Sunday, July 05, 2009

VHF Field Day

This was VHF Field Day weekend. I had been looking forward to it, hoping that the activity of numerous well-sited portable stations would enable me to assess the possibilities of my stealth 2m system on the "wrong side" of the Cumbrian Mountains.

Sadly, the results were disappointing. The only contest stations I consistently heard were four fairly local Scottish portables, including MM0CPS/P only 37km away on the other side of the Solway, nearly 60dB over S9 on 2m, and whom I was even able to give a point on 70cm using the FT-817 standing on the shack desk with a retracted telescopic whip for an antenna.

I did hear a few fairly weak portables from England, but most faded away - presumably on turning their beams - before I could work them. The only G contact I made was with G3ZME/P in IO82nn, which I think is a hill called The Cloud in Shropshire. He reported a strange warble on my signal, which I also noticed on his, and on other stations I heard in that direction. My QTH is under the main flight path for flights from the north and from across the Atlantic going down to London, and on a clear day you can usually spot two or three jets at great height. Perhaps the only way my 2m signals can propagate down south in the absence of Es reflection is by aircraft scatter?

My disappointment was considerably mitigated by the fine Sporadic-E opening that occurred on Saturday evening. I checked VHFDX.net after dinner, and saw that contacts were being reported from more northerly latitudes than usual. I soon had CT1HZE in the log. He was a huge signal and was audible for most of the two-hour opening, often S9+ when nothing else could be heard at all.

EA7AJ and EA4TF were also worked, but there were several gotaways including EA5MT, EA2AGZ and EA4DM. I started to wonder if one-way Sporadic-E is possible, because some of the Spanish stations I heard were a clear S9 but kept on calling CQ despite multiple attempts to call them. Even if they were running ten times my 25W I would have thought they would still hear me, based on how I was hearing them. But I guess they were "alligators."

It has been a lot of fun getting on 2 metres again, but disappointing that only during Sporadic-E openings can I make any contacts. I'm still waiting for a big tropo opening to see if that will send any DX my way. With my neighbour problems, putting up a long yagi and running high power to work MS or EME will be out of the question.
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