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 threshold 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 essentially 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?

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