Radio W4KAZ

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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

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