Wednesday, December 27, 2023

A First on 902 MHz - 2 Meter Activity - Odds and Ends

 Greetings from EM55 and the Mid-South!  In the little time available to play radio, I admit I have been on the HF bands.  10 and 15 into the South Pacific have been especially good, I have added a few ATNO’s to my DXCC efforts.  One exciting thing I’ve seen is some 10m FM work from some of the dxpeditions.  I haven’t gotten in on it yet but it is a really good sign that folks in the states are working FM at those distances!  I want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family.  Hoping for great openings on all bands all year long in 2024.  Take time to let me know about your activities, interesting contacts, projects, or questions.  I  always look forward to hearing from you!


A First on 902Mhz


By now, you have seen more about the report in last month’s column that Al Ward, W5ULA, has achieved the first WAS (worked all states) award on 902 Mhz.  As promised, I have more details.  Al was kind enough to spend some time on the phone with me recently to discuss his journey on 902 Mhz.


I asked Al what drove his interest in 902.  He told me that he became interested when US Amateurs gained access to the band in 1985.  Whe I asked “any particular reason?” His answer was simple “It was a new band!”  There’s a lesson there for all of us.  We need to use the allocations we have so as to keep them and perhaps gain a new one occasionally!


Al reports that 902 is not without its challenges.  First, it is a shared band, technical in the ISM range, so there is a lot of potential for interference, ranging from repeaters in the ham band to older wireless phones and weather stations, to actual ISM devices.  To address interference he suggests using a filter after the first stage of amplification.


I asked Al about modes and propagation.  He indicated that he started out with a lot of tropospheric/terrestrial contacts, he estimated 20 of his first 32 were done that way.  His longest tropo was with K0VXM in Florida, about 1,000 miles.  Which, as Al points out, is pretty good for tropo on any VHF+ band!  For the last 18 QSOs, he used mostly EME, with a combination of CW and more recently, Q65.   Al was quick to express his thanks for the rovers involved in helping him get all 50 states.  Peter KA6U,, Brian NX90 and Jay N1AV.  These rovers do great work by providing access to states and grids where there is just no activity.  Thank you for your efforts!


Al reports that he builds a lot of his own gear, including the first EME preamp he used, which was one he designed in his “day job.”   Significant changes over the years include solid state amps instead of tube amps, and of course the move to EME activity on the higher frequencies including 902 Mhz.


On the antenna side, dishes are preferred, Al suggested that the W2HRO dish is a great one to use, offering strength and portability.  There are no doubt other good ones out there.



Sidewinders on the Air – Promoting 2 Meter Weak Signal Work


Sunday Evenings 1900 Local on 144.250 MHz USB you will find a 2m roundtable focused on southern Utah and surrounding areas.  The roundtable is focused on Exploration, Experimentation, Communication, and Comradarie.


This month I’m including the write up from the Sunday October 22 event – thanks to Art, K7DWI and Kelly, KV7V for this information.


We had a total of 22 stations in 5 grid squares and 4 states on the air for the October 22nd roundtable.


Legend:  Moderator  Home Station  Mobile Station Portable Station Via Relay Via Remote



Station Call Sign

Operator Name


Grid Square




Santa Clara



WO1S via N7ARE


Wickenburg, AZ





Santa Clara





Colorado City





Saint George





Las Vegas, NV





Saint George





Cedar City










Saint George















Saint George





Saint George





Sun River





Las Vegas, NV





9 Miles East of Mesquite, NV





Saint George





West Wendover, NV





Old St. George airport bluff





Highway 14 Cedar Canyon



KI7L via K6FEU






KG7SXQ (Lynden) in Saint George rigged up his dual phased Hourglass antennas and sends pictures, attached.  (Photo A)

From Lynden:
 I could barely hear W01S but I could understand him. I could hear you (KV7V) S9 when you pointed your antenna SE otherwise you were S3.  I couldn't hear Jon, Serge etc.  Bob, Dennis, Mike, Gary were all S9 or more.  I'll have to load it up and go portable and compare it with my single hourglass.

KL7KTO (Bill) in Leeds sends pictures of his new fiberglass mast supporting a 2 element Yagi.  Bill has been heard in the Tucson area with this small antenna! (Photo B)


KF7YRS (Lee) in Saint George has been doing some preliminary design work on a reversible 2 element Yagi (1 driven element and 1 reflector for each direction.  He reports some interesting results with antenna modeling (Photos C and D).  


From Lee:

 During yesterday's pre-roundtable, Bill and I mentioned that we had been discussing a 2m reversible Yagi.  It would have some gain but maybe not require a rotator, since you could reverse the direction depending on which of the two driven elements you feed.  I played around with EZNEC this afternoon, and once I remembered how to work it, tested some configurations.  It was fun and I came out with a 3 element (one reflector and 2 driven elements) that looks good on paper.   I used half inch Pex-Al-Pex as the conductor and the projected SWR bandwidth looked great across the entire 2 meter band.  I tested the unused driven element as a solid wire or with a small gap in the center to mimic a feed point, made no difference.




A large Public Health drill will be held on November 9th.  Washington County ARES is keenly interested in gauging the effectiveness of VHF SSB for backup and emergency communications.  Please consider lending your skills and equipment to this important effort.  A short net will be called on 144.250 MHz USB at 9:45a.m. Mountain Time on the morning of November 9th.  There will be no exercise traffic passed.  This is solely for the purpose of testing the ability to reach areas of interest in Southern Utah and SE Nevada.  Target areas will be Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Iron, Washington and E. Clark County.  It is expected to last only 30 minutes, but if you only have time to check in and check out, that’s good too.  Regular SU2MSSBRT participant Dennis, KJ7ETX is now the Washington County ARES Emergency Coordinator and has really hit the ground running with his new assignment and he has personally approached me with this request and it’s an honor to have this request made of our group.  (Note that this event has passed, but I wanted my readers to see the effort this group puts forth)


Utah 2 Meter SSB Activity  

National Calling (Default 24/7 Monitoring) – 144.200 MHz USB

Southern Utah 2M SSB Roundtable – Sundays, 1900 Mtn Time – 144.250 MHz USB

(Pre-Roundtable informal chat on 144.200 MHz USB starting as early as 1800 Mtn Time)

Utah Valley VHF SSB Net – Thursdays, 2100 – 144.230 MHz USB

Central Utah 2M SSB Net – Mondays, 1900 Mtn Time – 144.250 MHz USB

Northern Utah 2M SSB Net – Mondays, 2000 Mtn Time – 144.250 MHz USB

Bridgerland ARC (NE Utah) 2M SSB Net – Thursdays, 2100 Mtn Time – 144.200 MHz USB



Remember 144.200 during the week and between roundtable sessions.  A few of us hang out and monitor there for activity on the National Calling Frequency, so put a call out there and you never know who you might work.


Please send any corrections of location and pictures of your station, especially portable operations.  Hope to hear you on Sunday evening!


Thanks again to Art and Kyle for this info.  I decided to include this write up because it does a great job of showcasing all the things hams are doing with 2 meters.  Everything from home brewing to public service events! 


Visit to find a 2m group in your area and get on the air!  Even if you only have a vertical, give it a shot – email the net control and let them know you plan to be on the air, and they will listen for you – some are even set up to switch to vertical for you.   All will be welcoming and helpful, so don’t hesitate.


Wishing you great propagation and ice-free antennas!







New Beacon in Mali and other Operating Reports

 I’ve received many reports recently of good 6 and 2 meter activity around the US, ranging from tropo to Es to TEP and the occasional F2 (?).  Hoping this continues and improves as we move toward year end.  Remember to look for VK/ZL openings on 6 meters during the winter Es season, as well as enhanced propagation stateside.  Enjoy this sunspot cycle as it builds!

Word has reached here that Al Ward, W5ULA, has achieved the first WAS (worked all states) award on 902 Mhz.  Quite an achievement!  Congratulations to Al on this milestone.  I hope to have more details for you next time but did not want to miss the opportunity to feature Al’s success!


Our friend and frequent contributor Mario, K2ZD, reported that on August 31st at 1057Z he completed a 6M Q65A EME QSO with Lance 3B9GJ (W7GJ) for his 6M DXCC # 224. Lance reported a 10DB noise levels from LED lights on the island until his Sun Rise.  Congratulations Mario and thank you Lance for your continuing efforts to make remote places available via EME.


Speaking of remote places, our friend Howard, W4HLR, has been working for many months to arrange for a 6 meter beacon on Mali.  This is no easy task, but through networking and perseverance, he has succeeded.  Working with Jeff, TZ4AM, this beacon has been installed and will hopefully provide much needed propagation information for this rare entity (at least rare on 6 meters).  The following article, submitted by W4HLR, tells the story.


Mali is the home to Timbuktu, which, as you know, is the “end of the earth.” Since there is not much 6m activity in the region, it’s hard to know when the band is open, with openings lasting as long as several hours or as short as a few minutes. Howard Runions, W4HLR, saw this need from his vantage point in Tennessee (EM56 – also sort of the end of the earth) and kindly offered to make a beacon for Mali if we could find a place to put it. Hamadoun Yattara who is President of the local club (Club des RadioAmateurs et AffiliĆ©s du Mali - CRAM) offered to host the beacon at his QTH (location 12 deg 42’22” N and 8 deg 2’59” W, Locator IK52) and to keep it operating

24/7. The antenna is a dipole mounted 10m AGL in Kati, on a hill 15 kms from Bamako (Mali’s capital city) with a clear shot to Europe and North America. TZ6HY and Jeff, TZ4AM are both in the same locator: IK52. It is fed with 15m of RG213 coax.

Howard provided the beacon which is feeding a YYY 50-watt amplifier and had a

Ukrainian expert program it to send “TZ6HY/B TZ6HY/B IK52 . . . . “  He sent it to a Masi Shipping Company in Philadelphia who ship mixed containers to Mali. After a month or so, the container arrived in Mali where Jeff’s assistant TZ5TT picked it up, built the antenna and supports, tested it at TZ4AM’s QTH and then sent it up to Kati where he installed the bamboo poles and the dipole which can be raised and

lowered with ropes in a flagpole arrangement. Christian Roy, F4CXO, was the first to pick up the beacon and spots it on a daily basis when it shows up and again when it can no longer be copied. Its strongest signal has been 559 in Europe. The beacon has

been copied as far north as Germany by DK4NE. It is about 5 S-Units (29 dB weaker) than TZ4AM’s own signal which is 1 KW reinforced by a 10 element yagi (50LFA10 from WIMO/EAntenna). The beacon has been instrumental in helping more people to know when the band is open to Mali and then to contact TZ4AM when he gets on. By the same token, the beacon lets TZ4AM know when the band is open to Europe and hence when to get on. So far, the beacon has not been copied outside of Europe. Gary K9RX has offered to design a 2 element Yagi which will be made out of local bamboo with copper wire taped to it. This will add perhaps 1 S-Unit to its signal and hopefully will add enough additional strength to the signal to test propagation with North and South America and beyond. (TZ4AM has worked Fiji on several occasions and Australia on


This beacon is a great help to fill in a large void in the beacons available in this part of Africa. We here in Mali and those trying to work Mali owe a great debt to Howard W4HLR for his initiative in getting this beacon on the air and to Hamadoun TZ6HY for hosting it in a country where electricity costs three times what it costs in the States.


Those of us interested in 6 meters owe a debt of gratitude to all involved.  Please send signal reports to Jeff and Howard if you hear the beacon.  More on this story as progress is made. One final thing – this is apparently the first amateur beacon of any kind on Mali!

Top to bottom photos - the 6 Meter dipole on Mali; TZ4AM Jeff Dorsey from Miami and TZ6HY Hamadoun Yattara; the repeater hardware


 Wishing you all an extra S unit of signal strength, both ways!


73 d e N4DTF EM55



Easy HamClock for the Shack


Like many of you, I’ve always wanted a world clock of some sort to be constantly displayed around the shack.   I read an article about building one with a Raspberry Pi and the “Ham Clock” software and started down that path.  Great info:

By the time I had ordered and received the RPi, I saw mention on one of the ham radio FaceBook pages about a mini PC that comes loaded with the hamclock software.  The Quadra, from Inovato, ( has a tiny footprint and offers a variety of applications from web browsing to FLDigi.  I’ve chosen to use mine only as a dedicated clock – but at the under $50 price range I’m already thinking about what I “need” another one for.  (Photo A shows my Quadra near my Heil Pro7 for size comparison)


Setup was quick and easy, just attach a USB mouse and keyboard, and of course a monitor.  I had a couple sitting around and chose a 20” model (see Photo B) that is actually on a wall mount.  Be warned – you will immediately want a larger screen than whatever size you pick!!!  There is a Wifi option, but my Quadra is situated close enough to my router that I chose an Ethernet connection.  You won’t need the mouse and keyboard again until you choose to make changes to the configuration or reboot the unit.  In most cases I can accomplish the changes needed with only the mouse.


When the operating system loads, you get a generic desktop and simply right click to get a window where you can select first “ham software” then “hamclock.”   You are prompted to enter setup mode, and can then work your way through 9 or 10 screens with a lot of options.   Getting a basic clock up and running is pretty simple.  In time, you will want to review the hamclock instructions and fine tune things for your viewing pleasure.  One feature I want to look into is a dx spot listing.  But of course spot collector is already running on DXlabs so I have that information handy.


Don’t worry though – I have a use in mind for the RPi that I bought and didn’t use – I am eyeing the “CaribouLite” SDR that comes as a HAT for the RPi.  I’m thinking it will make a great IF for VHF+ transverters.  Stay tuned!