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Weak Signal VHF by Tim Marek - K7XC
The Price Of 3 Db...

What would you do for 3 DB?

What IS 3 DB? 1/2 an S unit? On HF, I defy anyone to detect a 3 DB difference in power level. What about Terrestrial VHF work... It might help with those L O N G haul CW Tropo Q's out beyond 500 miles, BUT... on EME... 3 DB IS EVERYTHING! I know of many EME'ers who have spent an entire summer re-engineering their arrays, chasing a DB or less.

SO... What would YOU do for 3 DB?

Operating the first half of the 1994 ARRL EME contest with only 350 Watts left ALOT to be desired! Conditions were disturbed at best with Aurora causing quite a bit of signal degradation/absorbtion. Working eight stations took two days of constant calling only to copy "QRZ ?" or worse, Nothing. Hearing over 100 stations that weekend and NOT working one European was disappointing. I needed more soup! What to do?

Sunday, I remembered Dave - W7KK mentioning a 2M amp from the estate of Joel - N6AMG was available. Quickly I sent off an Email to inquire about it. Larry, Joel's brother, was handling everything and offered a companion 6M amp as a package deal. How could I say no!

Now... To transport them from the Bay Area to Reno. Driving my old beast, a aging Dodge D100 P/U, (Since replaced with a 1996 Maxda B4000 4X4) left alot to be desired. My brother was on the road to Idaho so his truck was out, A friend had prior commitments, so I'm forced to use "The Beast", What Joy. Don't get me wrong... Its a great Mountain Top rig but long drives in heavy traffic is not its niche. So I fix the spare, found the chains, topped off all fluids and 3 AM Saturday the 11th I was off.

4 A.M. - Donner Summit was cooooolld & slushy but totally deserted. I made great time to Dave's place in Benicia. We had breakfast then headed out to Joel's estate. What a station he assembled! The 30 FT. dish was still up, such a sight. 432 EME must have been a blast from here. We grabbed up the gear and headed back to Benicia. With the truck fully loaded I left for home at 2 PM, having been on the road for 11 Hours so far.

Now is when the fun starts... Shortly after getting underway it began to rain hard. By the time I made it to the Foresthill Exit in Auburn CA for Gas, Conditions over the pass had me worried. All around me were broken clouds, blue sky & melting snow. As I made my way higher and higher into the Sierra mountains, traffic began to slow to a crawl. Near Nyack the Freeway became a 2 lane parking lot. Damn! Chains Required to traverse Donner Summit... I prepared for this (I thought!) & found a wide spot to break out the Snowmobile suit.

From this point on Murphy was my copilot. Prior to this trip I had changed tire sizes but forgot to see if the tire chains still fit... They Didn't! I managed to barely install one (completely out of balance as it covered only 80% of the tire) while the other was way too small. In order for the remaining chain to fit, I had to put the original size spare on with only the twilight of Sunset to work in as I forgot my flashlight too. Now Thoroughly soaked, I travelled the next 30 miles at 15 MPH worried the out of balance chain would fly off. Outside of Truckee I paid a guy my last $8 to crawl underneath and take them off. After what seemed like a eternity, I arrived home at 9 P.M, cold, tired, and VERY hungry. I had a quick bite & staggered off to bed dead tired from 18 Hours on the road leaving the amplifiers to be unloaded sometime later.

So I ask again... What would YOU do for 3 DB... HUMMM ??

What We Do For Our Hobby....