Welcome to the Two Rivers Contest Club A Few Technical Details Past, Present & Future Are You in Our Log? How to Reach Us

KL2R Activities

2015-16 - A Few More Good Runs

The website hasn't been updated in a while with any news, as most updates are over on our blog. However, a quick review shows 2016 to be a solid year for sheer number of QSOs. In fact, it was the nest year since 2012 and double 2015.

November 2015 brought the sad and sudden passing of Rich Strand KL7RA. Many people have felt the loss, not the least of whom are the core of the Alaska contest community. Thanks largely to Wigi KL0R and a handful of others like Tree N6TR and Steve KL7SB, Rich's XYL Jyl agreed to let the North Pole Contest Group assume Rich's call. Plans were made to activate KL7RA one more time in WPX Phone the following March. It was a tremendous gathering and honor for our friend and mentor.

2014 - A Few Good Runs

After some doldrums in 2013, KL2R was reasonably active. Very unusual ice and wind storms beginning in mid-November '13 took a toll on antennas. The tribanders twisted vertically, for instance, but no serious damage. It was repaired by early spring. Of particular note were two weeks of W1AW/KL7 action in June and October. Wes KL3UI has joined the team and is quite prodigious. As a serious gamer, he has the critical skills to make a great contester. He has demonstrated incredible stamina and technical curiosity, too.

Summer 2014 washed away in record rainfall, and antenna work langusihed. Finally, a few weeks break in September was followed by an early 6" snowfall. Temperatures were not bad, however, even into late November. Year-end projects included adding a 40m vertical system with two elements, which performs superbly on receive and has been effective working DX and busting pileups. . We'll see how it plays this winter when worked hard in CQWW CW.

Guest ops came from Outside. Bob N4CD dropped by in June as part of his Great Alaska County Hunter operation. Bill AC0W is featured left in the photo below along with WL7BDO center and KL3UI to the right. KL1JP is seated. The team achieved a best for ARRL DX SSB from this location with nearly 1.5 million points and 3000 QSOs. See the Shack page for equipment updates.For Sweepstake SSB, new-new guy Wes KL3WY joined us for some fun. He is also interested in CW, which excites N1TX, who is the only serious CW operator in the club these days.Planned antennas and switching at KL2R

2012 - the Year of Doubling Up

You could call 2012 more of an exercise in engineering tha operating, although we did plenty of the latter. Considerable planning and effort went into fully developing the second position, and KL2R is now a full-fledged multi-two operation. The ACOM 1010 got some company just in time for the ARRL 10M Contest. Dan KL1JP brought over his newly refurbished Alpha 89 for full legal limit action. In addition, we opted to add Microham Station Master controllers at each position along with a second set of bandpass filters. Some work remains, particularly in the area of adding a second 6x2 switch at the shack entrance and working on some vertical arrays for 40 and 80m next summer. Our plan is to look something like this in the end:

Planned antennas and switching at KL2R


Some Highlights of 2011

You might think 2011 was a NIL year for KL2R if you just relied on this web page or our blog for news. If you have heard us on the air, though, you would know the story is something quite different. Many changes have taken place inside and outside the shack.

Last December, we purchased an ACOM 1010 amplifier from Array Solutions. Because of primary power problems in the shack, we had to wait until WPX in May to try it on the air using a generator, which was loaned by Neal Brown W7USB. Alas, things didn't work out so well, as the amp started tripping into a fault mode. The first thought was that the unstable power on the gen set contributed to the situation as well as perhaps the extreme heat that weekend. The conclusion was reinforced by another attempt at Field Day to use the generator. We finally got stable commercial power to the shack in late October just before CQWW SSB started, but the problems persisted. The amp went back to the shop for diagnosis and repair, and returned with a new 4CX800 tube late the night before Sweeps SSB! Great service from the folks at Array Solutions.

KL1WE and W6HF made their annual trek north again and joined us for several operating events, including Field Day and IARU. One major achievement for them was to assemble a new Hexx Beam from DX Engineering, which we called into service immediately.

Field Day proved to be a highly successful endeavor in conjunction with the Arctic ARC. Neal W7USB did a bang-up job promoting Field Day in local media with coverage both in the newspaper and on broadcast radio stations. We ran Class 4E, but the competitive aspect took a back seat to the public relations activities. More than 30 visitors showed up to see what the fuss was about. What a great time! You can see the highlights on YouTube.

A number of non-ham activities throughout the summer kept the shack shuttered for the most part after IARU. The most significant project was installation of a new MA160-V Top Band vertical donated by Dan KL1JP. He was frustrated by the consistent zeros in our score summaries in the 160m slot. While we got the radiator up, I had to promise I would lay in the radials and feedline before freeze-up, which I did, but just barely, a few days before the first snow fall.

By October, it was time to reinvigorate RF. Indeed, the T32C DXpedition provided some incentive to dust of the rig and meet their band-slot challenge of so many modes on the HF bands. We worked 27 of 39 band-slots, including RTTY, phone, and CW on 160m thanks to the new vertical. CQWW and Sweepstakes were just around the corner. KL1JP and N1TX thoroughly tested the equipment for phone multi-single competition in the superb band conditions over Halloween weekend and worked some new countries for the DXCC listing of KL2R. Ten meters proved to be the money band, and at last the 160 listing was something other than zero! N1TX ran solo in low-power unlimited for the ARRL Sweeps CW and managed a clean sweep in 12 hours of operating, a first since moving to Alaska in 1998. The final contact for the challenge was VY1EI on 10.

In early November, many news organizations flashed reports of the "epic" Bering Sea storm slamming the western Alaska coastline with 90+ mph winds, 40-foot seas, and a huge storm surge. The National Weather Services called on Fairbanks hams, including KL1JP and KL7EDK, to help report conditions in near-real-time to KL7FWX at the local forecast office. Marty WL7MR proved a critical anchor as emergency coordinator in Nome giving "blow-by-blow" information to the forecasters. The shack at KL2R offered some backup communications during the ordeal.

KL1JP was generous enough to loan the station a new FT-950 and Microham Microkeyer II, which will also be used for Skywarn Recognition Day in early December at KL7FWX. Other shack improvements planned include a Microham Station Master and another set of bandpass filters to finally achieve a solid two-transmitter presence. Antenna switching improvements will also be implemented.

KL2R was on the air as a multi-single in ARRL Sweeps SSB with WL7BDO, KL6C, KL1JP, and N1TX driving the operation for the the entire permitted 24 hours. It was tremendous fun, and 10m once again proved to be a great conduit to the Lower 48. The repaired amp worked flawlessly.

N1TX will be part of the KL7RA team during CQWW CW after Thanksgiving. Given the holiday and few CW contesters in Fairbanks, KL2R will not be on. The ARRL 10m contest in early December holds some promise, though.

Hexx beam under the aurora


2010 CQ Worldwide Lives Up to Its Name

KL1JP entered CQWW SSB SOAB with some modest success between limited time and very poor conditions from Fairbanks. N1TX drove solo at KL2R during the CW portion of the event, and band conditions were excellent much of the weekend but with some serious lulls during otherwise prime time. A total 761 QSOs made it into the CW log from many different parts of the world. Both 10 and 15 meters proved big surprises, and the Saturday night opening on 40 meters was stupendous! One hundred watts didn't seem so puny at times.

Operating experience and the plot of the latest log shows the path roughly 45 degrees in azimuth to be problematic. A solid path to the Maritimes as well as Spain and the UK never seemed to develop on 20. Riding the grayline is proving to be essential for badly needed multipliers. Working the Middle East at sunrise their time on 20m was a hoot. Busting a pile on 40m for JT5DX on the second call was a real rush. Working ZL8X on five bands was icing on the cake.

DX Monitor QSO Plot - KL2R CQWW CW
CQWW CW - Americas
CQWW CW - Europe
CQWW Europe
CQWW CW - Pacific
CQWW CW Pacific


Field Day 2010 A Resounding Success!

We operated in Class 7E this year, thankfully earning some bonus points to moderate the pain from horrendous band conditions. A great turn-out of 20 or so people, hams and ordinary citizens alike, propelled this Field Day into the KL2R history books. Everything and everyone worked fantastically hard to make this happen. Teamwork and planning worked well.

Phil KL8DX provided this video of all the excitement, and photos from AARC President Neal Brown WL7NZ are below.

Video thanks to Phil KL8DX

Six HF stations and one V/UHF solar & gen
KL1JP's Six-Meter Moxon for DX
Kevin NL7WO digging for signals on PSK
Eric KL7AJ and Chad AL2D - Whuhhh?
Chow time Saturday night.
Horrible space weather all weekend

New Antennas are UP on the Tower!

10/09: The antenna situation at KL2R has been seriously refined with the addition of another Force 12 C3 at 85 feet pointed towards Europe (due north) and a Force 12 EF-140 dipole for 40m is placed at 100 feet to fill the gap for North American contacts. (The Super Loop favors N-S.) Initial tests show a gain of 3-5 S-units on 20m for EU stations on the high C3, which should position us well to compete in a lot of the international DX contests. 40m has been the most frustrating band, but US and JA stations boom in on the new dipole. Here's a comparision done 10/11/09. The video is 16 MB, but if you want a quicker look or have limited bandwidth, try this video (8 MB) showing the difference on a waterfall tuned to PSK31 frequencies.

PSK Waterfall

KL1JP provided this video (28 MB) showing the installation of the final section of the 85-foot C3. You can't imagine the excitement we all felt when the final nut was turned and antennas positioned! Thanks go to KL1RL, KL1JP N6PU, Marc Meindl, and Lance Seman for the heavy lifting and climbing. Elaine N6PU provided this stunning shot as Justin KL1RL and Marc were finishing the C3 installation. The 40m dipole is above them.

Final C3 sliding into place.

Catch up with the rest at our new blog: http://kl2r.blogspot.com


W1AW/KL7 - Contesting on Steroids

All I can say is, WOW!

The king of multi-multi contesters in Alaska, Rich Strand KL7RA, proposed last year to operate as W1AW/KL7 in the IARU HF contest. Several stations signed up to activate the headquarters station, and the idea began to germinate. Months of negotiations, technical improvements, and various prods ensued to be ready for the kick-off 1200Z on July 11th. Read about it, here.

Catch up with the rest at our new blog: http://kl2r.blogspot.com

Field Day 2009

As mentioned perviously, Ken W6HF and Luci KL1WE couldn't visit for Field Day, and Rod KL1Y is overseas. Nevertheless, Field Day 2009 at KL2R was a record-setter. We station operated Class 4E for a change of pace. Rain was minimal, and KL1JP's solar-battery cooler was put to good use with FT897 and FT857. The FT950 was primary for CW and digital modes. N6PU's Jupiter was in the #2 HF position. Dan attempted several satellite QSOs, but the passes were not favorable.

Justin KL1RL dusted off the ham-hat and lent a hand on setup and operation after months away from any radio. New member Elaine N6PU was first to arrive and last to leave, and she stirred up some good interest on PSK31 and the other modes. Her 5 kW generator came in handy in the middle of the night, too. New licensee Alex KL2TI camped in front of the microphone with some coaching and worked some SSB. Phil KL8DX, another new member, drove all the way up from Healy and earned the nickname "Manimal II" after six hours pounding brass with little introduction or orientation. He said of Field Day at KL2R, "My first chance at operating in a group setting was last weekend, and it makes me want to return and do it many more times. "

N1TX made coffee, lots and lots of coffee, while KL1BE kept the troops fed well.

This was the first time we attempted multi-multi operation at KL2R. We used N1MM in multi-user mode, and we learned a painful lesson about switching between single- and multi-user mode during the contest. Unsurprisingly, without bandpass filters, RFI was an issue at times, but we coped to make over 400 QSOs across all modes during mediocre propagation conditions.

N1TX was interviewed by the local public radio station KUAC, Check out the few seconds of fame 4:44 into this news broadcast. Then Ted Randall WB8PUM called Saturday to check on KL2R during his QSO Radio Show. Having the PR gave drive to push harder.

We learned a lot and responded to a last-minute addition of two more transceivers for a lot of good fun. Once again, we learned maximizing bonus points is just as crucial as making a lot of contacts. The preliminary score is 2400+, a record for us. Woohoo! Way to go, Team!

Cooler contains a complete solar power station.
N6PU and KL1JP press for more QSOs.
KL2TI monitors the HF and VHF action.
Alex KL2TI seems taken with CW. Will he...?
Elaine N6PU and Justin KL1RL on HF #2.
KL8DX carried the day with CW contacts.
N1TX discusses strategy with KL8DX.
Portable HF-VHF station with Buddipole and solar power package. BBQ grill not included.


Spring 2009

Winter and spring proved to be a mixed bag. As the solar minmum lingers, our frustration with propagation increases. Also, many of the contest activities were limited to single-op due to higher-priority demands. Sadly, W6HF and KL1WE will likely not return to KL7 this summer while they focus on other things going on in W6-land, so the KL2R team is definitely short-handed. For others, travel, work, and illness seemed to line up on contest weekend boundaries. Uncanny how life gets in the way of our hobby!

We were on the air for CQWW, WPX, ARRL DX, NAQP, BARTG, and a few others in various modes. We also spent some time working on the Triple Play Award, which has not yet been completed as of this update. Nevertheless, handing out Alaska to those in need has been a real pleasure.

N1TX taught a contest workshop for local hams in late January, which was well received. Hopefully, more locals will be on the air soon after antenna work and shack modifications. We had also hoped to recruit new blood for multi-single and M2 operations at KL2R. So far, that has not panned out (see above). Solid efforts are planned for Field Day as well as a special opportunity to activate the station as part of IARU in July. We still plan to get up two new antennas: Force 12 C3 at 85 feet pointed towards EU and that EF-140 rotatable dipole at 140 feet. That should help with IARU as well as other international contests.

Sweepstakes 2008

Tracy Magill W7EIK joined the KL2R team for SSB Sweepstakes. It was her first time, and she proved a natural. The Sweeps complicated exchange slowed things down to a reasonable pace so she could get comfortable with the controls. However, she soon gained rate along with confidence. Since we run only 100 watts, her presence at the mic is worth a kilowatt. She'll be back for more along with some RTTY action. Tracy is a force to be reckoned with.

Dan KL1JP introduced her to the Two Rivers Multi-single setup: FT-950 transceiver with DMU-2000, and a WIndows 2000 Professional 1 GHz PC. Win-Test has become a standard (used below), but N1MM is very popular among the gang, too.



W7EIK at the mic

W7EIK at KL2R controls

Field Day 2008

Ken W6HF, Luci KL1WE, and Dan KL1JP opted for a casual Field Day operation this year at KL2R, and the station operated Class 1D. Rain, rain, rain was the order of the day on Saturday, so the emergency generator, solar power panels, and other outdoor stuff remained under wraps. No worries, since the social aspects outweighed propagation anyway. Everyone had fun with mixed modes of CW, RTTY PSK, SSB, and satellite. Thanks to all who worked us.

Ken and Luci teamed up to make a few satellite contacts on SO-50 and AO-51. Their method is to have her transmit while Ken steers the receive antenna by hand. We all know a YL's voice is worth an extra 6 dB on any band in any mode.

2008 FD Scores

KL1WE and W6HF working SO-50


First Entry in NAQP

Well, why not? N1TX thought having the FT-950 would be a good opportunity to jump into NAQP CW in January 2008. The bands cooperated somewhat. He writes, "This one was pretty leisurely for me.  I gave it up after about 8 hours effort, taking a break for lunch as 20 was beginning to fade and 40 was coming up.  Managed 3 Qs on a very light 15m band,  150 or so on 20m, and 50-ish on 40.  I caught a break with grayline on that band and picked up some nice mults very quickly.  I tried K5KA earlier after QSO on 20m, but had to wait a couple of hours to work him on 40.  Absorption was up this morning before contest start, and aurora flutter kicked in for a bit in the afternoon.  Thanks to KL7Z and KL8DX for AK and mult on 40/20.  No Maritimes or East Coast stations to speak of.  I worked LA and FL, but nothing farther northeast that that.  I heard a few VE3s and a very weak VO1 on 20, but that's it.

"The FT-950 QSK remains smooth, and even though the bands were never crowded with adjacent powerful signals, WIDTH and CONTOUR adjustments proved their merit several times. The DMU-2000 RF Scope was helpful finding stations during on-again/off-again propagation.

"While working with Win-Test, I noticed several occasions when Super-Check Partial actually failed to indicate a possible dupe, but it was caught by the logging logic. Also, auto exchange entry occasionally inserted incorrect log information with details from another station worked previously on another band." The WIn-Test support group has yet to respond with validation or suggestions as of 18 January 2008.

Dan KL1JP (below) gave NAQP SSB a solid effort during the following weekend, but the bands did not cooperate at all. He worked hard as the dickens simply to hear signals, never mind work the other stations. There was no propagation on 15 meters, and a few hours on 40 netted only two QSOs. The rest of the points came from 20 meters. This was his first experience with the FT-950. As an FT-2000 owner, Dan's more formal comments should make interesting reading. We look forward to having him operate more under decent conditions for a realistic comparison of the two rigs.


ARRL RTTY Roundup 2008

The New Year began with an important test of technique and technology in the ARRL RTTY Roundup. Rod KL1Y, Gary NL7Y, and Larry N1TX fired up the station for the first semi-serious effort to gain some experience with a new situation. The radio is new, and all controls and displays have been re-configured.

In all, little sleep, poor propagation, darned few contacts (118), but tons of fun up here. We all learned a lot about how the FT950 works. Excellent filtering for removing RTTY QRM. 300 Hz no problem, although N1TX did notice neighbor NL7V's bodacious signal raising the noise floor at times when up to about 6 kHz away on 20m. We ran RTTY using true FSK without skipping a beat. Transmitter stays cool, and fan is very quiet. The power supply fan is noisier, which is not much. Gary also demonstrated the effectiveness of its noise blanker against an electric fence. He could subjectively evaluate various features with respect to the FT-950 versus his experience with FT-2000 rigs.

Niorthern Lights

The Kp went to 4 and aurora kicked up to 9 much of Sunday, so we were DOA for the most part. Those hearing us were faced with flutter. N1TX heard almost no flutter on anyone, but QSOs were difficult to complete due to selective and rapid general fading.

Heard but could not work a JA on 80 as well as a number of W6/7s early this morning, and could only QSO with KH6 on that band. 40 was marginally better. Lots heard, including the Midwest. Snagged a few JAs, though, and cleaned up KH6. We tuned 15m briefly and heard one very weak signal around 2100Z. We have one PSK QSO in the log.

N1MM does a fantastic job when integrated with MMTTY and MMVARI digital engines. Highly recommended, now that we have a bit more experience with it. There is much to learn, but basic competency comes rather quickly. We fumbled for the first 15 minutes and then now and again during the contest. The programs are very resilient. There is some setting on the N1MM rig control that needs to be addressed possibly with the radio driver and/or with the Microham USB Router, which causes the FT-950 to key up for several seconds. That's very undesireable.

NL7Y and KL1Y in ARRL RU 2008

NL7Y writes, "Well, I stuck my toe in the RTTY for the first time, and it thankfully it came out still warm and relatively intact. All of KL2R's equipment worked well as far as I could tell. Amazing that the mode allows contact with no S-meter reading, and Larry's noise floor is essentially non-existent on 40-15M RTTY. The only unusual sounds were an electric fence, and a few birdies that we passed off as Aliens passing overhead. The FT-950 appears to be an excellent choice for the price, at least in this mode, and I feel is a step above the FT-2K in DSP implementation, control function, lack of AGC artifacts, and op interface. The logging program and whatever stuff was needed to operate worked well in my inexperienced hands, thanks to the occasional swift kick from KL1Y and N1TX."

Few things are better than learning something new. The 118 QSOs were a bonus!

Field Day 2007

Field Day QSOs

KL2R challenged the Arctic ARC, KL7KC, to a Field Day "shootout" for the most HF contacts. We limited our operations to one transmitter at 100 watts, CW and digital only. They were allowed two transmitters, up to 500W, and any mode. In the end, KL7KC provided a tasty pancake breakfast and good humor in losing.

# Call Score Category QSOs Power Mult GOTA Call Section Participants Club
1 KL2R 2,000 1E 313 2   AK 2 Two Rivers Contest Club
2 KL7AA 1,713 2A 440 1   AK 62 Anchorage ARC
3 AL7LE 1,676 2A 316 2   AK 30 Moosehorn ARC
4 KL7JFU 886 3A 68 2   AK 35 Matanuska AR Assn
5 KL7IG 846 1A 277 2   AK 5 Juneau ARC
6 AL1G 335 1D 218 1   AK 1  
7 KL7QN 54 1D 2 2   AK 1  

ARRL DX Contest - M/S Phone and CW 2007

These were fun contests and really two events for which KL2R is designed right now. Alaska is considered DX here. The Force 12 C3 at 55 feet aims right at the US and Canada, and JA is easy to work off the back of the beam. We took Multi-Single in Alaska for both without much cooperation on the low bands. Congratulations to KL1JP, KL1Y, and N1TX. Good show!


CQWW DX Contests

In 2006, CQWW proved to be some of the greatest challenges. In the SSB contest, KL1Y, KL1SE, and N1TX worked hard for contacts. KL1JP took ill but provided a badly needed multiplier from his home QTH. The CW effort in 2006 was SO1R by N1TX.

CQWW 2006 Scores KL1Y & KL1SE