Wednesday, May 30, 2018

WQ6X Double-OPs CQ WPX Contest

WQ6X running the "dinner shift"
I am continuously amazed by how fast time flies.  It seems like only yesterday
I was in Fallbrook multi-OP'ing the 2017 WPX
Cw contest.

In fact, it has been over
2 1/2 months since the 2018 WPX SSB contest
in March. Many contests have come and gone since then, including the NX6T multi-op 1st-place finish
in 7QP 3 weeks ago.

As I did with the Cinco De Contest weekend ([CLICK Here] to read about that) for this year's WPX Cw GiG I double-OP'ed the contest, joining the NX6T crew remotely while putting 139 QSOs in the WQ6X log throughout the weekend, operating from W7AYT's QTH in Concord. Although probably neither operation won any major awards, the weekend was a LoT of fun and gave me the opportunity to "take care of business" (WQ6X business) at the Concord QTH.

Friday evening client commitments prevented me from getting started until 03:00z when I took over station #1 remotely during the dinner shift as usual for the NX6T crew. An operator shortage kept me in the chair until midnight (07:00z).

With barely 90 minutes sleep, N6KI rousted me from sleep back into the chair at 09:00z to keep 40 meters hopping. For this contest I began each operating shift by searching and pouncing (unless an operator slipped me into an already busy run frequency).

During a lull period on Saturday, I took the time to remove the top cover on the FT-1000mp to squirt some newly acquired DE-OX-ID into the memory/channel rotary encoding switch inside the front panel.

That DE-OX-ID stuff certainly does what others say it will do - the 1000mp is as good as new.

The WQ6X antenna switch was also brought back into operation out of desperation to improve signal levels
for WQ6X during the few periods I
ran solo from W7AYT's QTH.

The last operation @ W7AYT I devised an
audio cable configuration that runs each receiver (Main-RX and Sub-RX)
in the Yaesu transceiver, each through a separate Autek QF-1A filter;
one for each ear.

Using a pair of Radio Shaft audio-isolation transformers allowed patching the laptop's remote audio into those Autek filters as well. 
I've always been disappointed in the Elecraft K3's DSP filters
(when run remotely). Running the receive audio thru a QF-1A
allowed peaking weak signals over the noise and other junk sounds.
Luckily the 40 meter intentional QRM never materialized during
this contest.  W/o the Autek filtering several dozen QSOs would
never have made it to BOTH the NX6T and WQ6X logs. 
An Autek QF-1A should be a part of EVERY remote
operator's "Run Kit".

For running WQ6X locally I utilized W7AYT's Comet CH-250 vertical (Antenna B) along with the newly reconfigured WQ6X Lazy 8JK
Sloper (Antenna A) .

Each antenna had it's advantages, altho in general the CH-250 (being a vertical) was much more noise prone; yet sometimes signals were louder
than on the 8JK.

Using the WQ6X parallel antenna switch the antennas can be run separately
or run in parallel.  I have no doubt the radiation pattern is weird running two different antennas in parallel.

In many cases parallel antennas created an effect similar to "diversity reception" allowing receive signals to occasionally combine, yielding
a stronger signal.

In the last year I've had nothing but bitches when it comes to Space WX.

This weekend, not only was the SFI up to a whopping 77, the A & K indices were OK. 40 meters experienced a lot of noise in Fallbrook, but not in Concord.

Again, this is where the QF-1A filters made all the difference - peaking CW signals over that noise by as much as 20db. 

It is probably due to the 10% increase in SFI that I experienced a 10-meter opening at NX6T (at W7AYT exactly one QSO was made on each of 15 & 10 meters).

Running the 20mh Stepp-IR yagi on tower #2 allowed me to point the antenna, make a few QSOs, point the antenna +45 degrees and make more QSOs, etc. Thanks to the BI-directional capability of the Stepp-IR I was able to work South Carolina and Alaska, or New England and Hawaii, or VE7 and PY7.  In 90 minutes over 60 10 meter QSOs
made it into the log.

Another amazing occurrence was 20 meters. Many operators
said Friday night was great but Saturday was a disappointment.
During my OP time, Friday evening was so-so and Saturday evening was AWEsome. I've not heard Europe that strong, that deep into the evening, in many years. Maybe there IS propagation hope just ahead. We ran out of stations to work around midnight so N6KI made a run on 80 meters and I resumed solo-OP'ing as WQ6X on 20 and then 40.

KB7V - N6KI - AI6O
The original plan for the weekend was to have 10 operators running overlapping shifts. Of course it never works out anywhere near the original plan; the same thing occurring during the Cinco De Contest weekend. Because of the operator shortage I ended up spending somewhere around a dozen extra hours remotely that I had designated for operating WQ6X in Concord. 

Now there is an old saying "be careful what you wish for". In THIS case, at 21:45z on Sunday that wish resulted in an internet router outage across the hill in Fallbrook; not only locking out remote access completely but also disrupting access to internet spots for the band map. The AWEsomely wonderful WPX run on 10 meters abruptly came to an end.

N1MM+ Ending screen @W7AYT
Having no further access to NX6T (until 35 minutes after end of the contest) gave me complete license to finish the WPX contest as
WQ6X and not feel guilty about it.

Not knowing whether to run on 40 or 20 meters kept me bouncing back and forth between bands. While the 1000mp dual-receive is intended for in-band operation, because I run the radio as SO2-V
I can be running a frequency on 20 meters with the sub-RX on 40. While I can't "HEAR" anything on 40, the bandmap spots keep me informed as to whether or not I should switch bands.

Then, while running on 40 I can be bandmap checking on 20 meters.
Everything ran rather smoothly.

When it was all over, WQ6X had 139 QSOs in the log for 26K points, while NX6T turned 2465 QSOs into 5.4 million points. When you consider what we had to work with, both operations were an
amazing success.

Did YOU work the 2018 WPX Cw contest?

Is NX6T or WQ6X in YOUR Log?

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