Spring 2009 Issue

VHF/UHF Weekly Net Successes

Many weak-signal nets continue to grow and flourish, where others
struggle to stay alive. Here WB6NOA tells the story of John Kountz, KE6GFF, who makes a weekly trek to a hilltop overlooking Laguna Beach. From this QTH he regularly reaches out over 300 miles!

By Gordon West, WB6NOA


John Kountz, KE6GFF, getting ready to set up for his weekly 70-cm net at his hilltop location in Laguna Beach. (Photos by WB6NOA)

Kenwood, Yaesu, and ICOM deserve credit from the VHF/UHF ham community for their small high-frequency transceivers, including multimode capabilities on 6 meters, 2 meters, and 440 MHz. It was not so many years ago when an HF rig did just that—high frequency, 3 –30 MHz! Six-meter enthusiasts campaigned long and hard for 50–54 MHz multimode and were singularly impressed when the ICOM IC-706 and Yaesu FT-100 included 6 meters, plus 2 meters and 440 MHz, multimode! Kenwood soon followed with the TS-2000, with yet one additional band option, 1.2 GHz.

Those of us running VHF/UHF weak-signal nets continuously encourage HF operators to put up a modest horizontal antenna and try out the world above 50 MHz.

“During our 2-meter and 440-MHz weak-signal sideband nets, I regularly switch over to a vertically polarized omni antenna and welcome aboard an HFer or two who might be curious to see what is happening on sideband at the bottom of these VHF/UHF bands,” commented Bill Alber, WA6CAX, north of the San Francisco, California, bay area.

Bill’s close friend, Larry, W6OMF, may also use the same technique, and his Sunday evening bay-area 144.250-MHz weak-signal net draws over a hundred check-ins! Yes, his location . . . location . . . location . . . gives him a nice shot to more than 10 grids, and his four-bay of 2-meter long boomers reaches out over 400 miles away, but on the air he has something going that weekly magnetizes regular and brand-new check-ins for a signal exchange.

Sharing this unique magnetizing skill (which I will describe shortly) in southern California is 432.120-MHz net control John Kountz, KE6GFF, well known for his 432 weak-signal net success, plus his multiple DX adventures to Afghanistan (see the article “The Responsible Person: Bringing Amateur Radio Back to Afghanistan, by John Kountz (T6EE/KE6GFF), March 2008 CQ magazine). John’s success on 432 MHz requires a rigorous off-road half-hour drive to get to location, location, location!
“My home QTH is nestled in a Laguna Beach canyon, a stone’s throw from the news events you read about with fires and landslides,” commented John, KE6GFF. “I take my 1967 vintage rebuilt Land Rover and get onto a closed fire road between the top of the world and Moulton Meadows Park. I have the key to the gate because I’m the local emergency communications ham radio contact to the city,” said John with a smile.

I rode with him one evening to the top of the 1000-foot hill with a clear view 360 degrees with no 432 obstructions. “Step to your left, Gordo, and that tarantula won’t climb up your leg,” commented the cool, calm, and very collected John.

John easily captured between ten and twenty 432-MHz check-ins almost immediately with his semi-homebrew 17-foot boom, K1FO, 25-element horizontal beam. It snaps together in 38 seconds, and there is no fiddling, with the insulated elements held perfectly in place with keepers.
“Laddie, N8EWU, provided the 31/6th material for the elements, and Mike, K6MYC, of M2, swaged and drilled the boom to my dimensions, and if it takes more than 45 seconds to get this 25 footer in place, something’s wrong!” added John.

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