Monday, May 22, 2017

KING of SPAIN Contest teaches VALUABLE lesson

Stations 1, 2 & 3 @ NX6T in Fallbrook

Due to previous entries in the King of Spain (k-o-S) CW contest I am on the contest committee's mailing list, receiving a reminder of the upcoming 2017 K-o-S event about a week ago.
However as usual, I made last minute arrangements to run the contest remotely as
WQ6X from NX6T ("NashVille") in Fallbrook, California.

A number of operational goals were accomplished this weekend, the main thing being a test-drive
of a new air conditioning approach for use in the shack during unattended remote operations.
You may recall that a couple of contests back Station #1's laptop overheated and shutdown
creating a vicious circle making it impossible to continue operations that weekend; and this
was with the amplifier on, but in STBY mode. KW amplifiers generate almost as much
room heat sitting there doing nothing as they do during FULL keydown.

For this weekend, operations began at 100-watts, quickly escalating to 500, 750 and
finally 1.1kw; all with no laptop shutdown - Hurrah!

Space WX wise, things were quite horrible. Opening the weekend,
the K-Index was 4.

Although I made many forays onto 15 meters and was even spotted across the U.S., no contest QSOs were to be had.

80 meters was quite noisy and produced no contest QSOs even though I was spotted by skimmers in VE3 and W9.

That left 20 meters (with less than 20 QSOs), with the majority being made on 40-meters. After the contest was over it was a no-brainer to submit this year's K-o-S log as a Single-OP 40-meter entry.

Every contest operation I am a part of (be it live or remote) is visited by a number of operating anomalies. While some things tend to occur repeatedly, nearly every event brings something new.  This weekend's "something new" came
in the form of a "beeping beacon" sound on 7022.53 at 00:15z. It disappeared for a couple of hours (or was not hearable due to shifting propagation and/or solar storms) reappearing at 04:13z, but much weaker.

Fortunately the Indonesian illegal SSB operations in
the 7.015 - 7.025 region never materialized in Fallbrook; probably having more to do with the 2-el yagi pointing at Spain (~35-degrees) and not Asia (~330-degrees).  

Unfortunately, at 22:57z I was "heckled" by an IDIOT who would immediately send "N-I-L" after every CQ call I made on 14015.15.  Eventually he became even MORE Bored than when he found me and sauntered off to harass someone else.  Just in case, I took refuge on 40-meters,

Throughout the evening a phase-shit rushing sound could be heard ~7.029. Either this was a "professional" jammer, or more likely, some idiot amateur screwing around again (I've heard
this same cacophony during the last 3 contest weekends).

After midnight, hoping to catch some Asians (or at least JA's) playing in the K-o-S contest, I

pointed the yagi to 325-degrees. All I heard were the "M" & "D" Russian military beacons on
7.039, altho the "D" beacon was much weaker this weekend than the last two.

Windoze Device Mangler

This contest weekend, the lesson to be learned

While setting up N1MM+ on Friday evening, checking
the contest rules and finding out about the space weather problems, the one thing I neglected to check was whether or not N1MM+ could actually key the radio.

The RCForb remote access software was able to tune the radio and N1MM+ was able to CAT control the radio just fine. To keep the shack cool, I chose not to turn on the amplifier until actual contest starting time (12:00z).

Rolling out of bed and firing up a pot of coffee,
I fired up VNC Viewer and prepared to test-send
the radio - NOTHING! HuH?

After a number of experimental tests I concluded that the Winkeyer unit (which lives on the COM4 port) was not responding. Bringing up the Windoze XP Device Mangler showed that the comm port was not in the system. Rebooting the computer did NoT bring it back. Now what?

RCForb CW Macros

Remembering that in the WPX-SSB contest I used RCForb to access the 4 voice keyer memories of the K3 radio, it seemed logical that I should be able to accomplish something similar for CW.

That something similar came in the form of defining a set of Function Key macros under RCForb, running the contest by function keys and switching screens to N1MM+ to log the actual contacts.

At first I thought I was relegated to
JUST running S&P (Search & Pounce).

Eventually with a little practice I was able to actually run several frequencies, altho to stations on the other end I probably came off as a novice contester; which I was when it comes to this kind

of ad-HOC approach to operating.

Nevertheless, WQ6X's 1-kw signal was heard well enough (esp. on 40 meters) to be spotted by many skimmer stations, near and far. Many times I would make a single "CQ EA Test" call and receive a "WQ6X spotted" message within 10 seconds. AmaZing!

Because I had enough to deal with, I chose to forgo running SO2-V (Single-OP 2-VFO's) in this contest. To make things easier I found a chart on the EA contest webpage detailing all the
Spanish provinces and their abbreviation codes.

After running a frequency for awhile produced nothing new I would check other bands and/or S&P.

It was at this time I happened onto

a TEASE Spanish station (EA6NB)
who was calling CQ DX and was specifically NoT in the contest.

HuH? Whut? A Spaniard disrespecting the King by NOT playing in the King of Spain contest? HOORORS! If *I* can play in the King of Spain contest, so can they.

Did YOU play in the King of Spain contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

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