2016 CQ WPX CW AK1W (K5ZD)

CQWW WPX Contest, CW

Call: AK1W
Operator(s): K5ZD

Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 19
Radios: SO2R

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
  160:    2
   80:  145
   40:  657
   20:  902
   15:  395
   10:   11
------------
Total: 2112  Prefixes = 849  Total Score = 5,447,184

Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club

Station:

K3 + Alpha 76CA
K3 + AL-1500

160m: Shunt fed tower
80m: 4 square
40m: 40-2CD @ 33m
20m: 205CA/205CA @ 30m/15m
15m: 155CA/155CA @ 20m/10m
10m: 6/4/4 @ 30m/20m/10m
Mult: TH7DXX @ 10m (south)

Comments:

Excuses:
– My son was visiting for the weekend
– Beautiful weather outside
– Monaco F1 race, Indy 500

Conditions were entertaining. Great activity from Europe as always. Conditions Sunday morning were better than Sat.

Surprised how easy it was to work Europe on 80m. Must have been low QRN on their end.

Great fun watching the online scoreboard and chasing NR3X and NK7U. Caused me to operate many more hours than I would have without the extra motivation.

40m beam has SWR problem. 15m antenna not rotating. Seems to be something broken every time I get on the air.

QSO/Pref by hour and band

Hour   160M     80M     40M     20M     15M     10M    Total     Cumm    

0000Z  --+--   --+--  116/97    1/1    --+--   --+--  117/98    117/98  
0100Z    -       -    123/83    4/4      -       -    127/87    244/185 
0200Z    -      3/3   108/72   13/11     -       -    124/86    368/271 
0300Z    -     52/21   47/21   12/9      -       -    111/51    479/322 
0400Z    -       -      2/1     2/2      -       -      4/3     483/325  
0500Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     483/325  
0600Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     483/325  
0700Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     483/325  
0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0     483/325  
0900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     483/325  
1000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     483/325  
1100Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     483/325  
1200Z    -       -      7/0    76/33   11/11     -     94/44    577/369  
1300Z    -       -       -    123/53    9/6      -    132/59    709/428 
1400Z    -       -       -     93/48    8/6      -    101/54    810/482 
1500Z    -       -       -      8/5      -       -      8/5     818/487  
1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--    7/4     6/2    --+--   13/6     831/493  
1700Z    -       -       -     73/28   27/13    4/4   104/45    935/538 
1800Z    -       -       -      8/5      -       -      8/5     943/543  
1900Z    -       -       -      1/0    49/9      -     50/9     993/552  
2000Z    -       -       -     20/7    91/27     -    111/34   1104/586 
2100Z    -       -       -     81/29   36/14     -    117/43   1221/629 
2200Z    -       -       -    134/36    4/2      -    138/38   1359/667 
2300Z    -       -       -     23/5      -       -     23/5    1382/672  
0000Z  --+--   --+--    7/1     1/1     7/5    --+--   15/7    1397/679  
0100Z    -       -    101/30    9/5      -       -    110/35   1507/714 
0200Z    -     16/3    81/16   10/4      -       -    107/23   1614/737 
0300Z    -     73/4    31/8      -       -       -    104/12   1718/749 
0400Z   2/1     1/0     7/1      -       -       -     10/2    1728/751  
0500Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1728/751  
0600Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1728/751  
0700Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1728/751  
0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0    1728/751  
0900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1728/751  
1000Z    -       -      4/2      -       -       -      4/2    1732/753  
1100Z    -       -     23/5    74/27     -       -     97/32   1829/785 
1200Z    -       -       -     23/11   81/11     -    104/22   1933/807 
1300Z    -       -       -      6/2    54/10    7/0    67/12   2000/819  
1400Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    2000/819  
1500Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    2000/819  
1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0    2000/819  
1700Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    2000/819  
1800Z    -       -       -     85/21    6/2      -     91/23   2091/842  
1900Z    -       -       -     15/7     6/0      -     21/7    2112/849  
2000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    2112/849  
2100Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    2112/849  
2200Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    2112/849  
2300Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    2112/849  

Total:  2/1   145/31  657/337 902/358 395/118  11/4

How much is using Assistance worth?

There is always a curiosity about how much of an advantage does one gain from operating Single Operator Assisted (with access to the DX Cluster spots) vs traditional Single Operator.

With the intense single op competition here in New England for CQ WW CW, we have some data points to help answer that question. K1DG and K5ZD have operated from the same stations over this period. K0DQ has been from two stations, but with similar results.  All three are hard core operators who make the most of their time on the air.  Given the scores are fairly similar over the years, we can assume the difference for the 3 single operator assisted entries by K5ZD is mostly due to DX spotting assistance.

year call Q Z C Hours SA HP ALL SO HP ALL
2008 K5ZD/1 3955 132 463 44.4 6,666,975
K1DG 3682 115 453 42 5,751,568
2009 K5ZD/1 3957 132 480 45.1 6,845,832
K1DG 3851 134 485 44.9 6,614,634
2010 K5ZD/1 4587 154 524 41.6 8,940,786
K1DG 4303 153 534 44.2 8,239,191
2011 K1DG 4795 163 582 45.3 10,189,365
K5ZD/1 4904 168 561 44.4 10,160,802
K0DQ/1 4910 159 541 42.5 9,703,400
2012 K5ZD/1 4647 167 629 41 10,523,916
K0DQ/1 4610 165 576 44.6 9,607,806
K1DG 4333 160 562 44.8 8,630,788
2013 K0DQ/1 5540 152 498 45.3 10,297,950
K5ZD/1 4945 160 547 45.6 10,050,712
2014 K5ZD/1 4993 190 697 44.3 12,768,365
K0DQ/1 5115 159 543 45.9 10,183,914
K1DG 4901 164 558 44.1 10,065,402
2015 K5ZD/1 4742 179 654 44.9 11,275,488
K1DG 4563 157 523 44.9 8,778,120
K0DQ/1 4870 143 495 44.1 8,723,374

In a post on cq-contest (May 26, 2016) where he presented this data, Doug KR2Q wrote:

…using assistance or being unlimited gets you more mults and hence a bigger score (relatively speaking).

All of the top guys (such as these three) use SO2R.  If you are SO2R and using your 2nd radio to find new Q’s (hopefully, new mults), when you tune using the not-assisted method you are “blind.”  You don’t know what your might find (which is fun).

When you are SO2R and use assistance on your second radio, you are not tuning “blind.”

You know just where to go to grab new mults.  So it would seem obvious that using assistance when SO2R would a higher mult and assuming you don’t neglect running on radio 1, a higher score.

I started doing SOA in CQ WW to have more fun and work more interesting DX.  I was tired of working 40+ hours and then learning there were many expeditions and rare stations that made several thousand QSOs that I never heard all weekend.  Having the cluster spots helped me find these stations as well as lots of other weak ones.  It is pretty cool to nearly achieve 5BDXCC in a weekend.

One of the great things about radio contesting is that we each get to determine our own goals and levels of competition.  I have enjoyed doing contests solo, but it is also a lot of fun to have the additional challenge of managing the non-stop stream of DX spots that the DX Cluster and RBN provide.

Convergence and Change – An Editorial

This originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of CQ Magazine along side the 2015 CQ WW CW results. It represents my opinion and not that of CQ Magazine or the CQ WW DX Contest Committee.

Many years ago the best DX and contest operators were hunters. They studied the bands, knew when the rare DX was most likely to be on, and could even recognize the sound of that rare station needed for a multiplier. As technology improved, stations got better and more capable. Personal computers entered our shack to help with logging and sending CW. With better equipment and more stations on the air, the game started to change from hunting to running.

In the mid 1980’s, Dick Newell AK1A invented PacketCluster® software that allowed operators to enter the call and frequency of a DX station – a “DX spot” – and have it announced to everyone connected to the VHF packet network. Suddenly we could have hundreds of others telling us where the DX was hiding. After some controversy, the CQ WW added the Assisted category in 1989 to place those using this new tool into a separate category.

In early 2008 a new innovation appeared. Alex Shovkoplyas VE3NEA introduced his CW Skimmer software. CW Skimmer is a multi-channel CW decoder that copies all of the callsigns in the receiver passband and displays them on the screen. It had amazing CW copying ability – especially when Software Defined Radios provided the ability to capture a full 96 KHz of each amateur radio band. It suddenly became possible to simultaneously copy and announce every station calling CQ on CW across all 6 amateur radio bands along with their signal strength!

Soon after, PY1NB and N4ZR began building out the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN). The RBN collected data from CW Skimmers around the world, made it available to DX Cluster nodes, and stored it in an archive. This concept was quickly adopted by contesters because it provided immediate knowledge of activity around the world. You could call one CQ and see your signal reported from every Skimmer where there was propagation. The archive was a rich resource for propagation and antenna evaluation.

This convergence of personal computers, Internet access, DX clusters, and CW Skimmer have changed the nature of CW contesting. Even the smallest station can now call CQ and be noticed. The top multi-operator stations have developed the ability to interlock multiple stations on a band so they can chase these Skimmer spotted stations in between CQs on their run frequency. Many single ops talk about the fun of doing all of their operating just by working stations found when clicking on DX spots.

Like it or not, the CQ WW CW (and contesting in general) has certainly been impacted by this convergence. Having so much information has helped more people have more fun – generating even more activity and QSOs for everyone. It has also made it more difficult to police the line between the single operator working alone and those who are using the assistance of DX spotting. Anyone who has received a ham radio license in the last 25 years doesn’t know amateur radio DXing without the DX Cluster.

We have to remember that contesting is ultimately a game played using the ionosphere and our ability to hear far away signals with our own ears. Enjoy the tools, but never forget that our real purpose is to build and test our skills as radio operators. Given our history of technology innovation, when does it make sense to accept convergence and recombine the single operator categories – giving everyone access to spotting information?

 

2016 ARRL DX Contest, SSB

                    ARRL DX Contest, SSB

Call: K5ZD

Class: SO Unlimited HP
Operating Time (hrs): 19

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
  160:   42    33
   80:  133    58
   40:  172    71
   20:  668   107
   15:  856   108
   10:  375    91
-------------------
Total: 2246   468  Total Score = 3,153,384

Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club

Comments:

Wow! Sure didn’t expect conditions to be this good. Every band was great during the times I was on.

Only a part time effort, but that made it even more fun. Mostly chased countries and tried to run when I could find a frequency.

Personal best hour from the USA with 229 on Sat morning on 20m. SH5 says best 60 mins was 230 QSOs. Lots of other good hours. When I could find a frequency where I could hear.

Splatter was bad, but I did say something to a few of the worst and they seemed to be able to clean it up. You don’t know if you don’t ask.

Was fun being Assisted so I could chase countries. Also had the online scoreboard up so I could track some of the other guys. Fun to try to catch the next score on the list.

My goal was 1000 QSOs, but conditions and rates were so good, I couldn’t stop.

Most amazing opening was Sat evening on 15m into Japan. Signals were really loud and I was even able to run JA for 45 minutes.

I went single radio for this one. Something is going on in my shack and I get terrible RF feedback in the headphones when using the YCCC SO2R box. It was clean when I plugged the headphones into the radio. With the DX Cluster, I didn’t really need the second radio.

23 stations worked on 6 bands! Its nice when 10m and 160m are both open.

5D3A 6Y1LZ 9A1A 9A1P C6ANA CR2X CR6K E7DX EI6JK EI7M EI9E HA1AG KP3Z 
M6T P40M PJ2T PJ4G PZ5W TI5W TM6M TO66R V26M YL2SM

26 more on 5 bands.

9A8M CS2C DF2SD DR1D ED7P ES5Q EU1A G5W HG7T HI3K II9P IO5O IR4M LX7I 
OE2S P40L PS2T S50A S54ZZ S57AL SN8B TM1T UA2F VP2MMF YN5Z YV1KK

Most worked countries:

          160M    80M    40M    20M    15M    10M   Total

    DL       1     12      7     60     92     39     211
     I       1      4     22     60     59     32     178
    JA                           15     81             96
    SP              5      8     31     37     11      92
     G       1      3      5     27     34     21      91
    PA              2      2     50     26     11      91
    UA              1      2     34     46      2      85
    EA              5      5     27     34     12      83
     F       1      4      6     22     30     20      83

Rates:

Hour   160M     80M     40M     20M     15M     10M    Total     Cumm    Off

0000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0       0/0      60
0100Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0       0/0      60
0200Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0       0/0      60
0300Z    -       -     36/25   36/22     -       -     72/47     72/47     18
0400Z   8/8    35/24   24/11     -       -       -     67/43    139/90  
0500Z   7/6    44/19    6/5     5/1      -       -     62/31    201/121     9
0600Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     201/121    60
0700Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     201/121    60
0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0     201/121    60
0900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     201/121    60
1000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     201/121    60
1100Z    -       -       -      6/5      -       -      6/5     207/126    58
1200Z    -       -       -    229/39     -       -    229/39    436/165 
1300Z    -       -       -      7/1   150/47   11/7   168/55    604/220 
1400Z    -       -       -       -       -    113/44  113/44    717/264 
1500Z    -       -       -       -    115/15   30/9   145/24    862/288 
1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   55/8   123/9     4/3   182/20   1044/308 
1700Z    -       -       -     16/2     6/5     4/1    26/8    1070/316    50
1800Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1070/316    60
1900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1070/316    60
2000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1070/316    60
2100Z    -       -       -       -     38/9     7/2    45/11   1115/327    38
2200Z    -       -      9/3    22/4    67/11    7/5   105/23   1220/350 
2300Z    -       -       -      3/0    12/0     1/1    16/1    1236/351    43
0000Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0    1236/351    60
0100Z    -       -     10/6    28/8      -       -     38/14   1274/365    38
0200Z   8/5    18/6    25/5      -       -       -     51/16   1325/381    15
0300Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1325/381    60
0400Z  15/11   25/8    22/11    3/1      -       -     65/31   1390/412      
0500Z   4/3     7/1      -       -       -       -     11/4    1401/416    51
0600Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1401/416    60
0700Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1401/416    60
0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0    1401/416    60
0900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1401/416    60
1000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1401/416    60
1100Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1401/416    60
1200Z    -       -      5/2   118/3    13/0      -    136/5    1537/421     9
1300Z    -       -       -       -    170/3      -    170/3    1707/424 
1400Z    -       -       -      1/1    24/0   105/7   130/8    1837/432 
1500Z    -       -       -     13/3      -     22/3    35/6    1872/438    30
1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--    4/3    80/2    28/0   112/5    1984/443 
1700Z    -       -       -      1/1      -     15/1    16/2    2000/445    52
1800Z    -       -       -     53/0     8/1     2/1    63/2    2063/447    34
1900Z    -       -       -     18/3     9/4    14/3    41/10   2104/457    21
2000Z    -       -       -       -       -      9/4     9/4    2113/461    60
2100Z    -       -       -     35/1    26/0      -     61/1    2174/462    19
2200Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    2174/462    60
2300Z    -      4/0    35/3    15/1    15/2     3/0    72/6    2246/468    10

Total: 42/33  133/58  172/71  668/107 856/108 375/91

Elecraft K3 Settings

I have two Elecraft K3 radios that I use for SO2R.  I am creating this page to record all of the various settings in the radios so I can find them if needed.

N1EU recommended settings for best pileup performance:

AGC SLP 000  (maximum slope, instead of horizontal)

AGC THR 014  (so AGC doesn’t kick in until signals are very strong)

AGC DCY Soft

AGC PLS nor

AF Gain is adjusted so the loudest signals are tolerably loud (around 9PM) and RF Gain increased until weakest signals are readable (around 3PM).

 

Bob, N6TV, recommends the following K3 settings:

First set CONFIG:TECH MD ON to un-hide some AGC settings. Set TECH MD OFF when finished, to eliminate useless options from appearing in the SubRx display choices (PLL1, AFV, dBV, etc.)

AF GAIN LO — Cuts audio hiss. May not work with all headphones. OK on Heil.

AF LIM 20 — Only takes affect when AGC is OFF (rarely used)

AGC DCY Soft — Reduces AGC-induced IMD, recommended for pileups

AGC HLD 0.05 — Slow AGC hold time (50 ms). Reduces AGC-induced IMD, recommended for pileups. Works with AGC-S only.

AGC PLS NOR — Loud static pulses do not pump AGC.

AGC SLP 010 — A pretty “flat” AGC response curve. I may move this lower since pileups of loud guys can blend together, but I like this setting because it saves my ears.

AGC THR 010 — AGC kicks in at about S-8. Signals lower than THR behave as they would with AGC OFF ( +1 dB of RF = +1 dB of audio)

AGC -F 120 — Factory default fast AGC decay rate (recovery time). Higher = faster. Faster can be bad.

AGC -S 20 — Factory default slow AGC decay rate (recovery time). Higher = faster. Faster can be bad.

RF GAIN at 3 O’Clock or less on noisy bands

AF GAIN never higher than 3 O’Clock

AFX OFF

NR OFF

NB OFF

RIT OFF

XIT OFF

FL1 to FL5 BW set to match labeled filter bandwidth exactly, not wider or narrower.

Use AGC-F for CW.

Use AGC-S for SSB.

CW Pitch 500 (or to taste)

IF shift centered (on CW)

500 Hz InRad 8-pole filter on CW

2.8 kHz 8-pole filter on SSB (1.8 8-pole when bands crowded, must move IF SHIFT lower for pleasing audio)

Use XFIL button to toggle between filters and reset the IF shift, rather than NOR (hold) button

PREamp ON for 15m and up, OFF for other bands

 

My current settings for other items:

AF GAIN Low

AF LIM nor 030

EXT ALC Off t -4.0

LIN OUT nor 020

RS323 38400 b

TX ALC On

TX DLY nor 008

TX GATE On 10

TX MON Fast

TXG VCE 1.5 db

VFO CRS 0.1

VFO CTS 200

VFO FST 50

2016 ARRL DX Contest, CW

                   ARRL DX Contest, CW

Call: K5ZD

Class: SO Unlimited HP
Operating Time (hrs): 17
Radios: SO2R

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
  160:   39    35
   80:  277    72
   40:  370    90
   20:  577    99
   15:  682   105
   10:   87    65
-------------------
Total: 2032   466  Total Score = 2,840,736

Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club

Comments:

My father-in-law passed away last week and the memorial service was on Saturday.
The service and visiting with family was wonderful. That eliminated Saturday
from operating.

Really enjoyed my few hours on the air. Nothing like getting to 15 meters for
the first time on Sunday morning. The pileup was intense! Made me truly
realize how valuable it is to tune off the spot frequency. Those were the guys
that got through fastest.

Best 60 mins was 210 QSOs.

DX contests are really fun when you are not trying to win anything. You can
come and go as you like. Conditions were surprisingly good during the times I
was on. 10m was spotty on Sunday, but there were some loud Europeans. Worked
JA on 80-15.

Worked 19 stations on 6 bands: 6Y1D 8P5A 9A1A CR3W CU4DX KP2M OL7M OM2VL P40XM
PJ2T PJ4X PJ6A SN7Q TI5W TO7A V26M VP2MWA YL2SM ZF1A

Thanks to all the Europeans that helped fill my log.

40m antenna had high SWR. It seemed to get out, but I wasn’t hearing very
well.

160m antenna toward Europe was broken. Missed some mults because of that.

Couldn’t switch the 80m 4 square on Friday night.

Station is falling apart from old age. Time to do some maintenance this
summer.

Rates:

Hour   160M     80M     40M     20M     15M     10M    Total     Cumm    Off 

0000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     412/170    60
0100Z    -       -      6/6    20/12     -       -     26/18     26/18     40
0200Z   6/6    40/22   42/24    6/6      -       -     94/58    120/76  
0300Z   7/6    76/12   23/12     -       -       -    106/30    226/106 
0400Z   7/7    56/10   13/9      -       -       -     76/26    302/132 
0500Z   1/1    17/11   31/12    4/2      -       -     53/26    355/158 
0600Z   6/4    35/3    16/5      -       -       -     57/12    412/170    21
0700Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     412/170    60
0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0     412/170    60
0900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     412/170    60
1000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     412/170    60
1100Z    -      3/2     5/4    13/9      -       -     21/15    433/185    42
1200Z    -       -       -    151/22     -       -    151/22    584/207     8
1300Z    -       -       -     16/11     -       -     16/11    600/218    60
1400Z    -       -       -     11/1     4/4    31/27   46/32    646/250    30
1500Z    -       -       -       -     59/52     -     59/52    705/302    35
1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0     705/302    60
1700Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
1800Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
1900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
2000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
2100Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
2200Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
2300Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
0000Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0     705/302    60
0100Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
0200Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
0300Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     705/302    60
0400Z  10/10     -       -       -       -       -     10/10    715/312    52
0500Z   2/1    20/7    80/4      -       -       -    102/12    817/324 
0600Z    -     14/1    25/1      -       -       -     39/2     856/326    39
0700Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     856/326    60
0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0     856/326    60
0900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     856/326    60
1000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     856/326    60
1100Z    -      2/2     2/1    11/1      -       -     15/4     871/330    52
1200Z    -       -       -    167/14   34/4      -    201/18   1072/348 
1300Z    -       -       -       -    200/13    2/2   202/15   1274/363 
1400Z    -       -       -       -    151/8    13/8   164/16   1438/379 
1500Z    -       -       -     25/6    34/6    26/17   85/29   1523/408 
1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--    2/0   164/0     6/6   172/6    1695/414 
1700Z    -       -       -       -      7/4     1/1     8/5    1703/419    55
1800Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1703/419    60
1900Z    -       -       -     56/5    12/6     5/3    73/14   1776/433    22
2000Z    -       -     42/4    69/4    11/6     3/1   125/15   1901/448 
2100Z    -       -     80/5    11/3     6/2      -     97/10   1998/458 
2200Z    -       -      1/0    11/0      -       -     12/0    2010/458    51
2300Z    -     14/2     4/3     4/3      -       -     22/8    2032/466    48

Total: 39/35  277/72  370/90  577/99  682/105  87/65

Rope for Wire Antennas

There was an interesting exchange of views on the topic of ropes for wire antennas on the Yankee Clipper Contest Club email reflector this month. I wanted to capture some of the discussion for later reference.

On Feb 5, 2016, at 1:02 PM, Lars KE1J asked:

My dipoles came down today due to the heavy wet snow. Clearly the rope I used was not strong enough. Any suggestions for a good rope that can hold some wire antennas?

de K1LI:

The MastrAnt rope that guyed the towers at WRTC2014 was spectacular.

I’d think you’d worry more about trees pulling each other down than you would about this rope breaking!

And, they were a corporate sponsor of WRTC2014, which puts them high on my list of “go to” vendors.

Widely available at US ham equipment distributors, like DXEngineering.

You can see their products at:    mastrant.com/en

de K1WCC:

There is a store in New Bedford, R&W Rope Works, that sells all kinds of rope. They opened their warehouse a few years ago to sell surplus rope, I went there, they had large amounts of all kinds of marine rope. I bought some 3/16″ dia. braided dacron, about 500 ft. and it’s tough and strong, designed for sunlight and abrasion resistance. I think they have a store there now, or, order online. My dipoles are still up, (just worked St. Helena with one of them) despite being coated with ice and snow right now.

I’m more concerned about wire strength.

https://rwrope.com/

Also, Davis RF is now in the rope business.

http://www.davisrf.com/dacron.php

Henry  K1WCC

de N2GZ:

I have been using Dacron rope sourced from davisrf.com. I bought a lot of it (savings in bulk) and im going through it slower than i thought I would.

I employ a technique that lends itself to rapid rapiers:

Using a heavy (5/16 or greater) rope, I install a loop in each tree that will support the ends of my antenna. The loop is tossed over the support branch and is joned at a welded stainless ring of approximately  1 inch ID,

1/4 inch wire diameter. Mcmaster part 3769T74 or similar. a smaller ring would probably be fine. A swivel sheave could probably used here with added expense.

I then use  a smaller rope, usually 3/16 diameter to support the antenna.

Shorter and lighter antennas require less tension to deploy, so a smaller rope could be fine here for shorter dipoles.  This rope is passed through the welded stainless ring (or sheave).

The antenna is raised first by moving the steel ring to the top of the tree, and securing in place by tying off the loop of heavier rope at the base of the tree. Then the smaller antenna support cord is tensioned to position the antenna as desired.  When deployed this way, there seems to be far less abrasion on the rope that passes over the tree branches, and the the rope that is likely to break is the one supporting the antenna. Should it fail, simply lower the ring/sheave with the loop of heavy rope and replace pull up a new antenna. Far easier to do rapidly, no need to get the cannon/slingshot out and no amount of luck is needed to get the rope placed as you had it before.

Sometimes it is desirable to install a fuse (smaller diameter rope) between the antenna and antenna support rope. so that it breaks in a specifiedspot, allowing your rope to be reusable without intermittent knots.

Greg, N2GZ

de W1HIS:

Yes.  _Wire_ rope beats any organic (natural or synthetic) fiber rope; however, wire rope must be broken up by insulators, and insulators don’t pass through pulleyvery well.

The best organic fiber is polyester.  No other organic fiber resists sunlight well.  Only one other organic fiber, namely Kevlar, creeps less than polyester.  (By creeping, I mean extending under sustained load.)  However:

  • Kevlar does not resist sunlight well, so it requires a braided polyester jacket.
  • Kevlar absorbs up to 7% of its weight in water!  It is a lousy dielectric.
  • Kevlar does not resist abrasion as well as polyester.  Although a braided polyester jacket would protect Kevlar fibers from external, or “surface” abrasion, Kevlar’s resistance to “internal” abrasion or fatigue due to repeated flexing is poor!
  • Kevlar is quite brittle.  A shock breaks it easily.  A falling tree branch would be much more likely to snap a Kevlar rope, than a polyester rope.

Last but not least, black Dacron/polyester double-braid rope is relatively inexpensive.

IMO, nothing matches black-jacketed Dacron/polyester double-braid rope.  The braided jacket protects the unpigmented, _straight_ (not twisted), fibers that provide the tensile strength of the rope.  The lack of twist is important because a twisted rope untwisted and extends under a sustained load.

You should buy rope whose rated (breaking) strength is ten times the sustained load (tension) it must endure.  I control the tension in a rope by hanging a lead weight on the free ends of the rope, which is fastened at one end and passes through a block to the hanging weight at its opposite end.

You should reduce wear on ropes by using pulleys (a.k.a. “blocks”) with large diameter sheaves (wheels).  After years of replacing rope worn out by 2”, 3”, and 4″-diameter sheaves.  I now use only 5” and 6” diameter sheaves.

Thus, I have gotten years of service from ropes, despite hurricanes, nor’easters, ice storms, and tree branches falling on my antenna and its supporting ropes.

For several years I have bought black Dacron/polyester double-braid rope from <http://www.synthetictextilesinc.com/supportham.html>.

-Chuck W1HIS

Note:

(1) Nylon does not resist sunlight well.

(2) Under tension, a Nylon rope grows longer, and longer, and longer.

de W1EQO:

Using an insulator between a nylon rope and the wire helps a lot.

The problem is we hams mostly use a class of wire antennas known as “standing wave” antennas (dipoles, verticals, yagis) vs another bunch called “traveling wave” antennas (loops, folded dipoles, resistor in the center folded dipoles, etc).

Standing wave antennas are characterized by an end (or ends), beyond which current does not flow. This is commonly called the “end effect.”

The end effect determines the feed point impedance of a standing wave antenna.

So, attaching a resistive chunk of nylon rope to the end of a dipole changes the feed impedance or VSWR. Also it is an absorbing extension to the wire, which I would expect, reduces the amount of radiated RF. Possibly even worse, the resistive value changes with weather and time.

Placing an insulator between the wire & rope mitigates this problem

Jim, W1EQO

de KI1H:

After the flurry of emails on the subject of rope last week and seeing my beams bowing to the weight of the heavy snow, I deciding to do a little research.

As was mentioned, Kevlar is resistant to stretch but not UV stabilized unless jacketed.

I did find a source for a material that stretches less than 1% at 30% load ( at 1/8″ that is 750 lbs load).

Look at the link below.

http://www.samsonrope.com/Pages/Product.aspx?ProductID=872

I called the manufacturer and it’s non-conductive.

2015 CQ WW CW Contest, K5ZD

Summary

Call: K5ZD
Class: SOAB(A) HP
Operating Time (hrs): 45

 Band   QSOs Zones Countries
 ------------------------------
 160:    136  17    65
 80:     731  29    99
 40:    1199  38   130
 20:    1308  38   138
 15:    1173  34   136
 10:     234  24    88
 ------------------------------
 Total: 4781 180   656  Total Score = 11,607,024

Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club

Operation

I appreciate (and envy) everyone who made the choice to spend time with family over the holiday weekend. My family has learned that it is better for all of us to let me spend time locked in the radio room.

Station hardware was ready. Op was mostly ready. Decided on doing Assisted again because it was so much fun before and I love chasing mults.

40m was definitely the band to start on. I didn’t even try to find a run frequency – just tuned up the band calling people.

Low bands were awesome both nights – able to work Europe on 160 the first night. Some good runs on 80m when I could find a clear spot.

Amazing how late 40m stays open after European sunrise – was working stations more than 3 hours after their sunrise time.

Took a 1 hour nap the first night from 1000-1115. Figured if I didn’t sleep then I was going to be loopy later in the day. 20m was already open when I woke up. Moved to 15m at 1236z and stayed on 21012 for the next 5 hours straight! Never had that much run time on one frequency before. Best 60 minutes was 216 QSOs. I was able to pick up lots of mults on 10m, but it never sounded good enough to abandon the rate on 15m.

Had a moment of panic around 2130z when it appeared I lost my antenna switching. Was running on 40m and trying to diagnose the problem. Finally decided it was in the relays that gave access to the Tribander. Swapped some coax to go around the relays and everything was working again — but no more quick switching to the South antenna.

By now I was totally locked into the contest. Had about 5.8 million at the halfway point (around 2800 QSOs). No run time on 10 meters so was really hoping it would open the second day.

Came out to see what my family had for dinner. Ate some Thanksgiving left overs and then was back at it. Finally decided on a quick nap from 0350-0445z while rates were slow. Feels weird when you try to wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle.

Good runs on 80 meters. Band was super quiet and open very well. Was even able to get a few answers to CQs on 160m.

Took another sleep from 0940-1115z. Rest of the contest was a blur. Since I had spent so much time on 15m on Saturday, I stayed on 20m and worked lots of deep Russians. This also gave me a chance to chase mults on 15m (I only had 75 countries on 15m). Really struggled to find a good run frequency on 15m. The band was packed!

Around 1530z, the Europeans on 10m started to get loud. I did a slow run there. Band was actually quite good, but not much activity. Was able to CQ and get answers until 1630z. It was nice to get one last bit out of 10 meters before it just becomes a memory.

Things started to get really slow around 1800z. Nothing to do but keep CQing on 20m while tuning 10 and 15. Went to 40m at 2030z and was able to work VK6LW and AH0K on LP! 40m was great all the way to the end.

Spent last hour tuning around on 80m. Busted the SU90IARU split pileup on the first call. I didn’t really expect to have a chance. Then one called 3V8SS and minute later. Got a “?” out of 4L5P, but no QSO. Just couldn’t find country 100 on 80m.

Comments

My station does not feel loud on 40 or 160m. I seemed to spend a lot of time waiting my turn on those bands. Same when calling stations to the South on 10 and 15. There were a few pileups I could never get through – like HR2J on 10m.

SH5 reports 275 second radio QSOs. I think it was more than that.

I was spotted on Sunday as KH8B. It is amazing how many people who should know better (and know how to copy CW) were calling me. Even with the cluster you have to LISTEN!!

Wide signals are a real problem. If one of the real loud and real wide stations sits down next to you, it is impossible to copy through the clicks. I love having a panadapter to see the band, but it pains me to see how many signals are 1-5 Khz wide. This and excess power are ruining CW contesting.

I did record the entire contest. May try to get the recordings up on the web site when I find time.

Yes, Skimmer and the RBN have changed contesting. It sure is fun to have that much information about what is happening across all bands. Becomes an information management challenge. I struggled to get a good spot filter set up. Thanks to W1VE and WC2L for use of their clusters.

Thanks to everyone who makes this the best contest of the year. It takes two to make a QSO so wouldn’t be the same without so much activity and DXpeditions from all parts of the world. Thank you all!

Station

K3 + Alpha 76CA
K3 + AL-1500

160m: Ground plane, Shunt fed tower
80m: 4 square
40m: 40-2CD @ 33m
20m: 205CA/205CA @ 30m/15m
15m: 155CA/155CA @ 20m/10m
10m: 6/4/4 @ 30m/20m/10m
Mult: TH7DXX @ 10m (mostly south)

Numbers

By Continent

          160M    80M    40M    20M    15M    10M   Total      %
    SA       5     16     32     31     36     48     168     3.5
    AF       6     14     20     23     22     21     106     2.2
    OC       1      4     20     18     16      4      63     1.3
    AS       1     11     40    128     52      1     233     4.9
    EU      92    622   1012   1045    984    117    3872    81.0
    NA      31     64     75     63     63     43     339     7.1

Rates (QSO/ZN+DX)

Hour   160M     80M     40M     20M     15M     10M    Total     Cumm    Off

0000Z  --+--   --+--   68/59   48/56   --+--   --+--  116/115   116/115 
0100Z    -      3/4   100/14   19/13     -       -    122/31    238/146 
0200Z    -    109/44   14/9      -       -       -    123/53    361/199 
0300Z    -    106/17   16/14     -       -       -    122/31    483/230 
0400Z  41/33   25/1    34/10     -       -       -    100/44    583/274 
0500Z  15/14   82/6    32/5      -       -       -    129/25    712/299 
0600Z  11/7    75/23    9/3     3/2      -       -     98/35    810/334 
0700Z   2/2    12/1    81/12     -       -       -     95/15    905/349 
0800Z   3/1    10/11   79/2     1/0    --+--   --+--   93/14    998/363 
0900Z    -      4/1    62/14    1/1      -       -     67/16   1065/379 
1000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    1065/379   60
1100Z    -      1/0     8/0    70/28     -       -     79/28   1144/407   23
1200Z    -       -       -    109/15   79/28     -    188/43   1332/450 
1300Z    -       -       -      8/9   191/18   14/18  213/45   1545/495 
1400Z    -       -       -       -    169/7    28/24  197/31   1742/526 
1500Z    -       -       -       -    142/2    19/12  161/14   1903/540 
1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--  130/2    19/18  149/20   2052/560 
1700Z    -       -       -     39/14   75/10   13/9   127/33   2179/593 
1800Z    -       -       -    150/3    28/27     -    178/30   2357/623 
1900Z    -       -       -     83/5    25/18     -    108/23   2465/646 
2000Z    -       -     95/2     5/1     8/7    12/9   120/19   2585/665 
2100Z    -       -     98/1     3/3     7/4      -    108/8    2693/673 
2200Z    -       -     83/1      -     26/5      -    109/6    2802/679 
2300Z    -      3/6    39/4    11/7     8/1      -     61/18   2863/697 
0000Z  --+--   44/7    19/4    --+--   --+--   --+--   63/11   2926/708 
0100Z  12/7     5/0      -      1/0      -       -     18/7    2944/715   20
0200Z   3/1    15/0     1/0    30/2      -       -     49/3    2993/718 
0300Z    -     29/1     4/0    18/3      -       -     51/4    3044/722 
0400Z    -       -       -      6/4      -       -      6/4    3050/726 
0500Z  45/13     -      2/0     3/1      -       -     50/14   3100/740 
0600Z    -     95/0     8/0      -       -       -    103/0    3203/740 
0700Z    -     80/2     9/0      -       -       -     89/2    3292/742 
0800Z   2/3     7/0    54/0    46/0    --+--   --+--  109/3    3401/745 
0900Z    -      2/0     7/4    39/1      -       -     48/5    3449/750   21
1000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0    3449/750   60
1100Z    -       -      1/0    98/0      -       -     99/0    3548/750   22
1200Z    -       -      3/5   128/2    10/9      -    141/16   3689/766 
1300Z    -       -       -     93/0    30/12     -    123/12   3812/778 
1400Z    -       -       -     34/1    90/0     2/1   126/2    3938/780 
1500Z    -       -       -       -     46/10   44/8    90/18   4028/798 
1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   48/2    47/12   95/14   4123/812 
1700Z    -       -       -     96/1    17/2      -    113/3    4236/815 
1800Z    -       -       -     93/1     1/1    21/0   115/2    4351/817 
1900Z    -       -       -     58/2     5/2    13/0    76/4    4427/821 
2000Z    -       -     29/2    15/1    19/1      -     63/4    4490/825 
2100Z    -       -     96/0      -      5/1     2/1   103/2    4593/827 
2200Z    -      4/4    67/3      -     14/1      -     85/8    4678/835 
2300Z   2/1    20/0    81/0      -       -       -    103/1    4781/836 

Total:136/82 731/128 1199/168 1308/176 1173/170 234/112

36 Stations worked on 6 bands
4O3A 9A1A CN2AA CR2X CR3L D4C DF0HQ DL0CS DL0GL DL0UM E7DX EI7M G5O II9P KP3Z LZ9W OL3Z OL4A OM7M OP4K P33W P40L PI4CC PJ2T PJ4A PJ4Q PZ5W TF2CW TI5W TM6M V26K V47T VE2IM VE9AA ZD8W ZF2MJ

54 worked on 5 bands

2015 ARRL Sweepstakes CW K5ZD

                    ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW

Call: K5ZD
Operator(s): K5ZD
Station: K5ZD

Class: Single Op HP
QTH: W1
Operating Time (hrs): 21.5
Radios: SO2R

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
  160:    0
   80:  207
   40:  432
   20:  492
   15:  104
   10:    0
------------
Total: 1235  Sections = 83  Total Score = 205,010

Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club

 

Comments:

Sat down at 15 minutes before the contest and discovered my 15m Yagi wouldn’t turn.  It was pointed at Europe.  Had to use the TH7 at 40′ for the whole contest on 15m.  The 40m beam seems to have a trap problem – the SWR is moving up the band implying that I really have a dipole with a broken director.  It was also intermittent on receive.  Time to get some work done by WW CW!

Great start.  First 3 hours on 14031.  40m was a wasteland until after midnight.  It got good, but everyone seemed to be staying on 80m.

Decided to get 4+ hours of sleep rather than manage the offtime. I felt better on Sunday, but ended up with no off time to escape the slow rates.

Sunday morning was ok, but by lunch time, the bands were almost worked out. Not enough new activity coming on the air so it got really slow.

VE6 and NWT were my last two sections.  Was happy to find VE6EX late Sun morning. When I heard auroral buzz on stations 15 meters, I gave up hope for ever finding VE8.  Lucked out and heard someone working VY1AAA at the bottom of 20m.  He was at whisper level, but managed to get a QSO.  My usual nemesis is VE5 and VO1.  Worked lots of both.

When I called CQ for 10 minutes without an answer on 40 and 80m, decided to end the contest early. Off to catch an early flight at 6am Monday morning.

Thanks to everyone that got on and enjoyed the spirit of traffic handling. This was my 39th consecutive year of SS CW with more than 1000 QSOs in the log.

 

 

QSO/Sec by hour and band

 Hour      80      40      20      15     Total     Cumm    OffTime

D1-2100Z    -       -     94/37   10/8   104/45    104/45
D1-2200Z    -       -     83/15   16/3    99/18    203/63
D1-2300Z    -      2/1    73/5    11/3    86/9     289/72
D2-0000Z  --+--   12/0    71/2    --+--   83/2     372/74
D2-0100Z  28/0    29/1    12/0      -     69/1     441/75
D2-0200Z  45/3    23/0      -       -     68/3     509/78
D2-0300Z  22/0    58/2      -       -     80/2     589/80
D2-0400Z  58/0    23/0      -       -     81/0     670/80
D2-0500Z   9/0    58/0      -       -     67/0     737/80
D2-0600Z  13/0    23/0      -       -     36/0     773/80     16
D2-0700Z    -       -       -       -      0/0     773/80     60
D2-0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0     773/80     60
D2-0900Z    -       -       -       -      0/0     773/80     60
D2-1000Z    -       -       -       -      0/0     773/80     60
D2-1100Z   8/1     5/0      -       -     13/1     786/81     41
D2-1200Z  12/0    34/0      -       -     46/0     832/81
D2-1300Z   2/0    36/0     7/0      -     45/0     877/81
D2-1400Z    -     34/0    10/0      -     44/0     921/81
D2-1500Z    -     33/0    11/0     1/0    45/0     966/81
D2-1600Z  --+--   21/0    11/1    12/0    44/1    1010/82
D2-1700Z    -      7/0    29/0     8/0    44/0    1054/82
D2-1800Z    -       -     27/0     9/0    36/0    1090/82
D2-1900Z    -       -      4/0    19/0    23/0    1113/82      4
D2-2000Z    -       -     10/0     6/0    16/0    1129/82     60
D2-2100Z    -       -     22/0    12/0    34/0    1163/82
D2-2200Z    -     19/0    12/0      -     31/0    1194/82
D2-2300Z    -      5/0     9/1      -     14/1    1208/83     14
D3-0000Z  --+--    4/0     7/0    --+--   11/0    1219/83     60
D3-0100Z   8/0     3/0      -       -     11/0    1230/83     36
D3-0200Z   2/0     3/0      -       -      5/0    1235/83     50

Total:   207/4   432/4   492/61  104/14

			
		

OZ1AA Visit

I was very honored to have Thomas Andersen OZ1AA stop by today on his around the world bicycling adventure. The odometer on his bike was at 40999 Km.  That’s more than the distance around the world at the equator!

Thomas is currently riding from the bottom of South America with the goal of reaching Newfoundland.  Follow his blog with amazing photos and commentary at www.cyclingtheglobe.com.

Thomas OZ1AA visited on August 21, 2015

Thomas OZ1AA visited on August 21, 2015

Thomas OZ1AA on August 21, 2015

Thomas OZ1AA ready to get back on the road

Thomas OZ1AA on August 21, 2015

Thomas OZ1AA and his trusty Bianchi

IMG_2661

40999 Kilometers since the start of his journey in Denmark more than 3 years ago!

Thomas OZ1AA on August 21, 2015

Thomas OZ1AA on his way

 

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