Thursday, June 4, 2009

K5N on Indoor Antennas

Friday was a big day for this VHF Man. It started with the news that my good friend Jack, WA5UUD had successfully worked K5N. The chase was on for the rarest grid east of the Mississippi.

Then I spent most of the afternoon at the home of Jimmy Long, W4ZRZ. He was in the midst of repairing his recent antenna damage, getting ready for the June contest. Despite his demanding workload, he took time off the towers to teach me the basics of microwave operating. Bill Capps, AF4OD has decided to forego the microwave effort for the June contests, and agreed to loan me his microwave rover set-up for my first ever attempt at roving. The gear consists of mainly DEMI transverters, along with Toshiba power amps, all mounted on plywood bases.

It includes 2.3ghz, 3.4, 5.7, and 10ghz. The gear is "jointly" owned by Jimmy Long, W4ZRZ and Bill, with each contributing parts to the cause. We set the gear up "portable" in Jimmy's garage, and he helped me calibrate the transverters with a frequency generator. He then walked me through setting up each unit, the basics of finding the beam headings for the desired station, and walking me through aiming the antennas.

One by one, we worked quick QSO's on SSB and CW on 5.7ghz, 10ghz, and then 3.4 and 2.3. It was quite a thrill to make those QSO's, even if they were from a distance of 100 feet or so. With Jimmy and Bill's generosity, I should be QRV on all bands with the exception of 902mhz. I may even lug along the 902mhz FM rig just to round things out. This was followed by hours of conversation about roving, including a ton of tips from Jimmy. Then a tour of his impressive shack. You haven't lived till you've seen a water cooled 1.2ghz amplifier! And it's hard not to be jealous of a rack full of Luna-Link amps, each with their own power supply! Wow!

I returned home in time for a great dinner with the XYL, and then a race home to make my midnight schedule with K5N on JT6M. It took most of the half hour to complete the QSO. But it was a great thrill to see "N1LF K5N EM58" decode on the computer. In my haste, I had forgotten their proposed exchange, and wasn't expecting to decode their grid square. But I struggled through it, sending both my grid and signal report just to be sure.

When I received their "RRR" several minutes later, I happily replied with "73 TNX K5N". Like many, I'm very grateful for the hard work that went into that effort. How does that commercial go? "...working K5N on indoor antennas?" Priceless. All in all, a great day to be a VHF Man.

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