Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WQ6X rallies in RTTYand raises antennas

For many amateurs, the CQ World Wide DX contest marks the beginning of the fall contest season; unless of course you happen to live in California; in which case, CQP would be the REAL beginning.

However if you are a RTTY contester, the absolute REAL beginning of the contest season happens
in late September by way of the CQ W.W. RTTY event; so in a way, CQ W.W. DOES mark the beginning of fall contest season.

For 2017 I decided to do things a little different. During two weekends in September I assisted W7AYT in doing a complete antenna revamp. The CHA-250 vertical was moved from the front to the front-side of the house. In its place we installed a 40 foot Rohn mast in order to put up a 3-el 10-meter yagi. 10-meters? Isn't 10 dead? Well, maybe yes, but not for long as solar cycle 24 slowly transforms into cycle 25. The yagi was "free" (not including the coax, rotor cable, guy ropes and the Rohn mast itself) so who could resist?

Additionally, we strapped a pulley just under the yagi allowing me to hoist the tenuous horizontal Cobra Vee antenna and convert it into a real sloping VEE. Initial tests suggest this Sloper possesses greater signal gain than when it ran horizontally.

Since then I have added a 2nd Cobra Vee, slightly ahead and in phase with
the original. Signals seem even stronger. The CQP (California
QSO Party) contest will give all
this a thorough test-drive.

For the world wide RTTY contest it was clear that the modest antenna setup @ W7AYT would not even begin to do the job in a worldwide event. Additionally, the new AFSK cabling system being worked on was certainly not ready for extensive contest use. As an interesting compromise I chose
to run WQ6X remotely from NX6T's station #1 in Fallbrook pushing the ACOM 2000a amplifier
to a CooL 500+ watts into a C-31 yagi, 2-elements on 40 and a droopy inverted VEE for 80 meters.

While it was hardly quiet, atmospheric noise was not much of a problem. Any real difficulty encountered in making QSOs was due to IDIOT operators, more than an atmospheric problem.

10 & 15 meters have been largely absent in Fallbrook during recent
contest dabbling's.

After a LoT of CQ'ing and S&P'ing,
a whole 8 QSOs ended up with a frequency on 28 MHz; and MOST of them with South America - go figure.

What this tells me is that 10 meters isn't as DEAD as we think it is,
In the end those CQ calls netted 5 countries on 10-meters.

When a 15 meter opening occurred on Sunday afternoon, I switched antennas to make use of a 3-element Stepp-IR running Bi-directional to Asia and South America enjoying QSOs from both continents while calling CQ on 21.095.95. Switching towers allowed the "wrecking crew" to
come in and dismantle the unit for transport to a secret, unnamed CQP location.

Even though I didn't use it for local contest operation, having a larger screen available for this GiG actually encouraged me to Search & Pounce more; something I am often reluctant to do when running RTTY remotely. The "Goal Posts" on MMTY's decoder screen made it relatively easy for RCForb's radio emulation to nudge the VFO frequency up/down, lining up the Mark/Space signals.

As a result, approx. 7% of the 512 claimed QSOs came from Searching & Pouncing (when running remotely, it is usually < 1%). This contest operation was purposely run as ASSISTED in order that I could click on stations and the "quickly" tune them in; unfortunately, nearly 50% of the spots had the offset WAY OFF.

In both endeavors (RTTY and Antenna Raising) the watchwords were: Flexibility, Workability, Ingenuity & Sustainability. I could probably write an entire BLOG entry on these four concepts.
Keep your eyes open for that possibility.

A frustrating bummer during the RTTY weekend is that while I finally worked out the audio filters for RTTY on the FT-1000mp, because those filters are on the REMOTE side of the radio transmission, they are too late for the decoding on the Fallbrook end. Theoretically, I could run a standalone copy
of MMTY (without N1MM+) on my end and decode the audio filtered by the NIR-12 and the Autek
QF-1A. Stay tuned for that experiment.

Considering the storm devastation in Puerto Rico, it was no surprise to hear no activity from WP3M or any other P.R. station. However I WAS surprised to hear many XE stations and 8 Cuban stations on RTTY. 

This RTTY GiG enabled a LoT of good frequency runs; especially on 15 meters.

At 23:15z the Elecraft K3 radio was moved down to 20 meters one last time to run the remaining 45 minutes of the contest.

Band propagation held up reasonably well, allowing me to settle in a run yet another frequency.
Then, at 23:45z (with 15 minutes to go) the internet connection in Fallbrook COMPLETELY DIED - No Response. That was the end of CQ WW RTTY for 2017. (The culprit who PURPOSEFULLY shutoff the microwave link has been thoroughly FLOGGed.)

Unique to the RTTY flavor of CQ W.W. DX contests, is that QSOs with your own country are worth 1 point (0 points on SSB & CW). Continent-wise, I would have liked to have HEARD more stations in Africa. The bandmap spots were certainly there, however if you can't hear'em you can't work'em.

After all the crazed pandemonium had died down, it was time to take a closer look at QSO counts for the individual bands. 40 meters (followed by 15 meters) was top band so I submitted
the log as: SO(A)SB40HP.  

According to the 3830Scores website, WQ6X takes 1st. place for USA, 2nd place for NA and 4th place world wide.

Did you play in the CQ W.W. RTTY contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?


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