Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 04:37:44 +0100
From: ko0u, Steve Harrison 

Subject: [HSMS] Results, HSMS Demonstration At NEWS Conference (LONG)

I just got the car unloaded, and stuff is still sitting on every clear
and/or level spot in the basement, waiting to be sorted out and put away.
Maarten probably got home about when I did, around 2 p.m.. I'm sure he's as
tired, but satisfied, as I am: we only completed two of ten skeds, but that
was one more than I really expected considering the predictions of MSSOFT
for all of the long-distance skeds into the wilds of Minnesota and Florida
:o) during the only hours we could reasonable operate. But we did hear
pings from five of those skeds; so given enough time, we might have been
able to complete at least two more. Plus, we were called by another station
during one sked but couldn't get enough pings to complete before we had to

In preparation for a business trip to EN70/71 in Ohio back in early July,
I'd completely disassembled my 13B2 into a sturdy 6 foot cardboard shipping
tube to carry as baggage on the plane. The yagi was still in the tube and
looked complete when I threw it in the car Friday afternoon. But it turned
out that not *everything* was there: Saturday morning, 10 minutes before
our first sked was to start, I discovered that I'd forgotten the black
plastic balun box for the driven element. There seemed no way to easily
make another one immediately, not at 5 am before any of the other V/UHFers
woke up and stumbled out back of the Harley Hotel to see what we were
doing! Glancing at Maarten, I could see these daggers shooting out of his
eyes into mine...So we completely missed our first schedule with John,
WA8CLT, an almost-certain half-hour completion due to his high ERP.

But around 'bout 6:20 a.m., what do we see rumbling through the parking lot
but....Yes!! It's....SUPER-ROVER!!! Brian, ND3F, with his Ford Pickup and
full camper shell, complete with the rover antlers from 6 meters all the
way up through 3456 MHz, all (but the 6m loop) on a single push-up mast
sticking out of the center of the camper shell! Brian rolled around the lot
a couple times, obviously wondering whether WE would be in HIS way, then
finally stopped the truck about 50 feet away in the center of the lot.
Nonplussed, he walked around the back of his trunk, went into the camper
for a couple of minutes, then finally stepped back out. Hands on hips,
surveying the entire parking lot as if it was his, his eyes settled on
Maarten's and my cars sitting off to the side, our silent generator off on
the lawn a hundred feet away. Ambling over to us, he looked like a ranch
owner wondering what *we* were doing on *his* property. Finally,
introductions aside, I asked Brian whether he happened to have a spare 2
meter driven element...or at least a balun. Maybe a spare yagi? No, the
only thing he had was his own homebrew 13B2, sitting on the bottom of the
stack sticking out of the camper shell. He *could* remove the entire driven
element if it was *really* required...but gee whiz.....

The long faces returned to Maarten and myself; it was starting to appear as
if we would have to scratch all four morning skeds and wait until we could
beg, borrow or steal something from someone else at the conference itself.

"But I'd be happy to run the stack up in the air and you can use my
antennas. All I have to do is connect your coax to mine and we're there,"
Brian offered. 
Well, why not? At least it would get us on the air; and besides, Brian's
stack would certainly attract a lot more folks out to the demonstration
station in the back lot.

So that's what we did. Brian's stack actually consists of the HB 13B2 on 2m
plus a bunch of other HB yagis on all the other bands. Even more impressive
is the fact that all the antennas are spaced apart from one another,
minimizing interaction and possible serious gain reduction and pattern
skewing. This is the same stack that has garnered Brian top honors in the
Rover class for some time, and clearly works, as he has proven on his trips
and as we all proved once again during this weekend. When fully extended,
his push-up mast places the 13B2-lookalike at what appeared to me something
like 18 or 19 feet in the air, more than high enough.

So Maarten, Brian, a few others who'd wandered out by then, and I continued
assembling the station. We'd already missed our first sked with WA8CLT/EN80
in Columbus, Ohio at 1000Z (even though Maarten and I got up before the sun
at 0830Z!). But before we knew it, everything was set up and ready to try
to make a quickie with our second sked, KS4KR/EM73 near Atlanta, Georgia.

Maarten got the radio and computers connected and running, checked the
amplifier tuning, and proceeded to pick up the remnants of our broken sked
list at 1050Z or so. By now, there were 8 or 9 curious sightseers
congregated around and cheering us on, with Brian in the honored spot in
the forefront, getting a close-up view of the whole shebang.

I didn't keep a very good list of pings/bursts heard versus time; but
within a minute or two of getting on the air, we captured our first ping
giving us partial calls from Dick, KS4KR. But wait a minute...what's this?
He's calling Maarten, W1FIG, instead of KO0U! Uh-oh...we forgot to set my
call in the software and it was, indeed, W1FIG working KS4KR! To avoid
confusing Dick, we continued using W1FIG instead of shifting calls in
mid-stream (besides, it would have required another full set of pings to
get back to that same point in the QSO with full calls copied each way).

Well, to make a long story shorter, after the initial rush and thrill of
that first one, pings thereafter came few and far between. We did manage to
copy Dick's grid on a later ping, however. Before the operation, I'd
decided that in an attempt to better impress those looking on who knew
almost nothing at all about HSMS, it might be better to use grid squares
rather than our usual report format, even though that *could* cost us a
completion or two due to the extra time required for the long exchange.
Since we had copied full calls from Dick, we were also sending our grid
back to Dick as our report; all we needed to complete the QSO were his
rogers and a few periods of us transmitting subsequent rogers back to him.

But by the time of our next sked at 1115Z, it appeared unlikely that we
were going to have time to complete with Dick. We continued on with him
until 1115Z, then moved the yagi over toward EM77 and W8WN. Shel has an
EME-class array and high power; and he and I have six-days-per-week skeds
during which we normally complete at least three and often more skeds.
Because of Shel's array and ERP, Maarten and I considered the sked with
Shel to be an almost-certain QSO; and at this point in our demonstration,
we felt we needed to have a completion under our belts to show what HSMS
was capable of doing. Sorry, John and Dick; I'm certain that we could have
completed a QSO with both of you had I not forgotten the antenna balun and
caused us to get started so late! Dick, your signal was strong and easy to
copy, very nice.

Starting our sked with Shel at 1115Z, the first sequence produced full
calls from Shelby and we immediately launched into sending our grid. It
took another 10 minutes to copy his grid; but by the scheduled end of the
schedule at 1130Z, here came his 73's, our first completion! Thanks, Shel;
that was a big morale booster!

Next up was NS1Z, up northeast of us (who were in FN32ra)  in FN44rn and
just too close for meteor scatter without using sidescatter. If I'd had
more time while setting up schedules earlier in the week, I would have
estimated the likely headings for a sidescatter path John and we may have
been able to work. But at only 329 kM, the only real hope we had was that
we would encounter some good early morning tropo. Unfortunately, we didn't
hear anything from John although I read earlier that Shel did copy pings
from both John and us.

The next skeds were set up for late Saturday night starting at 11 p.m.,
after the conference banquet. I know now, for a fact, that Maarten
considers the time and effort spent to attend the conference well
worthwhile: he won a new Eimac 3CX800A7 as the fourth doorprize ticket
drawn (and was almost immediately set-upon to sell or trade it by a
well-known NEWS group member who shall remain anonymous!).

At 0230Z, Maarten, I and several other conference-attendees, including
Brian, ND3F, (who maintained a strong interest in everything we did and
worked...or didn't work...throughout our operation...and I don't think it
was entirely because of concern for what we were radiating through his
antenna, either!) set up the HSMS demo station in the parking lot for the
late night skeds with Bert, NS4W/EM76 in Tennessee and Matt, KB0VUK/EN34
near Minneapolis. Almost immediately after starting the sked with NS4W at
0302Z, we copied a *very* strong burst about a half second long with full
callsigns. AT 0312Z, we copied the grid and rogers; and by 0340Z, we had
73's in the log for our second completion in four skeds with 20 minutes
left in the sked. Thanks, Bert! Your signal was, like Shel's and Dick's,
outstanding and verily impressed all the folks listening and looking over
our shoulders! And thanks, also, to W3ZZ...who, by occupying the second
(and last) lawn chair, reached deep into the noise with Maarten to pull out
that last, weak and fading 73. Gene seemed very interested and impressed
with what we showed, and may be one of the next guys to show up on HSMS
from FM19 (in addition to ND3F).

Then we called QRZ on 144.110 for the next 5 minutes with no other
responses, and so we shifted the beam slightly further toward the west
toward WA8CLT/EN80 (whom, because of the good distance of 901 kM and his
high ERP, we also considered to be an almost-certain QSO if we could just
get together with him after missing him on the first abort sked). At about
0345Z, we QSYed down to 144.100 and CQed. But because we were using MSSOFT
on Maarten's separate laptop for transmitting (as MSDSP 0.70 will not
transmit on Maarten's 486 desktop computer), I may not have programmed in
the CQJ call correctly, as Shel noted during his earlier notes on hearing
us. However, we *were* listening on 144.110 and if anyone had been
responding to our CQs, they would probably have called us on 144.100! So
obviously, we heard no responses.

At 0400Z, we began our final schedule with KB0VUK/EN34. At 1637 kM and
because MSSOFT predicted no g Leonids shower activity at that time, we
really did not expect to hear much, if anything from Matt. And sure enough,
we didn't. But lo and behold: at 0410Z, we caught a call from WA8CLT/EN80!
Shifting over to calling John, we continued trying to complete a QSO with
him, but with no further pings heard from either John or Matt until we
decided to shut down at 0430Z; we needed to get up for the morning skeds in
less than five hours anyway. So we called it a night.

Sunday morning, the first sked at 1000Z was with John, NJ0M/EN34 near
Minneapolis. John's sked was a full hour long and produced absolutely
nothing that we could hear other than one very weak ping at 1046Z with
"...0M KO0U...". Sorry, John!

Next was a half-hour backup sked with KB0VUK starting at 1100Z. We copied
two strong pings from Matt; one at 1110Z with "...0VUK KO0U..." and
another, longer burst at 1123Z lasting nearly 3 seconds and actually
separated into three distinct peaks with full calls in each. But when I
tried to save the burst to file, MSDSP crashed with a stack overflow.
Later, I tried to find the file but could not; looks like it didn't get
saved. During that burst, Matt was very strong, nearly as loud as Shel had
been at his loudest. No completion this time, either; we just ran out of time.

Next came a pair of W4s in Florida: KE4YH/EL88, Stewart, at 1130Z for an
hour sked, then a rescheduled sked with John, W4UE/EM90 (originally, I'd
scheduled John for an hour starting at 1500Z, before realizing that I'd
misread the starting time for the conference's antenna measurement tests).
Both skeds were long-shots at over 1500 kM and no g Leonids shower activity
predicted, only randoms. And nothing was heard on either sked. We actually
stopped calling Stew at 1210Z since we'd not heard anything during the
previous 40 minutes; the 20 minute break gave Maarten and myself some time
to wander through the conference's swap meet, garnering a few "silk purses"
from others' collections of "sow's ears". I'm sure that next year, either I
or Maarten will have those same "treasures" on our own tables, ready to
circulate back into the local VHF swap scene...

So we finally shut down the station at about 1300Z. Actually, the antenna
measurement tests did not set up nor begin for about another hour; but by
this time, Maarten and I needed a coffee break anyway. The parking lot was
now full with folks wandering among the swap tables and noise sources were
starting to dominate the receiver.

So we consider the demonstration to be a success, much thanks to Brian,
ND3F, for the loan of his Super-Rover truck and antennas. And as an aside,
thanks to my good buddy Jason, N1RWY, who brought out his GPS receiver late
Saturday night to confirm that we were, indeed, located within
FN32ra..note, not ra as I read from the map, but qa. And much thanks, also,
to Ron, WZ1V, for his great interest and support of our efforts; and to
Del, K1UHF (ex-KD1DU), who took time from his own EME-DSP presentation on
Saturday to allow Maarten to talk a little about HSMS. There were other
NEWS group officials who cooperated and helped immensely, notably including
President Bruce Wood, N2LIV, who made the final arrangements with the
Harley Hotel for our demonstration station at literally the last minute on
Wednesday before the weekend conference.

More thanks than I can express here must go to Jim McMasters, KM5PO, who
set the stage and broke the ice for public HSMS operations and
demonstrations in North America with his own notable and highly-successful
portable HSMS operation and presentation at the South East VHF Society's
conference in Atlanta this last May. Jim has, by now, developed a very nice
and comprehensive HSMS starter's package of both hardcopies of information
available from the web and also floppy diskettes containing all the
publicly-available HSCW software programs that he has been able to find.
Jim and his wife were kind enough to FEDEX to me what he had left over from
his last presentation, and I was able to make more hardcopies for the NEWS

Last, but not least, I think we all owe thanks to the Harley Hotel
management and staff for their exemplary hospitality and consideration as
their guests during the conference, and particularly for allowing a bunch
of "crazy radio enthusiasts" to make a mess of their back parking lot with
trucks sprouting antenna masts, people operating radios with the volume
controls full-bore at midnight Saturday, and loud generators started up
before the roosters crowed each morning!

73, Steve Ko0U/1