Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Solar Cycle 25 Opens September Contest Season

NX6T undergoing computer retrofit

I open this WQ6X Contest Blog entry by welcoming the existence of recently emerged
Solar Cycle #25. (More on this later)

For 2017, the month of September has ushered in a number of radiosport surprises.
As I wrote in the previous Blog Entry this year's All Asian SSB contest turned into a 1 QSO
affair for WQ6X.  Instead, COQP and TNQP received all the attention in the WQ contest activities.

For WQ6X activities, this weekend
was quite similar to the last with a surprising difference: It would seem
(to me anyway) that the end of Solar Cycle 24 has been abruptly transformed into Cycle 25, creating an interesting backdrop to the long-awaited (for Europeans anyway) WAE (Worked
all Europe) SSB contest.

Last month I played around in the CW version of the WAE contest ([CLICK HERE] to read about that). Later this month I will give the RTTY version of this GiG a good run.

Because the antenna system @ W7AYT (where I often run the FT-1000mp portable) doesn't usually do well into Europe, I turned to running as WQ6X remotely from NX6T (Fallbrook, Ca,)
as my solution.

Station #2's computer is out of commission, being given new life by the computer doctor (W6JBR)
in the same way he brought station #1's computer back into action; except that the transmit audio
line FOR STATION #1 was never tested - until this weekend - discovering that there is some sort
of cabling problem. Oooopppsss. What to do?

Studying WA7BNM's contest calendar, I noticed two CW events scheduled:
  • The FOC QSO Party - an event new to me
  • The N.A. SPRINT - a 4 hour pandemonium which I haven't engaged in for nearly 5 years.

  • For openers, while technically not
    a contest, the FOC (First Class CW Operators Club) QSO Party certainly seems like one; except according to
    the FOC Website no logs need to be submitted; and yet they give out
    awards - HuH? (See below)

    In the FOC GiG, FOC members work everyone and non-members Search & Pounce (S&P), looking for FOC members.

    I chose NoT to call CQ as non-members would have no way of knowing I was not an
    FOC member and attempt to make a QSO (worth 0 points).

    Not hearing much in the way of Europe on SSB, I switched over to CW and joined in the
    FOC fray @ 01:30z; only 90 minutes late. Because computer #2 is not in the shack, I had
    no way of accessing the WinTest rotor control program, leaving all yagi's pointing Northeast
    (at least I HOPE that's where they were pointed) to Europe and most of the USA.

    As I said, according to the FOC Website, their QSO Party is not a contest which might
    explain the laid back attitude on the air and the passage on the website that reads:

    No logs or verification are required.
    Send your report to: kz5d@aol.com no later than 14 days after the event.
    Results will be posted on the FOC Web site and published in the FOC’s

    quarterly magazine, FOCUS.

    I wrote to KZ5D asking how one goes about submitting a "Report".
    It will be interesting to read his reply.

    The FOC QSO Party no sooner ended when the 4 hour CW N.A. SPRINT contest picked up where the FOC
    GiG left off.

    While the FOC event is laid back, the SPRINT contest is anything BUT that; calling it a frenetic activity is being kind.

    I had forgotten how AGRESSIVE
    the SPRINT contest seems to be
    in comparison to other GiGs;
    DX and domestic.

    The one thing I NEVER hear in this contest is "QRL?" before calling CQ; evidently there is not enough time
    for that.

    Because stations are packed together in the CW spectrum like sardines in a can, often
    a station 300hz below me will believe his QSO was with me and put WQ6X in his log.

    To reduce the risk of "false positives", when in doubt, I sent the callsign of the station
    I am working.  A little trick to reducing the QSY pandemonium is to work a station, allow
    him to call CQ and then call the station after he works him.  After that,  I am allowed to
    work any station that then calls me.

    From the West coast, I tend to run the SPRINT contest beginning on 20-meters, then working down to 40 and 80; with one or more 40 & 80 sweeps up until end of the contest @04:00z. While my score was about 1/3 of my SCCC#1 team compatriots, at least I broke the 100
    QSO mark, despite starting nearly 30 minutes late.

    In recent contests I have been testing the Autek QF-1a audio filter on the remote receive audio with great results overall.

    For now I am pairing it with the JPS NIR-12 in use @W7AYT.

    In it's place I have replaced the QF-1A with the MFJ 752-C that has been in use @W7AYT.

    For remote purposes, the 752-C provides nowhere near the signal shaping that the QF-1A does, even though in concept, both circuits are designed to accomplish essentially the
    same thing.  Possibly a circuit alignment (per the manual) will change my thinking.

    Barely 24+ hours after the weekend events ended, the
    SFI has plummeted to a paltry 79, returning the propagation predictions to their "bleak"
    status of just a few days ago.

    This of course raises the question as to whether or not the 228 SFI was in some way a statistical aberration or at the very least
    a one-time event.

    Did you work the WAE Contest, FOC QSO Party, or North American SPRINT?

    Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?
    Today (01-03-2018) I received the following certificate for my participation in September's 2017 FOC QSO Party; proof once again that you can't win if you don't play.

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