Monday, June 21, 2021

WQ6X'S All AsiaDual-OP is All Over the Place

I always know when we are getting close to Field Day, because the weekend prior brings us the
All Asia DX Cw contest.  I wrote about this last year.  ([CLICK HERE] to read about it.)  Propagation
to Asia was AWEsome in ANZA, in comparison to the dearth signals heard at the Concord location.

Because this was an Asian contest, it would make sense to check-in on the ~7.039 Russian military beacon frequency, determining Asian propagation paths.  Unfortunately, similar to the 2019 All Asia contest GiG, only the "M" beacon could be heard; the "F" and "K" beacons were noticeably AWOL.  Unfortunately, no beacons were hearable from the Concord location.

During virtually every DX-style contest I operate, intentional QRM on 40-meters (beginning around 09:00z to 10:00z) is an unfortunately reality.  For the All Asia Cw GiG this made the form of something I encountered back in May's CQ WPX contest; altho THIS time it involved THREE
Chinese stations, not just one.  The CQ calls went something like this:

  • CQ FUCKIN VIRUS Test - BY1CY (10:51z) - reported Age was: 11.
  • CQ FUCKIN VIRUS Test - BD7JNA (10:59z) - reported Age was: 63.
  • CQ FUCKIN VIRUS Test - BH3ERS (11:15z) - No QSO made.

The station(s) were not responding to callers, altho before the morning was over I managed to log
a QSO with BY1CY and Sunday we bagged BD7JNA, while BH3ERS never made it to the NX6T log.  Additionally, a new kind of "Woodpecker" plagued 40-meters around 10:16z.  While I didn't go looking for it, instinct tells me the Woodpecker was "parked" just below the 40-meter band (somewhere around 6.850 Mhz).  Although I have a "Moscow Muffler" hooked up in Concord, it does no GooD
in Anza unless I can insert it in between the Elecraft K3 and the amplifier - Bummer Dewd!

While I TRULY Do miss running from Nashville, the advantages of the Anza station are NUMEROUS.  Throughout the weekend, while running locally as WQ6X, I also paid attention to our competitor K3EST's operation.  It seemed that there were better and earlier openings in Anza than here in
the bay area.

Pointing the 3-el 10-m Long John yagi towards Asia and calling CQ yielded only KH7M. 15-meters was also a no-show, altho NX6T certainly found a couple of openings. Receive signal levels at the Concord location seem to constitute a signal vortex, wherein it would seem that other stations
hear me better than I hear them; altho the stations I DiD hear were quite strong.

In the week prior to the contest event, I spent time upgrading the WQ6X Beacon Tracker software
(to make propagation tracking easier) and created an [EASY BUTTON] Windoze APP, to help with "morale" - it's fun to hear "THAT Was Easy" when things go well.

 

The All  Asia contest is ALL about working new countries and unique prefixes; both of which were well done with the NX6T operation.  For
WQ6X, I made so FEW QSOs, that nearly everyone was a MULT
in some way.

While there were LoTs of Asian prefixes active during the 2021 contest,
I was disappointed to not see some of the more EXOTIC Asian prefixes
(like we see in the CQ WPX Cw contest).

Space WX forecasts were ALL OVER the place; some periods great and some periods loaded with noise and QSB.  Nevertheless, we are CLEARLY in the early stages of Solar Cycle 25.

With All Asia behind us, it is now time to focus on the upcoming weekend's Field Day event from the sailboat in Alameda's Aeolian yacht harbor,
just like I've done for the last 2 years.  The 1st weekend in September
will bring us the All Asia Ssb contest - for some reason, they don't do RTTY.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it was all over, it would seem that NX6T took 1st place for the Multi-Single transmitter category.

DiD YOU work the All Asia Cw contest?

How many Asian countries and prefixes are in YOUR LoG?


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

WQ6X Drags Thru another DRCG RTTY Contest

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a [so-called] off weekend radiosport-wise.  (Click [HERE])
It was hoped that this weekend wouldn't fit that pattern.  With the DRCG RTTY contest and the WWSA (South American) contest, I had high hopes; especially since last year running as NX6T , N6ERD and WQ6X took 2nd place as a Multi-OP operation in the RTTY GiG, running under 600
watts at all times.

With NX6T no longer and the ANZA location not yet setup to run RTTY, I chose to run the best

Single-OP operation I can from W7AYT's QTH in Concord.  The SFI and A/K Indexes were all
over the place.  One minute the bands were jumping and the next minute calling CQ for 30 minutes yielded 1 QSO.  The RBN Stats indicated WQ6X was being heard all over, and yet, there were no manned stations hearing those CQ Calls.  If a station calls CQ and there's no operator around to hear, Does it still count as a CQ?

Only 1 QSO was made on 80 RTTY, during the 1/2 hour (combined time) spent futilely calling "CQ DRCG Test".  

An equal amount of time was spent on Saturday afternoon futilely calling "CQ DRCG Test" on 10 & 15 meters.  Both bands were clearly open and yet there were no girls and boys to play with.

 

As you can see, the SFI was all over the place.  On Monday and Tuesday the SFI oscillated between 69 & 81, before settling in at 77, just in time for even worse conditions as we see by midnight on Tuesday (local time).

Also in the WA7BNM Contest Calendar was the WWSA contest (otherwise known as the GACW Contest), focusing mainly on stations in South America.  

The 1st QSO with a Loud LW2DOD on 40-meters offered hope; unfortunately, aside from WH6R (Zone 31), only AC6ZM (Zone 4) and K6DBF (Zone 3) made it to the log.  Bummer Dewd. 

 

When NoT calling CQ for the DRCG RTTY GiG, I was engaging in the futile effort of calling
"CQ GACW Test".  Even MORE than last weekend, I was wandering around the shack mumbling
(to no one in particular) "Where IS Everybody?!"

Working those two events took the WQ6X radiosport participation count to 66 different events thus far for 2021.  While it is doubtful I will ever surpass last year's 142 GiG Events, I get a kick out of playing around in so many different contests and QSO parties.

While there was a dearth of radiosport activity, the off-hours gave me the opportunity to save and organize the memory system in BOTH the ICOM-7000 and the Yaesu FT-1000mp.  Aside from the usual benefits, organizing the memories makes way for the opportunity to do further study of the Russian Military Beacon phenomenon.  I have written about this in the past; the last being in May 2020 when I asked "Wassup with those Russian Military Beacons?".

What about YOU?  DiD YOU play around in the DRCG or GACW Contests?

THEN WHY DiDN'T YOU CALL ME???


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

External Audio Filtering: Maximizing the Art of Experimentation (Part-2)

80 to 100 years ago, virtually all radio amateurs home-brewed their equipment; overall, the circuits were relatively simple.  While QRM/QRN was always an issue, band crowding was actually nothing compared to our congested bands of the 21-st century.  In those days, 20-50 watt (max.) transmitters were most common; kilowatt amplifiers were rarely encountered.  Today, 1.5kw amplifiers are heard everywhere at all times of the day.

In today's whirrrrl'd, most transceivers use micro-minature SLIC's (Surface Level Integrated Circuits) and are not easily serviceable by the average home-brew amateur.  Linear amplifiers and antennas
are large enough that we can still have a hand in their design and upkeep.  We can also add external audio and I-F filtering to most radios allowing us to improve their performance somewhat.

I've written extensively on the subject of various approaches to audio filtering for survival in the 21st century.  Many of those Blogs have links to earlier Blog entries written on variations of this subject.  Several Blogs that come to mind include:

  • [X] - (Apr. 2021) - WQ6X Wanders thru an Experimental Contest Weekend
  • [X] - (Nov 2020) - More Lessons Learned From Listening to the DR.
  • [X] - (Aug 2020) - Learning the Art of Leveraging Dual Receive:
                               Yet Another Look (w/Links to the Past)
  • [X] - (Dec 2019) - Analog or Digital - Which shall we choose?

To combat interference issues, receivers became increasingly complex.  NoT only were they more difficult to build, accurate alignment required test equipment that was usually way out of the reach of most amateurs.  Companies like Heathkit, KnightKit, Eico and Viking (among others) bridged the gap by offering kits with units requiring alignment already pre-built and aligned.  By the 1960's, 80% of the equipment was commercially made, turning us into [so-called] "appliance operators".

Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of external audio filters and switch boxes, including:

  • 4 Autek QF-1A's (2 in Alameda and 2 in Concord) - one for each ear, creating a "Stereo" effect.
  • 2 MFJ-752's - a MFJ-752c (L-Ear) and a modified MFJ-752b (R-Ear) with a CWF-1 filter in place of the kludgy noise-limiting diodes.
  • An MFJ-751 used in Alameda as a balancing-unit between the two Autek QF-1A filters.
  • An MFJ-784 Super DSP for Left-channel audio processing in Concord.
  • A JPS NIR-12 DSP unit for Right-channel audio processing in Concord. 
  • A Radio Shaft DSP-40 audio DSP unit (under evaluation in Alameda).
  • A Radio Shaft 15-band per channel Equalizer (32-2059) for use in audio
    experiments at the Alameda location.
  • A pair of Radio Shaft 4-IN/1-OUT COMPOSITE AV SELECTOR SWITCH
    boxes (15-313) - one in Alameda and one in Concord.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROCKVILLE 4-Device (8-Channel) Audio Mixer
Because my WQ6X portable operation at W7AYT utilizes 3 different transceivers and several audio filters, a ROCKVILLE audio mixer has been installed making it easy to blend the audio from each radio into a series of different filter configurations.  The downside of this is very low output levels from the mixer.  This problem was remedied by installing a 2-watt stereo amplifier board inside the mixer and routing the amplifier output to an 1/8" stereo plug matching the Radio Shaft 4-device AV-selector box.

Each of these devices have separate grounding considerations, making it quite a challenge to keep ground loops out of the audio.  Having a multi-band equalizer between the mixer and the AV-switch box would be one way to accomplish this.  Prices for another Radio Shaft 32-2059 15-channel equalizer unit are only around $40 on eBay.  This may well become an addition to the Concord location in the future.

 





RADIO SHAFT 32-2059 15-CHANNEL EQUALIZER
Audio equalizers are an excellent way to tailor receive audio in most amateur stations. 
The above equalizer has also been used to tailor the transmit audio of the old Kenwood
TS-450 transceiver and the current ICOM-7000.  Because the Yaesu FT-1000mp and the
K3/0 Mini transceivers have their own menu-adjustable transmit audio equalization circuits,
I use the Radio Shaft equalizer to process only stereo receive audio.

With the 32-2059 equalizer 60-cycle hum  and high frequency "hiss" can be rolled off. 
Additionally, specific audio frequencies can be enhanced for improved Ssb and/or Cw reception.  However it should be pointed out that like the ROCKVILLE mixer, equalizers often lack sufficient amplification output to drive speakers, altho headphones usually work fine.














STEREO-Cw - Center-channel Audio
In addition to Stereo-Cw, another (even older) idea is what has been called the stereo
"Center Channel".  This is created by running the (-) leads from each speaker into a
   THIRD speaker, positioning it electrically "between" the Left and Right channels.













STEREO-Cw - Center-channel Filtering
For some time, I have been experimenting with a variation on the center-channel approach, substituting an MFJ-751filter in place of the center channel speaker.  To make this work properly,
it was necessary to electrically isolate the two QF-1A units.  The MFJ-751 input/output is inserted between the shield conductor of the Left QF-1A and the shield conductor of the Right QF-1A.  It just so happened that the units are sitting on a wooden platform; wood being a good indoor insulator. 


 

 

 

 

The WORLD of MFJ-752 Signal Enhancer II analog filters
Having completely forgotten about the Autek filter line, I began making use of external audio filters by way of the MFJ-752 (models B & C).  When the FT-1000mp made the scene, the one noticeable lack was audio processing for the sub receiver - the MP's eDSP works ONLY with the Main RX.  

Remembering an MFJ CWF-2 was languishing in the junk box, the circuit board was removed and retrofitted to fit inside the MFJ-752b unit.  If you look real close at the photo you will see that the NL positions of the On/Off/NL switch were sacrificed to provide 180-hz and 80hz Cw filtering.  Today, the 752C is used to process SSB audio for the Main RX (Left Channel), leaving the 752B to process SSB/Cw audio for the Sub RX (Right Channel).

Late in the audio filter game w/the
setup in Concord, I happened onto a $9.99 MFJ-751 Signal Enhancer;  predecessor to 752 Signal Enhancer II.  

While technically, they are descendants  the filtering capabilities of the 752 relegated the 751 to the back of the used equipment shelf in Alameda.  

As described above, a legitimate
(albeit unusual) use for the MFJ-751
was found as an "arbitrator" unit between a pair of Autek QF-1A filters.

 

 

 

 

The WORLD of AUTEK QF-1A Analog Filters
Coexistent with happening onto the idea of Stereo-Cw, I also happened onto a pair of Autek QF-1A filters (I now have 4; 2 in Concord and 2 in Alameda).  I was about to order the individual components to replicate the circuit in the original 1977 article on the subject when it occurred to me that the individual QF-1A filters would offer an even better idea: Variable Frequency Stereo-Cw.

Having variable frequency filters allows the shifting to left/right channel frequency cutoff points. 
That way, if a particular set of filter parameters become too monotonous, they are immediately/easily shifted into something different.  A variety in listening-experience contributes considerably to fatigue-reduction.

Occasionally, one encounters a QF-1A with an after-market pilot lamp added as you can see in the above pair.  The power transformer in those Autek units is so hefty, that I have been contemplating removing the power cord on the 2nd QF-1A and running a power pole connection to the unit with
the modification.  Another possibility would be to power each of the MFJ-752 units from a power
pole connection to the two Autek QF-1A's.


 

 

 

 

FRONT-ENDing and REAR-ending the AUDIO PATH
Having an array of filters is nice, but ONLY if that array is properly in-Fed and out-Fed. 
Switch boxes do that nicely.  I found the small box (on the right) on e-Bay a couple of years ago. 
I shoulda bought 3 or 4 because when I put in an order to the Korean vendor last year I received the information that for now they are not shipping to the USA.  As a replacement, I settled on a Radio Shaft AV Selector box (15-313).  The AV box has the advantage of switching an additional YELLOW wire at each switch position.

WRAPPING IT ALL UP
As you can see, I love to play with external switches and filters.  For the most part, even the best of amateur transceivers can benefit from the addition of external filters.  Many operators sold off their old filters when they bought the new radios, giving me the opportunity to snap them up for an average of $35 per unit.

Do YOU make use of external filtering units.

What has been YOUR Experience?


There is No Such Thing as an Off Radiosport Weekend

This last weekend had little to offer radiosport-wise.  I listened around the bands and was ready
for the eclectic TISZA_CDX Cw contest.  Unfortunately, (typical with contests of this type) nothing
was heard.  There was also the Kentucky QSO Party.  Also typical for such events, very few KY stations participated in their own QSO party. Nevertheless, I submitted a 4-QSO Log and posted
an entry on the 3830 Scores Website.  My last KYQP GiG was in 2019 and I made even
LESS QSOs than this year.

Having only 12 hours for an East coast-based party all but precludes contacts on 80 & 160 meters from the Waste Coast.  I wish they would either LENGTHEN the event hours on Saturday or give us
a 2nd opportunity on Sunday; as many state QSO parties do.  I managed a WHOPPING 4-QSOs;
3 on 20-m Cw and Ssb and one on 40-Cw.  While there was a run of the SEANET GiG, just like
2019, there was hardly anyone heard to make it worth setting up a log in N1MM.

The Boats on the Air (BOTA) GiG offered us the promise of working a sailboat tooling around Angel Island (in the S.F. north bay)  from 1 to 4 pm Saturday afternoon.  They published the frequencies (7.115 Cw, 14.325 Ssb and 18.100 FT8) but not what callsign(s) would be on the air.  Having rewired the antenna sharing switch for the CH-250 vertical, we gave a listen with Dennis's (W7AYT) Yaesu FT-450 and my Yaesu FT-1000mp.  Nothing was heard on 40-Cw, a faint whisper was heard on 14.325 and some (undecodable @W7AYT) FT8 signals were heard on 18.100.  On 20-meters,
if they WERE on 14.325, their signals were probably skipping over the Concord location.

This was also Museum Ships Weekend as well.  WQ6X managed communications w/the USS Midway (stationed in San Diego) and the USS Iowa (anchored in San Pedro - near L.A.).

Throughout the weekend there were experiments that didn't make it.  The JPS NIR-12 external DSP runs extremely HOT - there are no ventilation holes to keep the pair of TMS320C26 DSP chips cool, leaving them HoT to the touch and the filter cover extremely warm.

In the past I tried running a pair of fans (from a defunct laptop cooler).  They worked well enough
and unfortunately put a motorboat (or airplane engine) sound in the right channel audio line (where the NIR-12 is inserted).  Thinking it was a fault of the fan-pair, I tried a junk box fan with the same results.

It is possible the problem is created by using the NIR-12's power line (tapping it from lugs on the power switch).  I guess the next test should be to power the fans directly from the 30 amp SAMLEX 1235M power supply - the NIR-12 is powered by its own Wall wart.

On the software side of things a new Version (4.82) of the WQ6X Beacon Tracker went into Alpha
test on Monday to evaluate the new Active Beacon Frequency screen, offering a look at not only the selected beacon frequency; also included are an indication of what bands the other 4 active beacons are transmitting on.

Even though a given weekend shows little to no contest activity, there are ALWAYS things to be done to improve your operating experience for the next weekend there IS radiosport activity.  I wrote about this exactly a year ago (June 8th, 2020).  Click [HERE] to read all about that.

What do YOU spend your time with during slow-radiosport weekends?


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

WQ6X Wings another Weird dual-OP in CQ WPX Contest

Last weekend being an off period in radiosport contests (Fallbrook operations have now ended) coincidentally, I spent the weekend tearing down and then rebuilding the WQ6X portable setup in
Concord.  While it allowed me to dual-OP contests, with so many different devices cascaded together the ground-loops were rampant.  Thanks to proper re-cabling, those loops should largely be gone.  What better than the WPX contest to test run the operation; which is what this Memorial Day weekend was largely about.

With the Solar Flux Index (SFI) jumping around from 74 to 87, the Space-WX was all over the place as well.  Every couple of hours in the daytime, I made a CQ WPX call on ten meters.  The RBN Spots were from all over the country and yet, almost no actual operators were there to make QSOs which actually shoulda been a no-brainer.

It turns out stations heard me much more LOUDLY than I can hear them in the receive signal vortex of this QTH in Concord.  Unfortunately, I was asked to repeat my number about 85% of the time - wOw!

For NX6T, because we had plenty of operators, I took the 2am - 5am shift on Saturday and the 5am
to 8am shift on Sunday.  The intentional 40-meter QRM for this contest came on Saturday morning (11:00z) in the form of a weird chiming sound on 7040.40, reminiscent of the opening chime from classic/old SWBC stations.

In the end, NX6T made well over 2,600 QSOs and WQ6X made a WHOPPING 8.8% of those QSOs.  Noticeably absent during my operating shift were stations on 80 & 160; the JA count on 40 meters was also not what I was used to from years past.  

Compared to the old Nashville location  the ANZA location @WA6TQT is incredibly more quiet (noise-wise), and the stacked array antennas for 40m thru 10m and the 4-Square and 3-Square for 80 & 160 are a noticeably wonderful improvement.  While I already miss the spirit of Nashville, I am excited by the new prospects from a higher mountain in Anza.

Something noticeably lacking this year was the plethora of REALLY WEIRD prefixes; those reserved specifically in other countries for the WPX contest itself.  While there was plenty of activity overall, having more bizarre "Weird" prefixes makes things more fun.

While not a super score, according to the 3830 website NX6T's 7.1 million points garnered 14th place worldwide, 5th place for USA/NA and 1st place for the left coast (W6 & W7); not bad for a motley bunch of operators.

Did YOU work the CQ WPX (Weird Prefix) Contest?

Is NX6T or WQ6X in YOUR LoG?


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

WQ6X Raucously Renovates Portable Operations from East Bay section

For many people "Spring Cleaning" is an annual affair; others do it only when the situation demands it.  For WQ6X operations, this weekend spring cleaning came in many forms.  Equipment like the Rockville mixer and the OwnZone wireless headsets underwent an overhaul in Alameda before reintegration into the new equipment layout.

As it turns out, WQ6X's King-of-Spain Cw operation from [NX6T] Nashville was the LAST and FINAL transmissions from the NX6T hilltop station overlooking surrounding Fallbrook.  Non-amateur use
has relegated us 2nd class citizens; i.e. - EVICTED.  All that REALLY means is that the BEST
of Fallbrook operations are being "blended" (merged) with the best of ANZA.  Look for a walloping NX6T presence in the upcoming WPX-2021 Cw contest.

For unrelated reasons, my portable operation in Concord was in a sense "Evicted" to a different
space at the W7AYT location.  This required a complete dismantle of the equipment morass cobbled together over recent years.  Transforming the equipment layout into a more orderly operation was accomplished by Dennis (W7AYT) and I (watching) upgrading the operating desk with multiple shelves, allowing the equipment to be laid out in a more conducive dual-receive (aka stereo) operation.  This should streamline remote operation, as well as local station usage.

Keywords important to this equipment setup include: Aesthetics and Ergonomics.  The goal is
for the equipment layout to look reasonably organized and well-ordered, which then also contributes to efficient operating ergonomics.  Bottom-line: if it don't look good or it is too confusing to operate, eventually, the station setup will be gathering dust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, having the ability to switch and mix audio from several radios opens the possibility
for SWL'ing along with ragchewing and contesting.  Thanks to the 500+ memories and a thoroughly functioning DSP, the ICOM-7000 has new life as an SWL receiver, as well as a backup transceiver.

As much of a hassle it has been to reorder virtually EVERYTHING, the UPSIDE of doing so has allowed me to cleanup the audio interaction between the different takes on the radio world (IC-7000 - K3/0 - FT-1000mp).  It is no secret that I love to knob twiddle.  This current equipment layout makes
it easier than ever to twiddle those knobs.

Have you ever conducted a complete overhaul of your radio equipment setup?

What Changes DiD YOU Make?

HoW DiD it Turn Out?

 


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

WQ6X Wangles King-of-Spain GiG into another Training Exercise

In anticipation of a major equipment reorganization at the W7AYT QTH, the 3rd weekend in may was perfect for troubleshooting a number of the audio connections that make up the WQ6X operation in Concord.  I've been annotating what works and what could be improved.  The only HF contest on the WA7BNM Calendar was the King-of-Spain Cw GiG.  Until last year, I made only a handful of QSOs
in the KoS event.  I decided this year will take things to the next level.

What made the difference in this year's score was camping out on RUN frequencies and calling "CQ KOS" or "CQ EA ".  The amazing thing was receiving calls from several EA stations, making the CQ's worthwhile.  South American participation was quite noticeable during the K-o-S contest.  Altho non-EA QSOs are single-pointers, new countries add to the multiplier list making it worth turning the antennas to 120-Degrees.

What amazed me was the number of callers who thought this was a QSO party or something as they would send me their state. If I couldn't coax a number out of them, I randomly assigned one, on the assumption they wouldn't submit a log so it doesn't matter what value I put in there.

As it turns out, this event was the LAST contest operation from the Fallbrook location.  After a dozen years, we our moving our entire operation to the Super Station site in ANZA; overall an improvement.

Because this was a 24-hour contest, the opportunity for intentional QRM was reduced considerably.  Unfortunately this GiG's QRM came in the form of a "Woodpecker" signal @13;10z which was tracked down to 6841.45.  While tuning around, I encountered some sort of a traffic handling station calling "NR5U B5 NR5D45" and "NR5U 7A NR5DD 33" - HuH?  Broadcast stations were also heard on 6850.05 and 6865.05.  Later on Saturday, RTTY marking was heard on 14003.93 @23:09z and then full-blown RTTY on 14007.97 @07:23z - HuH?

Russian beacon-wise, the "F" and "K" beacons were AWOL, while the "M" beacon was unusually weak, altho Asian stations were being copied during this time period.  There was a time when I bitched about having military beacons invading our 40-meter Cw band; now I lament their disappearance.


When it was ALL OVER, according to 3830 Scores, WQ6X was 35th worldwide, 13th in USA
and 1st-place for California; other Californians were worked, yet evidently they never posted a score (and therefore presumably never submitted a LoG).

DiD YOU work the King-of-Spain contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR LoG?


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

WQ6X Wakes Up from a WEIRD CQ-M+VOLTA Weekend

It's a GooD thing this was only a 3-contest weekend; I don't think I could stand any more Weirdness.  What kept things more-or-less on track was not giving up and pure focus on my part.  After a rewire of its internally inserted stereo amplifier the Rockville mixer was back @W7AYT, along with a complete reevaluation of the complex audio-cabling that allows WQ6X/6 in Concord to integrate audio from an ICOM-7000, a Yaesu FT-1000mp and an Elecraft K3/0; not to mention, the inclusion of background music streamed via Pandora.

Being another mild contest weekend, the events I played around with easily overlapped:

  1. [X] - The CQ-M International Dx Contest
  2. [X] - The VOLTA RTTY Dx Contest
  3. [X] -  The Arkansas QSO Party

An inadvertent "warm-up"  QSO occurred at 12:50z with VR2BLEE on 28 watts (I forgot to take the KPA-1500 amp off STBY - Ooops).  With the antenna pointed to Asia, without further ado 7027.27 was found to be a [relatively] Quiet place to park a "CQ M Test WQ6X WQ6X" call.

With the audio problems fully resolved, that left only the obligatory early morning 40-meter intentional-QRM IDIOTs to make running a frequency difficult.  It all began at 13:43 when out of nowhere a station starts sending "NO TEST" after every "CQ M" call.  Ironically, he never hassled me while actually working stations; only while calling CQ.  This modus-operandi is all too familiar - I've certainly encountered this IDIOT Be-4.  (The IDIOT at the END of the contest on Sunday wouldn't be so kind.)  

At 14:10z, with 26 Asian stations in the log, it was time to check the AR QSO party.  Sure enough, there was already a swarm of AR stations.  Eventually ten AR stations made it to the log on 40-meters; eight of them from running frequencies (7043.43, 7039.39 & 7042.42) calling "CQ ARQP WQ6X/6 WQ6X/CA".  Eventually Arkansas dropped out, so after 30-minutes of shut-eye it was off to 20-meters to S&P in CQ-M before settling in on 14018.18.  Afterwards, 7 more  Arkansas stations made it to the log.

Lacking sleep I slumbered enough to be "back in the chair" at 20:30z, alternating between CQ-M
and ARQP.  By 22:15z all the CQ-M and AR stations to be worked from Fallbrook were worked;
it was time to bring the VOLTA RTTY GiG into all of this.

The audio settings at NX6T while adequate for Ssb contests were actually "over-bearing" for running AFSK RTTY resulting in an over-driven GROWLing.  Eventually a compromise was worked out between the soundcard audio and
the microphone gain/comp settings to produce just enough audio to drive the radio into the KPA-1500 amplifier.  

For some reason, the power-levels often "drifted around" on 20-meters (but not on 40).  If my signal-level seemed to fade in and out on you, that might be the cause.  From time to time
(with no fault-indicators) the amp would switch
to STBY.  NoT always noticing this, some QSOs were made at the 28 - 43 watt barefoot power level (depending on the band).

Unique to the VOLTA GiG is the sending TWO pieces of information: a serial # and CQ Zone. 

The number of points for each contact is computed by the distance between CQ zones of the two stations.  To make things easier to understand, the VOLTA website provided us with a spreadsheet (edited above for my CQ Zone 3).  These points make for what seem like ridiculously high scores;
my 15-million points being only a mid-level score.

From 04:00z to 06:00 the choice was made to run the CQ-M and not the VOLTA RTTY GiG.  In retrospect the reverse idea probably would have made more sense.  At 06:00z only 4 more RTTY QSOs made it to the log.  Listening around until the 12:00z contest end times yielded no new RTTY stations - Bummer Dewd.

Lacking sleep, the idea was to take a couple of hours off for some sleep and then run the last
3 hours or so in the CQ-M.  I didn't make it back to to the radio until 11:20z, with 40 minutes to go.  At 11:29z, moving to 7017.17 brought a new form of intentional QRM'er (who sounded local to Fallbrook) sending BG6 VIRUS" over and over again.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I was able to work stations thru this IDIOT, when he started delivering several F-Bombs, it was time to find a new frequency.  Moving down to 7015.15 everything seemed quiet; the problem being that no stations followed me down there.  Returning to 7017.17 brought more F-Bombs, forcing a frequency change to 7016.16 to add a handful of Asian stations in time for the end of the contest.

In addition to the F-Bomber, my other beef in BOTH CQ-M and VOLTA were the stations who would work me (gotta get them QSO points first), then move 200hz away and call CQ contest.  HuH?  WTF is up with that?  At the very least, that is RUDE, and certainly a violation of contest ethics.
I DiD notice that these IDIOTs never DiD work anyone (being so close in frequency I guess I was too loud for them to copy anybody); one by one they drifted away to find a clear run frequency.

According to the 3830 Scores website, in the VOLTA contest WQ6X took 19th-place overall, 8th-place for USA and 1st-place for California.  In the CQ-M GiG, having more competition found my score in 42nd-place overall, 25th-place for USA and 1st-place for California.

DiD YOU work the CQ-M and VOLTA RTTY GiGs?

Is WQ6X in YOUR Log?


Friday, May 7, 2021

WQ6X Works another CINCO-de-Contest WeeKend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2021, the Month of May brings us 5 unique contest weekends beginning with the usual
5-contest weekend starting off the month; what I call CINCO de Contest:

  1. [X] - Italian ARI Dx Contest
  2. [X] -7QP - 7th call area QSO Party
  3. [X] -INQP - Indiana QSO Party
  4. [X] -DEQP - Delaware QSO Party
  5. [X] -NEQP - New England QSO Party

There was also the 10-10 Cw contest beginning at 00:00z.  Unfortunately, every time I checked
10-meters from Fallbrook (and yes, even called CQ) it seemed DEAD to me; altho other stations certainly found people to work.

This year's Cinco-de-Contest weekend was full of Reversals and Surprises.  Being a Target speaker for the Toastmasters District-12 Speech/Evaluation contest required that I remain in Alameda to give the Target speech.  After that, it was much easier to use the K3/0 Mini from Alameda rather than making the trip to W7AYT's QTH (in Concord).  Thanks to the $11 eBay special [microphone] I was able to run both Cw and Ssb, filling in whatever shift/mode needed.  (I even looked for 7QP RTTY signals, considering I/we were operating mixed-mode.)

With the goal of another 1st-place plaque from New England QSO Party (NEQP), NX6T ran from
our Super Station in ANZA.  Throughout the weekend Axel (KI6RRN) and I alternated band/antenna access from "Nashville" (our Fallbrook location); WQ6X on STN-1 and KI6RRN on STN-2.  I didn't expect to "win" anything this year.  The goal was simply to "UP" the 2021 contest count for WQ6X.

Typical for the Cinco-de-Contest weekend, for me, the ARI GiG was all but a no-show.  While I heard plenty of ARI activity in the daytime while running the state QSO parties, by the time I was ready to give ARI a GO, with 8 hours left, nothing was heard; rotating the shorty-40 while calling CQ and checking 80-meters yielded nothing.  I ended up submitting a 3-QSO log (with 2 of those QSOs
made via RTTY - Go Figure).

My personal run-goals for the weekend was for WQ6X to excel at the 7QP contest (considering that California is surrounded by the 7th call area) and put in a reasonable appearance in the NEQP GiG, with Indiana and Delaware on the side.  The INQP/DEQP GiGs garner my usual [annual] complaint:  Where ARE the IN & DE stations? Have they ever heard of ROVER stations?

With the speech contest obligation in the middle of the radiosport contest period, I found time
to run as WQ6X (mixed-mode) remotely from the Nashville STN-1.  When I was speech-contest'ing, KI6RRN was chasing QSO party stations.  When he was on shift @NX6T, I took that opportunity to run WQ6X from Nashville, until my 22:30z Ssb shift.  I closed out the 7QP for NX6T (between 10:15 and Midnight).

While there was plenty of 7QP/NEQP activity, calling "CQ 7QP" flushed out dozens more 7th area stations casually tuning the bands.  The BiG problem was that "Billy Bob" and his brother "Barney" were also tuning
the bands and kept calling in out of sheer boredom (boredumb?).  

On Ssb I would say "Gee, I hope y'all are in the 7th
call area, because I'm working only the 7th call area";
I couldn't make it any more clear than that.  

Their signals usually being weak made it doubtful they were actually in the 7th call area.  Sure enough, they were all in PA, NC, FL, GA, KY and TN.  HuH?  WTF?  DiD you HEAR what I JUST said?  If NoT, then you should not have called me.

 

I've written several Blogs on why you should NoT call me:

  1. [X] - 7 Reasons You [probably] Should Not Call Me - Part 1
  2. [X] - 7 Reasons You [probably] Should Not Call Me - Part 2
  3. [X] - WQ6X Offers Further PROOF that - "You Should NoT Call Me!"
           (written during last year's Cinco-de-Contest weekend).

For this year's 7th area QSO party translating the above blog points goes like this:

  1. Do You know what "CQ 7QP" means?  If NoT, then you should not call me.
  2. Do you know that WQ6X/6 means I am in the 6th call area and NoT the 7th call area? 
    If NoT, then you should not call me.
  3. Do you know that WQ6X/CA means I am in California and NoT the 7th call area? 
    If NoT, then you should not call me.
  4. On Ssb, if you  hear me say "7th call area only" and you are not in the 7th call area... 
    then you should not call me.
  5. Do you even KNOW where the "7th call area IS? 
    If NoT, then you should not call me.

Before you BLINDLY call a contest station, please do the following:

  • Listen to hear what contest that station is running 
  • Look up that contest on the WA7BNM Contest Calendar.
  • Read the RULES for that contest.
  • If you're not in the geographical location the CQ caller is looking
    for, then MOVE ON - find a non-contester to converse with.

A tragically, if NoT funny example of this was when during my off-time (around 22:50z on Sunday), while tuning around STN-1 in Fallbrook, I encountered N6KI running a frequency for NX6T, calling
"CQ NE QSO Party, this is NX6T in California calling for New England"; something like that.  

I happened onto his frequency because I heard nearly a dozen stations calling in - wOw!  LoTsa New Englanders for our log.  WRONG!  It was just "Billy Bob and Barney", along with their cousins "Cheryl and Connie".  HuH?  You mean I'm NoT the only one this happens to?  I believe 1-outa-10 QSOs was actually from New England.  Do operators even Listen?  Or, do they just blindly call stations, oblivious to what they are actually all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By midnight, the 7QP GiG was over (the INQP was over at 02:00z). 
For Sunday, the DEQP and NEQP GiGs picked up where they left off on Saturday,
ending at 23:59:59z (5pm local time)  

For NEQP, that meant several dozen more contacts made it to the log.  For DEQP, only
ONE new station was on the air; he wasn't actually new, I just missed working him on Saturday. 
It seems like every year ONLY 3 stations are on the air from Delaware.  HuH?  Wassup with THAT?

This year, the surprise was how many 7QP & NEQP stations were on the air.
MY FD-compatriots from years past (W6KC & W6SW) put together an interesting expedition as N7D, activating the RARE Esmeralda county - well done guys.  THIS is how QSO parties should be done.

Expeditions and ROVER stations are often the secret to successful QSO parties; at least, that's how we Doit
in California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it was all over, the surprise for NX6T was that we won the M/S category for 7QP, beating out NV9L (Valerie and her husband).  The reversal was that NV9L clearly took 1st-place for NEQP; having geographical closeness certainly helps in this case.

What about You?  DiD YOU run the 7QP & NEQP QSO parties?

How many counties made it to YOUR LoG?

P.S.:  As of June 1st the results are in. 
         NX6T took 2nd place to NV9L and her husband in the NEQP contest.
         NX6T took FIRST PLACE in the 7QP GiG (NV9L took 2nd).