Tuesday, July 11, 2017

WQ6X Racks one up in the RAC contest

Because WQ6X has never participated in the Canadian RAC day I made it a point to fit in some sort of RAC operation for 2017. Being new to the contest, reading the rules became a top/1st priority. [CLICK HERE] to read the rules that I read.

I originally thought of extending the Field Day (FD) setup @ W7AYT to include the RAC GiG
until client obligations obligated me to remain in Alameda.

Lately, remote operating NX6T has stabilized considerably. For the 2017 All Asian contest
I encountered no significant internet problems, leading me to give NX6T-remote a go for the
Canadian RAC contest. Internet-wise I was not disappointed; at least in the beginning.

C-31 Yagi

Equipment-wise, I ran NX6T's Station #1 K3 radio barefoot into a C-31 yagi for 20-meters, a 2-el yagi for 40 and a droopy inverted V for 80.

Signal levels were quite good. I worked everyone I could hear. However VE participation in this event left me utterly non-plussed; to say the least.

Typically in contests new to me unexpected things happen out of the nowhere. When I run onsite @ NX6T, any equipment-failure or internet outage can usually be remedied on the spot.

If I'm part of a multi-OP - but connecting remotely - at anytime, I can either phone/text/e-mail a team member to remedy any outage that occurs, usually within minutes.  However when I run Single-OP remotely, there is usually no one onsite. If a major outage occurs, all I can do is flip power-strip
power switches and then wait - praying that rebooting everything will eventually stumble into
remedying the outage.

Making this all work requires proper integration between the LogMeIn, RCForb & VPN Viewer software.

As you can see, the RCForb software screen looks remotely similar to the Elecraft K3 front panel; which for
running NX6T remotely is a good thing.

When it was over the RAC contest afforded me the opportunity to learn
a number of new quirks in remote
radio operation.

By the time I configured all the software components on both ends my contest start time was 02:00z (7pm PDT). While I missed out on a possible 15-meter opening, being wide-open, 20 meters seemed to make up for that. What surprised me was the dearth of VE signals and the abundance of stations from the south east. I later discovered that I mis-read the Stepp-IR rotor indicator - it was pointing 115-degrees all along. (For operation on Saturday morning I pointed it Northeast and lo-and-behold Canadian callsigns populated the 20-meter spectrum.)

WQ6X Spotted on 20-meters
Normally in contests like RAC, I expect the target-audience to be in great abundance, so I tend to Search & Pounce (S&P). For this RAC event I decided to run a frequency; on the premise that WQ6X is an attractive callsign. As you can see, the CW skimmers monitoring 20-meters seemed to hear my 100-watt signal all over North America. As it turns out, most of Friday evening's 20-meter QSO's were made by running a frequency. 

WQ6X Spotted on 40-meters
By 04:30 it was time to make the switch to wide-open 40 meters. Ironically, altho the 40-meter yagi was pointed northeast, the best signals were coming from the southeast, including Africa. Within minutes it became immediately apparent I could also run frequencies on 40. Again, with assistance
of the 40-meter skimmers I managed a very productive hour running frequencies. From time to time, either out of dropped-rate or boredom I would make a quick S&P sweep of the band

By 06:40z an 80 meter opening materialized, lasting just under an hour. On both 80 & 40 I was disappointed in the relatively small number of workable (let alone hearable) VE stations. 5 hours
of sleep gave me enough energy to work another hour on 40-meters starting at 12:45z. At 16:25z,
I managed 30 minutes on 20 meters before taking care of some non-contest business.

19:00z brought 25 more QSOs to the log before the internet DIED.

RAC Contest Ending Statistics
My internet connection was fine - something on the Fallbrook end failed; probably the microwave link. Listening on an SDR receiver in the area confirmed 15 meters was finally open. There's almost nothing more hopeless in a radiosport contest than hearing a wonderful band opening and not
be able to transmit. As my long-departed friend Mary used to say "It's Always Something!".

Did you work the RAC contest?

How many VE/VY/VA/CF/CG callsigns are in YOUR Log?

On Feb 12th (2018) I received the following certificate for this contest.

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