Monday, June 1, 2015

WQ6X @ Fallbrook unleashes new contesting tools

For this year's WPX Cw contest I took the Amtrak San Joaquin & Surfliner trains to Oceanside on Thursday to be ready for a 5pm (00:00z) WPX contest start on Friday.   As I type this blog, I am sitting in the Surfliner's Business Class heading to LAX Union Station and points North.

In years past we have used the WQ6X callsign because WQ6 seems more unique than the NX6 in NX6T.  This year, it may be that the WQ6X callsign worked against us.
First off we heard no other NX6 callsigns.  Atop that, the appearance this year of WQ7X and WQ5K confused matters considerably - especially for Asian contesters; making callsign repeats a necessity.

We ran the usual three K-3 radios into a pair of ACOM-2000 amplifiers. Radio #3 was tied into Radio #2 with a lockout on each radio allowing only one to transmit at a time.  Radio #2 would run a frequency on a given band while the operator on Radio #3 traverses the bandmap to search for more multipliers or otherwise important stations.

Other than a handful of audio & control cable malfunctions, hardware-wise this weekend progressed rather smoothly.  Of course, having  Mr. Bill and the EASY Button at our disposal always makes a significant difference.

Solar-wise, the SFI was down to a low of 92.  Having a low A-Index of 5 does little good if the K-Index continues to hover around 2+ the entire time.  The low solar activity turned most of 10-meters into a worthless graveyard.
92 QSOs over 30 hours of potential band openings give us a theoretical average of 3 QSOs per each hour spent on 10 meters -pretty pathetic.

One of things I like about the NX6T operations in Fallbrook is that we are able to leverage the radio and computer technologies to their fullest capabilities.  In recent months this has included the use of remote operating.  For wpx this weekend, K6AM ran 20 meters remotely Saturday morning, putting over 100 QSOs in the log.  Early Sunday morning, N6CY put in an hour remotely on 80 meters, picking up where I had left off on 80 after a brief stint on 160.  This allowed me to spend time running a pileup on 40 meters.
Rick's remote operation complimented his 6+ hours in the chair Saturday evening.

WQ6X & N6CY during the dinner hour
 In every blog entry I make comments about the weird goings-on during the 09:00z - 13:00z time period on 40 meters.  With a low SFI the opportunity always exists for funky shit to happen.  This contest was no exception. In addition to the plethora of intentional jammers & S. American SSB stations (at the bottom of the CW band) we had a lengthy visit from a "woodpecker" radar station along with 3 Russian beacon stations on 7.039:
"F" (**-*), "K" (-*-) and "M" (- -).

Luckily I tend to operate below 7.039, making the beacon stations an annoyance more than anything else.  With the radar, I could make it "go away" by turning the yagi towards Northeast (instead of West / Northwest), which gives us an idea of what direction it originates from.
Run #1 and Run #2 stations at 3am

I had a brief CW "pounder" Sunday morning who qualified as one of the numerous 40 meter jammers.  Don't people have anything else better to do?  An unintentional jamming occurred in the form of the 2nd harmonic from our 80 meter operation on station #1 doubling up onto 40 meters - a small price to pay in order
to have 2 run stations.

An increasingly problematic problem this year came in the form of a station working us to get the QSO points/multiplier and then moving off frequency 0.5 Kc to call CQ on top of us.  WTF are people NOT thinking?  My solution is to send QRL again and again until the idiot leaves.  Last I checked, the 1st station on a given frequency has "rights" to that frequency.  If there is no "room" for you to call CQ, that is the breaks;  either switch to a different band or continue to search & pounce (S&P).
Is this REALLY that difficult to understand?

While there were indeed a LoT of weird prefixes on this year, I was disappointed that there
were not more than there were.  In the warm-up period (approx. 2 hours before the contest)
there seemed to be more exotic prefixes on 20 meters than during the contest itself. 

Well, did YOU work the Weird Prefix contest?
Is your WEIRD prefix in the WQ6X log?