Tuesday, May 4, 2010

VUCC Within Reach

The winter of my discontent has turned in the Spring of renewed hope for me. It began on March 6th, when I had my cards checked for 6 Meter VUCC at the Birmingham Hamfest. I have just over 127 grids confirmed on the "Magic Band". While I haven't received the certificate yet, the league office confirms it's on the way. 

Late March and April brought some great tropo openings into the Southwest.
A chaotic work schedule has resulted in a string of 20 hour + days, and sleeping through most of the tropo opening here in the Southeast. On March 12th, I was determined to change my fortunes, and set several alarm clocks for 6AM Central time, after going to be bed at 2AM.
Still managed to sleep through them, but woke at 7AM. Rushed to the shack, glanced at the APRS map, and began spinning the dials. Heard several loud station in Texas in a group on .230, and called them during their first break.
What followed was a three hour long spree of tropo DX, bagging 10 new grids, bringing my total to 87 grids worked on 2 Meters with the indoor antenna. Many stations were loud, literally speaker quality and then some.
When K5RUS asked me to run the bands, I really started to regret moving my 222-1296 gear to the rover set-up. I literally had nothing up that I could get on the higher bands. Drats! I decided just to focus on 2 Meters, and not worry about what I might be missing on 222 and up.
The highlight had to be when a weak station called me...I struggled to make out his callsign---and then clearly heard XE20R in DL98. Raf was actually calling me! WOW!
We worked, and I nearly had to pinch myself. DX on 2 Meters with a 6 element antenna inside the attic. And it wasn't even via Sporadic E's.
Thanks to all the patient stations who pulled me out of the noise that day. You can't image what a 10 grid day means to someone who is used to logging perhaps one new grid every month or two. It's was like Christmas at Easter Time.
13 Grids and counting for VUCC on 2 Meters! 

Late April and early May have brought some nice E-Skip openings on 6 Meters...and two new countries on that band. Last night, I even managed to work AA6DD in California via double-hop E's. He was loud, even on the 3 element indoor beam. 

Granted, I've worked the West Coast many times, but never this early in the season--and never with signals that good. I'm hoping that we'll soon be blessed with a decent 2 Meter E-Skip opening. One good day could put me over the top and complete my quest to earn VUCC using indoor antennas on another band. 

Les Rayburn, N1LF
Grid Bandit #222

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