Grand Slam – South

November 09 though November 11, 2009

I traveled south to communicate with Bill, K0RZ at Louisville CO [DM79jx]. I planned to work from the DMx3 grids south of I-40 in New Mexico and Texas, then return through Oklahoma and work EM04 and EM05. The GPS log showed a driving distance of 1771 miles for the trip. I drove my Ford excursion with 432 MHz, 1296 MHz and 10 GHz systems. The 432 antenna is twin yagi’s stacked vertically on a 20 foot mast. (I forgot the mast mounted preamp!) The radio is an IC910 running 75 watts with no external power amplifier. The 1296 MHz system runs 25 watts using a DEMI power amplifier mounted on the back of a 4’ dish. The dish feed is a dipole and splash plate built by W6OAL. The 10 GHz system runs 6 watts using a DEMI power amplifier mounted on the back of the 4’ dish. The feed is copper water pipe with a chaparral choke ring. The receive preamp is a ‘Utah’ preamp with a 2db noise figure. Both microwave systems use a home built transverter with a 2 meter IF. It takes about 30 minutes to set up or take down the system when I operate all 3 bands.

The route:
Day 1: I traveled down I-25 to Raton NM. I spent the night at Motel 6 in Raton. I wanted to make the first contact from DM73 in the area north of Roswell NM. Because of earlier sunset on Mountain Standard Time, I broke the trip into two segments so that I could arrive in DM73 in the early afternoon with plenty of daylight to make the contact.

Day 2: The next morning I traveled down I-25 heading south. I ran into a dense fog south of Raton. At one time I was slowed to 45 MPH. At Las Vegas NM I took US84 south to I-40. I had planned to get fuel at the road junction. When I got there, there was nothing! I was forced to make a side trip to Santa Rosa NM to get fuel. From there I took US54 southwest until I met US285. I took US285 south to NM20 and then northeast to the site. Cell phone coverage in the area of DM73qw is spotty at best. I found a small “island” of coverage on NM20. I came to a large pipeline distribution plant which had a good northern horizon. I stopped and tried the cell phone with no success. I backtracked about a mile and was able to make contact with Bill on the phone. I set up along the highway to make the contact.

After the contact, I traveled to Roswell NM for the night at Days Inn. I had dinner at the local Golden Coral.

Day 3: After a good breakfast at the Inn, I was on the road by 0700 MST. I traveled up US70 to the small town of Elida NM. It is a cell hole! No service! I took NM114 east to CR-AC. It is a good dirt road heading south. I went south to CR24 and then west until I found a turnout into a harvested corn field. The field was solid. The grid was DM83ev. I pulled in and set up. There was a strong breeze from the south, but it was not a problem.

After the contact, I headed east on NM114 to the small town of Dora NM. There I took NM206 north to US70. Just north of Portales NM, I took NM206 east to Muleshoe Texas . There I had lunch at the local McDonald’s and continued east on US70 to FM137. I turned south. I talked to Bill on the cell phone and he was able to follow my progress on Google earth. It was interesting to hear him describe the roads and country as I came to them. I continued south to the small town of Cotton Center. It is just into the north edge of DM93. I turned east on FM37 and went past a large cotton gin. There were many large trucks hauling cotton, heading east on FM37. They were turning south on Cr-H. I turned north on CR-H and immediately came to an open area which was used to park farm implements. I checked the compass heading and found that there was a clear shot to the northwest. Cell phone was good. We made contact on 432 MHz and I was able to copy ‘CC’ on 1296.
After the contact I headed east on FM37 to I-27. I traveled north to Amarillo Texas. At Amarillo I had a problem getting from I-27 to I-40 west. I ended up taking city streets west and finally getting back on I-40. I had dinner at the Red Robin adjacent to the Comfort Inn where I spent the night. The Inn was new and everything was spotless. It was really a nice place.

Day 4: The next morning there was an early pea-soup fog. I was concerned, but by the time I had eaten breakfast at the Inn, it had lifted and the sky was clear. I made a fuel stop and headed east on I-40. I continued east into Oklahoma. Near the small town of Erick OK, I turned south on OK-30. It is a good road with wide areas on each side of the road that have been cleared and mowed. As I started down OK-30, a young deer ran in front of me. I was only going about 40 MPH, so there was no problem. There was a lot of road-kill in the area and I was glad not to add to the collection. My topo map showed a river valley and then a rise as I came into EM04. I had planned to take a small side road to set up, but the area beside the highway was so wide and smooth that I set up along the highway. There was little traffic and the contact was easy, even though it was 450 miles. From previous experience, I did not try any bands other than 432 MHz.
After completing the contact, I backtracked on OK-30 to I-40 and headed east. At Sayre OK, I turned north on US283. It is a good 2 lane highway. I headed for a site that I had used previously for a 10 GHz contact. It overlooks the Canadian River and is a few miles south of Arnette OK.
The site is a turnout on Cr-76. There are some rusty tanks and other equipment in the turnout. There was mudstone near the wheel tracks, but the tracks were solid. There was a strong wind from the south. I was concerned when I set up the 432 array. I completed the contact quickly and lowered the array. I also made a contact on 1296 MHz. Signals were fair and both Bill and I made Spectran recordings. The range was 405 miles.
After the contact, I headed north on US283. I passed through Arnette OK and headed north for Dodge City Ks. There I refueled at Flying J and continued north to WaKeeney KS. I got food at the local McDonald’s and headed west on I-70. The weather was good and I arrived home at 2256 hrs. The total trip mileage was 1771 miles.

The contacts:
DM73qw: I parked along the highway. As I started to set up the mast for the 432 MHz array, I realized that I had forgotten the mast mounted preamp! What now?? I probably could hear Bill with his 1500 watt rig, but what about the mast. Good luck! I carried a mast section similar to the one used to mount the preamp. I put that in the mast and was able to raise the array to full height. Second problem: There was a fitting on the preamp mast section which joined it to the support from the roof rack on the excursion. Without the fitting, there was no way to hold the mast to the support. I had to improvise. It was difficult to hold the mast erect in the breeze while I used a bungee cord to secure the mast to the support. Once I got it up, I put a stainless steel clamp around the mast and under the head of the ½-13 bolt in the support. It worked, but I needed better!! Bill checked on the internet and found that there was a Home Depot in Roswell. Later that day, I went there and bought drill bits, a file set, U bolts and aluminum angle stock. To my dismay, the aluminum stock cost $14.95. I could have bought it at my favorite junk yard for $2.00!! I took the parts and set up the table that holds the dish at the rear of the excursion. I used my C clamps as a vice and drilled the aluminum and cut it to length. (I had brought a hack saw to cut aluminum rod to replace any broken elements on the 432 antennae). Field repairs were good and the new bracket worked well for the rest of the trip.
The 432 contact went well. With Bill’s high power I had no problem hearing his signal, even without my preamp. The other bands were a different story. We ran on both 1296 MHz and 10 GHz with no results. Neither of us detected any signals. Not even with Spectran! That was disappointing, but at the range of 415 miles not too surprising.

DM83ev: I parked in a farmer’s field on the north side of CR-24. I used 4×4 just to be sure, but I could have done without it. I had a good horizon to the northwest. Set up of the 432 mast went well with the new fitting. Signals on 432 were good. I tried 1296 MHz, but nothing was heard. While I was there, the farmer came along. He wanted to know if I was checking for a new cell phone site or a large windmill. He seemed disappointed when I told him what I was doing. Later he came back with a tractor and his wife driving a truck and trailer. They went into the field and loaded 3 huge bales of cut corn on the trailer and went on their way.

DM93ax: I set up in an equipment parking area NE of FM37 and Cr-H. The area was grassy and there was lots of room to park the excursion. There was a slight breeze. I had considered parking in the lot next to the cotton gin near Cotton Center Texas. As I looked back at the area, I could see a continuous cloud of dust from the trucks hauling cotton from the gin. They went east on FM37 and then south on Cr-H. Cr-H was a dirt road and I have no idea where they were going.
The contact on 432 went well, even at a range of 450 miles. We ran 1296 for about an hour. I heard 4 bursts of signal from Bill, but was only able to copy a ‘CC’ from the best burst which lasted about 40 seconds. It was nearly sundown, so I decided to load up and head for Amarillo Texas for the night. As I was finishing the loading, a young lady drove up. She wanted to know what I was doing. I told her and she drove away to the farm house just south of the parking area where I had set up.

EM04bx: I set up along OK-30. The road had a broad shoulder which was a shallow, rounded ditch. It was firm and had a good view to the northwest. I had planned to take a side road, but the area had scrub trees and brush and I might have had a problem seeing over the land cover. When I set up the 432 array, I found that I had to dig a small hole to allow the mast to swing up. I used my WW-II shovel that I carry in the excursion. The soil was moist red clay. No wonder they used it for bricks in the early days!!  The contact on 432 went easily for a distance of 450 miles. Previous experience had shown little promise for the microwave bands, so I loaded up and moved on.

EM05cw: I had been to this site before for a 10 GHz contact. It is a turnout on Cr-76 west of US283. The wheel tracks at the turnout were solid, but there was mudstone near them. The 432 MHz contact was an easy one. 1296 was fairly good, but the signal had a lot of QSB. It would come up 25 db out of Spectran and then fade to nothing. On the peaks, copy was easy. Both Bill and I made Spectran recordings of the signal.

Bill’s log of the contacts:
November 3, 2009 W6HCC in DM73QW, 418 Miles
432.048 MHz
1918Z Bill transmitting CW
1919Z Phil copied W6HCC, K0RZ, DM79, R from Bill
1919Z Bill copied K0RZ from Phil
1933Z Bill copied W6HCC from Phil
1948Z Bill copied DM73, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
2025Z Bill transmitting CW
2042Z Bill shutdown with nothing heard by Phil
10368.1 MHz
2100Z Bill transmitting carrier
2130Z Phil transmitting carrier with nothing heard previously from Bill
2140Z Bill transmitting carrier with nothing heard previously from Phil
2148Z shutdown with no signals heard by Bill or Phil
November 4, 2009 W6HCC in DM83EV, 429 Miles
432.048 MHz
1657Z Bill transmitting CW
1658Z Phil copied W6HCC, K0RZ, DM79, R from Bill
1659Z Bill copied K0RZ, W6HCC, DM83, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
1719Z Bill transmitting CW
1731Z Bill shutdown with nothing heard by Phil
10368.1 MHz
1741Z Bill transmitting CW
1758Z Bill shutdown with nothing heard by Phil
November 4, 2009 W6HCC in DM93AX, 451 Miles
432.048 MHz
2138Z Bill transmitting CW
2140Z Phil copied W6HCC, K0RZ, DM79, R from Bill
2143Z Bill copied DM93, K0RZ, W6HCC, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
2204Z Bill transmitting CW
2215Z Phil copied some CW
2231Z Phil copied CC
2315Z Bill shutdown
November 5, 2009 W6HCC in EM04BX, 451 Miles
432.048 MHz
1641Z Bill transmitting CW
1642Z Phil copied W6HCC, K0RZ, DM79, R from Bill
1644Z Bill copied K0RZ, W6HCC, EM04, R from Phil
November 5, 2009 W6HCC in EM05CX, 403 Miles
432.048 MHz
1915Z Bill transmitting CW
1915Z Phil copied W6HCC, K0RZ, DM79, R from Bill
1916Z Bill copied K0RZ, W6HCC, EM05, R from Phil
1296.1 MHz
1933Z Bill transmitting CW
1934Z Phil copied W6HCC, K0RZ, DM79, R from Bill
1939Z Bill copied K0RZ, W6HCC, EM05, R from Phil
1941Z Spectran recording by Phil and Bill
2000Z Shutdown