N2SLN    hilltop portable in FN22


    new 2-inch hitch-mounted Tipper with rotor

    2-inch OD mast plus one short section of smaller mast for mounting the antenna

    Moxon Rectangle antenna at about 27 feet above ground


    Icom IC-7000 at 10-15 watts

    new RF-sensed ARR preamp

    ICE bandpass filter

    TE Systems amplifier at about 200w


One week before the sprint I opened the shipping container to begin building the new 6m rover yagi only to discover that the element sections are not held together with hose clamps. I was counting on the hose clamp design so I could collapse the elements inward to make the antenna fit in the cargo area of the new rover van, but the element sections are riveted. So now the antenna options for the upcoming sprint are dwindling. The forecast for sprint day didn't sound good early in the week and got worse as time progressed. The chance of rain increased to 90 percent and wind gusts to 30 mph were being predicted. The day before the sprint I disassembled my home station's 5-el yagi and loaded it into the van incase I had time to re-assemble it on the hilltop, but I also brought the Moxon. On sprint day I arrived at the hilltop more than an hour early. There were extremely dark and low clouds to the west, and high wind gusts, but no rain at the moment. Since most weather comes from the west, I figured that I was only moments away from being hit, so the decision was made to minimize setup time and use the Moxon, an antenna that I can transport already fully assembled, and can take back down quickly. I positioned the van, drove over the leveling blocks, removed the antenna and other equipment from the cargo area, all the while watching the ominous clouds for signs of direction of travel. Luckily there was no lightning. I suddenly noticed that the dark blob was getting closer as expected. At this point the tiltover system was fully assembled and on the ground, minus the antenna and feedline, which I threw under the van to keep rain off the connectors and ran inside just as the first raindrops hit at 6:08 PM. While the tempest unleashed and rocked the van side to side, I enjoyed staying dry and kept busy with the indoor tasks, then noticed pea-sized hail for about 30 seconds at 6:24 PM. The torrent was over at 6:40 so I went back outside and was able to stay dry while finishing assembly. One other operator to my southwest reported hearing thunder, and the news media reported that Ohio had thundersnow (and I had snow flurries at home for several hours the next day which actually accumulated to a dusting).

I started calling CQ and was pleased to see the new external preamp working well (the main purpose of participating in the sprint this time). The rotor control box had somehow got into a different count ratio and the display was not showing the actual beam heading. This same issue happened two years ago but I couldn't remember the fix. So I survived by looking outside at the antenna whenever possible as well as peaking the signals by ear and on the S-meter. With so little antenna gain there weren't any long-haul contacts, but it was still a treat to work into FN44, which was probably my best DX at 240 miles / 387 km. Apparently, at this location, the power lines get noisy in wet wx, because by pointing the antenna where the power lines were closest, the QRN went up to S9+10 dB as rain fell almost constantly for the whole sprint. It's difficult to get away from the QRN with an antenna that has a huge 80-degree beamwidth, so even quiet directions were noisier than usual, and I missed some contacts as a result. There were no skywave contacts here; chances of band openings would increase if the event were moved to Memorial Day weekend, which is historically the best time in the month of May. The solar flux was down to 103 from the previous year's 155 after four consecutive years of increases.


 50     11      8      88


PH   2307    K2ZD        FN21
PH   2328    KJ1K        FN32
PH   2340    N1JEZ       FN44
PH   0006    KE2DN       FN12
CW   0014    N2DCH       FN22
PH   0021    KC2SFU      FN22
CW   0038    N2NT        FN20
PH   0059    WA1WK       FN31
CW   0128    WB2JAY      FN30
CW   0130    W3KM        FN20
PH   0155    K1TEO       FN31