N6ZE’s Very Minor DX-Pedition by Pete Heins

On Monday evening, September 23, 2019, I conducted a minor “DX-Pedition” to the peak of Thousand Oaks’ Tarantula Hill (T-Hill) to participate in the Fall 2 Meter SPRINT operating event.

I decided to bring a 2 meter rig up the .8 km trail to the 1017 foot Summit of “T-Hill” for a number of reasons. As a passionate VHF/UHF-oriented ham for several decades, I encourage others to operate and submit contest entries to demonstrate the use of the very valuable bands & frequencies assigned to Amateur Radio Operators.

As each VHF/UHF Contest or Operating Event approaches, I typically post information on a number of amateur radio chat rooms so that SoCal hams are informed of VHF & up events which they might otherwise not be aware of. Members of the Conejo Valley Amateur Radio Club (CVARC) & Ventura County Amateur Radio Society (VCARS) and other clubs/groups are told (Warned!) that an event will occur soon. This tells newly licensed hams about ways to communicate without resorting to the use of repeaters, and sometimes over substantial distances; newbies and old timers too, operate on Simplex, the ultimate way to be able to communicate without the crutch of a repeater or cellphone, in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Lots of hams also utilize transceivers with SSB/CW/Data modes as well as FM. On the 2 meter band many types of antennas are utilized ranging from an 18” (1/4 wave) whip, to a tall vertically polarized Ringo Ranger, to an M-Square 17 element Yagi. However I consider that the ultimate way to extend VHF/UHF communications distance is to go UP….e.g. Tarantula Hill, which rises more than 200 feet above most Thousand Oaks terrain.

 On a one-time test basis a number of years ago, the Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) Area 2 Net Control set up a 5 watt station on “T-Hill” and was able to communicate with every Area 2 ACS station on Simplex. 

A number of other locations in Thousand Oaks have mostly unobstructed near horizon views, but everyone located in the city has to deal with substantial interfering mountain ranges on most compass headings. Resorting to SSB or other efficient transmission modes, running more transmitter power, having an antenna with substantial gain all help to successfully communicate beyond the Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Valley.

I operated for the first hour of the 2 Meter SPRINT and made 8 contacts in Grid DM04: 6 in the Conejo Valley as well as one mobile station in Camarillo and one in Ventura. All contacts were made on FM and every station heard was strong. It appears that 7 stations are members of CVARC and the 8th is a member of VCARS. My station consisted of a Yaesu FT-817 QRP HF/VHF/UHF transceiver, powered by 8 AA batteries; an “Arrow” 3 element handheld satellite Yagi antenna; a “yellow pad” of paper for logging; and a large flashlight. I utilized a small backpack to transport the station up T-Hill from Gainsboro St. Cumulative distance worked was about 56 km; best DX to Eastern Ventura was 32 km.

SPRINT Participants are invited to submit their score, but not logs, to the 3830 Rumor Site: http://www.3830scores.com/  

As of Tuesday evening, I and fellow CVARC members Norm, AB6ET, Stu, AG6AG and Ben, AI6YR had submitted their scores to the 3830 Rumor Site. KM6VGA/M; K6HHW; & AE6JR were also active in the SPRINT, as was VCARS Member WA6WDY/M. This was a great showing for Conejo Valley hams, and hopefully they will also participate in the 135 cm/222MHz SPRINT on Tuesday, October 1 along with additional Ventura County VHFers.

The rest of the Fall 2019 SPRINT schedule & info is listed below:

b.      The 135 cm (222.1USB/CW; 223.5FM) Event will be held from 7PM – 11 PM PDT on Tuesday, 01 October 2019

c.      The 70 cm (432.1USB/CW; 446.0FM) Event will be held from 7PM – 11 PM PDT on Wednesday, 09 October 2019

 d.      The 33cm & up (902.1SSB; 927.5FM + other freq.! ) Event will be held from 8AM – 2PM PDT on Saturday, 12 October 2019

  Contest exchange is call signs & 4 digit Grid (6 digit grid for 33cm & higher!)

  Complete rules and log submission info are at:  http://svhfs.org/wp/2019-fall-sprint-rules/


Pete Heins, N6ZE@aol.com


Pete, N6ZE’s Operating Position atop Tarantula Hill in Thousand Oaks afforded great views in all directions. Pete’s 3 element “Arrow” 2 meter yagi shows what a great sunset view he had at the beginning of the 2 Meter Fall SPRINT. The 2 Meter SPRINT was held on Monday evening, 23 September 2019 from 7 PM – 11PM. Most activity tends to be during the first hour of the event.
Pete, N6ZE, utilized a Yaesu FT-817 2 watt (QRP) transceiver for the 2 Meter Fall SPRINT event. A 3 element handheld “Arrow” satellite yagi provided a bit of gain over just using a 1/4 wave whip antenna. Polarization could be quickly changed from vertical to horizontal! Best DX was with WA6WDY/Mobile at a distance of 32 km
Pete, N6ZE, carried his whole Hilltopping  2 Meter QRP station to the top of Tarantula Hill in a small back pack. He brought his Yaesu FT-817 2 watt SSB/FM transceiver, an “Arrow” 3 element Two Meter yagi, a large flashlight (to log & navigate down the hill after dark), and a ‘yellow pad’ for logging. Power for the radio was provided by 8 internal elderly AA batteries which were pretty much depleted in 45 minutes. Operating position was from a park bench located just west of the hilltop water tank. Unfortunately he didn’t bring any Tarantula Hill microbeer, but had to rely upon a bottle of water for refreshment.   

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