January 2011 VHF Sweepstakes

Bob W4ZST, Fourlanders President

Another contest under the belt from the W4ZST QTH in EM84ao (and plenty of food and beverages went there too) for the W4NH group. I think things went pretty well, with only a couple of technical problems with amplifiers to gum up the works. Those problems were solved and we went to the end of the contest with the poor propagation conditions and lack of activity on the bands. We did score about the same as we have the past two years operating VHF sweepstakes from here, but that is the nature of VHF in January unfortunately.

The unofficial results are as follows. We may enter as limited or multi but it probably won't matter.


Our total is 232 Q's, 299 points and 72 grids making the final score 21,528 before Brian looks at the logs and submits them.

We had a small army of visitors this time. More than for any other contest. I had a total of 33 counted including the kids who visited. I didn't get an exact count for the Saturday evening meal, but it was at least 22 I think. Someone commented that outside there were so many cars scattered about that it looked like they had been shook out like a large cup of dice! Maybe I need to 'lime' out some parking places! A lot of the visitors were first timers and maybe some of them will even come back after experiencing the mayhem!

As usual Jeff came through with some great meals. We did get caught off-guard for Saturday evening as we ended up with more folks than we had actually planned for, but thanks to our good friends Chris and Mary Porter who brought some fine BBQ Pork and Brisket from "Cue" in Milton and some Brats that Chris smoked on the grill at home, they supplemented Jeff's great Brunswick stew and southwest cornbread. Everyone had plenty to eat (and some a little too much!). Kos cooked breakfast/brunch on Sunday morning for the ten or twelve who were here then. There were 9 who stayed overnight at the house on Saturday night. We had pancakes, syrup, bacon, sausage, coffee and OJ for breakfast and enough left over for the five who stayed overnight Sunday night to have pancakes and sausage for breakfast on Monday morning. Jeff cooked spaghetti, salad and garlic bread for Sunday evening dinner for the 10 operators still here then. It was great as usual and as always "Never Hungry" continues to be the club motto. Thanks again to Jeff for the meals and cooking and for Chris and Mary bringing the great BBQ that everyone enjoyed also.

Jeff also brought his youngest son Gabe to visit with us Sunday evening. He was still extending his Christmas visit from El Paso and stayed around with for the evening meal and then spent some time in the shack with us. Thanks also to Kos for cooking the great breakfast. We also seemed to have endless chips, dips and snacks in the shack during the contest. I think Scott and Tom were the main perpetrators of those waistline bulges for us all.

The technical problems we had involved the 2m and 222 amps or so we thought. The 222 problem turned out to be a coax switch and the amp is fine, even after being partially dis-assembled, tubes pulled and other testing that went on. It was back to normal after discovering the problem with the switch. The 2m problem has not been fully discovered, but preliminary troubleshooting pointed the finger at the TR relay. We will report the final outcome. We did put a 2m brick in-line for a while Saturday evening on 2m, but it wasn't enough for the WSJT skeds later. Scott brought a back-up amp (Ron's 2x 4CX250's) on Sunday morning and it was put into service and was fine until the end.

One other technical problem I remember was the high SWR on 2304 that kept me from making a Q on that band. I did get an opportunity to try for one Q there. I will investigate that hard line and jumpers when I take the antennas down. We also had some line noise on 6m that a couple of the guys investigated down the road and identified some power poles, but they are not still doing it now. I will follow up. We also seemed to keep having audio problems on the 6m stations that may or may not have just been 'hot' audio. We will also investigate the sound card used there.

Now on to the participants. The Fourlanders core members, band captains and main operators were Bob W4ZST, Jim W4KXY, Ron WW8RR, Scott NN4W, Brian NX9O, Tom K4TJD, Kos N4NIA, Kim WG8S, Jim WE8W, Ivan K4VJM, Jeff W0ONR and Bill KI4US. We had an interested new visitor Chris Caldwell from Kennesaw, W4CCH, who came, observed, operated on 2m some and apparently didn't find out enough about us to be scared off. We always welcome new folks who get the VHF contesting/operating bug like us.

Another first time visitor was Bill Morgan KG4AOX from Cumming, who visited on Sunday morning and had breakfast with us. Another first time visitor from Cumming was Vince Pardinas W4VRP and his wife Athy. They stayed for Saturday evening dinner too. Ivans friend Steve Dearman KI4IXR came by for a while on Saturday. Charles Lemmons, a wanna-be ham visitor and friend of Tom McElroy came on Saturday. We haven't heard from Tom whether we scared him off or got him enthused. We sure hope the latter and that he will get his license and visit with us again sometime.

Tom McElroy W4SDR also brought his daughter Audrey to visit with us. Audrey will also probably get her license soon. Tom and Audrey have also been on the mountain on Fourlanders trips. So have other Saturday visitors Randal DePriest N4AC, his wife Loreen and the two harmonics Alan and Owen, who all stayed for dinner.

Audrey works a 6m contact under the direction of her dad Tom, W4SDR

Two local hams from Dahlonega, Mike Saunders KG4ZFP who is interested in coming to the mountain with us sometime and Buck Cheves KC4GCK who has to take total responsibility for getting W4ZST into this VHF contesting mess in the first place ('Hey, let's do a VHF contest!) back around '94 or so, both came Saturday afternoon to hang out for a while. I did mention Jeff's son Gabe who came on Sunday, and of course I can't leave out Brian's XYL (actually still YL!) Anna N9KHC who visited with the kids Duncan and Eilis. Number 1 daughter Claire was also here and spent the night Saturday with Dad in the house. And last but not least, Chris Porter W5ONT who had been here the weekend before and helped us set up antennas and his wife Mary W5MWP from Cumming were here Saturday and brought us the great BBQ and Brats. Thanks again so much to them for coming and helping with dinner too.

Somehow I just can't be out in the shack and in the house at the same time. Can't figure out why! If someone was here and I haven't acknowledged them in this report, then they must have been hiding or the 'Old-timers' is creeping up on me.

Thanks to all who participated in any capacity. That's what makes each of our contests happen, all the volunteers and visitors. Note especially that Kim WG8S drives from Huntsville to be with us and Jim WE8W comes down from Greensboro, so a trip from the metro area is really not too bad for most of us. A few others who threatened to visit did not make it, but maybe they will make it next time on the mountain. Make your plans for June 11-13 and Sept 10-12 for our annual trips to the mountain top in NC and July 16-17 for the CQWW VHF that we will do again at the W4ZST QTH.

I got things cleaned up enough on Monday morning that my wife Judy didn't have anything to comment on in the house when she got home. Everything looked normal. You all do notice that she is nowhere near here when the mayhem commences.

Hope all had a good time like I did, and hope you will be able to participate or visit with us again for another contest.

73, Bob W4ZST, Fourlanders President

January 27, 2011

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