Saturday, December 1, 2018

WQ6X Dual-OP's November Sweepstakes for a Change

It is no secret that CW Sweepstakes is my favorite domestic radiosport event.  In recent weeks I have been learning how to leverage a K3/0 for more efficient remote access to NX6T in Fallbrook. 
Running the K3/0 for this year's CQ W.W. Ssb contest worked nearly flawlessly.
K 3 / 0  +  F T - 1 0 0 0 mp + Rig Expert PLUS
That said, for the Cw Sweepstakes the goal was to put WQ6X on the air from W7AYT's QTH (in Concord) along with a not-insignificant number of hours joining up with N6KI (also running remote) looking for a Multi-Single win; not only for San Diego section but possibly even for the Southwest division.

The previous visit to W7AYT enabled the installation of a recently acquired Rig Expert PLUS.
While the RTTY configuration has yet to be worked out, the built-in Winkeyer works superbly,
just in time for this SS Cw GiG.  A major advantage of the Rig Expert PLUS is the freeing up
of several USB ports.

Unlike other radiosport events (with their 599 CA exchange), being patterned after the radiogram header (from the 1930's), Sweepstakes involves the exchange of SEVERAL pieces of information.  This format is detailed in the WQ6X Sweepstakes web section.

For example, if WQ6X works NX6T the exchange is: NX6T 123U WQ6X 69 EB.
In return NX6T will send the following exchange: WQ6X 234M NX6T 00 SDG.

Arriving Friday evening, pre-Contest checkout was FLAWLESS (for a change).  During this trip, the 10 year old (highly modified) West Mountain Radio Plug-N-Play interface was replaced with an even older (but highly superior), Rig Expert PLUS interface unit.  While the paddle sidetone sound is a bit funky, the Cw quality from the built-in Winkeyer logic is impeccable.

Throughout the weekend, operationally the K3/0 was a solid performer; altho the same cannot be
said for the [sic] Expert 1.5k amplifiers on the NX6T end of things (during the previous weekend's CQ W.W. Ssb contest).  Saturday morning found me re-cabling the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper for ladder-line AND coax feed.

Before the Sweepstakes started, time was spent configuring Dennis' newly acquired Buddipole @ W7AYT.  While Dennis intends this antenna to be used for portable operations, the signal levels in Concord were quite impressive; especially when you consider that the area itself seems to be an RF suck-hole (except to Oceania).  While the supplied tripod is only 10' high, we managed to put W1USA (Kansas City) on 14.270 in BOTH W7AYT & WQ6X logs with S-9 reports.
As more experimentation is done with the Buddipole, I will write up the results.

This year's Sweepstakes was only my 2nd Multi-OP section sweep (the 1st one was
with N6GEO as W6K back in 2013).

There was the usual dearth of such sections
as NE, DE & NT.  Our LAST section was NNY.  Because we were a multi-OP operation, we are allowed to use nearly any means necessary trolling for new sections. 

Here is Dennis putting out an internet plea
for NNY stations.  Eventually, 2 stations from Northern NY made it to the log - WHEW! 

However my BiG question is STILL:
"WTF is up with Nebraska"? ! ! !

Despite all the tweaking (with help from an MFJ-259b),
the 8JK sloper did not produce the "super" results I was hoping for.  Because of the scattered nature of stations in the WQ6X log, it was all but impossible to determine what the signal lobe was really like, altho there did seem to be a noticeable "pipeline" to W9-land.

Running frequencies as NX6T resulted in a number of unusual internet spots on 20 meters around 23:45z on Saturday.  After a spot by TF3Y (Iceland), I received a FLOOD of calling stations; two were new multipliers  JJ2VLY spotted NX6T at 00:09z resulting in another
flood of callers.  At 03:35 a 40-meter spot by F6ITT
resulted in another bunch of callers.

Operators new to Sweepstakes are often perplexed by
the rule allowing us to work a station only once during the contest.  Frequently stations would call me amidst heavy QRN.  After a half-dozen attempts to determination their callsign it eventually turns out to be a DUPE - WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Classic BENCHER paddle
and MFJ-1272 AFSK interface

While Cw sweepstakes is largely computer controlled,
there are moments when sending code by hand (using a paddle) when someone I know stops in to put a contact in the log.  Acknowledging operators by name is more personal, reducing the robotic-nature of contest operation somewhat.

Overall, this year's Cw Sweepstakes was an enjoyable GiG for WQ6X.  Not only did I manage another East Bay (EB) section win, it looks as tho NX6T may well have taken the Southwest Division for Multi-Single (HP),
altho overall we placed 12th in the multi-OP category.

Did YOU work the Cw 2018 November Sweepstakes?

Is WQ6X or NX6T in YOUR LoG?

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