N2MH Information For Rovers

N2MH/R Photo Scrapbook - N2MH/R June 2003, VHF Contest

Plans updated June 12, 2003

Rove through Long Island, northern New Jersey and Upstate New York

The Lighthouse Rover is planning another adventure for the June contest. True to its name, we will operate from a lighthouse. This time, Karen and I will start the contest at the Montauk Point Light (ARLHS USA-512) on Long Island. Our route will take us west through Long Island and to home on Saturday night. Sunday morning, we will start the day at a local overlook, drop down south a little, head up to High Point, NJ and then follow I-81 north to FN14/FN24. Locations to be visited are in the list below.

Along the way we will monitor 222.350 MHz. FM (horizontal) and we will attempt to have CU2QSO running on 147.585 MHz. when we make our stops. Equipment will cover 50, 144, 222 and 432 MHz. Antennas will be single halos on 50 and 144 MHz. and stacked halos on 222 and 432 MHz (no beams). If anybody has a good idea of a 2m frequency we could camp out on, please let us know.


Grid Coverage and Proposed Sites

[route map]

We will try to cover the following 11 grids:

Saturday

Sunday

Information on all locations can be found on the N2MH RoveSite Locator Page. A lot of the locations are new for us and those marked with an asterisk * are new for anybody.


Trip Report

Pre-Contest Prep Work

Some items from our checklist of little things to-do before the contest:

Thursday

Looking at the weather report for the next couple of days, it looks like it will rain most of the day on Friday. Thus, we decide to install the antennas on the Subaru on Thursday night rather than waiting for Friday. This turned out to be a rather good call as Friday did indeed rain all day.

Friday

After doing some last minute tweaks on the Rover, we finally left home around 5:30 PM on Friday afternoon in the rain. Not very long after that, we ran into rush hour traffic. Listening to the traffic report on the radio, we decided to head towards Montauk Point via Staten Island and the Belt Parkway. To get to Staten Island, we got on the NJ Turnpike and headed south via the car lanes. As our luck would have it, the car lanes are under construction and the exit for the bridge to Staten Island was closed. Thus, we had to go to the next exit where we again found traffic. Getting around that traffic, we took Routes 1 & 9 to the bridge where we found traffic again. It took us a good half an hour just to get up the approach and on to the bridge.

Going through Staten Island was slow. No problems were encountered on the Verrazano Bridge. However, coming down the bridge, we saw a sign that advised all vehicles over 11' 0" to exit immediately. Knowing that the 6 meter halo was sitting about 10 1/2 feet above the pavement didn't make me very comfortable. We then got on the Belt Parkway heading east.

In the New York City/Long Island area there are a number of roads called Parkways. In addition to not allowing any commercial traffic, they are also built with low clearances on the overpasses. When we decided to travel via the Belt Parkway and the subsequent Southern State Parkway, I had forgotten about the clearance restrictions. This would haunt me for half the trip out on Long Island.

After driving on the Belt Parkway for about a half mile, there was a sign advising all vehicles over 10' 4" to exit NOW. Not liking the sound of that sign, I exited NOW! We found a place to park on a side street and removed (in the pouring rain) the top piece of the mast in the back of the car - the 6 meter halo. This gave us an additonal foot or so of clearance and we proceeded back on the Belt Parkway. Unfortunately, many yellow, low clearance signs appeared along the way until we got off the Southern State Parkway in Suffolk county. And, those signs on the Southern State were really scary - 9' 8", 8' 6", and 7' 4" in one spot. The good news is that these signs were for the lanes under the overpasses. The clearance for the center lanes, directly under the peak of the arches was quite ample and we proceeded without incident. Remind me not to take the Rover on a parkway again!

We arrived at our hotel in Montauk about 10:30 PM (in the rain), checked in, found a very lovely room and fell asleep very quickly.

Saturday

Saturday morning was dry (a rare occurrence lately) but overcast. We put the 6 meter antenna back on the car and drove out to the Montauk Point Lighthouse, FN41bb, ARLHS USA-512. We "activated" the lighthouse on 20 meters for the Society using our folded monopole vertical antenna on the car and worked about 15 people. After that, we explored the area a little bit, had lunch, and then waited for the VHF Contest to begin.

We started the contest ok and then at 1815z, we tried to work Jim, W4RX, on schedule, first on 2 meters and then on 6 meters. After having a couple of E-skip stations call me on 6 meters, I gave up on the sked and concentrated on working gridsquares! It was nice to see the band opening at the beginning of the contest.

The rest of the day was spent mostly according to plan. However, we ran into stopped traffic on the Long Island Expressway and had to get on to the Cross Island Parkway to get around it. (Hmmm, remember the term "Parkway"??) Yes, we got nervious again because of low clearances (even more so with the 6 meter antenna back on the car). However, we got off very quickly on to the Throgs Neck Bridge and stayed with highways built to Interstate specs all the way home.

Since we were running a little ahead of schedule, we stopped at the Highlawn Pavillion, FN20vt, for about an hour on Saturday night and made a lot of contacts there. Since this was the first good Saturday night this year, the Pavillion was jammed with people and we had a hard time finding a parking space. We operated for about an hour and drove 5 minutes to home.

Grids operated from on Saturday:

Sunday

After a good night's worth of sleep, we got up early and went back to Highlawn Pavillion. This paid off for us as we were able to use the early morning enhancement and work some new grids. We also worked some new stations that came on and rounded out other calls that we missed on Saturday.

Between Saturday night and Sunday morning, we did very well at this site. Thus, we decided to bypass the I-78 Overlook site, FN20qp, and head directly for High Point, FN21qh. High Point is a super site, the highest point in New Jersey. We stayed there as long as the schedule allowed and still had stations that we hadn't worked yet. We then headed for Pennsylvania and I-81 bound for our stops in FN22de and FN12wi.

Both sites are along country roads. FN22de was a bust and we left there quickly. About the only station we could work there was N2PA. FN12wi was better as it was more out in the open. Leaving there, we had a long stretch of driving until FN23.

On the long and lonely drive up to FN22, there are few local stations on the air. Thus, we were tuning around a lot. At one point, on 6 meters, we worked K9NS in EN52 on cw. Apparently, we were the only station that heard him via e-skip. We listened to him for a while working only local stations in his area. We were very surprised when we called him and he came back! I think we were the only two stations that had any e-skip that afternoon. He didn't hear any other skip and I didn't hear any of the stations he was working.

Before the Rove, we had scoped out a couple of sites in FN23 and FN13 using our Topo! software. The three sites looked good on the map but when we got there, the only thing that we could say about the sites was that the map software was right in that they were high spots. However, the software didn't tell us that the sites were surrounded by trees and mostly unusable. It also didn't tell us that several of the access roads were dirt logging roads...

All in all, FN23bq, FN13xq, and FN13xr are not suitable for roving. We did make at least one contact in each grid, so we can claim the grid as a mult.

After leaving the three dud sites, we went to FN23av, affectionately called "100 Cows" by the Rochester VHF Group. 100 Cows is nothing more than a substantial rise in a rural road just south of Watertown, NY. This site is rather spectacular in that it is indeed higher than anything else around and has line of sight to Lake Ontario and is well suited for microwave use. It is also in the middle of a dairy farm and on this warm day was pretty ripe. However, after a period of time, you get used to it and don't notice it any more. We had a couple of all band runs with K2ERG and K2AXX.

Moving on, we had identified a spot in FN24 that seemed to be higher than most and out of the way on a back road. We found it and it seemed rather clear of woods, but it had some bushes which didn't bother us for VHF and UHF. However, looking out the window, I noticed some power poles that seemed to be higher. Upon investigation, we found a nice parking lot for a golf course that was out in the open, had no trees or bushes and looked ideal for a rover stop. We operated there for a while and were pretty satisfied with the location.

Our last stop was identified as Luther Hill, what looked to be another rise in a rural road like 100 Cows. When we got there, it indeed was a rise in a rural road but it was surrounded by some woods. Being kind of near Lake Ontario, we drove around a bit down by the water and managed to work some new grids in Canada. Now that it was getting dark and towards the end of the contest, it wasn't possible to scout around and possibly find a better place to operate from.

Grids operated from on Sunday

* - Went to these sites but couldn't operate from them. Made contacts elsewhere in the grid.

% - Went to this site which was ok but went to a better site about a quarter mile away.

What Worked

What Didn't Work


Photos (Click on photo for full size image).
The Lighthouse Rover at Montauk Point Lighthouse, FN41bb, ARLHS USA-512.

In this photo, you can get a good look at the antennas. Looking from front to rear, stacked KB6KQ halos for 432 MHz., 222 MHz., an M2 HO-Loop for 144 MHz. and an original KB6KQ halo for 50 MHz. In the back of the halos is a dual-band vertical Diamond antenna for CU2QSO.

N2MH Photo
[Mark and Karen's Subaru with the lighthouse in the
   background]

Same photo but from the rear of the car.

Can anyone find the HF antenna on the car? (Yes, there is one, and it works well!)

N2MH Photo
[Another shot of Mark and Karen's Subaru with the
   lighthouse in the background]

Classic shot of Montauk Point Lighthouse from the nearby dunes. The weather improved a little after I took the pictures of the Rover. N2MH Photo
[Tourist view of the Montauk Point lighthouse]

Tibbett's Point Lighthouse, Cape Vincent, New York, FN14tc, ARLHS USA-848. We stopped here on Monday on our way home. The land across the river is Canada.

This lighthouse is right on Lake Ontario and may prove useful for over the water microwave contacts back to the Rochester, NY area.

N2MH Photo
[Picture of the Tibbett's Point Lighthouse]

Score

Band QSO's Points Grids
50 172 172 50
144 118 118 22
222 49 98 12
432 66 132 13
Total 405 520 97
Grids Activated     11
Grand Total   520 108
Final Score   56160  

Results

This appears to be our best effort to date for a June contest.
This page last revised on June 21, 2003.
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