Hardware upgrade in time for WPX CW

SE0X RadiosRight in time for WPX CW SE0X got a small hardware upgrade when the second microHAM Station Master was installed. This little magic box is a band decoder on steroids that, in addition to decoding the band and selecting the proper antenna, serves as a control center for all vital equipment.

The purpose of the Station Master is to automate band and frequency changes so the operator can focus on running the contest instead of wasting time on button pushing and know turning.

All possible antenna and filter combinations are preprogrammed in Station Master and several antennas per bands can be defined and selected using the panel keys or a keypad. Read more ›

WPX SSB: K3 fried one hour before start

This year SM0MDG and SM0MLZ teamed up for the WPX SSB Contest from SEOX. Due to the contest colliding with easter weekend obligations the other regulars weren’t able to make it. With a two person team our plan was to take a shot at the SM record, multi-op, single TX in WPX SSB. Two radios were configured SO2R style for us to be able to listen in on other bands while running.

About one hour before start we noticed some strange behavior with the multiplier radio, a Kenwoood TS-590. It would power down when we were transmitting with the run radio, a K3. My first assumption was that RF feedback somehow got into the TS-590 confusing its processor to shut down the radio. Read more ›

CQ160 SSB: Prepping with Slash – SE0X Hits the Goal

Instead of getting some sleep before the CQ160 SSB contest this weekend I attended a Slash concert to get warmed up. Maybe not the wisest choice, but limiting the alcohol at the VIP party before the concert was a smart decision.

Because of the concert I had decided to run CQ160 SSB from SE0X via remote. I had also prepared to run the contest in “silent mode” so I would not disturb the princess in her beauty sleep. Being silent means that the computer has to do the talking. This is possible by voicing calls in N1MM, ie. recording all individual letters and numbers in advance, then let the logger pice calls together and play those back on the fly for each contact made. In preparation for the contest I had recorded, edited and pre-processed all required voice prompts.

Once on the air the scheme worked out better than I dared to hope. With very few repeats or clarifications needed, I was satisfied with the results. To hear an example of an exchange pieced together using pre-recorded letters and numbers, listen here.

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CQ160 SSB in itself is challenging and fun. To make things even more interesting I discovered right after start that I had a RF feedback problem affecting my IP link. My audio got all chopped up while transmitting, not a good thing in a contest where clarity is crucial. Reducing the power would keep the link alive so most of the contacts in the contest where done using just 300 watt.

My goal where set at 500 contacts and 127 000 points in the single operator, assisted, high power category. This was at a level that I felt would be possible even without much DX in the log. A few North Americans where received here, but it was hard to cut through the QRM with reduced power. I got lucky with VY2ZM, K3ZM, W3LL, KP4KE, ZF2AM and a few AS/AF, but in the end EU accounts for 98% of the log entries.

At the end of the contest I had been active for 24 hours and logged 523 contacts in 48 DXCC:s plus 3 US States and Canadian Provinces. This adds up to a final (claimed) score of 135150 points which is close to my unassisted SM record in 2011.

73 de Björn, SM0MDG

Caribbean Tour QSL Preview

The V26BM and VP2MSW QSL cards are now available, check out the preview here! These beautiful QSL cards have been designed by ON5UR Max. They will be used by M0URX Tim to confirm contacts made with me during my Caribbean New Year tour.

V26BM QSL, Front

Please QSL only via M0URX – send to M0URX direct or via OQRS for Bureau.

Exclusive to the backside of the VP2MSW card is a unique photo of Plymouth, the former capital of Montserrat, covered in lava and ash and abandoned in 1997.

Read more ›

Low power effort in CQ160 CW via remote

I decided to try low power (LP) in CQ160 CW for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was prepared to spend lots of time with Search & Pounce in the QRM. Here is a summary of my CQ160 CW effort from SE0X operated via remote.

SE0X Remote Shack

Remote shack with a K3/0 controlling a K3/100 at SE0X over the internet.

To my surprise I hit off running with a nice pace on Friday evening, but then everything slowed down on Saturday. The rate was miserable and all hope of a respectable score went out the window. But something happened Saturday evening at 21:00 when the the rate cam up again, and during the following two hours I was able to catch up everything lost during the day. I was again ahead of my plan and was feeling great. Then at midnight it all came to a halt and Sunday was tremendously slow. I guess by then I had already worked most of the stations that I could reach with my low power setup, and the only action on Sunday where casual contesters and a few DX. The only joy on Sunday where a few needed multipliers found through S&P.

I didn’t expect to log much DX, but to my surprise I did work some nice ones including JA, FM, and a very few NA. The most memorable contacts where logging EY8MM using only 10 watts (SM power restriction above 1850 kHz) and breaking through a dense pileup of HP stations fighting to get a multiplier from A65BP (thats a guy with good ears).

The claimed result of 222.759 points is just a few points below the current SM record (well 3.5k below). I worked 826 contacts but came in a little low on multipliers, 50 countries and 3 Statets and Provinces (VA, ME and PEI). With most of active EU countries logged, the difference would be to snag a few more states next time. Going low power was fun and although there is a difference compared to previous efforts with High Power, it was fun and challenging.

The contest was run home via remote using the K3-K3/0 combo and Remoterig interfaces. N1MM was used to log the contacts using one of Remoterig’s internal RS232 servers. Everything worked great except for a few network dropouts and a bug in the K3/Remoterig setup causing audio to mute when turning the SUB RX on or OFF. My home office is much more comfortable than the station shack, so I could get used to this.

73 de Björn, SM0MDG

TF3W – SM/TF Team breaks Zone 40 record in CQWW SSB

Icelandic Radio Amateurs, ÍRA, Club Station

Endless rates on 10 and 15 meter, antenna repairs in the rain and way too little sleep. The four operator team consisting of Björn SM0MDG, Patrik SM0MLZ, Ulf SM0NOR and our Icelandic host Jón TF3ZA broke the Multi Operator/Single Station Zone 40 record in CQWW SSB 2012.

Entering a major Contest from Iceland was an idea we had tossed around for quite some time and it finally became reality with the help of TF3ZA who I had met a year earlier during the JX5O Jan Mayen 2011 expedition. Together we decided to enter the CQWW SSB Contest and take a shot at the Zone 40 record. This is our story.

Jón TF3ZA had arranged for us to use the Icelandic Radio Amateur’s club station, TF3IRA, located on the beach by the end of the domestic airport runway in the outskirts of Reykjavik. The location is perfect for DX’ing and the club station is a well maintained and clean installation, but lacks a multiplier radio setup and the low band antennas needed.

Read more ›

SE0X ranks SM #1 Single Operator in SAC SSB 2012

SAC Banner

SE0X operated by SM0MDG ranks #1 Swedish single operator (high power) in SAC SSB 2012 when the final scores where published this week.

The contest was a challenge because of bad propagation, but as I was well prepared, rested and ready I din’t let propagation bring me down. I had to drop my ambitions to break a record, but instead I found a good challenge in chasing the Swedish National Team‘s online score. Read the report from SAC SSB 2012 here.

With 1072 valid contacts and 200 multipliers the the final score was 452.600. The SM results for the single operator high power category can be found here.

CQWW CW Summary

CQ LogoLess action but higher score in CQWW CW, how is that possible? The answer is in the summary below, keep reading.

Being prepared and well rested is crucial to be successful in any contest. Good propagation can help, but it can also be very selective. This year I was not fully prepared, definitely not well rested and propagation was not on my side. Not the ideal situation!

What played in my favor was the 15 meter antenna upgrade made in preparation for this contest season. It helped boost my signal to NA and my most productive hour was Sunday at 15:00 when a nice two hour NA run on 15 started and lasted into sunset. 15 meter also produced the most multipliers thanks to a fruitful search and punch session during late sunset on Sunday.

Propagation on 10 meter was good enough for search and pounce of multipliers, especially to AS and AF but also SA and NA. 20 meter produced the most contacts overall but it came in 5 zones and 9 countries short compared to 15.

40 meter is normally a great band for both quantity and multipliers, but this weekend propagation was weird. The band was calm with good DX propagation, but high angle paths where broken. The few EU stations that came through had weak and hollow backscatter sounding signals. Without EU it was hard to get good runs going and build the numbers on 40.

80 meter became the goto band for runs in the dark hours, it outperformed 40 in number of contacts but did not provide as many multipliers due to the simple transmit antenna, a short vertical T. 160 meter provided a few good but short runs boosting the numbers of country multipliers, but it provided very few Zone multipliers.

The end result is OK, but not anywhere near my goal mainly due to the weird propagation on 40. I was able to improve the final (claimed) score with 250 fewer contacts than a year ago. A total of 499 multipliers, 84 more than in 2011 year made a big difference.

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
  160:  312     9       42
   80:  660    15       58
   40:  551    24       75
   20:  714    25       66
   15:  612    30       75
   10:  113    23       57
Total: 2962   126      373  Total Score = 2,492,006

Another goal for this year was to lower the logging errors, and as I already played by the “no-post-edit rules” last year the results should be comparable. I’ll guess I just have to wait for the UBN report and see. One can hope the new “submit-by-5-days rule” will speed up the results.

Congratulations to SJ2W who broke the record of the category and beat Nordic super stations like OH8X!

To conclude, the CQWW CW contest weekend was challenging but fun. I was able to improve my result compared to 2011 despite weaker band conditions. But I can do better than this, so I am already looking forward to CQWW CW 2013!

X-Team @ TF3W in CQWW SSB

Icelandic Radio Amateurs, ÍRA, Club Station

X-Team members SM0MDG, SM0MLZ and SM0NOR have been invited to the ÍRA, Icelandic Radio Amateur Club in Reykjavik, and will team up with TF3ZA to be active in the CQWW SSB 2012 Contest using the TF3W call.

The team plan to enter in the Multi Operator Single Transmitter category and preparations have already started. In addition to the equipment already available at the club station, temporary low band verticals and RX antennas will be added for the contest.

“The team is motivated and ready to take on some of the records waiting to be broken”, says Patrik SM0MLZ who rates CQWW SSB as his favorite contest of the year.

Listen for TF3W and log us in the CQWW SSB Contest, GL!