Operation Grand Slam

 October 2 through 5 2009

Phil Lee W6HCC

I set out on a major loop trip on October 2, 2009. I planned to contact Bill, KØRZ in Louisville CO from 11 grids in southern Colorado, northern New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. I planed to operate on 432 MHz and 1295 MHz. My portable station for 432 used my IC910 running 75 watts into 2 stacked 10 element NBS yagis on a 20 foot mast.. My 1296 system ran 25 watts using a 4’ dish with a dipole/splash-plate feed. The entire system was mounted on my ford excursion.  Here is the the Route:

Day 1: I left about 1330 in 10-2-09. I wanted to reach the site at DM66 before dark. I took I-25 south to Walsenburg, then US160 to Ft Garland. I then took CO159 south to San Louise where I went west on CO142 to US 285. I traveled fast – 75 mph wherever possible, but it was evening twilight when I reached the site at DM66. Worse – I did not have cell phone contact with Bill. It was too late, too dark and no phone!! I continued on to Espanola NM for the night at Comfort Inn.

Day 2: I had breakfast at the Inn and headed for DM65 on NM502 near Los Alamos NM. I went to the site where I had previously made a 10ghz contact. Because of the area needed to set up 432, I parked headed east, made the contact, and then turned around so that I could set up the 1296 dish facing north.

After completing the contact I headed east on NM502, then south on US285 toward Santa Fe NM. North of Santa Fe, I turned off on NM599 and then onto Hilltop Road.. I wandered through a residential area and found a site on a high spot and made an easy contact in DM75.

I continued south to I-25 and then took US285 and NM41 to Moriarty NM. There I took Martinez road west and then south to the pumphouse area where I had made a previous 10ghz contact. I set up and made the contact in DM64.

I moved east on Martinez road to Stagecoach road, then south. I found that the road to the sand/gravel pit where I had made a previous 10ghz contact now had a gate. I took a dirt road east and at the end was a turnaround where I set up. I completed the contact in DM74 and headed east on I-40 to Tucumcari NM where I spent the night at Comfort Inn. I had dinner at a nearby Denny’s.

Day 3: I had breakfast at the Inn and headed south on NM209. I found a paved historic marker site with plenty of room to set up 432. I made the contact from DM84 and then took I-40 to Amarillo TX. There I took I-29 south to Canyon TX. From there I took US87 to Cr1714 and then south on Cr1705 to the site where I had made a previous 10ghz contact. It is a good turnout into a field with plenty of room to set up. I made the contact in DM84 which was the longest contact of the trip at a range of 393 miles.

I headed north on US87 to Dumas TX. There I would spend the night at Comfort Inn. I went north to Cr-E. This is just south of the ‘magic corner’ with DM85-95 and DM86-96. There is a large plant which lies on the grid line, just west of US87. I set up in a field north of road E for DM85 and then moved back to a site north of road E by the railroad track for DM95. I moved a mile north and found a good dirt road leading into a field for the contact in DM96. I returned to Dumas, had dinner at the local Pizza Hut and spent the night at the Inn..

Day 4: The next morning it was overcast and drizzle. As I went north, the overcast lifted a bit. I traveled up US87 to Stratford TX where I took US56 to Hooker OK. There I took US64 east to Gate OK. It rained lightly from Hooker to Gate. A few miles past Gate, I turned north on US263 to a site just south of the bridge over the Cimarron River. At the site, the rain stopped and the sky cleared to scattered clouds. At times the sun came through. There I completed the contact in EM06. 432Mhz was easy, but it took an hour to get calls and grid on 1296 MHz

I traveled home through Dodge City KS, WaKeeney KS and then via I-70 through Denver. The weather was again overcast as I traveled north and at times I had rain. (I hate driving at night in the rain!!) I arrived home at 2130 hrs. The total mileage for the trip was 1673 miles.

The Grids:

DM66: No contact – too dark and no cell phone…. By the time I got near the site, it was getting dusk. I had been driving into the setting sun and it was almost a relief to have sunset. I thought I would have enough twilight to set up and make the contact. I tried to call Bill on the cell phone several times. Each time I got an operator asking me to dial a number. I stopped along the road and dialed Bill’s number, but no connection. I must have been in some phone service area other than Verizon. I tried to call Lori with the same result. Finally, I got a live operator who dialed Lori for me. I asked her to call Bill and explain the situation. By this time, it was nearly dark – too dark to set up for the shot.

My only course of action was to give up the shot and head for Espanola NM. About 20 miles south of the site, my phone came to life and showed that I had a voicemail. I stopped along the highway and called voicemail. I had a message from Lori saying she could not reach Bill, but had called Don. Since the phone was now ‘live’ I called Bill and told him the situation. He said he would call Lori and let her know what had happened. With the situation secured, I continued on to Comfort Inn at Espanola for the night..

DM65: I had breakfast at the Inn and headed for Los Alamos NM. I went to the same site that I had used previously for a 10ghz contact. The site is a narrow turnout on the south side of the road with a turn-around loop at the east end. Since I needed room to set up the mast for 432 MHz, I could not park in the loop as I had done previously. I would have to set up 432, make the contact, and then turn the excursion around in the loop for 1296 MHz.

The 432 contact took about 20 minutes to complete. Signals were not as good as expected.. I then took down the mast, parked the antennae against a tree and moved the excursion into the loop with the back end northeast for the 1296 shot. The shot went better than 432. We completed it in 13 minutes. Bill needed ‘that last burst’ to get my call after an easy exchange of the other data. After completing the contact, I headed for Santa Fe NM.

DM75: US285 came to a ridge just north of Santa Fe NM. I got off the highway on NM599 and took Hilltop Road east looking for a site. I went north through a residential area and found a dirt road marked ‘construction vehicles only’….. my kind of road!! The road was narrow and did not have many places to get out of the wheel tracks. I thought about setting up in the middle of the road. While I was thinking, a truck came down the road. That settle that!! I found an area on the west side of the road that was out of the way. It was not level, but it would have to do.

I unloaded the 432 mast parts and turned on the power to warm up the equipment. When I turned on the 1296 exciter, there was a bright flash from the unit and the +24 volt breaker blew. I had a problem!! I pulled the unit and took off the cover expecting to find some burnt parts. To my surprise, nothing seemed burnt, but as I pressed on the unit, the T/R relays chattered randomly. I called Bill and told him that I might not have 1296 MHz. I decided to set up 432, make the contact and then see what happened with 1296. Signals were good on 432. The contact was completed easily. I set up the dish for 1296, turned on the unit and checked the transmitter for power. To my surprise, the unit came up to full power and we completed an easy contact. Signals were much better than the site at Los Alamos.

DM64: I arrived at Moriarty NM, refueled the excursion and went 4 miles west on Martinez road. I turned south and came to the same site that I had used for a pervious 10ghz contact. It was a pump house with lengths of 4″ PVC pipe laying around and plenty of room to turn the excursion to face the dish north. The weather was about 70 degrees and a strong east breeze. I was a little concerned about the 432 array, but the setup went well. Signals were very good on 432 and I made a Spectran recording of Bill’s signal. The contact on 1296 was easy as well. The range was 350 miles.

DM74: I took Martinez street and went east of Moriarty. I came to Stagecoach road and headed south. My previous 10ghz contact had been made on a road? near the sand/gravel pit at the end of Stagecoach road. This time, there was a closed gate. I took the dirt road which went east from Stagecoach road and arrived at a turn-around loop between two houses and a small horse coral. No one seemed around, so I positioned the excursion to face the dish north and set up. Signals were excellent and contacts on both 432 and 1296 were completed in about one minute each. Really an easy contact!!

As I was taking down the system, a woman arrived in a pickup truck. She said she was the owner of one of the houses. I explained to her what I was doing and she seemed satisfied. She and her 3 children went to unload some hay bales at the corral for the horses. While I was loading up the system, the children came out to ride an ATV. They had a small go-cart tied to the back of the ATV and a little girl, perhaps 5 or 6 years old was riding the go-cart. They stopped to talked to me and were very friendly and curious about me and my setup. As I finished loading, the boy, perhaps 12 years old came over and asked me if I wanted to see the go-cart pop a wheelie. I said yes and they took off with the ATV and, sure enough, the go-cart front end came off the ground. They were really having fun!! I headed for Tucumcari NM for the night. I stayed at the Comfort Inn and had dinner at Denny’s.

DM84: The next morning I headed south on NM209. The sky at Tucumcari was clear, but there was a layer of low clouds to the south. As I traveled south, I ran under the cloud layer. I wondered it would affect the signals on 1296. I figured that it would be no problem on 432.

Last time I was there I had set up on a turnout into a field along the highway. This time, I needed more room to set up the mast for 432. I found a paved area at a historic marker site. There was plenty of room to turn the excursion to face the dish north and set up the mast for 432. Signals were good and the contact on both bands were completed easily. I loaded up and headed for Amarillo TX.

DM94: The cloud layer that I had seen in Tucumcari became more dense as I went toward Amarillo. By the time I got there, it had turned to a drizzle of rain and a ground fog with a visibility of about half a mile. This did not seem well!! I turned south to Canyon TX. As I went south, the rain quit and by the time I reached the site on CR1705, the overcast had lifted and the variability was about 5 miles. The ground at the site was damp, but not muddy. There was plenty of room to turn the excursion north and set up the mast for 432. This site was the longest range of the trip…. 393 miles.

I set up and made surprisingly easy contacts. On both bands signals were good and the whole exchange air time was only 5 minutes. I loaded up and headed north to Dumas TX.

DM85: I traveled north under an overcast layer, but little rain. When I got to the site on CR-E, I found that the area on the north side of the road, where I had previously set up and had been able to move from DM85 to DM95 without taking down the setup, was now planted. I had to move west to find a clear area. I found an area which was solid ground, but had a lot of weeds. I pulled off into the weeds – found area which was fairly clear and set up. The temperature was 57 degrees, but the wind was about 20-25 mph and cold. I set up 432 and made a quick contact. I then lowered the array before setting up the dish for 1296. The 1296 contact also went well. I had to load up the system before moving to DM95.

DM95: I moved about a mile east on CR-E only to find the only clear area was within about 50 feet of the railroad track. The track was active, although no trains came by while I was set up. (I saw 4 trains during my time in the area.) I worked quickly to set up and make the contacts. Both bands had good signals and were easy contacts. I loaded up and headed north to DM96.

DM96: I found that the grid boundary was very close to CR-E. There is a large plant to process grain (or something) on the grid boundary. I found a dirt road north of the plant going east from US87. I went east about a mile, stopping along the way to take compass bearings. I found a road going south. There was a fallow field and an area which had been cleared of weeds. A compass sighting showed a clear path to the northwest. The field was soft and I used 4×4.. I probably did not need 4×4, but better safe than stuck!! It was still windy, so I set up 432 quickly. The contact was easy and I lowered the 432 array before setting up 1296. The 1296 contact went well and both Bill and I made Spectran recordings. I loaded up and returned to Dumas for dinner at Pizza Hut and the night at Comfort Inn.

EM06: The next morning it was overcast and drizzle. As I headed north, the overcast lifted a bit. At Hooker OK, it was fairly high. As I turned east toward Gate, it began to drizzle. I was concerned about the dirt roads that I needed to use to get to the site at EM06. The roads were not a problem. They were wet, but not muddy. However, I had another problem—– no cell phone. The phone said that I had service, but I tried several promising sites with the same results ….. no phone!! I finally gave up and headed north on US263. I came to the Cimarron river valley. It was lower than the area I had been in, but I was able to reach Bill on the cell phone. I traveled north of the river looking for a site. The north bank of the river is a series of small hills. There is no place to see northwest or to get off the highway to set up. I had seen an area just south of the river bridge which looked promising. I returned to the area to find a level, firm, grassy location just off the highway. I pulled in and set up. The area was about 5 feet below the highway surface and there were trees on the west side of the highway. Not the best!! I wondered if I could make it on 1296. The range was 350 miles.

The contact on 432 went easily. After the contact, I lowered the array due to the rising wind from the south. By the time we finished the 1296 contact, the wind could have been a problem. The 1296 contact was another story. It took nearly an hour. There was a weak baseline signal which was too low to copy. There would be periodic doppler signals, but not all came up to be audible. Finally we got the exchange done. It was early enough in the day that I headed for home.

Attached is Bill’s Log data from the contacts.
 
October 4, 2009 W6HCC in DM84dx, 355 Miles
432.048 MHz
1352Z Bill transmitting
1352Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
1355Z Bill copied KØRZ, W6HCC, DM84, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
1412Z Bill transmitting
1414Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
1415Z Bill copied KØRZ, W6HCC, R from Phil
1419Z Bill copied DM84, R from Phil

 

October 4, 2009 W6HCC in DM94av, 393 Miles
432.048 MHz
1741Z Bill transmitting
1741Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
1742Z Bill copied KØRZ, W6HCC, DM94, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
1800Z Bill transmitting
1802Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
1803Z Bill copied DM94 from Phil
1803Z Bill copied KØRZ, W6HCC, R from Phil
 
October 4, 2009 W6HCC in DM85xx, 325 Miles
432.048 MHz
2109Z Bill transmitting
2109Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
2110Z Bill copied KØRZ, W6HCC, DM85, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
2124Z Bill transmitting
2124Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
2125 Bill copied DM85, KØRZ, W6HCC, R from Phil
 
October 4, 2009 W6HCC in DM95ax, 327 Miles
432.048 MHz
2217Z Bill transmitting
2217Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
2218Z Bill copied DM95, KØRZ, W6HCC from Phil
1296.1 MHz
2233Z Bill transmitting
2233Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ from Bill
2235Z Phil copied DM79, R from Bill
2238Z Bill copied DM95, KØRZ, W6HCC, R from Phil

 

October 4, 2009 W6HCC in DM96aa, 323 Miles
432.048 MHz
2335Z Bill transmitting
2335Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
2339Z Bill copied KØRZ, W6HCC, DM96, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
2351Z Bill transmitting
2351Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
2352Z Bill copied DM96, KØRZ, W6HCC, R from Phil
0001Z Phil & Bill finished making Spectran recordings.
 
October 5, 2009 W6HCC in EM06ax, 350 Miles
432.048 MHz
1726Z Bill transmitting
1726Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ, DM79, R from Bill
1727Z Bill copied KØRZ, W6HCC, EM06, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
1744Z Bill transmitting
1755Z Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ from Bill
1801Z Phil copied DM79 from Bill
1808Z Phil copied R from Bill
1808Z Bill copied EM06, KØRZ from Phil
1817Z Bill copied W6HCC from Phil
1831Z Bill copied R from Phil