Saturday, March 31, 2018

The DR. Validates Cascading Filters


IC-7000 + TS-450 + 752-C + NIR-12 + R.S. Equalizer
This blog entry is unique in that I am writing it "around" an excerpt from the Sept. 2014 QST Magazine's "The Dr. is in" column wherein Joel Hallas answered a long-standing question for me.


As I have shared in many Contest BLOG entries, the Autek QF-1a has become my favorite external audio filter. I liked it SO much that I bought a 2nd unit.

Because the FT-1000mp is a dual-receive unit, both receivers now have a QF-1a on the output; and of course the main receiver has its built-in eDSP.

Unfortunately, the Sub-RX has no built-in DSP.   I am strongly considering putting the JPS-NIR 12 in the Sub-RX audio line, giving a DSP-equivalent to the right ear as well.

With the NIR-12 in place, both RX's will have shapeable bandwidth and an auto notch, to vanquish broadcast carriers
and unwanted RTTY QRM that often
shows up in the phone bands.


Now, there is an old saying that if one
is good, two will be better. Then, if done carefully, THREE may provide the best combination; although not necessarily. 
 
Over the years, I have brought various audio filters and DSP devices into my operating environments. 

Of course, radios w/built-in DSP (like
my previous FT-920 and the current FT-1000mp), even if only audio-based can transform a frustrating contest weekend
into one that is largely under control.

After writing the QST-Dr, I spent a weekend running a portable contest operation from N6GEO's cabin QTH in Twain Harte. 
 
 During this operation I experimented with switching the cascade order of an MFJ 752-C, a JPS NIR-12 and a Radio Shaft Stereo Equalizer (15 settings per channel).
 
When I settled on the above order as the most effective approach, I was not surprised that Dr. Joel's detailed analysis confirmed my discovery; or did my discovery confirm his analysis?
 
Either way, that combination of audio devices gave me a DSP notch filter (in the NIR-12) along with the ability to shift/narrow the audio bandpass; all before being finally processed by the amplified equalizer.

While there might be an advantage to equalizing certain narrow frequency bands BEFORE the 752-C and the NIR-12, the active audio-amplification of the equalizer seems to work BEST at the end of the audio chain; not in the middle of it.

Taking things one step further, my biggest 
disappointment with the MFJ 752 is that the so-called NL (Noise Limiter) circuits are all but worthless. (The difference between the B, C & D models is cosmetic - the circuits are all the same,)


W6A in 2012 A-A Contest

The NL switch positions could be better used for other things. In place of the NL diodes, I wired in the circuit board from an old MFJ CWF-2 audio filter. The "SSB" switch position now invokes the 180hz Cw filter setting, while the "CW" position invokes the 80hz filter setting.  Doing this allows yet another form of cascading filter elements, with the amplifying stage at the END of that audio line.


Adding filters inside of filters also furthers one of my design goals, which is to repurpose old electronics rather than sending it to the trash heap.


 What all of this has also taught me is that the newest technology is not always the BEST technology for eliminating certain combinations of QRM and QRN. 

For me, having many knobs to twiddle
in a variety of combinations, gives me
a greater likelihood of copying that marginally weak signal.  In radiosport, every point or 10-points can eventually add up to a winning score.



Do YOU make use of external audio filters?

What discoveries have YOU made?

 
 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

WQ6X Dual-OPs another SSB WPX with N6KI

N6KI switching STN-1 to a remote WQ6X


Over the years, I have somehow made the trek from the SF bay
area to Fallbrook for another event in the continuing saga of the
WQ6X callsign making it to the WPX SSB contest.

For 2016, we had 14 operators, all overlapping shifts giving us
nearly 48 hours of OP time.  Last year, the operator response
was so poor that WQ6X ran a remote single-OP (all band) entry.
([CLICK HERE] to read about that.)

For 2018, our usual SSB OPs ("the usual gang of idiots") were either down for the count (i.e. sick - or so they said) or off basking in sunnier climes (e.g.. South America or the Caribbean) running one of those weird prefix contest regular stations (like PJ2T or VP5P). That left it
to Dennis (N6KI) and myself (WQ6X) to put in a WPX SSB showing. Dennis ram live onsite and I remoted in from the SF bay area.

Dennis warned me that he had been lacking energy for several days and would probably have to cut operating shifts short, leaving it to me to keep things going. While it is true that his dinner breaks were longer than normal, N6KI ended up making 2/3's of the QSOs in this year's WQ6X WPX SSB log - GO Figure!



"M", "F" & "K" military beacons


Next to 20 meters, 40 meters was our busiest band. Because I run the dinner and 2AM shifts,
I am always spending
LoTs of time on 40.



While I detest the invasion of our amateur bands by non-amateur entities, the Russian military beacons ARE useful for determining propagation paths into East and Northern Asia.
 At 11:23z I was able  to copy the "M", "K" & "F" beacons.

Unfortunately, the goeswith to 40 meter contesting is always some
sort of intentional QRM. While this weekend was not as bad as that contest with the IDIOT playing the "F-U" recording over and over again, the BiG pain in the ass Saturday evening was intentional RTTY QRM on my 7134.34 run frequency. While the K3's auto-notch facility notched out the RTTY tones, it left the audio with a low-left "clicking" sound. A move to 7136.36 immediately presented me with the infamous "data cranker".  Then, after moving to 7135.35, the
RTTY QRM'ers evidently got bored and finally gave it up.


Tower #2 @ NX6T

As usual, I ran remote from the bay area. SSB contests run remotely are at best very tricky and at worst a total disaster.

This last weekend was somewhere in the middle. Setting the VOX thresh-old and delay taking into account internet latency
is very challenging indeed. Somehow I got the message through.

While my frequency runs were not as long and as impressive as N6KI's, nevertheless, I/WE attracted a LoT of takers to our run frequencies.



Whiteboard "compass"

During the weekend,
for high-band operation WQ6X often ran the 3-element Stepp-IR yagi, offering the opportunity
to run BI-directional
(for working AS & SA simultaneously or KH6 and NE simultaneously).
The Stepp-IR antenna
is physically pointed
90-degrees "ahead"
of wherever the rotor indicator says the 40-meter yagi is pointed.

Scribbling a pseudo-compass on the whiteboard helped me to figure out which compass direction to point the antenna.



MFJ 752-B (Top) & MFJ 752-C (Bottom)
This weekend was all about testing new equipment.
At the NX6T Fallbrook station, Dennis recently installed a newly acquired Elecraft KPA-1500 amplifier, while WQ6X ran station

#1 into the tried-and-true ACOM 2000a amplifier.

On the WQ6X receiving end, the laptop IP-Sound audio was routed through an ever-evolving pair of MFJ 752 Signal Enhancers (a 752-B and a 752-C). Having recently installed an internal MFJ CW-2 board inside the 752-B unit, this weekend allowed me to determine whether the MFJ units can enhance SSB signals w/o the CWF-2 unit compromising the SSB copy.



Also this weekend, I spent time playing around with 2 variations on an outboard Gating Noise Limiter circuit.


Gating limiters are ess-entially a cross between
a squelch circuit and

a noise limiting circuit.


Despite all the cool features in the FT-1000mp, because I run a LoT
of contest events remotely, having superior methods available for deciphering laptop audio will make the difference between "arm
chair" copy and S-0 readability.


While our OP time this weekend was lacking (38.5 out of the allowed 48 hours) we did amazingly well. Based on examining the Multi-Single submissions to the 3830 Scores website, the following seems to be evident - WQ6X took:

16th place Worldwide
5th place for North America
4th place for USA
1st place for W6 (California)


Did YOU play around in the 2018 WPX SSB contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR log?

Monday, March 26, 2018

WQ6X SOUND PROCESSING: Stereo-CW - it's EASIER than You Think


WQ6X's loaded FT-1000mp + two QF-1A Filters
It was last summer when I came up with the idea to put together a bunch of the BEST external audio sound processing circuits in one box.  Altho the Yaesu FT-1000mp is loaded with knobs and goodies, there can never be enough for me. Since last summer, I have been combing back issues of QST & 73 magazine, picking out the ideas
I like; kind of like going to a fabric store and purchasing cloth and patterns allowing you to cobble-together your own unique
designs and expressions.

First and foremost in nearly every design I contemplate is the fact that it MUST give me more switches to throw and knobs to twiddle. It's no secret I love to knob-twiddle, Knob-twiddling during contest activities helps alleviate boredom and at least gives me the illusion that I can improve reception for each individual signal, by resolutely twiddling
the correct order of knobs,

When writing each installment in this audio-filter BLOG series, as
I introduce each circuit possibly I will include a reference to the
article(s) consulted to make that circuit happen, even if I significantly deviated from the original design; as will be the case in this article.


Stereo-CW Concept

 
Have you ever heard of Stereo CW? Neither had I until I accidently came upon an article in 73 Magazine (March 1976) by Robert Anderson (W8KZM) on this very subject. The idea is to provide an extra measure of QRM rejection by way of the space discernment "circuitry" resident in the parietal lobes of our brain.

As you can see from the original circuit, the idea is to run the audio through an LP (low-pass) filter centered on 800hz to 1000hz for the Left Ear and an HP (high-pass) filter centered on 1000hz to 1200hz

for the Right Ear. The actual audio frequency of each signal will determine which ear you hear it in.


Original Stereo-CW Circuit

Tones around 1000hz actually seem to "appear" in the "middle" of the listener's experience. As you tune through a signal (from high pitch to low pitch) the signal will start at the "far right" of one's experience, shifting "thru your head" over to the "left side" of your experience. Anderson ran the radio audio through his high powered stereo speakers for some dramatic effect(s); especially if you add in echo/reverb.

Anderson also made reference to a little known technique known as
a center channel (or 3rd channel); essentially a 3rd speaker slipped electrically "between" the left and right channel speakers. With a center channel you can TRULY experience wall-to-wall receive audio.

For my particular use in WQ6X portable operations it occurred to me that I already HAVE the LP and HP filters, in the form of a pair of outboard Autek QF-1A filters; an advantage being that they are tunable (variable), whereas the filters in the Stereo-CW circuit
are FIXED (in relation to Frequency and "Q").


WQ6X's QF-1A Selection schematic

So in fact, all I REALLY need is the stereo balance part of the original circuit; and while I'm at it, a pair of LEDs to indicate relative positioning (Left .vs. Right).

While waiting for components to arrive, I conducted a simple experiment. Using a sound generator on my laptop for a signal reference, I peaked the left-ear QF-1A at 800-hz and the right-ear
QF-1A at 1200-hz. Listening to CW signals using the LSB approach, tuning a signal from high pitch to low did indeed shift the signal from right ear to left ear until it "disappeared" on my "left side". Tuning from low pitch to high shifted the signal from the left ear, thru my head, to the right side and eventually, up-up-and-away.



The FT-1000mp has a front-panel AF-REV (reverse) button for swapping left/right channels.

Now, when listening to signals using the USB approach, tuning UP in frequency from high pitch
to low shifts the signal from left ear to right.

Of course without the AF-Rev it will shift from
right to left as it did originally.





FT-1000mp Dual Volume Controls

With the FT-1000mp, controlling receiver audio separately for VFO-A & VFO-B has been the way I've always done it.

Then, I noticed pictures of the ICOM 756 PRO III showing concentric volume/balance knobs for their approach to dual-receive.

Studying the 1000mp operators manual I discovered a firmware setting (Menu Item 4-9) wherein the Yaesu radio can be configured just like the ICOM.



AF-Gain Menu Settings

Now, without soldering
a single wire or using
a single IC-chip, I am able
to duplicate the Stereo-CW concept described in the original 73-magazine article.

The QRM fighting advantage afforded by stereo-CW is truly magnificent.



For fun and excitement, when the dual-ganged 2K pots arrive from RadioShaft.Com, I will devise the QF-1A selector circuit (diagrammed above), just to say I did, and to make the Stereo-CW available for any receiver I wish to route through the QF-1A filters.

As you can see, there are a lot of novel ideas that can be cobbled together giving us superior QRM-immunity, sometimes without spending any money beyond the equipment we already have.
This article is a representation of one of the many ideas I have
been playing around with.



MFJ 752-B (Above) + MFJ 752-C (Below)

In future articles on audio processing I will detail how I use outboard MFJ-752's and the JPS NIR-12 to process laptop audio when I run NX6T (in Fallbrook) remotely from the SF bay area.  I will also detail how I incorporated an MFJ CWF-2 filter INSIDE of the MFJ 752-B
for added CW selectivity.

Do YOU process receive audio in a unique way.
Write me and share your comments.

I would love to try out your ideas and write it up as another
installment in this BLOG series.

You can e-mail me at: Ron @ WQ6X.Info
 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

WQ6X: "I SiT BacK and WaTch"



When I "run" a frequency and stations "move in", "wrestling" for [domination] control,
I simply press [F1] and continue.


Next thing I know, those stations are LONG gone
and [for better or for worse] I am still
running that same frequency.

Stations around me wrestle for dominance;
erupting into a HUGE Experience and then
quietly Fade away, to become
ALL but Forgotten.

  • It ALL boils down to the 4 Universal Questions
    (as proposed by Alan Watts)


  • WQ6X's 1st Sweepstakes @NX6T (in 2009)
     
    1. WHO Started It?
    2. ARE we going to make it?
    3. WHERE are we going to put it?
    4. WHO's going clean up?
    After-contest QRT @ NX6T

    These are all relevant questions
    for Radiosport Activities.

    What are YOUR thoughts on this?
     

    Friday, March 23, 2018

    Q-Filtering for Fun and Profit



    WQ6X/6 @ W7AYT's Concord QTH




    Ever since the beginning days of radio operators have been plagued my QRM (interference) & QRN (Static and Noise). Each time a new receiver or transceiver is introduced they promise us the latest gimmick circuit advance to help us deal with the interference problem. What they DON'T often disclose is that the circuit design to reduce/rid us of QRM & QRN often introduces noises or interference of its own; something we generically call "artifact" (unwanted effects added or
    subtracted from the desirable signal).

    As a radio operator, I am a "knob twiddler" (switches too) - I LOVE fiddling with receive signal adjustments to obtain that LAST db of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Lucky for me, during the last
    60+ years equipment manufacturers have devised various receiver add-ons; some for the front
    end, some for the IF-line and some to process the audio end of things. Also during this time frame 100's of construction articles have appeared in magazines like QST/QEX, CQ, 73-Magazine and
    even Popular Communications.

    As detailed on this WQ6X Contest BLOG website, I have run dozens of different style portable operations. To help overcome the inadequacies of portable operation, I always bring along a
    bunch of outboard filters, plugging them together in whatever order will yield the highest efficiency. That I chose the correct equipment order was confirmed by none other than the QST Dr. Joel Hallas - W1ZR. He gave me a personal reply which QST chose to print in their "The Doctor is in" column a couple of years back. In a follow up installment of this series I will publish his reply to my question about the proper order of audio filters.

    This BLOG entry is the 1st of a series discussing the pros/cons of Q and Audio filtering. Using examples from the many WQ6X portable operations, I will explain how these devices have worked
    for me, while detailing the drawbacks or artifact problems. As I am currently in the process of adapting some old construction article circuits into a useful combination, as each circuit comes together I will spend time with it in this BLOG section.




    HEATHKIT QF-1



    For all intents and purposes while regeneration was the first form of Q-filtering, it was the IF Q-Multiplier that gained strategic use by traffic handlers and contesters (a form of traffic handling). Heathkit alone produced 3 different (altho near-identical) models; the QF-1, GD-125 and the HD-11; all utilizing the high-gain 12AX7 (dual-triode) vacuum tube. Making use of an IF-level Q-Multiplier requires opening the receiver and tapping the 455khz IF output; something not everyone is comfortable with doing.

    If you want to know more about Q-multiplication do an internet search for "O. G. Villard" - inventor
    of the Q-multiplier - it was originally awarded a U.S. patent.  [CLICK HERE] to read a Wikipedia
    write up about his life.




    AUTEK QF-1A



    The 1970's & 1980's brought many QRM circuits & devices to the amateur world; some internal to the evolving transceiver technology and some in the form of audio-based external units. Even before [so-called] DSP units came into being, companies like Autek Research (with their QF-1 and QF-1a) and MFJ (with their 752 series of signal enhancers) devised ways to apply Q-Filtering for "shaping" audio. A pair of Autek QF-1A units are my current favorite for the dual-receive FT-1000mp
    (one for each ear)  - they WAY out-filter the pair of MFJ 752's (a "B" and "C" model).
    Currently, the 752 pair have been relegated to augmenting laptop audio during
    remote running of NX6T.




    MFJ 752-C

    All the above technologies attempt to provide Low Pass (LP) filtering, High Pass (HP) filtering,
    High-Q Peak (PF) Filtering and some sort of High-Q notch filtering (MNF or ANF). Additionally, devices like the QF-1A and 752-C provide a secondary Q-filter usually designed best for notching (i.e.. eliminating) troublesome carriers and noises.

    When actual DSP filtering first emerged (approx. 25 years ago), what was processed was the audio stream. While such filtering can process the audio and remove annoying interference in a remarkably intelligible way, if that interference is PUMPING the AGC, altho now you can't hear it, it's deleterious effects are still present. As technology has improved over the years, DSP filtering is now
    commonly found at the I-F level INSIDE the AGC loop.




    JPS NIR-12

    The first REAL external DSP unit I had access to was the JPS NIR-12. While it can be run well with diverse modes like RTTY & SSTV, the NIR-12 does best in an SSB environment (altho CW works rather well, as well). Nighttime 40-meter SSB operation above 7.200 is helped DRAMATICALLY by the Auto-Notch filter in this unit. The NIR-12 CPU chips must work VERY HARD as the unit is often nearly HoT to the touch.

    My current radio of choice is the 20 year old Yaesu FT-1000mp, with it's [audio-based] eDSP circuits, for both transmit, as well as receive. Because each receiver in the MP sports a final IF frequency of 455khz, I am proposing a side project this year of tapping both receiver's 455khz signal to run in my classic Heathkit QF-1 sitting on the shelf waiting for something to do.

    In preparation for this BLOG entry I took a walk down memory lane to examine the number of different radio and filter combinations used by WQ6X in various portable venues. This is what it looks like:



    TRANSCEIVER
    +
    FILTER COMBINATION
    TS-50
    +
    NIR-12
    TS-450
    +
    NIR-12
    IC-7000
    +
    NIR-12 & MFJ 752-C
    FT-900
    +
    NIR-12 & MFJ 752-C
    FT-920
    +
    NIR-12
    FT-1000MP
    +
    NIR-12 & MFJ 752-C
    ------ " ------
    +
    NIR-12 & AUTEK QF-1A
    ------ " ------
    +
    AUTEK QF-1A x 2

    Now that I have settled in on the Yaesu FT-1000mp as the main radio, I am working on a number

    of cool audio filter ideas; some a combination of circuit design adaptations along with the QF-1A
    and the NIR-12. In the next installment to this BLOG series I will share many of the "accidental" discoveries I've happened onto while playing with the different radio combinations.

    Do you use outboard DSP and/or audio shaping devices.

    Please write me and share YOUR findings:

    Ron @ WQ6X.Info

    Wednesday, March 21, 2018

    WQ6X Plays Radiosport with Russians and RTTY


    
    NX6T @ DUSK
    Each contest weekend is so uniquely different, thought must be given on how to integrate multiple modes into one weekend. Figuring this
    out now will give me preparation for the 5 contest weekend, the 1st weekend in May - Cinco de Mayo.

    WQ6X running remotely
    For the March 17th weekend the goal was
    to primarily work the BARTG RTTY GiG, followed by the Russian DX Contest (CW only), with the VAQP and LAQP QSO Parties thrown in
    as a bonus.
    Unfortunately, some bonuses are worth 0-Points as I heard NO Louisiana stations during the way-too-short contest period.

    Having been up all night with the Russians on CW and the rest
    of the world on RTTY, I need some sleep; but not if it means losing LAQP time.

    Note to contest sponsor: I need more than JUST 12 hours to sniff out backwoods LA stations. How can we expect to turn in a winning score in your contest if your potential participants don't actually participate? Am I missing something?


    While looking for Russians on 40 meters after 07:00z, because I generally point the shorty-40 yagi between 300 - 360 degrees I can rely on the Russian military beacons on 7.039 to give me a sense of propagation.

    This is similar to what we do with the NCDXF beacons. For this GiG, the "K" beacon was heard @ 07:40z and the "M" (barely) @ 09:50z.
    At 12:00z I was able to hear the "F", "K" & "M" beacons simultaneously and (I think) even the "R" beacon in the "background". That certainly confirms that 40 meters was WIDE-Open; even tho there were only
    a FEW signals actually on the air - Bummer Dewd!

    Sunday morning, after thorough searching and pouncing, it was time (10:30z) for stations
    to come to me.

    Parking the radio on 7017.17 kept me busy
    for the last 90 minutes of the Russian DX contest.

    Altho the BARTG RTTY contest was still raging on, in order to be effective, a few hours sleep was required.

    This was one of the most fun BARTG GiGs I have run in years, even though it was sometimes the most frustrating. Contrary to other RTTY contests, not only do we get 48 hours to play, it begins and ends at 02:00z (7pm local time, after dinner). Unlike most contest efforts I
    was ready to go in advance.

    
    Tower-1 - Tower-2 - ACOM-2000a
    Because of shack heat considerations when I ran a frequency,
    the ACOM 2000 amplifier was dialed back to about 550 watts.
    During S&P'ing, 1350 watts was the usual power level. If my
    callsign suddenly JUMPED OUT at you, that is probably why.

    Something unique to the BARTG contest is the requirement that we send OUR time of day to the receiving station (be it local time or UTC). Unfortunately, many stations added a COLON to the 4 digits (sending 13:36 instead of 1336) confusing the N1MM software. When I see a colon I type the time value in directly. Maybe one day a software fix
    will be made to N1MM to fix this. Overall however, N1MM+ is an outstanding RTTY performer.

    On the other end of the spectrum are the operators who have not read the rules and do not send the time at all.

    Because it takes too long (and produces too much amplifier heat) to explain it, I just type it in UTC.


    They will never send in a long anyway, so it really doesn't matter what I put in that field.

    Another issue with me are the stations who reply to my CQ BARTG calls but WAY OFF FREQUENCY - Wassup with that? Because the RCForb has no provisions for R.I.T., I have to synch the VFO's and
    run split mode so I can tune in the OFF FREQUENCY IDIOTS without shifting the run frequency. Running RTTY Remotely can be REAL Risky.

    At 20:08z a station came on my run frequency with what sounded like Spotty CW; it then turned into RASPY RTTY with "VY0ERC" showing up on the decoder screen. I thought it was a joke but the logged the contact just in case it is legitimate - it WAS. Because of where VY0 is, magnetic polar action is more prevalent and literally "pokes holes"
    into signals.

    My BEEF for this contest were the high number of stations who chose to operate EXACTLY on the 14.100 NCDXF beacon frequency, as
    well as the W1AW bulletins and code practice conducted at 048.5 khz into every major HF band. I ALWAYS give these frequencies plenty of room. Remember, we SHARE our slivers of electromagnetic spectrum with other services, as well as SWL listeners. Those beacons and bulletins are of interest to people worldwide.
    Give them some breathing room.













    In addition to Russians and RTTY I found time work a handful of VAQP stations on CW throughout the weekend - I never made time
    to look for VA SSB stations; maybe next year.

    Because the 2018 year 60 point score is 7X what I submitted in 2017 for the high California CW score, imagine what kind of placement I
    will qualify for THIS year1

    Now, while I opened these BLOG comments with a mention of Russians AND RTTY, unfortunately there were very FEW
    Russians ON RTTY. While some Russians like to hack internet connections, they should apply those skills to winning the BARTG RTTY contest. After the Russian DX contest was over, there were
    still 14 hours left to play RTTY.

    Where were the Russians on RTTY?

    Did YOU play with the Russians and/or on RTTY?

    Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

     
    NEWS FLASH!!! - JUNE 25th 2018
    This just in - WQ6X takes 2nd place for California in the VAQP.



    WQ6X runs Radiosport from NX6T & W7AYT

    WQ6X running NX6T remote from W7AYT
    Most weekends sport some sort of Radiosport activity, somewhere around the world. In the month of March there are several multi-contest weekends, including this one - March 10th/11th.

    While there were 7 GiGs on my "Gopherit" list, only 4 actually made
    it into the NX6T/WQ6X log. The Idaho QSO Party is always poorly timed, relegating it a back seat to the other contests for that weekend. As usual, NX6T was run remotely; but from BOTH Alameda and W7AYT's QTH in Concord.


    
    NX6T at Dawn
    First on the list was the RSGB Commonwealth contest, except that ONLY commonwealth residents are allowed to play (kind-of like our November Sweepstakes contest).  The upside was that I was able
    to get plenty of needed sleep before the SA-10 (South American
    10-meter) contest started at 15:00z.

    In 2016, N6KI & WQ6X took 1st place (worldwide) in the SA-10 contest ([CLICK HERE] to read about that). Last year as a single-OP, WQ6X took 2nd place to WP3E' essentially "across the pond" from South America, giving him a decided advantage ([CLICK HERE] to read about that).

    C-31 Yagi for 10-m
    Ten meters does not usually open until late in the morning. Because we are at the "bottom" of the sunspot cycle, finding an opening on 10-meters is a patient waiting game.

    While waiting for the SA-10 contest the OK QSO Party started up putting CW QSOs in the NX6T log (no OK SSB activity was heard).



    Finally, around 20:30z (noon time in Ca.) South American signals floated into headphones. Meticulous Search/Pounce yielded only a dozen QSOs; most with GooD signals. Another dozen QSOs made
    it to the log ONLY because NX6T began calling CQ on 28013.13, yielding numerous calls from a number of new distant countries.

    SA-10 Contest Results
    I was disappointed in the POOR South American turnout for their own contest; I have the SAME complaint regarding the "smaller" DX contests and the State/VE QSO Parties.

    They hold a contest and ask us to join them; 'cept they don't show up to their own GiG.

    Client commitments kept me off the air during the 22:00z - 01:00z period. By the time I made my way back on the air, 10 meters was DEAD and BURIED for another day. On the left coast we only get
    ONE shot at South America.

    160 Inverted Vee
    That evening the BART train to W7AYT's Concord QTH gave me access to a 32" monitor, making things easier to read.

    Next UP on the contest calendar was the Stew Perry 160 contest.

    While I was quite late in starting, once I got into the rhythm of the contest I


    was able to S&P and run frequencies interchangeably for several hours. Something I like about the SP contest is that ONLY the Grid Square ID is sent (no obligatory 5NN in this GiG).
     
    Stew Perry 160 Results

    While the furthest distance covered was between NX6T and PJ2T, the
    "one that got away"
    was the NP2 station who kept on calling, only to eventually be swallowed whole by the noise.

    Despite the combination of the K3's DSP-NR and a pair of Autek QF-1a on the laptop audio (a filter for each ear), nothing could be done to salvage that 8-pointg QSO. By 10:30z (and the time change to PDT) 160 was all over for NX6T - at least from THIS end of things.
     
    After 8 hours of sleep WIQP (the Wisconsin QSO Party) was all that was left. I ran the WIQP GiG as NX6T (from "Nash-Ville" in Fallbrook), as well as WQ6X from W7AYT's QTH in Concord.

    Having revamped the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper, a handful of stations were worked on 20 meters; including 1 on SSB (10 & 15 meters never materialized for stateside QSOs). For the tail-end of WIQP a surprise 40-meter opening put a bunch more Wisconsin stations in the NX6T log.

    WIQP Results
    From W7AYT I managed to work a handful of WIQP stations as WQ6X, just before 20-meters faded away.

    The FT-1000mp at the Concord QTH also allowed me to monitor
    the NX6T in Northern California to get a

    perspective on how well the 1300 watt signal was being heard in a northerly direction.

    Antennas @ W7AYT


    In addition to running contests, time was spent troubleshooting the 8JK sloper phasing line. Thanks to the MFJ 259 antenna analyzer it would seem that the Cobra antennas are resonate somewhat BELOW the band edge of most bands.


    While the FT-1000mp's antenna
    tuner can handle most frequencies, sometimes it is necessary to "trick" the tuner into proper tuning mode by send random CW characters.



    At the other end of the radio (the audio out end) work was begun on a project to integrate the circuit board of an MFJ CWF-2 audio filter into the MFJ 752-B Signal Enhancer box; the idea being to replace the SSB/CW noise limiter diodes with access to the 80hz & 180hz filters
    in the CW2.  LooK for an upcoming WQ6X Contest BLOD Entry on how I use audio filters with the Yaesu FT-1000mp.

    While this weekend was ad-HOC from the beginning, a LoT of Fun
    and Enjoyment was had by WQ6X.

    Did YOU work any Radiosport contests this last weekend?

    Is NX6T or WQ6X in YOUR Log?
     

    N6KI & WQ6X run another miraculous CQ 160 contest

    NX6T - all remotely run.
    At NX6T, 160 meter contests are always a challenge.
    With only a 70' high 160 Inverted Vee and a 160-Loop with horrible efficiency, it's amazing that we are as LOUD as we are, where we are; of course 1350 watts helps a little. In January, N6KI & WQ6X dual-OP'd the CQ 160 CW contest, amassing 834 QSOs (in 14 countries);
    a passable 145k points for our efforts.
    [CLICK HERE] to read about that.

    NX6T watching WQ6X on STN-1
    For this year's CQ 160 SSB contest N6KI and WQ6X did another one of our infamous Dual-OP operations; WQ6X running entirely remote and N6KI running a combination of on-site operating, as well as remote.

    With the new and improved Wi-Fi router
    and microwave dish, two stations can easily share internet bandwidth @ NX6T.
    The webcam works better than ever - as we shall see.

    While condx. were poor, nothing was worse than the noise-levels encountered during this February contest; not surprising with A-Index=16 and K-Index=3.

    Unfortunately, by the time of the 160 SSB GiG I had run out of the fabulous Popcornopolis caramel corn and had to (horror of horrors!)
    do without; altho I always have plenty of industrial-strength Kona coffee ready to go.   Next to good propagation, a 160 operator's
    best friend is KONA Coffee.

    Running Daytime Remote
    No matter how great the propagation, a VOX circuit that can't keep up with remote internet access can ruin the smooth operator flow that I often experience when running a frequency remotely.

    In retrospect, I have no CLUE what made the problem come and go; so if I dropped out mid sentence, no it's not because I was drunk (not THAT time anyway), it was due to irregular VOX-latency.

    Probably the BEST word I can think of to describe this year's CQ 160 SSB contest is "ordinary" or "plain". The contest meandered along both evenings with nothing spectacular; until some IDIOT starts sending strings of Cw DITs on top of WEAK stations, exactly at the same moment of their reply, making a dozen repeats sometimes necessary. Is this guy REALLY THAT BORED? wOw! - Go Figure!

    On the other end of the excitement, the most incredible QSO I made in this 160 contest was with none other than WA6URY in Bellflower; not far from NX6T. What makes this QSO with Daniel so unique? Well, he was running WA6URY remotely from TOKYO while I ran NX6T from the SF bay area; neither of us were actually sitting in the ham shack sporting the radio we were running remotely.

    LooK closely to see the 160 Inv-V

    By Sunday morning Sunrise 160 meters was gone on the left coast, effectively ending the CQ 160 contest for NX6T. Our 410 QSOs in 11 countries and 51 states/provinces while not spectacular, demonstrated what can be done with a "mere" inverted Vee only 70' high; and 1350-watts; AND a 900' elevation.

    NX6T Ending Screen

    Probably the only REAL thing of substance to happen that weekend was when people from the local San Diego TV station - KPBS- came by to interview Dennis (N6KI) (in the NX6T "Nash-Ville" radio shack) for their upcoming documentary on Vietnam. While the interview was happening, I JUST happened to turn on the NX6T web CAM and using my Snapshot 3.0 utility captured a freeze-frame from that interview.


    KPBS Interview
    Did YOU play in the CQ 160 SSB Contest?

    Is NX6T in YOUR Log?