The ARRL 10 GHz and Up contest is for the microwave bands of amateur radio. It takes place, every year, on the middle weekend of August and September. For 2013 this was Aug 17-18 and Sept 21-22. I (Rex KK6MK) often roam during the contest, but this year I spent both weekends on mountain tops.
This page provides a bit about my participation in the 2013 contest, with some pictures, and two videos. I still am operating only on 10 GHz.
The over-all activity in the contest, this year, seemed a bit lower than usual. Microwave propagation conditions were reasonable, but not exceptional. In September, California experienced some unusually bad weather conditions which made contacts difficult, or stopped activity in certain regions at some times.
In August I was on Mt. Vaca, both days, which is about 50 miles NNE of San Francisco. Vaca has pretty good views of all of California's central San Joaquin Valley and also into the San Francisco bay area.
Weather was pretty good -- not too hot during day and not cold at night. There was some smoke haze in the central valley, a few clouds and morning/evening fog below in the bay area, but not enough to hurt propagation much.
I was mostly by myself in this spot, but Jim N9JIM was in a different Vaca location most of Saturday. In the afternoon, he moved over to where I was and worked with me for a couple hours before driving down to rove in the valley Sunday.
Over the last few years, I have noticed that from Mt Vaca the best microwave DX propagation seems to occur between noon and 4 PM. Another time where a contact was finally completed, after many tries throughout the day, was about 11 PM. So this goes against the theory of early morning and sunset being good times to operate.
Click image to view some Vaca pictures...
In September I was on Frazier Mt. which is at the southern end of the SJ Valley, just West of the I-5 "Grapevine". Frazier has good views into the SJV and also to the South -- LA, the high desert, San Diego, and Mexico. Frazier is a choice location to work most of the contest operators in California.
Friday morning, before the contest, I drove down from San Jose to Frazier (about 290 mi.) arriving in early afternoon. A little after me, Miguel W6YLZ arrived from the LA area. Late in the evening, Lars AA6IW arrived from the SF bay area in his camper and trailer. We all spent the night on the mountain under normal chilly mountain-top conditions.
Saturday, most of the day was nice and normal for Frazier in September, a little cool but not very windy. We were joined by Kevin AD7OI who drove in from Arizona, and Paul N6LL from the LA area. In the morning, things were nice on Frazier, but the SF Bay area and parts of the northern San Joaquin Valley were getting hard rain and no operators were active up there. In the afternoon the rain passed and northern operators came out.
Just before noon, we were able to work Dave WB6TFC/XE2 and Jerry K6DYD/XE2 who had made the necessary preparations and drove down from San Diego to the West coast of Baja Mexico at 609 km from Frazier.
Late in the afternoon, AD7OI and N6LL left the mountain. Around sunset, dark clouds were approaching the mountain and winds were picking up. We worked into the early night but winds were getting very strong, it was getting cold, and a few drops of rain were falling. My tripod is not very heavy and my rig is not enclosed for rain protection, so around 8 PM I started putting my rig inside my truck between contacts. In this operating mode I had a few minutes of set-up and tear-down on each contact that I worked after 8 PM. I was not enjoying the contact of my bare hands on the metal of my rig, as temps were in the mid-30's. I gave up on the conditions and worked my last contact of Saturday night just before 11 PM.
I was impressed to listen to Lars work his last contact of the night (I think just before midnight) to the North, outside of his camper, because it was close to freezing, the winds were strong, and it had begun raining pretty hard.
Overnight, in my truck, I was shielded from the wind and rain, but after midnight, temps were just below freezing and the wind blew hard all night. It was foggy or drizzly with occasional moderate rain throughout the night. I was pretty comfortable in my sleeping bag.
I woke up about 8 AM to see clouds or fog surrounding us, and some frost and ice on parts of my truck. In addition to the freezing temperature, the winds remained strong. Ice had formed on the communications towers above us, and as the sun began to warm above freezing, little chunks of ice were falling on our operating locations. This simulated-hail continued in bursts, blown by wind, until around noon.
Check out the two short videos (below).
The three of us (AA6IW, W6YLZ and KK6MK) worked throughout the day Sunday. The winds never stopped and I think the high temperature was in the high 40's. Not very California-like for September. Robin WA6CDR came up the mountain for a while, but he did not operate on microwaves. He was there to fix a Cactus repeater problem. (Thanks, Robin.)
Just before 4 PM, the winds were getting stronger and I moved my rig back into the truck. I waited inside, hoping the winds might ease, but around 6:30 PM the winds were still strong and it was getting colder. I gave up -- packed everything and headed down the mountain.
As I drove up I-5 through the central valley, I heard Miguel and Lars continue to work until the contest end. I almost stopped and worked 10 GHz a couple times along the way, but I couldn't quite work up the energy or enthusiasm. Around 15:30 on Frazier remained my last contact of this contest.
Click image to view some Frazier pictures...
The weather got very cold and windy on Frazier, Mt.
Saturday night and Sunday in the 10 GHz and Up contest, September, 2013
This was around 8 AM Sunday morning.
Miguel, W6YLZ, operating on Frazier Mountain
in the cold wind, September, 2013
This was about 4:50 PM Sunday.
Kevin AD7OI has more pictures of Saturday on Frazier, plus pictures and video of their
operation from Cunningham Mt, AZ during the August weekend, at his web page...