[amsat-bb] 20 September EM88/98 West Virginia Operation

John Papay john at papays.com
Mon Sep 21 16:40:32 PDT 2009

Thanks to everyone who worked me from the EM88/EM98.  This
was a very interesting trip to a very out of the way place in
West Virginia. West Virginia is very hilly/mountainous and finding
a place where there is a road with a view on a grid line is not
an easy task.  Google Earth helps but you just don't know until
you get there if it's going to work out.  Fortunately the views
were fine and WD9EWK was able to work me easily from Arizona.

The road trip of over 450 miles began around 9:45am Eastern and
I got there about 40 minutes before the first AO-27 pass at 1841z.  Sassafras
is not on the official West Virginia State map but it is on Google.
My Garmin GPS routed me on a one lane dirt road for about 6 miles and
fortunately I never confronted a vehicle.  The road where the operation
took place was paved and there was a lane next to a cornfield about 40'
or so from the 82 degree line so I could park safely.  It was a short
walk over to the line to operate.

It was raining on the first pass so a poncho kept the radio and me
fairly dry.  The antenna and microphone were exposed to the elements
but the rain had no adverse effect on them.  The rest of the passes were
rain free.

Several cars stopped; one person was curious, the other two wanted
directions!  One lady was looking for a church and said she had been
driving around in circles trying to find it.  I passed one on the way
in and directed her to it but I'm not sure if it was the one she intended
to visit.

APRS looked pretty good at the grid boundary as I was getting digi'd.
Unfortunately it must have taken more than three hops to find a gateway
since only a few packets made it to the aprs servers.  The ISS digi
was off so the radio that I prepared for that purpose didn't get any
packets through on 145.825.  Here's one that did make it through from
where I was parked (close to the line but not on it).

2009-09-20 22:15:56 UTC: 

Here's a packet from West Virginia when I was almost there that
went all the way to Cleveland before being gated by home station,

2009-09-20 17:52:53 UTC: 

There was essentially no cellphone coverage from this area.  Ham
radio can really serve a purpose there for emergency

A total of 52 contacts were made on the 2 passes each of AO-27,
SO-50 and AO-51.  The only real problem (which is getting worse)
was from simplex operations that take place on or around 145.85
during an SO-50 pass.  The extra power from the Kenwood V7A that
I used helped me get through.  As always I used the Arrow antenna
and a 7AH UPS battery to power the radio.  Using headphones and
a digital recorder made operating a snap.  Full duplex tells you
right away if you're in the bird or not.

There were 42 unique callsigns worked; best DX was YY6IEA.  KE5GDB,
Young Ham of the Year, was also in the log from EL29.  I left after
the 2322Z SO-50 pass since it was sunset in Sassafras.  It got dark
quickly and driving the back roads can get a little tricky.  I
was at home around 11:30 pm eastern.

QSL cards are at the printer and will be sent to everyone who made
it into my log.  No return card is necessary.  Don't bother sending
an SASE.  The card design is already on my qrz.com web page.

Operating from grids away from your home QTH takes some effort but
you will have fun doing it.  I would encourage everyone to look at
the possibilities around your QTH and plan an operation.  Once you
have it all figured out you will be confident that you can go anywhere
and operate successfully. Thanks to all of you who already do this so
that we can all work something new.  And finally a special thanks to
my son, KD8CAO, for being there on every pass and watching the radar
for approaching weather.

John K8YSE

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