Monday, November 7, 2016

WQ6X wins another Cw Sweepstakes 1st place from EB section

This year I made another arrangement with W7AYT (Dennis) to setup the FT-1000mp from his home QTH in Concord California - East Bay (EB) section.

Because the location already sports a Comet CH-250 vertical, I no longer have to bring my old and battered HF2-V vertical to the site.  However I always bring one of the trusty Cobra dipoles and hang it as a semi inverted Vee from a tree branch about 8mh - it ain't much but works surprisingly well.

With assistance from Dennis, we retrofitted the spare bedroom by moving in a large dinning room table outfitted with a piece of wood to hold the 35" TV used as a station monitor.  The Toshiba laptop was configured to use the monitor for most of the N1MM+ windows, relegating the laptop itself as a secondary screen for things like the score statistics, greyline and Telnet windows.

Other than 10 meters being DOA and 160 meters sporting no W6/W7 stations, space weather conditions were a bit of an improvement over last weekend's CQ W.W. SSB contest.  Nevertheless, 15 meters was largely a disappointment and 80 meters not much better.

My goal of attaining a SWEEP (running single-OP) has yet to materialize.
This weekend found WQ6X lacking QSOs with NE, RI, DE, WV, EWA, GTA and MB
I heard a GTA station calling another station and saw alleged spots for RI, WV & MB, however the suspicious side of me felt someone was just messing with me.  Many stations DiD claim a Clean Sweep, so I guess those stations were on the air somewhere.

Main screen layout
This contest allowed me to give the SO2V (Single-OP 2 VFO's) method a real go.  For me, the trick to running SO2V is to make it work WITHOUT stranding callers on my run frequency while I get lost in whatever VFO-B is presenting me.

From time to time I would get so confused that the only answer was to turn off VFO-B, paying attention to the pile of stations calling me on the run frequency.  Overall, thanks to dual-receive the FT-1000mp handles
SO2V superbly.

Additionally, because of the way the radio was elevated on the operating table, it ran a full 100 watts w/o even being warm to the touch; proof that you get what you pay for.

This year, Sweepstakes CW started during daylight savings time and ended in standard time.  Normally SS begins at 13:00 local time (PST), but during daylight time the contest begins at 14:00 local time.  During the hour preceding the contest while running
a number of last minute station tests, I heard a couple of stations not only calling CQ SS but making QSOs.

At first I thought my clock was wrong; then I realized those operator's brains were wrong.  After making his 3rd "QSO"
I informed one operator that we still had 45 minutes before
contest start; to which his was reply was essentially "OOOOOPPPPSSSS".

This year, some of the rarer sections were made early in the 1st hour, starting with VY1AAA (Northern Territories) as QSO #1.
During the weekend my CQ calls were rewarded with some nice sections as VI (KP2M running QRP), PR, QC, AK, WY, ONN, ONS, MAR & SC.  Why is there always a shortage of SC & WV stations in CW Sweepstakes when there are plenty to be had in Field Day, NAQP and the 10 meter contest?

Comet CH-250 Vertical
This year, one of my major complaints were stations that were CLEARLY running SO2R or SO2V and doing a POOR job of it.  When a station is calling CQ and is 599 but does not reply to callers or has a 1-second delay between CQ calls, that too me is unacceptable behavior.  Stations would not answer many callers and then would suddenly "show up" to work everybody waiting.

Why should we have to wait because you are BUSY on another frequency?  That is ethically unfair to those stations spending time to work you.  If you can't manage two frequencies without making us wait then you should not be running SO2V/SO2R.

My solution to this "problem" is to make 3 calls to the station.  If I hear no reply then I send "QRL?" twice. 
If still no reply, then I press F1 (CQ SS) and the frequency is now mine.  If the station then comes back, I press F11 to send "QRL QSY". 
When they complain (as they often do) I let them know that the frequency was SILENT so I took it over.

Remember this folks, our frequency allocations are a SHARED RESOURCE, you have no right to any particular frequency at any moment in time except if you are ACTUALLY using it.  It is for this reason that we also have to put up with intentional QRM during contests; most specifically on 40 meters. 

During contests, typically around 06:00z on 40 meters I am greeted with belches, VFO swoops, bursts of RTTY data (below 7.025) and of course the Russian "M" and "K" beacons on 7039.  This year the only "joker" I heard was on 7022.23 sending strings of continuous dits followed by a warbling/drifting carrier wave.  Because the signal was only S-4 in the background I thought it was cute more than an annoyance.  I didn't notice the Russian beacons until early Monday morning, surrounded by Region 1 SSB stations.

SS-2016 Final Results
Another complaint I have are stations (usually running high power) who just JUMP on a frequency w/o 1st inquiring "QRL?".  If they had LISTENED FIRST, they would have heard me calling CQ.

I can count on ONE HAND this weekend the number of stations I actually heard inquire "QRL?" before taking over a new frequency; something I do every time. 
No wonder non-contesters HATE us.

Any BULLY can push people around and get their way.  The ethical challenge is to treat people fairly en route to a winning operation.  If you can't muster that then maybe you should take up a different hobby like playing hand grenade tossing with your friends.

Laptop auxiliary screen
Another beef I have is with operators who feel the need to send CW at 35 WPM, requiring us to ask them to REPEAT their exchange several times; which of course pisses them off - too bad.

I had one 30 WPM operator ask ME to QRS.  It could not have been because of me making keying mistakes - N1MM was sending the code for me. 
How about this - if you want ME to QRS then you should take the initiative and QRS FIRST.

When I come upon an operator sending at a slower speed (say 17 to 20 WPM), I make my call to that station at THEIR speed.  It's the courteous thing to do.

Remember what Sweepstakes is: a simulated traffic handling event.  Successful traffic handling is about ACCURACY FIRST, speed comes ONLY when conditions allow it.  To illustrate that point the Sweepstakes page on the WQ6X.Info website has a picture of the ARRL Radiogram; which is what the Sweepstakes contest is modeled after.

Checking in with the 3830Scores website, it would seem that I didn't take Pacific Division however I may well have accomplished a 1st place for East bay section.  When I operate from W7AYT, not being blessed with kilowatts and 70' towers I like to play Sweepstakes as an assisted station because I need all the help I can get.

Did YOU play in this year's CW Sweepstakes?

Did you manage a Clean Sweep?

Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

August 30, 2017 - This just in:

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