M2 6M6XHG on a 30' mast up a slope just inside the grid DN24xx gridsquare. 

Sleeping tent in the upper right of the photo. White piece of plywood down by the road is covering the generator.


W7GJ solo Field Day

6m Grid DXpedition

to the

DN24xx/DN34ax

line in

Lemhi County, Idaho


June 23-27, 2016

 At 6935' elevation,
1.5 miles southwest of
Williams Lake, Idaho

INTRODUCTION


After the very successful 2015 6m DXpeditions to DN34gx and DN24so, I was hopeful that I might be able to provide some additional contacts from both rare grids by activating them at the same time from the line between the two.  Although the Es propagation had not been great this summer, I was hopeful that the high level of activity over Field Day weekend might make it possible to catch some openings.  Using Google Earth, I located what appeared to be an accessible site on the DN24xx/DN34ax line, in the far northern end of those grids, about 13 miles south-southwest of Salmon, Idaho.

LOGISTICS

The location was only a little over 4 hours' drive from Frenchtown, Montana - provided you didn't stop anywhere to shop for food, get gas for the generator, or stop along the way to admire the view or take photos! The site was only about an hour from Salmon, Idaho and all but the last 8 miles was on paved roads.  What was not so apparent from the Google Earth research was the fact that the old jeep trail up to the grid line was very steep, rocky and overgrown with sagebrush, as well as deliberately closed off by small downed trees, making it necessary to operate out of the car down on Salmon National Forest Road 413, at a spot close enough to reach the antenna with the feedline.  I made it down to the site Thursday night June 23 and set up the tent as twilight was fading, resolving to further inspect the siting possibilities Friday morning.


Google Earth view of the area on the line between DN24 and DN34.  The yellow asterisk is the antenna location, the white one indicates the station location in the rear of the car, and the red one indicates the generator location.

The antenna finally was installed up on the east side of the hill, just inside grid DN24xx, and the remaining 40' of coaxial cable from the base of the tower was laid out down the hill to the car in DN34ax.  The generator was 50' northeast of the car, so it was further into DN34.  I found a fairly flat place to tent on another forest service road about 150 yards northeast of the generator.

M2 6M5XHG on 30' homebrew mast up the slope in DN24xx. Antenna is rotated manually, and is aimed
and held in place by two white nylon lines tied to the rear of the boom.  Yagi is aimed southeast in this photo. 

Mini GPS reading of computer location at the station
in the rear of the car


       BktTimeSync reading of computer location at the station in the rear of the car

View of the site, facing southwest.  Antenna and mast are up the hill between the car and generator
SETUP & EQUIPMENT

The first matter of business on Friday morning, June 24, was to verify the precise location of each of the station components.   For this, the GPS application on my iPhone was used (with the cellular data turned off).   To corroborate the cell phone GPS results, I also carried the laptop computer with the Columbus V800 GPS data logger up the hill to the antenna site.  The table below shows the results of the cell phone GPS measurements:

 

LOCATION

N. LATITUDE

W. LONGITUDE

GRIDSQUARE

Mast

44.997471

114.000168

DN24xx

Station

44.997463

113.999954

DN34ax

Generator

44.997604

113.999893

DN34ax

 

The above photos show the station location in the back of the car as confirmed by two different computer programs used with the V800 data logger at the operating position.  After confirming that the planned sites for all the equipment would meet the goal of operating across the DN24/34 grid line, the work began setting up everything.  



The narrow road (the only flat spot) blocked off for antenna assembly


The antenna set up took a bit longer than anticipated, because of the uneven ground, and the necessity to have the side guys positioned properly so as to stay tight while the mast is raised off the prop.  Finally the guy anchors were positioned properly and the guy lengths adjusted so that the mast would raise smoothly.  





The 6m station was essentially be the same as that used on the 2015 W7GJ grid DXpeditions.  An M2 6M5XHG five element yagi was mounted on a homebrew 30' mast and was held in place with four dacron guy ropes attached to a guy ring 12' from the ground.  The feedline was 75' of LMR600 - the same feedline I use on my 6m EME DXpeditions.

I used my Elecraft KX3 transceiver to drive my repaired M2 6M1000 amplifier, powered by the pair of Meanwell RSP-2000-48 switching power supplies that I will be taking on my future 6m EME DXpeditions.  The weak link in the chain was the generator, which only provided 13A at 110 VAC before its circuit breaker would pop.  That limited my power to about 600w output on full duty modes such as FSK441, although I was able to get by with about 800w peak output on SSB.

As before, I just set up the station in the rear of the car, and sat outside on a portable chair to operate.   I stretched a tarp over the car to the sagebrush plants on the adjacent hillside to provide some shelter from the sun and wind.  Fortunately, there was no rain at all during the trip nor have any untoward animal encounters (although I kept pepper spray nearby all the time!).

There were one or two vehicles that came by each day.  Ranchers on their way to their grazing allotments or vacationers coming up from Williams Lake.  But basically, it was very quiet.  And there certainly wasn't any electrical noise, which was very nice!

Although the site overlooked the valley containing Route 93 and the Salmon river to the east, the bottom of the valley could not be seen - only the Lemhi Mountain Range on the other side of the valley.   So, although no signs of civilization could be seen from the site, there was very good cell phone service there.   I was looking forward to being able to use my cell phone to watch activity maps and see where the Es clouds were moving.  However, the USB charging cord for my iPhone turned out to have broken, and the car charger for the phone worked only intermittently and very poorly off the 12 VDC plug on the generator.  

So, most of the time, I was limited to communicating on 6m.  And the only person I could regularly talk to on 6m was K7VK (50 miles away on a mountaintop in DN25tr), but he had no cell phone service so didn't know any more than I did about what direction we might try aiming for Es.  Together, though, we did catch the attention of some folks who had been monitoring 6m. waiting for an opening.  

I was pleased to give some folks their first contact on 6m, and of course even more pleased to provide a couple of new gridsquares for a handful of serious 6m operators who still were anxious to contact me for those grids.



The 6M5XHG resting on the Prop ready for raising with the Falling Derrick


Aiming circle calibrated and ready for mast/antenna rotation




W7GJ by the operating station
OPERATING

I was QRV by Friday night, although it was so cold and I was so tired from working all day Friday finding the proper locations and setting up everything, that I shut down early in the evening.   Friday night was extremely windy as a cold front came through, and temperatures were just above freezing, so I was quite eager to retreat before dark to my tent and bundle up in everything I had with me! 

Saturday morning I was up before dawn and calling CQ on FSK441 for some meteor scatter contacts.  After several hours of operation, I had only completed with VE7DAY, so I switched over to SSB and started calling CQ on the calling frequency.  There turned out to be a fairly good Es opening Saturday evening and I made contacts until dark, and then headed for the tent.

Sunday, I started early again on FSK441, but had not completed any contacts after a couple hours calling CQ, so I went back to SSB again.   I called CQ regularly to try to attract some attention up toward this corner of the country, and made frequent trips up the hill to move the antenna tie-down lines and aim the antenna in different directions.  There were only the occasional contacts on Sunday, though, and most of the Field Day stations seemed more interested in my "1B ID" exchange than the fact that I was on the grid line between two relatively rare grids.

First thing Monday morning, I lowered the antenna before the winds began picking up.   After that, I blocked off the road for a short while  so I could use the only flat spot available to take the antenna apart.   The next step was to pack up all the radio equipment, and cables, and drive over to pack up my tent.   The last step was to turn off the generator (which was running all morning to burn up as much fuel in its tank as possible), transfer the extra generator gas to the car and load up the generator.   By just after noon, I was on the road headed back to Missoula.




Operating station in the back of the car on NF 413

6M QSL INFORMATION

Please QSL direct with SASE direct to:

Lance Collister, W7GJ
P.O.Box 73
Frenchtown, MT   59834-0073
USA
SUMMARY OF RESULTS

I made 47 contacts on 6m from the DN24/DN34 line, and another 5 from DN35 and 1 from DN25 while I was driving on the way home.   All the contacts were single hop Es or shorter ground wave or meteor scatter.  For all the effort to set up and take down at this remote site, it was disappointing that propagation wasn't better.  However, it is always rewarding being able to provide some rare new grids to other 6m operators!    Good DX to all and VY 73!

  
Beautiful flowers were found in the rocks among the sagebrush around the operating site.
     
The scenic drive between Williams Lake and Salmon, Idaho provided many interesting photo opportunities

This page last revised on 3 July, 2016