Some of the active grid chasers on the birds are aware that KA6SIP just gave me my last USA grid when he operated from CN72 in Oregon. And I thought it might be interesting to look at the stats and how one manages to work and confirm all 488 USA lower 48 States grids.
Satellite operators come and go and grids come and go with them. A grid might have a very active operator in it and then it is off the air when that person goes away for whatever reason. Interestingly, about half of the 488 grids that were worked were from those operating portable, not in the sense of using a radio with batteries, but in the traditional sense of operating away from their home station location. Once you have experienced being on the other end of a small pileup, you will want to do it again. Just ask W7LRD who tried it recently and is planning another trip. Here is a list of operators who exited the comfort of their home station and put a grid on the air. The callsign is followed by the number of new grids they gave me towards the goal of working all 488. Others may have been worked but these totals represent the first time a new grid was confirmed.
ND9M 54 WD9EWK 27 WC7V 19 KD4ZGW 16 KB0RZD 10 KC0YBM 9 AA5CK 8 KA6SIP 8 KD8COQ 8 N5ZNL 7 W6GMT 7 N0JE 6 N2SPI 6 WA4NVM 5 KB5WIA 4 KB9BIT 4 KC0ZHF 4 KK0SD 4 AA5PK 3 K7CWQ 3 UT1FG 3 W6ZKH 3 WA6ARA 3 WA7HQD 3 WA8SME 3 AC0ZA 2 AJ9K 2 K0BAM 2 K7DRA 2 K7TRK 2 KA0RID 2 KC2LRC 2 KE7DOV 2 N3TL 2 N5AFV 2
Jim, ND9M, is a seasoned grid expeditioner. Along with working satellites he is also active on the county hunters nets. Most of his activity was between 2009 and 2011. He was also active from a cargo ship and gave out the very rare DM02. Jim would travel for months at a time and worked from a few hundred grids. Most of that operating was done on FM birds rather than linear ones. It was great to have many daily fm passes when AO-27 and AO-51 were active. HO-68 and SO-67 were in the mix for a while too. 54 new grids came from Jim and he tops the list.
Most everyone knows Patrick WD9EWK. He has done a lot of traveling both in the US and Canada and he gave me 27 new grids. He was very active on the birds until recently. He was an alternate on the AMSAT Board of Directors and was recently appointed to oversee the AMSAT Area Coordinator program. He virtually has no home station and most all local contacts were made from a park near his apartment in Phoenix. He knows how to do it and he is a meticulous planner.
Next on the list is Kerry WC7V. He lives in sparsely populated Montana and travels around by car and in his light aircraft. He went to many grids at my request and made a lot of us very happy by operating from many rare locations. He is in slot number 3 with 19 grids.
Next on the list is Rob KD4ZGW/m. Rob drove an 18 wheeler and we all heard him on a satellite one day. He didn't know his grid square but he knew his milepost on the interstate. From there we had the grid square. Rob went on to improve his mobile station and activated over 100 grid squares. He is no longer driving on long hauls and has not been active for some time. He is fourth on the list with 16 grids.
The next three are very special because they all became new operators during the quest to work all 488. Gail KB0RZD is very active today, usually operating with a handie-talkie. He went to 10 grids around him and sent some photo qsl cards that were just outstanding. KC0YBM operated from his home location for a long time before I realized he was very close to other grids. Chris didn't have portable equipment so I suggested he look into an AC inverter for the car. He did just that and soon he was operating portable from some new grids. This speaks to the ham radio culture that you find a way to operate with what you have. Chris continues to be active and hands out grids in the US and Canada. And then there is Ted, AA5CK. He has operated in grids around his home qth as well as some rare ones in New Mexico. He lives in EM04, not far from EM05 where I made my first grid expedition contact with KD8CAO from EM05 in front of the White Dog Ranch on old Route 66. I remember Ted's first sat contact.
There are a few very special operators that can't be left out. My son, KD8CAO, provided 8 new grids for his dad. He knows how to operate portable and gives out the grids when he travels. Then there was Richard N2SPI. I asked him about some grids in Maine that hadn't been on and he took the challenge and drove to all of them, getting back to his dad's place during the first snow of the season. Dave KB5WIA made quite the trip by backpacking into CM79. It took two trips to transport the equipment into the grid. He has a video of it on youtube.
I started with satellites in June 2006 and only had 47 USA grids by August 2008. From August 2008 till Jan 2009 I worked another 109. In 2009 199 were worked. 2010 was 76 and 2011 was 44. Only 4 new grids were worked in 2012 and 9 were snagged in 2013. Eight of those final 9 grids were handed out by Tom KA6SIP. He heard about the need and decided to make a grid expedition to put them on the air. He did 7 of them in one trip. Then Bob W7LRD went to the beach in CN77, operating away from home for the first time. That left CN72. Tom just got back from Hawaii and quickly made plans to camp out in CN72 and gave me the final grid on AO-7B, 20 August 2013 at 2332z. Then he put CN71 on the air on 22-23August, also a very rare grid square but one that I already had. Many others worked him there.
There is no award for working all 488 grids on satellites as there is for six meters (FFMA). The ARRL awards committee has looked at it and will implement it if someone on the Board of Directors brings it up for a vote and it passes. Hopefully that will happen soon. Having that type of award gives everyone something to work for. It promotes grid expeditions and interest in working through the satellites. If we all contact our ARRL Director, it might just happen.
There may be others who have already worked all 488 grids on satellites. K6YK might be one of them. I know there are several others who are getting close. It is not any easy thing to accomplish even if you operate every day. It is something you can work towards over the years.
I want to thank everyone that made satellite contacts with me that ultimately led to working all 488. Many went out of their way to put on a grid. Over half of the grids worked were from grid expeditions! If you haven't experienced operating away from home, please consider it. With new operators showing up on the birds every day, there is always a need for an uncommon grid. And you will have a lot of fun doing it! Just ask anyone on my list.
73, John K8YSE