Wednesday, October 17, 2018

WQ6X as W6C Wanders thru CQP

W Q 6 X  a s  W 6 C
The California QSO Party is one of my favorite annually recurring radiosport events every year.
CQP has many things going for it; the most important being the time of year this event happens;
namely, the 1st weekend of every October. Before CQP I didn't know WHAT to do with that 1st weekend. Nearly 20 years later, I can't imagine NoT being a CQP OP, somehow, someway.

In the last 2 CQP events, WQ6X set back-to-back county records;
first from Twain Harte (Tuolumne County) and last year from W7AYT's QTH in Concord - Contra Costa County (CCOS). 
You can read about WQ6X's past CQP exploits in the web section devised specifically for this: http://WQ6X.Info/CQP
This years event is detailed at: http://WQ6X.Info/CQP/CQP2018.

T e s t i n g  t h e  K 3 / 0  I n s t a l l a t i o n
This year, anticipating another operation from Contra Costa county,
the W6C callsign (C=California, or, C=Concord, or C=CC)
was reserved.

During the week prior to CQP, components arrived to create an Elecraft K3/0 allowing the run of NX6T, not only remotely, but in style.

While I am still critical about some aspects of the Elecraft K3 front panel layout, "putting up with it" is FAR preferable than using the RCForb psuedo-K3 control software. Internet audio dropouts are now a thing of the past, thanks to the K3/0 interface to NX6T's STN-#1 & STN-#2 in Fallbrook.

Faced with running NX6T remotely, or focusing on W6C, I discovered BOTH activities could be accomplished. While W6C may not have set any new county records, CQP 2018 was an incredibly fun event and an unqualified success.

Anticipating an involved weekend, I arrived @ W7AYT Thursday evening.

Friday was spent reworking the WQ6X Cobra configuration by day and in the evening configuring the K3/0 for operation w/Stations #1 & #2 @ NX6T in Fallbrook - San Diego County (SDIE).  W6C also found time to join the 3630 "check-in" frequency prior to the 45 minute 7:15 practice event.

Using the K3, the ability to turn/twist knobs on the WQ6X end of things instead of RCForb's pseudo-K3 interface is SO WONDERFUL.   While I still prefer the ergonomic layout of the FT-1000mp, I am becoming increasingly conversant

with the K3 interface.   Altho I've run K3's for nearly 10 years, never outside
of Fallbrook.   It's a strange experience for me to be running a K3 in my own private operating environment; altho admittedly this is a gutless K3/0, an "empty" K3 box.

Lately, we've experienced a considerable shortage of operators for

NX6T events. As it turns out, this weekend was no exception.  
This of course is what motivates us to rely increasingly on remote operation.  
With CQP weekend's K3/0 implementation, at least for my operations, things have been taken to the next level.  Thanks to some clever audio cabling @W7AYT, 21st century Digital technology works well with analog late-70's
audio filters.

This event brought together
a wide array of disparate technologies to interlace W6C operations w/running CW from NX6T.

While W6C JUST missed the 200 QSO mark, NX6T put 1,640 QSOs in the log.  Over 425 of those QSOs are in the log thanks to the WQ6X ==>NX6T (via K3/0) connection. 

The audio codec in use by the RRC-1258 unit is SO sophisticated that audio streamed thru the IP connection, almost as if it were hard-wired to a radio in front of me.

In my mind, CQP is akin to emergency preparedness drills.
Learning new solutions to age-old operating problems helps "justify"

the fun we have doing it. This weekend, among other things I learned:

  • How to configure/run an Elecraft K3/0 setup.
  • A more effective way to configure the JPS NIR-12 DSP and QF-1A (x2) filters for the most effective use by the FT-1000mp.
  • I learned the ins and [mostly] outs of running Cobra Slopers: coax-fed, and fed with tuned feeders.
  • The WQ6X RTTY Rigger received a THOROUGH preliminary workout throughout the weekend (even though no RTTY signals could actually be heard).

A n t e n n a s  @ W 7 A Y T

When CQP actually started @1600z, anticipating condx. would be similar to 2017, W6C opened CQP calling CQ on 40 meter Cw. After 20 minutes of no replies, the "message" was received and a move was made to 20 meters.    VE6AO immediately came back to my  "CQ CQP de W6C W6C".
Stray RF was a problem throughout the weekend; specifically with the CHA-250 vertical but also with
the coax-fed Vee. With the tuned-VEE, the MFJ-949E
was able to balance things out significantly, only occasionally blinking the CFL lights.

Sunday morning during a routine inspection

of the sloper antenna wires the terminating resistors on all antenna legs were either "shattered" or at the very least noticeably discolored; evidently some excessive high current was making its way to the end
of the antenna, rather than radiating
properly from the feedpoint. 

(At one point Saturday evening, the SWR swings were so great the inductor switch on the MFJ-949 would occasionally ARC over.)

Q F - 1 a  &  N X 6 T  R i T
What was amazing was the duplicity of propagations
with this antenna setup. 
At any moment the band would seem dead; or worse, sound
as if the antenna system had failed. 

The next moment stations in Ontario or New England would PoP in S-8, Q-5 copy. 

 Slowww fades (innn and ouuut) were noticeable @ W7AYT but NoT @ NX6T, although NX6T was considerably noisier; some noise the K3's DSP could eliminate and some of it had to be processed by one of the QF-1A filters switched into the K3/0 audio line on the receiving end.

In the past, using the RCForb software to run the K3 remotely left me with

no RIT capability, relying heavily on the external QF-1A on my receiving end.
Now with the K3/0, I not only have RIT, SPLiT operation is considerably easier.  Adding an Autek QF-1A into the audio provides an audio peak to elevate weaker signals to Q-5 audibility.

On Sunday, after CQP was over, the station @W7AYT was reorganized making way for the Elecraft K3/0 to be more easily accessed. Having access to an Elecraft K3 and a Yaesu FT-1000mp is clearly an operator's DREAM for me. 
The next enhancement will be to revamp the tuned sloper configuration,
next time making it into a tuned 8JK sloper.

With CQP over a week behind us, the 3830 SCORE submissions make it clear that NX6T's 1640 QSOs took 3rd place in California and 2nd place in San Diego county. W6C took 8th place in California and 1st place for Contra Costa County.

DiD YOU work the California QSO Party? Is W6C or NX6T in YOUR LoG?

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