Monday, March 28, 2016

WQ6X runs BARTG RTTY & Russian DX contests remotely

Lately, business traveling has demanded that for contest operations I largely operate NX6T remotely from the bay area.  Some of the contest gigs I've operated remotely this year include:  RTTY RU, the CQ 160 contest, ARRL DX CW and NAQP RTTY.

This past weekend left me with no client commitments.  Instead of running my usual portable operation from W7AYT's QTH in Concord Ca. (East Bay section) requiring extensive equipment and antenna setups, I decided to book a room with a view for the weekend at the Clarion Hotel near the Concord airport and run this weekend's contest events remotely from NX6T (Fallbrook); otherwise known as "Nashville".
Listed on the contest calendar were the BARTG RTTY and Russian DX contests,
along with the LA & VA state QSO parties; in that priority order.

Unlike CQP, it is typical of many state QSO parties that they last only 12 hours.
By the time 40 & 80 meters finally come alive those QSO parties are over; as happened with this year's LA QSO party.  Although the VA QSO party had a 2nd run on Sunday, while working the final portion of the BARTG contest I never heard any VA stations - so much for the weekend's QSO parties.

Running remote, CW contests are the easiest to operate.
While I largely prefer to sit on run frequencies, attracting stations to my signal, it also pays to search and pounce from time to time; either by tuning the radio "manually" or - if I am running assisted - by clicking callsigns on the bandmap.

Because tuning RTTY stations remotely is tricky (even with negligible internet latency), for contests like BARTG & the RTTY RU, I prefer to run a frequency to reduce the operating complexity.
The 5% (or so) S&P contacts made in these contests largely happen "by accident".

One of the many desirable aspects of the BARTG is the contest length (48 hours) starting @ 02:00z; just after dinner PDT time.

An order of takeout sushi set the stage for a somewhat productive Friday evening on 20 meters and later, on 40.
Hamachi (Yellow tail tuna) is one of my favorite sushi rolls.

Using LogMeIn Hamachi on the Toshiba laptop gave me access to the NX6T VPN allowing remote access to station 1's Toshiba laptop and control of the K3 radio and KPA-500 amplifier.

At NX6T, STN's #1 & #2 are now both remote capable so this weekend I got to share the Nashville antenna farm with other operators who wanted to run the BARTG gig along side the Russian DX contest,
but on SSB instead.

For STN#1 my configuration was relegated to running BARTG @ 65 watts onto a 2-el yagi on 40 meters and via the KPA-500 amp (at about 360 watts) into a 3-El Stepp-IR yagi for 20 & 15 meters (both antennas 15mh high).

While I was able to turn the rotor remotely, switching between 20 & 15 meters on the Stepp-IR required the next door neighbor walk into the ham shack and manually turn the bandswitch on the WX0B SIX Pack antenna switch box.

For the Russian DX contest I ran the K3 @ 100 watts on 40 and 360 watts on the high bands.  Unfortunately I was unable to run 80 or 10 meters for those contests.

A problem I increasingly encounter when running RTTY contests  remotely is an increasing number of stations increasingly off frequency when responding to my CQ test calls.   If I were running my FT-1000mp, I would simply turn on the RIT and tune them in; rewarding poor operating procedure.  These stations either have THEIR Rit on or they found me via a DX spot entry on the internet that listed my MARK frequency incorrectly.  Rather than check to see if they could decode my data correctly BEFORE transmitting, they just blindly press F4, sending their callsign off frequency.

My solution to this was to define N1MM's F-10 key to send "UR OFF FREQUENCY - PLEASE TUNE ME IN", followed by the F9 Key ("CALLSIGN?").  After a short pause, most stations tune me in and a proper QSO is made.  Unfortunately, some stations don't get it and eventually disappear; probably cursing me for not working them.

Although the Russian DX Contest started at 12:00z (5am PDT) because the BARTG contest was my weekend priority I didn't begin until after 22:00z.

Running the DX contest on CW became my priority, with brief segments of BARTG activity in between until it was finally over at 12:00z on Sunday.

As you can see, I managed 139 QSOs on 40 & 20 meters, enough for a 6th place in the USA and 7th place for North America; although not enough to take any awards.

Nevertheless it was a LoT of fun.
I look forward to next year with a more focused effort.

Did you play in the BARTG and Russian DX contests?

Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

1 comment:

  1. Per the Russian DX contest rules I am allowed to submit TWO single-band entries; which I did for 20 & 40 meters. My 40-meter filing gives me a 2nd place finish for the U.S. - not bad for remote fumbling.