Monday, December 4, 2017

K0D Part I: The Idea

So back at the end of October 2017, I was staring at my AMSAT grid map. It looks a little something like this:

I had made a lot of great strides in the world of grid chasing, thanks to a bunch of really great rovers. Alex (N7AGF) Doug (N6UA) Clayton (W5PFG) and Paul (N1PEB) had managed to knock out several of the stragglers in random places around the map that were proving difficult earlier in the fall, then Patrick (WD9EWK) got a couple for me on his way to Reno for the AMSAT symposium, and Gabe (NJ7H, now AL6D) finished out a few of my far western grid pairs on his way to Alaska for a new job. That left me with just a big hole along the DN/EN field line thru the Dakotas, and EM41 to finish out my CONUS map on Satellite. EM41 would come in due time, but figuring out how to deal with that void in the Dakotas was going to be tricky. I could wait for someone else go rove thru the area - which might take years - Or I could take matters into my own hands. I've spent months building a properly function remote station here in EM34 that works well enough in most directions. I'm also a fairly accomplished rover in my own rights, so activating all the grids and 'working myself' was definitely going to be possible. That said, I was going to need help.

I took the idea to Wyatt, AC0RA, one of the most accomplished rovers in the AMSAT and VHF/UHF community today, and also a good friend. I discussed the possibility of roving to each of the grids I needed over the course of a couple of days, using my parent's QTH in EN21 as kind of a 'home base' due to it's relative closeness to the grids needed. He thought the idea was solid, and agreed to help - I made a map of how to navigate the highways and byways to hit all the grids needed, in the shortest amount of time possible and we had our plan. Then of course, we started adding extras :)

Anyone who's been following this blog has been watching my slowly growing fascination with 6m Meteor Scatter. Since these grids were so rare on Satellites, it figured that some might be rare on 6m too. Well, they are. Quite a few actually are in the '3rd rarest' category (yellow) on the FFMA chaser board. Since this rove was going to occur in November, chances of e-skip were basically slim to none, but meteor scatter could work. Also a few of the local big guns in the /0 region (K0SIX especially) needed some of these grids in their final 50 for 6m FFMA. Wyatt knew this too, and suggested the possibility of taking his Rover truck with a modest 6m beam on it so we could do both Satellites and 6. As icing on the cake, since there would be 2 licensed hams in the truck we could theoretically operate in motion with 1 driver and 1 operator. This was something that Wyatt had told me he was interested in trying at some point anyway - as for contests he normally goes out solo. With that it was settled and on the morning of November 9th, 2017 we would head north from EN21 and begin a nearly 2000 mile trip to activate 13 of my 14 remaining AMSAT grids needed to complete the KG5CCI 488 map. We would also operate 6 Meter MSK144 Meteor Scatter in motion, and from certain fixed locations on the rarest grid lines. I applied for the K0D 1x1 special event callsign. Since there were 2 hams, and I would be keep my personal callsign for my Arkansas station, it would make everything easier from a logging perspective and keep everything on the up and up.  I acquired LOTW certs, and setup a simple QRZ page with details for what we were up to. We were set for the rove.

The final piece of the puzzle was how to work 'myself' since I would physically be in North Dakota with Wyatt, using the K0D callsign, and in all likelihood out in the middle of nowhere lacking cell phone reception to remote into KG5CCI myself. I was going to need more help. Luckily another ham friend, Clayton (W5PFG), answered the call, and agreed to operate my station remote during the passes required. We tested the station multiple times to make sure remote operation was functioning correctly, and felt like it was ready.

The idea was simple enough, and the plan was set. The K0D expedition was on.

To be continued.. 

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