Doin’ the Contest Thing

I spent a good part of the day working stations in the ARRL RTTY Roundup. I decided to use “classic” RTTY, rather than one of the new modes (FT8, PSK31, etc). I had to fiddle a while to get all the software working together, but nothing serious. I used Win4Icom, my IC-7300, FLDIGI, and N1MM+ Logger. It all played well together. I was running about 30 watts power out.

My first contacts in the contest …

I had tried to use a different RTTY engine before (MMTTY), but had a few issues with it. It worked … but I was less than impressed with some aspects of it and that’s what led me to try FLDIGI.

I operated AFSK (Audio Frequency Shift Keying), using the sound card in the IC-7300 and the only little nag there, is my ALC was at about 50 percent on transmit. The manual says this is OK, but I’ve always tried to get it as close to zero as possible. I think there’s a way to use both the USB and CI-V cables to use FSK (Frequency Shift Keying). I’ll have to research that.

The IC-7300 will do FSK in the RTTY mode, and there’s lots of memories for preprogramming contest messages, so I guess you could work a contest just sitting there reading the display and pressing buttons, but then you don’t get the integrated logging that N1MM+ gives you. Synergy, I think they call that!

I probably would have continued on a bit more, but !!MAN!! — did that stint at the radio do a job on my lower back. I definitely know I’ve been sitting in a “not too comfortable” chair for a long time. I definitely need to take more frequent breaks and walk around a bit.

So that’s the story! Maybe I’ll get on the air a bit more tomorrow afternoon … we’ll see. I have good intentions …

So far, my stats are 75 QSOs and 2,625 points … only 3 DX QSOs … all the rest USA and Canada. Pretty pathetic, huh? Hey, don’t judge me … I’m playing radio!

UPDATE: I ended up with 161 QSOs, 7 of which were DX stations, and 8,050 points. I had fun!

73 de Dick N4BC

Hey … Lookee Here …

2018 FT8 Roundup Certificate

Nothing great, but I was #12 in Virginia! Seriously though, it’s always nice to get another piece of paper for your wall … I don’t have enough already!

ARRL’s RTTY Roundup is this coming weekend and it encompasses most digital modes … Baudot RTTY, PSK, FT8, ASCII, AMTOR, Packet—attended operation only — on 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands. Everybody works everybody. See the ARRL website for the rules. Not sure if I’m goinng to be on, but if I am, “Hope to see you!”

73 de Dick N4BC

FT8 Roundup Preliminary Results

The raw scores for the first FT8 Roundup have been published on the website. Here’s my numbers …

My RAW Score … 71 RAW QSOs, 37 RAW Multipliers and a Total RAW Score of 2627

As I said before, mine was a sort of slapdash effort, but still fun. As a reference, the top RAW score for single-op was WV4P 706/97/68482. The lowest score was 1 QSO/1 Mult/RAW score 1. Just looking at physical position in the listing, I’m somewhere near the middle, I think. Of course, these scores will be refined … this is before checking for dupes, busted calls, etc. I didn’t count through the listing, but I read somewhere that there were over 1000 logs received, and almost 600 instances where operators were mentioned in those submitted logs but didn’t send in a log themselves. All in all, a resounding success for a first contest!

BTW, in case you haven’t heard, the new version of WSJT-X is out … ver. 2.0.0. You can get it HERE. UPGRADE!!

Correction: An article on the ARRL website says there were 1300 log submissions.

73 & Happy Holidays de Dick N4BC

A New Baby!

Look, guys … it’s a new baby straight key!

Black Micro Morse Key with Red Knob

It’s a 3-D printed straight key mounted on a solid aluminum base … really stable (also available without the base). The base is 3.75 x 1.5 inches (10 x 3.8 cm). It’s produced by a father/son team in Texas and the price is reasonable. The service is super fast, too!  The company is CW Morse and there are all sorts of color combinations and styles available. A more limited selection is available at MFJ, under MFJ’s own part number. Check out CW Morse’s site for more details and prices. I’m really looking forward to getting out in the field with this one. Actually, I think it’ll be put to use in the shack on the ARRL Straight Key Night, January 1st, from 0000 to 2359 UTC. See you there!

73 de Dick N4BC

Hey! Where’d they all go?

Checked out FT8 last night … started by using WSJT-X 2.0 rc5 … crickets! Where’d everybody go after the contest? Lots of activity on the spectrum display. So I reverted to ver 1.9.1 and voila! … tons of stations!

I think it’s going to be an uphill battle to move everybody to the newer version. Still, when the non-beta version 2.0 is released on December 10th, I may be surprised. I hope so … this newer iteration of WSJT-X really has some good features and Joe and his crew seem to have fine-tuned the decoding algorithm for optimum performance.

73 de Dick N4BC