Wednesday, October 17, 2018

WQ6X as W6C Wanders thru CQP

W Q 6 X  a s  W 6 C
The California QSO Party is one of my favorite annually recurring radiosport events every year.
CQP has many things going for it; the most important being the time of year this event happens;
namely, the 1st weekend of every October. Before CQP I didn't know WHAT to do with that 1st weekend. Nearly 20 years later, I can't imagine NoT being a CQP OP, somehow, someway.

In the last 2 CQP events, WQ6X set back-to-back county records;
first from Twain Harte (Tuolumne County) and last year from W7AYT's QTH in Concord - Contra Costa County (CCOS). 
You can read about WQ6X's past CQP exploits in the web section devised specifically for this: http://WQ6X.Info/CQP
This years event is detailed at: http://WQ6X.Info/CQP/CQP2018.

T e s t i n g  t h e  K 3 / 0  I n s t a l l a t i o n
This year, anticipating another operation from Contra Costa county,
the W6C callsign (C=California, or, C=Concord, or C=CC)
was reserved.

During the week prior to CQP, components arrived to create an Elecraft K3/0 allowing the run of NX6T, not only remotely, but in style.

While I am still critical about some aspects of the Elecraft K3 front panel layout, "putting up with it" is FAR preferable than using the RCForb psuedo-K3 control software. Internet audio dropouts are now a thing of the past, thanks to the K3/0 interface to NX6T's STN-#1 & STN-#2 in Fallbrook.

Faced with running NX6T remotely, or focusing on W6C, I discovered BOTH activities could be accomplished. While W6C may not have set any new county records, CQP 2018 was an incredibly fun event and an unqualified success.

Anticipating an involved weekend, I arrived @ W7AYT Thursday evening.

Friday was spent reworking the WQ6X Cobra configuration by day and in the evening configuring the K3/0 for operation w/Stations #1 & #2 @ NX6T in Fallbrook - San Diego County (SDIE).  W6C also found time to join the 3630 "check-in" frequency prior to the 45 minute 7:15 practice event.

Using the K3, the ability to turn/twist knobs on the WQ6X end of things instead of RCForb's pseudo-K3 interface is SO WONDERFUL.   While I still prefer the ergonomic layout of the FT-1000mp, I am becoming increasingly conversant

with the K3 interface.   Altho I've run K3's for nearly 10 years, never outside
of Fallbrook.   It's a strange experience for me to be running a K3 in my own private operating environment; altho admittedly this is a gutless K3/0, an "empty" K3 box.

Lately, we've experienced a considerable shortage of operators for

NX6T events. As it turns out, this weekend was no exception.  
This of course is what motivates us to rely increasingly on remote operation.  
With CQP weekend's K3/0 implementation, at least for my operations, things have been taken to the next level.  Thanks to some clever audio cabling @W7AYT, 21st century Digital technology works well with analog late-70's
audio filters.

This event brought together
a wide array of disparate technologies to interlace W6C operations w/running CW from NX6T.

While W6C JUST missed the 200 QSO mark, NX6T put 1,640 QSOs in the log.  Over 425 of those QSOs are in the log thanks to the WQ6X ==>NX6T (via K3/0) connection. 

The audio codec in use by the RRC-1258 unit is SO sophisticated that audio streamed thru the IP connection, almost as if it were hard-wired to a radio in front of me.

In my mind, CQP is akin to emergency preparedness drills.
Learning new solutions to age-old operating problems helps "justify"

the fun we have doing it. This weekend, among other things I learned:

  • How to configure/run an Elecraft K3/0 setup.
  • A more effective way to configure the JPS NIR-12 DSP and QF-1A (x2) filters for the most effective use by the FT-1000mp.
  • I learned the ins and [mostly] outs of running Cobra Slopers: coax-fed, and fed with tuned feeders.
  • The WQ6X RTTY Rigger received a THOROUGH preliminary workout throughout the weekend (even though no RTTY signals could actually be heard).

A n t e n n a s  @ W 7 A Y T

When CQP actually started @1600z, anticipating condx. would be similar to 2017, W6C opened CQP calling CQ on 40 meter Cw. After 20 minutes of no replies, the "message" was received and a move was made to 20 meters.    VE6AO immediately came back to my  "CQ CQP de W6C W6C".
Stray RF was a problem throughout the weekend; specifically with the CHA-250 vertical but also with
the coax-fed Vee. With the tuned-VEE, the MFJ-949E
was able to balance things out significantly, only occasionally blinking the CFL lights.

Sunday morning during a routine inspection

of the sloper antenna wires the terminating resistors on all antenna legs were either "shattered" or at the very least noticeably discolored; evidently some excessive high current was making its way to the end
of the antenna, rather than radiating
properly from the feedpoint. 

(At one point Saturday evening, the SWR swings were so great the inductor switch on the MFJ-949 would occasionally ARC over.)

Q F - 1 a  &  N X 6 T  R i T
What was amazing was the duplicity of propagations
with this antenna setup. 
At any moment the band would seem dead; or worse, sound
as if the antenna system had failed. 

The next moment stations in Ontario or New England would PoP in S-8, Q-5 copy. 

 Slowww fades (innn and ouuut) were noticeable @ W7AYT but NoT @ NX6T, although NX6T was considerably noisier; some noise the K3's DSP could eliminate and some of it had to be processed by one of the QF-1A filters switched into the K3/0 audio line on the receiving end.

In the past, using the RCForb software to run the K3 remotely left me with

no RIT capability, relying heavily on the external QF-1A on my receiving end.
Now with the K3/0, I not only have RIT, SPLiT operation is considerably easier.  Adding an Autek QF-1A into the audio provides an audio peak to elevate weaker signals to Q-5 audibility.

On Sunday, after CQP was over, the station @W7AYT was reorganized making way for the Elecraft K3/0 to be more easily accessed. Having access to an Elecraft K3 and a Yaesu FT-1000mp is clearly an operator's DREAM for me. 
The next enhancement will be to revamp the tuned sloper configuration,
next time making it into a tuned 8JK sloper.

With CQP over a week behind us, the 3830 SCORE submissions make it clear that NX6T's 1640 QSOs took 3rd place in California and 2nd place in San Diego county. W6C took 8th place in California and 1st place for Contra Costa County.

DiD YOU work the California QSO Party? Is W6C or NX6T in YOUR LoG?

Friday, October 12, 2018

WQ6X RUNS World Wide RTTY to it's WIDEST

Running N X 6 T  Remotely
Littered with radiosport competitions, the last 6 weeks have found me operating (and preparing equipment for operation) with little time for actual BLOG typing; altho DURING each contest event
I keep a notepad at the OP position, scribbling down details of EACH notable or bizarre event occurring during that each radiosport GiG. Sometimes, during multi-contest weekends, unique
events can combine in such a weird way, I feel COMPELLED to share them. That is essentially
how this set of WQ6X Contest BLOG Entries came about 5+ years ago.

If you want to see the most bizarre of the bizarre, read the 4-Part BLOG series detailing my BEEFs related to Radiosport events. [CLICK HERE] to read about that.  Now you didn't come here to hear about my BEEFs, you came here to read about RTTY.

The last weekend of September found me hanging out @ W7AYT's Concord QTH test-running Version 1.1 (now currently Version 1.12) of the WQ6X RTTY Rigger; a Heath HD-15 phone patch
unit repurposed into an AFSK RTTY interface.

While there, the weekend plan included an on/off remote run of the CQ W.W. RTTY Contest. A decision to make was whether to run Low Power (100 w. Max.) or High Power (around 660 watts)
and whether to run an all-band affair or a single-band GiG. The end result was a number of operating compromises that also taught me how to utilize a number of features of the Yaesu FT-1000mp more effectively; [and] in conjunction with the myriad of external audio filters constantly being circulated in/out of service with WQ6X's operations from W7AYT and the troubleshooting work board.

Because the solar flux (SFI) could
not be coaxed above 70, the only GooD thing to say about this weekend (Space-WX wise) is that the A & K Indexes
were almost as low as they can get.

Typical of this period in the sunspot cycle, 10 & 15 meters never materialized @ NX6T, and certainly not @ W7AYT.

By the time I got started Friday evening, 20 meters was already gone, relegating operations to begin on an already PACKed 40 meters.

It was at the last minute I made the decision to run as a low power entry (100 w. during S&P and
55 watts when running a frequency), relying on the antennas on Tower 2 to make up for the lack
of power - they did.

If everything went accordingly, I was hoping to run WQ6X via the WQ6X RTTY Rigger making QSOs from the SF bay area (ARRL EB Section). Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the RTTY Rigger cabling until AFTER the contest - between the RTTY GiG and the TX QSO Party, I had a LoT to contend with.   That relegated operations to running NX6T remotely.

Skimming the log prior to writing this BLOG entry, I was surprised that the first QSO didn't occur until 05:55z (nearly 11pm).  within the hour ZM1A, ZM2B, CR3W, GM3W and a VY2 were in the log.  ZM4T was also heard but his AFC kept jumping him around in frequency; I could not figure how to synchronize with him.

NO  D a t a  C r a n k i n g
Earlier, I mentioned I have many BEEFs with radiosport (over 20 issues thus far). One issue (detailed in BEEF #7) has to do with what I call "Data Cranking".

If you've ever been on 40 meter
CW / RTTY in the after midnite hours (PST) you have probably heard the occasional "data cranker" and didn't have a name for what you were hearing.

During this year's CQ WW RTTY
contest a data cranker began following me around; I would move frequency, get 3 minutes of "clear channel" and then more data cranking.

The fact that this QRM was "following me around" confirms that it was not accidental or some sort of spurious signal from another frequency or band.  The frequency shifts were just too precise to be a transmitter run by some sort of "QRM BoT".

40-meter propagation was surprisingly POOR, considering that at the bottom of the sunspot cycle 80/40 should be hopping during the late evening time period.  Eventually sleep overtook me. 
In the morning I found time (beginning 15:00z) to put a few TXQP contacts in the log.  Unfortunately, throughout the day tuning around for more Texas stations, finding NOTHING - Bummer Dewd!

W Q 6 X   R T T Y  R i g g e r
As I mentioned earlier, the CQ RTTY contest encouraged me to bring along the WQ6X RTTY
Rigger for its first connection to a radio.  While the interface cabling did not occur until AFTER
the contest, not only was there complete proof of concept (or converting a phone patch into an
AFSK RTTY interface), Dennis (W7AYT) drilled several holes into the HD-15 front panel allowing
the installation of several switches and pots, which will make way for switching the VU meter
between RX and TX and the implementation of a pair of diode NL (noise limiting) circuits to
process the AFSK receive audio BEFORE passing it along to the local computer decoding
the RTTY data.

E n d i n g   S c o r e
For a weekend that was focused/centered around the CQ W.W. RTTY contest, it didn't seem like there was much actual RTTY happening.  Saturday evening found 40 meters happening and even
a brief opening to South America on 80 meters - GO Figure.

When the contest was over, it was obvious that the 185 QSOs on 40-m was the biggest band total, convincing me to submit the log as a Single Band submission.

N X 6 T   A f t e r   C Q  W W   R T T Y  C o n t e s t
Did YOU work the CQ W.W. RTTY Contest?

Is NX6T in YOUR Log?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

WQ6X Ponders and Prepares W6C for 2018 CQP

Scribble stats from last 8 CQP GiGs
This is the 1st time I've written about
a CQP event BE-4 it happens.

During the last 30 daze, I've been musing over what should happen for
the 2018 California QSO Party (CQP). 

I could join up with someone's mult-group or Expedition, or, I can take Amtrak to Oceanside and join the usual gang of Motley operators at NX6T,
up on the hill overlooking Fallbrook. 

While the C-31 tower trailer has been commandeered by the K6QK operation, there is STILL tower #2 (a 3-el STEPP-IR, 2-el Shorty-40 and inverted Vee's
for 80 & 160).

Tower #2 @ N X 6 T
Another possibility would be to stay in the bay area and remote in to NX6T (as I often do) using the RCForb software to control the radio and VNC Viewer to run the logging software.

Unfortunately with the internet dropouts in Fallbrook, running RCForb to run the radio seems like a HORRIBLE alternative.

Then again, an alternative to the alternative has come in the form of
an Elecraft K3/0 remote operating unit received as a birthday present
last week. 

Assuming I can get the K3/0 operational in time, I will be able to put in a few hours of OP-time remotely without the internet latency problems I normally experience when running the RCForb software; even running the audio thru IP-Sound is not enough to overcome the timing problems.  Because the K3/0 is a hardware ---> internet ---> hardware setup, software latency will hopefully
be a thing of the past.

During last weekend's CQ W.W. RTTY contest, I brought in Version 1.1 of the recently devised WQ6X RTTY Rigger - an old Heathkit HD-15 phone patch converted into an AFSK RTTY interface (look for an upcoming WQ6X contest blog entry about this).  Coupling output of the FT-1000mp's Main-RX audio line thru an Autek QF-1a audio filter into the RTTY Rigger gave it a thorough workout. 
Alas, the RTTY Rigger is back on the work bench awaiting the mods that will make up Version 1.2.  The QF-1a filter is also back in for evaluation and will be replaced with the original PAIR of QF-1A units, all of which have been upgraded to RCA plugs, replacing the antiquated mono phone plugs.

QF-1A PAIR - Final workbench tests
After spending a couple of hours researching the results pages from the CQP website, the decision was made to run as W6C ("Whiskey Six California") from W7AYT's QTH, in an attempt to surpass the record set by K6T
(WQ6X-Op) in the 2017 CQP for
Contra Costa County (CCOS).
[CLICK HERE] to read about that GiG.

Because I like to thoroughly document major contest event operations, a CQP page is put together for each year of operation (from 2010 - 2018) in the CQP Section of the WQ6X.Info website. 

As each contest date approaches, the CQP pages receive updates, almost up to the 9 am starting time on Saturday morning.  [CLICK HERE] to see the current CQP county station allocations for 2018.

Dennis (W7AYT) donated a stereo speaker set (including sub woofer) to
the WQ6X operation from Concord.
Not only do blue LED's look CooL, the audio (especially on SSB) is SUPERB.

The Yaesu FT-1000mp transceiver splits the Main/Sub receiver audio beautifully between left and right channel. 

LooK for WQ6X behind the Electro Voice microphone at W6C on 40/75 meters Saturday evening.

WQ6X running CQ W.W. RTTY remotely.
This upcoming 2018 California QSO Party promises to be one of the most active CQP GiGs EVER; even more than the CQP-50 event back in 2015.  Thanks to the best complement of audio filters ever used @W7AYT, revamped antennas and a 32" computer screen, the W6C event promises to be an overarching success.

Are YOU going to play in the 2018 California QSO Party?
If not, WHY NOT?

Monday, September 24, 2018

FOR WQ6X NA Sprint FIZZLES from the Beginning

A FRUSTRATED WQ6X ponders the QRN problem.
This was the SPRINT weekend that never quite made it. As soon as I noticed the space weather K-index at 4, I should have just pulled the covers over my head and enjoyed a nice pre-dinner NAP. Arriving late Saturday afternoon, I barely had time to make up the needed N1MM+ .WAV files;
at least the software had been recently updated and configured.

Typical for an NA contest, the strategy
is to begin on the highest band providing an opening (in this case 20 meters), working downward in frequency as
the evening progresses.

For this event, 10 & 15 were DOA and 20 was already on the way out by 00:15z; only one station heard me and was quickly swallowed up by the noise.

By 00:30, I got the message and moved on down to 40 meters, where the K-Index=4 QRN was worse than on 20.

The 4 hours encompassing the SPRINT were spent frantically diddling the Yaesu's e-DSP knobs,
the QF-1A filters and even a switch in antenna configuration, with frustrating results. All 4 QSOs
made occurred on 40 meters using the onsite CHA-250 vertical. Configuring the 8JK Sloper as a receive antenna reduced the receive noise, allowing R-3 level copy of signals, but w/the side-effect
of reducing overall signal strength; which is where the PEAK setting of the QF-1A filter comes through, shaping the audio for improved aural consumption.

FT-1000mp setup during NA SPRINT
One of the goals of this weekend was to [once again] revamp the audio lines to the FT-1000mp.
After the contest, I unwound by tinkering with a recently acquired MFJ-1272 TNC interface for $8.
By use of some clever Y-audio connections and splicing audio connectors onto the TNC cable
(after chopping off [literally] the TNC DiN connector).

External equipment testing (on 3587.87) after the SPRINT GiG not only confirmed the validity of the transmit cabling, it gave the FT-1000mp a FULL DUTY Workout for over 20 continuous minutes of send looping "Tasting 1,2,3" messages. Another transmit test on Sunday confirmed the 100-watt FULL DUTY capabilities; just in time for the CQ W.W. RTTY Contest.

Originally, I bought this Yaesu FT-1000mp from N6VR, largely in part because of his award-winning,
proven contest use of the radio, running it SO2-R with a nearly identical FT-1000mp; which KB7V eventually purchased.  Ray (typical of many contesters) sold off a pair of 1000mp's, replacing
them with a pair of Elecraft K3's.  Ergonomically, I prefer the Yaesu over the Elecraft any day.

Shortly after setting the radio up @ W7AYT's QTH, I discovered the transceiver could run RTTY
@ 100 watts (FULL DUTY) with only a barely perceptible cabinet warmth felt over the PA section.
The [barely audible] cooling fan on the left side of the transceiver evidently does an EXCELLENT
job of keeping the insides of the equipment incredibly cool.

FT-1000mp configuration after NA SPRINT
For this contest weekend the older (but recently added) QF-1 filter and it's counterpart the MFJ
752-B were contributing very little towards QRM/QRN reduction. These units have been recalled
to the "WQ6X equipment evaluation lab" for further consideration and re-evaluation.
For now, that leaves a lone QF-1A (for Main-RX audio) and a JPS NIR-12 for Sub-RX audio.

At least both receivers will have DNF (Digital Notch Filtering) along with DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) and audio bandwidth shaping. During my next visit to W7AYT, I will bring in
a 2nd QF-1A for insertion into the Sub-RX audio line (BE-4 the NIR-12 DSP). 
This will create a variable near equivalent (altho analog) to the eDSP contour
control in the 1000mp's Main-RX.

KK6NON running SO2-R
I was so preoccupied with the failed-SPRINT and RTTY testing I found no time for the Maine
QSO party (MEQP). Reading the after contest soapbox comments, it would seem that the SF
bay area was hardly the only area in North America experiencing the problem with weak signals
and near S-9 noise levels.

Then again, some top notch operators did quite well, in spite of the poor condx. KK6NON did an OUTSTANDING SO2-R run as NX6T. While I HEARD NX6T on both 40 and 80, the propagation
was all one way at W7AYT; mostly receive only, except for Oregon and a pipeline to IN & OH.

N X 6 T  A f t e r  H o u r s

While this contest weekend was hardly what I expected, at least the FT-1000mp setup @W7AYT
was given a good workout.  If I could say the same thing about the WQ6X 8JK Sloper, then all will
be good.

Did YOU work the NA SSB SPRINT contest?
Is NX6T in YOUR log?


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.

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.
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?