After an absence of a year and half, The Lighthouse Rover is again taking to the roads for a VHF contest. However, we are going back to our 1995 Jeep Cherokee to do so. Our 2000 Subaru is on the verge of blowing its head gasket, so we've had to retrofit the installation back into the Jeep, where it all started.
As I write this on Tuesday night, September 6th, it looks like all the construction work this past weekend and tonight is now complete and we should be ready to go. Only thing left is to bring the FT-847 down from the shack and mount it in the rover. And, mount the antenna array on the vehicle. We should have the radio equipment finalized by Saturday morning and the antenna will be mounted early Saturday afternoon after a dentist appointment.
Being the first time out in the Jeep with the current antenna array, we will be limiting ourselves to somewhat local grids. As it stands right now, we will have two one-day roves starting and stopping at our home QTH in northern New Jersey.
Information on all locations can be found on the N2MH RoveSite Locator Page. The two locations in FN10 are new for us and we've been to the rest in past contests.
As I mentioned earlier, our regular rover vehicle (the Subaru) is sidelined right now. A few days before the Labor Day holiday weekend, Karen asked me if we are going out for the contest. I replied that I really wasn't planning on it. At which point she said why not and proceeded to tell me that the Labor Day weekend is coming up and that everything we need to do can get done over the weekend.
I promptly began to make a list of material that we will need to move the rover equipment into the Jeep. Saturday was spent getting all this stuff, Sunday was spent fixing up the interior of the Jeep and Monday was spent getting the antenna supports attached to the car.
By the end of Sunday night, we were pretty much finished (or so I thought!).
After work on Friday we came home and mounted the antennas on the Jeep. Along the way, Karen decided she wants some extra strapping for the tripod mount, just in case. We installed the strapping and the antennas were finished. Then she noticed that I didn't have a light for the rear interior of the Jeep so I can see at night. I mentioned that I hadn't planned on making one for this rove. She said you definitely need one, now go ahead and make it. So, I started to take some measurements and cut some wood. She dug out the second light that I bought some years ago just for this very purpose. By the time we got to bed, the light assembly was nearly finished.
I finished placing all the radio equipment into the Jeep, putting a PowerPole connector on the light assembly started the night before, with Karen making sandwiches, gathering the soft drinks, etc. At 11:30 I went to my dentist who promptly shot me up with two doses of Novacaine and installed a crown on one of my molars. At the end of this session with the dentist, Karen picked me up and we went to the hardware store for some small U-bolts to finish the light assembly. We got the U-bolts, went home and finished up. We finally left about 1930z for our first rover stop, about 2 hours behind schedule.
We went to FN20qp, a scenic overlook on I-78 and operated from there for a while. Conditions seemed to be average, but the noise level at this site seemed to be a little high, especially on 6 meters. This site is clear to the south and southwest and the contacts we made were mostly in those directions. We were able to complete a clean sweep on all of our 5 bands with K1JT in FN20.
Since we were running about 2 hours behind schedule, we decided to skip High Point, NJ, FN21qh, and proceed directly to our third stop, FN31dn, a rest stop on I-84 in New York. (High Point closes at dusk and we figured we wouldn't get there before then.) Along the way, we stopped on the New York State Thruway to get a bite to eat and have the priviledge of paying $3.49/gal for some gas. (This turned out to be the most expensive gas on our whole trip.)
We arrived at the reststop on the eastbound side of I-84 in the dark. Having seen the view from this site during the day, we expected good coverage to the north and northwest and we weren't disappointed. We completed clean sweeps with both W2SZ/1 in FN32 to our north and N2PA in FN12 to the northwest. We also made a couple of contacts with K1WHS in FN43 on 144 and 222 MHz. but we were behind a rise and didn't have a good shot at him for the other bands.
Leaving FN31dn, we headed south and searched for a place in FN30 on the shores of Long Island sound just below the FN31/FN30 grid line. We spent the better part of an hour driving around and finally found a place in the parking lot of a yacht club. While this site wasn't right on the water line, we did manage to make a couple of contacts with W1XM in FN42 and some of the locals. We left there and headed for home. On the way, we drove down the NJ Palisades which has some elevation and made a number of contacts from there whilst moving.Grids operated from on Saturday
On Sunday morning, we headed out a little later than I wanted (but got more sleep than expected - so I guess that's ok) to our local site, Eagle Rock Reservation, FN20vt. Upon arriving, we found that a ceremony was about to start, commemorating the 4th Anniversary of 9/11.
Eagle Rock Reservation is on a 650 foot hill overlooking New York City and has a direct view of the entire west side of Manattan Island. Many people came here during 9/11 to see the terrible events of that day. A few years later, a memorial was built at Eagle Rock commemorating 9/11 and all the people who perished there.
Not wanting to interfere with the ceremony that was about to begin, we decided to skip it and proceed to our next stop, Camelback Mountain, FN21hb. We arrived at Camelback and immediately started making contacts. Camelback has an excellent 360 degree view and is used by the Packrats Group, W3CCX, for the June contest. During other contests, it is available for other vhf/uhf enthusiasts to use. Up there, we completed a number of 5-band sweeps but overall, conditions seemed like they could be better. Clean sweeps were completed with K1TEO in FN31, N2NK in FN21, K8GP in FM08, K3YTL in FN11, K1RZ in FM19, W3SZ in FN20, and N2PA in FN12. There are several pictures taken at Camelback shown below.
We left Camelback and proceeded to Hazleton, PA, FN10xx. This is a new site for us and we expected it to play well to the east. On the way we passed through FN11 for about 10 minutes and was able to complete 4 bands with K3EAR before getting blocked by a mountain for the clean sweep.
At Hazleton, we were able to complete 5-band sweeps with N2NK and K1TEO both to the east. We also were visited by a husband-wife rover team, Mike, N3FJA and Brenda, N3ORF. You can see their picture below.
After Hazleton, we decided to skip FN10xw. We thank KE3HT for suggesting the site several years ago but we were starting to run behind schedule. We drove straight through to our next site, Tuscarora Summit, FM19av. About a half an hour before we got there, six meters opened up to Florida with some e-skip. We picked up 4 new grids that way and talked to an old friend, Karl, N1DL, with whom we haven't spoken for about 15 years.
We got to Tuscarora Summit hoping to see some other rovers but nobody was there. In addition, we didn't like any of the places to operate, so we drove up to the top of the hill about a mile away and operated from Big Mountain, FM19aw. The top of the hill has a clearing with a microwave tower. Unfortunately, it is surrounded by trees in all directions. In spite of that, we did complete 5-band sweeps with K3EAR, K8GP and W1RT/R.
We didn't stay too long on the hill as we wanted to get off the hill by sundown. We left there and due to the late hour, 2350z, we headed for home, skipping Blue Knob, FN00rg, entirely.Grids operated from on Sunday
All told, were were very pleased with this rove. While our score was not very high (we've done better in the past), we were able to get on the road with not a lot of planning. It felt very good to be back on the road making contacts. Wait until next June!
|This is the Jeep on top of Camelback Mountain, Tannersville, PA, FN21hb. Karen is sneaking a look out from the driver's side.||N2MH Photo
||As you can see, Karen is very happy to be behind the wheel again on
a rove! This was also taken at Camelback Mountain,
"OK, let's go, we've got a contest to run! We're ready to rumble!'
|While were stopped in FN10xx in Hazleton, PA, we were joined by a husband-wife rover team, Mike, N3FJA and Brenda, N3ORF. Not seen, but off to the left is runway 10 for Hazleton Airport (KHZL).||N2MH Photo