Category Archives for "Contesting"

Six Meter Spring Sprint — How was your running?

World BackgroundThis past weekend was the Six Meter Spring Sprint contest and there was a fair amount of commentary on it some of the e-mail reflectors I read.

I’ve never operated six meters.

When I was in Costa Rica in February, TI5KD waxed eloquently about six meters. Short path, long path, weird openings, and the seasonality of the band.

It was pretty interesting, but the thing that put me off on working it was that six meters is a band where you have to be listening all the time. All the time, because the openings are often short. So, if you are in the car, have a six meter radio going. If you are working in the shop, have a radio with you to listen while you work.

Fun — but complete dedication and I’m not able to do that.

How about you? Have you worked six meters? Just contesting or DXing?

Scot, K9JY

Searching for Salt Water: Why?

High Tide Beach levelIn the last couple of posts, I’ve talked about searching for salt water as something I’m planning on doing for contests. Or…may do for contests; it’s not really decided yet. What are the reasons? Here’s the recap:

  • DXpeditions are expensive. Yes, it really does cost dollars to go to places, even places where the antenna infrastructure is already set up.
  • Airline travel is a hassle. Carrying radio equipment and amplifiers is a hassle. Not so much, so far, from the customs people for the equipment — I carry the FCC license and the DXpedition license and clearly label stuff and their purpose for security (Security — Morse Code telegraph key: high speed key for sending Morse Code). Rather, the weight of the package is the issue. I was OK with the Costa Rica trip, but it was a total update from the Bermuda trip.
  • My personal vacation time. I get 15-days. Period. I chewed up eight of those days — over half — on the TI trip. That leaves less than a week and change for anything, including a vacation alone with the XYL. I could use eight vacation days by taking Fridays off for contests with my XYL using an RV and verticals on salt water. And, no customs/weight limit hassle to boot.

My new house really offers no opportunity for Ham Radio. Putting up a vertical means I’m twenty feet from my neighbors house — and the house is on a hill where my entire eastbound signal goes directly into dirt — and it is just not my idea of having a great location for radio.

I can practice my simulated contests with my PC. But, to me, my choice is salt water on a beach, or continue DXpeditioning. Right now, I’m exploring salt water on a beach — because we have some here in Seattle-land.

Scot, K9JY

Searching for Salt Water — State Park

Yesterday, I posted about finding a county park that could be used for contesting with verticals over salt water. There are some significant limitations with using the site; specifically, the county park is for daylight use only.

But, in Washington State, we have State parks as well. One of the State parks is an old fort site, used to defend the Puget Sound from any attacks via the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The State park site has a big limitation as well: camping from March 1st through the end of October only. That leaves out some good contests.

Here’s a picture of the high tide beach level:

High Tide Beach level

This picture shows the amount of dirt needed to get to the beach from the campsite:

Campsite to beach

In the background, you can see the camp sight with the RV’s in view.

Here’s the RV’s themselves:

Beach to RV’s

This site runs up against the 200-foot personal limitation for a site for the coax to reach the beach. Plus, when you can camp.

But, for the ARRL Contest, CQ WW RTTY Contest and a few others, this might be the ticket. At least you have hookups and have permission to camp.

Scot, K9JY

Searching for Salt Water — County Park

As I noted yesterday, I’ve had to opportunity to go looking for places where I could use verticals over salt water here in Seattle-land for contesting.

As promised, I have a few pictures to show the areas in question. The first area is a county park that meets my criteria for operating.

The issue here is the hours of operation — and where to stay, if in an RV, during the night.

This picture shows the rules:

County Park Rules

But, this picture shows how close the parking spot is to the beach — a flat beach.

County Park Beach

Yes, logs on the beach in Washington State is the norm…It’s a conundrum. How to get permission to stay overnight? With no electricity hookups?

Scot, K9JY

Searching for Salt Water

Searching for Salt WaterAs a quick background, I’ve spent my time since going to Costa Rica in February getting a new house ready to move into — and then moving into the new house. Last Thursday, we were finally able to get both cars into the garage. We have a lot left to do, of course, but we can see the end. It’s about time, too, as this has seriously affected my ability to do much outside of work and moving, including QSLing and writing in this blog!

Because of how much time this has taken, the XYL and I decided to take a celebration weekend off in Port Townsend, including staying at the very nice James House Bed and Breakfast.

While doing that, we also did some scouting for camping sites on a salt water beach where we could potentially bring an RV and contest using verticals over salt water.

We found a couple of places that might work out. There are some issues, however. One site allows “day use only” and that doesn’t work for contesting during the night. Another site allows camping only from March through October. That’s not as good as I would like it as there are some good contests outside those times.

My criteria for a site are pretty simple in theory, but hard to execute:

  • Camping allowed for an RV
  • Site is no more than 200 feet from the high water mark on the beach
  • The site faces north, preferably with 180 degrees of water (such as on the Strait of Juan de Fuca coming into Puget Sound) so as to provide a salt water path to JA, EU, and the United States.

There is more to look at, including private RV sites. We’ve even talked about a beach house in the boonies and just buy that.

So, it’s early in the game. But it is a start. And we’re looking. I’ll post some pictures of the kinds of things I’m writing about here over the next couple of days.

Scot, K9JY

Vertical Antennas and Salt Water

Grayland BeachI’m seriously thinking of changing how I operate from the Pacific Northwest.

I’ve usually decided to go on DXpeditions as the standard home setup here (vertical, low power) and will become untenable once I move into our new home in about a month (great western takeoff angle and the rest of the world ends 100 feet in the side of a hill…).

But, Washington State has many great parks that happen to sit right on the salt water ocean. And a vertical sitting at the high water mark with radials over salt tend to perform pretty well. As in: 20-over nine somewhere in the world all of the time.

If I take a five day vacation time, I can usually operate one contest with the five days if I go on a DXpedition. Using this method of park, verticals and radials on salt water, I could theoretically operate five contests Friday-Sunday using the same vacation time.

The question is…what vertical antennas should I be using that would perform well and easily be set up and torn down for the three day adventure?

Scot, K9JY

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