Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The 2008 ARRL VHF QSO Party - Part III

In case you haven't read them already, you might want to check out Parts I and II of this series of posts. Incidentally, if you receive this post via email or from a website other than my actual blog website (such as www.planetham.org), you may not be able to see the videos in the previous posts. You can access them by visiting my blog website directly.

As I mentioned previously, the problem with the generator appeared to have been resolved, but there were a couple of other issues to deal with. I wasn't up at the site when this all took place, but K2KIB, who for years has been a strong contender during VHF contests in our area, had also received a permit to use the parking lot at High Point. (I should explain that although as a New Jersey State Park High Point is open to the public, overnight camping requires special arrangements to be made in advance.) For some reason, when he first set up his station, he'd parked his van away from the N2SE crew, but before actually operating, he moved his van and parked right next to Mike's truck, as you can see in the second video clip in the previous post. He was asked to move, but replied that he "couldn't" (no real explanation), and stayed right there. I don't really understand why he did that, since the interference that resulted impacted both stations. The parking lot was empty, and he easily could have parked elsewhere, but chose not to. I just have to wonder about some people.

The other issue was that although we had power, we still didn't have a workable laptop to use for the 6m station. Worse, we didn't know if the log was damaged. If we couldn't immediately recover the log, we'd be able to operate on 6m, but we'd probably have to stick strictly to CQing and hope that the stations who called us had their logs intact and didn't make a duplicate contact with us. Initially, it looked like we'd have to do that, and probably use log by hand on paper. Fortunately, I'd grabbed my laptop bag on the way out of the house in the morning as I was leaving to drive up to High Point. In my laptop are some software tools that I use when doing network and other troubleshooting. One of these tools was what's known as a
Linux Live CD, which is a CD-ROM that you can use to boot a computer right into Linux without having to install anything to the hard drive. By using this, I was able to boot into a copy of Linux and access the data on the hard drive. Fortunately, it appeared that the log was intact, and we were able to copy the log onto a USB thumb drive to preserve it. As it turned out, Matthew had brought a spare laptop with him, and they were able to move the logs onto that computer and use it for logging for the rest of the contest.

Because the park is not normally open at night, and because I wasn't planning on staying overnight, it was necessary for me to get going, since they close the park gates at around 8PM. The ride home was uneventful, and while I'd intended to do a little 6m contesting myself that evening, there were strong thunderstorms in the area and I left the antennas disconnected and just relaxed a bit.

It turns out that the band conditions were much better on the second day of the contest, with a very good opening on Sunday morning. The N2SE guys took advantage of that and did quite well with some very significant runs during the opening. I operated a little bit from home that day, only making 76 contacts in 36 different grids. I knew that I wasn't going to make a serious effort given that I wasn't on the air at all (as K2DBK, that is) on the first day of the contest, so I just operated casually for about 4 1/2 hours all told over the course of the day. (It was Father's Day, so in addition to the kids making me brunch, we had dinner with my Dad at his place, so I didn't have all that much time.) I didn't even bother to set up to work 2m and 70cm this time as I usually do, so my total was lower, but I didn't really mind since I enjoyed the contacts I did make.

For those of you who might want to check out the other short videos that I took while up at High Point, you can click here to view the YouTube Playlist that I created. I also have a few still pictures as well that I've posted on Picasa that you can take a look at.

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