Robert, W5AJ DM70/DM71 line. May 2022

I have decided to offer an award to show appreciation for the efforts and operating skills of those that go out and activate FFMA grids for us.

These operators jump through hoops for us and just about the only recognition they get for this are a few thank yous.

The Award is structured by means of competition where activations that have the most impact to the FFMA Leader Board participants are rewarded. This should provide good ground work to assess the efforts and skills of the operator and allow others/prospective activators to model after their success.

Click here for the Rules

Click here for Current Standings

We saw more participation than expected in the first run of this contest. Especially given the short notice about the event.

The final results have been posted.

A number of issues were identified and will be addressed in the next iteration of this event.

I had concerns about including 6 meters in the contest, but felt that the likelihood of a band opening was slim so late in the season. Well, it proved me wrong.

The 6 meter openings that occurred throughout the duration of this event really had a negative impact on the contest and it became difficult to identify the difference between MS and Es contacts made on 6 meters.

All issues aside, the event was successful thanks to those that participated.

Using examples from similar events and suggestions from participants, I am currently putting together the revised MS event and will be presenting it soon.

Thanks to everyone that helped me put this together, participants in the event, and for all the recommendations for improvement.

The Fred Fish Memorial Award Fund, maintained by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), is a program that honors and remembers the contributions of Fred Fish, W5FF, to the world of amateur radio. Fred was a pioneer in the field, and his work and dedication helped to shape the VHF amateur radio community that we know today.

To help support the Fred Fish Memorial Award Fund, I am offering a special FFMA Supporter t-shirt for sale. All proceeds from the sale of these t-shirts, minus shipping, will be donated directly to the fund. This is a great way for individuals to show their support for the FFMA community and to help preserve the legacy of Fred Fish.

If you are interested in purchasing an FFMA Supporter t-shirt, please visit my shop to place your order. Your support is greatly appreciated, and I thank you for your contribution to the Fred Fish Memorial Award Fund.

Thank you for your support!

Please contact me for shipping outside the US.

Meteor Scatter Propagation

Meteor Scatter is a great propagation mode to utilize on VHF. With every major meteor shower is an increase in activity on the VHF bands and I often see many newcomers trying out the mode for the first time as well.

With help from many avid VHFers, I have put together a meteor scatter contest covering the 50, 144, and 222 MHz bands for the upcoming 2022 Perseids meteor shower peak in August. All are welcome to participate.

Operating and Contest Rules

This event is intended to be fun for those involved. Log checking will be similar to the “Honor System” used for CSVHF Sprints.

Official contest rules: North American Meteor Scatter Sprint


Please check contest rules and N1MM UDC for revisions 48 hrs. before start of contest.

Special Award

For this inaugural event, Bill Ockert, ND0B, has offered to supply a walnut inlaid oak callsign plaque to the winner of each category with 3 or more participants.

In the event of a tie, I ask that one participant defer to the other, otherwise I will flip a coin to decide which person receives the plaque.

Recently, by requests of others, I started a new project similar to FFMA where needed grid data is collected for the 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm bands with hope to provide information and tools necessary for grid chasers and rover/activators to sked and plan grid activations. Anyone that is actively collecting grids on theses bands is invited to participate in the data collection. Click here to view the current 144_222_432 US 488 Leader Board If interested in helping with this project, I can get you set up for data collection if you provide the following for each band you participate:
Once I have your data, I will email you a link to an online spreadsheet for you to use to track your data. (Give me a few days on this)
Your personal online spreadsheet will also produce simple grid square maps of your worked stations.
Please share and encourage others to participate.

It took me a bit of effort to get the Autogrid feature in WSJT-X running, but thanks to the work of N9ADG, Brian Moran , all the hard stuff was already put together on GitHub.

For others interested in this feature, here is the process.

But before you get going, let me preface this with the fact that I do not know scripting. I just hammer my way through things like this with a lot of trial and error. You may find much better and logical ways to do this.

  • Extract Files
  • In the extracted files copy the folder labeled ‘samples‘ and paste it into the ‘pywsjtx‘ folder.
  • Then copy the ‘pywsjtx‘ folder and paste it into the ‘Lib‘ folder of your python installation

Now that all the files are where they need to be, a few of the scripts must be modified to match up with your WSJT-X port settings and GPS settings.

Set up WSJT-X UDP for multicast

  • Set as above and be sure to check both boxes in the “Outgoing interfaces” drop-down.

Set up communication in ‘’

Next you need to modify the file ‘‘ so that you can read NMEA sentences from your GPS and UDP packets from WSJT-X.

From the ‘samples‘ folder make the following edits to ‘‘ (use your preferred editor, I use Visual Studio Code .)

  • At Line 21 set the COM port to match that of your GPS (My GPS was running on COM5)
  • At Line 22 set to match the Multicast IP Address in WSJT-X
  • At Line 23 set to match the UDP Port in WSJT-X

  • At Line 143 look for ‘9600’ and change it to match the baud rate of your GPS. (4800)
  • Save changes to ‘

Running Autogrid

If all went well, you should be able to run WSJT-X and set your gridsquare in the settings to a grid different than the grid you are in and check the box to enable Autogrid. Save settings.

  • Run ‘‘ by opening a command prompt, change the directory to where the file is located and then type “python” .
  • Hit Enter.

You should start to see UDP packets read from WSJT-X along with data from your GPS.

If everything is set up properly, you should see that your TX6 message in WSJT-X has changed to the gridsquare you are actually in.

In my case I could see the WSJT-X packets but nothing was coming in from the GPS.

These scripts are set up to read position information from NMEA sentences produced from the GPS andare specifically looking for the NMEA sentence that starts with “$GPGLL”.

While working through all this I discovered that my GPS was not producing $GPGLL sentences but it was producing $GPGGA sentences that provided position data as well. If you run into the same issue you should try the next couple of modifications to the scripts.

Modify scripts to read $GPGGA instead of $GPGLL

  • In the file ‘‘ change line 37 from ‘$GPGLL’ to ‘$GPGGA’

Since the NMEA sentence pattern for $GPGLL and $GPGGA differ, you will also need to modify the script that reads the sentence and extracts the position data.

Example of $GPGLL sentence : $GPGLL, 3723.2475, N, 12158.3416, W, 161229.487, A, A*41

Example of $GPGGA sentence: $GPGGA, 161229.487, 3723.2475, N, 12158.3416, W, 1, 07, 1.0, 9.0, M, , , , 0000*18

To read and properly extract position data from $GPGGA sentences:

  • From the folder titled ‘extra‘ , edit the file ‘‘ in your editor.
  • At line 71 change ‘$GPGLL’ to ‘$GPGGA’
  • At Line 73 change ‘A’ to ‘1’
  • At Line 75 change the components value from [0] to [1] and from [1] to [2] respectively
  • At Line 76 change the components value from [2] to [3] and from [3] to [4] respectively
  • Save changes to ‘
  • Run ‘‘ again.

If everything is correct you should now be reading the WSJT-X packets as well as GPS $GPGGA sentences and if you have “Autogrid” enabled in WSJT-X your TX6 message will update to your current gridsquare determined by your GPS position.

The Fred Fish Memorial Award was created in honor of Fred Fish, W5FF (SK), who is the first amateur to have worked and confirmed all 488 Maidenhead grid squares in the 48 contiguous United States on 6 Meters.

Learn more about what FFMA is here.

The rules of FFMA closely follow the VUCC rules. Please read the rules carefully.

I am the current maintainer of the FFMA Leader Board / Most Needed Grid Data which is a data collection from those chasing grids for FFMA. The intent of the Leader Board is to make data and information available to Rovers/Activators so that they may better sked and plan rare grid activations which benefit FFMA Grid Chasers.

If you are interested in participating in our data collection for the Leader Board and FFMA Most Needed Grids, please email me following these instruction (include your Name and Callsign) and I will create and send you a link to your personal data sheet for tracking your grid data.

I also recommend you sign up for the and the VHF Slack if you want to stay in the loop with the FFMA community and catch grid activations.