Belle Fouche 2010

Third trip to Belle Fourche SD September 27 – 29, 2010

Phil Lee W6HCC

I set out on a northern loop trip on 9-27-10. I planned to contact Bill, K0RZ in Louisville CO from grids in North Dakota and Montana. I planed to operate on 432 MHz and 1295 MHz, with an attempt on 10368 MHz, from DN76XH in western North Dakota. My portable station for 432 used my TS2000 running 69 watts into 2 stacked 10 element NBS yagi’s on a 20 foot mast. My 1296 system ran 30 watts using a 4’ dish with a dipole/splash-plate feed. The entire system was mounted on my ford F250 long bed pickup.

The Route:

Day 1: I left home at 0620 and drove north on I-25. I made a food and fuel stop at Casper WY and continued north to Sheridan WY. I went north on Decker Road and continued into Montana. The site is in an oil/gas field with a closed, but not locked gate just past the Decker post office. I went through the gate and drove up a valley. At the end of the valley was a building which appeared to be a field office. There were 2 men there, but they did not show any concern as I drove by. The gravel road climbs sharply (4×4) to the top of the ridge west of the valley. Here is the site at DN65nb Decker MT West. and Here is the site at DN65nb Looking East. I have been there 2 previous times. Once for x-band, once for 432 (failed 1296) and this time for 1296.

After the contact, I drove to Belle Fourche SD for the night at Motel 6. The motel is nice and I have stayed there before. I had dinner at Pizza Hut next to the motel. After dinner I retired to my room to watch Monday Night Football.

Day 2: I got breakfast to go at the local Hardees and headed for DN76 on US85 heading north for Bowman ND. The road is good 2 lane; signed at 65 MPH. When I arrived at Bowman, I turned west on US 12. I had gone about 30 miles when I came to a Control Zone I was stopped there for nearly 30 minutes. The work area of the road was rough and at times soft. There was a lot of large road machinery and progress was only about 10 MPH. I had just gotten out of the control zone when I encountered another. This time I only sat for about 10 minutes!! The control zone crossed into DN76 and soon I saw an oil field access road leading south. I looked like it might go to the top of the local hills, so I took it. The road was good, but there were a lot of heavy oil field service trucks on the road. I needed to get off the road to set up. About ½ mile from US12 I came to a small road that led to some gas wells. There was a hill behind the gas wells that looked promising. I put the truck in 4×4 and went up. The first part of the hill had been mowed and there were large bales of grass, then the hill turned to low brush and weeds. I continued to the top which was flat and mostly low grass. Here was the spot!!. I turned the truck with the left side facing down the DN76nb boresite.

After the contact, I went back to Bowman, again through the rough road of the control zone. I was hot ( temp = 94 degrees) and wanted to get lunch at a McDonald’s or the like. There is NO fast food in Bowman. I had to settle for a C store and get some food and drink. I headed back to Belle Fourche where I got dinner and dessert. I spent a second night at Motel 6.

Day 3: I had breakfast at the local Hardees and headed west on I-25. I drove to Buffalo WY and then took US16 to Worland. US16 is 98 miles of steep grades and sharp curves. It goes up to about 10,000 feet and passes through a beautiful lodge pole pine forest. There were patches of aspen which was bright red and yellow… A beautiful sight.

I had lunch at Worland’s McDonald’s and went south of US20 to Gooseberry canyon road. About 8 miles from US20, it goes into DN54VA. I went to the top of a small hill north of the road in 4×4. DN54va Farm I set up DN54va S Worland WY and in about 10 minutes we had contact on 1296 MHz.

After the contact, I took US20 to Casper WY, refueled and headed home. I met Lori in Cheyenne and we had a snack at McDonalds.

The total mileage for the trip was 1550 miles.

The Grids:

DN65NB: We had tried this grid on 1296 on my last visit. It had failed due to a broken feed. This time it worked well. Bills signal had good bursts with Doppler and we completed the contact in about 20 minutes.

DN76XH: This was a new grid. We needed all bands here. I set up 432 and immediately saw Bills signal. There was a lot of QSB, but I got some good bursts and easily copied the data. I sent to Bill and it took a while, but he got all the data. To test the path, bill reduced his power to 50 watts. The signal ranged from nothing to about 10db out of Spectran. I could have copied it, but it would have taken some time.

I set up 1296. I saw Bill’s signal as soon as he came on the air, but there was a lot of QSB and the contact took a while. In the end, I got a good burst and copied all the data. When I went back to Bill, he got grid and my call and then the burst faded. I continued to send and he got another burst and got the data.

We ran for about 30 minutes on x-band. No signals were detected. Not surprising, since the range was 441 miles. DN76xh North Dakota

DM75: This grid, near Worland WY, should have been easy the last time I was here. Due to a broken feed for 1296, it had failed. This time was different. As soon as Bill came on the air, I saw his signal. I copied the data easily and sent to him. We completed the contact in less than 10 minutes. There were several different Doppler signals. It is great when the equipment works as designed!!