VHF - QRP Style
QRP-VHF from 14,120 feet on Mt Evans, Colorado

Before June of 2003, I thought VHF meant 2-meter FM. Then a friend Eric, KHØHO, asked me to sit in on the Rocky Mountain VHF+ net on 144.220MHz sideband one Monday evening. We took his rig and 13-element antenna to Genesee Mountain west of Denver. Well, during the net we heard stations from as far away as Nebraska and South Dakota and I was impressed. So impressed that I went out that week and bought a Cushcraft 10-element antenna and drove that next Monday to the top of Mt Evans, an hour-and-a-half drive from home to get on the net for myself. I again used my trusty FT-817 radio.

By the end of the net I had a total of seven grids on the log: DM67, DM68, DM78, DM79, DN70, DN71, EM09. Very exciting to work all around Colorado plus into Wyoming and Kansas. After the net Eric and I QSYed to 144.210 and talked another hour as the temperature continued to drop on the mountain. I realized it would be the first time I had ever stayed up there after dark and it would be an interesting ride down.

At 10:30 p.m. we were still talking. Eric lives 80 miles to the east, but with my altitude, almost two miles higher than his QTH, I had turned the radio down to its lowest setting: 500 milliwatts. Suddenly we were inundated with W6 calls that seemed to jump in right on top of us. I assumed they were truckers heading up or down Interstate-25 in Denver, but Eric replied, "Jake! Turn your antenna west. I think that's California!" I reached out the passenger-side window and turned the mast 180 degrees. I heard several calls and wrote them down. When there was a brief lull I jumped in. "K6YK, this is NØLX. . . Delta-Mike-7-9." John, in CM97, came back saying that I wasn't real strong, but he copied me fine. That's when I looked over at the radio and realized it was still on the half-watt setting. I tapped it to full power and he said I was now booming in to California. I later calculated it to be a 850-mile contact with a half-watt on 2-meters! Eric and I worked five more CAs before the Es (Sporadic E) cloud fizzled out. What an introduction to weak signal VHF!

That year and the next I drove back up to Mt Evans several times, but also brought along a 6-meter beam also. I participated in the CQWW VHF contest in 2003 and 2004 and took first place each time in the "QRP-Hilltopper" category. Lots of fun, this VHF-weak-signal stuff.