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:
BUZZ, VLAD & NIZ.
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?