W2RME multi-unlimited

In the final days before the June 2023 VHF Contest, Jon W2BDN upgraded the rotor on the shack mast and then added a 902 MHz end-mount Yagi and feedline, giving us the bottom six bands. Saturday morning he began setting up the indoor equipment, and by contest time we had two transmitters and two operators ready to go. The new 902 Yagi showed a 1.1:1 SWR, the Hepburn tropo prediction map showed a possibility of minor tropo Sunday morning and evening, and the smoke from wildfires in Quebec and Nova Scotia had subsided from its peak on Wednesday.

Six meters was open at the start of the contest, and within 20 minutes we had our best DX of the weekend which was a Mexico station in EL06 (1715 mi / 2759 km). The band was open to everything from the southwest through Florida, but then later Saturday the midwest stations showed up, allowing us to work into IL, IA, WI, MN, and to nab N0SPN/R EN33. Keeping the 3-el Yagi pointed southwest helps us hear everything from the south through west simultaneously. One noteworthy event was the clean sweep with K2QO/R on all 6 of our common bands, and that was additional proof that the new 902 antenna was working. We had some trouble with receive sensitivity on 432, causing some band runs to stop at 222. Nonetheless, we left the shack at 9 PM local time with a good start to the score.

We were back at it 7:00 Sunday morning and the Packrats' 2m beacon W3CCX/B FN21 was S9 from 90 miles away (144 km). Unfortunately, there was nobody on SSB/CW to the south to help us take advantage of the tropo. VE3RWJ reported the same thing at his location in FN03. Hats off to W2FU who worked us on 144/222/432, giving us our first foray into FN13, and then wisely used the K1RZ database to communicate with us about trying our other bands. Next, six meters opened again and we made our first skywave contact of the day at 7:42 AM to Florida. The additional good news is that the tropo on the upper bands was helping to temporarily overcome our receive sensitivity problem on 432 and we started working longer distances on that band. It was at this time that we worked our best DX on 432 which was 129 miles / 207 km to a portable station on Equinox Mountain, VT. Six meters continued with an average strength opening for the rest of the day, and at 6 PM local time we began working the upper midwest again--same hour as the day before. Our best 6m domestic DX was worked on double-hop Sunday evening with Utah station W7CXX DM37 (2041 miles / 3285 km). Best DX on 144/222 was W1XR FM19 near the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania (197 miles / 318 km). We shut down the operation at 9 PM. Here are the QSO/grid totals for each band:

 50    144   222  432  902  1296
79/47  18/9  9/8  7/6  1/1  2/2