RTTY Review: After the Contest

What a great weekend! Not because I was off, lounging around the house, watching football and guzzling beer, but because I participated in my first amateur radio contest. I made mention of this fact leading up to this weekend, as there was “practice” scheduled last week and this week. The bands were full….just full of contacts waiting to be made and I was glad I was able to partake in some of the “fun of the chase.”

I felt rewarded, so to speak that I was able to operate as N6ML from N6RO or “Radio Oakley” here in tower. Ken has a wonderful setup for 5 or 6 operators depending on the contest. For the ARRL RTTY Roundup, there were two operators working at a time, N6ML and N6WM were the station call signs. I was not able to get any time off from work this weekend, so I was not able to start the contest at 18UTC on Saturday. But I was able to put in about 90 minutes of operating from N6RO.

For the entire 90 minutes, all I did was run (call CQ) and spent no time in “search and pounce.” I operated 20m (14.091 MHz) as the sun setting to the west and JA’s were waking up. Many had great signals into California and dominated the radio time. I was able to fill in a few states we were missing, as well as some new countries, like Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea, just to name a few.

At home, it was quite a different situation, but 40m was actually not too bad for me and in about an hour I knocked out about 39 QSOs before heading to bed. I was up early on Sunday morning at 11UTC (3am) and got back on 40m and work another 10 contacts before heading to work, where it would get even more interesting. Remote operations!

I suffer from a less than average wireless connection through Verizon. My office is a windowless room and a signal struggles to get out. I usually end up with 2 bars on average when I using an 8′ USB cable to the wireless modem up near the ceiling. It works. It’s not idle, but under the circumstances anything is better than nothing.

There was a considerable amount of activity on 20m, the first time I had been on 20m using my call sign. The lag from the Internet connection made QSOing a real challenge, as if I was not already handicapped by my station, the lag was a whammy. With that said, I was able to make about 20 contacts in the span of two, ninety minute sits. Not good by any mean, but still better than nothing.

When I got home I had about 75 minutes remaining in the contest and I attempted to make the most of it on 20m again. There was still a flurry of activity up and down 14 MHz and many contacts came in spurts. I also had many stations sending, “AGN? AGN?” In that span I collected many US stations, as well as a few JA’s, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.

In all I totaled 104 QSOs using my call sign. Looking quickly through the log, I had 8 DXCC, 2 Canadian Provinces and 30 states, for a multiplier of 40, which puts my final score at 4,160. Nothing to write home about, but I was pleased to increase my total QSOs from the RAC Winter Contest, which was an increase over the 2008 CQWW CW Contest. Overall, I had a great time, both at N6RO working N6ML and at home. Hopefully I will be able to work more contests at Radio Oakley.