EM73 HSCW Portable Operation and SVHF Conference - Atlanta, GA. 4/3 - 4/4
by KM5PO / ex-KD5BUR, Jim McMasters 04/8/98

Click on thumbnails for larger image.
Bad weather cancelled first skeds. Also: Hi Res   image. View N &NW from 11th floor of Hotel. Portable site is in approx. middle of image. View N & NE from 11th floor of Hotel. Hi Res   image. Clouds shroud Hotel to right in distance on higher ground.
Better weather. See "SITE" marking location of KM5PO/4.  Hi Res   image. Rising ground beyond freeway approx. 100' higher than /p site. This view, like above, looking N & NE.  Hi Res   image. Hotel to the right in distance over 100' higher than /p site.
Looking due west. Hi Res   image. See the signs in the distance upper right (approx. 1000' away). Looking due west. Hi Res   image. Yagi pointed NW at K0SM.
In the SE direction stood the 16 floor Marriott, site of the SVHF Conference. The Marriott. Very upscale. Very full of business people.
NS4W, Bert working KD1DZ MS pings. Hi Res   image. John, K4RIG and Cliff, KF4DZV look on. KM5PO/4 station close up.  Hi Res   image. Straight-key ("adapted microswitch") on standby atop monitor, alongside the ever-present roll of duct tape!

More pictures follow below!

Portable Equipment set-up at EM73sv:

Yaesu FT290, TE systems amp : 325watts
Cushcraft 13b2 at 22 feet.
Pentium 200, SVGA monitor. Both powered by separate inverters.
MSDSP software, CoolEdit 96 software, homebrew interface VOX box.
Azden 2m FM mobile and Icom HT for communication relays.

We accomplished what we set out to do with our trip to Atlanta although the success came in a different way than what I was expecting. After two very effective trips into the field testing our HSMS-CW portable operation, I was expecting to complete most every schedule while entertaining the on-lookers at the same time. Our completion ratio was less than ideal but there turned out to be enough bursts and pings to "show-off" HSMS-CW, and my presentation at the Southeastern VHF Technical Conference seemed to be quite a hit.

We arrived under the threat of very bad weather only to find the site to be surrounded by rising ground, especially in the direction of our skeds, and extremely "noisy" to boot.

The first morning of operations consisted of me setting up the station and then throwing a tarp over everything and waiting in the car for the rain to stop so I could take the station apart. Two skeds were busted and I hadn't even sent the first signal! In the mean time I got to know two people who became important to me for relay into the MSROCKS page; Bob, WB5APD and Pete, N4KHQ.

Between naps and waiting for the night time skeds, I attended the Conference where I very much enjoyed a talk given by Ed Hare, W1RFI, from the ARRL Lab on RF Exposure Levels.

With the sunset came more bad weather and in spite of a tornado warning and an actual fatality due to lightning strike 10 miles South, I assembled the station. The noise crashes from lightning were so frequent that the only MS bursts I could copy had to fall "in between" the noise which made several more skeds go down the drain. Bits and pieces were copied from stations Ko0U, W3SZ, and a 1/2 second burst from K0GU at over 1900 Km. The severe weather moved north at about midnight to allow "fair" noise conditions for the last sked with Gary, N0KQY DM98 which was completed within sked time. No communication link was possible because the area repeaters were linked into SKYWARN.

The next morning we were back out way before dawn and copied several good pings from KB5WMY. He has since told me that he was pointed North from EM32 during the time I received the pings! The next sked was crippled by a rising noise level once again only this time it appeared to be computers in the business complex 200 yards to the NE. Lacking only R's, I had to move on from Steve, Ko0u and start the next sked with Maarten, KD1DZ. This schedule was probably the only one the whole weekend which "appeared" normal from my noisy location. Maarten's frequent bursts well above the noise made completion easy. Due to antenna range testing nearby we had to curtail further operating until the evening.

During the day I attended more of the Conference eventually making my own presentation on HSMS-CW at the very end of the meeting which is where Bob Lear, K4SZ had scheduled me. The group in attendance was highly technical and specialized in nature and I could see that the subject of HSMS-CW crossed many boundaries with it's general appeal. One interesting thing was that while the overwhelming majority of the group claimed to have Internet access, the HSMS-CW Starter Packs I had assembled disappeared as fast as I could make change for $20 bills. I even had to turn several ops away as I came prepared with only 18 packages! It was at the conclusion of the meeting that I had the occasion to shake hands with a good many of the attendees and answer questions. Bert, NS4W also helped in this regard and it made me feel more confident just knowing he was there!

During the meeting I met two Europeans, Ian Melville, PA/G4EZP and Keith Naylor, DL/G4FUF. Both are veteran HSMS-CW ops with Keith having about 20 years experience in the mode. They shared many, many ideas with me over the course of about 4 hours and followed me into the evening skeds to witness MSDSP first hand. Dedicated modified tape recorder users, they showed their appreciation quickly to the convenience of MSDSP! We went on for several more hours kicking around ideas and I came away with a head that was reeling with thoughts!

The evening skeds produced more frustration with signals heard (through the noise) from N3RN, W7XU, Ko0U, and K0SM. The W7XU sked almost certainly would have been complete but Arliss blew his amp early on. We managed one completion with first-timer K2PGB who came barreling in over the noise with his 2000 lpm FB signal. Chris reports that his son monitored the sked and got quite excited by this "action" style of ham radio. By now our relay was up to the MSROCKS page and I was hearing about all the reports coming in on how well others were receiving bursts and pings from us. This confirmed how lousy a location I was in at least on the "hearing" end.

I did not want to quit at 1am local Atlanta time but I had made a discovery... the car was nearly out of gas! Since I could not move the vehicle (it was parked on top of the antenna mast base), and since it was providing the power to the station, I had no choice but to QRT and go gasoline hunting. So in the wee hours of the morning (Sunday morning at that), I had to go bum a car, find some gas cans and gas, and get the "generator" back in business in time for the next skeds starting up in a few hours.

I had decided to simply run CQ's for our last shot on Sunday morning. My CQJ was quickly rewarded with pings but too weak to decode. Then a birdie flared up right on my receive frequency so I returned to the call frequency (.100zb) with a CQF. Almost immediately and within 10 seconds of each other I copied Ko0U followed by KD1DZ. I came back to Steve, Ko0U and finally we got the completion we had been looking for. The day grew warm as I dismantled the station for the last time reflecting on the things I had learned.

I believe our presence at the Conference was important as many hams were exposed to what we are doing. Most of the ops had read the QST article. Several expressed more than a "passing interest" stating that they would soon be operating with us.

We have decided to run portable again during the upcoming HSMS-CW contest from 3 "squares" as the Europeans say. We also intend to be QRV on 6 AND 2 (HSMS-CW) for the June contest. Hope to work all within range.... several times!


Jim McMasters KM5PO / (ex-KD5BUR) Home QTH: EM23wk

Click on thumbnails for larger image.

I had on every piece of clothing I could find to stay warm! Just another geeky looking guy in the parking lot?!
Giving my HSMS-CW presentation at the SVHF Conference. Mike Barts, N4GU with his fine homebrew Helix antennas.
Preamp noise figure measurements were taken in the back of the Conference room. More Helix antenna discussions.
Dale Baldwin, WB0QGH ran the Antenna Range Test.. Hi Res   image. Antennas waiting to be tested.
Each antenna to be tested is attached to mast. ... And lifted into the air.  Hi Res   image.
Down range source antenna. Hi Res   image. Down range antenna.
Antenna Range test equipment. Hi Res   image. More Antenna Range test equipment. Hi Res   image.
The sun rising on the last day made viewing monitor difficult! Hi Res   image. Guys attach to floating ring at a section of 1.25" conduit above reducer.
Heavy duty base made of 2" water pipe. Hinged. Braced. One guy rope attached to luggage rack.
Base available from: Ken Hodge, N5THT, Ashdown, Ar. Many other designs available. E-mail me for info. Main guy rope anchored to a pine tree.
Silver pipe cap threaded to short stub. This is where you keep the nuts and bolts! Entire unit folds and pins flat/compact. Last guy rope attaches to right front wheel of vehicle by way of bungee cord.

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