QRP-VHF from 14,120 feet on Mt Evans, Colorado
Before June of 2003, I thought VHF meant 2-meter FM. Then a friend
Eric, KHØHO, asked me to sit in on the Rocky Mountain VHF+ net
on 144.220MHz sideband one Monday evening. We took his rig and
13-element antenna to Genesee Mountain west of Denver. Well, during the
net we heard stations from as far away as Nebraska and South Dakota and
I was impressed. So impressed that I went out that week and bought a
Cushcraft 10-element antenna and drove that next Monday to the top of
Mt Evans, an hour-and-a-half drive from home to get on the net for
myself. I again used my trusty FT-817 radio.
By the end of the net I had a total of seven grids on the log: DM67,
DM68, DM78, DM79, DN70, DN71, EM09. Very exciting to work all around
Colorado plus into Wyoming and Kansas. After the net Eric and I QSYed
to 144.210 and talked another hour as the temperature continued to drop
on the mountain. I realized it would be the first time I had ever
stayed up there after dark and it would be an interesting ride down.
At 10:30 p.m. we were still talking. Eric lives 80 miles to the east,
but with my altitude, almost two miles higher than his QTH, I had
turned the radio down to its lowest setting: 500 milliwatts. Suddenly
we were inundated with W6 calls that seemed to jump in right on top of
us. I assumed they were truckers heading up or down Interstate-25 in
Denver, but Eric replied, "Jake! Turn your antenna west. I think that's
California!" I reached out the passenger-side window and turned the
mast 180 degrees. I heard several calls and wrote them down. When there
was a brief lull I jumped in. "K6YK, this is NØLX. . .
Delta-Mike-7-9." John, in CM97, came back saying that I wasn't real
strong, but he copied me fine. That's when I looked over at the radio
and realized it was still on the half-watt setting. I tapped it to full
power and he said I was now booming in to California. I later
calculated it to be a 850-mile contact with a half-watt on 2-meters!
Eric and I worked five more CAs before the Es (Sporadic E) cloud
fizzled out. What an introduction to weak signal VHF!
That year and the next I drove back up to Mt Evans several times, but
also brought along a 6-meter beam also. I participated in the CQWW VHF
contest in 2003 and 2004 and took first place each time in the
"QRP-Hilltopper" category. Lots of fun, this VHF-weak-signal stuff.