If the tropo won't come to me, I will go to the tropo.
For months I had planned to operate as a rover in this event. In the days just before contest day, I began watching the tropo prediction map. I noticed the western half of NY State repeatedly looking like it would not see any tropo, although evening enhancement is always possible if the winds are calm. This was the area I had planned to start roving (FN12xp) and then I was to move east into FN22dn, about a half hour's drive. This was the technique that netted me a first place in the rover category in 2008. Then, early in the afternoon on the day of the sprint, the updated tropo map came out and it showed the duct moving even further east than previously forecast. Now it was apparent that if I were going to take advantage of the tropo, I would have to move significantly east, but I wanted to stay in FN22. So I dumped the rover plan and drove 90 minutes east to set up as a single-op on a good summit.
Despite being 1,000 feet above average terrain, this site in eastern FN22 often has trouble propelling signals eastward. But my hope was that the tropo's strengthening gradient in that direction would help carry the signals better. In fact, I brought a 3-el vertically polarized yagi and had it fixed on 123 degrees (the direction of NYC/Long Island) hoping to take advantage of enhanced conditions in that direction. Unfortunately, two different sessions of calling CQ yielded nothing on 146.550.
Starting with the SSB antenna pointed south, I worked W3DIO and W8ZN in FM19. Then I heard KE2N FM18ew with a pileup that I couldn't break through, so I had to move on despite missing out on what would have been a new grid. Next, I worked K4ZOO FM08, thinking that this could be my best DX to the south. I heard K1WHS calling CQ, so I decided to spend some time with the antenna aimed at New England. After working Dave, I was delighted to pick up another Maine station, W1IPL FN54 which was my best DX to the northeast at 282 miles (455 km), then worked a string of stations in the eastern grids, and in the middle of it all with my antenna still pointed east, I worked W2SJ FM29 who was 5x8. The QRM was so bad toward the east that I had to switch to the vertically polarized beam so I could hear KJ1K/R. It worked perfectly--the QRM dropped significantly but his signal stayed loud since he was on Mount Greylock, MA, which is line-of-sight from where I was. I slowly began moving the antenna toward the southeast and picked up 10 more stations, 6 of them in FN31. I finished the first hour with 20 stations in the log. I started the second hour by scanning through the northerly and westerly directions and calling CQ, but didn't get any Canadian stations. Did hear VE2DC FN35 in QSO with someone, though. All in all, the 2nd hour turned out to be a good one, with 18 stations going into the log. In the 3rd hour I spent lots of time with the beam south, and ran into Maryland station K1RZ who always has good signals to this location. I also worked KG4HOT and W4MYA, both in FM07 and provided them both with a new grid. (Toward the end of the contest KG4HOT was 5x9). Then I would work my best DX to the south and best DX overall, with North Carolina station K4QI FM06 at 500 miles (805 km). Finished the third hour with the same number of contacts as the first hour. Satisfied that I made a good effort to the south, I started the final hour by turning the beam east again, and picked up 6 new stations to the east and southeast. Turning the beams south one last time, I worked W4JST FM17 which was a new grid 9 minutes before the end of the contest. Finished by providing a new grid for my last contact, and ended the final hour with 9 contacts going into the log. Total number of QSOs was 67, which is a new record for me in this event, whether single-op or rover. The tropo did help the QSO count a bit to the E and SE. One fellow in Boston said he had never heard such loud signals from FN22, and he was a loud 5x9 to me. But the tropo did not seem to help to the north, and I'm not convinced about whether it helped to the S and SSW along the Atlantic coast. I did not hear any activity from FN00, FN01, FN02, FN03, FN11, FN21, and did not work my own grid FN22. Despite using more elevation and more antenna gain, the grid count dropped by four grids this year versus the last single-op effort I did in this event. The antennas had a slightly sharper pattern this time, so I suppose that could be part of the reason, but the main reason is probably that the activity was focused in a few key directions (grid map) due to the coastal tropo. Signals to the SW through W were worse than flat. It was probably a result of the leaves still being on the nearby trees in that direction. Stations in those directions who are normally 5x9 were 5x5, and on a better antenna, too. Time for more antenna height.
most-worked grids (graphically)
BAND QSOs QSO UNIQUE PTS. GRIDS ---------------------------- 144 67 67 18 --- Claimed score = 1206 ---
W3DIO FM19ml 2308 K4ZOO FM08 2317 W8ZN FM19 2320 K1WHS FN43 2324 W1IPL FN54 2327 W1RZF FN42 2330 K1NDF FN42 2332 N1QLM FN32 2333 K1BX FN43 2335 W2SJ FM29 2337 KJ1K/R FN32 2345 on Mount Greylock, MA K1TEO FN31jh 2347 W1OUN FN42 2352 KB1HY FN31 2353 W1FKF FN42 2353 KK1CW FN32 2354 W9JJ FN31 2354 AD1DX FN41kr 2355 W2GKR FN31 2358 N1KOH FN31 2358 K1MAA FN31tu 0003 WB2LEB FN20 0004 WA1RKS FN32 0004 KA2LIM FN12 0005 W3TWX FN33 0009 N1JFU FN42 0009 N3RG FM29bh 0016 K1CMF FN42 0018 W9KXI FN12 0019 W2KV FN20 0019 W1RIL FN42ah 0020 KE2DN FN12 0020 WZ1V FN31 0027 N2LID FN12 0030 KA2MCU FN32 0036 WA2BAH FN32 0040 K1ZZ FN31 0041 N2NT FN20 0051 W2RJO FN23 0104 KB2ZSP FN33 0107 AF1T FN41 0112 Martha's Vinyard K1GX FN31 0116 K1RZ FM19jh 0118 W3CMP FN10 0120 N2CJO FN20 0121 K3TUF FN10 0124 W3ZZ FM19 0126 KG4HOT FM07 0128 K1PXE FN31ke 0131 W1MKY FN41 0133 W1AIM FN41ee 0139 KB1FSY FN31 0139 WB2RVX FM29 0144 K4QI FM06 0147 W4MYA FM07 0149 N2GKM FN31 0154 N2SLO FN30 0156 WA3QPX FM29 0157 K1TR FN42 0202 N1DPM FN32qb 0203 K1OR FN42 0212 AA1AR FN32 0222 KC2KXV FN30 0242 WA2VNV FN30 0250 W4JST FM17 0251 N3IGM FM19 0252 N2SSM FM29 0253
CALLSIGN QSOs GRIDS TIME SPENT K3TUF FN10 90 24 2.00 WZ1V FN31 117 28 2.50 K1TEO FN31 150 36 2.50 K1WHS FN43 169 36 3+ W8ZN FM19 160 42 3.67
Worked 117/28 in 2.5 hrs using 500 Watts to a broken 11 el yagi, best dx N2CEI EM80 965 miles, thanks Steve!
Nice to have enhancement and good activity last night in the sprint. Total was 150 q's and 36 grids in about 2.5 hours of operating. Missed the early part and QRT'd around 10:20 local time. It was unusual, but nice to see a good deal of activity even as I pulled the switch. Southern grids worked included EM81, EM95, FM04, FM14 and FM15. To the west EN91 and 92. To the northeast FN73. Quite a few local grids were MIA but maybe they were all pointing up and down the coast where the action was. Tnx for the q's and to the sponsors.
Once again I am killed by no activity to my east and northeast. I worked only two grids there, FN54 and VE1WLC. In the other direction I worked out to FN03 in the west. FN35 was the only northern grid worked, but I had a pipeline down the coast. Best DX was EM80, 81, 85, 94, and 95 along with FM04. I ended up with 169 Qs and around 36 grids. The log is up in the shack yet. I took a little time to try some 1296 skeds during the sprint. I stayed pretty much on 144.180 and think that I lost QSOs by being too far away from the calling frequency. I heard stations near .200 that never found me on 144.180. After a while, I started trolling around 144.200 to find new stations. It was a madhouse, but there were new stations there, and not on 144.180. It sure was a fun night. I brought a single adult beverage along, and popped it at about 10 PM for a nice treat.
After the sprint I went to 432 and worked K4SME and N2CEI on that band. It is not often that I work Florida on 432 tropo. They were just as good on 432 as I heard them on 144, maybe better. Tried a few Qs on 1296 too. I QRTed at about midnight.
Yeah, us poor folks in the RF hole heard you guys working Florida!!! Despite losing 20 minutes at the start due to a transverter issue, I managed 160 Q's and 42 grids. See you all next week on 222.
|"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the N2SLN rover team."|