Brunswick, GA – So far this year, I’ve ignored the amateur radio contests; this past weekend I made a rare contest appearance. Since I was working over the weekend my HF access was the mobile station, so I decided to take advantage of the CQ WPX contest and put some DX stations in the mobile logbook. Over the two days, I made 50 contacts from 27 DX entities in just a little over three total hours of operating. I was pleasantly surprised with what I was able to do! On Saturday afternoon, I put 30 contacts in the log working primarily on 15 Meters but switching to 20 Meters late in the evening. On Sunday morning I tried 40 Meters from the parking lot behind work but there was just too much QRN from the building (I think it comes from the HVAC system). Later in the afternoon after I woke up I made another 20 contacts on 15 Meters.
On Saturday afternoon, the 30 contacts came from 16 different DX entities. As usual, 15 Meters was the easiest band to work from the mobile station. 20 Meters was simply too congested and had too much QRM for the small station to bust through; 15 Meters wasn’t as congested and if I picked stations that didn’t have a pileup I was usually able to get through after a few calls. I worked two periods, from roughly 2000Z-2100Z and then 2300Z-0000Z. For me, propagation favored the Caribbean, Central America, and South America but it also yielded a Pacific station and a couple of European stations. Out of the 16 DX entities, 8 of them were new to the mobile logbook: Barbados, Canary Islands, Colombia, Ecuador, Hawaii, Peru, Uruguay, and the US Virgin Islands. Working Hawaii from the mobile station was my favorite contact of the day; it was fun to work my birth state with less than 100 watts and a 5ft mobile antenna mounted on the back of the car!
On Sunday afternoon, the 20 contacts came from 14 different DX entities. 15 Meters ended up being the only band I worked, but it wasn’t my intent at the time. I operated from around 1840Z to 1950Z then had an aborted attempt at around 2050Z. Unlike Saturday, Sunday’s propagation favored Western and Central Europe, the Balkans, and Morocco. I put two new countries in the logbook out of those 20 contacts as well; surprisingly they were the Netherlands and Bosnia-Herzegovina. I thought I’d worked those countries from the mobile before but apparently not. One of Sunday’s stations was also a special event station: PH600NYK, which was celebrating the 600th anniversary of the city of Nijkerk, Netherlands. Sunday was Easter Sunday and believe it or not, that made it one of the more pleasant contest operations I’ve heard; it was good to hear a good portion of the operators wishing each other Happy Easter and exchanging some greetings you often don’t hear during a contest. After I had something to eat, I was going to work some more stations on 15 Meters and try out 20 Meters, but a brush fire not 300 yards from my operating spot put a stop to that. At that point, I switched from amateur radio operator to scanning enthusiast and began scanning the fire and taking some photos.
Over the weekend, I was asked a question about how I run the power for the radios from the battery into the car. The power cables run from the battery through a channel under hood through a gap in the body work to the door frame. The easiest way to explain it is to show it photos:
There is enough cushioning in the weatherstripping around the doors and enough gap between the door and side of the dashboard that the wiring isn’t crimped. I did something similar with the Saturn I used to have as well; the wires were in place in it like this for almost 11 years with no problems. Using a fish tape or an unfolded wire hangar makes pulling the wires through fairly easy but you have to pull the bare ends from inside to under the hood instead of the other way around because most connectors aren’t going to fit through. Thanks to Loren – WA3WZR for asking the question, I hadn’t thought about including this info on the mobile station page but I’ll add it to it in the very near future because it really is one of the key parts of a mobile installation.