Friday, October 3, 2014

N6GEO & WQ6X as W6R WoW the CQ W.W. RTTY contest for 2014

During the last 5 years I have teamed up with N6GEO for the California QSO Party (CQP) as well as other contests such as Sweepstakes and various RTTY contests.  In the last 3 years we have run as Multi-OP in the CQ W.W. RTTY contest, which occurs the weekend before CQP.

For California stations CQP marks the beginning of the Autumn contest season, however if you are a RTTY enthusiast the W.W. RTTY gig marks the REAL beginning of the Fall contest season.

In 2012  running W6R as a multi-OP netted us a 2nd place for W6-land (17th in the U.S.); not bad for our 1st attempt.  In 2013 business obligations for me and social obligations for George allowed us less than 24 hours of OP time (as WQ6X) resulting in a whopping 217 QSOs making it into the contest log.

 For 2014 N6GEO has upgraded his Brentwood QTH from a FLEX 1500 (in 2013) to a FLEX 3000, with an 8-core 3.2Ghz Windoze 8.1 computer behind it all. We ran it into a just-acquired Elecraft KPA-500 amplifier putting us in the lower end of the HP category at about 360 - 420 watts (depending on the operator and band). The result was a 501 QSO increase over last year, ending up with 718 QSOs resulting and a 468k point score.

In all honesty due to work commitments again this year, my contribution to the score was probably exactly equivalent to last year's 217 Q's. Both days George did some fabulous operating on 20, 15 and 10 meters. I managed some 10, 15 & 20 meter activity to open the contest as well as early each morning. The rest of my evening time was spent jumping between 80, 40 & 20.

For this contest we used the just released N1MM PLUS logging software.  The pictures are from the new PLUS screens.  Overall this new software is really great, altho we do suspect a latency problem with MMTTY - sometimes after XMIT the CPU takes off, preventing the Power SDR software from switching back to receive. George discovered by trial-and-error that by almost exiting N1MM and then coming back in "resets" the problem.

Thanks to the use of dual monitors we were able to spread out the N1MM sub-windows across both screens making it easier to navigate between Power SDR and N1MM. This is where N1MM totally surpasses the WINTEST software. While WINTEST is a great piece of software, all of its sub-windows can ONLY exist INSIDE the main Wintest window. The Power SDR screen is big enough that it can not co-exist with the rather large WINTEST screen.

Other than a couple of Windoze 8.1 "Blue Screens" and the earlier mentioned after-XMIT software hangup, the station at N6GEO performed nearly flawlessly.  Our biggest nemesis for this contest event was the atmospheric noise (mostly noticeable on 80 & 40 meters) from the F-Layer ionization caused by an M5 class solar flare which occurred shortly before CQ W.W. began.

Atmospheric noise levels on 40 meters ranged from a low of S-7 to a high of S-9 on Friday nite and then a steady S-7 on Saturday evening; then again with weaker signals on 80, S-7 was more than enough to make things tough.  George was the lucky one - during the daytime, noise on 20-15-10 was almost non-existent.

While not really noisy, 20 meters experienced a number of signal dropouts on Friday evening, while producing little in the way of workable signals after 05:00z on Saturday evening.  Signal levels from Asia & Oceania (what few stations were actually on) were very questionable, partly due to weird propagation characteristics and the 2nd story house blockage of the TH3-jr yagi to the West & Southwest.  Signals to/from middle Asia had to be directed by way of Alaska from our Northern California location.

According to the 3830 Scores website, W6R placed 21st worldwide, 8th place U.S. and 1st place for W6-Land.  After the Log checking Robots (LCR) scrutinize all the logs and ding us for our log-blunders, these numbers can and will easily POOF into something else.

As was noticed in January's RTTY RU contest, activity in the W.W. RTTY contest spread way beyond the 1st 100 Khz of 20 & 15 meters.  As I have said before, this frequency spectrum is little used making it fair game during RTTY contests.  I even spent some time above "100" running a frequency.  The REAL RTTY operators knew to come above 100 looking for new/rare ones.

In some ways, this 2014 event seemed almost like a WPX contest with scores of exotic callsigns and prefixes; W6R being one of those unique calls. 
QSLs from the 2012 W6R W.W. RTTY event just recently arrived, so how fitting that we resurrect W6R for another GO, working some of those same stations once again.

Did you play in 2014's CQ W.W. RTTY contest?

Is W6R in your log?

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