Radio W4KAZ

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2010 ARRL SSB Sweeps

That was hard to get excited about.  Too many distractions on Saturday.  By the time the butt hit the chair in the shack on Saturday evening, 80m was slam full.  It was difficult to find a spot to establish a run.   Heard a W6 down at the bottom of the SSB segment at 0030z-unusual because it was still early.  Once I found a hole in the QRM, the 80m run was very good for low-power-low-dipoles.  Bailed out early.

Sleeping later than I planned Sunday morning led me to try running on 40m.  That worked very well for almost two hours, as I landed on a cherry spot, and ran stations on 7150 for the bulk of the 40m Q’s.  When the 40m rates slowed to rates normal for  S&P here, it seemed like a good time to hunt mults.  That provided some fun, and a bit of frustration for the ones that got away.  The AB and SK stations I worked were just BOOOMING into central NC around 1800z on 15m.  I never noticed that 10m opened, but I never looked.  Opportunities lost.

Sweep- NOT!  Heard SB and NT, but they never heard the tin-whistle from the KazShack.  Never heard OK, or NE, or ND.  Found SD by blind luck, after the pull-the-plug fever had set in, but before the fever manifested in turning switches to the off position.

Highlights of the test included being called by N3ND/M for his QSO #0001.  Dan was driving from SC to WCF, and dropped in for a visit.  Found Will, W4MR, running a pile-up late in the test, and he’s so damn loud here I couldn’t tune him in properly.  Peppered N4YDU with taunts for the duration of the test.

Distractions were probably a good thing.  The last few hours seemed slow, even though I was behind where I may have been with more time in the chair on Saturday.

The Good:

  • Nice runs on 80m and 40m.
  • Everything worked.  Not above average audio, but functional.

The Bad:

  • High bands virtually useless with the dipoles.  20m wasn’t as bad as normal, but not great.
  • Never checked 10m for opening.  Duh.

The Ugly:

  • Never checked 10m!

The Results:

  Band  QSOs
    80:  224
    40:  149
    20:   49
    15:   23
Total:  445  Sections = 73  Total Score = 64,970


A late recap being better than none at all…..

The multi-2 operation at N1LN went off well again this year.  The bands were not as good as we hoped they might be, but 15m came through much better than it had in 2009, so that was a welcome improvement in propagation.  10m teased us with a bit of a South American opening on Saturday afternoon, but time there was mostly Search and Pounce.  As always, operating the N1LN station is a big change from 100-w into a low dipole.  But it has challenges of its own.

When set up for Multi-2, N1LN has two stations with one radio each.  So there is no mult radio in an SO2R configuration like many other Multi-2 stations.  But that’s not a limit on having fun operating.  It’s more an upper limit of the possible Q’s.

For my own part, I’m still learning the subtleties of operating a good station with good antennas.  It is a lot more complicated than the home QTH, but not really rocket science either.  More a matter of accumulating experience and a better understanding of what propagation conditions might present at any given time in the chair.  N1LN came up with an excellent operator schedule, which I hope gave everyone a taste of the possibilities and enough chair time to keep them interested.

20m and 40m were both quite challenging.  It was difficult to find good places to establish runs, and there was a high level of QRM whenever the bands were open.  Never really got a good run going on either band.

10m was a pleasant surprise.  The Saturday afternoon shift brought a nice round of mults and almost 100 Q’s.  Most of the stations  worked were South American, Carribean and a couple of EA stations.  15m was also open, but the rates on Saturday afternoon were not as good as during the morning opening.

On 80m and 160m noise was a factor.  N1LN had added a few toys to the sandbox since last year.  The first was a K9AY RX antenna, which allowed operation without swatting at N4YDU’s hand as he switched the beverage off the station I was trying to copy.  Also new was a 2-element phased array on 160m.  That was pretty cool too.  The endfire directions showed good rejection off the rear, and while on 160m it was possible to listen on the xmit antenna and switch to the rx antenna only on the weaker signals, at least the short time I operated on 160m.

Claimed Score:

Call: N1LN
Operator(s): N1YDU, W4KAZ, KA1ARB, N4GU, AA4FU, N1LN
Station: N1LN

Class: M/2 HP
QTH: NC - 05
Operating Time (hrs): 48

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
  160:  150    14       36
   80:  337    28       85
   40:  589    34      104
   20:  947    36      125
   15: 1049    34      128
   10:  156    17       36
Total: 3228   163      514  Total Score = 5,628,578


That was interesting.

Operating conditions this year seemed very good – at least in comparison to the last few years.  The noise levels on 80m and 40m seemed low, very comfortable.  15m and 10m remained mostly useless.  Nothing heard on 10m, and the west coast stations heard on 15m  were having a tough time copying the 100w signal from the KazShack.  15m did produce several section mults, so it was well worth the S&P sweeps in between trying to establish runs.  Also dropped back to plain old low power, no packet.

It seemed that my copy at higher speeds was a bit better, but that could just be self delusion.  The log checking report will again be the arbiter of success.  The goal was to cut the error rate in half.  When it becomes available the LCR will tell the sordid tale.

The game plan was to operate low power with no packet spots, and get some more time playing “S&P2R”.  The idea of using packet and connecting to some of the skimmers had some appeal, but in the end decided to enjoy the manual S&P.

80m was the place to be. I had better luck attracting callers there. I missed the first three hours. (LSU 24-Bama 21!!) When I got on the air at 0100z I soon set up camp in the upper portion of the 80m CW band and ran. And ran. And ran. The rate was steady from 0116 through 0600z. Not Bigg-Gunn level rates, but a smooth and steady flow that averaged out to about 43/hr, for almost six hours straight, the longest I’ve ever held a run on a single frequency.  Chased off all of the frequency poachers who thought they could slide up into my passband. Had to really nurse the single 807 I brought with me  down into the shack, but I didn’t want to get up for a second one.  [Time for a dorm fridge in the shack?]

Sunday morning was decent too. Rates soon fell off, and 40m/20m/15m proved disappointing. S&P was OK, but not able to set up any sustained runs after a short Sunday morning run on 40m.  Spent most of the daytime hours search and pounce, with the occasional attempt at starting a run.  None of the Sunday afternoon runs produced, so search and pounce was more productive. Actually, “less unproductive” probably is a better characterization. Just before sunset, I moved down to 80m, started calling CQ, and was immediately rewarded with a decent run that lasted just over an hour.  Ended early with a bit of light S&P.

Despite not reaching some of the goals, it was a very enjoyable contest.  Sweeps has become one of my favorites.

The Good:

  • Easier copy.
  • Murphy was too busy “helping” other operators to pay a visit.  Everything worked.
  • Worked KA3DRR, who had a nice run going, and AE5X called into one of my runs.  Contest on!

The Bad:

  • Another operating goal was to really push the QSO totals up.  Failed miserably at that goal.

The Ugly:

  • 20m – No successful runs

Claimed Results:

Call: W4KAZ
Class: Single Op LP
QTH: nc
Operating Time (hrs): 19
Radios: SO2R

  Band  QSOs
   160:    0
    80:  325
    40:  131
    20:   96
    15:   24
    10:    0
Total:  576  Sections = 78  Total Score = 89,856
QSO/Sec by hour and band

 Hour      80      40      20      15     Total     Cumm    OffTime
D1-2100Z    -      2/2     4/4     1/1     7/7       7/7      27
D1-2200Z    -       -       -       -      0/0       7/7      60
D1-2300Z    -      2/2     5/5      -      7/7      14/14     26
D2-0000Z  19/13    4/3    --+--   --+--   23/16     37/30  
D2-0100Z  40/11    1/0      -       -     41/11     78/41  
D2-0200Z  51/4      -       -       -     51/4     129/45  
D2-0300Z  40/3      -       -       -     40/3     169/48  
D2-0400Z  44/7      -       -       -     44/7     213/55  
D2-0500Z  46/1      -       -       -     46/1     259/56  
D2-0600Z   1/1      -       -       -      1/1     260/57     59
D2-0700Z    -       -       -       -      0/0     260/57     60
D2-0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0     260/57     60
D2-0900Z    -       -       -       -      0/0     260/57     60
D2-1000Z    -       -       -       -      0/0     260/57     60
D2-1100Z  24/1      -       -       -     24/1     284/58     26
D2-1200Z  12/2    34/3      -       -     46/5     330/63  
D2-1300Z  15/1    16/0      -       -     31/1     361/64  
D2-1400Z    -     22/2     2/0      -     24/2     385/66  
D2-1500Z    -      5/0    19/6      -     24/6     409/72  
D2-1600Z  --+--   --+--    4/0     9/2    13/2     422/74     31
D2-1700Z    -       -       -      5/1     5/1     427/75     40
D2-1800Z    -       -     10/0     5/1    15/1     442/76  
D2-1900Z    -       -     12/1     4/0    16/1     458/77  
D2-2000Z    -     14/0    11/0      -     25/0     483/77  
D2-2100Z    -     16/0     9/0      -     25/0     508/77  
D2-2200Z    -       -     20/1      -     20/1     528/78  
D2-2300Z   1/0    13/0      -       -     14/0     542/78     33
D3-0000Z  29/0    --+--   --+--   --+--   29/0     571/78  
D3-0100Z   3/0     2/0      -       -      5/0     576/78  

Total:   325/44  131/12   96/17   24/5  

2010 IOTA Scores Posted

Got a heads-up from N4YDU that the preliminary scores had been posted for 2010 IOTA over at the RSGB contest web site.

It looks like the 2010 N4A expedition (N4YDU, N3ND, K2AV, and W4KAZ, [W0UCE unable to come]) had a good showing in the IOTA contest part of the expedition.  In the LP Expedition category we have the high score for North America.  We very nearly snuck into the top ten in the category, which would have been a real achievement for a contest whose scoring heavily favors EU expeditions.  European participation is higher and it is usually easier for EU expeditions to log more high value QSO’s, since all of the British Isles count as 15 point Q’s.  Our QSO count and mults were actually higher than the #9 and #10 Eu LP expedition entries, but those stations must have logged more of the 15 point QSO’s, boosting their scores above ours.

Congrats to my partners in crime – all three are damn fine operators.

IOTA 2010 – Cape Lookout Expedition

Operating under special event call N4A, for the fourth year we once again activated the South Core Banks from Cape lookout a few miles up the beach from the CALO lighthouse.  Fun facts and photo strip on the N4A operation on its web site.  Additional photos on flickr.  Also a short youtube clip of N4YDU running them on 20m SSB.

An operation on the beach as an expedition is always a great chance to learn new stuff.  This year we learned that fiberglass mast is pretty flimsy and aluminum is much stronger – not a revelation.

After some extensive modeling by K2AV, we settled on using ladder line fed doublets that were 56 feet(17.2m) in total length, 28 ft per side.  The models show that length to have useful lobes on 15m and 20m, without loosing much over a regular 40m dipole.  We ran the ladder line to just behind the radio’s into 4:1 baluns, and used the radio internal tuners for matching.  [I’d have preferred outboard tuners.]

We didn’t get good enough propagation on 15m to decide if they were making a difference, but two of these antennas at right angles, with their apex at 40 feet, seemed to work very well on 40m and 20m.  On 20m, there was a worthwhile difference between the two antennas, several s-units in many cases.  The signal level difference on 40m was more subtle.  The pattern on 40m at only 40 ft high is mostly omnidirectional anyway.

Lacking an appropriate vehicle is somewhat of a problem for this sort adventure.  The island has only sand trails, no real roads, so 4WD is recommended. N3ND volunteered the use of his AWD Toyota Highlander this year.  We were able to get everything packed inside or laid on top, but it was a snug fit.

2010 was great WX wise.  We had blue skys and a steady cooling sea breeze for the duration of our stay on CALO.   Saturday afternoon was  particularly pleasant, with low humidity and moderate temperatures making the afternoon very comfortable – the first time we have enjoyed such good WX for an expedition.

Operating was a lot more fun in 2010 compared to the previous three years due to slightly improved propagation.  Friday evening booked a few pages worth of QSO’s to both the US and Europe on 20m and 40m.  When the RSGB IOTA contest began on Saturday morning, we enjoyed a decent 20m opening to EU on both CW and SSB, and even a few JA’s getting into the log then.  Propagation to Europe faded during the midday, but began picking up towards mid afternoon.  15m never really opened, and 10m was completely unproductive.  Its been a long term goal to make Q’s on 6m from CALO, but the e-skip never sees to coincide with our expeditions.  This year was no different – nothing heard on 6m.

Pulling the graveyard shift wasn’t very productive for QSO rates, but there were some great Pacific Q’s to gather there.  VK7, ZL1, E51, WH6, NH2 all made it into the log then.  That was fun, even if it caused symptoms of sleep deprivation later!

The mast gear seemed to be in good shape, with the exception of one folded stick of fiberglass.  Going to 40ft is more difficult than going to 30ft, but is not impossible with at least two people.  Lifting 30ft is possible for one person with proper guying, but the mast is too heavy for one small person to lift to 40ft.  Possibly with a gin pole – but the additional rigging needed for the gin pole is time consuming, and extra gear required is not available at this time.

 Band  CW Qs  CW Mults  Ph Qs  Ph Mults
   80:   10        9       1       1
   40:  306       45     127      36
   20:  412       46     286      40
   15:   53       20       1       1
   10:    0        0       0       0
Total:  781      120     415      78  Total Score = 1,416,096

The Good:  Great WX.  Good radio conditions.  We blew away all our past mileposts for the bottom of a sunspot cycle, new high of 1196 qsos and 1.4m points.  K2Av was great opening 4om CW, and N3ND and N4YDU both had great runs at various times during the day.  Homebrew compound baluns didn’t melt.  A few day before leaving for the island, noticed that RSGB had posted the list of 2009 Trophy winners – and N4A nabbed the plaque for North American expeditions again.  SWEEEET!

The Bad: W0UCE missed due to a family illness.  Pesky intermittent noise, we think from a UPS.  Just hate using, for contest logging, N1MM.

The Ugly: None!

Field Day 2010 as NR3X

Had fun again for Field Day with N4YDU.  Always do.  Even though it was miserably hot and humid this year.  Operated this year under the NC Contesters call NR3X.

We had a crew of ‘ringers’ on 40m CW.  W0UCE, N3ND, and K2AV ran up a nice QSO count on 40Cw. Other operators were AA4XX, K4CZ, N4GU, N4YDU, and W4KAZ. With the extra operators on hand we operated class 3A.  AA4XX and K4CZ were only available for the first few hours, so in the end we wound up with about seven or eight hours of idle time on two of the stations.  Gotta sleep sometimes.

With one station dedicated to 40m CW, the other bands/modes were spread between the other two stations.  Station one was 40m ssb plus 10m/15m.  The second station handled 80m CW and 20m CW, plus 20m SSB.

A late afternoon thunder storm chased me out of the 20m CW shack for just over an hour at about 4:00pm local on 06/26.  To hell with that!  I like operating, but not enough to die for.  Also had a couple of computer problems early on with the setup for the 20 CW station.  Piddled away some time resolving those.  (Problems: N1MM has a faux “Elecraft K2” radio option that does not work [MUST use “Kenwood”], and when the laptop went idle its power saver caused N1MM to hang up when using its function key macros [solution re-boot laptop. Better Solution: Use writeLog])

The 80m/20m CW station had dipoles for each band, fed with ladder line.  The 40m ssb/10m/15m station used a G5RV sized doublet, also fed with ladder line.  At the 40m CW pit, two crossed 40m dipoles were played.

Final tally was 2746 total QSO’s for a score of 9600+ points.  Close enough to 10K to taste it.  Close to 3K QSO’s, but not quite close enough.

The band breakdown:

QSO/Dx+Sec by hour and band

 Hour    80 CW   40 CW   20 CW   15 CW   10 CW   80 PH   40 PH   20 PH   15 PH   10 PH    Total     Cumm    OffTime

D1-1800Z    -     39/11   67/19     -       -       -       -       -     71/18     -    177/48    177/48
D1-1900Z    -     49/1     8/1    12/0      -       -       -      5/0    66/1      -    140/3     317/51
D1-2000Z    -     67/0    40/3    79/1     7/0      -       -       -       -       -    193/4     510/55
D1-2100Z    -     42/0    18/1      -      7/1      -       -       -       -     71/0   138/2     648/57
D1-2200Z    -     47/1     7/2    18/2    10/0      -       -       -     10/1    13/0   105/6     753/63
D1-2300Z    -     50/0    35/6      -       -       -       -       -     13/0    47/1   145/7     898/70
D2-0000Z   7/0    55/3    37/1     2/1     2/0    --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   31/0   134/5    1032/75
D2-0100Z  44/0    35/0      -     14/0      -       -     48/0      -      4/0      -    145/0    1177/75
D2-0200Z  42/0    35/0      -       -       -       -    121/1      -       -       -    198/1    1375/76
D2-0300Z  31/0    40/0      -       -       -       -     46/1      -       -       -    117/1    1492/77
D2-0400Z  20/0    42/1      -       -       -     13/0    16/0      -       -       -     91/1    1583/78
D2-0500Z  24/0    27/1      -       -       -      5/0      -       -       -       -     56/1    1639/79
D2-0600Z    -     22/5      -       -       -       -       -       -       -       -     22/5    1661/84
D2-0700Z    -     14/0      -       -       -       -       -       -       -       -     14/0    1675/84
D2-0800Z  --+--   15/0    --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   15/0    1690/84
D2-0900Z  34/0     7/0      -       -       -     16/0      -       -       -       -     57/0    1747/84
D2-1000Z   6/0    28/2      -       -       -       -     49/1      -       -       -     83/3    1830/87
D2-1100Z    -     44/0     8/0      -       -       -     78/0      -       -       -    130/0    1960/87
D2-1200Z    -     48/0    11/0      -       -       -     84/0    21/0      -       -    164/0    2124/87
D2-1300Z    -     39/0    29/0     8/0      -       -     32/0     7/0     6/0      -    121/0    2245/87
D2-1400Z    -     37/0    66/0     1/0      -       -      4/0      -     33/0     1/0   142/0    2387/87
D2-1500Z    -     38/0    50/0    11/0      -       -     12/0      -     16/0      -    127/0    2514/87
D2-1600Z  --+--   33/0    16/0     3/0     8/0    --+--   37/0    --+--   --+--   --+--   97/0    2611/87
D2-1700Z    -     30/0     3/0      -      1/0      -       -     59/0    38/0     3/0   134/0    2745/87
D2-1800Z    -       -       -       -       -       -       -      1/0      -       -      1/0    2746/87  

Total:   208/0   883/25  395/33  148/4    35/1    34/0   527/3    93/0   257/20  166/1

2010 CQ WPX CW As NR3X

N4YDU was on the sidelines/out-of-action for the weekend, so I took NR3X out for a spin in the WPX.  So for those who would be wondering why NR3X was suddenly a lid, well, there it is.  Apologies to all who expected NR3X to be piloted by a good CW op.

Original plans to put in a more serious effort evaporated, so it became a great chance to play SO2R using spots.  Logged about 8 hours total Butt-In-Chair time over the entire contest.  The shack has a new scavenged computer, so it needed a shakedown anyway.  The one item not ready was the Winkeyer2, which showed up in the mailbox only a few hours before ‘showtime’ on Friday. Despite an initial urge to slap the winkeyer together, it remained(s)  un-built.  Lacking an additional USB to serial interface, it could not have been used  anyway.  Soon!

The ‘new’ ShackBox CPU has a clean win XP install.  On a tip found on the Writelog support forum,  the “PortTalk” program was used to circumvent the parallel port issue, but the winkeyer will render that workaround moot.  For handling packet cluster and skimmer merges, the wintelnetx program by K1TTT was installed.  Wintelnetx is relatively easy to configure after the “route” settings are understood, and K1TTT has sample ini files included which make it easy to get started.  This tutorial for TR is helpful.

With wintelnetx configured to pull spots from the normal spot network and from N4ZR’s skimmer node, the band maps are populated in a very short time.  Very interesting.

With the weekend shaping up as an hour or two here and there, poking spots seemed like a good idea. Friday night turned into a bust, with a local T-storm showing up overhead around 0100Z.  Bail!  Saturday morning conditions were poor.  Normally loud EU stations were not, and few were hearing the low-power-low-antennas from the KazShack very well, so it became mostly a click and shoot on US stations and the occasional loud DX.  A few 15m Q’s added to the mix, but not generally good propagation.  20m opened  to EU around 2000z, with 40m picking up just a bit later.  Seemed more like mid-summer IOTA propagation.

Conditions Sunday seemed a bit improved, but less time spent on the air, missing the late afternoon opening entirely.  Closed out the contest trying to run on 40m, which produced a few interesting Q’s.

Things to Fix: Fix LID operator!  Need to decide how best to correct the SO2R audio switching.  Simply reversing the L/R phone audio might be easiest fix, but probably would best be served by figuring out exactly what was haywired originally

The GOOD: SO2R set up performs flawlessly.  New ShackBox CPU also integrated without problems.  Skimmer spots are more useful than ordinary packet spots, would be ideal with a local node[great club project idea].  Good results on 40m, conditions seemed good there and even had a good mix of EU stations call into my run in the last hour.

The BAD: Propagation seems to have returned to ‘no sunspot’ mode, and summertime conditions have already taken hold.

The UGLY: Busted calls.  Busted exchanges.  Busted LID operator.

Call: NR3X
Operator(s): W4KAZ;       Station: W4KAZ

 Band  QSOs
   80:    1
   40:   86
   20:  140
   15:   28
   10:   11
Total:  266  Prefixes = 182  Total Score = 116,298

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!]