Friday, December 23, 2016

WQ6X joins NX6T remotely for ARRL 10-meter contest

What can be said about a 10-meter contest in the winter time at the bottom of the sunspot cycle?  Last year, my solo attempt at the 10-meter contest was a complete bust; my 36 CW QSOs hardly made a showing.

WQ6X's 2015 ad-HOC setup

That portable operation lacked an antenna which would radiate much; PJ2T and KH6LC being the only non North American QSOs made from
the 3rd story hotel room.

For 2012, 2013 & 2014 I teamed up with N6GEO using the K6T, WQ6X & N6GEO callsigns respectively; taking 1st place for East Bay (EB) section
in all 3 years.

Friday afternoon Space WX

For 2016, I was unable to make an appearance in "NashVille"; instead adding some SSB QSOs to the NX6T log running remotely from the
SF bay area.

Before the 2016 event began I was dismayed to see the HORRIBLE space weather predictions; making me glad I didn't make the drive to Fallbrook.

Precise cabling behind the scenes at NX6T

Now in retrospect I see that just because propagation predictions
are horrible is no reason to NOT participate; remember, predictions
are just that - predictions.

While propagation conditions largely favored North and South America,
as it turns out there were certainly QSOs to be made.

For NX6T, Europe and Africa were all but non-existent; which makes me wonder if I would've done better for myself to setup the FT-1000mp at W7AYT in East Bay (EB) section: Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda.

Because we are entering the final months of solar cycle 24, after the contest was over and N6KI posted the NX6T score on the 3830Scores.Com website, curiosity struck me to analyze the last 5 years of NX6T's 10-meter contest involvement, plotted against
the Solar Flux Index (SFI).

While the general consensus is that higher scores occur during high[er] SFI numbers, at NX6T it would seem that the reverse is what actually happens.

Normally there is a shortage of CW operators in contests from "NashVille".  Except for last year, the 10-meter contest is largely an exception. 
The original idea was for me to remote-in and run CW for a couple of hours.
Because we were well-equipped CW-wise, I remoted-in search-and-pouncing on SSB by way of the WINTEST function keys which invoked the voice-keyer channels in the K3 radio.

If I sounded like Dennis (N6KI) it is because he recorded HIS voice on Station-1's radio before
turning it over to me remotely.

Saturday afternoon Space WX

While this year's 10-meter contest was a tough-GO, as it turns out, we performed way beyond what
I had originally predicted.

NX6T probably secured a distant 2nd place for the U.S.;  partially because everyone else experienced a reduction in QSOs between this year and last.

Did YOU play in the ARRL 10-meter contest?

Is NX6T in YOUR Log?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

N6KI & WQ6X Dual-OP 160 Contest as NX6T


Recently, the only good thing I can say about the current sunspot cycle low is that 160 meters has come alive rather nicely for this year's ARRL 160 meter contest.

 I booked a business trip to Burbank by first making a detour through "NashVille" to join up with N6KI in order that we dual-OP the 160 contest.
Internet router configuration problems and relatively intrusive winds from the west almost sidelined this operation.

To make things easier, I authored this blog entry as the weekend progressed.

I arrived at NX6T to discover that things were not ready. The AT&T router lost its mind and needed to be reconfigured and tower #2 with 160 Inverted Vee had not been raised.

Tower #2 collapsed down

Because of the winds we decided to run with the tower at the 40' (13mh) position. An advantage to this is that our radiation pattern is probably more 360-like. If the winds die down we will consider putting the tower up to its 70' (23mh) height. 

At 02:40z N6KI put our first QSO in the log and I wandered off to do other things. By the time I took over for the dinner run at 04:15z Dennis had put 140 QSOs in the log.

During the dinner run I managed to add 180 more QSOs in the log despite adjacent QRM from the IDIOT who ran W7RN (probably remotely); he worked me and then went up 200 hz to call CQ forcing me to drop down 300 hz to knock him out of the K3's receive passband. 

Only a True LiD would work a station and then call CQ less than 1kc away from that same station who had been on the frequency for nearly 3 hours.

When Dennis came back from dinner, I attempted some sleep, dragging myself into the shack at 10:10z (02:10 am in Fallbrook). He had been alternating between S&P'ing and running a frequency. I took over the frequency for nearly an hour before I too, had to S&P to make my time worth SOMETHING. As sunrise came upon NX6T, the east coast, then the Midwest, then the mountain time zone quietly faded away. The ending QSO count is at 484 in 5 different countries for a score of 70,900 points thus far.

When I rolled out of bed at NOON, I stepped outside to discover virtually NO wind activity: To the degree the wind speed is DOWN, Tower #2 can go UP; and it in fact did. Did it make a difference? It DiD seem like there were more S-2 stations calling during the middle of the night.

To pick them out we used one of N6KI's favorite techniques involving turning off the AGC (risking BLASTs of audio when a strong station showed up) while backing off the RF gain and upping the audio gain. Like running two VFOs (SO2V), making this work requires PRACTICE.

Tower #2 fully extended

Because the 160 contest is largely an evening contest, for NX6T the band didn't reopen until 23:00z on Saturday, with me making the 1st contact at 23:22z.

One of the refreshing things about 160 mater contests is that there is no 40-meter intentional QRM to deal with. Earlier I mentioned the QRM from a loud Nevada station.

In another like incident (possibly with the same station), I parked NX6T on 1818.18. Hearing no response to my "QRL?" I began calling CQ Test followed shortly by the other station calling CQ on 1817.40 (with no "QRL?" first).

Making no QSOs he eventually gave up, zeroed my frequency and sent "TNX ASS".
My response was "73 - TU NX6T QRZ?"

NX6T being spotted

While we were continuously being spotted, it was discovered after the contest was over that other California stations heard several Western European and Spanish stations trying to call us, altho they were too weak for us to hear - Bummer Dewd!

We certainly could have used the extra multipliers. Dennis (N6KI) has vowed that there will be replacement for the downed "Beverage" antennas by the time the CQ 160 contest happens the end of January.

Overall, N6KI & WQ6X made a decent showing in the ARRL 160 contest.

We may well have taken first place for San Diego section and the W6 call area; not bad for a hastily organized contest event. [CLICK Here] to see our 3830 Scores website.

Did YOU work the ARRL160 meter contest?

Is NX6T in YOUR Log?