August 2012 North American QSO Party – CW

Contest: North American QSO Party
Date: August 4-5, 2012
Mode: CW
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday; ends 0600 UTC Sunday

SOLAR CONDX: A=7, K=3, SFI=139, SSN=160

BAND/QSO/MULTS

20 / 153 / 45
15 / 111 / 38
10 / 4 / 2
TOTAL: 268 QSO / 85 MULTS
SCORE: 22,780 (TIME ON: 7 H 29 Mn)

SOAPBOX: This was a last minute decision to participate in the North American QSO Party. It’s contest format that I enjoy though, only 12 hours (single operator works 10 hours), a quick exchange providing name and state and everyone is running 100 watts. While NCCC sponsored a few practice sessions, I skipped those but made sure my antennas and rig were ready for the contest come 18z, Saturday morning.

I took a quick check of my August, 2011 NAQP results and thought about my goal. I was hoping to get 8-10 hours of BIC (butt in chair) and unofficially set my goal at 300 QSOs. That would equate to a 30 rate over the course of 10 hours. that rate would be higher if I was more competent in running a frequency as opposed to staying in search and pounce for nearly the entire contest.

I started on 10M and made 2 quick contacts, but for much of the contest 10M was closed. I would finish the band with 4 QSO. Conversely, with the sun scheduled to set at 0310z, 20M would be open quite a while. As it happened, I did not make to 10 hours, let alone 8 hours, so all my contacts were on 15M and 20M.

I went heavy on 15M to start the first few hours and was rewarded with a 46 and a 49 rate the first two hours. Without looking in past contests, I don’t remember another contest were I had two hours over 45 per hour. What was even more impressive to me, I had 5 of the first 6 hours over 30 per hour. As the afternoon wore on activity on 15M seemed to decline, but 20M picked up.

While conditions weren’t as good on 20M as they were on 15M the bands were crowded, as I exceeded my targets from 2011 from 18z until 01z. 20M ended up being my money band with 153 QSOs and 45 mults. The mult number was no better than 2011, but I could of easily continued to operate and get in a minimum of 8 hours.

I don’t believe I would of had any problems reaching my goal of 300 QSO. I stopped with 268 (2 dupes) and with 4.5 hours to go when I shut the shack down. 20M was still very active, especially the East Coast, but I had yet to move to 40M, which would have provided new mults and at least 30 QSOs. Still I had a great time participating and helping NCCC #4 in the team competition. Thanks to all for the contacts.

Print Friendly

RTTY WPX Award

RTTY WPX Award using MMTTYA small pat on the back for myself as I achieved another award from a radio contest back in February. During the weekend of February 11-12, the CQ World Wide RTTY WPX took place. This is a 48 hour contest, in which you make contact with as many different operators as possible that have unique prefixes. This was also the first time I decided to work a contest on a single band, I chose 15 meters (21 MHz) for the RTTY contest based on propagation data and recommendations from members in the NCCC.

While my score wasn’t all that impressive and I was a bit discouraged with how my final numbers came out. I was hoping for 300 QSO (contacts) but ended up with only 203. When the log checking was complete after the contest that number had decreased to 197 valid contacts and 157 prefixes for a final score of 59,817 total points. I did provide a complete write up at the conclusion of WPX.

While the award was for most contacts on 15 meters in the 6th district. It’s actually a minor achievement, which I will chalk up to a learning experience. There are some contests that I cannot afford to work the entire time, limiting my operation to a single band decreases the time I need to be in front of the radio. Then again, I don’t enter contests to win, but to improve my operating and have some fun. If I happen to win paperwork, great!

Print Friendly

2012 ARRL Field Day

Contest: ARRL Field Day
Date: June 23-24, 2011
Mode: Mixed
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday; ends 2059 UTC Sunday

BAND/SSB/CW/DIGI
20 / 6 / 17 / 2
15 / 0 / 5 / 0
SCORE: 96 (TIME ON: 1 H 06 Mn)

SOAPBOX: It’s not really an event I look forward to since it’s not a “true” contest, yet many treat it as such. That is not the reason why I am not fond of Field Day. Last year I operated ‘1E’ or emergency power using a portable generator. With all the problems I encountered I only hung around for about 3 hours, got bored and turn the radio off. This year, I was hoping to use FD as a stepping stone to better my ability to run a frequency, but that never happened. I did spend about 5 minutes on 20M and only received 1 call that I could not pull out of the noise. Conditions were rather sloppy and after 30 QSOs I called it quits. For me radio should be enjoyable and during this time period I was not having fun. Why continue?

Print Friendly

2012 CQ World Wide WPX CW

Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: May 26-27, 2010
Mode: CW
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

BAND/QSO/PFX
80 / 14 / 3
40 / 123 / 43
20 / 233 / 135
15 / 316 / 177
10 / 14 / 8
TOTAL: 700 QSO / 366 PFX
SCORE: 556,686 (TIME ON: 32 H 03 Mn)

SOAPBOX: Wow, what fun! Third time in the past 4 years I have had a chance to participate in this contest and it’s one of my favorites. Unfortunately I missed out last year but looked to make up for it this year and I feel as I gave it a very strong effort. Yet at the end of the contest there are positives to take away and negatives that need to be addressed. This was also the first time I was given the opportunity (by the XYL) to give it a full 36 hour effort.

I had some good success to build off from 2010. I put in nearly 25 hours and just eclipsed 500 QSOs. My goal that year, much like this year was to score 1 million points. K6MM made it look easy in his slideshow presentation! As I am finding out, it’s a bit more difficult than what numbers on a spreadsheet say. The goals I set for 2012 were 800 QSOs, 1700 QSO pts, 368 PFXs, which would give me a chance at scoring 1 million points. Now that I am looking over my spreadsheet the math doesn’t quite add up. My point being, the numbers were juggled by band and QSO location to give me a baseline on which to start. I also used the .OBF file from my 2010 contest to give me my target projections per hour.

One of the negatives was I planned too high for contacts on 40/80M. I had a goal of 450 contacts on those bands, 125 of them being 6 point contacts on 80M. In the end I scored on a total on 14 contacts on that band. For me, 40M wasn’t much better. While I did make 123 contacts it was nowhere near enough points to give me a realistic shot at 1 million points and I knew this early in the contest, which caused me to rethink my goals during my first break.

In fact, things were looking good as I took a 60 minute break for dinner about 01z. I already had 510 logged in just over 13 hours. My hopes were still alive as the sunset waiting for the low bands to open. Even when they did open, I found myself on 20M up until 08z working EU. That was a surprise. 40M was okay in some regards, although I did expect a much better showing, as this was the first time I had put the refurbished SteppIR BigIR to the test. As for 80M, it was miserable, so instead of working straight through the first 12 hours I knocked off at 09z, but overslept by 1 hour and didn’t get back in the shack until 13z.

I started Saturday morning with some QSOs on 40M, but moved to 20M because 15M took over and became my money band for the next 10 hours. In that time I did work a few contacts on 10M, at the top of each hour for about 10 minutes and went to 20M at the bottom of the hour. Some good morning numbers gave me false hope that I could still challenge for 1 million points, but after breaking at 02z I was met with frustration.

The second night was not what the first night was. I sat in the shack struggling for nearly 4 hours before it I decided to call it a night just after 06z. Looking back, I might have taken a break earlier in order to rise on Sunday to start on 40/80M at 10z or earlier. I put together my best run on 40M at 12z, which did help to recover some of those lost points, but it was not nearly enough. My last shot was to see a repeat performance of the activity on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. All I needed was a 25 rate to help me hit my goal of 800 QSOs.

Unfortunately conditions deteriorated as the SSN decreased to 71 (from 86 the day before) and there was a minor disruption on the sun. There also seemed to be a lack of stations on the bands. Now I could account for this by saying all my QSOs were S&P and none were made running a frequency (more on that shortly). I would spin through the CW portion of a band and find I had already had a QSO with a majority of the stations, so even making a run for 800 was going to be difficult.

As Sunday worn on I had kissed 1 million goodbye for the second year and made a push for 500,000 points and a bit later in the day challenged myself to make 700 QSOs. I was able to accomplish both of these goals about with less that 50 minutes remaining in WPX. At that point I powered off the shack, grabbed an 801 and relaxed.

The final tally is my best attempt in any contest to date. Given I sat around for 32 hours, it stands to reason this is the largest QSO count I have put together. My XYL made the comment, “gosh honey 700 contacts doesn’t seem like a lot in 32 hours.” *sigh* She has a very valid point. As previously mentioned I made all my QSOs in S&P mode. I still hesitate to attempt to run a frequency as my CW is still a bit weak. I can copy fairly well, but don’t want to struggle sending ‘?’ or ‘AGN’ with every operator that calls me. I figure that would only put more pressure on me to get it right the first time. Guess it calls for more practice as well. Instead I sit back and listen to the call and exchange once and then make my call. This drastically decreases my rate.

I participated in this contest as a single operator, unassisted, low power, all bands. Looking at the past 2 years of results, I feel this would give me the best chance at challenging myself and the field for some wallpaper. While I came up short on my goals I do feel the final score will be one of the best in the 6th call district in that category. Even though I didn’t meet my original goals I am still very pleased with how I finished. I’ll look forward to the 2013 event and hopefully furthered my CW and make changes to get my 1 million points.

Print Friendly

2012 CQ World Wide WPX – SSB

Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: March 24-25, 2010
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

BAND/ QSO / PFX
20 / 50 / 43
TOTAL: 50 QSO / 43 PFX
SCORE: 2,924 (TIME ON: 3 H 37 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I knew better than go into this contest running low power, still I took the chance and did it anyway. Part of the reason was because the rig is a loaner from George, K6GT and I have been “babying it” so nothing happens while it is in my possession. The last thing I need is to damage his rig, so the past few months I have used it, its been all low power. Now low power could have been sufficient IF my backyard were full of towers with big antennas, but that isn’t the case. A single 5-band hex beam at about 40′ was what I had to work with and conditions were okay when the contest started.

On top of the low power I decided to work a single band. Ignoring the suggestion from Stu, K6TU to work 15M I decided on 20M, as I hoped it would stay open later to Asia/Oceania. Not sure if it did or not, as I got tired and went to bed before I had a real chance to check the band conditions to that part of the world.

My score and effort were terrible to say the least. I could hear many stations, but at 100w, which was probably more like 60-70w they couldn’t hear me. I did with SJ2W in Sweden, but that was my sole EU contact. There were a few Caribbean contacts, but 92% of my contacts were from NA. One of those was NR6O, or N6RO, Radio Oakley, which is but a few miles down the road.

Instead of working frustrated through Saturday, I had coordinated with Ken, the station owner and Dean, N6BV to sit and listen with Dean. Thankfully Dean wanted to take a break, so I took over the controls on 15M, attempting to work EU. It was interesting to see how Dean made it look so easy, pulling weak signals and their exchange out of the noise. Maybe it’s something I am not great at, as well as knowing many call signs, due to a lack of experience. Still with the tools on Win-Test, even having a partial call sign will allow you to guess that the suffix of the call you are trying to work.

I gave up 15M after about 2 hours and Dean took control. While I was listening in, Michael, WA6O asked if I wanted to listen to 40M. Now during the day 40M isn’t much, except for local area contacts. I spent about 90 minutes listening to noise, with a contact here and there, even moved a few to 10M. Still it was the experience of working as a team, with many more experienced than myself.One of my other disadvantages, not knowing the Elecraft K3. Still I feel it was good experience and thank N6BV for allowing me to watch, work, listen and learn.

Print Friendly