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My intention for this page is to be a place to see pics & check for info on my portable ops: past, current & future. 73, Kevin N4UFO


Important links & info:

- I have a public twitter account just for announcing rover updates and information: @UFOrover  (You are not required to have a twitter account to watch this page. I will use it in the field whenever possible to announce upcoming passes, changes in plans, etc.)

- Internet based APRS tracking map of position reports sent from a tablet or smart phone over the cell phone network: N4UFO-5

- While I am using the '/p' designator online and may say 'portable' while operating, I use only my callsign for logs & LotW uploads.


Planned/current satellite ops:

I have no definite plans at the moment, but I live about 15-20 minutes from EM96, if anyone needs that grid, contact me.


Past portable satellite ops:

Grids I've operated from, both near home and on cross country trips out west.


Second western US trip (May 2017) - A much less ambitious trip than the previous year, my daughter and I traveled 4284.5 miles in just over two weeks. The original plan included venturing as far north as Wyoming (Devil's Tower) and South Dakota (Badlands), but after a bout of altitude sickness and a late spring snow storm, we opted to layover a couple days in Denver until the weather improved and then head back east instead. My only sat ops turned out to be a stop in EM75 the first day out for one pass of AO-7 and then a late night FO-29 pass from the DM74/75 line near Santa Rosa NM. (Plans to operate from Alamosa CO & Wall SD had to be cancelled obviously.) After having experienced snow & near freezing temperatures, my daughter said that when she got home, she planned to tell people that we 'visited winter' while on vacation. But despite the weather and the short bout of altitude related discomfort, we actually had a really great time! Plus it was good to see family and old friends in my hometown; had been awhile.


Western US trip (May 2016) - Three weeks and 6376.2 miles on the road. Worked from several rare grids in Nevada: DM16, DM19, DM27, DM07/08/17/18, DN01/11, DN00/10 and DN21 - May 8th through the 15th. Also operated from EM52, DM73, DM63, DM64, and DM54 on the way out, as well as DN90/91 on the way back.

This 'grid expedition' was part of a three week vacation & 'other purpose' trip with my daughter. We drove out through the southern states (SC, GA, AL, MS, LA, TX, NM, & AZ) stopping and doing a few touristy things along the way. The highlights were visiting with a friend in Lubbock, stopping at the International UFO Museum in Roswell, visiting White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo, touring the VLA (Very Large Array) in Socorro, stopping for pie in Pie Town, NM, seeing the Meteor Crater in Arizona and then stopping at Hoover dam before embarking on just over a week of grid ops in Nevada. (click pics to see larger)

Operating in Roswell & Tularosa NM (DM73), White Sands NM, roadside operating in the shade (DM64), dreaming of hooking up to a dish at the VLA, stopping for pie, and the meteor crater:



We stayed the night in Henderson NV (Las Vegas) on May 7th, and headed up to Tonopah on Sunday May the 8th, stopping at a rest area in Armagosa Valley (DM16) for two satellite passes (FO-29 & SO-50) on the way. We stayed in Tonopah for 4 nights at a wonderfully quirky motel and casino called the Tonopah Station. There is not a whole lot in Tonopah... it is a small town sitting at about 6000 feet with one grocery store, a handful of restaurants and gas stations and a few interesting tourist stops, mostly of historic, geologic and mining interest. But it was right in the middle of a number of spots I wanted to operate satellites from. I operated from DM19 on Monday, where the scenery was just gorgeous and the weather was fantastic. Then on Tuesday May 10th, my daughter and I drove down to the Little A'Le'Inn on the Extraterrestrial Highway and afterward operated from DM27 just a few miles up the road from there. On Wednesday, I ventured out into the middle of the desert to the DM07/08/17/18 grid intersection; again, spectacular views, like on Monday but just a little bit warmer. I was kind of surprised to find I was not the first to go there... a geocache was located right in the spot I needed to operate from. (Fortunately, there was enough room to squeeze my car in, between the actual geocache - a glass bottle surrounded by rocks sitting next to my front tire - and the wooden markers.)

Beautiful mountain views in DM19, stopping at the Little A'Le'Inn for lunch then operating along the ET Highway (DM27), and views from the DM07/08/17/18 grid corner in the middle of the desert:



Thursday May 12th we drove up to our second 'base of operations' in Winnemucca NV where we stayed 3 nights at the best rated motel in town and ate some pretty good food. Friday May 13th (FRIDAY the 13th?!!) I ventured out on a lonely road to the DN01/11 line and worked the daytime passes from there. Saturday the 14th I drove out to the DN00/10 grid line out on a dirt road west of town, where I was lucky to be far enough away from the nearby mountains to catch the low eastern passes of FO-29 & SO-50. I returned on Sunday to the same spot to catch a couple more passes for people who could not make the Saturday passes. Then that afternoon we drove over to Wells NV for a night where I caught a couple of XW-2 passes to give out that grid to a few folks out West.

Views from the DN01/11 line & the long road back up to the main highway, views from the DN00/10 line on a dirt road outside of Winnemucca, and the view from the motel parking lot in Wells, NV:



After Nevada, my daughter and I had some other things scheduled, so you might say I 'closed up the radio bag' for several days. I had planned to operate from several rare grids in Nebraska, but after delaying for a day in Wyoming due to several inches of snow forecast, I ended up only operating from one grid line (DN90/91) on the side of I-80 not too far from North Platte. By that point, we were both pretty tired & worn out and had a lot of driving to do to get home, so the sat ops bag went back into hibernation.

I took along a laptop and a 3G 'hot spot' and was very happy to get excellent coverage at all the locations I operated from. (did I mention I was in the Nevada desert?) I tried to upload to LotW as soon as possible, to give out 'instant QSLs', but on one day the LotW server was down and on another occasion a few logs had to be reviewed back at the motel for missing QSOs in the audio recordings. All logs have been uploaded. If you are missing an 'LotW QSL' or did not get a 'hard copy' QSL, please contact me.


The purpose of this expedition was to pass out rare grids to those that needed them. (Most of these grids are/were rare... heck, I know I still need them!) A considerable number of operators have been roving around the country working me from grids that I needed for several years now. I specifically picked these locations as ones that many of those ops still needed. In short, I wanted to 'pay them back' for all their efforts and the consideration they have shown me. But I also wanted to 'pay it forward', so I did my best to publicize my efforts so everyone could work me, old and new ops alike... I apologize if you did not get the info in time to work me from a needed grid or were unaware of my trip. And I am also sorry that my ops were limited to mostly daytimes passes while some were, unfortunately, still at work. But I determined early on that with the remoteness of the locations, distances to travel, etc., trying to operate at night in the desert was just NOT a good idea.

Thanks for making my trip a success! We had a great time and I sure enjoyed working all of you 'from the high desert'!


Pics and info on other previous ops (click images to open full size in another window)

EM86ti/EM86th - Johnson City TN - FO-29 & SO-50: 29 JUL 2016

EM96ma - Iredell County, NC - SO-50: 15 AUG 2015

FM04dv - Rockingham, NC - SO-50: 14 AUG 2015

EM97oa - Draper, VA - SO-50: 13 AUG 2015

EM85xq - Marion, NC - SO-50: 29 JUN 2015


EM94mx - Rock Hill, SC - SO-50: 28 JUN 2015

EM96ma - Iredell County, NC - SO-50: 01 FEB & 07 FEB 2015


About portable satellite ops:

For anyone wondering what portable satellite operations is all about, it is taking gear into the field to operate over amateur radio satellites for the purpose of participating in the VHF/UHF Century Club awards program, commonly called VUCC. The basic idea of VUCC is not unlike DXCC, with the primary difference being the pursuit of Maidenhead grid squares, as opposed to foreign countries or DX entities. Normally one 'collects' grid squares from home by working stations in other locations. But in the event there are no active satellite stations in a particular grid square, someone might travel to that grid to 'activate it' or 'give it out' to others. Simply put, it's a bit like going on a DXpedition... except you don't usually have to show a passport.

My portable gear consists of two complete stations, plus computer & digital equipment. I have an IC-W32A HT and an Arrow II antenna that I originally used on the FM birds. I have since acquired a second Arrow II with carrying bag and created a shorter boom extention for the first one to make it a 'short Arrow'. I have added a pair of FT-817s for operating on linear satellites and an Elk log periodic antenna. In addition to the main gear bag, there is a smaller shoulder bag that contains extra batteries, chargers and other accessories including a highly accurate GPS, a compass, a multimeter, and a camera. This extra bag has a 12v sealed lead acid battery to run the 817s at full power away from my vehicle, such as when operating at a grid boundary line or the junction of four grid locators. Then I have a Dell Windows 7 laptop for storing information and uploading logs, a 7" android tablet for online communication and tracking, as well as a 3G Wi-Fi Hotspot to allow internet connection from almost anywhere I can get cell service.



A note about chasing rare satellite grid ops:

If you have not heard a rare station yet on a pass that they plan to be on or they 'lose the bird' for a moment in the middle of a pass... PLEASE, DO NOT start repeatedly calling them. Some, like me, may be running only 5 watts (or less) and may get temporarily knocked out by someone else keying up at the same time or, in the case of the linear birds, someone with a strong signal activating the AGC in the transponder and knocking weaker signals below the threshold. BUT, if one person starts blindly calling, others will likely join in (competition mentality). And if every one starts calling, one after the other, HOW in the world is the station supposed to get back into the bird?! The motto here is the same as chasing DX anywhere... The key to success is to LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN... and when in doubt, LISTEN some more. Good luck, and I hope you bag a new one!

8268126 Last modified: 2017-08-12 09:27:36, 20018 bytes

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