N2SLN    portable in FN12


    4-stack omni


    Icom IC-7000 at 15 watts

    TE Systems 1452G amplifier at 200 watts


With such a severe, long-lasting winter here in central NY this year, the day before the sprint was used for checking the availability of hilltop sites. These remote sites often have low noise levels, but are only available when the wx has been good. Upon arriving at the FN22 site nearest home, I discovered what was not much of a surprise: The infamous "3rd drift" near the summit was still all the way across the access road, still deep, and 15 feet wide. So I walked back to the car and headed for the next site on the list, the eastern FN12 site. This one is not quite as high in elevation and has more signal blockages, but the access road was in much better shape. The noise level has historically been lower here, and little did I know at the time that the lower QRN level would help produce a better DX than the previous year.

On sprint day I arrived a little after 6 PM local time and set up the new antenna system in wind-free and snow-free conditions. I was done by 6:45 so I got on the air and tuned through the beacon subband. Virginia beacon WA1ZMS/B FM07 was 5x3 which is a pretty good initial indication that the untested omni would work. A test transmission was successful with no smoke or explosions, so I was off and running. A good first hour of average troposcatter was followed by upward swells of QSB in the second hour that allowed me to work W3BFC FM18 on the eastern shore of MD at 5x5 (and he was 5x6). The QSB died off in the third hour, but I was still able to work West Virginia station K8RYU EM99 at 356 miles. In the fourth hour I was still picking up new grids and worked Ohio station K8TQK EM89 for a best DX of 442 miles. That's a longer DX than last year's best DX when I was using a pair of 6-el Yagis from a higher hilltop with fewer obstructions. Not bad for an omni.

Using a high-performance omni from a quiet hilltop was an interesting new experience. It allowed me to hear a high number of stations still choosing the same run frequencies as other stations and stepping on them without knowing the other was there. I have heard that before with beams, but it is more pronounced with the omni. The way to reduce the chances of that happening is to encourage folks to use a frequency that ends in something other than the popular 5 or 0. With an omni, I am unable to work one of those stations without bothering the others, so I resorted to waiting to see what happens (wasting my time), tuning the band looking for other activity, or calling CQ nearby in hopes of catching one of them tuning the band. None of those methods is as effective as calling the stations on their frequencies, and I missed easy contacts as a result. In the future, perhaps it's better for me to use an omni to call CQ in the frenzied first hour only, then switch to a beam for the rest of the event.

Not a single snowflake fell until I woke up the next morning at home and the ground was covered again (April 10th). There was snow on the ground each of the next two mornings, too...somebody please tell earth to start revolving around the sun again.


144     46     23

-- Claimed score = 1058 --


PH 2301 KA2LIM/R FN11
PH 2304 W2BDN    FN22
PH 2315 N3RN     FN11
PH 2317 VE3DS    FN03
PH 2317 VE3SMA   FN03
PH 2322 KD2LGX   FN13
PH 2328 W2KV     FN20
PH 2330 N2NT     FN20
PH 2334 K1IIG    FN31
PH 2336 KR1ST    FN21
PH 2336 KA3FQS   FN20
PH 2338 W2UAD    FN13
PH 2340 N2RLA    FN22
PH 2347 W1VD     FN31
PH 2349 AC2BL    FN23
PH 2350 VA3ELE/R EN93
PH 2355 K1TEO    FN31
PH 0006 K1RZ     FM19 5x9
PH 0012 W3BFC    FM18 5x6
PH 0014 NG3W     FN01
PH 0021 AF1T     FN43
PH 0024 K1PXE    FN31
PH 0033 N3RG     FM29
PH 0034 W9KXI    FN12
PH 0039 W8ZN     FM19
PH 0046 VA3ELE/R FN03
PH 0048 K1OR     FN42
PH 0103 N3NGE    FN20
PH 0104 KA1ZE/3  FN01
PH 0116 VE3YCU   FN02
PH 0121 KB3WL    FN02
PH 0122 KA2LIM/R FN12
PH 0141 AA2TT    FN30
PH 0142 WV2C     FN30
CW 0147 K8RYU    EM99
PH 0149 K3MD     FN10
CW 0157 K1TR     FN42
CW 0159 K1ZE     FN31
CW 0212 AA2UK    FM29
CW 0221 K3AJ     FM19
CW 0223 W2GIO    FN31
PH 0228 VA3NW    FN04
CW 0237 K8TQK    EM89
PH 0239 VA3ELE/R FN02
CW 0244 WA3EOQ   FM09
PH 0259 N2OA     FN03