Adventures in radio - June 2023
2023-06-26 Does the ARRL make the VHF contest logs available for analysis? - Part 2of2.
Continuing the look at the 2m and 6m traffic in my location, I used the ARRL January VHF activity logs for the Hudson, Long Island region as the source. The ARRL VHF contest spans nearly 30 hours and averages about 11 unique callsigns averaging 330 or so contacts. I used January VHF content data from 2017 through 2022 as complete logs were available. The total number of contacts might include contacts outside the Hudson, Long Island region or, more likely, many of the 11 callsigns were roving, packed their gear into a vehicle, and drove around during the contest. Every time a new grid square was entered, they worked the same stations again,
making points (and multipliers) for both rover and the contacts.
|Year||Callsigns Logged||6m QSO||2m QSO|
To place the above numbers in perspective, there are around 26,000 Amateur radio license holders in New York. The Five Boroughs, lower Hudson Valley, and Long Island account for over 60 percent of the state's population. There are many amateur radio license holders in the area. Still, given only 11 active VHF users on a reasonably big ARRL contest weekend, it's probably safe to say that the low to non-existent VHF simplex activity (outside of repeaters) is a (real) thing.
I listened to an ARRL and an ICQPODCAST podcast on VHF DXing this past weekend. My takeaway from both podcasts is that a lot of the VHF DXing takes place over the 6m (Magic) band. I had been ignoring 6m and 2m SSB operations. My HT's all do FM but none of them do SSB, so it is an easy thing to overlook. I am going to run some more tests in the future but will be using SSB mode instead of FM and will then revisit these results.
2023-06-24 Does the ARRL make the VHF contest logs available for analysis? - Part 1 of 2.
As I noted in earlier blog posts. there does not appear to be a lot of VHF/UHF traffic in the FN30 grid area, even when it is a contest weekend. Does everyone just hang out on the repeaters and not play real radio (I'm just kidding)?
Given that last weekend was the ARRL June 2023 VHF contest, I figured I could start with the ARRL site to see just what traffic they logged by the grid and by the band if possible. I couldn’t find any useable records at the ARRL site so I reached out to the listed contact: contest manager.
To: Contest "email@example.com" Subject: Where are the actual log records? Hi; I would like to see the actual log records or at least be able to query the database. I m interested in the VHF contest records (January and June for at least 2022 and 2023). I want to determine the number of QSOs by grid square, by band. My personal interest is that I am in grid square FN30 and have not been able to hear or make any contacts both in the ARRL contests and the Winterheat contest. The Winterheat contest, *did* show activity on a map during the contest, and I don't think there were more than one or two active participants throughout the contest. I would like to see what the ARRL VHF contests show. Thanks Winston Lawrence KD2WLL
The ARRL contest manager, Paul Bourque (N1SFE), replied very quickly and pointed me to where I could download the submitted and collated contest logs. While the ARRL logs didn't map the grid squares, they did map the ARRL divisions, which in my use-case was close enough to be considered a one-to-one match.
On Wed, Jun 21, 2023 at 12:08 PM Bourque, Paul, N1SFE
wrote:Good afternoon Winston, If you visit contests.arrl.org, and click on the event of interest in the left hand navigation, and then click “Scores,” the scores for that particular event will be displayed. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and there is a link to display the results as a .tsv (tab separated values) file that can be opened in Excel or most spreadsheet programs.
Unfortunately, we don’t’ populate the grid square in those files, but the ARRL section is populated. If you filter to view only “NLI” (New York City/Long Island) that should give a good indication of activity in FN30, as that ARRL section lies almost entirely in that grid.
So, the answer to the opening blog entry question is,"yes"!, thanks to Paul's quick response. What the data reveals is on me to do the analysis and that will be addressed in the second part of this post. I do think the results web-page should also provide in the side-menu, a link to the downloadable .TSV files. Nobody is going to keep scrolling to the very end of a web page if the page is not showing the requested results.
2023-06-22 Hustler 4btv installation progress
The Hustler 4btv is up. It probably has some limitations as it is close to trees in a corner of my garden even though I had purchased a chain-pole saw and have already cut down a lot of the branches.
I have the 4btv tuned (i.e SWR is less than 1.5) on 10m, 15m, 20m and 40m.
Folks on the interwebs say 30m is also possible but I'm just getting SWR too high from the RigExpert analyzer. I bought a 4 band trap vertical and I am getting a 4 band trap analyzer result so *I* am happy with the antenna.
To the I'm getting 30m as well, Youtubers - Prove it :-).
I'll go more into my final antenna configuration in a couple of later posts, but the Hustler antenna seems to be somewhat resonant on 6m as well. This is less important to me because I have added a diplexor for the VHF/UHF bands and will be putting up a separate 6m dipole antenna next to the Hustler -- stay tuned.
2023-06-11 One Sunday in June
The ARRL June VHF day started yesterday (6/10) and much as I expected, "crickets on the 2m band". Just like "WinterHeat" there is zero 2m activity around here. I called CQ from my base station IC-705 with zero results even though I just installed an even better attic mounted, 2m/70cm antenna for special events like this (it's not needed for talking on local repeaters). I also called CQ several times while mobile, going from home to the LIMARC ham event (also nada for results) again at the ham event, nada, and then on the way back home (yet again nada).
The LIMARC ham event was okay. I only went because I had a list of about 15 different connector types that I wanted to pickup and I managed to get about half of them (total of a dozen connectors) for $32.00 so was pretty happy with the deal. I also took my radios but didn’t sell them. (Im now making them available from this site). VHF/UHF simplex, i.e not repeater traffic is pretty much dead if you live on Long Island, NY. I may (gasp) also get my GMRS license as at least I can buy ONE GMRS license and my immediate family could communicate for the single license price if I give them radios. VHF may be dormant on simplex - GMRS activity cerainly seems to be slightly more active and with my non-ham licensed family, it is something we can all use. There also seem to be a couple of GMRS repeaters nearby and I also need to look into if GMRS hotspots are a thing. Speaking of hotspots, I did get to play radio - I switched my HT over to digital (DMR) and got onto the Brandmeister ICQPODCAST talkgroup when I got back home and had a pleasant afternoon conversation with Martin (M1MRB) ranging from comparing VHF in the U.K to what I was seeing here and even some talk about antennas and GMRS here in the states vs UK. Nice!
'73 from KD2WLL - the adventure continues