Friday, July 20, 2018

WQ6X Dual-OPs 2018 IARU Contest - Part 2 of 3: Making it all happen

In Part 1 of this BLOG series I described the every-4-year tradition of the IARU HF contest that, like the Olympics, pits the best of best operators from around the world to win the coveted Gold, Silver and Bronze medals; known as the WRTC championship competition. Around the world, contest participants endeavor to work the WRTC stations.

In 2014, the WRTC Championship was held in New England.  This allowed U.S. stations easier access to those operations.  (For the 2018 GiG, European stations will have a similar access advantage to the WRTC stations operating from Germany.)

Operating multi-OP as WQ6X from N6GEO's Brentwood QTH, we managed to work nearly
half (21) of the WRTC stations; at least according to the surprise box of QSLs received via the W6 QSL BURO.

I wrote about our multi-OP participation in that WRTC event for the July 2014 IARU WQ6X contest BLOG entry.  [CLICK HERE] to read my 2014 IARU HF Championship contest reflections.

Checking coax lines @ W7AYT
For the 2018 WRTC/IARU competition I was strongly considering hopping Amtrak to Oceanside joining up with the NX6T crew live.  Eventually however July being
a busy month kept me in the bay area, allowing me to work with clients on
Friday (before QSY'ing to W7AYT's QTH
in Concord) and afterwards on Sunday
in Alameda.

As I mentioned in Part 1, an audio problem on my laptop prevented me from running SSB audio remotely from NX6T. 

On the WQ6X end of things, while the Electro Voice 664 produced superb SSB contest audio, there was a dearth of SSB stations heard working the IARU contest from the W7AYT QTH. 

Luckily, to make up for no SSB, WQ6X put over 350 Cw QSOs into NX6T's log.  Remember: Cw Q's are worth 3 points, while Ssb Q's are worth only 2.

After my 15:00z relief at NX6T I managed to put 20-meter QSOs in WQ6X's log for a 1/2 hour before being summoned remotely back to NX6T.  Then, while running a frequency on 20-meters for 45 minutes, the day crew took over @ NX6T, allowing me to put more QSOs into WQ6X's log before snatching 3 hours of sleep.

While I spent the afternoon putting QSOs into WQ6X's log, a webcam look into NX6T's operations found the Fallbrook operators running in a coordinated fashion.

In a multi-single transmitter operation, only one radio
may transmit at a time.   Additionally, switching
bands and modes require
that operations in/on that band/mode continue
for at least 10 minutes.

QF-1A filters & other GooDies
Typical of my involvement with NX6T operations, I run Station #1 during the 8pm
to 10:30 period (local time) allowing the other operators
to replenish their energy for one more GO of it.

When they come back I either work WQ6X QSOs and/or get some sleep until the 1:30 am wakeup call.

This year was similar but different.  While the live OPs were off having dinner, Station #2 was run remotely by other OPs allowing WQ6X more opportunities to pump up the score.  At 04:30 (9:30 PDT) I took over on Station #1, turning it over to N6KI in the chair at 06:30z giving WQ6X
another run on 40 meters and some QSOs on 80.

Tower #2: 2-el 40, Stepp-IR & Inv. VEE's

I finally got to sleep at 12:15 when less than 20 minutes later I was given the wakeup call; for some reason an hour early.  Oh well, IARU only happens once a year.

Starting off running a frequency (3531.31) put enough QSOs in the log to keep NX6T busy until the sudden 09:00z JA opening.

During that period, a BONUS came in the form of ZL3TE & VK2GR on the side - it doesn't get much better than that; add to that CM8NMN (off the back of the beam) followed by HS3ANP & 9M2PUL.

Because my WQ6X operation was listed as ASSISTED I am allowed to use
the FT-1000mp (both Main/Sub RX) to gauge propagation paths, including the path from Fallbrook to Concord.  While (I believe) the contest rules forbid WQ6X from WORKing NX6T, there is no restriction on my LISTENING to NX6T's signals to spot openings from the Southwest.

Being that I was focused more on keeping Station #1 going as much as possible, I didn't really have much time to put QSOs in WQ6X's log.  That is ok.  What time I DiD spend was
a lot of fun augmented by a GIGANTIC can
of Peanut Butter Stout.

Unfortunately, the MFJ-1026 noise canceller was nothing more than a "paper weight" during the 2018 IARU contest.

Luckily, most of the RX noise experienced
by WQ6X was mostly handled by the FT-1000mp's eDSP controls and/or the QF-1A filters; which in addition to peaking signals above the noise, also keep much of the low-level noise outside the filter skirts.

When it came time to submit the WQ6X IARU contest log, making the 6 QSOs on 20 meter SSB relegated the log to the MIXED mode category.  As it turns out, my score standing (as reported by the 3830 Scores Website) is slightly higher than had the submission been for CW alone.

There is lots more to say about the 2018 IARU contest.
For openers, aren't you just a BIT curious about who took the trophies
for WRTC 2018?  Stay tuned for Part 3.

Did YOU work the 2018 IARU HF Championship?
Is WQ6X and/or NX6T in YOUR LoG?


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