dish has a dual-band feed for 5 & 10 GHz.  This made for some heavy

Here is the microwave tower in the daylight.

Here is a peek inside the transverter box at the rear of the dish.  Inside you can
find transverters for 2, 3, 5, & 10 GHz, with external PA's & Preamps for 5 & 10 GHz.
There is also all of the T/R sequencing and transverter selection circuitry.

KB1TIM also brought along his military shelter & tower,
and showed off his new trailer installation for ease of
portability.  No more loading on and off the F-350; it's
a hitch-and-go operation now.  This tower supported the
6 Meter & 222 MHz Yagis. 

And what HAMCOW event would be complete without a big steak dinner?
KE1LI cooked up a stack of 2 inch steaks and it really helped keep us warm!
Temperatures that night dropped to -13 degrees!  The HAMCOW was nice
and warm inside and I even had a few complaints it was too warm!
No matter how warm it was inside, KE1LI, W2DAN, KB1TIM, N1JOY, and Bob,
(a non-Ham who only came to eat our food) earned the
official "Sub-Zero" HAMCOW Endorsement! 

And the the snow came... Not once, but twice...  About 10 inches of it.
It made for some interesting snow scatter microwave contacts, but come
Sunday night we had to abandon the HAMCOW on the hill because there
was no way it was going to be safely hauled off the hill and towed 75 miles home.
A week later KE1LI, W2DAN, and myself safely got it down the hill and
back to Westport. 

Racking up points are Left to Right: KE1LI on 6 Meters, KB1TIM on 222 MHz,
N1ROZ on 2 Meters, W2DAN on 432 MHz, and N1JOY working everything else
from 903 MHz through 10 GHz.

All the AC power for the event was provided by the land owner.  We had access to
a 50 Amp 240 VAC outlet and fabricated a 130 ft. extension cord with a sub-panel
at the end.  It was nice not having to run a generator, and we were able to use
electric heaters and save propane.  When the rigs were running, it actually
reached 84 degrees inside the HAMCOW and 2 windows were open!

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