Well, my first September VHF Contest could simply be described as rough. Unlike my other reports, I’ll cut to the chase up front and say I only made six contacts during the weekend with a claimed scored of 42. While this probably sums up my frustration, there is a lot of backstory to how things went which I think is worth diving into.
My original plan was to spend Saturday in EN20 given its relatively needed status (at least compared to other nearby grids) for FFMA ops. I selected the Nodaway Valley Conservation Area since it was 1) fairly close to my QTH in Kansas City, 2) a public place that I believed I’d have no hassle utilizing, and 3) was not in a river basin like many of the other public parks/areas nearby. I sent out a post on the FFMA groups.io advertising this operation and got some good feedback from other hams needing the grid, so I was really excited to make this work out.
For my first CQ WW VHF contest, I decided to try my hand at some VHF roving. I set out to hit four grids around the Kansas City area using my Par Electronics 6m Moxon, Diamond 5 element 2m yagi, Max-Gain Systems mast, new Yaesu FT-991a, and new 10 Ah and 16 Ah LiFePO4 batteries.
My first stop was EM38 at the Odessa Reservoir outside of Odessa, Missouri. Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, the area was very quiet. A few fisherman left shortly after I arrived leaving me alone for a few hours out in the hot sun. My setup in the car included a backseat tray for the laptop (Amazon affiliate link) and the radio on the seat next to me. This worked fairly well (the shelf was excellent in fact), but I desired a better “shelf” of sorts of the radio so that I didn’t have to turn 90 degrees to use the radio. This was one of the key takeaways that I have since solved (see my upcoming 2022 Kansas QSO Party report for details on that). At this spot, I made a total of 21 QSOs including four on 2m (one SSB and three FT8) and 17 on 6m (three SSB and 14 FT8).