This year marks my ~15th time participating in the ARRL’s 10 GHz and Up Cumulative Contest. The purpose of the contest is to further the state of the art in Amateur Radio equipment and operation at frequencies of 10 Ghz and above (my personal favorite end of the Amateur Radio spectrum).
Each year over the course of two weekends, participants attempt to communicate with one another (exchanging very basic information including callsigns and a geographical locator code). Points are determined by a combination of number of unique stations contacted per band, as well as the sum of the distance between stations for each contact.
Two categories exist, the first being “10 GHz only” and the second includes participants who make contacts on bands above 10 Ghz. the reason for this is that 10 GHz is much more popular and contacts are significantly easier than on the higher bands. This distinction encourages different kinds of competition (requiring different operational and technical skills)
This year I competed in the 10 GHz and Up category. I made 110 contacts on 10 GHz, 10 contacts on 24 GHz, and 1 on 47 GHz. My longest contacts on each band are: 351 km on 10 GHz, 103 km on 24 GHz, and 56 km on 47 GHz/
For the first weekend I took a trip to the local San Bernardino Mountains, specifically to Green Valley Lake, where some relatives have a cabin. I stayed the night and on Saturday morning drove to the top of Keller Peak.
For portable operation I power my microwave radios with large sealed lead acid batteries. These are a pain to move around but provide sufficient energy to operate the power hungry radios for a full weekend without recharge. A full load with all 5 radios running can approach 100 watts (in receive mode).
Keller Peak, at 2317 m (7882 ft) high makes for a great spot to operate microwave radios. AT&T took advantage of this decades ago with the installation of a hardened microwave backbone site at the top of the mountain back in the days before fiber optics.
After several hours of working stations as far away as San Diego, and into California’s Central Valley, the sky started to get very dark, and I decided to pack up for the day. Rain does not mix well with sensitive electronics, and lightning does not mix well with me.
From this point I made a few contacts, and then headed home to Redondo Beach for final late night contacts.
On Sunday I operated from home and made some nice contacts on 10 and 24 GHz. I always enjoy working microwave from indoors, it just shouldn’t work 🙂
For the September weekend I operated entirely from home because I was sick and didn’t have the energy to haul tons of equipment out. I had planned on heading to San Diego and operating from Mt. Soledad and making some attempts on the 79 GHz band.
Instead, I operated from home and made lots of great contacts including my first indoor 47 GHz contact with Steve W6QIW at Secret Site 51 (a name us hams have given to ITT’s Loop Canyon Test Facility and former Nike site LA-94). This was a 56 km contact, which is not bad for the 6mm band, but even more exciting because my radio was indoors, looking out through a window towards a house across the street!
I operated two 10 GHz radios from home, including one I put on the roof with an omni-directional slotted waveguide antenna.
Well, that’s a wrap for 2012! I am looking forward to more mountaintop adventures next year.
Here are a couple pictures from previous years…