Thursday, October 29, 2015

WQ6X Runs CQ WW Contest Solo from NX6T

Consistent with the month of October, the 2015 CQ WW SSB contest was full of surprises.  I combined a work trip and several other activities with a driving trip to Fallbrook to join NX6T in a multi-op contest entry.

Thursday evening after checking into a hotel enroute to So. California I received a call from N6KI that no other operators were available for the weekend and the multi-OP GiG was being cancelled.

I didn't drive nearly 475 miles to not operate so I made a request to run Single-OP as WQ6X.  Friday, with a lot of assistance over the phone I was able to quickly re-cable the setup to run STN#2 into an ACOM-2000 amplifier.

There are two antenna towers at NX6T.  I was able to crank up the C-31 yagi to 13mh.  The tower trailer in the driveway was run at its cranked down height oif about 15mh.

It is arrayed with a compliment of antennas including a 3-el Stepp-IR and 2-el 40-meter yagis, along with inverted V's for 80 & 160 meters. To get on the air more quickly I never raised the tower to it's 25mh position.

Before arriving in Fallbrook I made a detour to pick up an FT-1000mp radio which has been awaiting my receipt.  I set the 1000mp up in the operator apartment next door to the ham shack as a receiver tied into the antenna system as STN#1.

Because I operated as unassisted (meaning no internet or spotting assistance), during operating breaks I would tune around on the bands with the 1000mp and make a list of stations to work.  What is ironic here is that numerous amateurs have replaced their FT-1000mp radios with the Elecraft K3 while I prefer the reverse.

While NX6T runs K3's exclusively, I found that the receive capabilities of this newly acquired 1000mp equaled the K3's in the shack.  I like larger radios with lots of knobs and therefore prefer the ergonomics of the MP over the K3.  If I'd had an extra day to setup the 1000mp and test it for contest conditions,
I would have set it up for STN#2.

Unlike most contest operations I run solo, for 2015 CQ WW I was ready an hour in advance of the 00:00z (5pm) starting time.  I decided my operating strategy would be to start on 10 meters and work my way down.  Amazingly (considering recent prior weekends) 10 meters was wide open and later I found 15 meters to be in excellent form as well.

In the first 3 hours I managed 158 Q's on 10 meters followed by 121 on 15 meters, starting with S&P activity to verify the band openings followed by running a frequency on each band; resulting in a rate of nearly 90 QSOs per hour - an awesome start.

My original QSO goal estimate was 600 's for the entire contest, considering what I had to work with.  Within the 1st 3 hours I  accomplished nearly 1/2 of that number.  While i didn't make 90 Q's every hour I did manage a QSO total of 1,142 in 37 zones and 103 countries, qualifying for DXCC that weekend.  15 meters resulted in 78 countries, alone.  At 23:14z on Sunday QSO #1129 with 3D2KM in Fiji took the score past the 1,000,000 point mark. CLICK HERE to see my 3830 Score submission.

On 15 and 10 meters I utilized the two yagi's to unique advantage.  Setting the Stepp-IR to Bi-directional allowed me to work Asia and South America.  Concurrently I pointed the C-31 to around 270-degrees giving access to southeast asia and Oceania while running frequencies.

I would call CQ several times on one antenna and then switch to the other.  Between that and liberal use of the RIT control (JA stations are notoriously off frequency) I managed to clean up both bands on Sunday afternoon.

For me, the big disappointment was 40 meters.  Making 40-meters work in an SSB Dx contest requires working split frequency and listening below 7.100 - after midnight, something I was too sleepy to do.

The intentional QRM on 40 meters was quite rampant, including high speed RTTY on 7.178 - WTF is THAT all about?  On the other hand, considering that the inverted V's were only 40 feet up, I was quite surprised at the number of countries worked on 80 & 160.

Considering the low SFI number, I was over joyed by the vast number (and variety) of Oceania stations in this contest.  Usually I can only hear a handful.  Having the dual antenna arrangement is what made the difference.  There were a plethora of Asian stations this year, even late on Sunday.
Now if we can get that kind of activity from Asian stations in their own contests I will be ecstatic.

In the end, I decided that an ALL BAND log would not be competitive so I submitted this log as Single band 15-meters high power.  From what I can determine, doing so will result in a 2nd place finish for the U.S and maybe a 1st place for Zone 3.
As to how it really all turns out, we shall know in a few months.

Did YOU work the CQ W.W. SSB contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR log?

1 comment:

  1. The April 2016 issue of CQ magazine listed the contest scores showing WQ6X taking a distant 2nd place to K2YY/6 for the single-OP 15 meter category; not bad for a last minute operation.