Thursday, July 24, 2008

Staying Motivated

VUCC on 2 Meters is considered by many to be one of the more difficult operating awards in amateur radio to achieve. Just six months into my personal campaign, I can believe it.

To date, I've worked a total of 29 grids on 2 Meters, most via local troposcatter. A few have come via two brief Sporadic E Openings, and a handful via meteor scatter using the WSJT software. But progress is often slow.

During my quest to work my first 100 grids on six meters, if a day went by without working a new one, I considered that a flop. On 2 Meters, that period of time is more like a week, sometimes longer. To date, I've worked 149 grids and five countries on 6 Meters, but on 2 Meters I've worked only two (Canada via WSJT Meteor Scatter)

The recent CQ-VHF contest was a major disappointment. Conditions here were generally poor on both bands, and I had high hopes that this event would draw out more nearby stations. Instead, I worked the "gang" that is usually on here most mornings, and added only 2 grids to my totals on 2 Meters. Not the outing that I expected at all...

By Sunday afternoon, I found myself staring at a ARRL Grid Chart...a handful of them colored in with a yellow highlighter. 29 grids? How on earth am I going to manage to work another 71 grids?

On the WSJT front, despite having over 600 registered users of the software, most days on Pingjockey.com seem to bring out only the "regulars", and I've worked most of them already. To say the least, I was singing the blues...

Then a conversation with a VHF Man in Florida lifted my spirits. Located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, stations in Florida find themselves surrounded by "water" grids with no stations to work. For even some of the Big Gun stations there with Kw amps and large arrays, VUCC remains just out of reach, he explained. His personal quest had taken from 1998 until 2005 to complete VUCC on 2.

As he explained, "It's a marathon, Les...not a sprint".

That helped to put things back into focus. He also pointed out that since I'd only been on since December, I'd yet to even experience my first real tropo opening, or an e-skip opening that lasted more than a few minutes. I hadn't been active during the peaks of the Perseids showers in August, or most of the other storms. In short, the best was yet to come.

29 grids isn't a ton, but considering the limitations of both the operator (work full time, 2 kids, etc.) and the station (indoor antennas, low power), my progress was pretty good. VUCC wasn't out of reach, it just might take a few years.

Like weight loss, staying motivated to achieve the goal is a big part of the battle.

73 DE N1LF

1 comment:

Dave said...

Les,

I enjoy reading your blog. I'm with you on the chase. I'm working 6-meter grids with a 40-meter sky loop. I just started trying the ping jocky with this setup. Talk about hard. I hope to as 2-meters SSB/CW sometime.
73 - Dave
KD4HXT