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KI5DR/R June VHF Contest 2002

Saturday morning we begin at the 2002 Hamcom ARRL convention and Hamfest in Arlington Texas.  I had a wonderful time visiting with many friends.  I attended the DX presentations, shook hands with Wayne Mills N7NG, and in the process I won the VP8THU video.  I also won a Year's Subscription to CQ hour after I BOUGHT a year's subscription to CQ magazine!

I also picked up a West Mountain Radio: Rig Blaster.  Look for me operating more on PSK31 and other digital modes.

OK - on to the contest.

1:00pm rolls around and I am ready to roll.   I got a lot of feedback from other hams concerning my previous contraption, and made several modifications.  First of all, I realized that the horizontal loop radiation angle is something like 95% Straight UP.  I scrapped the project and went with a simple dipole for 6m.  I also took George's advice (K5TR) and added the 4el 2m Yagi in addition to the HOLOOP.  Good call.

Six Meters is open to Florida and the east coast, and I quickly pull in several DX grids using just the dipole and 100w from the Hamvention parking lot.  Then I set sail towards HoustonLogging everything using the laptop.

Other than the rain, the trip was relatively uneventful as I cruised through EM12, EM11, a short 12 minute drive through EM21, and EM20 until I arrived at EL29 for the night.   Steak dinner awaits me at my Parents' house.

7:30am Sunday - the plan is to make a run down to EL28 at Surfside Beach, then off to EL18, EL19, EM00 and EM10.  As I come close to EL28, I work K5IX/R who is also at EL28!  I run down to Quintana beach for an Eyeball QSO.  We chatted for quite a while, took some photos, then I was off for my spot in EL28.  By the way, South Texas is VERY flat.

I had a sked with some folks and did not finish making these contacts until 10:30/11:00am. Time to leave, and as I am looking at the clock and the map, I decide to skip EL18 and head for EL19.  As I am driving along Interstate 10, I have become accustomed to cars passing me on the left with this Bewildered look on their face.  I decide to get some photos of them looking curiously at me, and it becomes a game.   How can I capture them looking at me before they realize I am looking at them, and snapping photos? This is worth a good 30 minutes of entertainment on my part.  I can understand how they are confused, as I look like THIS.

I make a brief stop in Fulshear for food, but the line in McDonalds is tremendous.  I decide to press on.   This brings me to my next entertaining filler - the problems we Rovers face every day:

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign!
Blockin' Out the Scenery,
Breakin' My Mind
Do This,
Don't Do That,
Can't you Read the SIGN????

As I press on through the rain, looking for a place I can pull off to get food without getting wet, I turn North on Texas Hwy 71.   Then, Tragedy strikes.  Upon my arrival in LaGrange, the engine in my 1998 Windstar lurches, then dies.  I try unsuccesfully to start the engine while coasting, to no avail.  I finally come to rest on the gravel feeder just short of the LaGrange (the city the ZZ-Top song is named after) City limits.

After a few more unsuccesful attempts, I come to the realization that the van is dead.  I make the call to relatives to come and get me, and begin the dis-assembly process.  After all, I have 4+hours to kill before they arrive.  I cease all radio operations because I am 30-40 ft. below the freeway wall, and I do not know how long the car battery will hold up. (***Update:  Root cause was dead Fuel Pump.  It's fixed, and back on the road!)

Thus ends the saga of the 2002 VHF contest - 50 Contact points, 20 grids worked, 6 grids activated, Exactly 1300 points.


Signing off, from K.I.5.Dead.Rover