Wednesday, December 2, 2015

WQ6X runs CQ WW CW Remotely from Nashville

This weekend's CQ WW contest was one of the uniquely WILD contest runs I have ever done.
What made this weekend different is that instead of a long drive to Fallbrook to operate the NX6T station (aka "Nashville"), I chose to run as WQ6X but REMOTELY from the NX6T location.
Friday evening I ran 80 & 40 meters from the  Pismo Beach Quality Inn.
Saturday evening and all day Sunday I operated from the Burbank Quality Inn.
As it turns out, while I was running STN#1 remotely STN#2 was being retrofitted with
"Version 2" of remote access.

With remote operation, internet latency is a primary concern.   Because of latency issues, had this been an SSB contest I don't think it would have worked.
Luckily, for CW, all transmission originations occurred on the NX6T end of things; the only audio transmitted was from the receiver.
 I typically experienced latency of approximately 0.5 - 0.8 seconds.

When it would slow down to 2 - 3 seconds, I would disconnect and reconnect to bring it all back.
Because the contest was function key driven, I didn't need to figure out how employ an external keying paddle.

For logging WinTest was the program of choice.
Like N1MM, function key macros allow 95+ of contest activity to be handled with no problem.
For unusual situations using Alt-K to type takes care of the rest.

The radio was an Elecraft K3 running barefoot into a C-31 Yagi for the upper bands, a 2-el 40 meter yagi and a semi inverted Vee for 80 meters.  Being that Fallbrook is already 900' above sea level, my low power signal held its own.  I was able to bust major pileups on the 1st call over 70% of the time.  Rarely did I have to call more than 2 or 3 or more times. 

I believe one thing that helped is WQ6X callsign recognition from other contests, including CQ WW from last month.
This is another reason to submit a log, not only to the contest hosts but also to SuperCheckPartial.Com.

My biggest beef this year is with stations like OL5T who call CQ and then wait 0.5 secs before calling the next CQ.  Not surprising they made few QSOs during that period because by the time we take 1-second to decide if we should press FK-4, they are calling CQ again.
I hear this kind of behavior in most major CW contests and wonder what the operators behind this are or are not thinking.  Frequently when I look up their callsigns I see that their QSO total is not in the top 10 - gee I wonder why?!

Another beef is a station who is running a frequency and disappears every minute or so.
I now realize that means the station is either running SO2-R or multiple transmitters with a lock-out mechanism.  If I were not running remote I would have done what I now do in these situations.
If the station makes no reply to 3 calls and does not call CQ I send "QRL?" twice.
If still no reply then the frequency is now mine and I begin calling CQ.
Should the station come back I remind them that they stopped using it so now I am.
On CW I simply send "QRL - QSY" and then continue running the frequency .
My main beef with the above scenario is that the bands are already crowded during contest periods.  Unless you are running Multi-2 or Multi-Multi, to hog 2 frequencies concurrently is a violation of contest ethics, or at least overall fairness.

Region wise I was disappointed in the turn out from Oceania - in the SSB contest they were everywhere.
Conversely, I was also surprised by the plethora of Canadian stations on the air.
While they are only 2 points for us Californians, they are an easy 2 points.
South America and European stations were everywhere this year.
As usual, I heard few stations from Africa but worked virtually everything I heard.

QRM-wise, I was disappointed in the filter system of the K3 this weekend, making me wish I could have been running the FT-1000MP.  The rig control software for this operation didn't make it easy to invoke the DSP & shift facilities in the K3.  The 500hz filter seemed like a 1800hz filter in the presence of S9+ signals.  Oh well you can't have everything.

Amazingly, there was very little weird 40-meter QRM; no belches or VFO swoops or strange RTTY - I didn't even hear the illegal South American SSB stations in the CW band.
What DiD stand out however was a BUZZER sound on 7004.72 @ 14:00z - WEIRD!

In total, I managed nearly 24 hours of actual operating time.  I was able to make a presence on all bands (80 - 10 meters)  when propagation permitted it.

Shortly after the contest the SFI went on a decline and the atmospheric noise worsened.

During the contest because I had no way to rotate the antennas, any positional-related noise could not be eliminated by turning the antenna(s).

As you can see 15 meters was the top band for my operation, followed by 40, 20, 80 & 10.  Zone-wise I worked some incredibly "rare" zones (such as Iceland - Zone 40), however overall I managed only 22 out of the 40 zones.

While getting setup for remote operation requires a lot of software downloads/installs, once done it seems to flow rather smoothly;
although for the future extending the desktop onto an external monitor would make things a LoT easier.

So now, the question is: which contest do I run remote next?

Did you work the CQ WW 2015 CW contest?
Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

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