W7GJ Montana summer 2021

 6m Grid DXpeditions

Friday, June 11 to June 13, 2021
DN38qb on the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch in Teton County, MT

at 5300'
Horizon Profile from DN38qb

On wednesday, June 9, I loaded up the car with all the gear, the generator, antenna, water and other supplies. I also assembled the equipment in the car and tested it all on a dummy load so I could travel with the equipment already set up, in order to save time when I arrived at the site. With the exception of the antenna,  I was using the same equipment that I take with me on 6m EME DXpeditions to rare DXCC. That setup is described in detail here. Basically, it was a Dell XPS 13 laptop computer, FT857 transceiver (used as the transmitter}, 6M1K2 amplifier and an Airspy R2 SDR receiver with an ARR preamp.

On Thursday, morning June 10, I drove over the Continental Divide to eastern Montana. I arrived in Dupuyer, MT in time to check out the roads up on the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch, including the one to the planned operating site. I had already obtained permission from the ranch manager to set up and operate for several days in that high remote corner of the ranch. The weather was clear and the roads were not too muddy to drive on, which was reassuring. I then returned to Dupuyer and checked into Buffalo Joe's motel for the night.

At dawn on Friday June 11, I headed up to the site.  I drove in a ground rod and set up the generator 50' west of the car and put up the 6M5XHG antenna at 5300' on a 24' mast 20' east of the car in order to provide maximum separation between the two, and also to avoid needing to aim the antenna at either the car or the generator. I use 50' of heavy extension cord to carry 220 VAC from the generator to the station set up in the car, and 50' of LMR-600 UF low loss feedline to run from the antenna to the car.

The 6m band was open by the time I got set up. I slept in the back of the car just to be safe, but fortunately I had no grizzly bear encounters! I operated until 0200Z on Monday June 14, when an approaching thunderstorm made me shut down, lower the antenna and mast, and disconnect everything from the equipment in the car. The storm hit at 0300Z with lightning and tremendous winds. There was a bright double rainbow as the storm approached because it also was hitting right at sunset. The car was buffeted around but everything remained intact. There was  some severe storm damage and power outages in the towns south of me.


I started packing up at dawn on Monday and by 10 am was on the road home. I didn't get reliable cell phone service until around 11 am. All in all, it was a beautiful place, although sleeping and operating in the car for that long was tough on these old bones! I hope this lessons the immediate demand for DN38, for awhile at least!

Station setup looking to the northeast out over the plains.

View to the west toward the Rocky Mountain Front.

June 27-30, 2021
DN34gx above Lemhi Pass and the Continental Divide in Lemhi County, ID
 at 7550'
Horizon Profile from DN34gx site

The highest point on the horizon is below 5 degrees, and the horizon is under 1 degree (or less) to most the continental USA requiring double hop Es. 

6M5XHG installed on top of hill southwest of Lemhi Pass overlooking the Continental Divide

On Sunday, June 27, I drove down to the same site I activated during Field Day in 2015. Additional photos of the site can be found on the summary of the 2016 DXpedition. The weather looked good for an extended operation in the mountain - clear, although unusually hot. The 7550'site in Lemhi County, ID, is on a hilltop just outside the national monument area, and looks down on Lemhi Pass and the Continental Divide. Because the location is in national forest land, "dispersed camping" is permitted, which is ideal for an extended grid activation. The location is shown by the red asterisk on the map to the right.


The band was open to W1 when I first got on the air Sunday afternoon, and was open for 14 hours on Monday June 28, again including many double hop stations and 4 triple hop stations in KP4. The biggest activity on Tuesday June 29 was toward Asia, and I logged 37 contacts in Japan as well as BA7IO, BX4HG, and BG6CJR. Just as I was starting to again begin getting double hop signals from Florida (and a much longer multihop sequence from 9Y4D), I finally had to stop finally operating at 1830Z Wednesday. I then spent the next several hours out in the 90+F temperatures dismantling the antenna and packing up to head home. The most challenging chore was trying to extract the ground rod by the generator, which I had very successfully pounded into the rocky soil.  and start packing up to head home.I shut down at 1830Z Wednesday and started packing up to head home. I finally made it home at 9 pm, just as the sun was setting.

Contrary to the experience there in 2016, when there were Bitterroot flowers everywhere, this was the only one left this time. All the other
Bitterroot plants had lost their flowers, probably due to the hot, dry weather compared to 5 years ago.

At the time of this trip, I was having some problems with my FT857 output being reliable enough to drive my 6M1K2 amplifier. I therefore has to rig up a more complicated concoction of gear and squeeze it into the car, while still leaving enough space for me to sleep in the back of the car if I chose not to take time to set up the tent. In the view from the driver seat below, you can see the laptop computer.  The RIGblaster Nomic was resting underneath it on the console between the front seats. Below the wattmeter, you can see the blower sitting on the TE Systems amp and blowing air out the amp's cooling fins directly onto the cooling fins of the KX3, which provided about 2.5 watts on FT8 into the TE Systems amp.


Below is the view oft the passenger seating area from the open door. Styrofoam spacers are seen positioning the fan on top of the TE SYSTEMS driver amplifier.Aluminum channel spacers were used to maiintain ventilation space around the sides of the amp. To the right of the TE Systems amp was the Powerwerx 12 VDC power supply for the KX3. The preamp was powered by a battery that was being charged whenever the generator was running.  Under the glove compartment, sitting on a plastic crate, was a 12VDC high current switching power supply to power the  amp. Not visible is the ARR preamp, 6m bandpass filter and Airspy R2 receiver that fed into SDR Console software via a USB cable for the separate receiver.


Behind the passenger seat was a table I made from a surplus piece of countertop. The 6M1K2 amp sat on top, with its Meanwell RSP-3000-48 power supply sitting below it. Another fan between the cooler and the amplifier insured good air circulation for both the amp and its power supply. Not a very neat and tidy setup, but it was OK for what it was doing ;-)

Thanks for all the fun and all the contacts, especially those for whom DN34 was still a needed grid! I hope this has knocked DN34 further down the FFMA "most needed" list!

I couldn't leave Lemhi Pass without swinging by the Sacajawea Memorial Area and the spring that feeds the tributary that caused Lewis and Clark to make their way to Lemhi Pass from the Missouri River. Those photos are shown below.


This page last revised on 4 July, 2021