Thursday, April 18, 2013

WQ6X Operates as W6J in the 2013 JIDX Cw Contest

This last weekend found me operating the JIDX Cw contest again as W6J from a portable location in Concord, Ca. (in the SF East Bay).  (Last year W6J operated portable from Monterey on the beach - with a horribly mismatched antenna.)

As you can see, I ran the Yaesu FT-900 for the first part of the contest, switching over to the ICOM 7000 later in the contest. The antenna was my trusty Butternut HF2-V vertical with a bevy of tuned radials; it even tuned on 160 - altho there was no discernible activity. The MFJ 752-C and JPS NIR-12 noise filters made all the difference for JIDX. 

While JIDX has become one of my favorite contests, it is also consistently a disappointment in terms of the lower than expected participation from the Japanese themselves.   Most of the time it seemed like there were more stateside stations Calling CQ JA, than JA stations calling CQ JIDX.  Eventually I became one of those statesiders calling CQ JA.

The JIDX contest opened with a rapidly declining solar flux and a K-Index of 3.  
Just when it seemed like the K-Index was itself on a decline, a CME hit the ionosphere sending it back to 3, taking the receive noise-level even higher.  15m and 10 m stayed open here on the west coast until after 05:00z on April 14.  Unfortunately, aside from a couple of loud kilowatt JA stations, the rest of the signals were from Oceania and the South Pacific.
JA activity on 80 & 20 were quite a disappointment.  Not surprising, no JA signals were heard on 160.  Three years ago (JIDX 2010) 160 had lots of activity; memorable because the Centurion amplifier arced over on 160 (during receive no less) at 10:30z.

Despite my disappointments, the 2013 JIDX contest did give me an opportunity to test-run the latest release of the Prefecture Tracker by WQ6X Software.  You can see the mini version of the software in the 2nd picture (above).  This year I expect to release Version 5 of the Prefecture tracker with its considerably more detailed screen, as shown below.  
The software can input a Cabrillo .LOG file to produce the stat screen data below.
Notice that we now have the name of each prefecture in the box.  An upcoming screen will be designed around a map of Japan with call areas and prefecture #'s - for complete after-contest documentation.

Do you know of ANYONE who managed to work ALL prefectures in a JIDX contest?  
I've been close every year, but never made it.

Did you play in the JIDX contest?
If so, how did it turn out?


Monday, April 1, 2013

WQ6X Operates WPX-SSB Solo for 2013

Here are pictures from this weekend's WPX solo operation I put together on the spacious dining table at N6GEO's cabin in Twain Harte. Equipment included an ICOM 7000 with a Yaesu 
FT-900 as backup radio (its auto tuner was GREAT 
for the phased sloping Cobras) driving an SB-200 amplifier to 850w P.E.P
Work-related scheduling problems dictated that I operate WPX SSB solo this year. 
A lengthy business meeting delayed my arrival in Twain Harte to 00:15z where I put together a fully operational station in 2.5 hours on the dinning table in N6GEO's cabin. 
While there was still daylight I hoisted a pair of phased S-Style dipoles (Cobras) as a Sloping-V at about 55-feet high to compliment the OCFD dipole at 65 feet. 
The disappointing news this contest was of course the crummy solar flux, and unfortunate A-Index of 27 and K-Index of 4 (if you look closely at the 4th photo you can see the space weather forecasts to the right of the Greyline display).
While I amassed a total of 402 QSOs (for a 175k+ score) the goal of 600 Q's was derailed by the skewed propagation, thanks to geomagnetic noise induced by this weekend's solar activity.  The log-submission reports I've read from other operators confirm the fact that the noise problem was world wide.
This year, for the 1st time, I heard multi-op QSO totals over 6,000 and one beyond 7,000.

Amazingly, 75 meters was quite productive on Friday evening. D4C (Cape Verde) and a plethora of South American stations made the band worth the time spent.  I enjoy 75 meters for WPX contests because I can take a more informal ragchew attitude.  
In the spirit of ragchewing I brought the Electro-Voice 664 microphone in to compliment the Heil headset.

WPX is a contest where lengthy callsigns can become the most sought after.  
On that basis, I was disappointed by the lack of JA stations with their multitude of juicy prefix multipliers.  I was pleased by the multitude of unique prefixes from abroad as well as local ones such as WI9WI and WI0WA.

Did you play WPX?  
If so what callsign did YOU use?