Tuesday, November 29, 2016

WQ6X dabbles in CQ W.W. CW Contest

Convening a congress of CW ops for the W.W. Dx contest never seems to happen at NX6T.

Because of this, in 2015, I ran the CQ WW SSB event solo onsite from NX6T. For the CW GiG I operated WQ6X from NX6T remotely from two different hotels during a driving trip from the SF bay area to Burbank. ([CLICK HERE] to read that write up.)

This weekend work commitments kept me in the bay area so I chose to reprise the 2015 remote operation idea interspersed with client work. Because I would be running barefoot - a disadvantage against kilowatt mega stations - the choice was made to run as an assisted station.
Unfortunately, by the 00:00z (4pm) start time the network backbone at "Nashville" (NX6T in Fallbrook) was being revamped and was unavailable.

Around 07:00z the VPN network became available allowing me to setup N1MM+ over the internet.
The 1st contest QSO was made at 07:45z as N6KI was driving down the hill back to "civilization".

The RCForb control screen

Equipment-wise, running STN#1 gave me access to a barefoot Elecraft K3 (run remotely via the RCForb control software) running into a 13mh C-31 yagi for the high bands.

For 40 meters a 2-el yagi did the job on tower #2 with an 80 meter inverted Vee atop that same tower.

C-31 Yagi

While I was not able to rotate the antennas, a surprising number of QSOs were made from all continents, except central Europe (where the C-31 was in fact pointed); only contacts with Scandinavia made it into the log.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear LOUD signals from West/South Africa although the QUANTITY of African stations was certainly lacking.

Space WX at contest start

Throughout the contest I encountered seemingly "dead" bands on 10, 15 & 20 meters. Then, out of nowhere a lone station would BooM through.

This suggests to me that the bands were in fact open the entire time; the only thing missing were stations calling CQ. What this mean is that bands SOUND dead when everyone is listening and no one is transmitting.

This phenomenon occurs more often on 10 and 160 meters than you might realize.

Of course the 194 QSOs in my log will not win any awards, however it did add a number of country & prefix variations to the WQ6X country total. Once things got underway there were no equipment failures; only internet latency failures.  Out of boredom from clicking spots, from time to time I took a chance and ran a frequency.

Tower 2: Stepp-IR + 2-el. 40 + 80-m inv. Vee

Frequency-running during remote operations can be risky because poor internet-latency often ruins the operating rhythm, however it sure beats wading through pileups when running low power.

While many of the callers were statesiders and Canadians, I was also surprised to receive calls from:

During this contest, I was surprised to encounter no intentional QRM. Unfortunately, the contest participants generated even more QRM by being poor listeners and during pileups, simply BLASTing their callsign when only a specific callsign was asked for.

Just as wasteful were the stations who made a QSO with me and then 20 minutes or an hour later are calling me again on the same band. Often times the QRM is so bad that it takes several repeats to get their callsign, only to discover we just worked.
The 30 seconds to a minute of time that is wasted with all that could have been better utilized adding QSOs to MY log. One of the reasons we use logging software is for the built-in callsign lookup facility, which all but eliminates duplicate QSOs.

What confused me this weekend were the number of super stations that would call CQ and then have 5 to 10 callers from different parts of the globe call them only to call CQ again. This suggests to me that these stations were "busy", most likely on another radio or VFO - SO2R or SO2V.
While I have recently been successful with SO2V, anytime I get confused,
I disable VFO B and focus on the run frequency.

Stations should not have to wait around because I am busy doing something else. If I can't keep up with stations on my run frequency then I should not be dividing my attention between it and other bands or frequencies.
When it goes well SO2V/SO2R can be an incredibly fun increase in the QSO rate. 
However when it goes bad, not only does it alienate calling stations waiting on your run frequency,
it also violates contest operating ethics.

Remember: most contests do not allow calling CQ on 2 or more frequencies (unless you are a multi-OP station). If calling CQ is not working then you should yield your run frequency and switch to search & pounce (S&P). To blindly stumble through makes it a waste of frequency allocation resources for EVERYBODY.

While I never expect to submit a winning score for the CQ W.W. DX contest, as with the WPX GiG I am always thrilled when unusual prefixes and countries show up.

After Thanksgiving, I am always thankful I spent a few hours in the CQ W.W. operators seat - so to speak.

Did YOU play in the CQ World Wide DX contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

No comments:

Post a Comment