Posts Tagged ‘Contesting’

CQ WW CW contest wrap up

 
  Another CW contest is in the books and this is the first time that Murphy stayed far away from me. I spent the longest time I ever have sitting in the contest chair, one reason could have been it was rainy and cold outside. I took one-hour sessions at a time with about a 10-minute break and lunch and dinner. I found this worked very well and allowed me to focus better when I was on the radio. I spent most of my time in running mode ( calling CQ contest and listening for callers) I will be honest there were times I did have issues and most likely ticked off some contesters with my failing to get their call, but oh well we all have to learn.  A highlight was contacting a fellow blogger Bas PE4BAS on 2 different bands. With calling CQ or running I found the time just flew past and before I knew it I was coming up on my 1-hour break mark. Having said that at times when someone spots you on the cluster (thanks Bas) it can get jam-packed. At one point I answered and logged 136 QSO's in 1 hour! My theory is, keep my CW speed at a moderate level (around 29-27 WPM) and I figure I may get more callers. I could go faster but I feel I limit my prospects. Having said that while going at 29wpm I did get over and over stations coming back to me at 32-39 wpm, could be those I have worked in my weekly CWops mini contest and know the speed can be picked up a notch. But it does throw you off to all of a sudden get a call out of the blue at 36 wpm.  It was nice to see 10m open and I was able to make some DX contacts. On Sunday afternoon 15m opened to South America and Hawaii which allowed me to get some nice multiplier contacts. I was very happy with how the new Hustler 4BTV performed as this was the first major contest I was able to use it in. My dream goal was to double last year's score and I went way beyond that! As a side note: This morning was the weekly Monday running of the ICWC MST (medium speed 1-hour contest) I gave the morning session a go and what a DISASTER it was! Not sure if there is such a thing as day after major CW contest brain fog but I sure did have it. A half-hour into the hour session I was ready to pull the plug but I hung on and ate humble pie. I was hearing the correct call but typing differently, hearing letters that just were not there, logging a contact before I received their full exchange and as a call was being sent to me I was like a deer in headlights. I could not send or receive S.O.S. if my life depended on it.  Oh well, water under the bridge and just for the heck of it I am going to jump back in the operating chair for the afternoon MST session. What could go wrong eh?        

CQ WW CW DX contest this weekend!


 

 This weekend the bands will be alive with CW for the CQ WW CW DX contest. If you are not a contester this still is a great weekend to grab some DXCCs for your log book towards an award. If you are a CW contester then hold on and enjoy. Today I spent some time making sure the Hustler 4BTV vertical was ok, updated my contesting software N1MM+, ran a check on the macros and made sure the trusty Icom 7610 and the 9AN5 touch keyer are ready to go. I am hoping Murphy will stay far away this weekend and allow me to enjoy the music of morse!

Contesting and Murphy what a mix!


 Just taking a break from the WAE CW contest this morning (Sunday) and this contest has been an adventure! Issues with S.T.E.V.E (more about this after the contest in another post) and then Murphy showed up. A few days before any contest I get the PC, radio and N1MM+ contest logger going and make sure all is well, and it was. 


Murphy had no issue waiting, I started contesting and things went wrong right at the get-go, as I was CWing "CQ CONTEST" a warning on my PC came up that I lost my internet connection. Then another message informed me my connection had been re-established. This just kept happening over and over and it was only when I was transmitting. This told me RFI was the issue, NEVER up until now have I ever had this issue but such is Murphy. 


 The contest at this point was a bit slow so I decided to investigate the issue further. I had a theory and that was my new PC motherboard has WIFI and uses two small antennas at the rear of the PC. I checked my settings and I was on WIFI, not LAN....so I thought. I removed the two small WIFI antenna thinking that they would be good at picking up RFI and thus could be the reason. I then set my LAN as the internet connection. 


After restarting my PC I was back to contesting but this time there was the loss of internet connection but not as often. Thinking now it was possibly my LAN hub at the rear of the PC. I then connected my LAN (with toroidal chokes) directly to my PC. Again I had intermittent connection issues and I was sure it was still the WIFI and maybe the antenna female connector ends on the PC motherboard were picking up RF still. The issue happened less often so removing the antennas did help.

 
It was not off to the BIOS to shut the motherboard WIFI down.....going into the BIOS.....what could go wrong here?? Once in the BIOS, I clicked here and there and just could not find any WIFI settings. Closed the BIOS and restarted the PC.
Once restarted I knew something was wrong, the PC was really slow and jerky is the best way to describe it. I went to the internet to see what the hell I had done only to find the internet now was running as if I was on dial-up! 


I have now gone from intermittent internet connection to a funky PC and very slow internet speed. Oh, and I also noticed that in my contest program N1MM+ I lost the contest macro setup and all my contacts. I have no idea what that has to do with the BIOS but it happened.
After some reading on the internet on my laptop, I concluded the best thing to do was update the BIOS and MSI motherboards they make it very easy to do. My thought was, that whatever the heck I did will be undone by a BIOS update. After all, I have nothing to lose if I wanted I could reformat the hard drive and slide a backup clone image onto the drive from my backup files on another hard drive. I would have all my programs and setting from an earlier time. Some may think I could just use Windows system restore. In times of need, I have ALWAYS had system restore let me down with a final message after a restore that windows was unable to restore to an earlier date!! 


The BIOS updated without any issues and when the PC restarted I was back to normal but the slow internet was still there and RFI seemed to be dropping the connection still. I just happened to go back to Windows 10 internet connections box (for the 100th time) but this time I noticed for some reason I was back on WIFI. I manually changed it back to LAN and the connection issue was gone and the surfing speed was back. 


I decided to restart the PC and have a look at the Windows 10 internet connections box again. After the restart, I was back on WIFI again and it would seem for some reason each time the PC was restarted it would default back to WIFI. The very slow connection was due to the fact the antennas were removed and RFI was affecting the WIFI board via the female antenna connectors.

 
I then just right-clicked on the WIFI connection icon and clicked disable!! You know what folks that did the trick. Only if 2 hours earlier I had done just that I would not have messed with the BIOS, lost my N1MM+ contest settings, squeezed behind my desk to the rear of the PC and wasted 2 hours. Sometimes the solution is just a click away!!

IOTA contest

 


 The Islands on the air contest is sponsored by the Radio Society of Great Britain or RSGB for short. This contest is only 24 hours long and hosts some very nice DX from sometimes remote and DXpedition Islands. If memory serves me correctly I found this year to be more work to pull stations out. The QSB at this end was very deep. At one moment England was there at S5 and then gone. I'm not thinking it was just me as many stations I listened to were asking for report repeats. Oh well, it's all part and parcel of the contesting dream. 


I entered the CW-only category at 100 watts and it was the first time using my new Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna. As everyone has told me and it is true the vertical antenna is a bit noisier than my horizontal End Fed BUT I had better results with the Hustler 4BTV. The very small extra noise with the vertical was taken care of with the noise reduction on the Icom 7610. 


For me, this was not a contest where I was running (calling CQ contest) it was 99% search and pounce. The reason for this was Island stations gave you 15 points compared to 2 points for all other contacts. The Island stations for the most part were running calling CQ contest. With this contest I found it harder to move up the band and bang off contacts and the reason for this was island contacts are big points and they are limited in numbers and that equals pile-ups.
Below is the score summary: 


 


Here are some takeaways of mine from the contest: 


- My CW is improving so the twice-daily practice time is helping. 


- Keeping my butt in the chair even during slow times helped my score. 


- Getting my backside out of bed early on the final day of the contest gave me the rewards of contacting     New Zealand, Austria and Hawaii, along with the 15 bonus points for each.


Contesting with a vertical compared to my End Fed antenna:


- Most all the time if I could hear them I could work them. 


- Omni directional was nice compared to End Fed horizontal directional characteristics. 


-Using the Icom 7610 second receiver to its full potential. I was able to listen to another band with the second receiver. I was not able to do this with the End Fed as I needed the tuner for all bands. I found without using the tuner the receive was very poor with the End Fed.

Where’s My WAZ Certificate?

Guess what! Today, I received (by postal service) this very nice plaque from CQ, for working and confirming all 40 of the worldwide CQ DX Zones.

CQ WAZ NW7US - Mixed

CQ WAZ NW7US – Mixed – Plaque

Many of you wonder, “where are my paper certificates for my WAZ efforts?

At least one, if not all of the following, are reasons why there has been such a long delay in getting paper certificates for the WAZ CQ program:

  1. Paper certificates (blanks) were not available and backordered (Covid, folks).
  2. There is only ONE person doing the lettering (by hand).
  3. The advent of FT8 and FT4 in the WAZ program has SWAMPED the program. There’s a HUGE backlog.

That said, the new CQ WAZ Manager (N4BAA, JOSE CASTILLO) has made the following statement available:

— quote follows —

Effective September 1, 2022, CQ Magazine will no longer provide the Hand Lettered CQ WAZ paper certificate for free.

CQ WAZ AWARD RECIPIENTS HAVE 4 AWARD OPTIONS:

  1. Accept the standard award offering which is a High-Definition PDF file. This file can be printed in color and framed and is very nice. This award is delivered immediately with award letter, thus, no waiting.
  2. Select the traditional CQ WAZ Hand-Lettered award: the cost is $19.00 and includes shipping worldwide. This award option is managed by CQ Magazine and can take up to 180 days to receive.
  3. Select a Level I plaque: 7” x 9” two-tone engraved wood plaque: cost is $57 US / $100 International and includes shipping. Delivery time is under 30 days for US stations and less than 60 days internationally.
  4. Select a Level II plaque: 9” x 12” Floating Etched Acrylic over Black Wood: cost is $91 US / $135 International. and includes shipping.

Here is a video that the administrator has posted, about this:

Delivery time is roughly 30 days for US stations and less than 60 days internationally depending on the actual address.

The intent of this program is to respond to the ever-increasing demand for more options that are still very personalized as well as very elegant.

Not every ham is able to achieve the requirements for a 5BWAZ or 160 Meter plaque, so he is making this offering to everyone!

All questions or inquiries and plaque orders should be directed to the CQ WAZ Manager via email at [email protected] or postal mail via QRZ.com address.

All plaque data will be taken directly from the information provided in your email. The CQ WAZ manager will not be responsible for errors in data supplied by the recipient other than AWARD type and Award number.

To Place Order: send the information below via email to [email protected] or via postal mail to my QRZ.com address and please double-check spelling etc.

Email Subject line should be: “WAZ PLAQUE ORDER – YOUR CALL

Then, provide the following information:

Call Sign:
Desired Name on Plaque:
WAZ AWARD Type
(example: MIXED, RTTY, 15M CW, EME, etc.)
SERIAL NUMBER on award:
Date on Award:
Award Desired:
– Level 1 plaque – $57 US / $100 International
– Level 2 plaque – $91 US / $135 International

There you have it…

73 de NW7US dit dit

 

CQ WPX CW contest….well I started with great hopes!

Intentionally left upside down as this was how things turned out.

 Well here we are it's Monday and as I look back to Friday and the dreams of contest sugar cookies dancing in my head and how things can change! The contest was the CQ WPX CW contest and as of Friday evening I was all ready to give it a decent go. The propagation numbers were not in our favour as the Kp index rolled up to 5 and thus lots of signal QSB.

It was Saturday morning and I was just beginning to call CQ TEST when my dear wife came in and announced "I think I hear water running come and have a listen". Those words are any given day are not what you want to hear. The contest came to a grinding halt and it was taken over by contractors, plumbers and various odds and ends.  I was able to get in and out of the contest but only for very short times. The outcome was a poor showing but a better and upgraded plumbing! 

For the limited time I was in the contest here are some of my take a ways from it:

As said the conditions on Saturday were poor and I found myself calling CQ TEST and as time past with no answer my mind began to wonder. Looking around the shack, looking at the operating desk and icons on the desktop. Then all of a sudden an answer came and I was not at all ready for it. Thus repeats and some frustration. 

I really wanted to work in the contest at improving my run abilities and it was just not happening as I was calling CQ TEST sometime for over 10 minutes with no answer. I then went to search and pounce and did up my score that way. Lesson learned....go to search and pounce when calling CQ TEST is just not happening. 

Murphy did hit me with the plumbing issue as well my own carelessness...for example when I setup my CW macros and tested them before the contest I turned the power out to zero. Well this ham radio guy forgot to turn the power back up to 100 watts and for about 20 minutes I was calling CQ TEST with ZERO output!! To boot the radio have a LARGE meter showing zero out and my LDG tuner has the same. Lesson learned to pay attention and not to wonder. 

Not much else and since this is not a home repair blog I will skip the very expensive plumbing repairs.

Below is the final score. 




CQ WPX CW contest….well I started with great hopes!

Intentionally left upside down as this was how things turned out.

 Well here we are it's Monday and as I look back to Friday and the dreams of contest sugar cookies dancing in my head and how things can change! The contest was the CQ WPX CW contest and as of Friday evening I was all ready to give it a decent go. The propagation numbers were not in our favour as the Kp index rolled up to 5 and thus lots of signal QSB.

It was Saturday morning and I was just beginning to call CQ TEST when my dear wife came in and announced "I think I hear water running come and have a listen". Those words are any given day are not what you want to hear. The contest came to a grinding halt and it was taken over by contractors, plumbers and various odds and ends.  I was able to get in and out of the contest but only for very short times. The outcome was a poor showing but a better and upgraded plumbing! 

For the limited time I was in the contest here are some of my take a ways from it:

As said the conditions on Saturday were poor and I found myself calling CQ TEST and as time past with no answer my mind began to wonder. Looking around the shack, looking at the operating desk and icons on the desktop. Then all of a sudden an answer came and I was not at all ready for it. Thus repeats and some frustration. 

I really wanted to work in the contest at improving my run abilities and it was just not happening as I was calling CQ TEST sometime for over 10 minutes with no answer. I then went to search and pounce and did up my score that way. Lesson learned....go to search and pounce when calling CQ TEST is just not happening. 

Murphy did hit me with the plumbing issue as well my own carelessness...for example when I setup my CW macros and tested them before the contest I turned the power out to zero. Well this ham radio guy forgot to turn the power back up to 100 watts and for about 20 minutes I was calling CQ TEST with ZERO output!! To boot the radio have a LARGE meter showing zero out and my LDG tuner has the same. Lesson learned to pay attention and not to wonder. 

Not much else and since this is not a home repair blog I will skip the very expensive plumbing repairs.

Below is the final score. 





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