Savannah – Yesterday concluded the 2014 CQWW DX Contest; as I mentioned on Saturday there are HF antenna problems at the home station so I operated the mobile station during this year’s contest. On Saturday I was able to put 96 QSOs in the log and added some new DX entities to the mobile logbook. On Sunday, I didn’t operate near as much as I did on Saturday so I only had 16 QSOs for the day. Despite the lower number of QSOs, I still added a new DX entity to the mobile logbook – Saint Kitts and Nevis. Here’s a list of the countries/DX entities I worked over the weekend:
- Ascension Island
- Canary Island
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- El Salvador
- European Russia
- French Guiana
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Kitts & Nevis
- Slovak Republic
- US Virgin Islands
For a very casual operation using a mobile station I don’t think it was a bad effort and I am very pleased with the results, especially considering that most of the QSOs came on the first day of the contest with a small antenna and relatively low power. Over the two days, I made a total of 112 QSOs with 103 stations from 44 DX entities and 17 CQ Zones. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention any points… To be honest I don’t keep up with points because I don’t really worry about the score. For me, the contests are an opportunity to add new DX to the logbook and see what I can do with my station; if I give out a few contest points in the process, that’s good for those serious about scores.
The equipment I used was a Yaesu FT-857D, an LDG Z-11 ProII tuner, and an Opek HVT-400B antenna. The antenna isn’t even 6 feet tall. I am constantly amazed by what I can do with such a small and relatively inexpensive station when conditions are right. This weekend was once again proof that you don’t need an expensive super contest station with radios that cost as much as a car and huge antennas on tall towers just to have a bit of fun on the air. You really can get on the air and have a lot of fun with a budget station.
Savannah – The Galeon class ship El Galeon Andalucia is currently docked along River Street near Rousakis Plaza; after church this morning, I drove up to River Street to see it because I’ve never had the chance to see a Galeon before. She’s a 170ft, 495 ton 1:1 replica of a Spanish Galeon of the 16th Century. Home ported in St. Augustine, FL, she’s making a tour of the US east coast and is visiting Savannah for 10 days as part of the tour. Ships like this plied the Atlantic and the Indies in Spanish service well before Georgia was founded, so it was very interesting to get an up close look at a recreation of a piece of history. Size-wise, it is dwarfed by modern warships and merchant vessels; I can’t imagine how it must be to cross the Atlantic in one of these, especially in stormy weather.
As you can see from the photos above, a Galeon like this was very much a working vessel. Compared to some of the tall ships I saw a few years ago during the Tall Ships Challenge on River Street, this one isn’t nearly as fancy or decorated. There is a distinct lack of carvings, gilding, and exterior decoration with the noted example of a painting of the Virgin Mary on the stern (see below). Granted it’s an example of a much earlier vessel than those at the Tall Ships Challenge, but looking at this one, it’s clear that this was definitely a work horse vessel.
A lot of the photos below are of details of the ship that really struck home. While looking at all of the rigging and rope-work on El Galeon Andalucia, I couldn’t help but think of Granddaddy. He was retired US Navy and handy with ropes and lines, could frequently be found making shrimp nets and nautical related items. I can’t help but think that something like t his would have been right up his alley.
As a history buff, I truly enjoyed getting to see this ship while I was in Savannah for a few days. It’s representative of a part of American history many overlook or forget. It will be here through 2 November, so if you get a chance go out to River Street and pay it a visit; it’s docked right in front of Rousakis Plaza.
Savannah – The amateur radio station at home has some antenna issues and I wanted to participate some in the 2014 CQ WW DX Contest this weekend, so I decided to operate from the mobile station off and on throughout the day. Operating with my mobile station on the first day of a big contest has never been easy but I was pleasantly surprised with what I was able to do today. To start the day, band conditions on 15 Meters and 10 Meters were pretty good. A solar flare degraded band conditions a bit in the early afternoon but the bands were still active and workable. During the evening I also used 20 Meters and it was its usual mess for a major contest. My sporadic efforts throughout the day yielded 96 QSOs to 40 DX entities, with Ascension Island, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, and Paraguay added as new DX entities to the mobile log.
I’ll have to work at least 4 stations on Sunday to make it a minimum of an even 100 for the weekend!
Savannah – Back in August, I wrote a post on possible VMFAT-501 frequencies after I received a question about them. I offered up what I thought might be some possibilities and it turns out none of them were correct (so far)! Today I was home in Savannah for the first time since the first F-35B class at MCAS Beaufort got underway and was able to catch a flight of VMFAT-501 F-35Bs working in SEALORD’s offshore airspace and at Townsend Range. SWEDE 71/72 used 315.300 for air-to-air and checked up with BASE on 299.275 on their way home after working at Townsend. At least now we now know two of their squadron frequencies:
- 299.275 – VMFAT-501 Base
- 315.300 – VMFAT-501 Tac (Tac 1?)
If they follow the same practice as the rest of the squadrons at Beaufort, there will be two more Tac frequencies. I’m assuming that 315.300 is Tac 1, but I’m not ready to label it that yet. It’s also worth mentioning that the first few F-35Bs I heard flying out of Beaufort used SWEDE 6# but they’re now using SWEDE 7#. This falls between the 6# callsigns that VMFA-312 uses and the 8# callsigns that VMFA(AW)-533 uses, so 7# may be their assigned callsign numbers. More listening will flesh it all out. Good Listening!
Savannah – Propagation this morning has resulted in being able to hear all five (that I know of) Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex repeaters. This repeater system is normally multicast and over the last several years they have been using digital voice. The system covers the Savannah NWR Complex along coastal South Carolina and Georgia composed of the Pinckney Island NWR, the Savannah NWR, the Tybee NWR, Harris Neck NWR, Blackbeard Island NWR, and Wolf Island NWR.
- 169.8250 – Savannah NWR Complex Harris Neck Rptr (NAC 4A4)
- 171.6500 – Savannah NWR Complex Pinckney Rptr (NAC 555)
- 171.7500 – Savannah NWR Complex Rptr (NAC 5B6) (Multicast)
- 172.4500 – Savannah NWR Complex Skidaway Rptr (NAC 68F)
- 172.6500 – Savannah NWR Complex Onslow Rtpr (NAC 455)
Through monitoring in different areas and comparing signal strengths, I’ve been able to identify four of the five repeaters (as seen in the list above). What I heard this morning has led me to believe that the unidentified one, 171.750 (NAC 5B6) is a repeater for the Wolf Island NWR area around Darien. ARC536 Pro logged a signal strength of 190 for the Harris Neck Repeater on 169.825 (NAC 4A4) and 171.750 just a bit lower at 144. A repeater for Wolf Island would be located just a bit farther south of me than the Harris Neck repeater, so the received signal strengths could indicate that. I’ve also heard 171.750 a few times in Brunswick which further backs that theory up. Hopefully a bit more monitoring will help confirm it.
While there normally isn’t anything thrilling to listen to on this system, it’s normally just administrative and maintenance related traffic, you can sometimes hear firefighting related traffic on it and during turtle nesting and hatching season, you can hear some research related traffic on it. If you’re interested in such things, it’s definitely something to keep in one of your scan banks or favorites lists.