Tuesday, September 18, 2018

WQ6X SPRINTS thru another 4-Contest Weekend

A L A M E D A   P O I N T
September has been an "unusual" month for me in that I have been motivated to operate
2 out of the 3 NA Sprint contests; first the Cw Sprint and then the RTTY GiG. Normally, this
would not be considered much of a feat, except that in both cases WQ6X was running remote
from NX6T in Fallbrook. In recent weeks the internet dropouts seem to have gotten WORSE
(altho a solution is En Route) making SPRINT operation a "dicey" affair at best.

N X 6 T  R e m o t e l y
For RTTY contests, internet dropouts are less of a problem than for Cw GiGs.

In Cw contests, the decoding is done in my head - after the audio has made it's way (or not) through the internet.

With RTTY, the decoding is done on the NX6T end; other than a complete failure of the VNC Viewer connection,
a little latency is not impactively noticed - the decoded text is patiently waiting on the other end for my perusal.



After a birthday lunch at Alameda Point, the goal for this last contest weekend was to dabble
around in the half-dozen dx contests and state QSO parties, with the 4 hours of the NA RTTY
Sprint to "break things up a bit" - so to speak. Tuning around the bands throughout each
contest GiG time-frame, I managed to participate in 4 of those GiGs.

Any GiG I did not participate in this weekend had EVERYTHING to do with LACK of
Participants for those events. How can we participate in YOUR QSO Party if YOU won't play?!

In order for a state QSO Party to be effective, there need to be dozens (if not hundreds) of
stations operating from that state (activating ALL counties), with signals loud enough to be
heard around the continent, on as many band-modes as allowed by the QSO Party rules.
From my perspective, only the California QSO Party (CQP) accomplishes that goal.

According to the WA7BNM Contest Calendar, on the HF contest agenda for this last
weekend were the following events (in time chronology order):

  1. Collegiate QSO Party - nothing heard @ NX6T
    [CLICK HERE] for the rules related to this event.
  2. All Africa DX Contest - nothing heard @ NX6T
    [CLICK HERE] for the rules related to this event.
  3. Scandinavian Activity Contest - WQ6X submitted a SO-40 Log
    (possible 1st place).
    [CLICK HERE] for the rules related to this event.
  4. Iowa QSO Party (IOQP) - nothing heard @ NX6T
    [CLICK HERE] for the rules related to this event.
  5. New Hampshire QSO Party - internet spots seen but nothing heard @ NX6T
    [CLICK HERE] for the rules related to this event.
  6. Washington State Salmon Run (SR) - WQ6X submitted a SOAB Log.
    (possible 2nd place in W6)
    [CLICK HERE] for the rules related to this event.
  7. New Jersey QSO Party (NJQP) - barely heard @ NX6T - submitted a 20-m Cw Log.
    [CLICK HERE] for the rules related to this event.
  8. North American RTTY SPRINT - WQ6X stumbled thru to amass a WHOPPING 75 QSOs.
    [CLICK HERE] for the rules related to this event.

For all but the RTTY SPRINT contest, this weekend's operation offered up the opportunity to test out a newly arrived Autek QF-1A filter, for now accompanying the one already present.

After thorough alignment of both units (using an 800-hz audio generator), the laptop receive audio was split; one filter for each ear.  As it turns out, there is some signal crossover; not only in the audio lines, but also in the aural circuits of the brain.

The frustrating aspect of this approach is that sometimes the audio from the two filters combine "inside my head" in such a way that the frequency/selectivity knobs sometimes seemed to have no or little to no effect; then a minute later, the difference was quite noticeable.  True to form, the pair of QF-1A's really came through, pulling signals
out of the noise or de-emphasizing "louder" signals in the audio passband.

In my opinion, except the long-running Washington State Salmon Run (formerly the WAQP),
the other QSO parties were all but a BUST.  This echoes a complaint I voice every month
of every year in this contest BLOG - not enough operators (except Californians) participate
in their own state QSO parties. 

Case in point?  For 2018, NO Iowa or New Hampshire stations were heard, even tho states surrounding those target states were easily worked.  [CLICK HERE] to view the dismal IQP 3830 Statistics and [CLICK HERE] to view the dismal NHQP stats.  The NJ QSO Party is
not much better.  [CLICK HERE] to view these QSO Party statistics.

The Washington State Salmon Run was reasonably attended this year, despite the low SFI and HIGH A/K Indexes.  There were even a couple of out-of-staters (W9PL/7 & N6AU/7) to put KING & SAN counties on the air.

My BIGGEST Beef in this year's Salmon Run is the number of non-WA 7th area stations calling CQ SR with no indication they are NoT in Washington.  Example: K7QA should have ID'd as K7QA / MT.  Nearing the end of the SR GiG I ALSO called CQ however my call went like this: CQ SR WQ6X /6 WQ6X /CA.  What is so difficult with doing that? - the computer
does all the code sending anyway.

0
Amidst the above events, the NA SPRINT RTTY contest came and went.  It took awhile to get in the groove but eventually it all came together.  To keep the shack heat down I chose to run Station #1's K3 into an ACOM-2000a amplifier dialed back to around 375 watts; just enough
to be heard throughout North America and to work stations as far away as KP3 & JH7.
WQ6X ended up taking 5th place for USA and 1st place for W6.

At 05:30z Saturday evening, as the W7 activity died out, the 2-element Shorty-40 was turned to 15-degrees allowing 6 QSOs to be made with stations in Finland, Norway and Sweden for the Scandinavian Activity Contest (SAC).  This was just enough to take 2nd place for USA
and 1st place for W6 as a Single-OP on 40 meters running high power.

Did YOU play in the various weekend contests?
Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?
 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

All Asian SSB - not All it was cracked up to be


In recent years the All Asian SSB contest has increasingly been a disappointment, largely due
to the declining sunspot cycle in the last few years.. In fact, there are more Chinese, Philippine
and West Malaysian stations than in years past, except that due to the current low SFI, "nobody"
(at least not in N. America) can hear most of them.

The operating experience @ NX6T was frustrating because while we had plenty of available operators this time around, frequently there was nothing left to do but listen, listen, and listen
some more.




Running portable from W7AYT's QTH (in Concord, Ca.) offered up the opportunity to tweak the WQ6X Lazy 8JK sloper antenna I have been experimenting with during
the summer.

Unfortunately, while the new terminator resistors seem to have lowered the radiation angle somewhat and improved propagation to Indonesia (YB, YC, YD & YG), Oceania stations don't count when running All Asian from W6-Land.

Using the CH-250 vertical onsite @ W7AYT made most signals louder but along with an increase in atmospheric noise; i.e. the S/N ratio did NoT improve.

Using the WQ6X antenna switch to parallel the CHA-250 and 8Jk Sloper did not seem to produce the same results
as 2 weeks ago during the NAQP SSB contest - Go Figure.

















As it turns out, the only successful non-Asian activity was the 5 QSOs put in the AQP (Alabama QSO Party) log and the dozen QSOs made as NX6T during Sunday's TNQP (Tennessee QSO Party) GiG. In the AOP event, unfortunately, all Alabama stations worked were in Madison county, except one station in Walker county. The propagation from the SF bay area to Alabama was so poor (how
poor was it?) I could've WALKED to Walker county faster.


















Luckily, southeast propagation picked up late Sunday afternoon allowing me to work the TNQP
as NX6T after the All Asian GiG was over with (5pm local time). Because 20 meters had already opened to the Pacific (West) and no longer W4-land (the East), I began TNQP action on 40 meters.

In the last hour, there was an explosion of W4 signals on 80 meters giving me a shot at a top score
(I believe running as NX6T took a TNQP 2nd-place for W6-land).



N 6 K I  +  N N 6 X  +  N 6 E E G


For this contest weekend, 10 & 15 meters never materialized at either NX6T -OR- W7AYT, except
for JE1CKA on 15 meters (with an S-2 signal) during the All Asian contest. 20 meters gave us weak hope, while 40 meters carried the bulk of our operation. At 12:00z WQ6X put the QF-1 & QF-1A
filters in-line and, using a magnifying glass managed to put a handful of UA0 & JA stations in the
log; the one JA I "missed" was not a mult so I was not allowed to work him unless I invested 10 minutes and became a "run" station.

One of the more fun QSOs was with a UA0 station calling CQ wanting to ragchew.  Altho his English was considerably broken, we managed a 2 minute QSO out of which I received a 5-7 report from Magadan (where the "M" beacon is located) and his age of 33.  With that information I could legitimately enter him in the NX6T log.





QF-1 (top) & QF-1A

The Autek filters made an incredible difference during this contest weekend.

The Yaesu FT-1000mp's split audio feature runs into an Autek QF-1 & QF-1A filter cascade for the left ear and a JPS
NIR-12 + MFJ 752-C for the right ear.

Being able to switch between the
CHA-250 vertical and the 8JK sloper
also helped pull signals through.




For several weeks, it seemed that the "intentional QRM" (at least on 40 meters) had largely subsided.
Then comes THIS All Asian weekend.  When I came on shift at 11:00z (4am) the Woodpecker Radar (on 6.995) was furiously tormenting 40-meter communications; even at 7.220 it was an annoyance. 


Once I figured out how to filter most
of that out and call "CQ All Asia" on 7170.70 I was met with our friendly neighborhood "Data Cranker".

An hour later while calling "CQ All Asia" on 3729.29, the cranker was back.
Now I KNOW this was no accident.

I was ALSO plagued by the National Tuneup Frequency (NTF) throughout
the weekend. 


Luckily, the K3's auto-notch is rather effective at notching MOST of carriers out of the passband.
The remaining 20db of carrier audio was then auto-notched by the NIR-12 DSP unit processing audio for the right ear.  Auto-notch filters are one of God's top-10 most AWEsome inventions, but ONLY for SSB; on CW and RTTY auto-notch is relatively worthless.



I am so USED to experiencing intentional QRM on 40 meters that I feel blessed if I am left alone all weekend.

If I am going to have to put up with "intruders" in the Amateur bands then they better give us something in return.

With the Russian military beacons on 7.039, what they give back with their presence is a "free" propagation report between California and various locations in Eastern Russia.  On Saturday
morning (10:18z) the only beacons heard were the SLOW sending "M" beacon and the FASTER sending "K" beacon (with a longer pause between repeats).

The Indonesian SSB stations who love to ragchew below 7.020 give us nothing back in exchange
for all their noise and cacophony.  One morning I even heard several Buddhists chanting on 7.018; whether it was multiple stations or one station with 6 monks behind the microphone, I could not ascertain.
 

What about YOU?  Did YOU work the All Asian contest?
How many Asian prefixes and countries made it to YOUR Log?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

WQ6X Dabbles and Delves into Misc. Radiosport


The last weekend of August brings
a myriad of radiosport contest events sprinkled around a 48 hour operating period, opening with the Hawaiian
QSO Party (HQP) beginning @04:00z Friday evening (9pm, California time).

I didn't find out until Saturday morning that the Hawaiian area was hassled
by ravaging storms.  Later in the contest period, the entire planet was deluged by a solar-induced geomagnetic storm.


While the solar cycle may be at near minimum, that does not preclude solar "BELCHES" creating devastating (altho temporary) noise storms, or even brief blackouts. Instead, radio blackouts were replaced by internet dropouts on the Fallbrook end of the NX6T remote connection.


N X 6 T - STN-1
One of the goals from this weekend was to revisit the Autek QF-1A + MFJ 752-C audio
filter combination, specifically to process the laptop audio coming in remotely from NX6T
(in Fallbrook) by way of the RCForb radio-control software on both ends of the connection.

 

Hawaiian County Multipliers
In years past WQ6X has taken
2nd & 3rd place (for California)
in the Hawaiian QSO Party (HQP).
I was hoping this year would allow
me to surpass those efforts.
Oh well, maybe next year.
[CLICK HERE] for HQP
contest rules.

There were an additional handful
of contest events during this last weekend of August, including:


  • The Ohio QSO Party [CLICK HERE] to see the rules.
  • The Kansas QSO Party [CLICK HERE] to see the rules.
  • The SCC RTTY Contest [CLICK HERE] to see the rules.
  • The W/VE Islands Contest [CLICK HERE] to see the rules.
  • The YO DX Contest [CLICK HERE] to see the rules.
Circumstances did not allow participation in the W/VE GiG or YO Dx Contest.  I almost didn't find
time for the QSO parties or the SCC RTTY Gig.  Nevertheless there was enough variety of contest conditions to give the Autek and MFJ filters good exercise.

OHQP Ending Screen

My BEEF with OHQP is the short contest period (only 12 hours) and the relatively poor turnout of Ohioans for their own QSO Party.

As a Californian I am spoiled by the HEAVY turnout for the annual California QSO Party (CQP), meaning that I have high expectations for other state QSO parties and am easily disappointed.



KSQP Ending Screen
Now, do not construe this to imply
that I am singling out ONLY Ohioan amateur stations; the KSQP and HQP events showed little activity as well. 

This is always my frustration in QSO parties - not enough stations play in
the QSO party for their own state.

If you are looking to add contest
award certificates to your wall, state QSO parties are an easy way to accomplish that goal.

SCC RTTY Ending Screen
After the OHQP event ended (@04:00z), tuning around on 40 brought a flood of RTTY signals.  LooKing up radiosport happenings
on the WA7BNM Contest calendar,
I learned these stations were running the SCC RTTY HF Championship.

 By 07:30Z I ran out of SCC stations
to work.  Needing sleep, I shut things down.  At 14:00z the SCC GiG was over, with 31 QSOs in the log.


Getting back on the air at 15:00z there was 5 hours left in the KSQP and 13 hours left for the Hawaiian QSO party.

















Did YOU play around in last weekend's radiosport events?

Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

Friday, August 24, 2018

Q-Filtering for Fun and Profit - Part 2: What I've Learned So Far

OUTBOARD FILTER COMBINATIONS USED by WQ6X
In recent months, I have been experimenting w/various combinations of outboard audio filters for the FT-1000mp I operate from W7AYT's QTH in Concord.  In March of this year I wrote the original BLOG on this subject, not knowing what kind of changes I would be considering, each and every month.  ([CLICK HERE] to read the original BLOG entry.)   Recently, an original (ca. 1972) Autek QF-1 has been added to the mix of outboard filter equipment I use in contest operations; whether operated remotely from Alameda or portable @ W7AYT.  The original testing and evaluation of the QF-1
was made during my remote operation of NX6T in the recent NAQP Cw contest.  The QF-1
offered enough promise that it was transplanted to W7AYT joining the other Autek QF-1A unit.


QF-1 (Top) and QF-1A (Bottom)
Comparing the QF-1 & QF-1A filters,
it would seem that while the PEAK, NOTCH & LOWPASS capabilities are functionally similar, a close-up look at
the equipment schematic diagrams
show the circuits to be implanted
quite differently.

The original QF-1 shares a design flaw with the MFJ-752 series of filters.  Both filter designs utilize a pair of dual-500k pots (for selectivity and frequency) to control the feedback circuits for Peaking and Bandpass filtering.

Both designs suffer from a "cramped" tuning range caused by the selection
of a 500k pot value.  I am proposing a bridging resistor across each dual pot. 


Doing this will "spread" the actions of each knob more evenly "across" the dial, making the adjustment less "touchy".  How this experiment turns out I will document in Part 3 of this BLOG Series.

An interesting conundrum is that the QF-1A filters ALSO make use of dual-500k pots and yet there is no "dial-cramping" with the newer (1977) design.  Go Figure.  Operationally, the two filters are quite similar.  The 1A simply adds a dedicated notch filter allowing Peaking and Notching at the same time.

Component-wise, the QF-1 filter unit uses an LM-741 IC along with LM-747 IC's (which are dual-741 OP-amp IC's) in the filtering circuits.  The QF-1A uses LM-348 IC's which are QUAD-741 OP-amps inside one DIP package.  Comparing the two filter units, operationally I find the QF-1A does a superior job of filtering compared to the original QF-1; and of course, the QF-1A does not have
500k-pot range problems.


A not-externally noticeable advantage of the QF-1A is a pair of trim-pots inside of the unit.  Page 7 of the Autek instruction manual details a relatively simple alignment procedure to peak the performance of the QF-1A unit.  The manual ALSO says [re-]alignment should not be necessary.  In fact however, 3 QF-1A units I have refurbished ALL were somewhat out of alignment.  Investing a mere 20 minutes per unit yielded increased output gain on all units.



FILTER COMBINATION - AUGUST 2018

 
In recent years I have made use of various combinations of external filters.
While the Autek QF-1A and MFJ 752-C are functionally similar, I find the Autek
unit to produce sharper and/or more-pronounced audio peaks than the MFJ units.

For the current configuration, I brought back the JPS NIR-12, reinstating it in the Sub-RX
audio path of the Yaesu FT-1000mp.  It is NoT well understood that the Sub-RX has nothing
in the way of IF-Shift, NOTCH or DSP.  The NIR-12 effectively provides this functionality. 
The NIR-12's DNF (Digital Notch Filter) is quite effective.

While the NIR-12 has a sharply tunable bandwidth, outputting the signal to the MFJ-752C allows taking advantage of the MFJ CWF-2 custom-installed "under the hood" replacing the MFJ's cheesy NL (noise limiter) diodes.

Bottom-line: No matter how highly-rated your receiving equipment, they can all benefit from external audio filtering.  Additionally, if you are a "knob-twiddler" like me, external filtering keeps me busy and provides the illusion that I can eliminate ANY QRM that seems to be problematic.

What about YOU?
Do YOU utilize external filters?
If NoT, WHY NoT?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

WQ6X Wings another NAQP SSB Dual-Operation

WQ6X/6 @ W7AYT in Concord
Altho this was another last-minute WQ6X Dual-OP Operation for NX6T @ W7AYT, I found out
later that N6KI had put me on the OP-list nearly a week ago. The "burbling" internet connection
I encountered 2 weeks ago before during the NAQP Cw contest has never really been resolved;
it seems to "randomly" come and go producing 150ms dropouts throughout the contests, wasting
significant time in getting EXCH data from other stations; conversely, they copied me just fine.

On the WQ6X remote end of things, thanks to the beautiful audio of the Electro Voice EV-664 broadcast microphone into the FT-1000mp,
I didn't need the Heil-PRO headset.

For listening, I used a cheesy pair of white ear buds with fidelity matched
by the outboard audio filters.

Saturday morning before the 11am contest start I implemented an easy enhancement to the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper array.

This came in the form of 280-ohm terminating resistors at the electrically "far end" of each leg in the Cobra-dipole array (4 legs); the goal being to lower the signal radiation angle, hopefully transforming the sloper into more of a DX antenna and less of an NVIS cloud warmer.


The latest filter configuration @W7AYT
Another goal was to disentangle the morass of audio cables that have haphazardly evolved during previous contest operations @ W7AYT.
For this event I ended up by cascading one of the QF-1A filters into the newly acquired (but considerably older) QF-1 filter (circa 1972) for the left ear audio from the Yaesu FT-1000mp's Main-RX. Because the MP's Sub-RX has no DSP the JPS NIR-12 Dsp unit into an old MFJ-752 does almost as good a job
as the eDSP in the 1000mp.



Afternoon OPs - New and Old
Running as a Multi-2 entry allowed us to attain B-I-C (butt in chair) for Station #2 throughout contest (except the dinner hour).  Anytime there was no onsite B-I-C, remote operators kept Station #2 active at all times.

WQ6X opened the contest remotely from Station #1, being relieved at 20:30z by the afternoon onsite operators.  W2PWS opened the contest on 20-meters with B-I-C.  Hundreds of QSOs were put in the
20-meter log and hundreds more when N6KI made the scene.


Because NAQP contests are over too early to coincide with the usual after-midnight intentional QRM, imagine my surprise during pileup running when the run frequency was invaded by one of several IDIOTs who thought it was the National Tuneup Frequency (NTF). Why is it that NTF QRM usually happens while I am trying to pick an S-3 signal out of an S-9 noise-level. Luckily the K3 has an
IF-based DNF (Digital Notch Filter); that coupled with a JPS NIR-12 on my end rendered most
of those numerous carriers all but inert.

Antennas @ W7AYT's QTH

Installing the 280-Ohm terminating resistors on each leg of the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper SEEMS to have lowered the radiation-angle, as I was hoping.  After the NAQP GiG was long over, I spent time listening to JA signals as they played around in their local KJC contest.

In recent Asian contests I have considered the Northwest antenna direction to be a propagation-vortex to Japan and beyond.  This weekend suggests that problem may have well been alleviated.

Reception conditions of WWV on 20 & 25 Mhz also seem to have improved considerably with the 8JK antenna update.  Unfortunately, the A & K Indexes reminded us that S-9 noise levels could be expected, and in fact were.  On the WQ6X end of things band condx were noisily-HORRIBLE, resulting in only 6 QSOs to the log.
Bummer Dewd.












 
When it was all over, we ended with 781 QSOs and 120 multipliers giving us
a not insignificant score of 93.6k points.

Did YOU work the NAQP contest?
Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

Monday, August 20, 2018

WQ6X Dual-OPs NAQP Cw (another look)

(While I wrote up the August NAQP CW contest for the WQ6X Contest Blog, I had originally intended a different write up, which was promptly misplaced.  In the spirit of completion, here is the original BLOG entry with some different yet appropriate PICs to go with it.  [CLICK HERE] to read the
original Contest BLOG post.)



It's hard to believe 7 months of 2018 is already behind us.  For WQ6X, NAQP signifies the beginning of August and the beginning of the winding down of Summer.  While the NAQP RTTY contest was held the end of July, domestically the NAQP CW/SSB contests are the focus of the month of August.

Because NAQP is only a 12 hour contest, it makes no sense to make a trip Fallbrook to join NX6T;
it [almost] isn't worth the trip to operate from W7AYT. Client commitments were light on Friday so I took the remainder of the afternoon off, arriving is Concord before 6pm; with enough daylight left
for antenna-futzing, which turned out to be unnecessary.

N6KI & WM6Y
The goal for this NAQP weekend was to assist NX6T remotely while enjoying 6+ hours of WQ6X
operator time from Concord (EB section).   Unfortunately, a shortage of live operators in the chair (B-I-C = butt in chair) for long periods relegated N6CY & WQ6X to remotely keeping NX6T "pounding them out".  Luckily, we had a busy afternoon shift with the operators who could make it.   In the end, just like 2018 FD, WQ6X had 90 minutes to put QSOs in the log.  Those 61 QSOs were a fraction of the 300+ I made running STN-1 for NX6T.



NX6T after NAQP is over
During several recent NX6T / W7AYT dual-OP weekends, I have perfected a set of Y-Split audio cables, allowing the combination of XCVR audio from NX6T and stereo (2-channel) audio from the Yaesu FT-1000mp I run from W7AYT.

In the current (but consistently changing) configuration, I enjoyed having a pair of QF-1A, back-ended
by an MFJ 752-C audio shaper for the predominantly left ear oriented sound; all that, couple that with the 1000mp's eDSP and Shift/Width facilities, and the WQ6X end of the remote connection is as filtered as it gets.

With the FT-1000mp, for S&P'ing while running a frequency (with the Main-RX), the Sub-RX is predominantly right-ear and can benefit from outboard audio processing.  The same is true for the NX6T remote audio coming in via the internet; it TOO can receive benefit from the Autek, MFJ and JPS NIR-12 filters.  The only thing these filters CAN'T "Fix" are internet dropouts; being analog filters, they are unable to process things which are not [there].

Because time was also spent experimenting with the WQ6X parallel antenna switch, considerable attention was made to reception/propagation from Northern / Southern California using the CH-250 vertical, the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper, and both in parallel.  Synchronizing the radio's 2-VFO's allows "diversity reception" (as described on P.46 of the Yaesu FT-1000mp operator manual)  The use of outboard filters complements the diversity reception capability of the 1000mp considerably. 
At several points throughout the weekend, I was listening in Concord (SF East Bay) to NX6T
in Fallbrook (near Oceanside), all while S&P'ing @ W7AYT via the Sub-RX.

WQ6X Ending Screen
When the NAQP contest ended, WQ6X put a whopping 62 QSOs in the log from W7AYT and over 300+ QSOs in the NX6T log remotely.  The dual-OP operation allowed me to improve the audio routing as ongoing experiments are made to determine the best outboard filter combination for maximizing performance of the already AWEsome Yaesu FT-1000mp.

Did YOU work the August 2018 NAQP Cw contest?

What kind of outboard filters do YOU use?

 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

WQ6X Stumbles Thru WAE Cw Contest

WQ6X Remote operation w/QF-1 & QF-1A Filters
Every radiosport event brings unique/different problems often requiring custom solutions.
For the 2018 WAE (Worked All Europe) GiG, the biggest problem came in the form of a repeating internet dropout approx. every 5 seconds. This continual outage defined the WAE contest weekend.

The Worked All Europe contest is considered by many (including myself) to be the most COMPLEX

of all radiosport events. In most contests, a regular QSO is worth 2 points. In WAE, each QSO is worth ONE point; to receive another 1-point you must send a different station a QTC message,
which is in effect a report to the 2nd station about the QSO made with the 1st station. 
For efficiency, QTC messages can be sent in sets/books of 1 to 10 to a single recipient operator.
[CLICK HERE] to read the 2018 WAE contest rules.

The 2018 WAE contest resulted in barely 10% of the 2017 score. Because of the internet dropouts, there was NO WAY I was going to reliably send 10 QTC messages (let alone 1).  Of course sending

a QTC message for every QSO effectively doubles the score. When stations would send "QTC?",
I would press the pre-configured F-10 key to send "NOQTC". It was frustrating to listen to all the
"boys and girls" sending QTC's and I couldn't - Bummer Dewd!

NX6T station during Friday nite setup
CW-wise, WAE brings us many SUPER European operators, like YQ6A who kept the code speed under 28 wpm, sending a fast 5NN and a much slower serial number; the correct way to operate.  Unfortunately, MANY European operators were trying to impress people by running 35wpm during their CQ calls.  When you combine that with QRM/QRN and internet dropouts, it often took 20+ seconds to JUST figure out the callsign.  By the time I am ready to call the station, he is now
receiving a packet of 10 QTC messages.  WQ6X ain't waiting around for that - Buh Bye!
Remember: Your callsign is your calling card, if we copy it incorrectly then YOU don't
get credit for the QSO - SLOW DOWN people.

Commitments with my Toastmaster's club prevented me from getting started until 05:30z; by then, Europe had already faded into Fallbrook oblivion.  I took the time to configure the N1MM+ software
for WAE, connected and tested the outboard audio filters and caught 8+ hours of sleep. 
The 1st WAE QSO did not make it to the log until after 15:00z.


As you can see from the graph, 20-meters was the primary band for working Europe.  Running the C-31 yagi (7-el on 10, 5-el on 15 and 3-el on 20) I took a number of looks at 15 and 10 meters. 

Unfortunately, a low SFI of 67 did not contribute to an opening on those bands, at least the A-K Indexes were reasonably low; while there was plenty of static QRN, amazingly, the K3 radio's NB circuits knocked it all out.

Starting late on Friday missed an opening on 40 and 80 never materialized to Europe from NX6T's NVIS coaxial (double bazooka) inverted Vee for 80.


In radiosport, no matter what the contest result, I always learn something new technically.  
Just before the WAE contest weekend, an original Autek QF-1 filter was added to the laptop audio, effectively in parallel with the already existing QF-1A.  While each ear was routed through one of the filters, because RCForb laptop audio is effectively monaural, technically, the same audio content was being filtered in two different ways for each ear; not quite stereo Cw, but certainly effective enough to raise even weak signals above the noise.

N1MM+ Ending Screen for 2018 WAE
While the 2018 WAE Cw contest was quite a disappointment, it did allow me to work things out at
the remote access site.  I also learned how to invoke the onsite air conditioning in Fallbrook, allowing me to be self-sufficient.  Running 550 watts allowed WQ6X to be heard while keeping the NashVille shack relatively cool.  How CooL is that?

Did YOU work the WAE Cw contest?

How many QTC messages did YOU send?