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WD9EWK from DM34/DM44, 13 May 2007



Hi!

After a few days, I have been able to sit down and download pictures
from my camera, audio from my recorder, make some MP3 files of those
audio recordings, and log my contacts from that Sunday trip I just
took to northern Arizona.  It was a fun drive, making 24 contacts from
3 different locations during 5 different passes (2 on AO-51, 2 on SO-50,
1 on AO-27) throughout the day.

First stop, DM34we (34.184433 N 112.134783 W, 3400 feet/1036m elevation)

After leaving home at 0645 local (1345 UTC), I drove north to a freeway
rest area on the edge of a valley about 50 miles/80km north of Phoenix
on the I-17 freeway.  This rest area, at Sunset Point, has a good view
of the sky in all directions, and was about 12 miles/20km north of the
DM33/DM34 boundary so I could start my operating from DM34.  You can
see a map with photo from Google Maps of this location at:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=34.184433333+n+\
112.134783333+w&ie=UTF8&ll=34.195617,-112.116938&spn=\
0.050618,0.065489&t=h&z=14&om=0

I parked at the south end of the parking lot, so the back of my
wife's truck was pointing northeast - perfect for the upcoming
SO-50 pass.  The pass, at 1444-1458 UTC, was a nice one to start
with.  It had a maximum elevation of 38 degrees, going from north
to southeast, and I hoped that would bring more than 1 or 2 contacts
to start the morning.  It did - 5 contacts (W6ZQ in Arizona, N5AFV
in Texas, and 3 Mexican stations - XE2HWB, XE2MWY, XE2WY).  Once
the pass ended, I packed up my stuff and drove about 25 miles/40km
further north for more fun.

DM34xm/DM44am (34.51875 N 112.0 W, 4455 feet/1358m elevation)

This was the area I had identified previously as a good spot I could
drive to and operate from both of these grids at once.  It was a little
more than 1/2 mile/1km west of the I-17 freeway, and north of Arizona
route 169, just inside the boundary of the Prescott National Forest.
For those not familiar with Arizona, a forest at this elevation has
few trees.  I was able to follow a dirt track north from route 169 that
turned east and let me park at this spot away from the highways and
have a good view of the sky.  A map with photo of this location is at:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=34.51875+n+\
112.0+w&ie=UTF8&ll=34.518898,-111.9942&spn=\
0.025211,0.032744&t=h&z=15&om=0

Since I didn't have plans for lunch until 2100 UTC, I knew I could
spend the morning playing radio on my way to lunch.  I arrived at
this spot about 20 minutes before the first AO-51 pass I could work
at 1541-1556 UTC, confirmed the location with my GPS receiver and
took a couple of photos of the display showing 112 degrees West
exactly, and set up my equipment.

The first AO-51 pass, toward my east, was the busiest pass of the
5 I worked.  This was also the pass with the highest elevation, at
62 degrees.  I made contacts with 9 USA stations and 2 Mexican
stations during this pass.  All of those contacts were in the first
half of the 15-minute pass, and I did not hear any other stations
come on for the last half.  Oh well... it was fun to get on and
help others put these grids into their satellite logs.

About 30 minutes later, I had an SO-50 pass that went to the west of
me between 1625 and 1638 UTC.  It was a 20-degree pass, and I figured
that there would be only a few showing up on there.  Unfortunately, I
was right - Mark WA8SME in California and Bernardo XE2HWB in southern
Baja California were the only 2 I heard during the entire pass.  I
worked them both, then waited for the final AO-51 pass of the morning
I'd work from this location.

When AO-51 returned for a pass at 1721-1733 UTC, it was only up at
14 degrees maximum elevation.  Not an impossible pass to work, but
one that would probably have few stations show up.  After a couple
of minutes, I work Dino VE7XDT near Vancouver.  Dino was demonstrating
satellite operating at a swap meet, and I was happy to say "hello" to
him and his group there.  I made contacts with 4 more stations in Idaho,
California, and Washington state to complete this pass.

After these passes, I drove across to Payson - a small city about 90
miles/145km northeast of Phoenix - for lunch.  After lunch, I saw that
I had time to work an AO-27 pass on my drive back to Phoenix.  This
pass was a "bonus", as I had not previously announced any plans to
work afternoon passes on this day.

DM44ha (34.0347 N 111.365866667 W, 3196 feet/974m elevation)

This location was another highway rest area, at the junction of two
Arizona state routes (87 and 188) about 15 miles/25km south of Payson
on the way back to Phoenix.  I had quickly driven to the DM43/DM44
boundary, but there were too many mountains to the west so close to
that spot I decided not to try working AO-27 from there.  This rest
area is about 3 miles/5km north of the DM43/DM44 boundary, but with
a better view of the western sky.  You may see a map with aerial photo
of the location at:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=34.0347+n+\
111.365866667+w&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=13&om=0

Along with running my PREDICT program, I used the Java applet from
the AO-27 web site http://www.ao27.org/ to know the approximate time
the AO-27 repeater would switch on for the pass I could work.  The
start time was 2315 UTC, and I was ready to go.  Or so I thought.

I knew that the AO-27 timer is not the most accurate timepiece.  I
expected that it would turn the repeater on a little early, but I
think I missed the first 30 seconds.  There were some high moutains
southwest of me, and I think I might not have been pointing at the
satellite accurately.  Once I heard Mark WA8SME on there, I called
him and made another contact with him.  Nobody else showed up during
the pass, even when we would take breaks to invite others to join,
so we chatted until the repeater switched off at 2322 UTC.  Only
one contact during the pass, but better than nothing.

Recap

Overall, I made a total of 24 contacts on 5 different passes.  I worked
stations in 10 US states, 1 Canadian province, 4 Mexican states, and a
total of 18 grids.  I made 7 contacts on 2 SO-50 passes, 16 contacts on
2 AO-51 passes, and 1 contact on the AO-27 pass I worked later in the
day.  Maybe not a large number of contacts, but 11 on one AO-51 pass
was pretty good.  With the hot weather in the deserts of central and
southern Arizona during the summertime, I hope to be able to repeat
trips like this and possibly to some other grids further north.

I have posted photos from the first two stops I made, along with MP3
recordings of the passes I worked from those locations, on some free
web space I have.  You can find those files at:

http://www.geocities.com/xe2wd9ewk/20070513-DM34_DM44/

Since this is free web space, Geocities will enforce hourly bandwidth
restrictions.  If you have difficulties in accessing those MP3s or
photos, please e-mail me directly and I would be happy to send you
any of those files.

73!



Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK
http://www.wd9ewk.net/
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