N2SLN -- all planning, driving, operating, and paper logging, under the callsign N2SLN/R


N2SLN personal vehicle with Penninger "Tipper" drive-on mount and Alfa Spid 12VDC rotor


6 meter KB6KQ loop and 1/4 wave whip cut for 50.125
2 meter Cushcraft 4-element end-mount yagi and 1/4 wave whip
222 Directive Systems old model DS222-8, end-mount 8-element rover yagi partly converted to center-mount
432 Directive Systems DSFO432-15RS 15-element rover yagi and 1/4 wave whip

antennas assembled and ready for coax installation

antennas system complete


6 meters:
    Icom IC-706mkIIG
    100 watts

2 meters:
    Icom IC-706mkIIG
    20 watts
    Mirage B5016G 160 watt amplifier

    Radio Shack HTX-100 10m mobile
    50 milliwatts
    Downeast Microwave 222 transverter
    25 watts

    Icom IC-706mkIIG
    20 watts
    Mirage D-3010-N 100 watt amplifier

simple mobile shack with 4 bands

222 stack including rotor control box


This was more like an episode of Survivorover than a VHF contest. These were by far the most difficult wx conditions I've seen for a January contest to this point, although it doesn't help that I have a one-hour setup time and 40-minute tear down time. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Binghamton, NY sent out these Hazardous Weather Outlooks on the Tuesday before the contest and on the first day of it, warning of bitter cold conditions for the weekend. (Note: January 2009 would eventually be called the "coldest month in 5 years in central and western NY" by the NWS.)

During the contest I activated 4 grids. I experimented with the first grid (northern FN21) by looking at three different sites in it, but none of them turned out to be any good, so they will promptly get removed from the database. While there, I did manage a few contacts on the mobile whips, so at least after driving 100 miles to get there, I can consider the grid activated. But while at that grid, six meters opened to Florida. I pulled over to the side of the road for 15 minutes and tried working WD4MGB EL87 but could not get through. The main lobe on the bottom-loaded quarter-wave whip is at such a high radiation angle that even Florida is too far for it. I also heard W4HY EL88, NJ2F EL96, and W4SO.

I did manage to leave that grid early and move to the FN12 site. But upon arrival, I discovered that the summit was inaccessible. Luckily I had seen this same thing happen in January 2003, so I did the same thing I did then--set up in a small pull-off area just underneath the summit. Not as much privacy or elevation, but better than not being able to set up at all. This turned out to be the grid that provided the best results.

Sunday I headed north to FN23 amid worsening wx conditions. NOAA All-Hazards Radio was warning of a lake-effect snow band headed for the town I was in, so I knew I had to stay alert. Apparently I didn't stay alert enough: I failed to put the 432 coax on the beam straight. As a result, all 432 attempts were a failure. When I was working WA2RQC in the same grid as me and couldn't hear a thing on 432, that was my clue that something was wrong. A quick visual scan of the log then showed no contacts at all on 432. Thankfully, I can reach the 432 yagi from the ground, so I went outside and quickly re-inserted the connector. I worked N2PA with 5x5 signals and that confirmed that all was good on 432 now, but it was almost time to leave.

Sunday night I activated my final grid, FN22. When I began to write something on my log sheet, I noticed that the ink was almost frozen because nothing was coming out for several seconds. Once I defrosted the pen, it began working properly. I didn't bother setting up the big equipment Sunday night. Before leaving for the hilltop, I quickly installed a couple squalos on the roof knowing that I would not want to assemble and disassemble yagis outside in the -10�F wind chill on the exposed hilltop. When I arrived, I found out that this hilltop was inaccessible too, again because of the high snow drifts. Instead, I parked on the roadside nearby and managed to grind out 5 painful contacts in two hours.

Activity levels were alright by January contest standards in my area, although there was talk of a big football game or two which probably took some attention away from VHF contesting. Nevertheless, I was able to beat my previous January attempt, and I even took first place in WNY and fifth place nationally in the rover-limited category.


Band   QSOs    QSO pts.    Mults.
50      23        23         9
144     24        24        12
222      8        16         5
432      3         6         1
TOTALS  58        69        27
                            +4 grids activated

       --- Claimed score = 2,139 ---

# of QSOs graphically:

432: QQQ

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the N2SLN rover team.