Monday, July 18, 2016

WQ6X takes 2nd place for So. Ca. in NAQP RTTY

Station #1 @ NX6T

This was a last minute remote operation at "NashVille" (@NX6T) from a "secret location" in the SF east bay. 

This past week with assistance from the techs at West Mountain Radio, I built a one transistor relay driver enabling the FT-1000mp

Plug-N-Play be-4 final mod.

The goal was to operate RTTY from a location in the SF east bay.  Unfortunately, at the chosen operating location, signal levels were almost non-existent, making remote operation my only option for this weekend.

Luckily, with last minute assistance from W6JBR and N6KI to debug internet problems, I managed to accomplish remote access to the Fallbrook station;
altho in the early contest hours internet latency was HORRIBLE.

WQ6X operating position

As a result, I took a gamble and used the 20:00z - 22:00z period as my "off time", waiting for the internet latency to settle down (which it eventually did).   Luckily, the Giants .vs. Padres game was on TV while I ran the contest.  (Unfortunately, the Giants lost.)

Taking the mandated 2 hour early off-time allowed me to work the contest up to the 06:00z ending time, along with the remaining single-OP & multi-OP stations.

An upside to this remote operation was virtually no background noise to deal with, altho because of the K-Index of 3, I noticed a funny echo on a few signals; especially those coming in from Europe.

C-31XR Yagi

The station consisted of an externally fan-cooled Elecraft K3 (running 59 watts) into a C-31XR yagi for the high bands, 2-elements on 40 and an inverted "V" for 80 meters.

Because it is not easy to manually tune in RTTY signals remotely (and no spotting-assistance was allowed),
rather than S&P, I chose to run frequencies having stations come to me.

Unfortunately, this created a new problem when stations would call considerably off frequency such that FLDIGI could not demodulate their text, no matter how LOUD they were.  Because using RIT remotely (with poor internet latency) to tune stations in is not possible, I resolved this by allocating N1MM's F-11 key to send the message: "You are off frequency - tune me in", followed by F8 ("AGN? AGN?"), or F3 ("TU QRZ").

2-el on 40 + Stepp-IR
My thinking is that if you are copying me correctly when you receive the message you will make sure that your Xmit/Rcv frequencies are the same when you call me.  Most stations got the message and then called me on frequency.

Amazingly, I actually had one station COMPLAIN because I would not (meaning I COULD not) tune him in - CHILL OUT DEWD!  With poor internet latency, my trying to tune YOU in will actually slow things down for everyone else waiting to work me.  If you want a QSO, it is YOUR responsibility to BE ON FREQUENCY, not mine.
A big disappointment was when I couldn't complete a 20 meter QSO with an IK4 station because the internet froze and I could not send him an exchange via N1MM's function keys.  By the time I was back in normal operation, either the IK4 was gone or so were the signals from Europe.  If I seemed to "disappear" on you, the reason was probably poor internet latency, not because I was ignoring you.

One of my beefs in this contest had to do with stations sending unnecessary information; most specifically "599".  Because there are no signal reports required in NAQP (a ridiculous piece of data to send during a contest anyway) sending "599" once or twice is not only confusing, but when signals are low, by the time you get to sending the NEEDED information the signal drops out.
In MOST cases, stations that sent a signal report faded out afterwards requiring me
to request a repeat of their exchange once or twice.

QSO/hr per band

QRM is always something to be dealt with during radio contests, however in RTTY contests when it is EXACTLY on my frequency, I know it is no accident.  For this event, I chose specific operating frequencies (14087.87, 21086.86, 14094.94, 7086.86, 3586.86 & 7082.82) on the premise that if you start CQ'ing EXACTLY on my run frequency it MUST be intentional.

It also amazes me when a station calls me (along with other stations), only to then immediately call CQ on my run frequency if I work another station first.
WTF is THAT all about?!

Sparse activity on 80 meters was a HUGE Bummer (only 10 QSOs),  along with no signals heard on 10 meters at the Fallbrook location; altho other Southern California stations listed 10 meter QSOs in their 3830 score website submission.

Nevertheless it was a FUN contest allowing me to work a number of W6 friends. 
While I didn't make a GREAT showing in the contest, according to my 3830 Scores website submission, it would appear that I DiD make it to 2nd place (behind W6TK in
Santa Barbara) amongst all the Southern California submissions.

NAQP Ending screen

When you consider that the rest of the So. Ca. stations had the advantage of working from their home QTH (with no internet latency problems to contend with), it is surprising that I scored higher than they did.

Next year look for me to run NAQP RTTY using the FT-1000mp with the West Mountain
Plug-N-Play unit adapted to key the radio.

Did YOU work the NAQP RTTY contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR log?

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