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?


Thursday, August 9, 2018

WQ6X DUAL-OPS NAQP CW CONTEST (and other things)

WQ6X running barefoot for a change
Just when I thought summer was just getting started, the end-of-July NAQP RTTY contest came
and went. ([CLICK HERE] to read about WQ6X's participation in that event.) Right behind the RTTY GiG is of course the NAQP CW event.  Wanting to run another dual-OP GiG, Friday afternoon I made my way to W7AYT's QTH for the weekend. During the weekend a goal was to investigate different receive audio filter combinations for the FT-1000mp as well as test different antenna configurations for the custom-wired WQ6X antenna phasing switch.

Every remote operation with Fallbrook (whether run from W7AYT or from unknown locations in Alameda) bring with it a unique set of problems; most recently radio to RCFOFB audio connections.  Thursday evening I remoted in to verify the internet connection & the audio; everything checked out.

On Friday evening the audio again failed to come through. 
Troubleshooting the problem brought the realization that somehow some of the audio settings in the RCFORB software had "mysteriously" been changed.  When queried, no one owned up to changing anything; or, as my mother used to say: "then "Mr. Nobody" must have done it".  Nevertheless, once the settings were reverted back to their proper settings, everything worked FB.



WQ6X Equipment setup @ W7AYT
Once the NX6T remote access was resolved, then it was time to setup the Yaesu FT-1000mp @ W7AYT's QTH.  In recent weeks I have been running the 1000mp into various combinations of outboard audio filters.  Because I also run NX6T remotely during the same contest, I have worked
out a parallel cabling arrangement between the 1000mp, a Toshiba WIN-7 laptop and a HEIL Pro headset.  The cables are routed directing the internet audio from RCFORB into the input of the
Autek QF-1A filter, along with the transceiver's Main-RX audio.

Directing the radio and laptop audio run through separate isolation transformers keeps unnecessary ground-mismatch hum out of the ears.  Other annoying artifacts can be eliminated incidentally via the PEAK/Lo-PASS filter paths of the QF-1A.  For this weekend's operation, output of the QF-1A was fed into a long-used MFJ 752-C Audio Shaper, before making its way to the HEIL headset.
 

Running NX6T as a Multi-2 operation allowed a number of different operator configurations; some remote, some live in the shack atop the hill (900' high) in Fallbrook.  At 18:00z on Saturday, N6CY
ran 20 meters remotely while I alternated between 15 and 10 meters.

Because of the surprising 10-meter opening in the NAQP RTTY contest, I was hoping for a similar opportunity for NAQP CW; nope, lengthy S&P'ing and CQ calls yielded a WHOPPING 2 QSOs for
the log.  Luckily, 160 meters (at the other end of the spectrum) produced 32 QSOs to counter-balance the statistics.

For some reason, RF was getting into the K3 on 10 meters causing the radio to power itself off during each 2nd CQ call.  Reducing the power to 80 watts was enough to resolve the problem, but not enough to add more 10-meter QSOs to the log.  The 64 QSOs on 15 meters, while not a huge number, was to me a "bonus surprise".


NN6X + N6KI + N6EEG
Throughout the afternoon WQ6X ran station #1, taking breaks to put a few QSOs into the WQ6X Concord log.

23:00z on 20 meters & 01:15z on 40 were the longest runs for WQ6X.

By 03:00z I was back running remote during the "dinner hour".

N6KI joined me again around 05:10z and
we ran dual until 05:50
when I called it quits
with NX6T.

The last 10 minutes of NAQP were focused on 40 meters for WQ6X.  I was rewarded with QSOs from 8P5, WH6 and KH6, amongst some statesiders.  While WQ6X missed the minimum goal of 100+ QSOs, I DiD manage to fulfill several other operational goals for the portable operations from W7AYT's QTH.

Included in these goals was an innovative way to make use of the WQ6X antenna switch.  This allows running the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper and the CH-250 vertical, either separately or (using  switch position 3) paralleling the coax from those antennas, running the two simultaneously.  While the radiation lobe(s) of these combined antennas are probably WEIRD, a number of stations were heard with the combo that could not be brought through with the individual antennas run separately.


2-el-10 + Lazy 8JK Sloper + CH-250
Overall, the NAQP Cw weekend was a mixture of fun, frustration and WEIRDness.  In the Multi-2 classification, NX6T took 8th place for USA and North America.

While WQ6X barely made an appearance this Cw GiG,
at LEAST I took the opportunity to test antenna sharing
as well as audio sharing

In the realm of audio-sharing, this operation allowed consolidating the previous morass of different audio
cables and multiple "Y" connectors down to two cables
and one junction block.

Combining the laptop audio with audio coming from the radio allowed the possibility of streaming electronic music from Pandora while running frequencies, however occasionally the music would "beat" with the Cw making code copy difficult; which is what Pandora's PAUSE
button is for.
 
Tuning around 40-meter Cw after the contest I encountered Buddhist chanting on 7.020 Lsb.  The chanting would build to a fervor and then it would be quiet; repeating this cycle every 5 minutes or so.
HuH?  WTF?
 
Did YOU work the North American QSO Party (NAQP)?
 
Is NX6T or WQ6X in YOUR log?
 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

WQ6X RUNS NAQP & DMC RTTY Contests


Like many WQ6X remote operations, the July NAQP RTTY contest was a last minute setup.
Earlier that week there was an attempt to run NX6T in the NAQP contest as a remote Multi-2 operation until they discovered there is no reliable/accurate way to remotely dial back STN-1's
ACOM 2000a amplifer down to exactly 99 - 100 watts (the power limit for NAQP contests).

Enter WQ6X. On Friday evening it occured to me that running STN-1's Elecraft K3 barefoot at 55 watts would result in only a 3db reduction in the signal level; an amplifier would not be necessary.

The BiG secret to running lower power operations is directing the RF energy into gain-producing antennas , such as the C-31 and Shorty-40 yagi's at NX6T's Fallbrook location; both 31mh.

The 80-meter coaxial dipole (atop tower #2 in it's 13mh lower elevation) was enough to put 15 RTTY QSOs in the
80-meter section of the log.

While the overall operation was ad-HOC, WQ6X managed QSO #1 by 18:01z. Running the Elecraft K3 @55 watts kept the radio and the shack relatively cool; had I run the ACOM 2000a with no one onsite to turn on the shack A/C, simple heat problems woulda become BiG problems.

Thanks to the DMC RTTY contest (which began at 12:00z), putting 11 QSOs in the DMC log from 16:00z - 18:00z allowed testing of the radio facilities in Fallbrook, as well as the internet connections on both sides of the radio operation.

NX6T on Friday evening
Pre-loading N1MM's keyboard RTTY macros on Friday evening, software operation ran nearly flawlessly; there were even 1/2 dozen opportunities to effect proper use of the F-10 "NOW"
key while running a frequency.

During S&P operations another 1/2 dozen QSOs made it to the log by way
of the other station's proper use of their "NOW" key.

As I often do during RTTY & CW GiGs, run frequencies are PRECISELY chosen such that when some IDIOT calls Cq EXACTLY on my run frequency, I know
it did NoT happen by accident.

 That is also why I have the F-11 key configured to send "QRL - Pse QSY". When a station attempts to move-in on my run frequency, I press the F-11 key TWICE for each time I press F-1 to call CQ. 
In most cases the intruder gets the message and QSY's to another frequency.

While we are still near the bottom of the solar sunspot cycle, the SFI was UP high enough and long enough that 15 AND 10 meter openings were a part of the daytime operation. In fact, more QSos made it into the log on 10-meters than on 15 - GO Figure. While running 10-meters a periodic scan
of the C-31 from North to East to South America and back again put dozens of QSOs in the log.
While contest goal of 300 QSOs was JUST missed (293), considering the 55-watt power level,
I was amazed how easy it was to keep run frequencies active.

Because NAQP GiGs are 12 hour contests beginning at 18:00z and ending at 06:00z it is reasonable to expect that encountering intentional QRM probably will not be a problem; especially during a RTTY contest. Unfortunately, when I started up on 40 meters around 02:00z, I no sooner put out the first "CQ NAQP" call, when a Spanish-speaking SSB station (with no callsign ID, of course) zero-beats
the 7094.94 run frequency EXACTLY; i.e., this was no accident. While I am used to Asian SSB signals in the upper portions of the 40-meter Cw/Digital spectrum, rarely does that occur before midnight (07:00z), and certainly not in Spanish.


Events of the day allowed working the allowed 10 out of the 12 NAQP hours (the limit for Single OP operations). Altho there are fewer stations operating the final 2 hours of the contest, it is not surprising to hear "new" stations during that period; possibly OPs who got on the air at the last minute to make a few QSOs.

What about you?

Did YOU play in the NAQP and/or DMC RTTY contests?

Is WQ6X in YOUR log?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

WQ6X SOUND PROCESSING: Maximizing the Art of Experimentation

As you may know, I love to knob-twiddle, but ONLY if pressing buttons and twiddling knobs will effect an improvement of the received signal. In the middle of the night, knob-twiddling helps alleviate operational boredom, helping to keep me awake.

A 20+ year old FT-1000mp is still contemporary
In March 2018 I published a couple of BLOG Entries detailing the many different aspects of processing RX audio from the Yaesu FT-1000mp during portable and contest operations:


Running a Yaesu FT-1000mp offers plenty of adjustable knobs useful for extracting weak signals
out of the noise. Unfortunately, most of those receive enhancement features (IF Shift/Width, NOTCH
& e-DSP) are functional ONLY with the Main-RX.  The Sub-RX is seriously lacking in interference reduction facilities, which is what makes external filter units so important.


For the 1000mp's Main-RX, I prefer to utilize outboard Autek QF-1A, JPS NIR-12 and MFJ-752 filters (in that order of usefulness). 

For the Sub-RX, because it sports no DSP auto-notch filtering, the JPS NIR-12 becomes a crucial addition.  While the bandwidth adjust controls of the NIR-12 are useful, I leave that filtering aspect to a QF-1A inserted between the XCVR and the NIR-12.

Pricewise, QF-1A's can easily be had for under $50.  JPS NIR-12's are much harder to come by and can fetch as much as $200+; altho the average price seems to be around $125.  When I bought an NIR-12 from W6SW, it had little use, which for me made it worth the $175 I paid. 
(List price was around $249.)

Based on the recommendation of Dr. Joel (W1ZR), because it is equipped with an output amplifying stage, it makes sense to put the NIR-12 AFTER the QF-1A in the FT-1000mp's Sub-RX audio line.  [CLICK HERE] to read my comments about Dr. Joel's recommendation.

This filter combination is very useful when running Multi-mode contest events such as state QSO parties, Field Day and the IARU HF championship on 40 meters.  It allows running a frequency on CW using VFO-A while using the Sub-RX to
look for SSB stations.

The Automatic Notch Filter (ANF) circuit in the NIR-12 does an excellent job of knocking out 40-meter shortwave broadcast carriers.  The bandpass filtering of the QF-1A peaks scuzzy SSB audio making it more readable.  Remember however
that being an audio-based filter, even though the carriers
are removed from the audio stream, any deleterious effects those carriers may have on the AGC circuits will still exist.

Cascading the QF-1A & NIR12 for the FT-1000mp's Sub-RX audio allows emulation of the Main-RX notch filter features.  The NIR-12 ANF is as effective as the ANF in the FT-1000mp.  The notch filter
in the QF1-A seems to be as effective as MP's manual notch filter.

Remember that the FT-1000mp Main-RX is equipped with I-F shift and width-reduction capabilities. 
While the Sub-RX is lacking in this respect, at anytime the A<-->B button allows swapping the VFO's
giving immediate access to the SHIFT/WIDTH functionality.

Technically the QF-1A is not equipped with any form of noise reduction circuitry, yet the PEAK and Bandpass filtering often result in an improved signal/noise ratio.

Although the NIR-12 IS equipped with
a Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) circuit, while it is continuously adjustable, I find the 4-position DNR switch of the Yaesu
FT-1000mp provides more effective "noise-softening" than does the NIR-12.

Additionally, altho the NIR-12 is equipped with audio bandwidth and frequency shift controls, being audio-based, their effect is not nearly as pronounced as the IF-based
SHIFT/WIDTH controls built into the Yaesu FT-1000mp's Main-RX.

In the 21st century, we have BOTH analog and digital filtering methods available for use in ALL
areas of our receiving equipment; the RF frontend, the many/various I-F stages and the front-end audio circuitry.

Surviving in contests and DX pileups require that we utilize every bit of technology available to us.  While older analog-style filters may seem primitive by today's standards, remember that they ALL utilize a primitive (originally undesirable) feature known as feedback.  Technically the DSP circuits
in today's modern radios don't utilize feedback, however the A-to-D and D-to-A conversion circuitry make extensive use of feedback.

WQ6X's FT-1000mp filter usage in May 2018
Additionally, remember that many filter techniques (such as noise-blanking and DSP noise reduction) often add their own distortion (i.e. noise) in the process.  I guess in the end, what matters is whether or not the signal I am attempting Q-5 copy on is in fact becoming more-copyable with all these filter buttons and knobs. 

In all my contest experience, while I've had mixed results with various external interference
reduction units, overall, the time, money and effort have been well worth it.  There are contest
certs in the WQ6X contest certificate binder that would certainly not be there had I not made use
of external audio shaping and filtering.

What about you?
What kind of external filtering equipment is used at YOUR QTH?

Friday, July 20, 2018

WQ6X Dual-OPs 2018 IARU Contest - Part 2 of 3: Making it all happen



In Part 1 of this BLOG series I described the every-4-year tradition of the IARU HF contest that, like the Olympics, pits the best of best operators from around the world to win the coveted Gold, Silver and Bronze medals; known as the WRTC championship competition. Around the world, contest participants endeavor to work the WRTC stations.


In 2014, the WRTC Championship was held in New England.  This allowed U.S. stations easier access to those operations.  (For the 2018 GiG, European stations will have a similar access advantage to the WRTC stations operating from Germany.)

Operating multi-OP as WQ6X from N6GEO's Brentwood QTH, we managed to work nearly
half (21) of the WRTC stations; at least according to the surprise box of QSLs received via the W6 QSL BURO.

I wrote about our multi-OP participation in that WRTC event for the July 2014 IARU WQ6X contest BLOG entry.  [CLICK HERE] to read my 2014 IARU HF Championship contest reflections.



 
Checking coax lines @ W7AYT
For the 2018 WRTC/IARU competition I was strongly considering hopping Amtrak to Oceanside joining up with the NX6T crew live.  Eventually however July being
a busy month kept me in the bay area, allowing me to work with clients on
Friday (before QSY'ing to W7AYT's QTH
in Concord) and afterwards on Sunday
in Alameda.

As I mentioned in Part 1, an audio problem on my laptop prevented me from running SSB audio remotely from NX6T. 

On the WQ6X end of things, while the Electro Voice 664 produced superb SSB contest audio, there was a dearth of SSB stations heard working the IARU contest from the W7AYT QTH. 

Luckily, to make up for no SSB, WQ6X put over 350 Cw QSOs into NX6T's log.  Remember: Cw Q's are worth 3 points, while Ssb Q's are worth only 2.

After my 15:00z relief at NX6T I managed to put 20-meter QSOs in WQ6X's log for a 1/2 hour before being summoned remotely back to NX6T.  Then, while running a frequency on 20-meters for 45 minutes, the day crew took over @ NX6T, allowing me to put more QSOs into WQ6X's log before snatching 3 hours of sleep.

N6KI AND KB7V
While I spent the afternoon putting QSOs into WQ6X's log, a webcam look into NX6T's operations found the Fallbrook operators running in a coordinated fashion.

In a multi-single transmitter operation, only one radio
may transmit at a time.   Additionally, switching
bands and modes require
that operations in/on that band/mode continue
for at least 10 minutes.

 
QF-1A filters & other GooDies
Typical of my involvement with NX6T operations, I run Station #1 during the 8pm
to 10:30 period (local time) allowing the other operators
to replenish their energy for one more GO of it.

When they come back I either work WQ6X QSOs and/or get some sleep until the 1:30 am wakeup call.


This year was similar but different.  While the live OPs were off having dinner, Station #2 was run remotely by other OPs allowing WQ6X more opportunities to pump up the score.  At 04:30 (9:30 PDT) I took over on Station #1, turning it over to N6KI in the chair at 06:30z giving WQ6X
another run on 40 meters and some QSOs on 80.

Tower #2: 2-el 40, Stepp-IR & Inv. VEE's

I finally got to sleep at 12:15 when less than 20 minutes later I was given the wakeup call; for some reason an hour early.  Oh well, IARU only happens once a year.

Starting off running a frequency (3531.31) put enough QSOs in the log to keep NX6T busy until the sudden 09:00z JA opening.


During that period, a BONUS came in the form of ZL3TE & VK2GR on the side - it doesn't get much better than that; add to that CM8NMN (off the back of the beam) followed by HS3ANP & 9M2PUL.

Because my WQ6X operation was listed as ASSISTED I am allowed to use
the FT-1000mp (both Main/Sub RX) to gauge propagation paths, including the path from Fallbrook to Concord.  While (I believe) the contest rules forbid WQ6X from WORKing NX6T, there is no restriction on my LISTENING to NX6T's signals to spot openings from the Southwest.

Being that I was focused more on keeping Station #1 going as much as possible, I didn't really have much time to put QSOs in WQ6X's log.  That is ok.  What time I DiD spend was
a lot of fun augmented by a GIGANTIC can
of Peanut Butter Stout.

Unfortunately, the MFJ-1026 noise canceller was nothing more than a "paper weight" during the 2018 IARU contest.

Luckily, most of the RX noise experienced
by WQ6X was mostly handled by the FT-1000mp's eDSP controls and/or the QF-1A filters; which in addition to peaking signals above the noise, also keep much of the low-level noise outside the filter skirts.


When it came time to submit the WQ6X IARU contest log, making the 6 QSOs on 20 meter SSB relegated the log to the MIXED mode category.  As it turns out, my score standing (as reported by the 3830 Scores Website) is slightly higher than had the submission been for CW alone.

There is lots more to say about the 2018 IARU contest.
For openers, aren't you just a BIT curious about who took the trophies
for WRTC 2018?  Stay tuned for Part 3.

Did YOU work the 2018 IARU HF Championship?
Is WQ6X and/or NX6T in YOUR LoG?





 


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

WQ6X Dual-OPs 2018 IARU Contest - Part 1: Another 4 years

[Note: The majority of the text for this BLOG Entry was written
while riding the train to Concord Friday evening, July 13th
]

While July's IARU HF Championship is an annual event, the WRTC (Olympic-style) finalists only compete every 4 years.  In 2014, the WRTC was held in New England bringing us a slew of unique K1x, W1x & N1x 1x1 callsigns.

The book Contact Sport by J.K. George was written about the 2014 championship event. 
I made a mention of this book in the 2017 BLOG write-up about last year's IARU GiG. 
[CLICK HERE] to read this BLOG entry.

For the 2018 WRTC event from Germany a series of unique "Yxx" callsigns were created, one for each of the two person teams.  They put together a special WRTC page on Facebook. [CLICK HERE] to see the WRTC Facebook page.  From NX6T in Fallbrook, we will be looking for an opening to Europe on 20 meters as soon as the contest begins; 40 [meters] will be fading away as 20 fades
in to the Northeast and then the North Northeast.

Unique to the ITU HF Championship is the sending of our ITU Zone number instead of the usual CQ Zone.  According to the CQ model, California is in Zone 3; under the ITU model, California is in Zone 6.  Luckily, on Cw the computer sends the exchange; on SSB we still have to "think it and speak it".

For WQ6X, the 2018 goal is to operate NX6T during the usual night-time and dinner-time operating time slots.  During the "in between" periods I endeavor to put WQ6X on the air from W7AYT's QTH.  With an incrementally-increasing SFI, I hope to give W7AYT's 10-meter yagi a workout; especially towards South America.


An operating goal on-the-side is  continuing experiments with different audio filter combinations; including a
pair of Autek QF-1a's, a JPS NIR-12
for the FT-1000mp's Sub-RX audio (complementing the eDSP's DNR & DNF features built-in to the Main-RX) and the beefed-up MFJ 752-B (with
it's newly added CW-1 filter).

While the QF-1A's worked superbly, the MFJ filter made almost no difference. 
Because there were so many audio cabling situations to contend with during the 24-hour contest period, I never got around to including the NIR-12 in the Sub-RX's audio line; next time I operate
from W7AYT the NIR-12 will be worked in appropriately.

Because the IARU GiG starts at 12:00z (5am) it will be up to WQ6X and N6CY to put Stations #1 & #2 (respectively) on the air.  Unfortunately, due to microphone audio problems on the laptop being used for remote access of NX6T, it looks like WQ6X will be running ONLY Cw during remote access.  Luckily there are a number of experienced SSB operators on the schedule for live operating from Fallbrook.

Hellllloooooo Radio

On the UPSIDE of things, the SFI
was a little higher as of late and the geomagnetosphere was actually
rather quiet. 

While there was noise experienced at BOTH the NX6T and W7AYT QTH's, amazingly, the DSP-based NB circuits on both the K3 and the 1000mp were able to knock most it out, creating a noticeable improvement in signal-to-noise ratio.


Running the FT-1000mp's stereo audio into a pair of Autek QF-1A filters never ceases to amaze my ears.  While the QF-1A frequency controls can be a bit "touchy" (almost too sharp), when set exactly, signals literally JUMP OUT of nothing into about Q-4 copy.  Most DSP filters can't make
anywhere NEAR that claim.

Propagation-wise, around 04:00z I turned on the FT-1000mp @ W7AYT's QTH and (using just the Lazy 8JK Sloper) was able to copy WWV signals on EVERY operating frequency: 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20 & 25 MHZ.  While the 20 & 25 mhz signals were not S-9, the WX forecasts were quite readable.

N6KI Tuning-UP on 160
It looks like things are ready to roll for the start
of the IARU GiG starting at 12:00z starting-time.

In part 2 of this series,
I will detail how it all turned out.

Stay TUNED!

   Ron
 WQ6X

Thursday, July 12, 2018

WQ6X Dabbles in Marconi Memorial & DL-DX RTTY Contest


In between the Canada Day (the RAC contest) and the IARU HF Championship is a pair of international contests; one Cw (the Marconi Memorial Contest) and one RTTY (the DL-DX RTTY GiG).  In years past, the Marconi GiG has shown a not-insignificant amount of activity, while the
DL-DX GiG was relatively quiet.

For 2018, exactly the reverse was true.  During the Marconi Cw GiG, I needed to get out an electron microscope to see station spot entries on the N1MM+ bandmap.  Not knowing that in advance, I went to great lengths Friday evening to configure the software and the hardware interfaces in preparation for a 11:00z DL-DX starting time.

Friday evening the contest weekend opened allegedly with the Venezuelan Independence Day contest; I say allegedly because I never once heard any YV (or equivalent) callsigns on during
the 24 hours of that event.

WQ6X's Marconi Memorial contest involvement began @ 21:24 w/90 minutes on 20 meters.

When the band became noticeably quiet, the switch was made to 40 meters @ 03:15z.  After only 2 QSOs and nearly 90 mins of CQ's and S&P's, another switch was made, this time
to 80 meters. 


Amazingly, NO ONE was heard playing MMC on 80.  At 06:15z two more QSOs hit the log. 
Out of frustration I got some sleep.  A 40 meter band sweep at 10:00z followed by numerous
CQ MMC calls yielded no new QSOs.  Message received - time to put the Marconi Memorial
contest to bed followed by WQ6X the operator, in that same bed.


During off periods of
the MMC contest,  the K3 radio was switched to AFSK to run the DX-DL RTTY contest.

Contest time began at 23:17z with S&P'ing around 20 meters.



Eventually, settling in on 14096.96 WQ6X ran stations for over 90 minutes. 
At 01:30z, when the QSOs thinned out, I made it down to 40 meters, eventually setting up operations on 7058.58.  Periodically, looking on 80 meters yielded no RTTY signals.  Then at 03:00z the first3 80-meter QSOs made it to the log.  The rest of the evening was spent frantically calling CQ on 80 & 40, with an occasional station worked via a bandmap spot.

While I would have preferred more stations participating in the DL-DX RTTY GiG, the even BIGGER disappointment was that I NEVER worked a SINGLE DF/DJ/DK/DM or DL station; the stations which were actually WORTH something.

Did YOU work any German RTTY stations?

What about stations in the Marconi Memorial Contest?
How many QSOs are in YOUR Log?