Friday, December 27, 2013

My First Lumber

KM6I
2012
Pacific Division Winner
Single Operator Unlimited High Power CW

Woohoo! Thanks to AD6Z for hosting me. And to the "usual suspects" (N6RO, K9YC, and other NCCC big guns) for not entering SO/U/HP in 2012. :-)



Monday, November 4, 2013

SSCW 2013 Recap

                    ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW

Call: KM6I
Operator(s): KM6I
Station: KM6I

Class: SO Unlimited HP
QTH: Mountain View, CA
Operating Time (hrs): 21

Summary:
Band  QSOs
------------
  160: 0
  80:  47
  40:  168
  20:  336
  15:  193
  10:  10
------------
Total:  754  Sections = 83  Total Score = 125,164

Club: Northern California Contest Club

Comments:


K3, KPA-500, Dipole @ 60ft, temporary 2-el triband wire yagi @ 35ft

This year was the first year since 2009 that I activated my home station. For the past few years in SS CW and Phone I've been a guest op at AD6Z's shack above Los Gatos, CA, but Kevin's moved, so it was time to find a new place to operate. Initially I'd thought about finding a new station host, but since this year is a focus year for NCCC in the November Sweepstakes, I felt like I could make the best contribution to the club effort by getting my own station on the air and putting as many QSOs in the log as possible. Also, I had a division win last year from Kevin's shack (Pacific Division SO/U/HP), so my need for a personal best was temporarily satisfied.

In my previous post, I laid out some overall goals for my CW effort this year. After the first weekend, I'm pretty pleased with my results, although my BIC* time was not as optimal as it should have been, On the plus side, I made the clean sweep, I'm close to my (slightly optimistic) target number of QSOs, and Murphy stayed away for the whole weekend.

I wasn't thinking clearly and committed to the club to make 800 QSOs, as I (erroneously) remembered making that many contacts in the past. What I was actually remembering was making 832 contacts from AD6Z during the second half of a split-site effort in 2009. Oops! Looking back, the best I've ever done from home was about 600 QSOs and an 80-section sweep (pre-Ontario split).

For the contest I raised my temporary 2-element wire Yagi, hanging diagonally from my big redwood tree. It's consistently about an s-unit better on receive than the multiband dipole at 60ft, which is what I would expect.

Because of my son's soccer match, I couldn't start on time, and ended up finally getting started at 2336 UTC. I was feeling fairly loud on 15, and even put together a one-hour run of 60 QSOs on 20 meters starting at 0140, which I found a little surprising given my simple antenna and 500W signal. I had a good S&P session on 40, found 80 very noisy, and conked out too early (0721Z). That was not good, as I ended up only spending 21 hours BIC.

Starting at 1340 the next morning, I started on 20 meters, and bounced back and forth between 20 and 15. 10 never seemed to be good when I listened. Sometime Sunday morning I found ONE for the sweep. Things were predictably slow on Sunday, although when I popped down to 40 for the NCCC rally I did find a few KBers there. I spent the last 2 hours on 40 meters, except for the 80-meter NCCC rally where I picked up 8 KBers.

I finished the contest with 754 QSOs and the sweep, which I am pretty pleased with. It's 30% lower than my score from last year, but then again I had 2 elements, not 5 on 20/15/10, 1/4 the power, and 3 fewer hours. It looks like I'll be able to make KB-1000 this year.

Thanks for the Qs!

* BIC == Butt In Chair


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SS2013 CW Prep

Aargh, SS 2013 has snuck up on me like a stealthy brain-eating zombie. Here's my last-minute panic plan. I don't have a station to guest-op this year, so I need to maximize my home station's effectiveness. This means:

    • Putting up the best temporary antenna(s) I can muster
    • Optimizing my BIC time
    • Doing all the usual things
Goals


Given all these constraints, my goal is to make the NCCC KB-1000 award (1000 QSOs across both SS weekends) this year. My stretch goal is 1200 contacts total.

Sub-Goals

  • A clean sweep on CW
  • 300 contacts on SSB
My temporary 2-el triband yagi is already in the air, but is missing a functional feedline. I'll get that at HRO Sunnyvale tomorrow and should have the thing operational on Friday.

Operating Plan

I'm going to miss the first few hours of the contest because I'll be at my son's soccer match. I should be home around 1700 local time and on the air around 1900, which means I've had 5 hours off time already. Other than that I should have as much BIC time as I need. Looks like an all-nighter!

On the air I'll be operating Unlimited HP, using the cluster spots as much as possible to optimize mults and keep the S&P rate high. On Sunday I'll try to be fresh meat as much as my modest antennas allow.

Operating plan for the SSB weekend is still TBD. Hope to see you on the air this weekend!

-KM6I

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SSCW 2012 PAC division SO/U/HP Win!

Yeeha, I won the Pacific Division Single-Operator Unlimited High Power category in the 2012 November CW Sweepstakes! Results are on the ARRL Contest Results web page. A 10^6 thanks to Kevin, AD6Z, for giving me access to his station for the weekend. And the pasta feed!

The one bummer is that I lost my clean sweep in the log-checking process. I'm not sure which one I lost, but I recall having an ESP QSO with at least one of the rare Canadian provinces. I also lost 29 QSOs to log checking, or 2.6%, which is 0.9% worse than last year''s error rate.

Friday, December 28, 2012

SO2R - are you nuts?

Call me crazy, but I've decided to build a single operator two radio (SO2R) station on my small suburban lot.

And I have no towers - just a big redwood tree with an inverted vee at 60 feet, and a ground mounted vertical (still under construction).

The goal isn't to win any major contests. The goal is to build my operator skills so that when I have the opportunity to operate from a shack that is SO2R capable, I can take full advantage of the station's capabilities. In the November Sweepstakes CW contests the last two years, I've had exclusive access to AD6Z's SO2R-enabled shack, but was unable to take advantage of all that aluminum. However, I did make use of the second receiver in my Elecraft K3, and I feel like I've learned enough to at least give SO2R a try.

So, the goals are:
  1. Don't spend a ton of money
  2. Allow me to practice SO2R on any arbitrary pair of HF bands
  3. See rule #1
The first cut on the overall design is:
  • Use the radio I have - a Yaesu FT-857D - as the second radio 
  • Erect a second antenna as far away from my G5RV as possible
  • See if using these two antennas without any bandpass filters works
  • Build or buy an SO2R controller
Likely fails:
  • My K3 has a great front end, but the FT-857D may not perform well with a strong local signal, especially when I'm running the KPA500 amplifier. Maybe a bandpass filter on the FT-857D will do the trick.
  • Operator brain explosion

November Sweepstakes SSB 2011 Recap

Call: KM6I
Operator(s): KM6I
Station: AD6Z

Class: SO Unlimited HP
QTH: Los Gatos, CA
Operating Time (hrs): 23.5

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
  160:    0
   80:  144
   40:  197
   20:  349
   15:  171
   10:  124
------------
Total:  985  Sections = 83  Total Score = 163,510

Club: Northern California Contest Club

Comments:

Warning: long post - but may be interesting to read due to the fact that two
simultaneous operations were active from the same station. I think I saw one of
those from W3LPL for the CW weekend - did anyone else do one?

K3 + KPA500
80M dipoles (E/W, N/S) @ 110'
2 el 40 (2)
5 el 20
5 el 15
5 el 10

This was a shared-station operation at Kevin, AD6Z's shack above Los Gatos, CA,
in Silicon Valley. Kevin's shack is SO2R-capable, and we split it in two for
this contest. Antennas were shared by getting up and walking over to a
Six-Pack, and band coordination was handled in an ad-hoc fashion, mostly by one
of us getting sick of 20 meters and asking for a change. The 10 and 15 meter
antennas share a common feedline, so it wasn't possible for us to use those two
bands at once, which was kind of a drag since 10 was pretty good this year (I
had my best hour of the contest running on 10).

My goal this year was to make enough QSOs to qualify for the NCCC KB-2000 award
(2000 QSOs between the two Sweepstakes weekends). Since I had made 1085 Qs on
CW, the easy goal was 915 contacts, but I set a stretch goal of 1065 to give me
something to shoot for. I made a target rate sheet by multiplying last year's
rate sheet by 1065/915. That actually turned out to be a bad idea. When sharing
a station, band choice is limited, and that will make the rate sheet very
"lumpy" and unless you are on the same bands as the previous year, the target
rates may not be achievable. But it was good having a target.

This was also my first contest using my shiny KPA500. Since Kevin's the host,
he gets the 1500w amp, but he does have an AL-80B and I could have used that,
but I, well, just wanted to play with my new toy. It just sat there and put out
500w. I could tell its fan was running a little faster when I was running and
CQing a lot, by putting my hand behind the case, but Kevin's AL-1200B was right
behind me sounding like a small tornado, and totally drowned out any small noise
the Elecraft amp was making. Switching bands with the KPA500 in the mix is a
dream: Select the right antenna on the Six Pack, select the correct bandpass
filter, press the band button on the KPA500, and talk. No tuning, and the K3
follows the band selected on the KPA500 (or vice versa). I can't wait to use
this amp in a CW contest and make use of QSK.

Since I led off last year on 15, it was Kevin's turn to get the 10/15 antennas
for the start of the contest. I found a frequency on 20 meters about 10 minutes
before the contest and held it by making some contacts. Then, the contest
started... and I got booted by a really loud station about 500 Hz up from my
run frequency, and no room to move down. He was making rate and I wasn't, so I
went S&Ping up the band to find another slot. After an hour, I hadn't found a
slot, but that was when we'd agreed to swap antennas.

On 10 I got a run frequency right away and the rate went to 76 for the next
hour. I may have made a mistake by choosing a run frequency above 28.5 MHz, but
the band was pretty crowded, and the rate was good, so I stayed.

After that hour we swapped antennas again, so it was back to 20. It was
crowded, as expected, and I S&P'd until I found a run frequency, and then had a
nice 82-QSO run that took an hour and 8 minutes. There was a lot of
headache-inducing splatter on 20. Two stations in particular were the worst
offenders, with one covering 20KHz of the band. I stayed on 20 for a long time
because it was productive and because 15 had closed and Kevin was using the 40
meter antennas.

Just after 0200Z Kevin went to 80 and I hopped on 40 and found a run frequency,
which had rate > 60/hr for a while, but a broadcast station came on at 0230 and
kept getting louder and louder. Around 0330 we swapped antennas and I found a
run frequency low on 80. Rate wasn't great, so I used the second VFO to line up
S&P QSOs and used the SO2V capabilities of N1MM to swap the VFOs quickly for the
"second radio" contacts. I feel like I'm getting more proficient at listening to
the two channels of audio at the same time. The downside is that you give up the
great diversity receive capabilities of the K3 (it puts the two antennas in a
stereo mix), and Kevin's beverage really works great on the low bands.

For the rest of the evening Kevin and I traded off on 40 and 80. My rates were
fairly steady. At 0830Z I got called by V73AX in the Marshall Islands for a
signal report. I stayed up 30 minutes later than last year, as I'd taken a 30
minute break earlier in the day to eat. I quit at 0900 needing ONE and SC.
Because I'd had a good run on 10 and then 20 was productive for me, I had zero
15 meter QSOs in the log, which seemed weird, but that's how things shook out.

Sunday morning I started on 20 around 1400Z but went to 15 at 1430 because it
looked good in the bandmap. I eventually found spots for ONE and SC and had the
sweep at 1921Z, Oddly, I got called by 4 more ONE stations while I was running
on Sunday (one was QRP). Working ONE was a lot easier if you were running.

Kevin and I kept swapping the 20 and 10/15 antennas about every hour until
early afternoon local time, and I actually pulled almost even with my goal.
Near the end of the contest I spent some time trying to run on 80, but I think
I'd worked most of the west coast stations and rate was low. I was able to S&P
some stations in the Midwest/East Coast with the high dipoles, and the
beverage/K3 diversity receive was really helpful there. But looking at the
goals, I realized I'd had a big spike in rate for the last 4 hours last year,
and I wasn't sure if that would materialize. It didn't, and I ended up about 80
QSOs short of the stretch goal. Still, I beat my main goal by 80 QSOs, beat last
year's QSO count by 18, and had a great time in the process.

Thanks again to Kevin for sharing his station with me for the Phone weekend,
and letting me play with it exclusively for the CW weekend. Across the two
weekends, Kevin, me, and his station put more than 2,500 QSOs in the the log.

Comparison:


Time  2011  2011  2012  2012   2012   2012  Diff
      Rate  Total Rate Total Actual Actual  From
                  Goal  Goal   Rate  Total  Goal
------------------------------------------------
2100    48     48   53    53     31     31   -22
2200    27     75   30    83     76    107   +24
2300    52    127   57   140     30    137    -3
0000    58    185   64   204     38    175   -29
0100    43    228   47   251     70    245    -6
0200    47    275   52   303     55    300    -3
0300    33    308   36   339     28    328   -11
0400    45    452   50   389     44    372   -17
0500    41    394   45   434     28    400   -34768
0600    48    442   53   487     41    441   -46
0700    58    500   64   551     35    476   -76
0800     8    508    9   559     31    507   -52
0900     0    508    0   559      0    507   -52
1000     0    508    0   559      0    507   -52
1100     0    508    0   559      0    507   -52
1200     0    508    0   559      0    507   -52
1300     0    508    0   559      0    507   -52
1400    23    531   25   585     40    547   -38
1500    32    563   35   620     52    599   -21
1600    34    597   37   658     36    635   -23
1700    26    623   29   686     42    677    -9
1800    23    646   25   711     18    695   -16
1900    25    671   28   739     42    737    -2
2000    26    697   29   768     28    765    -3
2100    24    721   26   794     10    775   -19 *
2200    35    756   39   833     49    824    -9
2300    60    816   66   899     38    862   -37
0000    50    866   55   954     54    916   -38
0100    61    927   67   1021    42    958   -63
0200    40    967   44   1065    27    985   -80


* Lost will to face 20M, took some off-time


---------------------------------------------------


Cabrillo Statistics           (Version 10g)           by K5KA &
N6TVhttp://bit.ly/cabstat


CALLSIGN: KM6I
CONTEST: ARRL-SS-SSB
CATEGORY-OPERATOR: SINGLE-OP
CATEGORY-TRANSMITTER: ONE
OPERATORS: KM6I


-------------- Q S O   R a t e   S u m m a r y ---------------------
Hour     160     80     40     20     15     10    Rate Total    Pct
--------------------------------------------------------------------
2100       0      0      0     31      0      0     31     31    3.1
2200       0      0      0      2      0     74     76    107   10.9
2300       0      0      0     14      0     16     30    137   13.9
0000       0      0      0     38      0      0     38    175   17.8
0100       0      0      0     70      0      0     70    245   24.9
0200       0      0     52      3      0      0     55    300   30.5
0300       0     18     10      0      0      0     28    328   33.3
0400       0     30     14      0      0      0     44    372   37.8
0500       0      0     28      0      0      0     28    400   40.6
0600       0     41      0      0      0      0     41    441   44.8
0700       0      9     26      0      0      0     35    476   48.3
0800       0     31      0      0      0      0     31    507   51.5
0900       0      0      0      0      0      0      0    507   51.5
1000       0      0      0      0      0      0      0    507   51.5
1100       0      0      0      0      0      0      0    507   51.5
1200       0      0      0      0      0      0      0    507   51.5
1300       0      0      0      0      0      0      0    507   51.5
1400       0      0      0      9     31      0     40    547   55.5
1500       0      0      0     24     28      0     52    599   60.8
1600       0      0      0     13     23      0     36    635   64.5
1700       0      0      0     27     15      0     42    677   68.7
1800       0      0      0     18      0      0     18    695   70.6
1900       0      0      0      0     25     17     42    737   74.8
2000       0      0      0     11      0     17     28    765   77.7
2100       0      0      0     10      0      0     10    775   78.7
2200       0      0      0     18     31      0     49    824   83.7
2300       0      0      1     19     18      0     38    862   87.5
0000       0      0     28     26      0      0     54    916   93.0
0100       0      0     38      4      0      0     42    958   97.3
0200       0     15      0     12      0      0     27    985  100.0
------------------------------------------------------
Total      0    144    197    349    171    124    985


Gross QSOs=994        Dupes=9        Net QSOs=985


Unique callsigns worked = 985


The best 60 minute rate was 76/hour from 2200 to 2259
The best 30 minute rate was 90/hour from 2226 to 2255
The best 10 minute rate was 108/hour from 1455 to 1504


The best 1 minute rates were:
 4 QSOs/minute    1 times.
 3 QSOs/minute   16 times.
 2 QSOs/minute  175 times.
 1 QSOs/minute  583 times.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

20M Sweepstakes Heckler

This is one of the more creative hecklers I've heard in recent November Sweepstakes:



And it just begged to be worked into a riff: