2011 NAQP RTTY QSO Party
July 17th, 2011 by K2DSL

What more can a fellow ask for – a 10 hour RTTY ham radio contest with everyone running 100w. Even with others having stacked arrays I feel like there’s a shot at me getting into run mode, calling CQ and not getting squashed between 2 high power stations. The NAQP runs for 12 hours but single ops can operate for up to 10 hours. It started Saturday at 2pm ET (18:00z) and I was all ready with anything I needed to get done completed well before start time. The night before I was setting everything up to make sure it was working and noticed an issue with N1MM and call stacking where you can work more than 1 station without calling CQ as long as you get multiple calls on your last one. After thinking it was a config issue on my end, I downgraded and the problem stopped and it reappeared if I upgraded N1MM to the latest release, so I left it at an earlier release and notified the N1MM development team there might be a problem.

Sat afternoon came and I was in the chair at 2pm ready to go. 20m was fine with maybe a slow start as folks might not have been rushing to get fired up the second the contest started. I spent all afternoon on 20m popping over to 15m many times to find absolutely nothing happening there. I logged a total of 7 stations on 15m which is sad. I noticed lots of western US stations active throughout the contest but didn’t hear/find a lot of western Canadian stations. In fact there was relatively little Canadian activity that I came across though there were still those same stations I often work during contests. So 20m was the day band and though I checked 10m two or three times, if it’s even possible, it was more dead than 15m. I figured maybe I’d get lucky and copy 1 station but nothing was heard.

I would alternate a lot between finding a run frequency and doing S&P. When running I had a few European stations call which is nice. The ones that called me were all coming in nice and strong and an easy copy. There were even a few EU stations that were running and calling CQ and it’ll be interesting to see how many Q’s the DX stations logged when the results are compiled. Running worked for a while but eventually got to transmitting CQ on repeat without anyone coming back so I’d switch to S&P and find some new ones. Infrequently early in the afternoon I’d check 40m and log 1 or 2 stations but most folks were on 20m until later in the day.

As the afternoon wore on there was more 40m activity and I’d bounce back and forth between 40m & 20m. 20m had activity the entire contest or at least the 10 hours I was on which is good because I hadn’t heard and logged a Hawaii station until 0330z (11:30pm) and it was the only Hawaii station I heard. As darkness came (sounds so ominous) I spent more time on 40m again running and S&Ping. Noise wasn’t bad at all and signals were very strong. Though I have dipoles for 10/15/20 I use the G5RV for 40m & 80m and it was working well. I don’t think there was a station for the entire contest that I could get any copy on that I couldn’t get into the log. The Q’s and mults on 40m went up pretty quickly.

Activity on 80m started late and maybe if it started earlier I would have logged more contacts and multipliers. Something to consider next time is to start 1 hour later or take a 1 hour break and work an additional hour from midnight to 1am ET to try and get some additional time on 80m to gather more mults. Of course if everyone works the 1st 10 hours that wouldn’t help things either. 80m had strong signals and because the exchange is constant, once someone worked you on another band, they know your exchange so 100% copy becomes less important and repeats aren’t necessary. As long as the 2 stations that previously worked can copy the callsign, it’s usually a good contact and that makes 40m and 80m contacts go quickly regardless of noise or less than optimal conditions.

In the middle of the contest I noticed an email from one of the N1MM developers with a patched version that should correct the issue I encountered. I downloaded it knowing I could always re-install the version I was using, ran a couple of quick tests and it seemed to resolve the issue. I let the developer know and used it for the remainder of the contest without encountering any difficulty. Amazing support and such a fine piece of software being developed by a skilled group of volunteers.

It was good to see some calls I hadn’t seen in a while and particularly that of WA5ZUP. I was actually getting concerned that something might be wrong since I hadn’t seen John in a while. I ended up missing the 4 states of MT, RI, ME & MD where MT would be a 20m or 40m contact and the 3 east coast stations 80m and maybe 40m contacts. On the Canadian side I didn’t log 7 Providences. I guess it’s a “close to WAS in 10 hours” type of contest for me.

The contest exchange is name and state and my favorite was Dopey from Oregon. I logged a Bambi too which had me write in my 3830 submission: I don’t know about the rest of the Dwarves but I found Dopey in the contest. No Snow White but there was a Bambi. Maybe we should have a Disney themed RTTY contest?

A really enjoyable Saturday contest and can’t wait for the next one! Thanks for all the Q’s. Here’s my score summary from N1MM:

 Band  QSOs  Pts Mlt
  3.5    49   49  24
    7   129  129  41
   14   181  181  42
   21     7    7   4
Total   366  366 111
Score : 40,626

73,
K2DSL

Posted in Contests

4 Comments

Posted By: N7VEA on July 17th, 2011at 4:42 pm

Nice work David. I saw a couple of your 20M contacts while you were s&p, but never did find you in cq mode. Next time.

15 and 10 were dead here in Idaho too. And don’t feel bad about MT, I didn’t find any either. 15 was a real disappointment, esp after watching the sunspot and flux numbers improve all week. I worked a couple guys earlier in the morning who were working the DMC contest, including a very nice gentleman in Slovenia I’ve work previously. I was really hopeful 15 would have a workable opening in the afternoon, and I kept flipping up there to check, but it was awful and I only made 2 Qs there.

btw, I finally got my N1MM/mmtty problems solved! It took trying a couple different serial cables, downloading new drivers, and reinstalling completely new copies of both. In the middle of it, everything quit working, but finally it all snapped into place and worked. What a difference! I think this was my best QSO count so far. Can’t wait for the next one. And thanks for your generous help.

73, Bill ID N7VEA

Posted By: Mike on July 17th, 2011at 6:06 pm

David,

I heard you on briefly working another station. I moved up real quick with the hope that you’d be moving that direction, but our paths didnt cross. As I had mentioned to you before, my focus would be on the VHF contest this weekend. Unfortunately 6m was pretty much bust for me.

By the time I realized my effort was futile yesterday, it was evening and I fired up N1MM to work some of the NAQP test. The call stacking is nice, although I’ve never used it — I haven’t taken the time to learn how to properly do it. Sounds fun though, and I certainly have worked some folks using it.

I only spent a short while on, perhaps two hours. I noted only one station on 15m when I was on, and I heard a bit of activity on 20m but the stations all were very weak. I had wondered if something was amiss with my antenna, although not much can go wrong with a dipole. 40m ended up being the band of choice for during the time I was on. Strong signals and very quiet band for this time of year.

I now regret doing the VHF contest instead of this one. I sure I would have felt much more satisfied putting 10 hrs into this one rather than as many hours into the VHF contest.

Nice score!

Mike

Posted By: K2DSL on July 17th, 2011at 7:22 pm

Sorry I missed you guys. Conditions were ok other forgetting about 15m.

Something I have come to do when I’m S&Ping and not using the cluster where I might be a bit more erratic, is I move down the band. The reason is most folks move up and it seems you end up following the same op up the band if they are S&Ping. Also, if I already worked the station and I capture their call in either the exchange they are sending or another op sends, I spin past them quickly. Even when not using the cluster, I have N1MM’s band map up and it’s marking each contact I logged or tell it to save, so I have a good idea who might already be on a given frequency.

I enjoy VHF when conditions are good, but when they aren’t it feels like watching paint dry.

If you’re using N1MM, some K8UT videos do an excellent job of explaining ESM & Call Stacking. They are linked on the page at http://n1mm.hamdocs.com/tiki-index.php?page=Instructional+Videos . The videos definitely help vs trying to understand and figure it out on your own. Kudos to Larry for putting them together.

Posted By: Mike on July 17th, 2011at 11:20 pm

Thanks for the K8UT video links. I will certainly watch them. I know what you mean about following another S&Per up the band. I end up doing it more often than I want, and most of the time it goes on for a while since “the other guy” usually gets the jump on me for the Q. I’ll try to get you in the opposite direction next time. Considering the number of RTTY contests we’ve both been in, I don’t think we’ve ever worked.

I forgot how enjoyable RTTY is to operate. As soon as I got RTTY WAS, I stopped cold turkey in order to focus my efforts on 6m. Now that Es season is winding down I can return to regularly scheduled programming.

Hopefully we’ll meet up in the next test.

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