Monday, July 22, 2013

WQ6X teams up with N6GEO for NAQP RTTY

For this summer's NAQP RTTY contest I again teamed up with N6GEO as a Multi-2 similar to what we did for the WPX RTTY event.  The difference this time is that we ran a pair of FLEX-1500 SDR radios into a pair of Tokyo HyPower 45 & 50 watt amplifiers.  This was part of an experiment in preparation for an upcoming RTTY expedition.
George's QTH is in an antenna restricted area so we popped a TH-3 Jr yagi antenna atop a military surplus portable tower approx. 7mh.  The yagi was shared between both radios by way of a homebrew antenna multiplexer.  We also used an 8-BTV Vertical with camouflage paint. 
By the time I left today, both antennas "mysteriously" vanished. 

The Windoze Vista laptop I used to run the FLEX 1500 encountered a number of "blue screen" events.  Because our computers were networked together we decided my station should be the Run-2 station so as to not lose access to VE7CC should another crash happened; which of course it did not. 

Similar to Field Day I ran exclusively 20-meters, leaving the 80/40 & 15/10 meter chores to George.  Our 255 QSOs was hardly a record breaker, although for a RTTY GiG it was a great beginning. 

There was also the DMC Rtty contest running concurrently with NAQP.  Some stations worked both contests concurrently, although how they logged it is a mystery to me.  I used the DMC contest as a warmup exercise before the NAQP started and ended up submitting an 8 QSO log for that event. 
Overall, NAQP RTTY is a lot of fun.   It's nice to get to know people on a "first name basis" in this contest.   However in the log submission soapbox I wrote the following:

So typical of competitions lately is stations not checking to see if frequencies are in use before jumping in.   We may not have had the loudest signal around, however we were noticeable enough that we were obviously hearable and yet stations moved in on us anyway.  I also noticed a lack of breathing room around the NCDXF beacon on 14.100; which to me is inexcusable.  If you don't know about the 14.100 beacons then you should not be operating 20-meter RTTY in the first place. 

A number of stations had trouble calling me properly on frequency.  With my other radios (ICOM 700, FT-900 & FT-920) using the RIT is a simple knob twist.   However one of the poor design features of the FLEX-1500 is its [in]ability to accomplish RIT easily.  By the time I figured out how to use VFO-B as a RIT, the contest was nearly over. 

In general our NAQP exercise proved that the FLEX radios can easily drive a medium-power amplifier to full output.  I was amazed that the HL-45b amplifier never "broke a sweat" at full power.   It was so cool, I couldn't use it to warm my coffee cup as I have done with other solid-state amplifiers.  Oh well, luckily it was the only real problem I encountered with this operation. 

RTTY contests are quickly becoming a favorite with me.   Cw is of course my favorite because it saves my voice and does not require "fancy hardware" the way RTTY does.  However the click-and-work possibilities with SDR radios I find considerably intriguing. 
I look forward to future RTTY GiGs using software defined radios.

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