Friday, May 26, 2017

Sometimes just showing up... Part II

[In May of 2013 I wrote a Blog entry suggesting the importance of showing up to radiosport events and submitting a log, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. [CLICK Here] to read the original write-up.  Additionally, in August 2015 I wrote a BLOG on the importance of documenting contest activity. [CLICK Here] to read that write-up.]  
Here are some further thoughts on these topics.

It's no secret that I love radiosport; aka amateur radio contesting. Outside of my research and work with Introspection Therapy,
amateur radio (and radiosport in particular) occupies much of my time.

Back in the olden days I "played around" in the usual bunch of contests: ARRL Dx, CQ WPX & DX contests, November Sweepstakes and of course Field Day. While I knew about the many other kinds of contests (such as the many European contests and the state QSO parties in the USA), I rarely joined in.

W6ML Crew - 1st Place (2001)

After the Y2K hoopla settled down in 2000,
I got serious about contesting.

 During Field Day 2000 operating with the W6SW crew atop Mt. Abel, Jim (W6KC) proposed that it was time to put together a "serious" multi-multi CQP expedition at Mammoth Lakes (Mono county).

From 2000 - 2003 we operated as W6ML accomplishing a series
of 1st place wins.  As the sunspot cycle made its inevitable decline, W6KC switched over to running single-OP events from Mammoth taking many awards and I began portable operations from a multi-million dollar house under construction at the time in Ojai California.

Winning a couple of CQP certificates from Ventura county during
2004 - 2007 got me interested in contesting all over again.
One of the reasons I put together the WQ6X.Info website was
to document contest activity, as well as other things of interest
in amateur radio.

In late 2009 a chance encounter with N6GEO at a class reunion brought us together again and our dual-OP contest activities began. Documenting our activities was one of the reasons I began this
contest BLOG in the first place. A special CQP web section
on the WQ6X.Info website documents all my CQP activities.

If you look through the BLOG entries I've written you will notice that I have dabbled in all different kinds of contests.

I rely heavily on the WA7BNM contest calendar to see what is up and coming.

Many contests are single mode affairs. Other contests (like state QSO parties) give you a choice to run CW, SSB or mixed mode. In the last couple of years I have received certificates by submitting a CW only entry.  Then again, in other contests I have scored a winning entry by running mixed-mode when most of the competition wasn't; doing this netted Dennis N6KI & WQ6X a win running mixed-mode as NX6T in the South American SA-10 10-meter contest.

When I get interested in a contest I often go to the contest sponsor's website to look up the results of the last 3 years, giving me an idea of where the greatest and the least competition is.

Case in point: for the November Sweepstakes I thought there would
be more competition in the "assisted" categories so I avoided them.

As it turns out the competition in the unassisted category has been way
more fierce. Operating in the assisted category has resulted in several section wins and even a Pacific Division plaque.

During contest operations I find opportunities to keep side-notes
(on a note pad next to my operating position), and, thanks to a
screen capture utility I wrote called SNAP-Shot!, I take pictures
of the computer screens behind running the contest.
Finally, after leveraging a given equipment installation for
a given contest event (or events), I do several things:
  • I use the notes and screen shots to produce a BLOG
    Entry for the WQ6X Contest Blog
  • I make a score submission to the 3830 Scores website.
    [CLICK Here] to see the list of WQ6X's 3830Score submissions.
  • I submit the log to the contest host, no matter how FEW QSOs are in the log.  I have submitted 1, 2 & 3 QSO contest logs many times and frequently receive personal thank you notes from contest organizers.
    Submitting every log actually makes the log checking process faster and more accurate.

Doing the above has resulted in several surprise plaque and certificate awards showing up at my P.O. Box.

These awards are the final acknowledgement of a job well done; from making the actual QSOs to doing the follow-up work afterwards.

In the beginning I NEVER submitted contest logs, for many reasons; missing out on several awards. Now, no matter what I ALWAYS submit a log.

What callsign to use can be a contributing factor towards a winning contest event. For many events (such as the California QSO Party - CQP) I have been known to reserve a 1x1 callsign; such as W6C, W6E, W6K, W6R, K6A, K6M, K6S & K6T.

This allows the callsign to stand out, altho the downside is that some operators get confused by the short callsign and ask for a repeat on it. I once reserved N6K and set about a confusion between me and Dennis, N6KI - I'll never do THAT again!

For other contests, I am finding that my own WQ6X callsign is often more recognizable, making it the preferred choice in contests like November Sweepstakes, CQ WPX, the NAQP GiGs and most
of the state QSO parties (except CQP).

A MAJOR reason I engage in radiosport is my desire to maximize equipment utilization.  In other words, in an ideal scenario I endeavor to try out new ideas; either to improve signal/noise ratio, setup better contest screen layouts, or unique antenna configurations.

One of the newer ideas I have been toying with is to improve the "backend" of the FT-1000mp's secondary receiver. 

While the 1000mp sports a WONderful eDSP facility,
it only processes audio from the MAIN receiver (Rcvr-A), leaving Rcvr-B unprocessed.

Because Rcvr-B audio by default comes through the right channel,
it is easily rerouted through the JPS NIR-12 and then back to the
right channel in the headphones. I recently wrote this up in a Blog
on leveraging dual receive. {CLICK HERE] to read this write-up.

There are many reasons to show up for a radiosport event.

When did YOU last engage in a radiosport event?

Which contests are YOUR Favorite?

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