Radio W4KAZ

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WPX CW 2009

WPX from the cheap seats……

I was a little disappointed at first, since I missed most of the better band conditions. Mostly operated during the early evening and both afternoons. After a good night’s rest and most of a week later, it turns out the contest looks better than the first impression.

This contest was mostly a shakedown cruise for a lot of shack and antenna system changes revolving around setting the place up for SO2R. The shakedown was a success.

All of the home brew items seemed to function well. One minor glitch in the SO2R box. It would appear that I managed to wire the left and right channels reversed. Good thing the headphones I prefer are “ambidextrous” – that work around was easier than sitting backwards. 😮

Two sets of home brewed band pass filters worked well with low power, even though the KazShack antennas are practically touching one another. The set of K4VX filters were augmented with coaxial stubs. The worst case interference is between 40m and 20m, where the harmonic is about S6. 80m/40m are completely free of any interference, and 40m/15m are also friendly.

The big lesson learned was that SO2R will be a lot of fun, once I become proficient at SO1R. It became obvious that I am NOT yet a proficient operator, not that I had any doubts there. It was great to be able to S&P while running at low power, but I did flub some Q’s on the run radio by being distracted.

Having the audio from two radios, one left ear, the other right ear, was not as large a problem as I expected. I wired the audio controls for the SO2R box into a small remote box that snuggles up next to the keyboard. On it I wired a momentary contact switch for each band. The buttons make it easy to put either left or right radio temporarily into both channels on the headset for digging the weak ones. I had the switches, didn’t have a pot for a mix control.

For the most part, having audio from the left radio in the left ear and the right radio in the right ear was less difficult than I expected. It seemed very similar to listening to a big DX pileup. The only time it was confusing was when the left and right stations were zero beat, and CQ’ing simultaneously at the same speed. Hearing the zero beat CQ’s then suddenly go off into different call signs was disconcerting.

I really enjoy S&P operating. The SO2R set up really does make S&P twice as much fun. I don’t normally use spots, but I’m curious to see what sort of rate I can manage banging spots with two radios. Probably try that in 2009 Sweepstakes.

Things to fix: Fix the SO2R audio switching. Additional stubs for 40m and 20m. More SO2R practice.

Things to try: When running at a decent rate, try using the second radio to load the band map with spots. Then if I lose the run frequency, sweep through the second radio spots while hunting for another run frequency. Until I’m a better operator, it is too easy to lose the run frequency trying to work a station on the second radio.

The Good: No problems with any of the KazShack or antenna changes. Bandpass filters worked. The SO2R box handled switching radio control properly. The dipoles at 90 degree offsets worked for bringing stations up and for nulling interference. The new 20m antenna could hear an AK station at about three S-units higher then the original antenna, which could scarcely copy him. More total QSO’s than expected. Actually held a run on 40m from the run poachers. I made about 50 second radio QSO’s while running on the other radio.

The Bad: Not much productivity to Europe. Missed the 10m and 15m openings. Most of my operating time was in the off-peak times.

The Ugly: Got sick as a dog and bailed on Saturday evening. Being sick was probably why I was so tired Friday night too.

Band  QSOs
80:       3
40:     241
20:     218
15:      38
Total:  500  Prefixes = 304  Total Score = 376,048

Next up ......Field Day!

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