Sunday, November 29, 2009

CQWW CW 2009

I spent a little over 8 hours playing in the CQWW CW contest this weekend:

Band QSOs Pts Cty ZN
1.8 1 2 1 1
3.5 16 41 7 9
7 81 209 31 19
14 13 35 5 6
21 20 53 11 10
28 2 6 1 1
Total 133 346 56 46
Score: 35,292

Most of my operating was overnight, when the kids were in bed, but I did get to spend some time on 20, 15, and 10 during the day. I got six new countries, which brings my DXCC worked count to 114:

Barbados: 8P5A and 8P9SS
East Malaysia: 9M8YY
Costa Rica: TI5N
Mongolia: JT1C
Nigaragua: YN2GY
Grenada: J39BS

And, although this wasn't a new country for me, as I have it confirmed from 1977, I worked Senegal, 6W1RW on 40m.

I'm just amazed at how many of the stations along the east coast of Europe and Africa were able to copy my 100 watts and a dipole (Madeira Island, Canary Islands, Senegal, Galapagos Islands, Portugal)

Here's the complete list of all the different countries (34 total):

Asiatic Russia
Bonaire, Curacao (Neth. Antilles)
British Virgin Is.
Canary Is.
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
East Malaysia
Galapagos Is.
Madeira Is.
New Zealand
Turks & Caicos Is.
United States of America
Virgin Is.

Monday, November 23, 2009

ARRL Sweepstakes, SSB

This last weekend was the ARRL Phone Sweepstakes. I was hoping to get lucky and make 376 contacts to go with the 624 I had during the CW contest, to make an even 1,000. As the weekend approached, though, I realized that other obligations were going to turn the contest into an overnight operating event, with no daytime operation. Even if I was operating the whole time the kids were asleep, I'd still need to keep up a rate of 37 QSOs per hour, which is pretty tough for me.

As it turned out, I made exactly 200 QSOs, and got 57 sections, almost all on 40 and 80, plus a few when 20 opened in the AM:

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

Class: SO Unlimited LP
QTH: Mountain View, CA
Operating Time (hrs): 9

Band QSOs
160: 0
80: 127
40: 61
20: 12
15: 0
10: 0
Total: 200 Sections = 57 Total Score = 22,800

Club: Northern California Contest Club


K3 barefoot, G5RV inverted vee at 60 feet.

Family obligations kept this to an overnight effort.

I actually had a nice 20-minute run on 80, working mostly other NCCC members. And, for the first time, I had someone deliberately QRM me. How flattering! I thought I wasn't loud enough to be a target!

But listening to the recording, I have some opportunities to crispen up my phone contesting. I tend to say "QSL," "you are," and "number" when they aren't really necessary, and the pace of my recorded exchange seems positively glacial compared to some of the better operators. On the bright side, I read numbers correctly, giving each number individually, and can more or less type and talk at the same time.

So between the CW and Phone weekends, I contributed 122,640 points to the NCCC club score. This was an improvement of 96,994 points over my scores from last year (4.75 times as many points).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another lucky night

Tonight I was tuning around 40m and found PZ5RA (Suriname) before the hordes descended.

QSO audio

This is DXCC #105 worked for me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A nice DX night on 40 and 30 meters

Got XR0Y (Easter Island), 5W0NM (Samoa), and TX3A (Chesterfield Island) on 40m CW tonight, around midnight local time.

Here's the TX3A QSO: Audio

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Best Hour

Here's an audio recording of my best one-hour rate (39 QSOs, mostly S&P, 40 meters) in the 2009 CW SS. Sorry about the poor quality - I forgot to readjust the audio into the computer before I started recording at the beginning of the contest, and the audio is way too hot.

Listening to this, what strikes me is:

- How little traction I got calling CQ.
- How often I got an answer on my first S&P call.
- How lazy I was moving between S&P opportunities, or moving on after I didn't make it on the first call.

For SS SSB, which will probably be an all S&P effort on 40/80, I'd better keep moving faster.

Monday, November 9, 2009

ARRL November Sweepstakes - CW

SSCW is in the logbooks, and here's how I did:

Callsign Used : KM6I
Operator(s) : KM6I
Station: KM6I

Class: SO Unlimited LP

Name : Gordon Good
City/State/Zip : Mountain View CA 94040

ARRL Section : SCV
Club/Team : Northern California Contest Club
Software : N1MM Logger V9.10.3

Band QSOs Pts Sec
3.5 133 266 26
7 189 378 49
14 250 500 3
21 52 104 2
Total 624 1248 80

Score : 99,840 (yes, I missed 100k by one lousy Q)
Rig : K3 barefoot, WinKeyer
Tïme: 22 hours

Antennas : G5RV inverted vee at 60 feet, 2-el triband wire yagi at 35 feet

My goal for the two SS weekends this year is to beat my CW score from my first SS in 1978 (303 Qs, 57 Mults, 34,428 points), and make KB-500 between the two weekends. I actually reached both goals this weekend

My wife gave me the whole day off Sunday, so my plan was to get the kids to bed on Saturday, then operate from 0500Z until the end of the contest for a total of 22 hours of BIC. I wasn't sure how motivated I'd stay, as I recall getting pretty tired at some of the W8UM multi-op SS efforts in the 1980s, but it turned out to not be a problem. After 300, I got motivated to hit 400, 500, and then 600.

I was also surprised to find that by the time I came off the low bands and went to 20m for the first time at 1400Z, I already had 75 mults. I guess 40 and 80 were pretty good! I hadn't given any thought to trying for a sweep, but once I was that close, I started paying more attention to the red in the bandmap.

The "secret weapon" for me this year was a homebrew 2-element triband wire yagi, fixed at 70 degrees. I found the design in a back issue of QST (link: The thing worked great - east coast stations were 1 or 2 S-units louder on receive, and I felt loud - often I'd come out on top when several stations were calling. I was able to work MAR with just a few calls (I did wait for the pileups to calm down a bit before I tried, though).

Here's a better picture of the wire yagi:

And this was my first contest with my new K3. It held up well. It got a good workout too, as my neighbor W6XX (5,000 feet east of me) was on and was 60 dB over S9. I was able to work stations a few kHz away from his run frequency - it wasn't easy, and I knew he was there, but I could do it. I also just love the K3's QSK, and the single knob for controlling both the DSP filter width and roofing filter selection. Get the station dialed in and twist the knob to the left until the QRM goes away.

I found that I was able to find a run frequency on the upper edge of the band and run for a while, but after 10 or 20 QSOs, things would dry up. I never got spotted on the cluster, but that's probably because I was up so high in the band and didn't hang around long enough.

Another strategy I used was to "bandmap surf" a few spots I hadn't yet worked. By that I mean I'd click on unworked spots up and down the map until I found one just about to finish a contact. It was more time-efficient than clicking on one and waiting for the current exchange to finish. I did tune and spot stations as well, however.

And my plans to use the K3's subreceiver to do SO2V S&P didn't come to fruition. I'd practiced the mechanics of switching from the run to the S&P frequency and logging the contacts, but I wasn't prepared for the aural onslaught that is a contest. I just lost all confidence in being able to pull it off, so I turned off the KRX3 and only used it when a rare mult went split. Maybe next time...

It was also nice to finally work Scot, KA3DRR in a contest, and to run into my W8UM acquaintance Steve, K8QKY, running stations on 20. I was looking forward to, but missed working Tim, KT8K.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Triband Wire Yagi Flies!

This morning I pulled my homebrew two-elelement triband yagi up. I got the design from a QST article: (ARRL members only)

I need to pull it up a little higher, but when I'm done, it'll be in a sloping configuration, with the feedpoint at about 35 feet. Just listening around 20m now, it's a really significant improvement to the east coast - a W2 calling CQ was down in the noise on my G5RV, but was much better copy on the beam.

If the antenna performs as expected, this should give me about one S-unit improvement at a heading of about 70 degrees.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A QRQ Nightmare

What would it sound like if everyone in SSCW slowly QRQ'd up to 100wpm? Listen to this: QRQ Nightmare

NCCC SSCW Practice Recording

I couldn't make the NCCC SSCW practice session tonight, but I did turn on the receiver and set up audacity to record it. The left channel is the main receiver of my K3, parked on 7.040 with the wide (2.8 KHz) filter on, and the right channel is the subreceiver on 3.540. Here's what it sounded like from Mountain View, CA

SSCW Practice, 11-6-2009 (10mb mp3)

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Ok, I think I'm pretty much ready to go for the ARRL Sweepstakes CW Contest this weekend, with a few minor exceptions. The checklist:
  • I'm pretty comfortable with basic operation of my new Elecraft K3. I can do all the things I *think* I'll need to do to the radio during the contest: tune either VFO, adjust the filter bandwidth, adjust receiver audio, use RIT. Other stuff I need to do via the computer: turn on/off subrx, log, etc. I think I'm good to go. The manual is handy if needed, though.
  • N1MM logger is set up reasonably well.
  • I've practiced with the SO2V support in N1MM enough to believe I can tune around for S&P QSOs while CQing. The KRX3 has some restrictions about which bands it can be on relative to the main RX that may make it hard to do multi-band SO2V in the heat of battle, but I'll see how I do. If all else fails, I can abandon SO2V (so I'm not "Single Operator Distracted").
  • The Secret Weapon (2-el triband wire yagi) has been built and tuned. I just need to hang it from the tree Fri or Sat, and I should hopefully be one S-unit louder at 70 degrees.
  • And last but not least: the shack is CLEAN (it was a real pig-sty last week):
I'm planning to operate from 9pm Saturday local time until the end of the contest at 7pm Sunday (22 hours). I realize this will leave me out of the initial action, but I've got to referee my son's soccer game on Sat afternoon, and this schedule just worked out best for the family duties.

The overall goal is to make 500 contacts between the CW and SSB weekends, although now that I've secured 22 hours for CW, I think I should raise the bar a bit.

Still to do:
  • Get all the Butt-In-Chair support ready, which I think will be: energy bars, water, ham sandwiches (no pun intended - I often crave them*, a pot of coffee, and some leftover Hallloween candy for late in the contest.
  • Look over W0YK's packet spot filters and figure out how to use them.
For the curious:
  • That's a Yaesu FT-857D next to the K3 (in case a meteor lands on the K3 during the contest).
  • The WinKeyer and paddle are to the right and behind the wire inbox tray.
  • No, I don't have an amplifier (yet).
  • Yes, the shack is narrow: the room is 5 ft by 10ft. It's a little room at the back of a detached garage on our property. I like to think of it as "cozy."
* - When I've done 24-hour cycling distance events, I always seem to end up craving ham sandwiches with about 6 hours to go.