New Mexico

DM64 – DM74 – DM84

Phil Lee W6HCC

On September 16, 2008 I traveled to the I-40 area of New Mexico, east of Albuquerque.. I planned to work Bill, KØRZ and Don, NØYE near Louisville CO. Their grid is DM79. I left home at 0625 and traveled south on I-25. This is not one of my favorite routes. It took me 2 hrs to go from home to Surry ridge on the south side of Denver. I used my lap-top computer with a GPS to track my progress. As I passed Las Vegas NM, I was able to see the airport where I had refueled years ago enroute to Denver.

The computer said that the quickest way to get to Moriarty NM was to take a cutoff from I-25, about half way between Las Vegas and Santa Fe. The road was well signed and was NM 3. Here is where my troubles began. The road is narrow, crooked, rough and goes through a number of small towns, each signed at 25mph. It took me 45 min to go 15 miles!! As I got further south, the road got a little better. Now I was up to about 50 mph.

I arrived in Moriarty NM at about 1400. I checked in to the Comfort Inn and saw that I had a nice room. I then headed for the site. I planned to take Martinez road west from town. The maps showed that it was just into the top of DM64 and the terrain became higher to the west. I saw a tower on the north side of the road that looked like a good spot. I drove about ½ mile north and found that I was no longer in DM74. Back to the south!! The area is a group of small estates. None are very large and most of the housing is pre-fab or trailers. There was a hill to the south, but when I got there, I ran out of road. I back tracked north and found a small hill with a dirt road leading to a shack which I assumed was a water well. There was no gate, so I helped myself. The grid was DM64wx. The range was 350 miles.

I took a compass sighting and saw that there was a fair horizon to the north. I have seen better sites, but I had been driving around for about 40 minutes, so this had to be the place. I checked cell service and it was poor. (Later I shut down the phone and let it re-acquire the signal and service was good. ) I set up. The first few minutes of signal bursts from Bill were good. I copied both calls and things were looking up. Then nothing. I noticed that my system was out of lock. No wonder no signals!! I pulled the chassis and rapped the brick with my screwdriver. It locked immediately. Now I was back in business. I copied Bill’s grid and about 15 min later I got an R. Half the contact was complete. In the next 5 minutes, Bill was able to copy all of my data. Grid #67 was history!!

For the next hour, I worked with Don. I heard a partial call from him and he was able to hear signals from me, but no contact was completed. It was getting late and I decided that I should secure and move to the other side of Moriarty to DM74.

I took Martinez road back through town and headed east. I watched my GPS and when I moved into DM74, I started looking around for a site. I came to Stagecoach road which headed south toward a small hill. The road had heavy truck traffic. (semi trailers hauling sand or rock ) The trucks came from a sand/gravel company on the top of the hill. I drive up to the gate, which said ‘authorized vehicles only’. That did not look like the place to be. There were 2 dim wheel tracks leading north from just in front of the gate. I drove about 100 yds. down the tracks and saw that there was a very good horizon to the north. The first obstruction was about 40 miles away and no problem. The site had good cell service and was DM74ax.

I was on the air just after 1800. It was later than I had planned, due to a blown fuse in the -24 volt power converter. I checked for shorts and found none, so I decided I had better put a clip lead across the fuse and take my chances. All’s well that end’s well! I turned on the system and everything worked. In the first 15 min. I was able to copy all the data from Bill. Then all the aircraft landed or at least left our path. We continued for the next hour and all that Bill could get was a disjointed 74 and DM. It was getting dark so we decided to come back and try again in the morning.

I returned to Moriarty, had dinner at Arby’s and retired for the night. The room was nice, but the bed was terrible……soft and swaybacked. I woke up on the hour every hour. Not a very good night.

I arose at 0530 and went to the ‘sunshine breakfast’ at the motel. It was very nice and I was on the road to the site at 0630. I went to the same site that I had used the night before. The sun was just rising over the gravel pits when I got on the air. In the first 12 minutes, I copied both calls from Bill… then nothing. We both checked our systems and all was in working order. It took about an hour for the next aircraft to come into the path. It was now a bit after 0800. Air traffic was picking up. By 0828 we had completed the QSO. Grid #68 was done. If this contact is any indication, we don’t need to rush to get on the air early. 0800 should be fine!!

For the next grid, I traveled to Tucumcari, NM. The route is entirely on I-40 and, except for a few slow downs due to work zones, I was able to lock the excursion down at 75 mph and cruise. I arrived at Tucumcari and, after a stop at Mc Donald’s, headed down state rt 209. The road was excellent It was smooth, wide and signed at 65. I could have gone 100 mph as far as the road was concerned. I traveled about 30 miles south and came to Ragland Hill. The hill overlooks the valley and seemed to be a very good site to look north. Only one problem, No Cell Phone!! It was very strange. The phone indicated that there was service, but after many calls to Bill’s number with no answer, I concluded that there was NONE. I back tracked down SR 209, past the town? of Quay. There are a few buildings in the town?, and to the north there is a sign on the road, ‘Quay Cemetery’. There must have been a historical area around Quay for it even to be listed on the map. I found a low hill about a mile north of Quay. I checked the bore sight and found that the path was just between two small mesas. The whole area has a number of mesas and is not the best place for microwaves. Much to my surprise, I found a nice gravel turnout into a farmer’s field with plenty of room to get the excursion off the road and headed the right way. I checked cell service and was finally able to contact Bill.

I set up and was on the air without incident at 1244. The grid was DM84cw. We hoped that would be a good omen. It was!! In less than 25 minutes, I had all the data from Bill. There were quite a few bursts. Some were not strong enough to hear, but they indicated that there was air traffic in the path. By 1344 we had a contact. The range was 356 miles. Grid #69 was complete. As we finished the contact, I decided to make a Spectran recording. I had no more than set up Spectran, when we had not one, but two aircraft scatter signals. Both were strong and Bill keyed up calls and grid. What a nice way to end the session!!

I decided to let the computer find me a way home. It said the quickest route would be US54 to SR39, then US56 to I-25. I set the computer with the GPS to guide me along the route. It may have been the shortest, but it was not the quickest. SR39 is a poor road. At one point I sat for 15 minutes while a large dirt hauling semi went in, dumped its load along the road and returned. Then I waited while the grader did its work. The road was very rough at times. 40 mph seemed too fast on those sections. Then there was the hill. All of 7% and very crooked. I locked the excursion into 3rd gear and slowly went up. There were road hazards too. There were several large dirt hauling semi’s coming down. They wanted most of the road. SR39 continued north through the town of Roy NM. This is the area where I had gone last year for DM75. The town really looks run down compared to last year…..boarded up buildings etc. Roy is not doing well.

In spite of the poor road, I arrived home at 2200hrs. The trip home took 8 hrs. including a number of work related closures on I-25. I think next time the computer recommends a state route in New Mexico, I will go another way.

The grid count is now 69. I want to thank Bill, KØRZ for all the help and patience required to make the scatter contacts work. It seems sometimes all you do is wait. Bill says it is much like working meteor scatter.

Log for 10 GHz New Mexico expedition by W6HCC as recorded by KØRZ in DM79jx All times are MDT

DM64wx, September 16, 2008, Moriarty, NM
1543 Start
1544 Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ from Bill
1552 Phil copied DM79 from Bill
1608 Phil copied R from Bill
1609 Bill copied DM64 from Phil
1611 Bill copied W6HCC from Phil
1613 Bill copied KØRZ, R from Phil, grid #67 complete
1614 – 1703 Phil and Don tried QSO
1674 Shutdown
Signal peak at KØRZ was S2
DM74ax, September 16, 2008, Moriarty, NM
1810 Start
1814 Phil copied W6HCC, KØRZ from Bill
1825 Phil copied DM79, R from Bill
1903 Bill copied M74, DM from Phil
1921 Shutdown for evening, incomplete QSO
DM74ax, September 17, 2008, Moriarty, NM
0709 Start
0721 Phil copied W6HCC from Bill
0817 Phil copied KØ from Bill
0822 Phil copied KØRZ, DM from Bill
0823 Phil copied DM79, R from Bill
0824 Bill copied DM74 from Phil
0827 Bill copied W6HCC from Phil
0828 Bill copied KØRZ, R from Phil, grid #68 complete
0829 Shutdown
Signal peak at KØRZ was S1
DM84cw, September 17, 2008, Quay, NM
1244 Start
1254 Phil copied W6HCC, KØ from Bill
1300 Phil copied KØRZ, DM from Bill
1309 Phil copied DM79, R from Bill
1310 Bill copied DM84 from Phil
1329 Bill copied W6HCC, KØRZ, R from Phil, grid #69 complete
1330-1334 Spectran Recordings made by W6HCC of KØRZ
1335 Shutdown
Signal Peak at KØRZ was S1