[amsat-bb] My 6-7 June road trip, lots of miles & grids - report

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Tue Jun 16 23:19:30 UTC 2015


I'm a little tardy in sending this e-mail out, but wanted to post a report
on my road trip to northern Arizona and southern Utah on the weekend of 6-7
June. After over 1100 miles in just over two days, I had fun hosting an AMSAT
table at a hamfest, followed by a lot of driving and operating.

I made the 3-hour drive up to Show Low, in eastern Arizona the night before
the White Mountain Hamfest on 6 June. I drove through rain and some fog up
to Show Low, which made the morning a little cooler. A nice crowd showed up
for the half-day hamfest, and WD9EWK was on a couple of SO-50 passes followed
by an AO-73 pass during the morning. The hamfest was located in grid DM44xg,
near the Show Low city hall and the US-60/AZ-260 junction. By 11.30am (1830
UTC), the hamfest was wrapping up. This gave me about 2 hours to get to the
first post-hamfest stop of this road trip - the DM54bx/DM55ba grid boundary,
along old US-66 and I-40, about an hour north of the hamfest site.

The DM54bx/DM55ba grid boundary is a place I have worked from several times
in the past few years, most recently in June 2014 after the same hamfest. I
planned to work AO-7 and FO-29 from here, so I could get these two grids on
the air. The AO-7 pass came first, and I was able to make two SSB QSOs before
the satellite was forced from mode B to mode A (thanks KG5CCI & N4UFO!). It
is unfortunate that stations still insist on running lots of power when
working AO-7, in SSB and especially CW. FO-29 came by a few minutes later,
and that was better. Three more stations went in the log on that pass, then
it was time to hit the road again.

I had received requests to work from grid DM45 during this weekend, and I was
able to do that for the later AO-7 and FO-29 passes. I drove about
50 miles/80km west on I-40 to Winslow, near the southeast corner of grid
DM45. After making a stop at "the corner in Winslow, Arizona" for some
pictures, I drove east to the end of old US-66 and parked in front of an old
trading post to work AO-7 and FO-29 from here. These two passes were both
almost directly overhead for this location, and this time AO-7 stayed in mode
B for the entire pass. Five stations were logged on AO-7, and six more on

>From Winslow, I drove about 60 miles/100km west to Flagstaff for dinner and
fuel, before turning north on US-89 to Page and Lake Powell, at the
Arizona/Utah state line. For the drive between Flagstaff and Page, I stopped
at two points to work ISS passes. The first stop was north of Flagstaff,
still in grid DM45, around 0115 UTC. No QSOs were logged, although I saw
several stations on my TH-D72A's display. After that pass, I kept going north
on US-89 onto the Navajo Nation reservation. As the last glimmer of sunlight
was about to disappear from the western sky, I made another stop at the
US-89/US-89A junction near Page just before 0300 UTC. This was at grid
DM46ep, with a nice view to the west for this ISS pass. I exchanged APRS
messages with KK6RKY in northern California, saw a few other stations, then
went back onto US-89 to finish my drive to Page.

Once in Page, I stopped in a Wal-Mart parking lot along US-89 to work an
AO-73 pass just before 0400 UTC. This was in grid DM46gv, a few miles/km
south of Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam, and the Arizona/Utah state line.
Since it was getting late, and I needed to leave Page early the next morning,
I only worked one pass. Six in the log, and that ended my Saturday.

As the sun was rising Sunday (7 June) morning, I left Page to reach the
DM47xb/DM57ab grid boundary in southern Utah. This was a 130-mile/210km
drive, and even with two stops for caffeine on the way I made it to the
spot with about 30 minutes to spare. I had operated from this spot in
2009, on a county road southeast of US-163 in San Juan County. This area
is also on the Navajo Nation reservation, and north of Monument Valley.
After taking the obligatory photos of my station and GPS receiver, I was
ready to work an SO-50 pass followed by an AO-73 pass between 1510 and
1550 UTC.

Other than making another trip to this part of the country, I had heard from
Drew KO4MA that DM47 and DM57 were two of the three grids in this part of the
US he did not have confirmed via satellite. Others had also mentioned they
either needed one of these grids, or both of them as well. The SO-50 pass was
great for working stations from coast to coast. A total of 16 stations,
including KO4MA, were logged. The AO-73 pass around 1545 UTC was a very low
pass out there, with a maximum elevation of 4 degrees to the east. Despite
that, I logged QSOs with AC0RA and K4FEG.

Before the western SO-50 and AO-73 passes after 1700 UTC, I drove back to
US-163 and stopped at a spot with a great view to the south and Monument
Valley. I took lots of pictures out here, and some of those were sent out via
Twitter for those who were watching me that morning. After spending most of
the 1600 UTC hour sightseeing, I drove back to the DM47/DM57 boundary for the
last two passes I'd work out there. Six stations logged on SO-50, followed by
3 on AO-73, to wrap up the DM47/DM57 part of this road trip.

Another grid boundary I looked to work from on this trip was the DM56/DM57
boundary, a place I worked from in 2008. This is along the US-191 highway,
just north of the Arizona/Utah state line. It was about 75 miles/120km from
the DM47/DM57 boundary just off US-163 to the DM56ex/DM57ea boundary on
US-191. With a lunch stop along the way, I made it to the spot with about
20 minutes to spare. I planned to work two AO-7 passes and one FO-29 pass,
along with the obligatory grid-boundary photography, before making the drive
home (almost 6 hours!).

The first AO-7 pass around 1930 UTC was not too high, but high enough to be
able to hear myself for almost the entire pass. I logged only one QSO, with
John K8YSE, near my LOS. Then an hour or so of sightseeing up US-191 and
back, before the better AO-7 and FO-29 passes starting around 2125 UTC. The
two later passes were productive. I logged 7 QSOs on the AO-7 pass, and 10
QSOs on the FO-29 pass after that. When I was up here in 2008 and 2009, I
only worked FM passes. With SO-50 only passing by in the mornings, working
the SSB birds was mandatory on this trip up here.

When I wasn't trying to work the ISS passes, I left my TH-D72A squawking my
location as WD9EWK-9 on this trip. I did not use APRS when I was up there in
2008 or 2009, and I hoped that mountaintop digipeaters would hear me. A few
in Utah and Colorado did, and I was able to see myself later on aprs.fi. Some
areas were not covered, in particular the two grid boundaries I stopped at in
southern Utah, but the highways mostly had good coverage. I could use an app
on my mobile phone, but prefer to use APRS with RF. The mobile phone network
on the Navajo Nation was dramatically improved since 2009. I had high-speed
data access while I was out there, which let me send photos via Twitter and
see how well my APRS signals were making it to the Internet.

After the trip, I uploaded my log to Logbook of the World. Over half of my 89
QSOs from this trip have been confirmed via LOTW. This is nice to see! I am
also planning to print some QSL cards this weekend, to answer some QSL
requests that have landed at my PO box. Again, it's not necessary to send me
your QSL card or an SASE when you work me on my road trips. An e-mail with
the QSO details is sufficient. If you're in the log, I will put a card in the
mail to you. If you work me when I'm at home, or near the Phoenix area (in
general, when I'm in grids DM33 and/or DM43), then I would appreciate
receiving your QSL card.

I drove 1145 miles/1843km in just over 50 hours on this trip, and operated
from 8 different grid locators in Arizona and Utah (DM44-47, DM54-57) -
including 3 grid boundaries (DM47/DM57, DM54/DM55, DM56/DM57). Other than my
long drive from the ARRL Centennial Convention in Hartford last year up to
northern Maine, it has been a while since I have done a trip like this. It is
fun to mix in satellite operating on trips, and I hope to do more of this in
the remainder of 2015.


Twitter: @WD9EWK

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