Wednesday, November 17, 2021

WQ6X Works Wickedly Weak WAE & JIDX Contests

Radiosport-wise, this is one weekend I never quite know what to do with.  As we near the end
of another long radiosport year, the QSO parties are largely over, leaving a handful of ARRL GiGs
and of course, the CQ W.W. Cw Thaing.  

Over the last dozen years team-NX6T has earned nearly a dozen "ToP MoP" plaques.  Last year the JIDX contest committee added the Multi-2 category, which has served as a "BriBe" to move the "BiG" stations out of the Multi-Single category.  
THOUGHT: If the winner of the M/S category is "ToP MoP", would the winner 
of the Multi-2 category be a "ToP 2-MoP"?
Nestled around the Japanese JIDX GiG is the WAE RTTY contest.  The WAE has an interesting approach: we can work ANYONE worldwide, however, QTC traffic can only be transacted between stations on OTHER continents - no intra-continent traffic handling is allowed.  (Luckily, most contest logging software enforces this requirement,)

To create the most effective WAE RTTY operating, N1MM+ (w/12 definable function keys) easily automates the details, enabling the operator to focus on the contest overall.  The WAE RTTY GiG
is a FUN contest, accompanied by compounding frustration when the DX propagation is PooR - like this last weekend.  While there were no Space-WX storms, for the most part (throughout the weekend) signal levels seemed marginal, overall.

In RTTY contests, slow-fading creates the weird situation where a station's callsign will decode perfectly, while the rest disappears into JIBBERISH.  Everything sent by each custom-programmed FKEY is intended to MINIMIZE this problem.  

RTTY contests ALSO bring up two radiosport ethics situations which I detailed in PART 1
of the Blog series on The Role of Respect in Radiosport.

Friday evening's RTTY operating gave the recently rewired (AGAIN!) audio cabling its 1st-live
test-run.  Other than 8JK ladder-line RF in the shack creating some weird squawks in receive audio, RTTY copy itself ran splendidly.

Reading soapbox comments from other USA contesters confirms my experience  of intentional QRM on 40-meters after 08:30z.  For THIS contest event it came in the form of what I can only describe as "Swish Bubbling": bubbling noises swishing around the run frequency.  At 12:52z it materialized in the form of CRASHING Noises, not atmospherically-generated.   There was also some sort of pulse radar on 20-meters, which sounded like playing cards against bicycle spokes.  Eventually the radar showed up near 40-meters, just as obnoxious.

























However the REAL QRM problem came from the myriad of Indonesian stations who can BARELY speak English, yet find it appropriate to move less than 1Kc below the run frequency and call "CQ JIDX".  Knowing that they won't understand any verbal edict to QSY, my quick solution was to ZERO-beat them and call my own CQ.  Running nearly 1500 watts (with antennas pointed RIGHT AT them), I can easily make their CQ-time unproductive - even WORTHLESS.  When they quickly move, I return to the original run frequency like nothing happened - taking advantage of having been previously SPOTTED by the spotting-nets.

On Ssb, it can be argued that they happened to be near the run frequency "by accident". 
With RTTY,  when I encounter "Perfect copy" QRM on a purposely-chosen oddball/obscure
run frequency, I know it didn't happen by accident; yet it occurs dozens of times in every RTTY contest.

My frustration with the WAE RTTY GiG is how easy it was to make QSOs, yet how nearly impossible it was to find stations outside North America willing/able who could/would copy my signals reliably enough to exchange QTC traffic.  Bottom-line: no QTC traffic was passed, reducing the ending score by nearly 50%.   This is of course why (w/o ruining the run-rate) we should DUMP QTC traffic as quickly as we accumulate it; and yes, easier said than done.  Oh wail, luckily it was only a simple "play-around-in" RTTY exercise.

I put the JIDX contest (as well as my body) to bed at 13:00z (5am) Sunday morning. 
With more-or-less 5 hours sleep it was time to pass my QTC traffic and finish off the WAE GiG..  Unfortunately, while WQ6X ran until the 23:59:59 end time, there were never any non-NA signals reliable enough to pass QTC traffic, so once again, WQ6X gets stuck with over 100+ undelivered
QTC messages.  While there were reasonably LOUD South American stations, the QSB (fading)
was so fierce that attempting to pass QTC's would have been a frustrating time-wasting experience.












The bottom-line here is that 2 more contests were added to the 2021 radiosport list taking us to 112  events for the year.  On the operational-end of things the recently revamped audio cabling was given
a thorough shakedown, identifying ground loops that need to be resolved after the contest weekend.  A brief test of a Mustang mobile-based stereo equalizer being considered for the WQ6X operation turned out to seriously FAIL expectations and has been banished back to the test bench in Alameda for further evaluation.

We were quite disappointed by the lack of JA participation in general and lack of JA stations calling CQ.  It turns out, several of the prominent JA stations (ex: JH4UYB) were busy playing the the WAE RTTY GiG and not their own country's DX contest.  HuH???  This was expressed by none other than JA8RWU himself:
Enjoyed a part-time effort. Condx was not good. Called all. They say not many JA, yep vy sri... Mni tnx for the QSOs. Cu next year! 73's Akira, JA8RWU
When it was all over, looking at the 3830 Scores posts revealed that NX6T 
allegedly secured 1st-place for the Multi-single category (our nemesis 
K3EST took the bait
and ran as a Multi-2 operation).  


While WQ6X placed at the bottom of the WAE heap, a log was of course submitted for the WAE contest, keeping the callsign on the [so-called] "mailing list" for 2022's WAE GiGs.

DiD YOU work the JIDX and/or WAE  contests?

Is NX6T or WQ6X in YOUR LoGs?

WQ6X Sweeps up another November Sweepstakes

It's no secret that the November Sweepstakes is my FAVorite domestic radiosport contest event. 
As was documented in last year's "BLAST from the Past" Blog, I've run SS events from Livermore
(as a teenager), Cincinnati OH, Eastern OH, an expedition from Carpinteria state beach, Brentwood (w/N6GEO), Fallbrook (NX6T in SDG) and of course numerous events (each uniquely different)
from W7AYT's QTH in the East Bay (EB) section.

During Sweepstakes events in recent years, I have been able to run dual-OP as WQ6X, while putting in a not-insignificant number of hours as a remote-OP for NX6T from the Fallbrook location.  Different for 2021 was running SS as NX6T for the 1st time from WA6TQT's super station on the mountain top in Anza, with stacked yagi arrays for the 40 thru 10 meter bands along with a 4-Square for 80-meters.

At the WQ6X end of operations, the revamped 8JK phased Cobra dipole array produced much improved operation overall, with increased signal levels, despite the horribly UP/DN space weather throughout the weekend.  (Sunday afternoon @23:40z OZ7X cam thru on 40-meters - wOw - something that never happens even during late-evening from the Concord QTH. 
However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

With thorough station setup completed Friday evening after posting the BLOG on last weekend's
CQ WW contest, I settled in to run the Saturday's Sweepstakes GiG at the 21:00z starting time while N6KI began putting QSOs into the NX6T log.  Within minutes Dennis telephoned to let me know that internet audio streaming to his RRC-1258 (the K3/0's hardware interface) was cutting out HORRIBLY.  Instead of running the 5 to 7:30 shift, I took over N6KI's shift while he waited for internet recovery. 
By the time the Dennis took over the 5pm (01:00z) to 7:30 shift, I had 255 QSOs in the log.

Despite the UP/Downess of the Space-WX, 15 meters was wide-open domestically. 
10-meters never happened in Anza OR Concord, despite numerous CQ calls on my part.

Until the last station cable revamp, the 8JK Cobra Array was RFI'ing the shack, even to the point
of overloading the OP-computer's USB lines.  Preliminary tuning tests BE-4 the Sweepstakes found everything in order, and in fact, the CH-250 vertical was used only occasionally during the contest; mainly as a receive comparison antenna.  When the Space-WX wasn't geomagneticstorming, band condx. were incredibly improved over even a year ago.  It seems like years since 40-meters was reliably open to the E. Coast by 23:30z.

The BiG problem for the weekend was intermittent Left-Ear audio.  The us of Stereo-CW was
easily produced with the K3/0's audio while it seemed to be "frequency sensitive" w/the Yaesu
FT-1000mp's split audio.  When Stereo-Cw works, it is utterly AWEsome.  Surrounded by signals during a pileup, different pitched signals appear in a 0 - 180 degree azimuth arc; words can hardly adequately convey the experience.  (Read Previous Blogs on this and develop your own Stereo-Cw arrangement.)

In addition to Stereo-Cw, having a pre-defined set of F-KEYs (each sending only ONE piece of information) made for snappy exchanges, just like we used to do during my traffic handling days.  (Remember: Sweepstakes was originally a traffic handling training exercise.)

While NX6T eventually accomplish a clean sweep (all 84 multipliers), for WQ6X the task is not so easily accomplished.  However I was astonished by the number of "rare" sections who called-in on my RUN frequencies: VY1, VO1, VY2, ND & NE.  reading other soapbox comments, the near-unanimous experience was the rarity of EWA and UT; usually it's NE.


The backdrop for the 2021 ARRL Cw November Sweepstakes was most certainly the ever-rising solar cycle 25.  The other side of a rising SFI is of course more solar storms, no matter how brief.

Being so used to running SS on the lower bands during a lengthy sunspot minimum, I'd almost nearly forgotten what it is like to run things on 15-meters, instead of FORCING all the upper-band action onto the 20-meter band alone.


Several attempts were made to create SS-action on 10-meters; alas it was not to be this year.  Usually a handful of local (EB) stations can be hooked up with on 10-meters, demonstrating all-band activity in published summary STATs.  Outside of a possible RBN spot, there was no evidence of any 10-meter activity.

Despite all of the above, Cw Sweepstakes 2021 met all of my expectations for how a simulated traffic handling event should run.

DiD YOU play in the 2021 November Sweepstakes Cw contest?

Is NX^T or WQ6X in YOUR LoG?

.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

WQ6X Wings and Wangles the CQ W.W. Ssb Contest

 One word sums up last weekend's CQ W.W. Ssb Contest:  wOw!

 

Of the BiG-3 contest types, you've heard me say that Ssb contests are my LEAST favorite, especially DX contests.  

In recent years for WQ6X, the CQ W.W. Ssb GiG has been a Ho-Hummer, leading me to predict a final QSO total of 200 - 300 for this year's event.  

Had I been operating from our old Fallbrook location, that woulda probably have been
a reasonably accurate number.

For 2021, I received the Go-ahead to run STN-2 @WA6TQT's super-site on the mountain top in Anza (Orange county), while KI6RRN (Axel) ran STN-1.  

Because this was an Ssb contest, any XMIT harmonics fell outside the amateur bands and was not a problem BETWEEN Stn-1 & Stn-2.

 

For the 1st time (in what seems like FOREVER), we had a reasonable solar flux index of 113 AND
low A & K indexes.  In recent years 80 and 160 have yielded a not-insignificant percent of our score.  This year, we swapped 80 & 160 meters for 15 & 10.

Recently when I run Ssb w/a K3/0 (or Mini) I use the Super-AWEsome $11 eBay special microphone, which I inadvertently left in Alameda,  Through a judicious use of patch cables and junction-blocks, the classic Electro Voice EV-664 microphone ran a flawless Ssb contest.  The only difficulty occurred when John (WA6TQT) menu-directed the microphone away from the RRC unit during my sleep break shortly after midnight.  NoT realizing it could easily switched back, thanks to previously loaded DVK memories S&P operation was at least doable; just as well as I was sleep-exhausted any way.

One of my operating goals (altho it seemed fleeting at the time) was to make a few QSOs on
15 and 10 meters.  Throughout the day the bands seemed to hold promise.  At  21:00z  switching
to the stacked yagi array aimed at South America, dozens of stations were worked.  Eventually
a handful of Japanese stations called (off the back of the KT-36) prompting a switch to the other
yagi stack pointed towards Asia @23:50z.  When 10-meters finally ran out, there were 300+
QSOs logged for that band, with 200+ from Asia alone.

On Sunday, more-or-less the same thing happened, this time on 15-meters.  Beginning at 19:50z,
a "pipeline" opened up from Anza to South America. As the 2-hour SA-pileup wound down, Asian stations (Japan, Korea & UA0) began to drift in.  From that moment until contest end, I kept the
Asian pipeline alive, with an occasional caller from Australia and Central/South America.

Aside from the upper band condx. and running lengthy pileups, there were no other major events.  While a solar flare occurred near the end of the contest, for all intents and purposes, it had no major impact on operations from Anza.  Then again, a number of disparate significances come to mind.

In past Blogs I have ranted ad-nauseum about the myriads of different-mode QRM experienced
in the evening on 40-meters.  Cw contests are often plagued by Ssb QRM, while Ssb GiGs are frequently plagued by errant RTTY.  (In recent years RTTY contest operations have often been
plagued by swarms of FT-8 idiots.)  For the CQ contest at 06:33z I stumbled onto EI7M on 7.178.  Unfortunately, his frequency run was accompanied by systematic QRM that sounded like a motorcycle (with a glass pack muffler) sputtering On/Off at EXACTLY the worst moments;
I.e. this was no Random/Atmospheric Occurrence.

For WQ6X, 11:00z on 7149.89 brought us some Indonesian-sounding station testing his microphone ad-nauseum with "HUMMMMM - HUMMMMM - HUMMMMM"... for over 20-minutes.

It can be argued that he couldn't hear me, except that similar to intentional RTTY  QRM, he was EXACTLY zero-beat on 7149.89.  That just does not happen randomly contest after contest.

Other Indonesian stations were hearing WQ6X and calling in for a QSO - this guy HEARD me and didn't care.  Typical to 40-meter QRM situations, I simply hold the frequency as if I can't hear the QRM'er; eventually they get "Bored" and go to bed.

 

QRM can make a voice seem unintelligible.  Just as unintelligible are "foreign" stations (often w/an unintelligible accent) who pronounce their callsign ONCE in rapid-delivery mode.  This was certainly the case with EA8RM.  He was probably wondering why he had no callers.  The Answer?:  We didn't know who he was - we couldn't make out his callsign.  We needed for him to STFD - Slow Down. 
At least on Cw I can request a station to QRS.  Asking a station to QRS on Ssb would probably confuse the clueless individual even further.

You've heard me say "Your Callsign is Your Calling Card - Say it Perfectly,
GeT it RIGHT!"

Some years back, I included this as
one of my BiGGest beefs in radiosport contesting.  

[CLICK HERE] to read the 4-part series.

NoN-English speaking OPs should REHEARSE saying their callsign BE-4 the contest.  Even then, they should record and playback DVK (Voice Keyer) messages calling CQ, giving a succinct contest exchange along with saying the callsign at least twice (but S-L-o-W-l-Y).


Something I've noticed in recent major Ssb contests are the SUPER Stations (usually in the 3rd call area) who PURPOSELY operate right at the bottom of the band on the USB bands.  Their antenna arrays are So HUGE and their power-levels So HIGH they end up SPLATTERING 3+ KC OUTSIDE
of the voice band allocation; technically in violation of FCC rules.  Technically, FCC rule violations
are grounds for a log submission to become DQ'd (Disqualified), relegating it to CHECKLOG Status.  BTW, they always had 3+ KC above them quiet and available.  Do you REALLY need to operate on 14.150.89 on Upper Sideband?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are clearly well into Solar Cycle #25.  Increasing solar flux numbers bring with it more frequent (yet usually shorter) solar disturbances.  The contest weekend ended with a major solar flare, which fortunately did not enter into things for the WQ6X operation until JUST AFTER the contest ended.

When it was ALL OVER, evaluating the contest summary stats I decided to submit the log entry
as Single-OP Single-Band Assisted - SO(A)SB10 HP operation - the other QSOs become Checklog QSOs which are still valid nevertheless for all stations who worked WQ6X on other bands.


Looking at the 3830 Score results after the contest event, for the SO(A)SB-10 category, it would seem that WQ6X took a 19-place worldwide, 7th-place for NA/USA, 2nd-Place for the Southwestern Division, 1st-place for W6 (California) and 1st-place for the ORG ARRL section.  When you consider that I was predicting a max of 300 QSOs (for all bands), it's amazing what was accomplished overall.

DiD YOU work the CQ W.W. DX Ssb contest?

Is WQ6X in YOUR LoG?


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

FOCUS: It's Alll about FOCUS

During radiosport events, our overarching goal is to accurately complete as many QSO
exchanges as possible during the operating period.  Accomplishing this requires sustained
focus anytime we are sitting at the operator's position.  Effective Focus is mental, neurological
and physiological forces, all coming together, effecting "a happening"; in this case, the initiation
and proper completion of as radiosport contest exchange.

Focus is something that happens (noun) as well as something we do (verb).  As a neurofeedback therapist, my work is Alll about Focus and Feedback.  Research findings to be released (in 2022)
will demonstrate the correlation between the Neurological and Physiological aspects of the Focus Experience.  This correlation is hardly a new idea in the world of Amateur Radio; in the early 1950's Katashi Nose' (KH6IJ) conducted motion studies at the University of Hawaii, bringing us some surprising conclusions on how to go about improving radiosport operator performance.

10 years ago, out of curiosity, I wore an old Neurosky Mindset headset to monitor E-E-G activity
at location FP1  (Left Frontal), while running the NAQP Cw contest.  If you can copy Morse code, watch those videos and notice the brainwave frequencies which activate at different periods of the operating period.
  • [PART-1]  - WQ6X monitoring EEG during NAQP CW Aug-2011
  • [PART-2]  - WQ6X monitoring EEG during NAQP CW Aug-2011
  • [PART-3]  - WQ6X monitoring EEG during NAQP CW Aug-2011
  • [PART-4]  - WQ6X monitoring EEG during NAQP CW Aug-2011
  • [PART-5]  - WQ6X monitoring EEG during NAQP CW Aug-2011
  • [S&P'ing] - WQ6X monitoring EEG during Searching & Pouncing
The above exercises (from which the videos were made) taught me indirectly the importance
of engaging proper Focus when in the midst of a busy radiosport contest, such as the NAQP
Cw GiG - a 12-hour North American frenzy.

I wrote more about this recently regarding Brain and Body.  ([CLICK HERE] to read that.)

What about YOLU?
HoW does FOCUS figure into YOUR radiosport activities?

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

WINning It is ALL About WINGing It









Toastmasters is NoT JUST about speaking; the other half of the program is about making it all happen, running clubs, club areas and Districts.  Every Toastmaster member has at one time ran a meeting from beginning to end, making them the Toastmaster [for the evening].  Where do we LEARN to do that?  At best, we learn by watching others run a meeting and then making the process our own.

This approach I call the Joe Walsh (WB6ACU) method - act like you know what  you are doing
and those around you will come together to make it all happen.  For the 2021 California QSO Party (CQP) I used the WB6ACU method to activate the ARCA - Amateur Radio Club of Alameda's - K6QLF (K-Six Quebec London Foxtrot) callsign from Alameda County, for a 2nd-place CQP finish.

I attribute my abilities to making this all come together to what I learned from doing Toastmaster's
HPL (High Performance Leadership) Program.  K6QLF ran an Expedition-style event for CQP, meaning that we brought equipment and antennas to the site, eventually taking everything down @3:00pm on Sunday.  

To make this all happen, an operating relationship needed to be established w/CHRS (California Historical Radio Society).  As president of ARCA, I sought out the president of CHRS - Steve Kushman.  Volunteers at CHRS went out of their way to assist us towards making it all work;
having access to a kitchen and restroom gave us "all the comforts of home", while running
a FD-style expedition event from their back patio.

10+ days later, looking back, I smile in amazement over what we accomplished (in such a short amount of time) applying the Walsh method.  A 2nd-place win for 1st-timers speaks for itself.  As it turns out, we ALSO took a 1st place for the Expedition category - sometimes just showing up is enough.

As it turns out.... Winging it is not necessarily a BaD thing.

Do you ever WING IT?

How DiD It Turn Out?



WQ6X Works a Whimsy Radiosport Weekend












The weekend before the CQ W.W. DX contest is always a slow one radiosport-wise. 
With that in mind, this weekend became an opportunity to re-evaluate behind-the-scenes
wiring which enables integration of the two radios (a Yaesu FT-1000mp and an ICOM-7000),
7 external audio/DSP filters, a RockVille 4-device stereo mixer and two audio switch boxes.

Contest-wise, there were two events worthy of my time:

  • [X] - The Stew Perry SP-160 contest - starting @15:00z
  • [X] - The 4-hour NA SPRINT Ssb contest - starting @00:00z
A 3rd GiG the UKEI Ssb contest is all but impossible to make happen from the Concord QTH. 
Had I thought it through, WA6TQT's Anza location (where NX6T ran the 160 contest that evening) with 5-over-5 stacked yagis for the high bands would've been an ideal QTH from which to work into Western Europe;.  Then again, as I say about the UKEI GiG every year: "Maybe next year" - maybe begets maybe, begets maybe.

For the SP-160 GiG, by the time the event begins, daylight has already shutdown 160 meters for
the morning.  To make use of the time while waiting for 5pm (00:00z) to open the band for (approx.) 14 hours, STN-2 was our choice to run 160.  While I played around in the NA Sprint contest for 2 hours (my shift @NX6T was to begin at 7pm) N6KI (Dennis) managed 50 QSOs into the log.

Ironically, after putting my friend George (N6GEO) into the SP-160 log, STN-2's computer crashed. 
(George texted me "I DiDn't Do It".)  A switch was eventually made to STN-1, costing us a precious prime-time hour of 160-meter OP time.  Band condx. were OK 'cept the atmospheric static (caused
by raging rainstorms) was HORRIBLE.

After settling in, 65 QSOs made it to the log, before my 7 to 9 shift was over.  Absolutely the best QSO made during that period was NoT NP2X, it was G4AMT, altho it took two separate attempts
to make it happen.  Because we were sending Grid-Square #'s, completing a QSO can be tricky. 
On the 2nd call-in, I copied Terry's info the 1st time.

Too wired to sleep, I put WQ6X on the air from Concord (SF East Bay).  While BOTH antennas
(the 8JK Cobras & a CH-250 Vertical) tuned 160 meters OK,  their radiation efficiency was probably HORRIBLE.  Nevertheless, a WHOPPING 8 QSOs made it to the LoG.  With a whopping 90 minutes of sleep, the midnight to 4am shift came up real quick.  As an NX6T operator, what amazed me overall was the number of DUPE callers during BOTH operating shifts.

During high-static levels, OPs need
to learn that by sending unnecessary information first, by the time they finally get around to sending the GRID #, it is once again static-obliterated, requiring multiple repeats. 


To combat this problem on our end,
we defined the [F2] Key to send ONLY DM13.  When I ask for your NR (NR?),
I DON'T want, your callsign, my callsign, "5-9-9" or anything else - I JUST WANT YOUR NUMBER!  (Is it Really that complicated?) - Just in Case - I wrote this up sometime ago ([CLICK HERE]).


The BiG surprise were the two Japanese stations who called in after the sun went down in their part of the world.  At 4am, WM6Y (PJ) relieved me to finish off the contest.  There were few non-DUP QSOs left to make.  Phil's patience added 22 QSOs to the log during the last 4 hours.


One of the advantages of running NX6T remotely from Concord is that audio from the K3/0 unit can be switched thru the QF-1A and NIR DSP filters in stereo-Cw configuration.  (I've written many Blogs about Stereo-Cw - [CLICK HERE] for the latest installment.)  When it's used to run pileups, stations
(of different pitch) appear at different locations in a 180-degree arc from Left (low-pitched signals) to 
Right (high-pitched signals).

When it was all over, it would seem that NX6T took 2nd-place for the HP Multi-Single classification; which is pretty good when you consider what we had to work with.

DiD YOU work the Stew Perry 160-meter contest?

Is NX6T or WQ6X in YOUR LoG?


Sunday, October 24, 2021

WQ6X Asks: Is Amateur Radio OBSOLETE?

  People often think Amateur Radio is obsolete, having been superseded
  by Satellites, Cell Phones and Internet.  Remember THIS:

"Governments can at ANY TIME shutdown your cellphones
 and silence internet access.  They can't silence ME and MY
 Radio - they have to FIND Me FIRST"

- Ron Fitch (WQ6X)


Some years back, after the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico, while Donald Trump was busy throwing rolls of paper towels as a gesture that USA is behind them all the way, radio amateurs were spearheading actual relief efforts, providing communication (dozens of cell towers were knocked out), flying in Food/Supplies/Medicines, and, equally important emotional relief that they will be alright.

Valerie (NV9L) was named "Amateur of the Year" for her leadership participation in the Puerto Rico relief effort.  While the U.S. government promised adequate funds/people to rebuild the devastation,
to my knowledge, much of the money disappeared quietly due to congressional quibbling.  (Note to higher-ups in the U.S. government: Providing money and relief resources should be a NON-partisan activity.)

When it comes to EM-Comm training, we don't care about your religious or political affiliations,
our only concern is having proper training, to be ready when the next disaster strikes.  A BiG part
of MY preparedness is participation in Cw/Ssb/RTTY radiosport contests, trying out operations from different locations and using a myriad of different equipment configurations; some work well and
some don't - better to find out NOW before the next disaster strikes.

Do YOU participate in radio sport contests?

If SO, Tell me about your activities.

If NoT, WHY Knot?



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

WQ6X Wanders Thru a Wobbly Radiosport Weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After putting in several weeks of radiosport and time in the office,
this weekend was [s]elected to be a lazy one.  Enjoying extra sleep
was such an over-arching goal that I failed to realize that the JARTS
RTTY GiG actually began @5pm (PDT) on FRIDAY (NoT on Saturday).

This weekend there were 3 radiosport events worthy of investigation:

  1. [X] - The JARTS RTTY Contest
  2. [X] - The New York State QSO Party (NYQP)
  3. [X] - The Illinois State QSO Party (ILQP)

Luckily on Saturday morning the NYQP gave me an event to run while "waiting for the JARTS GiG
to begin".  While it is true that W7AYT's Concord QTH represents a noticeable receive-signal vortex, the number of internet band spots was disappointingly low, leading to my low turnout conclusion.

Things were even WORSE for the ILQP GiG on Sunday.  I ALWAYS declare N1MM+ to run mixed-mode for QSO parties.  All too often, lack of hearable/workable Ssb signals relegates the eventual
log submission to a Single-OP Cw-Only entry.  For the NYQP, one Ssb station finally made it to log
on 20-meters.

The JARTS GiG gave me the opportunity to play radiosport without having to decode code, or ruin
my voice.  Considering that most 100-watt radios can only manage to run RTTY @50% power levels,
I am routinely doubly-amazed that the Yaesu FT-1000mp can produce a clean 100-watt RTTY signal consistently throughout a 48-hour contest weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because WQ6X Loves to run frequencies in RTTY contests, the radio better be able to handle
the heat.  The MP's massive heat sink and fan ventilation system makes this a no-Brainer.


By contrast, the (onsite) ICOM-7000 must be dialed back to 45-50 watts during RTTY GiGs
lest it "FRY the Finals".  The REAL answer of course is for the 7000 to run @5 watts to drive
a 100 - 150 watt LP amplifier; depending on the power level(s) designated got a given contest.

In an attempt to understand the propagation patterns to/from the receive-signal vortex in Concord,
I routinely rely on the Reverse Beacon (RBN) Network for more information, altho I often end up more confused than confident from the data.  There were consistently FOUR stations that ALWAYS heard me, and yet, no live operators called in from those locations.  

Calling CQ NYQP, no RBN spots were made from the east coast area (except KM3T in NH)
and yet, New York stations (when I could hear them) quickly returned my calls to their CQ's.

The LoGs have all been submitted along with the scores posted on the 3830scores website.  DiD I actually learn anything?  YES!  I learned that more than ever - I LOVE SLEEP.  I ALSO learned that need for SLEEP can sideline an effective radiosport competition entry.  Uh OH.  the upcoming CQ W.W., November Sweepstakes, JIDX Ssb and WAE RTTY GiGs are ALL lengthy affairs.
What am I to Do about SLEEP?

StaY TuneD for the Answer.


WQ6X Wings a Wild, but Weird Radiosport Weekend

From the beginning, my focus for the October 9th-10th contest weekend was to wing-operate
(operate sporadically) the various radiosport GiGs littered throughout the 40 contest weekend. 
When I think about it, I am amazed & amused over how several divergent radiosport events can intertwine themselves in one weekend.  As a multi-mode (Ssb, Cw & RTTY) contester, this weekend offered a variety of different GiGs to dabble in.

  • There were 4 QSO parties, each with a different style of exchange:
    1. [X] - NVQP - 5NN EB
    2. [X] - AZQP - 5NN CA
    3. [X] - PAQP - 5NN EB
    4. [X] - SDQP - 5NN CA
There were ALSO non-QSO Party events:
  • [X] - The OCDX Cw contest: 5NN - 1234
  • [X] - The Makrothen RTTY GiG - GRID Square
The Makrothen-style of radiosport uses a unique operating-time framework: 0000z to 08:00z,
16:00z to 00:00z and finally 08:00z to 16:00z - three 8-hour operating periods with two 8-hour
off periods in between.
 
As a RTTY contest, also unique to Makrothen - QSO points are calculated by the KM distance between the grid squares each station resides in.  Altho I used the onsite ICOM-7000 for listening, full-duty RTTY at full power (100 w.) makes the FT-1000mp superior for barefoot RTTY.

With the state QSO parties that weekend (excluding PQP), there was the usual problem of POOR participation from the states themselves.  Responders to my previous blogs on this topic have suggested that the problem is POOR receiving apparatus on my end.  
 
I MIGHT agree w/them, IF there were DOZENS of internet spots and I just could not hear them; when the TRUTH IS there were virtually NO QSO Party spots - EXCEPT for the PQP QSO Party.  I guess the REAL way to properly adjudicate this matter is to listen from several SDR's around the country,
to determine how many stations are actually on the air.

Having recently reconfigured the outboard filter order with the Concord setup.  For Ssb operation,
the MFJ-752 filters offer the best readability overall, altho the QF-1A filters (set to LP/HP) provide more adjustable settings.  The best setting of the MFJ-752's is to turn the r-hand FREQUENCY
knobs to (approx.) the 4 O'clock position.


For the National Tuneup Frequency (NTF), the auto-notch capabilities of the FT-1000mp's EDSP
(for the left ear) and the ANF circuits in the JPS NIR-10 / NIR-12 units resolve that "problem" reasonably well.  For Cw, the PEAK filters in the QF-1A units are unsurpassed.

If you had read my past blog comments on the various QSO party events around North America
(CQP excepted), you probably remember that I call out the QSO party organizers for continuously POOR turnout in their events.  In recent weeks, I have received two e-mails in response to my complaints.  These are worth exploring.  The 1st comment came from N6GP regarding my
writeup on the Kansas QSO Party (KSQP).:
I enjoy your commentaries on 3830.  
However, I think your analysis of last weekend was a bit unfair to Kansas.
The KSQP Rocks!   Rovers everywhere, and NO in-state multipliers.  
N6MU worked 104 of the 105 counties, just missing his 11th sweep. 
I think KSQP runs second place to CQP as my favorite.
 
Recently, I received an e-mail from Bill W0EJ, demonstrating that there is another
way of looking at this situation:

GM Ron, I received your SDQP log and while processing, I read your Soapbox input. We at PDARC recently took over SDQP as enthusiasm was waning in the group that ran it previously. Thank goodness State QSO Parties Group is trying to rally participation in all the state QSO parties.

I have sent your comments with warnings to PDARC club officers along with a suggestion to garner In-State operators to jump onboard. I will also be canvassing members as to how we can incentivize In-State operators to get on the air for SDQP even if they don’t submit a log.

Thanks for your input and we hope that you’ll give us another chance next year.

While it is true I hold other QSO parties to the same standards as the California QSO Party (CQP), it is for GooD Reason.  What good is it to host a QSO party when in-state potential-participants don't participate.  Also lacking is in-state stations calling CQ.  All too often we out-of-state OPs end up calling CQ because we've run out of in-state OPs to work.

While I appreciate out-of-state operators setting up operations in a neighboring state's QSO party, the BETTER solution is for amateurs who LIVE in that state to put their counties on the air, even if (like Alameda county in California) they are not a "Rare" county.  Having MORE in-state operations brings in more out-of-state callers when they hear dozens of in-state stations calling CQ for their QSO party.

What about YOU? 
Do YOU participate in state QSO parties (and in particular your OWN)?
If NoT, WHY NoT?
If so, keep calling CQ for your party and I will eventually end up in your log.