First an original poem to establish my squatter's rights in this here "too lofty for the likes of my beer-drinkin self" neighborhood!
belch in the bathroom,
puke in the halls.
eat mouldy onions and
breathe down the walls!
"BLECH" by B. KOOL 1967
Enough of that. Well, here I am. Been an amateur radio operator since 1978 (actually had a one year Novice ticket back in 1964, but it ran out) and am QRV from 160M through 2304! Well ... that is, I will be whenever I can finally get all my steel trees to sprout and grow antennas! I love VHF, UHF and SHF but I'm also crazy about 160 .... go figure. Must be the difficulty hihi! I'd just love to discuss the philosophical aspects of killer contesting with anyone who cares. In 1997 I changed my callsign from KA2DRH to K2DRH, something I'd wanted to do for years. That way I can still use the phonetics Kiss Two Dirty Rotten Hams. My XYL, Fran is N2KMA (Not Two Kiss My Ankle). I'm an Extra and Fran is a General.
In the fall of 1997 I moved from Athens, Alabama (EM64kt) to Albany, IL (EN41vr) right on the Mississippi River. Started working on the towers in the spring of 98. Yes I'm still a Nuclear Instrumentation Systems Engineer, I just work for Exelon (formerly ComEd) instead of TVA.
Right now I'm QRV (most of the time hihi) on 6, 2, 222, 432, 902/3, 1296, 2304 and 3456 MHz with 50'of Rohn 45 rotating on top of 80' of Rohn 55. Antennas are 2x50' boom 11el m2 6M2.5WL, 2x36' boom m2 2M18XXX, 2x 34' boom 7wl 222 and 2X 32' boom 70CM13WL, 2x47 el 902 mHz and 2x55el 1296 mHz loop yagis (see pictures below). In the third picture I've added 2x76 el 2304 and 2x112 el 3456 loopers on the same horizontal bar as the 902/3 and 1296 antennas.
I finally got 6 bands of antennas (with a single 6M) wired up and working on 30' of rotating 45G during the summer of 2000 and won overall single op low power in the Sept 2000 VHF contest, then did it again in January 2001. Set new division and category records too! I won SOLP again in Sept 2002 and then took second place in Sept 2003, 2004 and 2005 but first again in 2006 and 2007 then dropped to second in 2008. I won SOLP in January for 6 straight years 2001 to 2006 setting new national category records in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2006. On my 7th attempt in 2007 my antenna rotor gearbox self destructed and despite numerous trips up the tower to replace it during the contest on Saturday night in 5 degree cold and snow I couldn't save it, and had to drop out. In 2008 I was able to come back and take it again for the 7th time, and the 2009 score looks good for another win so far.
I took second place in June of 2001 and then set new category and division records in the August 2001 UHF contest, but got put into the Hudson division by mistake! (Hey a 2 call in Albany ... go figure ...). I sat out the 2002 UHF, won it again in 2003 and 2004 setting another new division and category record, then again in 2005 and 2006, dropped to second place in 2007 but back on top again with new high score record in 2008.
Took 2nd place SOAB HP in the 2000 CQWW VHF , 1st place in 2001 (using only low power bricks!), was sidelined in 2002 but came back to win again in 2003 and set a new all time SOAB HP record with the highest single op score in the world. Won it again in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and probably again in 2008. Broke my old record with over 700K in 2006 when the 6M Es was just INSANE. 17 hours of 60+ Qs per hour! Worked 1428 6M QSOs in 288 grids to go right to the top of the "1000 QSO club" (and that includes multiops)!
2002 was defintely not my favorite year. Sustained 50mph winds with gusts to 80mph in March broke my (then single) 50' boom 6M beam into two 25's. Guess I finally built it big enough hihi. Then a lightening strike a few days before the June 2002 Contest took out a component in my motor controller that caused the top to keep rotating in one direction until all the coax wrapped up and destroyed itself. Put me out of competition, but I was back on the air with 6 and 2M for the CQ VHF in July only to get called into work about 2 hours into the contest (some trivial thing about not being able to scan the control rod positions)!
I took it all down in June of 2003 and rebuilt everything, this time with two guy rings, 50' of rotating tower and a second 6M antenna. Bigger, higher, better! It was a lot of work but it was worth it. I took #1 SOLP in June of 2003 for the first time, and again in 2004 and 2005 (despite being off the air for several prime time hours due to a main power and subsequent generator failure!). Set a new SOLP category record of 522K (1st score over a half million) with a 4th consecutive win in June 2006. See the ARRL Log checking report here: K2DRH LCR June 06 VHF QSO Party
98.6% accuracy! Conditions for 2007 weren't nearly as good, but I won for a fifth time and then again in 2008 for the 6th time.
Lost my bottom 6M antenna in another bad windstorm during December of 2004 when the boom to mast plate ripped out and it hung from the truss. It folded up in a triangle and I had to cut it and take it down in three pieces in the bitter cold to get ready for Jan 2005 with a single 6M antenna. It's back up now, better and stronger than ever. In May 2006 had to rebuild the rotor motor and the gearbox in June of 2007 but so far it's working better than ever!
The 150' Rohn 45 HF tower has been up in the air for a few years now but don't have any antennas up on it yet. No progress on it this year either ... I keep fixing stuff on the VHF tower! This project is on hold until the VHF stuff is all finished (I had to redo the 2M beams with heavier booms after one broke in July 2004 ... it just never seems to end!). I did get all the ring rotors installed and the 10' of 25G "mast" on top! Problem is they don't work worth a darn! I'm seriously considering taking it all down and going back with a rotating tower with a big 6M stack with a couple HF antannas thrown in for good measure. All my HF antennas are stored in the third bay of my new garage here. I have only a combo 75M/40M inverted V up, mainly so I can work the Illinois QSO party in October and get some points for the GRVARS Club (managed a top 10 finish in 2007).
There is a great bunch of Hams up here in the Quad Cities (Rock Island & Moline IL, Davenport & Bettendorf IA) so I've joined The Society of Midwest Contesters _W9SMC-, The Green River Valley ARS -K9WM- and the Clinton Amateur Radio Club -W0CS- (in IA, just across the Mississippi River bridge).
Well no serious HF progress this year! ....maybe 2009 will be the year for it! (then again, who knows).
My second hobby is Beer. Up until now mostly drinking it ... but I'd love to get into homebrew. This was once high on my list of priorities, but unfortunately there is too much work to be done on the antennas still and N2KMA isn't very fond of the smell of beer wort cooking.
Enough for now .... 73 de Bob2 EN41vr.
Links to other sites on the Web
American Radio Relay League
K0XG Rotating Tower Equipment
Green River Valley Amateur Radio Service
Society of Midwest Contesters
e. e. cummings
© 1996 k2drh at arrl.net