Last Saturday both myself and Matt, KB1OSV, headed down to the SEMARA clubhouse to particpate in the ARRL June VHF QSO Party. I had previously participated in the January VHF Sweepstakes at the club and had a good time. When I brought up the fact that I was going to be activating the station at the last business meeting, Matt offered to show up as well with his FT-897 so we could operate on 2M as well.
The day of, I arrived at noon and Matt had already set up his 2M beam. We attached it to the top of a 18ft painter’s pole that he had brought and lashed it to the stairs, giving it about 25ft clearance off the ground. Matt travels a lot and he has his entire station broken down into a waterproof Pelican case (radio, other electronics) and a travel bag (antennas, tools, etc.). Very impressive. We set up his 897 which I manned for 2M and he operated the club’s TS-570 for 6M. Being both rookies, we managed to muff the start of the contest. At 1300EDT we started scouring the bands and were confused as we heard almost no activity. We then realized that we both were mistaken that 1300EDT was NOT 1800UTC, the start of the contest, it was 1700UTC. Whoops. Stupid daylight savings.
As 1800UTC FINALLY rolled around, the bands sprung to life. I made the first contact of the afternoon at 1801UTC. Unfortunately, I should have savored it, as it was one of five contacts I made during the contest. 2M was mostly dead for most of the afternoon and I was only able to work three grids. Matt had better luck on 6M, as the band occasionally opened up and he was able to work stations in the midwest and southeast United States. By the time 6PM rolled around and we both had to leave, we worked a grand total of 16 contacts and 10 grids. Not anything impressive, but definitely not bad considering our setup and time limitations.
We both had a good time. It was Matt’s first VHF contest and it was my first time running SSB on 2M. I was impressed when the band did show brief (really brief) signs of life and was able to hear as far north as Northern New Hampshire and as far west as eastern New York. If and when I am able to get a house with a permanent antenna setup, I think a 2M beam is definitely in my future. Matt and I agreed that we would definitely want to try this again and he has access to a mountaintop with a shelter and power through his astronomy club. I think that if I ever get a radio that can run 2M sideband, I may take him up on his offer.