KC2SFU -- plan route, supply rover vehicle and equipment
N2SLN -- monitor condition of two main sites and one backup site


  3-el Yagi

  Cushcraft A270-6S 3-el dual-band Yagi

  same Cushcraft A270-6S 3-el dual-band Yagi


    Yaesu FT-857D on 50 / 144 / 432 MHz


With the new N2SLN rover van still under construction, Tom KC2SFU offered his vehicle for use during the January VHF Contest this year. His 4WD is a good choice of vehicle for January wx here in the snow belt, although for the first time in a long time we had mild conditions for a January contest--mild enough that the access road to our primary FN22 site was finally usable after years of bad luck. We were also happy that we completely missed out on the record-breaking snowstorm that got as close as northeast PA one week before the contest. That one surely would have walloped all of our high elevation sites. It was also nice to see the price of gas at $1.85/gallon. These are all good reasons for making a January rover effort.

We started our Sunday-only operation by driving north to FN23 in the early morning hours. We worked K2LIM from our 2m loop just before changing grids. We arrived thankful to see that despite the higher lake-effect snowfall totals in this area, our site was available, and winds were calm. The hardware on the 6m yagi gave us trouble and the uneven terrain required us to guy the mast to a nearby boulder, but we eventually got antennas in the air for all 3 of our bands. Unfortunately several stations in a row would start loud and then disappear never to be heard again. We checked the radar loop and saw the front edge of a batch of rain showers moving into the area and figured that's what was killing the propagation, especially on 432. We also noticed that a couple stations said they could hear our 432 signal, but we couldn't hear anything in return, so maybe this was also a receiver sensitivity issue. In any case, we were here to have fun so that we didn't look back and regret missing out completely on the contest. Our best DX from here was working four grids away to Maryland station N3HBX FM19 on 6m/2m (302 miles).

We left that site at noon and headed for the home grid FN22. We arrived at our hilltop to find 40-degree wx, direct sunlight, and low wind speed. We decided not to make another attempt at setting up the 6m yagi, so we set up just the dual-band 2m/440 antenna. One of our best contacts was a rover-to-rover contact with NN3Q/R FM29. Later we noticed improvements in propagation to the south, and then just before dark the same improvements moved east. Our best DX from here was W3BFC FM18 to the south (267 miles) and K1OR FN42 to the east (225 miles), both on 2m. Not bad for a barefoot radio, 3 elements, no preamps.


Band   QSOs    QSO pts.    Mults.
50       4         4         4
144     23        23        10
432      5        10         2
TOTALS  32        37        16
                            +2 grids activated

       --- Claimed score = 666 ---