Monday, January 23, 2017

WQ6X survives space WX to run NAQP SSB from W7AYT

The 2017 radiosport contest season opened with a dubiously auspicious start. WQ6X began this contest year with a "barely" showing running the RTTY RU (Roundup) remotely from NX6T's Station #1.

This was followed by last weekend's minimal show in the NAQP Cw contest, operating portable from W7AYT's QTH. This weekend again found me running portable from W7AYT - test-driving a couple of new ideas hardware-wise.

RTTY/SSB audio cable
For last year's CQ WW RTTY contest, I devised a simple RTTY (audio) interface cable (built from a Radio Shack audio isolation xfmr) between the laptop and the FT-1000mp's rarely-used rear PATCH socket, providing a minimal approach to AFSK.

Well, audio is audio - what works for AFSK should be even better for SSB. Using VOX, N1MM+ played .WAV files flawlessly.

For once I was setup well in advance of the start of NAQP - the trickiest part being the creation of .WAV files to be played by the N1MM+ function keys.

During previous NAQP's because I am only allowed to operate 10 out of the 12 contest hours, I tend to forgo the first contest hour on the premise that the high bands may not be open enough by 18:00z to be worthwhile.

Because we are nearing the bottom of the sunspot cycle, for this year I decided to take a reverse approach - starting as close to 18:00z as possible - on the theory that the high bands may well shutdown earlier in the afternoon. 
Space WX be-4 NAQP

As it turns out, because of recent solar storms I probably should have stuck to the usual plan.

Working W0ZYT (Alex) in North Dakota on 20 meters @ 17:45z (with S-9 reports both ways) led me to conclude the rest of 20 meters would follow suit - NOPE.

CH-250 Vertical & Cobra sloper

The space WX reports prior to the contest were bleak, at best (as you can see in the picture above).  However predictions don't always dictate individual band openings.

The portable setup I erected at W7AYT consisted of the now usual run of a Yaesu FT-1000mp into either Dennis' CH-250 vertical as well as an 8Mh sloping-V cobra antenna I hang before the contest starts.

The FT-1000mp sports an excellent A/B antenna switching mechanism along with built-in memories to "remember" which antenna works best for each band.

While I was able to tune the CH-250 on 160 meters (as I did in NAQP-Cw), altho I could hear many strong stations, Saturday evening, unlike last weekend, they could not hear me.

Because band condx were so poor I decided to take the 1st 1/2 hour break @19:32z, before returning to 15 meters, netting as many QSOs as possible while the band struggled to hold up.

Slow QSB (fading) made that a difficult task, resulting in only 23 QSOs (the same as last weekend's 15-meter figure).

Later in the day due to continued poor bay area condx. I inadvertently went an entire hour w/o QSOs, qualifying as another hour in the total off period. It don't matter how you doit, as long as you doit. Fining yet another 1/2 hour during dinner then allowed me to run the contest to the 06:00z end time.

SO2V in action
During recent contests I have been perfecting my understanding and utilization of SO2V (Single-OP 2-VFO) techniques. The FT-1000mp is blessed with dual-receive making it all possible by way of splitting each receiver's audio to the left and right ears.

The 1000mp even allows the operator to switch the audio to opposite ears . It recently occurred to me that a psychological benefit of SO2V is that it somewhat relieves the boredom-factor during slow frequency run periods.

 However, it is important to ALWAYS give priority-attention to the RUN frequency (VFO-A) over VFO-B. If I get too confused, I immediately turn off VFO-B until I have the equipment and/or run frequency back under control.

Late Saturday afternoon when 20 meters abruptly took its final dive I moved down to 40-meters (7185.85) hoping 40 and 80 would salvage the low QSO rate.

At 00:30z K9RM in Indiana said I was very strong; which because of the heavy slow-QSB turned out to bring false hope.  The incessant QSB seemed to ruin openings almost as soon as they started. It seemed that the lower bands were "late" in opening and then quickly went "long".

During the last hour of the contest, the iBoost keyboard (with large yellow keys) began malfunctioning, it would seem, shortly after I made a worthless attempt at 160-meter contest activity; altho the two events may not be related.

In summary, I think the main thing that can be said about this weekend's NAQP contest can be summed up thus: K-Index = 3 ==> 4. As a result, the solar noise was incessant - albeit sporadic;
more on 40-meters than anywhere else. What I don't understand is how the space WX app on DXMAPS.Com can report that there was/is a solar storm, and yet an hour later, WWV's + :18 forecast detailed that NO space weather storms were observed for the last 24 hours.
HuH? I thought the space WX app got its data from WWV/WWVH.  Am I missing something?

NAQP Ending Statistics
Being assigned to join contest team #1 (which included: WN6K, KI6QDH, W6AFA & W6TK) as part of the Southern California Contest Club's NAQP team entry I predicted the WQ6X log would contain 300 QSOs, surpassing last weekend's dismal 260 Cw QSOs.

When it was all over my 160 contacts resulted in barely half the previous weekend. Luckily, W6TK and W6AFA did a superb job carrying team #1.

While this year's NAQP SSB affair was filled with frustration, there were pockets of fun throughout. Working NP2X & KP4CPC, along with VY1MB & XK150YUKON in the Northern Territories using the Cobra-sloper made it all worthwhile.

 Because I chose to run frequencies a lot, it was quite a thrill to have stations pop-in out of nowhere, resulting in a new multiplier. I also noticed that MANY "0" call area stations were identifying themselves as "Tod" in honor of K0TO(sk). Tributes like this make radiosport contests more personal.

This winter California is receiving its share of rainfall so staying inside to work a radiosport contest made a lot of sense to me. The more I operate SO2V, the more comfortable I become doing it.

Thus far, the FT-1000mp has given WQ6X nearly 18 months of unparalleled portable contest operation. I love any opportunity to sit down and spin the radio's REAL knobs,
in addition to running the Yaesu via computer (CAT) control.

Did YOU play in this weekend's NAQP SSB contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR log?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

WQ6X Runs NAQP portable from East Bay section

Unless you are a RTTY operator (who participates in the ARRL RTTY RU contest), NAQP-Cw is the first major radiosport event of each new year. For this year I chose to operate NAQP from W7AYT's QTH where I have conducted many radio contest operations before.

The equipment setup was nothing special - a computer controlled Yaesu FT-1000mp was all I needed to make things work. Antenna-wise I used the CH-250 vertical already at the site and hoisted up a Cobra dipole 7mh into the air to make a crude sloper antenna. Because the radio allows A/B antenna selections, I could immediately switch between the two looking for the best signal. Amazingly, the vertical was often quieter (noise-wise) than the sloper - go figure. I was even able to tune the vertical on 160 working as far as Montana (probably with barely an S-2 signal).

As a single-OP operation I was only allowed to work 10 out of the 12 hours so I started up shortly after 19:00z on Saturday and wrapped things up at 05:00z on Sunday. Band conditions left a lot to be desired. 10-meters never happened in Concord. 15-meters barely produced 2 dozen QSOs, leaving 20 and 40 for most of the action, with a little activity on 80 and 160.

There were a few notable callsigns in this contest, like my friend Loco XE2MX. However the wildest callsign in the contest was from XK150YUKON; one of two Yukon stations on the air. DX-wise, aside from KP2M and KP3W, the only other DX stations in WQ6X's log were with HI3Y, HI3TT and 6Y4K.
Name-wise, 3 handles stood out:

In recent months I have been learning the art of SO2V (Single-OP 2-VFOs). SO2V played an important role for me in this contest. Throughout the contest I was able to run a frequency using VFO-A while tuning around the band looking for stations via Search & Pounce (S & P).
 The FT-1000mp allows me to split the audio from each receiver into left and right ears. When I operate SO2V, the run frequency always takes priority. At times, having both ears active would become confusing so I would turn off VFO-B until I regained my sanity long enough to continue with both VFOs.

NAQP is a unique contest in that there is no Single-OP assisted category, so I was rather surprised to discover that WQ6X was listed on the DX-map (as you see in the photo). 
At times there did seem to be a flood of callers, leading me to suspect that people were finding WQ6X via some sort of spotting facility.

For this contest, QSB was a major issue. Stations would pop in and disappear almost immediately. This is another reason to keep exchanges SHORT, sending ONLY the required information. 

Many stations would send 599 (not required in NAQP) which lengthened the exchange just enough for the signal to fade before sending
the QTH.  Every time this happens a repeat is required, wasting TIME.

I encountered no intentional-QRM during this contest. In other events it usually happens on 40 meters but well after midnight,which is long after NAQP is over; so I guess we lucked out. There was the usual SSB activity on the top end of the 40-meter Cw spectrum.
They have as much right to that space as I do, so overall we work together in this shared environment.

One of my main beefs in CW contests is with the operators who persist in sending CW at 30+ WPM speed, making it difficult to easily copy weird callsigns such as the aforementioned XK150YUKON station.

I never once sent Cw faster than 25 wpm; my top limit for radio contests. When slower stations call me, I usually slow down to accommodate them. Sending too fast is not an example of superior operating skill but a
sign of stupidity as repeats will be required to get the information through slowing EVERYONE down.

Another beef is the plurality of stations with callsigns not matching the call area they are operating from. For example, there were many non-W7 callsigns operating out of Arizona (AZ). My personal policy is if I am operating outside of California I ALWAYS sign portable; for example WQ6X/7 when I operated from a Las Vegas hotel. While technically it is not required, experience has shown that the confusion-level reduces considerably when we properly sign portable. In some RTTY contests, even if your callsign is registered in say AZ (a W7) if your call does not have a 7 in it you are required to sign as portable to keep everyone happy.

Did YOU work the NAQP Cw contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR log?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WQ6X Contest Blog 100th entry! - the REAL value of Radiosport

When I began the WQ6X contest blog back in 2013, I had no idea what I would actually do with the medium; it just seemed like a good idea at the time. During those 4 years, WQ6X has participated in numerous Radiosport contests; both big and small. As WQ6X, contest scores in the MILLIONS of points have been submitted (in GiGs like the CQ WPX contests). Those scores were in contrast with logs submitted to various European contests which contained 1 - 5 QSOs for the ENTIRE contest.

While most WQ6X contest BLOG entries detailed a particular contest activity, interspersed throughout the 4 years were topics relating to specific aspects of contesting itself; such as the blog series I did from St. Croix in 2014. [Click HERE]

In addition to operating the RTTY RU contest from St. Croix, as WP2/WQ6X I put over 2000 CW and SSB QSOs in the log using the Yaesu FT-1000mp provided me at the KP2M station; also known as Radio Reef. 
Yaesu FT-1000mp @ KP2M
I so much liked the 1000mp that in the fall of 2015 I relieved N6VR of one of his pair of 1000mp radios for an awesomely low price.

Ironically, it was this very radio that used to plague me (back in 2007 & 2008) when I operated November Sweepstakes portable in Ojai Ca. 

His super-station was just a mile from me up the hill, with his antennas pointed right down my throat.

For this 100th Blog entry I want to spend time looking at the benefits of contest activity. My non-Contester friends HATE contest weekends because it interferes with their ability to ragchew casually. What my friends fail to realize is that the frequency spectrum the world allows us to play in is a SHARED resource. As radio amateurs, we PRIDE ourselves on our ingenuity - the ability to get the message through, even under the most ADVERSE of conditions.

Sometimes adverse conditions have nothing to do with the frequency spectrum or the ionosphere. Because remotely run station operations are now commonplace, a NEW variable to contend with is internet latency.

STEPP-IR + 2-el 40 at NX6T
A case in point was this last weekend as I operated WQ6X remotely from the San Diego Contest Club contest station (NX6T). To make remote operations more viable they are working on a microwave connection a nearby location where there is super-fast internet access. Unfortunately, "something" is causing a disruption of the signal approximately every 15 seconds.

In RTTY contests (like this one) briefly losing the signal is not a problem because the signals are decoded digitally on the NX6T end and displayed on Station #1's computer screen. While briefly losing internet access to Fallbrook is an annoyance, when the link reconnects, the data is still waiting for the VNC Viewer software on my end to display it.
RCForb simulation of the Elecraft K3
As a result I was able to RUN frequencies most of the time w/o anyone realizing I was actually operating remote.
However S&P'ing was a different story. While it is easy to tune CW & SSB signals remotely, tuning RTTY is tricky, and all but impossible with internet dropouts.

Even if you choose NoT to participate in a given contest, there are benefits to just LISTENING to contest activity. If you use a fairly complex radio like my Yaesu FT-1000mp, during a crowded contest you can learn how to best utilize the built-in selectivity features of your equipment. My 1000mp is loaded with optional Collins filters, in addition to its super eDSP.

Additionally, I often hook up a pair of external audio filers (a JPS NIR-12 and an MFJ 752-c) in the headphone path, adding that extra bit of QRM-reduction.

I also have available the MFJ 1026 interference reducer which attempts to phase-out the QRM at the antenna end of things, before it even gets to the first front-end preamp.

Another useful aspect of contesting is that you can learn to use logging software by just listening (as an SWL) and logging all the stations that you hear. I frequently receive SWL cards (mostly from Europe) after DX contests because many countries in Europe still have a requirement that SWLing experience is a pre-requisite to applying for an amateur license.

In addition to better learning your equipment, logging software contests allows you to become familiar with the various websites that assist us in determining space weather conditions and what areas of the world are open to your QTH.

I learned the SO2V (Single OP 2 VFOs) technique by spending a weekend just listening, SWL-logging all the QSOs I heard.

Because the FT-1000mp uses split-channel audio (one radio in each ear) it is actually possible to work CW stations via the left ear and SSB stations via the right, in mixed-mode contests like State QSO parties (such as CQP).

Listening to contest activity can orient you to superior operating skills. For example, while I never participate in the Thursday nite CWT Ops events, sometimes I will listen in while experimenting with some change to the station layout (like adding in a Radio Shaft 15-band equalizer in the audio line). Just listening and not participating allows me to learn the nuances of my station configuration without any performance pressure.

WQ6X/6 in 2013 All Asian CW contest

Whether or not you participate in emergency preparedness activities, anything that points you in the direction of improving your operating skills is a good thing.

Operating contests and submitting a log afterward will allow you to hone your operating skills. Because most major contests now send Log Check Reports (LCRs) for all log submissions, comparing these reports to your actual log allows you to spot errors that you make repeatedly.

After I submit a log, I save the log-submission response e-mail in an e-mail folder for future reference. I also file a copy of the submitted Cabrillo file on my hard drive for future evaluation. Because Cabrillo file are simply text files they take up a tiny amount of space on the hard drive; even logs with several thousand QSOs are actually tiny files by comparison to most things we store on the hard drives.

San Andreas Faultline Survivors (W6SW)

Field Day is an excellent way to learn emergency preparedness. Technically, Field Day is NoT a contest, but an operating even; alto many crackerjack operators are out to produce the highest QSO totals they can.

FD brings about operators and friends in large groups.

While many amateurs don't care much about actual operating, they often like being a part of antenna raising and station setup; even being a chef.

Some hams just like to toss down a brewski or three as they wander from station to station checking out the different operations. Many a time I have grabbed them by the shirt and pulled them down to the logging chair or put them in front of the microphone. 

CW operators NEVER have to be coerced to sit down at CW station - we LOVE to operate. Several Field Days ago I was in top-form CW-wise making over 900 QSOs behind the key; in addition to my regular late Saturday night SSB operations on75 & 40 meters, where "Geraldine!" often makes the scene. Remember that in Field Day CW QSOs are worth TWO points apiece, as opposed to a SINGLE point for SSB contacts.

2016 FD as W6E from a cabin in Twain Harte
Except for 2016 (when I dual-OP'd with N6GEO from Twain Harte) for over 20 years I have always joined the W6SW Faultline Survivors crew on Mt. Abel (northwest of Los Angeles) for our usual 5 station setup which includes 3 wire yagis, several dipoles and slopers and occasionally WQ6X's 8JK arrays and HF2-V vertical for the lower bands.

In recent years, thanks to W6KC's IP expertise we have been able to network N1MM+ over a wireless Local Area Network (LAN) by hanging a specially constructed yagi from a tree centrally located between the different stations. An advantage of this is that we can stay informed on what QSOs each station is making; which is good for camaraderie as well as spotting the occasional station failure that occurs.

non-W7 1st Place

Do you like to engage in AWARD Hunting? Well guess whut? One of the BEST ways to qualify for major awards is to participate in MAJOR contests. Are you looking to earn WAS (Worked All States)?

The NAQP and WPX contests and of course, the November Sweepstakes can make that happen over the course of just ONE weekend!  Are you looking to earn DXCC? During the CQ and ARRL DX contests you can earn DXCC in one weekend.

Are you looking to work all counties in all of the United States? The State QSO parties (such as 7QP in the Northwest and CQP in California) endeavor to activate all their counties over the course of a weekend. Over a years time, by participating in every QSO party you can will find your counties-worked total skyrocket in just a few months.

BOTTOMLINE? We all use a shared resource - the Amateur Radio Bands. You complain about our contest activity? GET OVER IT! I'm just as sick and tired of listening to you at 6am every morning on 75 meters droning on and on about your lousy health conditions. In all honesty, we are NOT INTERESTED in the gory details of your recent gall bladder removal. One of the ways I avoid hams I consider annoying is to spin the tuning knob and/or switch to another band - I have 9 bands to choose from on HF alone.

NX6T Station #2
While it is true that many contesters can be brash, bratty and sometimes even PUSHY, they are in the minority. Because most contesters PRIDE themselves in playing by the rules - operationally and ethically - you will find them to be courteous and shift frequency when politely asked.

During one contest I was asked by a Net Control Station (NCS) if I could move frequency + / - 5kc in order that they conduct their daily net activities. I found a new frequency home and picked up where I left off - with happy operators on both frequencies.

Amateur Radio contesting (Radiosport) has many benefits, whether you are a rabid contester (as I am) or not. Give it a try (one contest at a time) and find out for yourself.

The WA7BNM calendar provides a monthly list of most radiosport contests. [CLICK HERE] to check it out.

Contesting can be an exciting challenge. Throughout 2017 look for me during contest weekends operating either as WQ6X, NX6T, N6GEO, or one of the 1x1 callsigns I sometimes reserve; such as W6C, W6K, W6R, K6F or K6M. Like everything else in amateur radio contests, using unique 1x1 callsigns can add to the variety of things and therefore the FUN.

Coming up early this year are the NAQP CW / SSB / RTTY contests, WPX Ssb and JIDX Cw GiGs.

I hope to find YOUR callsign in one of my contest logs.

Here are some QSL cards from previous contest activities.



Monday, January 9, 2017

WQ6X runs RTTY RU Remotely to open 2017 contest season

Station #1 w/operating aids
As ham radio contests go, RTTY GiGs are relatively new to me. 5 years ago (2012) I assisted N6GEO towards a 1st place for the East Bay (EB) secion in the RTTY Roundup (RU).  2 years later found us operating as WP2/WQ6X from the Radio Reef station (KP2M) on the island of St. Croix where we took a worldwide 1st place running 149.49 watts as a low power entry. 
While we made an impressive showing for the 2015
RTTY RU, it certainly did not compare to 2014.

Last year as I was in the process of learning the ins and outs of operating NX6T remotely I spent time running the RTTY RU to the tune of 273 QSOs; nothing great, however I proved I can do it.

For 2017, I toyed with a number of possibilities for the Roundup, including: running the FT-1000mp from W7AYT with 100 watts into a vertical, or driving to Twain Harte to join N6GEO, or driving to "NashVille" (in Fallbrook) to operate the NX6T station live, or, remote in to Fallbrook as I did last year.

Because California is in the midst of a serious (for us) rainstorm, driving was not a good idea. Instead, I chose to replicate last year's remote operation; which as it turned out was loaded with caveats.

Antennas @ NX6T

Equipment-wise I ran NX6T's Station #1 (an Elecraft K3) at reduced power into an ACOM 2000a, dialed back to just under 150 watts, qualifying as a low power entry.

For antennas I used a C-31 yagi (for the high bands) and a 2-element yagi on 40 meters, both 13mh, along with an inverted Vee for 80 meters. Using remote access gave me access to Station #2's computer allowing me to rotate both yagis as needed.

Friday evening I accessed NX6T's station #1 remotely and set up the N1MM+ software, testing all the needed remote components (Hamachi, RCForb & the VNC Viewer) on my end. While NX6T now has super-fast internet access, unfortunately, things were still being tested and would dropout briefly every 15 seconds or so. Dropouts did not interfere with the computers running the radios directly so in effect all data was buffered and ready for me when my remote access came back; nothing was lost.

On Saturday morning, a number of unrelated events delayed my contest start until the early afternoon. Because of the internet dropouts, it was not easy to tune RTTY signals remotely. Instead, whenever possible, I chose to pick frequencies and let stations come to me.

10 meters never happened on Saturday and by the time I got started I probably missed many of the 15 meter opportunities. 20-meters took up most of the afternoon.

Just as quickly as 15 meters folded up, 20 meters took a sudden dive as well, taking me to 40 meters for most of the evening, interspersed with a couple of runs on 80.

Band .vs. Hour Stats
While listening around on 40 meter SSB Friday evening South Africa was loud and clear, giving me hope that such propagation would also exist on Saturday. Unfortunately, signals levels on Saturday were not nearly that of Friday, and evidently South African stations don't do RTTY; at least not this weekend. Fortunately there was a 40 meter opening to
Japan, but none on 80.

By 09:00z I could hardly keep my eyes open and went to bed, getting up at 14:30z to work 40-meter leftovers and some QSOs on 20 before going back to bed. By 19:00z
I found a brief 10 meter opening before switching to 15.

At 20:30z an amazing thing happened - the internet latency finally disappeared. Unfortunately, in place of that, N1MM began to lockup the entire system with each occurrence taking nearly 10 minutes to resolve.
I ended the RTTY RU switching to 40 meters for a final run frequency.

By the time the Roundup was over I had amassed 266 QSOs (7 less than last year) with 55 multipliers, all in only 14 hours of OP time. Typical for contests in the last year, missing multipliers included most eastern Canadian provinces, most New England states, and of course, Nebraska.

Amazingly, Arizona stations were in short supply, with only 2 worked near the end of the contest.

As the contest ended, 40-meters went from a cacophony of RTTY stations to a dozen+
CW stations getting back to the business of casual Sunday afternoon ragchews.

Because this was a RTTY contest, there was (to my knowledge) no intentional QRM; even on 40 meters. The Russian beacons on 7.039 were either non-existent or wiped out by RTTY stations.
On 40 meters RTTY operations are shared with SSB stations in Regions 1 & 3; hearing funny sounding voices were a part of the GiG.

While there were a number of challenges to this years RTTY RU activity, I did enjoy the contest and learned a lot about making RTTY operations work under adverse conditions.

To close this blog entry I would like to make a few comments about how to make things run more smoothly for every one. Some oif these comments I have made regarding other contests but apply equally to the RU; if not, even more.

  1. When using N1MM+ I program the function keys to send SINGLE pieces of information.
    If someone asks for my section, I press F7 to send ONLY "CA CA"; there is NO NEED to send 599 again. This year because propagation was so spotty, fast fading was rather common. When I missed the section, I would press F6 to send "UR Section? Again?". Virtually every time I would receive a reply which included "599". Right after the 599 the section would get garbled, wasting the entire transmission time. If the operator has sent JUST "CA CA", it would have gotten through the first time.
  2. One station attempted to make his callsign easier to recognize by sending it as "(K4RDU)". While it was easier to spot visually, the call stacking mechanism of the N1MM+ RTTY didn't recognize it and the call was never placed on the call stack. This actually made it MORE difficult, to work the station as I had to double-click the callsign (which then included the
    "(" and ")" characters), then paste it into the call window and then delete the paren characters. Instead, it was faster to type the call manually; the very thing we are trying to avoid.
  3. Because so many stations now sport callsigns that are not representative of their call area,
    in RTTY contests (because data is easily garbled) this can be quite confusing.
    Other RTTY contests REQUIRE a "/" in the callsign; such that if WQ6X is
    operating out of Nevada (for example), I MUST sign WQ6X/7 or be disqualified. 
    People must think that sending /7 takes too much time when in fact it SAVES time
    because then I don't have them repeat their section again and again.

Did YOU work the RTTY RU?

Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

Monday, January 2, 2017

WQ6X's 2016 Contest Reflections

Because 2016 was WQ6X's most prolific contest year ever, I was moved to look back at the 40 contest entries that had some sort WQ6X involvement.

I have experienced high-activity years before (2013 in particular), however for 2016, WQ6X took things to the next level; in some cases by repeating what had worked in prior contest years, and in other contests doing something radically different.

While I've been an avid contester since 2000 (and before), I didn't pursue awards on my own until 2005; posting scores to the 3830Scores.Com website did not begin until 2010. In January 2013 I began posting entries to the WQ6X contest BLOG here on Blogspot.Com. Recently, I took the opportunity to evaluate contest WQ6X score submissions to the 3830Scores.Com website from 2010 to 2016 that involved WQ6X in some way.

Putting together a custom Excel worksheet I managed to make sense out of what initially seemed like a morass of unrelated data.  One of the things I like about Excel is its ability to graph spreadsheet information just by highlighting the data and clicking on the chart button.

As you can see, during the last 6 years, I have participated in many different kinds of contests, operating from a myriad of locations, with a bevy of different operators. 

I've done numerous single-OP GiGs, dual-OP'd with N6GEO for a number of important events and been a part of the San Diego Contest Club (NX6T) events from "NashVille" in Fallbrook; altho sometimes we used my WQ6X callsign or 1x1 callsigns (like W6H & W6V) that I reserved for Fallbrook operations.

Every contest year has its notable events.  In 2013, notable events included a CQP Multi-Multi 1st place from Modoc county with N6GEO [Click Here] and JIDX 1st-place world plaques operating as part of the NX6T gang [Click Here].


For 2014, we took 1st-place world operating as WP2/WQ6X in the ARRL RTTY Roundup (RU).

Our 2013 expedition was showcased for nearly 6 months on the CQP website during 2014 until August replaced us with rules for CQP-14.

For that event, our operation as K6U operation went from initial disappointment to setting a county record for Contra Costa county.

I wrote a blog entry about that event.

I also had the opportunity to join W6V for another JIDX 1st-place world plaque-winning operation and wrote a blog entry about that operation.

2015 gave N6GEO & WQ6X our first CQP win from Tuolumne county[Click Here].
In between award-winning Sweepstakes operations from W7AYT's QTH (which included an SSB plaque for Pacific Division [Click Here]), I was able to again join up with NX6T to earn another 1st-place world plaque in the JIDX SSB contest [Click Here].

With all that behind me, I couldn't imagine how 2016 could do better than that.
As it turns out, success sometimes comes when you least expect it.

In March, N6KI & I took 1st-place world for the South American 10-meter contest, submitting a log with a mere 78 QSOs.
I ran most of that contest remotely, leaving Dennis to put the final QSOs in the log just before 10-metrs died.

For Sweepstakes, while I did not win any plaques in 2016, I did manage a pair of wins from the East Bay section.

Because I participated in many state QSO parties and odd-ball Dx contests, the opportunity for mixed mode submissions (as we did with the SA-10 contest) increased dramatically in 2016.

Over the years, RTTY operations
have also increased.

In May, for the 1st time ever I chose to operate the multi-contest weekend which encompassed the ARI Dx contest, the INQP, DEQP, NEQP & 7QP QSO parties.

While most of the GiGs were ho-hummers, 7QP gave me the most QSOs and in fact resulted in a non-W7 1st place, if you can believe that.  [Click Here] for a write up.

One of the things making 2016 unique from other contest years was participation in "little contests" from around the world such as the King of Spain and the Yuri Gegarin contests.

In addition to providing practice in contesting skills and often unique DX opportunities, those "little" contests add up and sometimes produce a winning certificate as I discovered in the 2013 All Asian contest. It is also a show of respect - if I want you to play in "my" contests (like CQP), the least I can do is play in yours.


If you've read my 2015-2016 blog entries, you may remember that one of my biggest beefs is that not enough people participate in their own contests; particularly true in the case of Asian contests, like JIDX and All Asian.

WQ6X in Sweepstakes CW

One reason to participate in every contest you can find time for is that when you send in your log, your callsign will be added to the callsign history files for that event.

In subsequent years, when your callsign is typed into logging programs for that contest your callsign will pop up in the check-partial window, making it more likely your callsign will be copied correctly.

How many contests did you participate in during 2016?

How many times do you find WQ6X or NX6T in YOUR log?