Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grid #73 & The Jig To Come



Tropical Storm Ida and a cold front have put an end to the tropo for now, so what's a grid chaser with indoor antennas to do? Turn your eyes to the skies!

The Leonids Meteor shower will peak on November 17th, but even now the daily rates are starting to rise. Last night I had some limited operating time, but jumped on Ping Jockey to try a few contacts. My first attempt was with Terry Bess, K8JX in EN64, and we managed to pull off the 770 mile contact in a little over 15 minutes using WSJT software. This is Grid #73 on 2 Meters for me, and was a nice contact indeed.

Dan, VE2DSB monitored our QSO and decoded a couple of pings from me, and even managed to decode several from Terry off the back of the beam. After completing with Terry, Dan and I attempted a QSO for what must be the 30th time or so. Alas, no joy in Mudville. Dan and I were still not able to complete our QSO despite a half hour long attempt.

The ironic thing is that Dan was actually my first ever contact using the WSJT mode, but the QSO did not count because he walked me through it using the Ping Jockey Internet reflector. On that initial attempt, we completed in about 20 minutes, with Dan providing guidance and tips on operating the mode via the Internet logger. At the time, I think we both thought that we'd simply "do it again" for credit without the aid of the reflector later on.

Hours after the first contact (with three completed QSO's under my belt) we tried again without success. It's now turned into a running joke between the two of us. At 1,200 + miles it's no piece of cake for a meteor scatter contact, but both of us have completed longer ones.

Still the effort and the goal give us a glimpse into what the early VHF Men had to endure. Endless schedules in an attempt to complete a QSO, and seemingly endless disappointment. Dan and I are resolved to try around the 17th of this month during the shower peak to see if we can finally bag that elusive QSO.

I've got a bottle of bubbly chilling in the shack fridge to mark the event, when it finally happens, and have promised to dance a jig too. My wife is looking forward to that---you see, I can't dance, and all attempts to do so have become the stuff of legends in our family.

For those out there struggling with less than perfect antenna situations, hang in there, and remember that getting there isn't half the fun, it's all of it.

73,

N1LF

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