Top Band Contesting

2010 ARRL 160 meter contest  — Spent 7 hours over the course of the contest.

SOHP non-assisted

Got all states EXCEPT ND, AK, HI, WV

 Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec  Cty

   1.8  348     714  64   9

 Total   348     714  64   9

Building….

12/04/10 — Constructed an Inverted-L for 160 meters.  Vertical component is 75 ft and horizontal is 100 ft.  It is attached to Tower #1 at the 75 ft standoff, and the horizontal runs due north toward a tall pine tree.  It is grounded to the same radial field used for the 80m shunt fed tower.

Here is the file for EZNEC model of the Inverted-L

12/02/10 — Built a simple contesting accessory – a footrest with footswitch.  Thanks WX9T for the idea!

W5WZ @ KN5O as W5RU

NOV SS SSB — Participated at KN5O with the W5RU team for a shot at #1 Multi-op.  That was my first experience with a hardware lockout (and the associated frustration that can come!).  Ted & Lorraine are great hosts.  The rest of the team was great – K5ER, KG5VK, K1DW to name those I knew beforehand.

Sweeps

2010 Nov Sweeps SSB  — Single-Op All Band NON-ASSISTED High Power (7 hrs 37 minutes)

        Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec

         3.5      67     134    8

           7     194     388   12

          14     386     772   55

          21       2      4    0

       Total     649    1298   75

            Score : 97,350

I had other commitments, so it was a part-time effort.  However, I had a lot of fun!  I had 42 sections by the end of the first hour.

W5WZ @ K8AZ

10/28 – 10/31/11 — Traveled to K8AZ to join the M/S team for CQ WW SSB. 

The 2011 CQ WW SSB is now history! I left from Shreveport LA on Friday morning. Once I got to Cleveland Ohio (aircraft mechanical problems, late flight crew, missed connection in Dallas, rerouted to Chicago, near-miss connection, and lost luggage), I had a great time with a great group of ops (K8AZ, K8BL, K8MR, K8NZ, ND8L, W5WZ, W8CAR, W8WTS, WT8C) at a fantastic station. Tom K8AZ and his golden retriever Shane are first-rate hosts!

Here is the scoop on the K8AZ station:

House Tower:

• 5L 10m @ 80′ (rotates)

• 5L 10 @ 50′ fixed SE (switchable upper-both-lower) • 2L40 @ 70′ (rotates)

Pond Tower

• 6L15 @ 130′ (rotates)

• 6L15 @ 65′ (fixed EU) (switchable upper-both-lower) • 6L20 @ 120′ (rotates) • 6L20 @ 60′ (fixed EU) (switchable upper-both-lower) • 5L10s @ 125’/100’/75’/50′ (all fixed EU) • Tower also supports a full-size elevated ground plane (elevated radials) for 160m

TUP Tower (rotatable tower)

• 5L20 @ 120′

• 5L15 @ 110′

• 7L10 @ 100′

• 7L10 @ 75′

• 5L15 @ 65′

• 5L20 @ 45′

• Tower also supports ropes which support a wire 4-square (full size) for 80m

40m Tower

• 4L40 @ 130′

• 2L40 @ 60′ (switchable w/4L40)

Receive antennas include a short-vertical 4-square and a 15′ high dipole for 160m; a 15′ high dipole for 80m, and the Hi-Z 8-circle rx array

All antennas are available at all four positions; however the TUP rotating tower requires coordinating which band controls the azimuth. The switching scheme is fantastic. Everything is very well engineered. Inter-station interference was minimal – the station employs Dunestar 200watt band pass filters between transceivers and amps, as well as some W3HQN high-power filters after the amps (serial numbers on all were less than 15). There is liberal use of copper grounding strap neatly in the entire basement shack. All cables are neatly and consistently labels. All controls are neatly and clearly labeled.

Inside, the transceivers are three FT-1000MP Mk-Vs and one K3- all fully-loaded with appropriate Inrad filters. All homebrew amps: three 8877 and one 3cx1200. The amps’ power supplies are beefy, with two of them using pole-pig transformers.

There are six identical computers running Win-Test for logging; 2 of them are spares, but are up on the network during the contest with the log being written to all 6. That way, an in-contest failure only requires relocating the computer. Win-test is different from N1MM but still easy enough to get the basic functions down. Tom insists on footswitch PTT (my favorite anyway) and uses Heil Quiet Sets (no longer in production) with HC-4 mike elements.

The M/S strategy was keep the run station running. Anytime the rate got down below 120 or so, we were looking to change the run band for at least the 10 minute clock. The other 3 transceivers were constantly tuning, listening, and scanning the DX cluster spots for new mults. Early in the contest, we would ‘stack’ the band maps with mults to enable keeping the mult station rate up for the 10 minutes, by simply point & shoot. As the hours went by and the mults were harder to find, often the 10-minute clock was open (meaning we could change mult band at any time) and we would change for a single mult. Sometimes the rate would slow, so we’d have one of the other receivers stack a band map, switch to that band to ‘point & shoot’ for 10 minutes, then switch right back to the previous run band.

Sharing time with the other 8 ops, I got 6 hours sleep on Friday night and 5 1/2 on Saturday night.

Observations- when the propagation is there, the Europeans are loud! But I think our openings in the south last longer. Over the pole flutter is there on more paths since the location is further north and the polar region is appears wider.

There were several light-hearted comments about how slow I talk and about my ‘hard-to-understand’ accent. I thought they all talked in FFWD mode 😉

And the best part — I was home on Monday evening to trick or treat with the family! What a weekend!

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

Call: K8AZ

Operator(s): K8AZ,K8BL,K8MR,K8NZ,ND8L,W5WZ,W8CAR,W8WTS,WT8C

Station: K8AZ

Class: M/S HP

QTH: Ohio

Operating Time (hrs): 48

Summary:

Band QSOs Zones Countries

——————————

160: 33 13 29

80: 196 26 84

40: 497 32 108

20: 557 40 144

15: 1299 38 146

10: 1339 34 145

——————————

Total: 3921 183 656

Total Score = 9,408,546

73,

Scott W5WZ

I made a PowerPoint presentation for our local club meeting held on the night after I returned home.

2010 CW WW SSB – Multi-Multi @ W5WZ

2010 CQ WW SSB — Hosted first ever true multi-multi effort in a DX contest.  What an experience!  With lots of help and a great team of operators (W5WZ, KG5VK, KC4WWL, AA5LA, W5PEM, KA5M, W5DAY, K5SL), we pulled off an effort that I am very proud of.  Comparing to 2009 results, our raw score would be #10 Multi-Operator Multi-Transmitter United States!  We watched GETSCORES.ORG, and tracked our performance neck and neck with NE3F (2009 8th place MM USA)

  

   Band    QSOs     Pts  Cty   ZN

   1.8      29      32    8    6

   3.5     156     349   60   22

     7     408     719   75   27

    14     595    1423  110   36

    21     634    1700  119   33

    28     181     500   33   13

 Total     2003    4723  405  137

Score: 2,559,866

For the contest, we borrowed the local ARES groups (thanks W5KGT) portable crank-up tower and mounted a M2-34XA at 50 feet.  We improvised a 4th operating position, and using some uniquely creative methods were able to switch antennas around and remote control rotators and antenna stack switching (by voice, handy talkie method to reach other room!).

  

Lessons learned:

  • Full legal limit on every band is a must if the rules allow it!
  • Better transmit and receive antenna is needed on 40, 80, and 160.
  • Beverage receive antenna are great – must install more and make each independently selectable at every station.
  • Noise cancelling headsets are great (thanks KG5VK!).  I’ve got to get some!
  • Everyone needs to become even more proficient at N1MM.
  • Every rig needs 1.8kHz filters in the narrow position.

Coax Stub Filters

11/04/10 —  Installed the final 2 coax filter stubs:  a CS-1 on 80m and a CS-9 for 160m.  Here’s what the installation looks like in the antenna switching shed.

Coax Stub Filters installed at SixPack on antenna ports:

    * 10 meters – CS-6 (1/2 WL-open 10m) & CS-4 (1/2 WL-open 20m)

    * 15 meters – CS-3 (1/4 WL-shorted 40m)

    * 20 meters – CS-4 (1/2 WL-open 20m) & CS-5 (1/4 WL-shorted 20m)

    * 40 meters – CS-3 (1/4 WL-shorted 40m) & CS-7 (1/2 WL-shorted 15m)

    * 80 meters – CS-1 (1/4 WL-shorted 80m)

    * 160 meters – CS-9 (1/4 VL-shorted 160m)  

10/23/10 — More work on stub filters.  Added CS-3 and CS-7 to 40 meters.

Tested to determine cross-band interference.  I used the lower C51XR for all 10, 15, 20 & 40 tests, and used both the 80m shunt tower and the 80m dipole on both transmit & receive.  Transmit mode CW, power out 1.5kW. Receive mode CW, filters 6.0kHz.

Here is the matrix:  

 

  LEFT RADIO TX BAND          
RIGHT RADIO RX BAND 10 15 20 40 80 160
10 X <S0 <S0, avoid harmonic>S9+50 <S0, avoid harmonic>S8 nil nil
15 nil X <S0, avoid harmonic>S8 nil, avoid harmonic>S9 nil nil
20 nil nil X nil, avoid harmonic>S9 nil nil
40 nil nil nil X nil, avoid harmonic nil
80 nil nil nil nil X <S3, avoid harmonic >S9+20
160 nil nil nil nil nil X

 

These results pleased me for first attempts at coax stub filters.

 

10/19/10 — Continued working on stub filters.  Added CS-5 to 20 meters, and installed CS-6 & CS-4 to 10 meters.

10/16/10 — Found burnt barrel connector in top 20m antenna feedline (it had to be 120 feet off the ground).  Replaced it and corrected the intermittent high SWR on that antenna.

10/06/10 — Tilted over Tower #3 and realigned the cubical quad to correct its heading.  It slipped on the mast during a storm last year.

09/29/10 — Began building and implementing coax stub filters on the output of SixPack #1 to Tower #1.  I have MUCH to learn in this area.  Using an AIM4170, I cut two pieces of RG-213 to 1/4 WL at 7.150 MHz.  One I made into a CS-3 and installed on the 15 meter port of the SixPack, and the other I made into a CS-4 and installed on the 20 meter port of the SixPack.

For reference, I’m using Managing Interstation Interference 2nd edition by W2VJN as well as K1TTT’s online Technical Reference and his online copy of K2TR Coax Stub filters article.  I used the K2TR drawing, and cross-referenced it to the table on page 46 of Managing Interstation Interference .  Here is the drawing, with the notations from page 46 superimposed.

  

Now I have to get more RG-213, more UHF ‘tees’, and spend more time learning and tweaking!

Shunts and Beverage antenna system

09/25/10 — Finished the last of my 4 beverage antenna by installing the wire for Europe.  Worked on a sticky relay in the antenna switch.  Cleaned up the shack a bit, as a first step toward the CQ WW group’s arrival late next month.

09/20/10 — Built a Magic-T splitter for the beverage antenna system.  Installed an A/B relay to select either the 80m dipole or 80m shunt fed-tower.  Replaced the RF bypass capacitors in a lightning damaged SixPack.

Went through my paper QSL cards to update my DXCC totals, and found several new ones that I will send to ARRL HQ.

09/16/10 — Completed tuning the 80 meter shunt feed.  My goal was to have it resonant at 3.6MHz.  I think I was pretty successful with the tuning.  The shunt wire is spaced 36 inches from the tower, and the shorting bar is about 27 feet up.  

09/11/10 — Installed the permanent shunt feed system on the tower.  Built the necessary standoffs to mount the vacuum variable cap in the tuning box.  Assembled everything with copper strap for low inductance.  Silver soldered 4″ copper strap to the ground ring at the tower base and connected to the base of the tower as well as the coax shield on the shunt feed.  Used an AIM 4170c to get baseline readings.  It looks like I need to raise the shorting bar about 12 to 15 inches up the tower.  It will have to wait until next week.

09/10/10 — Completed the beverage at 270 and 315 degrees.  Installed antenna switch at central beverage switching point.  Installed F connectors, and hooked up a receiver.  Gave it a try.  Heard BU2AQ at 1045 UTC on 80m.  Could not even discern any signal there if listening on the transmit dipole at 75 ft.

09/06/10 — Continued to work on beverage antenna system.  Figured out a way to also have a 480 ft beverage at 90 degrees.  Set more 4×4-12 ft posts.  Built 4 transformers using the W8JI design.  Buried feed line to all 4 beverage feed points.  I sure like the radial burying plow!  It is coming in very handy!

     

09/05/10 — A very pleasant surprise!  KG5VK paid me a visit this afternoon.  As a first-time visitor, I gave him the nickel tour.  Then we talked multi-op strategy.  I’ve got several items to do in and around the station now!

09/04/10 — Began the expansion of my beverage antenna system.  Set several 4×4-12 ft posts.  Strung 800 ft beverage at 270 degrees and 485 ft beverage at 315 degrees.  Cleared underbrush to extend former 285 ft with goal of at least 500 ft at 45 degrees.  Still have to construct the transformers and place the ground rods at both ends of each beverage.  Used my radial plow and buried feedline & control wires from shack to central beverage switching point.

 

With help from K5RUS, we also worked on shunt feed on tower for 80m.  Still in experimental mode – we did locate the approximate feed point and determined approximate capacitor value.  Now I’m ready to build the final tuning assembly and secure the shunt wire more securely to the tower.

Also sanded and applied 2 coats of polyurethane to desktop for multiplier operating position.  Replaced feedline from multi position to antenna switch shed.

08/30/10 — Finally repaired my TopTen Band Decoder/Yaesu with source driver mods.  It was damaged in the May 2009 lightning fiasco.  I just had not made it a priority.  It is now on Radio 1 (left), and automatically switches the ICE 419 bandpass filter between the FT-1000MP and AL-1500, and the SixPack for antenna selection.

08/28/10 — Finished burying radials this morning, with a total of 40 radials, most about 125 feet long. A few had to be shorter. In all, used 5,000 feet of wire.  Silver soldered the radials to the ring of #4 solid copper wire around the base of the tower.  Installed the shunt wire up the tower to 75 ft, and put the shorting bar at 36 ft.  Now I have to build the tuning network and put in a weatherproof box.

08/26/10 —  Buried another 16 radials this afternoon.

08/25/10 — Began burying 1/4 wavelength (~125 ft) radials around my 120 ft tower.  Got 14 done (1,750 ft of wire).  I’m installing 36 radials, 10 degree spacing.  The ends of the wire are 21.6 ft apart.  The goal is to shunt feed the tower on 80m and 160m.  This project began with the purchase of 5,500 ft of 12 gauge solid THHN wire and 2 vacuum variable caps at Dayton in May.

08/23/10 — Modified my middle-buster plow to be a radial/cable burying plow, complete with wire roll holder and dispenser tube.  It only took about 2 hours .

 

  

  

4th Harmonic – Full House of Hams

09/20/11 — My youngest daughter, age 8, earned her technician license.  Logan is now KF5MTH.  Our entire family now are hams; wife, son and three daughters.  All the kids were licensed by age 10.  

W5WZ, KW5MOM, KF5GDJ, KF5GDK, KF5KAJ and KF5MTH 

August NAQP SSB 2010

August NAQP SSB 2010 — Total Time On 07:54  (474 mins)

Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec   NA

1.8       1      1    1    0

3.5       1      1    1    0

  7      77     77   30    0

 14      377    377   47    2

 21        2      2    2    0

 28        1      1    1    0

Total   459    459   82    2

Score : 38,556