CQWW SSB 2016 – The Analysis

Before starting this post let me be clear. Conditions really sucked. It was much more difficult to hear usually loud stations (K3LR, W3LPL …) but the contest was fun indeed. Score is down, as well as the number of DXCCs and Zones. I could hear some “new” DXCCs on the air but they were damn too weak and/or they had an heavy pileup or they just CQed in my face over and over.

The final score is down 11.5% while the on air time is a bit higher than last year. Unfortunately N1MM counts on air time in a “still not known to me” way so all the time I was online just waiting my turn to work a DX or calling CQ hopelessly (yes, by frustration I did that too) was likely not counted.

Nonetheless here is my score:

score

All in all is not that bad, conditions considered, but I already saw an enourmous score (1.7 Million) declared by a station from Cyprus so I expect other huge scores, especially from OK2FD, RA0AY and other well known well equipped contesters.

Anyway I had some spare time today so I decided to run a log analysis taking into consideration last year log and this year one. Here the highlights:

cattura1

22 less QSOs, not a huge issue but still less points. This year I did a wiser use of the cluster. Devoted more time on some double mult. Worked on quality other than quantity. Maybe I finally understood how to play “Assisted”, better later than never 😉

cattura

cattura2

QSO per band is scary. A huge yay for 160m and 80m tallies this year (my super ugly Inv-L did a good job and I already added more radials for the CW part) but 10m and 15m were horrible. Not only the number of QSOs is down, also the quality. Last year, zone 5 (most common US zone) netted 53 contacts, this year only 35. Zone 17 (Asiatic Russia mostly) netted 120 contacts while this year exactly half of them. That means way less point per QSO. On the contrary the number of short skip QSOs improved a lot with a huge number of Zone 14 contacts as well as Zone 20. Lukily I’m in Europe, who knows what has happened in the US, especially the central part and the Western part.

No JA worked and no OC worked either. Actually, not many DXes, almost like a “local” contest but participation, at least, was huge. Honestly that more-than-million point startles me but hey, that’s the game. I just hope to finish among the top ten at least even though i honestly doubt it.

See you in the CQWW CW, likely SOAB LP but still to decide honestly.

Maybe you can find me in some casual contest operation before the WW too, to test the low band antenna before the real shake-down.

CQ TEST 🙂

 

A New Toy – FT-950

There it goes, a new toy enters my shack. A pretty large one too.

img-20161029-wa0012

I recently acquired a second handed FT-950. An HF-50MHz 100W base RTX that is a slightely upgrade from the FT-450 electronic wise but a huge upgrade ergonomically wise.

I have it for a week now and had very limited time to make adjustments and play with it except for the CQWW SSB I did last weekend. Playing in a major contest with an “unknown” rig is for sure a silly thing to do but I was sort of self confident that being a Yaesu I could already do all I needed without main troubles.

More or less that was it. But the story of the CQWW will enter into another post I will publish in a couple of days.

Back to the 950. The main tuning knob is amazing, especially if you come from a small tuning knob of the FT-450. The received audio is really enjoyable to listen to. The two selectable antennas are a great feature as well. You don’t need an external switch if you only have two (nice for my current Two Radio setup actually, but that will be my main radio ).

Among the bad things I found in such a radio I can for sure mention the fact that the “Select” knob is a bit “sloppy” and has too many functions but not an interesting one. On the FT-450 the “DSP/SEL” knob was used to move across the band in KHz steps, pretty useful if you wanted to sweep the band quickly to listen to weak signals. The 950 select knob doesn’t do that, and no knob actually does that so you can just use the main VFO one and go with the pre-setted Hz steps. Not a huge issue, but a matter of habits I think.

What really interests me is the fact that you can mod it and extract the 69MHz IF in order to build a “poor man” panadapter. This definitely intrigues me as I really think that having the spectrum display helps a lot in S&P contesting activities. I would have gone on an SDR if the lack of an “old style” user interface (knobs…knobs….moaaar knobs 🙂 ) didn’t frighten me.

All in all, a great radio. Hope to have more time to play with it for a more in depth “review”, so far so good 🙂

CQWW RTTY 2016

Just 2 hours on Sunday night before the end of the contest. Been out all the weekend with my girlfriend so didn’t really play anyhting serious. Decided to enter the SOSB 80m QRP Classic as no cluster or second radio was used. Of course op time was less than the 24 hours required by the rules 😉

wwtty16

wwtty16_1

30Qs and a bit more than 1000 points. A couple of interesting stations (MD/DL7VEE) as well as some quick fun in a couple of CQs that, once skimmered, got me a big gun rate of 5 stations 😀

See you next contest

WSPR

While working on other non-ham things at the computer I decided to give WSPR receiving a go. This is the result of a few hours of RX this morning with the FT-450 and a multiband vertical.

wspr

It was awesome to see the trace of ZL3DMH and VK2EFM right there. Quite some miles.

As a side note I was pretty happy to see that my station was one of the few Europeans to pick it up at that time. Same thing happened with the VK2EFM. Quite an accomplishment for me.

zl3dmh

 

WRTC Rebooted

wrtc2018-jpg

When you think about contesting you think about a big radio game, a radio sport. If you parallel contesting to another well known sport you find, indeed, quite some differences.

wrtc-2010-russiaThe playing field is not leveled, people with lots of power is competing with people with way less power (just speaking of legal national limits without factoring cheating) and so on. As if it were not enough, cheating is widespreaded too. Out of band transmitting, multiple signals, log padding, power cheating. All of these can go undetected fr the fact that all the competitors are not playing in the same field at the same time under the careful watch of a referee or a judge.

WRTC, World Radiosport Team Championship, is what gets closer to an olimpic game and a real sporting competition being all competitors on the same place at the same time with the same type of equipment.

The real issue is that only a few luky ones are allowed to take part to WRTC given the result of a set of qualifying events held during the years before the WRTC itself. The point is: Qualifying events should be fairer as there might be lots of deserving contesters that should be allowed to take part to such an event but, due to many constraints, can not.

This summer, while sunbathing at the seaside with my girlfriend, I came up with a few lines of a possible “better” (let’s call it different) qualifying criteria that could be used for the upcoming WRTCs.

WRTC 2014 FA

WRTC (since Russian’s 2010) format require a field day station (antennas/radio installed for the competition only), a common antenna type (single threebander and wires for 40-80m) and a 100W max output power. Obviously, if you check the current WRTC2018 Qualification Standings the names of the top contesters, those that will likely become Team Leaders and qualify, uses way better stations’ setups than those that will be used in the field at WRTC. That, in my opinion, doesn’t make much sense. It’s like qualifying for the world’s most important running marathon using the bus or a car.

Qualifying events should be in a leveled playing field and under the same circumstances. How can that be done when the competitors willing to take part to WRTC comes from every area of the world?

The following is a rough idea of how WRTC qualifying should work.

Station type: field day style. threebander/wires for low bands. 100W maximum (cluster can be permitted IMHO)

Qualifying events: IARU HF World Championship

Year 1: local (same region/state/call area among a DXCC) competition. Top regional stations will enter the national event the next year.

Year 2: National (DXCC) event where the top regional winners of the wualifying year 1 will be qualified for the qualification area event.

Year 3: Top 2 for each DXCC will enter the qualification area event and the winners will be qualified for WRTC.

Year 4: WRTC !!!

Doing so there are way less contests to qualify, competition can be wider since even the “little pistols” can feel the possibility to qualify and, at least, compete in a WRTC style event at a regional and/or national event. The selected contest is the IARU HF Championship due to the fact that its the contest used to run WRTC every four years.

The ideal thing is that each competing station should have an on site judge to oversee the contester’s activity and field station to prevent cheating and such. Maybe the various clubs might provide it. Audio/Video proof can be a viable alternative to on site referees in case a judge cannot be appointed for a number of reasons.

On the CQ Contest reflector there has been a massive discussion on the “team” aspect. Being WRTC a team competition (2 operators per each station in a sort of M/S) it should be fair if both of the team actually qualify in order to compete and not that the Team Mate is chosen among the friends of the qualified Team Leader. Obviously the best thing would be to decide the team before entering the qualification period and enter all the qualifying events with the same team mate in order to qualify “as a team” for the WRTC event.

In my opinion this way more contesters are granted the possibility to join the WRTC and even if they can’t get till the last step, the real competition, they can compare themselves with other contesters in a leveled playing field and could be a rewarding experience for anyone.

Comments? Ideas?

I would really like to see such a format to be used for the upcoming WRTCs, even using Field Day or other contests as qualifying events to widen then number of qualifying events.

WAE DX CW and Wide Signals

I was not able to take part to WAE DX CW contest this weekend since I was chilling out on holidays in a wonderful and sunny place. I had internet and the computer with me for other purposes and I happened to check around the bands in a few “slow” moments while my girlfriend was busy with other duties before and after heading out to the seaside or heading to town for some tourist activities.

I connected to the well-known Twente University online SDR (a really nice one to listen around in the HF spectrum for both broadcasting, utility as well as hamradio signals). I’m rather new to SDRs and seeing the whole CW subband on the screen is always a thrill, especially in CW or when there are a number of signals active on the band. During WAE CW 40 20 and 15 were quite busy, also due to the rather good propagation.

Bandmap

It is nice to see so many signals and especially on CW (or digital modes) where all the traces are thin and closely spaced. Unfortunately what I saw was not exactly a perfect thing (perfect thing doesn’t exist but still…you can get close).

Lots of signals seems pretty wide and my head started thinking. Its not long ago since CQWW introduced the “clean signals policy” into its rules with the aim to limit the bad and distorted audios and signals during the competition. It is not that the bad signals are always wanted, let’s be clear, but still it gives a lot of issues to the nearby contesters that are splattered and disturbed by the wide and non-regulated nearby signals. A perfect “guide” is the one that you can find on the cqww.com website at the following link.

With a quick visual scan of the bands I could isolate some sort of wide CW signals that were for sure being an issue for the nearby competitors. I will not disclose callsigns for sake of “privacy” and because I do not like to name names but I definitely hope that someone reading this (I know I have less than the 25 readers of Manzoni) will double check its gear to make sure he is both compliant with the rules and a gentleman on the air.

One of the identified wide signals, notice the difference with the clean close by signals

One of the identified wide signals, notice the difference with the clean close by signals

At times when you have a noisy neighbour you might get noisy too…and you don’t notice yourself till someone makes you notices that.

Cattura1

Two wide signals quite close each other

Another wide one in a less crowded band

Another wide one in a less crowded band

Getting worse and worse

Getting worse and worse

Spectrum bully

Spectrum bully

How can you hold a run here?

How can you hold a run here?

As I said no callsign named (but I have my sort of black book with the calls well written). I spent quite some time listening to these signals during the weekend at different times and I have to admit most (but not all) were Europeans.  It is a real pity contest organizers do not look for such stations and ask for clarifications. I am not saying they are all doing it on purpose but I think contesting is a really technical part of our hobby and if you are able to build your own contest station, maybe even a multi op multi transmitter station, the engineering skills to try to reduce such a problem are at your hands and, if someone tells you “Your audio is distorted/Your signal is too wide” you should definitely backtrack the problem trying to solve it (or at least, do your best). Did you see/heard anything similar? want to share your opinion? let me know more about that in the comments, I will try to get back to all of you.

Thanks for reading till here.

EU HF Championship 2016

                    European HF Championship

Call: IZ3NVR
Operator(s): IZ3NVR
Station: IZ3NVR

Class: CW Only LP
QTH: 
Operating Time (hrs): 7
Remote Operation

Summary:
 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Mults
---------------------------
  160:   10            10
   80:   70            34
   40:   83            38
   20:  137            50
   15:  133            49
   10:   86            42
---------------------------
Total:  519     0     223  Total Score = 115,737

Club: Worldwide Young Contesters

Comments:

Wow, that was fun. I was not sure to take part to it due to other duties but
finally gave it a go remotely using Teamviewer to access N1MM in my shack PC.

The lack of a "real knob" limited me to a simple click and pounce
technique and some CQs here and there. I got really lots of fun CQing, hope
some little delay didn't made me sound like a lid. Judging by the rates it
doesn't seem like (lots of run with rates >100Q/h with an Amazing top of a
213Q/h on 80m just before quitting).

Highlights:
- 10Qs on 160m on a run frequency!! WOW
- 100W really does the difference 
- final rush around 1AM local with a 213QSO/h rate on 80m. A pity I had to shut
down after a while.
- Nice virtual battle on cqcontest.net with IT9CLN :)
- Was fun to hear OQ5M (ON5ZO) slowing his rate to say hi to me, thanks Franki

Definitely want a better low band antenna. It is Amazing for working EU but I
need a more "DX" type antenna for the CQWWs.

FT450AT @90W
10-15-20 Verticsl
40-80 Dipole
80-160 "ugly" Inv-L