Tuesday, October 8, 2019

WQ6X as K6C "Kicks-it" for another California QSO Party

For this 2019 CQP event, I decided to take the easy (trnsl. Lazy) way out by registering the K6C callsign and repeating last years dual-OP with NX6T from W7AYT's QTH in Contra Costa county.  Having registered the W6C callsign many times before, to alleviate the potential "boredom-factor", K6C (Kilowatt Six California) was used for state-recognition variety.

Using K6C required that a [new] set of N1MM .Wav files be recorded with the proper file-path assignments made to the SSB macro keys.  While there are many ways to make .Wav files,
I prefer the [freeware] Audacity program.  For my purposes, Audacity is WAY over complicated. 
Each time I use it, I stumble around and eventually produce the set of files that are needed.
Maybe one day I'll figure it out.  Until then, stumbling-thru works just fine.

The recently installed RigExpert PLUS, allowed the use of its built-in audio-codec to play the N1MM+ .Wav files directly to the transmit audio (no external cables needed); of course I didn't discover this trick until AFTER CQP was over.  RigExpert made an INCREDIBLE piece of hardware; unfortunately, there exists practically no user-level documentation for the unit, outside of how to hook it up to the various AFSK/Psk platforms that have emerged since the PLUS unit's debut in 2007.

The goal for this weekend was to run another dual-OP GiG, remoting into NX6T via the Elecraft K3/0 while running as K6C from Contra Costa county.  That more-or-less happened, altho not in
the order I was "expecting".  An unfortunate hardware conflict prevented using the K3/0 (for its intended purpose) until AFTER CQP was over - until then, it was RCForb to the rescue. 
Minus some pain-the-ass internet dropouts, I managed to stumble through and make
two frequency runs on Saturday afternoon and around 3am Sunday.

Before EVERY CQP Event I update the CQP.Org Admission Ticket
(they don't Doit anymore, so I Do).  This year I also posted a "Blast from the Past" BLOG, reminiscing about CQP expeditions I've been involved with during my 20 years of participating in the California QSO Party.
Amongst other things, CQP expeditions are about Emergency Preparedness. 
Even when I operate from a domestic QTH - as done in 2017 - 2019, there is
still the preparedness aspect of each unique operating configuration; either from the remoteness of the location, or the equipment configuration(s) required to make it all happen.
Nearly every operation from Concord finds me trying out new tweaks to the WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper, a new installation of the Elecraft K3/0 or some new audio-cabling arrangement in an attempt to leverage the dual-receive capabilities of the
FT-1000mp.  ([CLICK HERE] to read the original BLOG on that subject.)
For CQP 2019 no antenna modifications were needed. 
I simply leveraged the antenna farm to my advantage:
  • Comet CH-250 Vertical
  • WQ6X Lazy 8JK Sloper
  • WQ6X JA Sloper (that can never hear JA)
  • Hy-Gain 3-el. 10-m Long John yagi (just in case)
The remoting-IN to NX6T aspect of this trip was frustrating. 
Each GiG using the K3/0 turns up new operating configurations. 
This weekend I learned the importance of:  IPCONFIG/Renew, allowing
the Toshiba laptop to use the Mikrotik Ethernet hub as an internet HoT Spot.

I began CQP an hour late.  Recording .Wav files and tweaking CW macros at the last minute
always seems to take the first hour.  Oh wail - band conditions @ W7AYT were marginal anyway,
so I probably didn't miss much.  Contrast that with NX6T where there is a 70-ft tower sporting:
  • 3-el Stepp-IR
  • 2-el Shorty-40
  • 80-m Coaxial Bazooka Inv-VEE

  • 160-m Coaxial Bazooka Inv-VEE

There is also a new RX-Loop at NX6T, but I was so busy running a frequency that time was never found to give it a close listen.  Here is where operating onsite has it's advantages.  Onsite I can
more easily manipulate the Rx-Loop and/or have another operator (if one is present) to turn it
for me.  We certainly needed something; the 80/40 noise-levels in Fallbrook were horrendous. 
In contrast, the noise-level @ W7AYT was MUCH less; then again, so were the signal-levels.
All the effort that was made to create effective .Wav files was ALMOST not worth it.   Using the SO2-V approach, alternate CQ's were made on each band; first on Cw, then on Ssb, and finally,
back to Cw.  Despite all the efforts to make Ssb QSOs, no one came back to my CQ calls. 
The 3 Ssb QSOs made happened by S&P'ing - GO Figure!  Am I missing something?

When it was all over, it would seem that those 3 Ssb QSOs guaranteed K6C a mixed-mode (assisted) 1st-place from Contra Costa county; running as CW-only would probably have resulted
in a 3rd-place finish at best.
On the NX6T end of things, running the DX Log software (a WinTest spinoff), we turned in a reasonable score, considering who/what we had to work with.  While other W6 stations made a section sweep, for some reason, NT (Canada's Northern Territories) eluded us.  I picked up our 56th mult (MS) in the middle of the night as the Mississippians were waking up.  Our 1117 QSOs should be enough for a 1st-place from San Diego (SDIE).
We received the above e-mail from K2QU.  While I was on shift when that happened, I didn't recognize the call until, looking up that time in the log, I saw it was W2DXE.  I remember that
contact very well.  Being JUST above our HORRIBLE noise-level, his callsign seemed to sound different every time I heard it. 
If you have read my Role of Respect in Radiosport BLOG series, you know that I hate it when operators give up too easily.  Whenever possible I want to log the contact.  While the QSO itself is only worth 3 points, when you factor in the multiplier multiplication-factor, that one QSO was actually worth 171 points overall - think about that when you are tempted to blow-off a QSO (with no other stations calling).
Because I often run the "night shift" during radiosport events, I am used to being up at that hour at other times.

I am still an avid SWL'er, even tho the volume of SWBC stations has dropped considerably in the last 50 years. 

The 20-yrold Yaesu FT-1000mp makes an OUTSTANDING SW receiver; the CH-250 vertical makes an excellent SW listening antenna.  Of the transceiver's 100 memories 25 have been dedicated for listening to SWBC stations. 

I have taken a liking to Radio New Zealand [International] - RNZ.  Around 08:00z or 09:00z they come through nicely in the SF bay area on 5.945 mhz.  With the lower noise-level (compared to Fallbrook),
I would give RNZ a 55444 SINPO rating.  Also for fun, on Saturday I enjoyed an 8.5% Peanut Butter stout, thanks to W7AYT's belated birthday gift - Thanks Dennis.
That is all I have to say about CQP 2019 for now, altho I may well have more to say after the log submission deadline (the K6C log was submitted on Sunday).  While this was far from the most memorable CQP I've ever been a part of, it was an interesting challenge.  Contrary to my BITCH
about other QSO parties, in CQP, we Californians DO participate in our own QSO party.
What about YOU?
Did YOU work the California QSO Party?
Is NX6T or K6C in YOUR log?



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