Tuesday, October 20, 2009

1st Ever Tropo Contact!



A couple of weeks ago brought another first for this VHF Man. A frontal boundary set up in the Southeast allowing for some medium range tropospheric propagation on 2 Meters, 222, and 432. Now based on what the experienced operators say, it was a "run of the mill" tropo opening, really nothing to write home about, but for this newcomer it was a blast!

I came late to the party, first hearing about the opening via an e-mail from one of the TV DXing e-mails lists. In years past, I was an avid DX'er of TV signals, and even though I'm not active in that part of the hobby these days, I still read the mail and plan to return to it someday.

I got the e-mail alerting me to an opening in Tennessee and North Alabama at about 7PM. I rushed out to the shack to see the APRS Map lit up in bright red all across my area. I turned on the rig and tuned to 144.200. Scanning around a bit, I heard nothing. I quickly checked the NOAA weather radio frequencies, and sure enough, some strange sounding material and city names indicated a strong opening towards the Mid-West.

Retuning to 144.200, I started using the voice keyer to call CQ. These went unanswered. On a whim, I filled on a 50 watt FM rig and tuned it to 146.520 Mhz (Simplex) and gave a quick CQ there too. To my surprise, I was immediately answered by Bobby Livingston, N5YLE in Little Rock, Arkansas! He was almost full quieting!

My FM rig has a three element beam, mounted vertically in the attic, and is fed with 1/2" hardline. While it's a solid performer on the local repeaters, it's no world beater. I was amazed!

Bobby turned out to be in EM34, which was a new one for me! Grid #64 went into the log book just that easily. Returning to SSB, I called several more times without answer. Suddenly, more and more stations began to appear. Most of them in EM55, EM65, etc. out to about a distance of 200-250 miles. Many of them were new calls in the log, but no new grids. The surprising thing is that even with my compromised antennas, many of them sounded strong like locals. Just working eight or nine stations on 2 Meter Sideband in a given evening was a thrill for me!

Sadly, the opening died off around 9PM, with no additional grids worked. But it was a taste of what tropo has to offer, and helped to build my hopes of making VUCC on 2 Meters from my indoor confines.

Thanks Bobby! My 1st ever tropo contact may have been on FM simplex, but it sill counts! The card is in the mail.

1 comment:

g4ilo said...

Congratulations, and thanks for a great write-up. When you catch one of those rare openings it's one of the most exciting things in the hobby, I think.