Tuesday, October 15, 2013

WQ6X & N6GEO run CQP in Modoc county for a 3rd time

Overall, the 2013 California QSO Party (CQP) operation from Modoc county  by WQ6X and N6GEO was a HUGE success.  Similar to last year a lot of  planning was behind our trip to Modoc.  Unlike last year we were not  plagued with the disasters that befell us literally 2 hours into our  leaving Brentwood for CQP-2012.

N6GEO on 10-Meter CW
WQ6X running Europe on 15-M SSB
While we have used the K6M call from Modoc in the past, this year the Bend  Ore. group beat us to that callsign.  Because all the other 1x1 "M"  callsigns were also reserved at 1x1Callsigns.org, I resorted to registering "W6C"; a call I  used in Ventura county CQP operations during 2005 - 2007.  Being the  California QSO Party,"Whiskey Six California" had an interesting feel to  it.  
You can view pictures, statistics & links to everything CQP at the WQ6X.Info CQP-2013 page. There are also links to our 2010/2012 K6M operations and our operation as K6S in 2011 from the Sacramento river.  (My previous CQP operations are documented from the WQ6X CQP home page).

We arrived in Modoc around 3pm Friday afternoon and immediately got down to setting up the antennas before darkness set in; which happens earlier  in the northern part of the state than in the SF bay area.  To prevent a  repeat of last year's TH-3 mast crash, this year we used a crank-up  military mast; not quite as high as last year's mast was to be, but as it  turned out, quite a performer for 2013.

We used the military mast to support a pair of phased Cobra inverted-V's tuned  for 40 meters.  The height was just enough to blanket North America with  our massive 100-W signal.  For 80 meters, the HF2-V vertical was an  AWEsome performer; signals jumped to the E. coast by 02:45z which was a  delightful surprise.
Look familiar? 
This is what theTH3-jr should
have looked like LAST year
Station #1 on the left.
Station #2 on the right.
HF2-V Vertical in the background.
The TH3-jr yagi was front-ended by an N6GEO homebrew antenna multiplexer,  allowing us to share the beam on 10, 15 & 20 meters.  However on Sunday,  when a super opening to Europe came in, we ended up with a directional  conflict; so N6GEO put up a rotatable Buddipole (tuned for 10 meters)  giving us access to both Europe and E/SE United States.
We missed a sweep by 2 multipliers (Vermont and VE2).  While that SUX, we were one of the fortunate ones who snagged a Qso with VE8EGR; the only station in the NT (Northern Territories) province.  In fact, we were the FIRST Qso in VE8EGR's log; so I guess starting 35 minutes late has its benefits.

Until the alternate antenna mast was relegated to the Buddipole, we had a 6-meter yagi up looking for 6-meter openings (which never happened for us).  Because our location is literally out in the middle of nowhere Modoc, attempting 2-meter contacts was not worth the effort.  Instead, I managed to tune the HF2-V on 160-meter Cw for a contact with Imperial County giving us a presence on all 6 HF bands.

As with most contest activities I took the night shift, calling it quits at about 08:00z.

Station #2 at night
WQ6X on 75-meter SSB @ 05:46z
The number of contacts we made with California stations was much higher in 2012 & 2013 than in previous years, part of which I attribute to my sending advance notice of our operation to the Sacramento Valley (SV) section manager in advance of the CQP event.  He gave our operation a mention in the SV Section news on the ARRL.Org website, which is very much appreciated.

Our QSO breakdown was 60% on Cw versus 40% on SSB.  Considering that QSO points are 3:2 favoring Cw, this is enabled our nearly 165k score giving us what would seem to be 1st place for the low-power California expedition category.

In 2010 we setup both stations on the kitchen table inside a tent trailer.  However this year (like last year) I opted to bring along my trusty Coleman Insta-Tent (opens out in < 2 minutes) giving us radio separation.  Because our computers were ad-hoc networked we could experience each others progress.  Unfortunately, because N1MM kept getting confused on serial #'s when we opened a new band, we were unable to give out a single-incrementing serial #.  Nevertheless, it did not prevent us from amassing 1,129 QSOs, surpassing last year's total by nearly 40%.

While we heard European stations on Saturday, we were delightfully surprised at the incredible opening on 15 and even 10 meters Sunday morning - our N. California location certainly helped in this regard.  While we worked a couple of JA stations we made no other contact with Asia and no contacts with Africa or Oceania.  A handful of stations at least gave us S. America.

Using another laptop computer I managed to make a number of operational videos on CQP Sunday.  Somehow several of the videos had no sound, leaving us with 2 - 3 videos to be posted on YouTube.  You can view the annotated 15-meter CW video at: http://youtu.be/VFAPIKGbiw0.  The 1st 15-meter SSB is at: http://youtu.be/zMpWawz9C8A.  The 2nd SSB video is at: http://youtu.be/5GANvLKnFB4.

I guess all the work paid off.  Based on the log scores submitted to the 3830Scores.Com website, it would seem that we have taken the 1st place slot for low power expedition class.  (Click HERE for our log-submission details.)  This year's success makes up for our disastrous 2012 K6M GiG from Modoc. 

It is true that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.  We learned a lot from 2012 and this years success reflects that fact.  While we can do better still (our new target is 1300 - 1500 QSOs in 2014), this year's event is something to be proud of.  We got in and out of Modoc with no vehicle mishaps and no equipment failures.

WQ6X & N6GEO arrived in Brentwood Monday evening in one piece.  We celebrated with a deserved beer, to make up for having forgotten to bring brewski's with us to Modoc.

Did you work the California QSO party? 
If so, what were your results?
Are you in the log for W6C? 

April 19th 2014 - PostScript:
While scoping the internet I noticed that the CQP.Org website showcased our CQP operation.

As of September 19th we are STILL on the homepage.  Whut?  They can't find operators other than US to showcase?  wOw!  I'm stunned.  

Well, we are going to have to live up to that one again in this year's 49th CQP for 2014.  Can we do it?  We didn't think we could take a 1st place in 2013.  Do top wins come in pairs?  We shall see.