Tuesday, April 30, 2019

WQ6X prepares for another Cinco-de-Contest Weekend

If you've been following the WQ6X contest BLOG you are probably aware that I enjoy the many "flavors" of radio sport operations; including (but not limited to) Cw, RTTY, Ssb, low power, high power, DX contests, state/area QSO Parties, Sweepstakes and multi-OP events, including Field Day and various special events such as the SEQP and International Lighthouse GiG.

The first contest weekend of May offers up a variety of 5 radiosport events; 4 state QSO parties and the Italian ARI Dx contest.  In preparation for the 2019 Cinco-de-Contest weekend, I decided to review past involvement in these contest GiGs.  Documented in the WQ6X Contest BLOG are the following CQ de Contests:
  1. 2018 - Dual-OP as NX6T and WQ6X
  2. 2017 - WQ6X Survives another 5-contest Weekend
  3. 2016 - WQ6X runs 5 contests simultaneously
  4. 2014 - WQ6X joins Team NX6T for a 4-Contest Weekend
I first found about the May GiGs back in 2010, when as a newcomer to Team NX6T Dennis (N6KI) suggested that we tackle all 5 GiGs, somehow  integrating all the QSO party logs into one operation.

Because the ARI contest is first on the list for the weekend, we turned the yagi to 30-degrees hoping for a good Italian turnout.  Had we correctly read the rules, we would have realized that in the ARI contest, anyone can work anyone, altho Italian stations are worth more points per contact.  After turning away 50+ non-Italian stations we reread the rules realizing our mistake: we futilely attempted to woo lost QSOs into the log.

Over the years, practice makes perfect as demonstrated by NX6T's 2018 1st-place 7QP win. 
I was a part of that mult-OP operation, interlaced with a WQ6X operation from W7AYT.

Over the years, WQ6X made forays to Fallbrook, joining the various OPs who also like to play in State QSO Parties.  Those operations resulted in a number of NEQP Multi-OP 1st-place plaques.

In 2016, running the FT-1000mp from W7AYT's QTH into an early incarnation of the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper, stupendously, WQ6X walked away with the 7QP 1st-Place Single-OP plaque. I was just "screwing around", but evidently was on the right frequencies at the right time, making it all work.

 Rereading the above referenced BLOG entries is giving me a number of operating improvements allowing WQ6X to run another Dual-OP GiG, similar to 2018.

As we often say in my Alameda Tongue Twisters Toastmaster's club, "We're not Perfect - we're always getting better"

The way to better ourselves in Radiosport is to revisit our previous operations and study the soapbox comments of contest competitors.  Remember: "He/She who does not learn from the past is doomed to repeat it".  What about YOU?  Do you review Your previous contest operations?
What do You learn from YOUR past?

WHY I Do Radiosport - PT. 1 - Operating Skill Improvement

This is the 1st in a new WQ6X Contest BLOG series.
Having passed the 225-mark in posts to the WQ6X contest BLOG, in looking back over the
6 1/2 years of BLOG-Entry writing I give pause to consider why I play in radiosport events. 

During some event GiGs when things go wrong, if you were the [proverbial] "fly on the wall", you might watch me nearly tear-my-hair out, when equipment/internet failures set in and/or when other operators do things that are incredibly STUPID.  I became so incensed by these IDIOTs I began a BLOG series entitled: "The Role of Respect in Radiosport".  ([CLICK HERE] to read that)

Those frustrating periods aside, radiosport is one of the best things that has ever "happened" to me; getting a ham license at age 14 of course tops that.  It is through radiosport that I have been exposed to all different kinds of enhanced technology; not only in the radio world itself, but in the world of computer performance, software design, travelling and even writing, BLOGs like this.

As I became more interested in the idea that I might actually win section awards and division plaques in various radiosport events, I was inspired to leverage my love for software design into tools and accessories that can enhance my radiosport operations; be they fixed, portable or internet-remote. 

When I learn a new computer language or design technique, I leverage that knowledge into some piece of software that I can use in MY life.  As a semi-PRO Blackjack player, that is how the "Boris
for Blackjack" (BorisBJ21.Com) simulation software came about; since 1992, the software has evolved dramatically.

WQ6X Software" was created as an adjunct to radiosport activity.  For example, when I discovered the value of tracking the NCDXF propagation beacons, an APP was developed to assist that action.  Finding free space on the APP screen made it possible to also track space weather data as well.

Because the JIDX (Japanese International Dx) Contest is in my top-10 list, another software APP came about in the form of  the "WQ6X Prefecture Tracker" for inputting a JIDX LoG file to sort the prefectures worked on each band.  Using this data, I am now able to make an application to the JARL for a number of JA-related awards; a daunting challenge with or without the software.
If YOU possess software development talent, I encourage you to devise custom software for improving your own radiosport abilities.

Success with the JIDX tracker prompted me to write the "WQ6X CQP Tracker" for tracking CA counties worked - leveraging the underlying software platform .DLL's.  Because radiosport relies on the visual experience (similar to playing Blackjack), it became clear that I needed a screen capture application for snapping, documenting and organizing Blackjack/Radiosport activity. 

Taking things one step further, it became clear that a SnapShot application would be beneficial to my Introspection Therapy / Neurofeedback practice. I devised a separate design moniker aptly named "NeuroLogik Solutions" for producing this wide-reaching software APP.  Having a license to my own software designs, I have since embedded the SnapShot camera into most of the Boris & WQ6X software designs (as you can see with the above Beacon Tracker").
([CLICK HERE] to obtain your own copy of SnapShot Version 3.5.)

Several years ago, I wrote a custom Excel spreadsheet for tracking the various "flavors" of radiosport activity I engage in every year.  Producing graphs from those years brought me an astonishing look at WQ6X's operational breakdown.

Because I don't have an official "home QTH" running radiosport from portable locations has been my ticket to being on the air, sometimes under the most adverse of operating conditions.  For me, it has often been Field Day (FD) over a dozen times a year.

In recent years I have put together a semi-permanent operation from W7AYT's QTH in Concord California, in the East Bay (EB) ARRL section.  The Concord location alone has introduced me to a new bunch of operating challenges.  While I yearn for a conflict-free weekend, there is something to be said about encountering operating difficulties and then finding a unique solution to those maladies.

How about YOU?

Why do YOU do radiosport?
I would enjoy hearing YOUR Ideas.

Monday, April 29, 2019

WQ6X does April RTTY & Oranges

W Q 6 X operating from Alameda + Stat Screen Collage

The last weekend in April is relatively quiet, radiosport-wise.  For this last weekend there were
3 radiosport competitions which I deemed worthy of further investigation:
  1. [?] - SP-DX RTTY Contest
  2. [?] - Helvetia Contest
  3. [?] - The FL QSO Party (FQP)

For this weekend, the Helvetia contest was another no-show disappointment @NX6T in Fallbrook.  Last year (2018), evidently I was off doing other things as there is no evidence of any WQ6X radiosport activity in the above events.  In 2017 while WQ6X worked both the Helvetia and
SP-DX contests for the 1st time, they were on different weekends in April.

Also on this weekend Japanese amateurs were holding their own regional contest (similar to
the Russian's  domestic GiG the weekend before).  This populated the bandmap with 100's of unworkable JA stations (many of the signals being S9+  on 40 meters and S3 - S5 on 80).  One way of solving this "problem" is by changing the TELNET settings, taking the unworkable JA calls
out of the band map.  Then again, leaving them IN the bandmap makes it easier to avoid that area
of the Cw spectrum while tuning around.

W Q 6 X  running  N X 6 T's  STN-1  in  Fallbrook  remotely
To guarantee QSOs in the LoG, the decision was made to run high power (990 watts) into the C-31 yagi (for the high bands), a 2-el Shorty-40 and a 13mh inverted Vee for 80.   FQP doesn't run 80-meters, leaving the Vee for the SP-DX Rtty.

While FQP began at 16:00z, because the main focus was RTTY, switching over to Cw didn't happen until 22;30z on 20 meters; altho earlier a periodic look at 10 & 15 meters yielded no Florida stations - Bummer Dewd!

Anticipating working Asian station on RTTY (each contact worth 10 points),
I turned to the Russian Letter Beacons (7.039 Mhz) for an idea of how propagation to Asia might turn out.

As it turns out, the resultant predictions turned out to be relatively accurate.  Pointing the antenna to 320-degrees yielded scores of JA & UA0 stations.  A number of surprise calls came from stations like: 9M2, 8N3, YB7, YC4, BA5, BH6 & HL5; the last contact in the log being with DU1/N6NPX.

From this last weekend I have 2 radiosport beefs; one from FQP and one from the RTTY contest.  There were MANY non-4 stations operating from Florida this year.  While that is nice, unless I asked them SPECIFICALLY, I had NO WAY of knowing they are in Florida.  There are 2 solutions to this dilemma; signing /4 is an obvious one.  An even better solution is to add the 3-char county abbv. to your callsign, as the rover stations do, making our job easier and putting MORE QSOs in their logs.  For example: if WQ6X were to run from Miami-Dade, the CQ would look like: CQ FQP WQ6X/DAD WQ6X/DAD.  BTW, most RTTY contests would REQUIRE WQ6X to sign /4 ; i.e. WQ6X/4.

In RTTY contests one of my BEEFS
is stations who jump on my frequency EXACTLY, as if they didn't know I was there.  In a Cw contest, being NEAR
my run frequency is understandable.

EXACTness (down to 1hz) is
NO ACCIDENT. SPECIFIC run frequencies are purposely chosen
(such as 14085.85 or 7047.47) . 
Getting PERFECT copy on the RTTY decoding, I know the offending station HEARD ME FIRST before they decided to attempt grabbing the frequency.

This weekend offered up an opportunity to give another test to the rerouted audio cables to the Autek QF-1A
and MFJ-751 analog audio filters.

Because these filters occur on the remote side of the connection, they are no good for Rtty decoding; luckily
the Elecraft K3's Shift/Width/DSP circuits handle most
of the required filtering.  However, for Cw, this filter combination is outstanding.  Properly adjusted, the resultant "Stereo-Cw" effect is an unbeatable combination.  ([CLICK HERE] to read the recent
BLOG I wrote on this useful filter side-effect.)

When adjacent channel RTTY stations move in, with this filter combination, the RTTY audio of the nearby stations is attenuated considerably, saving my ears (and sanity)
at the very least.

Overall, this was a successful contest weekend.  While I managed to S&P a few multipliers into the RTTY log, the secret to this weekend was to find
quiet frequencies to run.

In contest events like the FQP, being an out-of-state station, running frequencies is not necessary.
Thanks to Stereo-Cw concept coupled with the Elecraft K3/0's R-I-T control, each station to work is easily "moved" into the audio passband for near-perfect copy that even the K3's DSP can't do any better.

Did YOU work the SP-DX RTTY contest and Florida QSO Party?

Is WQ6X in YOUR LoG?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Some Further Thoughts regarding Stereo CW

           It has been quite some time since I originally shared my discovery of Stereo Cw. 
               ([CLICK HERE] to read the original article.

You don't need a dual-watch or dual-receive radio to transform your stereo headphones into an incredible operating experience.  With Stereo Cw you DO need to be ready for signals to be shifting around "inside your head" as you tune THROUGH a signal or use the R-I-T control to "position" the signal "in your head"; or, if you prefer, "between your ears".

Properly centered, tuning the R-I-T +/- 150 cycles can "position" a signal in the upper-left of my hearing or the upper-right.  With the R-I-T = 0, the signal "appears" to be "in front" of me.  At first
this takes some getting used to; then, later, you wonder how you ever ran a radio contest without it.

In the original article I detailed the Stereo Cw circuit and then suggested that we can simulate
that circuit by way of two outboard filters properly offset from each other.  For my portable setup at W7AYT's QTH I use a pair of Autek QF-1A audio filters; one for each ear. 

To enhance my operations from Alameda, I recently implemented a filter combination; an Autek
QF-1A for the left ear and an MFJ-751 for the right side.  Separate splitter cables separate the
input audio towards each outboard unit and recombine it back into a stereo cable plugged into
a wireless headset transmitter.

In the above picture, notice the QF-1A setting (for the left ear) is for HP (High Pass), while the MFJ-751 setting (for the right ear) is for LP (Low Pass).  Tuning a signal from high-pitch to low causes the signal to "move" from the left-side of my experience, to more towards the right-side.  Likewise, tuning a signal from low-pitch to high causes it to shift from my right-side, "thru my head" and eventually to the left; continue tuning to a higher pitch and the signal will seem to move to the "upper left" of my experience.

An additional advantage to using Autek QF-1A (or MFJ-752) outboard filters comes from the auxiliary notch filter those units have; the MFJ-751 possesses no such additional filter.  This secondary [notch] filter can notch-reduce a signal in the passband for that ear.  Use of these external filters takes the concept of an APF (Audio Peak Filter) circuit to the next level. 

Combine these filters with a transceiver's existing DSP configuration - either audio-based (as with the Yaesu FT-1000mp) or IF-based (as found with the Elecraft K3 and K3/0) - resulting in a double-whammy against all manner of complex
noise and QRM.

Combining analog and digital technologies allows co-leveraging BOTH methods to alleviate
a single/combined source of QRM & QRN.  Realize that every attempt at filtering audio may itself introduce its own "artifact" (QRM).  For example, "pushing" the QF-1A filter to its limit may introduce "ringing", requiring that the filter intensity be "backed off" a little.

With external audio filters adjusted similar to the above-mentioned setup, running pileups becomes considerably more DO-able; different signals with different offsets are experienced either in the left-side, right-side or "middle" of the listener's "Experience".

Stereo CW is an incredible augmentation to radiosport signal copying.  While it does nothing to boost the transmitted signal, it makes once-difficult copy copyable.  Regardless the quality of the transmitted signal, if "I can't hear 'em, I can't work 'em".

What about You?  What do YOU do to make signals more readable?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

WQ6X runs CQ-MM & 4 other Radiosport GiGs

Remote Operation from Alameda
A major goal for WQ6X's 2019 radiosport operations is to participate in a large variety of different radiosport events throughout the year, exceeding the 82 events run in 2017 and even the 74 events during last year's operations.

There exists a number of ways to accomplish this.  Last year I transformed what began as a "flirtation" with Dual-OP'ing contests (operating NX6T remotely, utilizing the "off time" to run as WQ6X from W7AYT in the same contest) into a legitimate, premeditated, operating strategy.

Depending upon the collection of radiosport events on a given weekend, in past contest years I have occasionally run a "separate-but-dual" operation from Fallbrook; joining the NX6T crew's Multi-Single DX contest operations (on STN-2), while running a state QSO Party, or a "little" RTTY contest from STN-1. 

A secret to making this work is to REMEMBER that our amateur bands are more-or-less harmonically-related.  I take the attitude that the NX6T operation takes priority over WQ6X's
runs on STN-1.  Altho I've never dual-OP'ed from NX6T in the same contest, theoretically, doing-so
is legitimately "cheating, but within the rules".  The recent WPX-Ssb & JIDX events are examples of [off-site] dual-operating a single contest event. 

AUTEK QF-1A  &  MFJ-751
This weekend offered up the opportunity to test-run an Autek QF-1A and MFJ-751 filter combination while running several different contest events remotely from Alameda in order to "UP" the 2019-year total.  Scrolling through the WA7BNM Contest Calendar identified 7 contest events over a 50+ hour timeframe, beginning 21:00z on Friday, ending 23:59z on Sunday.
  1.  ([View]) Holy Land DX Contest
  2.  ([View]) ES-Open (Estonia) 80m/40m
  3. ([View]) WA-PoC (China)
  4. ([View]) YU-Dx Contest
  5. ([View]) CQ MM Contest
  6. ([View]) MIQP - Michigan QSO Party
  7. ([View]) ONQP - Ontario QSO Party
While I listened for Holy land stations and noticed over a dozen bandmap spots for those stations, similar to previous years, no QSOs were logged with those stations.  From Southern California, the secret to working into the middle east is to point antennas in that direction during the morning and afternoon "greyline" time periods.  Doing that in the past has allowed me to "happen onto" a 5 - 15 minute "opening" allowing 4X6 or 4X4 stations to drift and float in/out of the receive passband.

Likewise, while spots were seen for "ES" stations, none were actually heard above S-2 in Fallbrook, leaving 5 out of the original 7 radiosport events to fill out WQ6X's contest weekend.  Overall, this weekend was QUITE a disappointment; other than the CQMM contest, the WAPoC, YUDX and both QSO parties lacked the kind of participation I would expect in such radiosport events. 

Because of other non-Radiosport commitments, it was not possible to begin the CQMM event until 01:25z (Saturday afternoon PDT).  However, once I got started, the QSO total took off immediately.

Usually the remote operations from NX6T bring out the intentional QRM'ers in the evening/nighttime on 40 meters.  This CQMM contest was similar but different; at 02:00z while running a frequency (14026.26) an annoying
"data cranker" made the scene.
Shifting up frequency worked for a
few minutes until he followed me
again and again.  By 03:00z 40-meters was way overdue, offering a legitimate reason to make the switch to 40-meters, without the data cranker.

At 05:00z an I encountered a CQMM station on 7.000.22 with a station purposely tuning up atop the CQ'ing station, making QSOs with the band-edge station, all but impossible.  Tuning below the band edge (6997.5) the "CQ MM" call was plainly copyable, technically out-of-band.  While an intentional-carrier is an intentional-QRM violation, if the CQ caller had been running on 7002 (or above) I doubt the interfering carrier would have started-up in the first place.

On 40-meters in the evening, RTTY QRM usually occurs during Ssb GiGs (like the recent ARRL Dx Contest).  For this weekend the RTTY QRM occurred at 05:00z while calling CQ MM on 7015.15. 
Are people THAT bored they have nothing else better to do than play RTTY in the Cw portion of
the band?

W Q 6 X  after  DARK
Running frequencies is always full of surprises.  One such surprise occurred this weekend during the CQ-MM contest when out of nowhere 9L1YXJ called "out of the blue", sent "5NN AF" and promptly disappeared back into the NR-Dsp threshold; at first, Initially, I thought it was a KL1 station (Alaska) as the antenna was pointed to 330-degrees, not 90-degrees.)

C - 3 1 (Tower #1) & Stepp - IR + Shorty - 40 (Tower #2)
Another surprise was finding Sunday openings to South America on 10 & 15 meters. Then it occurred to me that switching from the C-31 Yagi to the Stepp-IR on Tower 2 allows the possibility of running BI-Directional to work Asia (AS) and South America (SA) simultaneously.  Because QSOs outside
of NA are worth 3 to 10 points, running BI-Directional is a good strategy.

C Q M M  - E n d I n g  S t a t s
Submitting all 5 logs and posting the scores on the 3830 Scores website, it would seem that technically, even with minimal score submissions, WQ6X may have inadvertently taken a 1st place in several of those GiGs.  For the CQMM contest, WQ6X may well have made a 1st-place for the Left Coast.

Did YOU work the CQMM contest (or one of the other GiGs)?
Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?

WQ6X runs JIDX-Cw and a few other things

K 3 / 0 +  FT - 1 0 0 0mp
In the previous Blog entry I wrote up an overview of JIDX Cw GiGs WQ6X has been a part of in the last 6+ years.  ([CLICK HERE] to read that Blast from the Past.)  JIDX coincides with the NCDXF Foundations' DX convention in Visalia (Southeast from here), leaving a dearth of Cw operators available to reprise another NX6T plaque from the Japanese International DX (JIDX) contest.

By Friday we cobbled together a trio of operators: KI6RRN, WM6Y & WQ6X.  While this was largely
a remote operation, at one point 01:00z-6pm) Phil (WM6Y) actually achieved B-I-C (Butt-in-Chair) status atop the hill in Fallbrook.  It's always nice to have real live operators onsite and in the chair. 

Who nose, one day we may have an android-assisted category: Single-OP Android, Single-OP remote-Android, Mult-OP 2-Androids.

Because this weekend coincides with a number of state QSO parties and "mini" Dx contests, I decided
to bring the Elecraft K3/0 bag to W7AYT giving direct Ethernet access for remoting into NX6T to work JIDX while running the other contest GiGs on the side using the Yaesu FT-1000mp.  Thanks to a considerably higher Solar Flux Index (SFI) of 77 I was hoping for improved band conditions (over previous weeks).

Being a San Francisco Giants (baseball) fan, while waiting for JIDX I decided to watch them beat Denver 3-to-2; but in 18 innings (over at 1am Pdt).  JIDX was well under way @ NX6T w/KI6RRN running things from the STN-1 remote "chair".

Typical of my visits to W7AYT, getting a stable internet connection is an unnecessarily-challenging hassle; this weekend being no exception.  Usually I can get an IP-connection for the K3/0 and difficulty w/VNC Viewer; this weekend was just the reverse. 

W I N T E S T  &  R C F o r b
In order to take the "helm" at 09:00z (2am) I reverted to a backup to the backup plan: VNC Viewer for running WINTEST and the antiquated RCForb (control software) to run the radio.  Other than having RCForb's "buckshot" riddled audio requiring callsign repeats, I managed over 125+ QSOs
on 40 (mainly) and 80 meters.

After 5+ hours sleep I was back at it, but on the WQ6X side of things.  The QSO parties were kinda full of activity, at least for GA & New Mexico.  No "0" stations were heard from North Dakota (ND); wassup with THAT? 

New Mexico stations were plentiful; finding stations in GA required a "field telescope" in order to locate their peachy signals.  Unfortunately, NMQP is only a 12 hour contest - wassup with THAT?   If you want us to work you, then give us multi-band access during the evening hours.  Otherwise, whut's the point?

The K3/0 internet access never materialized; having RCForb ready as a backup to the backup plan (blue Ethernet cabling) is always a good idea - altho having to endure "buckshot audio" (requiring LoTsa repeats) was no fun, at LEAST there was audio.

When running NX6T remotely, I would often dial-up the run frequency on the local FT-1000mp using RX-A as an extended Cw sidetone monitor.  This allowed using RX-B to locate stations for WQ6X's bandmap (N1MM+ ran in the background tracking the 1000mp's receivers).

3 8 3 0  Scores  Results
Considering that we ran JIDX with only 3 operators (2 of them remote) we ran an amazing operation.  As in recent years, we bested our nemesis HG7T.  Unfortunately, the team of K3EST & N6RO (Et. al.) showed up out of nowhere.  Unless their log is riddled with errors, they will take the Top-Mop plaque.  Of course, having an operator who speaks fluent Japanese is a plus for a Japanese Dx contest.  Possibly it is time for me to retread Japanese lessons once attempted many, many years ago.

N X 6 T @ 13:00z  (Sunrise) - after J I D X

Did YOU work the JIDX Cw contest?
How many prefectures did You work?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

BLASTS from the Past: JIDX Cw

W Q 6 X  @ N X 6 T  for 2010  J I D X  Contest
As the JIDX Cw contest draws near this weekend I took a look back to previous WQ6X Contest
Blog write-ups about my past runs of this event; many with NX6T, altho a few W6J solo events also happened.  The JIDX GiG is where non-JA stations seek to log as many JA contacts in as many Japanese prefectures as can be found.

Many plaques and awards have been won from operations I have been involved with. 
Over the last 6 years the following JIDX Cw GiGs have been run:
  1. 2013 - W6J Solo from W7AYT's QTH in Concord
  2. 2014 - W6J Solo from Alameda
  3. 2015 - NX6T Multi-OP in Fallbrook
  4. 2016 - W6J Solo from W7AYT's QTH in Concord
  5. 2017 - NX6T Multi-OP in Fallbrook
  6. 2018 - NX6T Multi-OP in Fallbrook
To help track all the Prefectures on each band, I devised a tracking APP expressly for this purpose.  Unique to this software is the ability to input a Cabrillo file and automatically populate the prefecture stats for each band.

2 0 1 3 - W Q 6 X  Flustered by Lack of JA participation
Two of the biggest difficulties of this contest come from lack of JA participation in their own contest followed by stateside stations who blindly respond to our "CQ JA" calls; what part of "JA Only"
do you not understand?

In recent years, the usual motley crew of operators at NX6T have managed to secure
the 1st-place (worldwide) JIDX plaque in BOTH Cw and Ssb events.

If you look closely at the plaque inscription,
it says that we are the "Top Mop" (i.e. multi-OP).  However when I first read this I thought of an
oval floor mop.

I guess you could say that we really cleaned
up for those events.  Our main rival HG7T (in Hungary) seems to have slowed down a bit, giving us an easier chance at another 1st place.

Our sea view location  (at 900' above sea level) gives us the advantage of more easily skipping signals across the "Pacific pond".

N N 6 X  +  N 6 K I  +  N 6 E E G
Last year (2018) brought in our usual bunch of superb B-I-C operators along with WQ6X via remote  access using the antiquated (but still capable) RCForb rig control software.

I wonder what 2019 will bring.....

Do YOU work the JIDX contest(s)?

Is NX6T, WQ6X, W6J or W6V in YOUR Log?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

WQ6X Runs another Random Contest Weekend.

N X 6 T  R e m o t e  S e t u p
The 1st weekend of every April brings about a plethora of contests worthy of playing around.  In years past I have found time for radiosport on this 1st weekend.  To read about it click [HERE] and [HERE].
For April 2019 the weekend offered up 4 HF radiosport events:
  1. SP-DX Contest (X)
  2. EA RTTY Contest (X)
  3. Missouri QSO Party (MOQP)
  4. Mississippi QSO Party (MSQP)
There was also the Florida State Parks on the Air (FSPOTA) GiG but was just one more event to keep track of so I decided to give that one a go next year.  [CLICK HERE] to learn more about event.

Evidently, there as been a controversial rule change for the 2019 SP-DX  event that has caused many operators to boycott that contest.  While dozens of SP-station spots were seen in the N1MM+ bandmap, none of those stations could hear me, making this a non-event anyway.  With this
GiG out of the way that left the two QSO parties and the EA RTTY up for consideration.

Elecraft  K 3 + QF - 1A  &  MFJ - 751
The Elecraft K3/0 remote equipment and the contest logs were setup on Friday evening passing all the verification tests.  Being that the first events (the QSO parties) didn't begin until 14:00z (7am PDT) allowed me to sleep in until well after 8am. 

Space-WX SFI #'s allow gauging propagation condx.  An SFI of 73 (versus 68) was very encouraging.

Unfortunately, a faulty power supply cable delayed the actual operational start to 18:50z Saturday morning.

MOQP & MSQP opened the remote operation as NX6T.   Band conditions seemed promising, yet  pointing the Stepp-IR yagi 70-degrees  yielded
few QSO party stations - by 19:20z it was time to turn up the ACOM-2000a amplifier and switch to running the EA RTTY GiG.

After an hour of Search and Pouncing it was time to find  an EA RTTY run frequency (14086.86), letting stations come to me for a change.  QRM moving in required moving up and down around
that frequency.  What amazes me is how stations can move in on my run frequency (down to the EXACT Hz.) and try to "wrestle the frequency away".  On Cw it is understandable that another
station might move in approximately around the run frequency.  However when the "invasion"
is EXACTLY on frequency, I know it was no accident.

 By 00:30z it was time to move on down to
40 meters, hopefully repeating the success had on 20.  Within a half-hour a new run frequency was found (7058.58).  When that ran out it was back to S&P'ing, eventually moving to a new run frequency (7059.59).

By 04:50z it was time to give 80-meters a try.  Amazingly, no stations were heard, requiring the adoption of a run frequency (3585.85). 
I guess most stations did not see the internet spots; only 9 QSOs ended up in the 80-meter section of the log.  At 07:30z running out of stations to work it was time for some sleep.

By 13:15z, 40-meters opened to Asia.  Settling in on 7043.43, a flood of new multipliers made it to the log, including: JI1, 7N2, JR3, YC6, JA1, 7L4, YG8, JA3/1 & YB7. 

When that ran out, at 15:50z it was time for a switch to 20 meters during the last hour of the contest.  After some serious S&P, 15:15z found NX6T on 14090.90.  A marginal opening put AM70D, SP4, GW0 & CO2 into the log.  However the BiG surprise came from 5C5W; Africa being a very difficult propagation path from N. San Diego county. 

At 16:00z the EA RTTY contest was over, leaving
one more shot at the MOQP.  After a short Kona coffee break a switch to Cw put 14 more MOQP QSOs into the log.

Being rover stations, K0I & K0R gave out multiple QSOs per contact by straddling one or more county lines.  I wish more MOQP stations did that.

Surprisingly no QSO party callers were heard
on 15 & 10 meters.  Was I listening to the wrong frequencies at the wrong time, or, was there in
fact no MOQP or MSQP activity on the high bands?

It is a shame that the MSQP did not reprise on Sunday, the way MOQP does.  If band condx are poor on Saturday, we have another opportunity on Sunday.  Ending MSQP at 02:00z cheats left-coast stations out of 80/40 meter activity - Bummer Dewd.

 Did YOU work MOQP, MSQP or EA RTTY contests?

Is NX6T in YOUR Log?

Monday, April 8, 2019

12 OPs make Ssb WPX (Weird Prefix Contest) - Weirder than Ever

W Q 6 X  operating  as  N X 6 T
The WPX contest is frequently called the Weird Prefix contest for a good reason; this year for MANY good reasons.  In past WPX Ssb events we have used the WQ6X callsign when I was physically onsite at the Fallbrook.  Because I also wanted to run separately from W7AYT's Concord QTH,
when I heard that my callsign was chosen to be used from Fallbrook, I made a reciprocal
agreement with N6KI to run as NX6T from W7AYT's S.F. East Bay location

To make remote operations run smoothly, I brought the Elecraft K3/0 equipment and set it up along with the FT-1000mp I normally use in Concord.  Using a direct connect Ethernet cable allowed for
the fastest data transfer possible during remote radio running.

Thanks to a series of cables for splitting the audio, it was possible to "mix" the audio from the K3/0 and the 1000mp into the Heil PROset headphones via a pair of Autek QF-1A filters; one for each ear.  At the very least, it allowed using the FT-1000mp to monitor the WQ6X signals originating from Fallbrook as my audio from the K3/0 was being sent over the internet to STN-1.

While K3/0 WQ6X remote operation worked flawlessly from the beginning, the FT-1000mp's RigExpert CAT connection was not happening.  N1MM+ could send CW flawlessly with the radio,
yet was unable to control the rest of the radio's operation.  This left me with no option but to either S&P (typing each frequency manually before logging the contact), or pick a frequency and run it, despite not having a great signal.

In recent contests we've had a shortage of CW operators.  For this Ssb GiG we ended up with a dozen operators; most operators actually making the drive up the hill to NX6T's (900' above sea-level) QTH.  This allowed me the opportunity to set things up in time for my running the dinner shift @03:00z (8-10:30 pm) after 1st putting a bunch of QSOs in the NX6T log.

Due to an abundance of operators, we had virtually all shifts covered running as a Multi-OP 2-transmitter entry.  Some people are morning operators (like K6GO & NA6MB) others are
afternoon operators (such as N6EEG & NN6X), evening operators like N6KI or after midnight
OPs (WQ6X & N6ERD).

Meanwhile, back at W7AYT's QTH it was time to once again tweak the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper, giving 450-ohm ladder line access, as well as coaxial access to one of the sloper lines.

The good news is that this configuration seems to have eliminated the stray RF in the shack (which previously would cripple the RigExpert interface).  Unfortunately, for this contest weekend, it was the CHA-250 vertical which made all the contacts; the
8JK Sloper ended up being just a receive antenna.

10-meters never experienced any activity, not even with the 3-el 10-meter yagi pointed towards South America.  I can't wait for the sunspot cycle SFI to move solidly into the 75+ range.  Until then, the
yagi just sits there looking good.

Typical of most evening-style radiosport events (especially on 40-meters) intentional QRM always seems to be an issue.  For this Ssb contest, RTTY QRM was rampant throughout the phone band (below 7.200).  This same RTTY QRM plagued us during last month's ARRL Dx Ssb contest.
([CLICK HERE] to read about that.)  At first I wanted to believe the QRM was random, until
it became clear that every time I changed frequency the QRM followed me.

Overall, our WQ6X operation for the 2019 WPX contest was quite a success, amassing over
3.88 million in contest points.  Were it not for the concentrated effort at WC6H we would have taken 1st-place for the left coast in the Multi-2 category; alto 2nd-place was still a surprise.  It would seem that WQ6X took 3rd-place  for USA and 4th-place for North America.

Did YOU work the WPX Ssb contest?
Is WQ6X orNX6T in YOUR log?