ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest Sunday Sept 22   Leave a comment

The past weekend was a busy one indeed. I made some time to participate in the microwave contest, dragging my rig out to the bluff overlooking the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and then to El Segundo. The 10 GHz and Up Contest is unique, since it spans over two weekends, the first part is in mid-August and the second part near the end of September. This gives participants a chance to fix broken rigs and continue to add points to their scores.

To be honest, I was not prepared for this contest. I did not have any roving plans, my Prius was not modified to supply my 7 watt 10 GHz rig with power and my mobile radio was not programmed with any of the liaison / coordination frequencies. However, I managed to have some fun testing out my homemade 10 GHz (X-band) rig.

I noticed something during the contest: I was afraid of killing the 12V battery on the Prius, so I left the car on and “ready” during the entire contest. I turned off the air conditioner and the courtesy light. As with normal operation, the gasoline engine will only run when it is needed to charge the system, including the 300V (or whatever voltage it is) traction battery.

Since the rig draws 10 amps in transmit, and transmitting a continuous signal for “beaconing” so that other stations can find me is a routine practice in microwave contesting, I was worried that something might happen to the Prius power system.

However, the car seemed to be fine, and the rig was happy to run under full DC power, producing a clean signal and no “unlock” condition. The engine did start up and ran for less than one or two minutes at a time, and the engine is so quiet, sometimes I did not notice it was on.

Using the Prius as a power system worked out so well that I will eliminate my spare battery idea and mount a power connector on the battery box lid so I can use the DC to power station equipment for the next contest. I have a 100 Ah gel cell battery in a big plastic box that I usually use for radio contesting, so it is independent from the car power system – but I discovered the battery was dead and was not holding a charge when preparing for the Disaster Expo – that is another story. . .

Since I operated from these two locations before, I don’t have too many pictures of these places, but these will give you some idea of what operating a rover station in the 10 GHz contest is like. Well, not really.

My un-official score for about 5 hours of operating time is:

1900 QSO Points + 3341 Distance Points = 5241 Final Score

Best DX is 217 km, when I worked K6NKC and KC6UQH in DM12rr (East San Diego County) from El Segundo, DM03tw

The most fun and challenging contact happened to be my last contact. It was a two-way CW contact with WA6JBD in DM14go (not sure where), from the El Segundo water tower location.

Of the 29 total contacts made, 19 were unique callsigns

Here are some pictures . . .

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