[amsat-bb] My New Mexico road trip, Saturday (2 May) afternoon/evening - report

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Mon May 4 19:29:42 UTC 2015


After the Cochise Amateur Radio Association's hamfest wrapped up on Saturday
(2 May) morning, I made a stop for lunch and then proceeded on my plan to
work some passes from New Mexico. I had asked on Twitter for possible
destinations on my post-hamfest drive, and I had just visited two grid
boundaries in southeastern Arizona (DM51/DM52, DM52/DM53) in late March after
a hamfest in Tucson. One request was made - New Mexico. So I went there...

After stopping for lunch, it took about an hour and a half to make the drive
just over the Arizona/New Mexico state line. I stopped at the small "town" of
Road Forks, New Mexico. The name of the town says it all - it is where the
old US-80 highway makes a turn to the south, away from what is now I-10. Not
much is here - a small motel with restaurant, and a fireworks shop. I parked
at an abandoned truck stop across the road from those businesses, which was
in grid DM52mf. I worked two passes from there - FO-29 at 2115 UTC, and AO-7
at 2135 UTC. I worked 9 stations on the FO-29 pass, but was shut out of the
AO-7 pass. I could hear some loud and strong CW signals through AO-7, and
could occasionally hear my own 5W CW and SSB signals, but no contacts.

After those two passes, I got back on I-10 and drove another 63 miles (just
over 100km) in the next 50 minutes to reach a truck stop west of Deming at
exit 68. This truck stop is a few hundred yards/meters east of 108 degrees
West longitude, also known as the DM52xf/DM62af grid boundary. I parked along
the side of the south frontage road along I-10, and worked a few passes from
here before sunset (and a bad thunderstorm). I started on FO-29 at 2300 UTC.
This was another good pass, and I logged 9 QSOs with stations from coast to
(almost) coast. The AO-7 pass that came by a few minutes later was also good
for me at this location. Unfortunately, after a minute or two of some strong
CW, the mode B downlink shut off.

Just as the AO-7 downlink shut off, I was visited by a sheriff's deputy. The
deputy was curious about what I was doing with radios on the roof of my car,
waving an antenna skyward. I explained what I was doing, and the deputy told
me that this area was a common route for people after illegally crossing the
US/Mexico border south of that area. I told the deputy I had no plans on
staying out here into the night, and that satisfied him. He left, and I still
didn't hear AO-7 in the last couple of minutes of that pass.

There was an ISS pass coming over just before 0000 UTC, so I set up my Kenwood
TH-D72A to use that. I saw a few call signs coming through, and was able to
make one QSO. I was able to exchange APRS messages with Brad KG7NXH in the
Phoenix area. This was a bonus, although I am finding I can make a QSO or two
on many ISS passes with just my TH-D72A lately. One of these days, I will set
up my laptop or one of my tablets so I can use a larger keyboard and screen
for those passes. Until then, I'll have fun making packet QSOs with just the
HT and antenna.

After the ISS made its pass, I planned on working two SO-50 passes from here.
The first of the passes, around 0045 UTC, went across the northern and eastern
sky, covering the continental USA. I logged 8 QSOs on this pass, including one
with KG7NXH who I worked on the earlier ISS pass. After that, the later SO-50
pass around 0225 UTC that covered the west coast added 3 more QSOs. As this
later pass started, a strong wind and rain started. After logging the last QSO
on that pass, I quickly put my gear in the back seat of my car, and drove back
to the truck stop. I did a better job of stowing my gear, with the cover over
the gas pumps shielding me from the rain.

Including a stop for fuel and a late dinner, it took about 4 hours to drive
home from Deming. I was "treated" to a thunderstorm complete with strong winds
and rain for the first 30 minutes of the drive. I wish I had a video camera
running for this part of my drive, because the light show was awesome. By the
time I reached the Arizona state line, the rain and strong winds stopped.
Except for some road construction on I-10 as I reached the edge of the Phoenix
area, I was able to set the cruise control and make good time on the drive

I have uploaded all of my QSOs from Saturday - at the hamfest, and from these
two locations in New Mexico - to Logbook of the World. If you worked me and
would like to receive a QSL card, please e-mail me off-list with the QSO
details. If you are in my log, I will gladly send a QSL card. No need to
first send me a card and/or SASE.


Twitter: @WD9EWK

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