John, AB5SS, is a World Class VHF/UHF Rover Contester.
2000 – 1st place in the US and Canada (AB5SS+W5DF)
2002 – 4th place in the US and Canada (AB5SS+W5DF)
“From 1998-2002, we ran a serious competitive rover station and had many top 10 rover scores for the US & Canada.”
—John Maca, AB5SS
On his truck, John had radios covering 6m through 3cm (that’s all 10 bands – 50/144/222/432/902/1296/2304/3456/5760/10368 MHz).
The direction yagi’s (1296/144/902/222/432/2304) were rotatable while going down the road at up to 70 MPH, so contacts could be made between stops. He also had 10 & 24 GHz FM transceivers and a CW Laser at one time for a few contests (not many takers on those bands/modes). A 3-element 6m yagi and portable tower was always in the truck in case of a 6m opening!…Holey Moley!
What is a Rover? This is a competitive class in VHF/UHF contest where mobile stations are outfitted with VHF/UHF gear and systematically drive though grid squares permitting them to gain points in each. Rovers provide contact and multiplier (grid square) points for themselves and other contestants as they cross different geographic locations.
“… we basically built a rack for all the radios & amplifiers, all bolted down/secured to the rack. The seat in the Ford folds up to make room for cargo. Then I drilled holes in the truck metal seat plate and, well, let’s just say the rack was bolted down and wasn’t going anywhere. I was concerned about stuff flying if we ever got into a wreck, so…I took care of that concern 🙂
I had to fashion a gasket so I could feed the coax, control/power cables out through the rear window. It was foam and cut down on wind noise and kept the water out. It was all quite an integration challenge.
Power… 2m – 200W, 222 was 180W, 432 was 150W, 902 was 10W, 1296 was 18W, 2304 was 15W. 3456 was only 20mW, but we still made contacts 80-90 miles out. 5760 was .5W I think???, 10G was 1W.
The 902 and 2304 XVTR’s were mounted externally. The 5760 & 10G were on a dish in the truck bed. Everything else was inside the truck. Coax was all LMR-400 Ultraflex. Except for the 6m/2m loops, which was RG-141? (basically Teflon RG-58).
We tried to publish our route ahead of time; what grid we’d be in & when. We had specific places (high ground with little obstructions) that we’d go to for stops. But a lot of the time, we’d just make contacts going down the road. I was the driver and I’d steer the antennas – I had GPS on my dash, knew the direction I was headed (which changes as you’re going down the road), where the station was and where we were, and I’d real-time calculate the direction to point. The passenger (Dan, W5DF) was the operator and he made/logged the contacts. Typically, we’d start on 2m, contact everyone we could, then move up the bands with those stations. ‘Run the bands’
Funny story… it was late (10:30?) on Saturday night, and we were parked up in EM13 in a plowed field. Activity was slowing down, contacts were getting slim. On a whim, I grabbed the mic on the 1296 rig and called CQ, not expecting any response…I mean like, who would be just monitoring 1296.1 for a call, right… I get a reply from WA5??? in Dallas, 59 EM12 QSL… Crazy.”
Anyone interested? The next big Rover event is in June…
View photos of John’s Rover Station.