Microwave Sprint 2019
Wes Hayward, w7zoi, May 6, 2019.
Those of you who have read much of my web site will know that I
have a passion for outdoor ham radio from portable
locations. It's even more exciting when it makes sense
to be in a good location. There is no better reason to
take ham gear to the hills than when a high, in-the-clear location
really makes a difference. The best location is
higher than most surrounding terrain, offering a line of sight
view to the location of the folks we wish to
"work," Last Saturday an event occurred that
encouraged us to take to the hills with microwave ham
gear. This contest was restricted to frequencies of
900 MHz and higher!
Those of us lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest often
see clear cuts, areas where trees have been removed for
logging. We appreciate the wood used for our houses, but
it's hard to deny that clear cuts are ugly, for they are devoid of
the previous tree cover. The radio amateurs
among us view the cuts with another, perhaps more positive
thought: Would that deforested hill be a good place
for microwave hamming? That was the
thought that motivated John, K7CVU. He found a
great location in Oregon's Coast Range. The trek
was not a difficult drive and gave us good views to populated
areas where one might find microwave experimenters.
This photo shows John operating the 1296 MHz band.
Here he is tuning a Yaesu FT-817 transceiver that serves as an IF
for the 2 watt output transverter that hangs in a cloth pouch
under the peak of the tripod. The red object is
a water bottle also hanging from the tripod. This was needed
to keep the antenna from blowing over in the morning
wind. The many stumps serve as tables for
the gear and as a place to sit.
This photo shows John with a microphone in his hand. Two
antennas can be seen here. One is a 12 element Yagi
for 1296 MHz. The large red and heavy water bottle is
clear in this photo. Behind this tripod is Stu,
K7VGQ, who joined us on the trek. I think that this
was a new experience for Stu. The left side of
the photo shows another tripod, this one holding the 2304 MHz
gear. The antenna is a stack of two 5-element
Yagis. The transverter hangs from the tripod and
provides the weight needed to keep the rig from blowing
over. The transverter is homebrew with an output
of about 0.9 watt. This rig has an IF of 432 MHz, also
provided by the FT-817.
We brought a second antenna for 2304 MHz,
along with another, more robust tripod. This was an
antenna built with 1/4 inch pitch hardware cloth as a stressed
parabola. Aluminum strips are attached to a tin pie
plate. The feed is inside a food can. (K7CVU
Setup with the 2304 dish. This view shows the feed
structure. This is not a dish that can be dismantled,
so it is not intended for a lot of outside
use. It was used for a contact
with K7ATN. In retrospect, we might have been
able to work Fred and Susan (WA7TZY and WB7BST) on 2304 with the
dish, but missed the chance. Next time.
Here's a copy of John's log.
There were several thoughts that emerged from our little walk.
1. It was amazing to be listening to 1296 MHz CW with actual
QRM that was 3 signals deep. All we could do is to
listen and marvel at it.
2. Sunspots don't matter for microwave communications.
3. Portable operation is something that we can all enjoy,
even if we live in a noise infested neighborhood.
4. It's still fun to be on a mountain top with views, even
if there is not a lot of effort required to get there.
5. We monitored 2M FM as part of an allowed contact set-up
mode. While listening to 146.52, there was an
amazing amount of activity from SOTA (Summits on the Air)
activators and chasers. Our summit would not
have qualified for SOTA, for there were higher peaks on our ridge
6. This contest differed from the VHF contests where you
have a LOT of participants who are inexperienced with
CW. Here, there seemed to be a lot of CW action, even
though most of our contacts were on SSB. I had the feeling
that we would not be shunned for CW use.
7. Many of our contacts happened when we pointed the
antennas at some of the peaks. Fred and Susan were
pointed at Mt. Rainier when we worked them.
8. Microwave hamming offers much more potential than we
Anyway, many thanks to John for inviting me to the event.
It really was great fun.