Radio W4KAZ

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ARRL 160m LCR(2009)

Noticed on Saturday last week that the log check reports for the 2009 ARRL 160m contest had been posted on the ARRL website.  How I found them, I’m not sure.  The ARRL site has been well shuffled.  In my life as a DP professional, it was important to stress the significance such sweeping change would have to the hapless victims – i.e., the poor folks who actually used the program interfaces to get their jobs done.

Its like this – the hapless victims(in this example ME) had a working knowledge of “how it works”.  That knowledge was reinforced by 0 to 20(eleven) years of hands on habitual training.  Sometimes that is good, sometimes not good. Tossing these years of “habit”  is often more or less equivalent to firing the entire staff and starting with fresh high school grads.  Sometimes that sort of drastic change was required to achieve the goals.  More often it was just done on the whimsy of the dork making the decisions.  So – whimsy or requirement? But I digress into grumpy Old Fart-ville….

Yet I am smiling.  The LCR, once found, is for me one of the best things about the ARRL contests.  It is a blow by blow breakdown of what was screwed up.  In this case the 2009 ARRL 160m LCR is better news than most.  It’s the best CW LCR I have had – ever.  On 201 QSO’s I busted only 2 calls, and had one exchange busted.  O’course, it was only 200 Q’s total, but improvement is always good.

Operating for only about four hours, about half of the QSO’s were from runs, and the rest from S&P.  The rate was low by Bigg Gunn standards, but about normal for the low power 160m KazShack.  This low error rate even beat out a lot of my SSB LCR’s.  It may in fact be the best LCR for any of my contests, either mode. SWEEEET!

Now, I just need to get the Sweepstakes log(and every other log) to be as good as this ARRL 160m log.  Sweepstakes was terrible.  In 2008 most of the errors were on the exchanges.  2009 CW Sweeps was a step backwards, with more callsign busts.

Sure wish I knew what was different – it would be better to have more logs like the 160m ‘test.  The ultimate goal is a 500 QSO CW contest log with zero errors.

When pigs fly…..for now I would be happy with a consistently low error rate.

2010 ARRL DX SSB @ N1LN- Not Too Shabby

The weekend over at the N1LN/N1YXU was a lot of fun, as always.  Somewhat bleary eyed at the end, but that is to be expected.

The results…..2629 QSO’s, 435 mults, score of 3,417,795.

The propagation was not what we hoped for, and conditions were not close to what we enjoyed for ARRL DX CW only a couple of weeks ago. Not a shock, and probably the only disappointing aspect of the event for me.

We laid plans to open up on 40m and 80m.  In hindsight, that was probably not the best choice, but it sure made sense at the time.  40m was decent at the beginning, but 80m wasn’t there yet, and as the lead-off op on 80m I was too slow to react to the actual conditions.  Live and Learn.

The low bands were tough sledding all weekend.  40m was the money band in the first 24 hours, then 20m took over the lead role.  It was extremely difficult to find and hold runs all weekend.  15m was fair on Saturday, not too good on Sunday. We worked JA’s on both 15m and 20m late Saturday afternoon, not many on Sunday.  The conditions Sunday were maybe even a little worse than those we enjoyed for CQWW in October 2009.

Some of the QSO’s were interesting.  Beaming Europe in the local morning, just after 1200z, I worked an HS0.  Not just once, but one each on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.  That had to have been  long path propagation, because the short path was at enough of an angle off the beam to be in a null.  Both stations had easily workable signals, no QSB on either.  The stations that did call be on 80m at the start of the contest were all solid copy, showing that the band was indeed open at the time.  Just nobody S&P’ing down there early in the contest.  40m produced a solid string of QSO’s in the hours following the EU sunrise.  Probably just indicative of a lot of casual ops having some fun after a good night’s rest.

While going up and down the bands, I was hearing relatively few US stations calling.  That made it more likely you could end up stacked on top of another station calling.  Curious results ensue….

In his soapbox, N1LN describes some of the conditions from his own POV.  I would need to agree about the QRM.  20m was a real zoo.  I’m sure there were many stations calling that I could not hear through the heavy QRM.  Many stations were stacked in layers calling CQ, and it was difficult to find a place in the bedlam.  Stations would then park as little as 700hz up and start calling.

A real zoo.  I just gotta start working on increasing the CW skills.  At least I can be prepared – just in case propagation never really recovers.

The Good:

  • Worked some interesting Q’s.
  • Learning when to move the antennas
  • Always fun chatting with the crew during the down times.
  • Duke spanked UNC in the weekend’s basketball game of interest.

The Bad:

  • Overstaying my welcome when the plan to open on 80m drew few callers.  Should have moved to 15m to round up what was available before it disappeared.  As discovered on Sunday when 15m never really came back.
  • Poor 15m conditions on Sunday.  Better on Saturday(but only fair).
  • Poor conditions overall, but better than last year.

The Ugly:

  • QRM levels worst I have experienced.  That’s not a lot of experience, but it still seemed pretty darn difficult.  That must be what the EU ops deal on a  regular basis.  I now have a lot more sympathy for the guys who can’t pull out my call from home when operating with 100w.

The Audio(source unknown):


3830 Summary:

 Band  QSOs  Mults
  160:   74    43
   80:  193    71
   40:  622    98
   20: 1064   104
   15:  589   100
   10:   87    19
Total: 2629   435  Total Score = 3,417,795

ARRL DX SSB 2010 – Who Is The Competition

This year N1LN has been able to find enough operators to be able to host a M/2 effort for the ARRL DX SSB contest.  I am fortunate enough to be part of the SSB team this year, and I’m excited about the opportunity.  This is a great DX contest, as the DX stations are seeking to work the US stations.  If we are fortunate enough to have good operating conditions, it should be a blast.  Good 15m or even a chance 10m opening would just make everything better. If the conditions are anything like this past weekends’ DX CW, we are going to have a great contest and a lot of fun operating.

Looking at the 2009 results, it appears we have a real shot at creating ripples in the M/2 pond.   For 2009 the top 10 in the W/VE M/2 class were:

1	WE3C	6,019,992	4,167	484	EPA
2	N3RS	4,507,461	3,461	441	EPA
3	W4RM	3,431,106	2,857	406	VA
4	K8AZ	2,759,328	2,308	402	OH
5	NR4M	2,565,171	2,170	399	VA
6	KB1H	2,518,431	2,191	391	CT
7	NE3F	1,984,140	1,861	365	EPA
8	K0TV	1,793,412	1,623	372	NH
9	W5WMU	1,654,044	1,459	388	LA
10	NK7U	1,312,464	1,491	296	OR

Operating during the CQ WW SSB contest, we managed just over 3000 QSO’s.  In better conditions, it is likely we can do better than that.  But so will everyone else.

After looking at the descriptions of some of the other stations[see links above], its a tough task to join this crowd.  All of these stations have larger antenna farms than that at N1LN. Most of the top five have towers over 120′.  WE3C has a high 80m rotate-able dipole, as well as 4-squares for 160/80/40. Most also have superior geographic situations working in their favor as well.  The promise of good conditions may also lure some stations back into the M/2 category. The poor conditions of the past few years must certainly have caused some to drop back to a single transmitter.

We can also hope that ‘other factors’ will NOT be equal.  But the chances of bad weather are probably higher in this part of the US than in these more favorable locations.  That is not a controllable factor. So it is probably best to think of things we might do to improve our performance.  Maximize multipliers.  Dig out the weak ones.   Be on the right band at the right time. Rate is king.  Butts in chairs.  A couple of cold 807’s to keep ‘YDU’s pipes going for the duration.

Should all other factors be equal, if we are to cause ripples in this pond we will need to be better operators than the other guys.  I’d like to think we can at the very least keep them looking in their rear-view-mirrors.

“No sweat!” [HA!]

2009 Sweepstakes SSB

A simple goal this weekend for Sweeps SS. I am going to try to have fun. If I feel like running stations and calling CQ, I’ll do that. If I feel like S&P, I’ll do that. If I feel like watching a college ballgame, zooom – there I go.

Deepest sympathies to UGa fans on the passing of UGA VII. That sure was One-Butt-Ugly bulldog. I suppose they won’t be too hard pressed to find another equally Butt-Ugly bulldog.

The station required some re-wiring to get ready for SSB SO2R. The interface cable for the K2 was in good shape, but the cable for the FT920 required a set of connectors for the PTT and microphone inputs.

It also appears that the Rigblaster NoMic has a problem. No audio getting through the mic side. I had a few 600:600 transformers in the parts box intended for this purpose. I was easiest to wire the transformer into my Mic/DVK/PTT switch box, so I made a quick modification. The 600:600 transformer is now in line with the DVK input. This box had been brewed up a few years back to solve two problems. The first was having bought the Rigblaster NoMic. It (duh-uh) has no mic input. That was fine, until it became clear I’d be using the interface along with a mic for SSB contesting.

So the home brew box handles the switching between mic and DVK audio. (DVK normally on, mic switched on/DVK off when PTT engaged. I use PTT rather than VOX, so that is a simple one. The box will also switch another two sets of relays. One set will make contact when PTT is on, essentially a PTT repeater that isolates the switched gear from the station. The other is a switch that is normally closed, and opens when the PTT is engaged. The second could be used to switch something off when PTT is engaged.

The SO2R box passes the CW,PTT, and mic to the radio selected in the logging software, so only one radio is engaged in transmit at a time.

To use the SO2R box in conjunction with the PTT repeat box, a few additional cables needed to be cobbled together. So this SSB Sweeps will be a trial by fire for the SO2R with DVK combo.

I think I will use packet and operate in the unlimited class again, although this may be the last time for a while. Two radio spot punching can be fun when the bandmaps are full.

It would be nice to match or exceed the 2007 or 2008 home QTH totals too. Maybe the 600 QSO hurdle will be cause for inspiration.

2009 Sweepstakes CW – Goals

A few modest milestones to shoot for this weekend.

  • Improve S&P rate with second radio
  • Improve overall QSO totals
  • Improve overall accuracy

Improving accuracy would be the best improvement. Not enough butt in chair time over the last year for me to expect that to be realized. Conditions sound long already, attack 20m on Sunday. I expect there won’t be much 15m – we’ll see soon enough.

Have a pair of Koss QZ-99 cans. Easily the best sounding and most comfortable set I have tried on in years, I’m really looking forward to using them in the contest.

Been great to see all of the razzle, pep talk and enthusiasm on the club e-mail list. Go mice!

Station Issues:

  • Need to research RFI on N/S 20m dipole.
  • Fix 160 antenna.
  • How does new wire beam on 40m play?(added reflector to E/W dipole)
  • Is it possible to operate while glued to the boob tuube watching LSU-Alabama? Who the hell scheduled this? Aggggh!

Sweepstakes 2008 CW Score

Scores for the 2008 CW Sweepstakes have been published on the Web. The Sweepstakes LCR report is always worth looking over, since my error rate is still far too high on CW. For 2008, it looks like 44% of my errors were on the check number. The errors on the exchange was about 45%, and I busted only four callsigns. The score suffered dramatically, but I showed some incremental improvement over the 2007 Sweepstakes. I didn’t match the improvement in error rates I managed in the 2007 IARU, but it was better than the error rate of the 2007 CWSweeps.

The callsign copy needs to be 100%, but I made progress in that area over 2007.

The big problem seems to be busts on 7&8 and 2&3. Not a surprise. That mistake is accounting for the bulk of the cross check number busts. It is also the biggest problem in the exchange busts, where the year license is busted because of 7&8 or 2&3 busts. By correcting this copy error I will clean up almost 80 percent of my over all bust rate.

The other remaining errors are a mixed bag. There are several transposed digits in year licensed(e.g., where I logged 67 instead of the correct 76). This is a typing dyslexia that I often can catch as it is happening. So more attention to detail is needed when typing.

The rest are just generic inexusable errors. The callsign busts are fixable. “agn? ?”

Overall, I’m disappointed in the lack of overall improvement in clean copy. The score suffered mightily. But it still holds up as my best ever CW score, despite the inadequate copy. Besides, it was a blast.

K8AC, AA4NC, and N4AF all won their categories here in the Roanoke Division. Cool.

2009 NAQP CW – Goals

Today’s introspective question is “What’s a reasonable goal for this weekend’s NAQP?”.

Given the current level, I’m not sure 500 QSO’s is reasonable for a 10 hour contest. Thats where I would to get, but probably not for 2009.

So more modestly:

  1. run stations at 24wpm
  2. shoot for 400 QSO’s
  3. shoot for putting in all 10 hours, despite the illness
  4. Even spread of Q’s on 20m/40m/80m, and pick up mults on 15m & 160m if possible
  5. Move the run frequency lower if possible

The first goal will lead to the second, but only if I manage the third. The reset is icing. We’ll see.

edit 2009-01-08, Stuck in the past….cuz these are 2009 goals….