The W4TA SPARC contest team set another club record this weekend. Eight operators were able to make 950 QSOs and 147 multipliers in 12 hours on four different bands for a total of 139,650 claimed points. Our previous record was 94,416 claimed points in July of 2012. Quite an improvement.
Special thanks to Ron, KP2N in organizing, preparing for and keeping the effort on track. Additionally for keeping the equipment humming (and making noise), and for his patience in mentoring the less experienced members of the team,
Additional thanks to Tom, NY4I, for getting our logging software up to date, to Joy, XYL of W4CU, for the batch of crockpot meatballs, to Ron, KP2N for the Sloppy Joes, to Roger, K4SHI, for the loan of a 15 meter bandpass filter, and to Tom, W4CU and Rex, KB8ESY for repairing the dipole support pole and getting it back in the air.
Operators participating in this contest were: Rex ,KB8ESY; Paul, KA4IOX; John, KI4UIP; Dave, KR4U; Ron, KP2N; Bob, N2ESP; Dee, N4GD; Scotty, N4RI; Don, VE3XD; Tom, W4CU and Leslie, WA4EEZ.
This contest will be run again in July. If you would like to participate, contact one of the happy team members above for information.
Prior to this weekend, the highest score the SPARC Contesters managed in the CQ WPX RTTY contest was a commendable 4th place (U.S) in the Multi operator, Single transmitter category with a 2.3 million-point showing in 2009. That effort used the callsign AK4K with operators KP2N, N1XX, N2ESP, N4RI, VE3XD and W4CU. After this weekend, that club record is no more.
AK4K 2009 WPX RTTY Certificate
This weekend’s effort in the CQ WPX RTTY contest exceeded that score by a good margin. Operators for this weekend’s contest were Ron KP2N, Tom W4CU, Scotty N4RI, Dave KR4U, Don VE3XD, Richard, N4BUA, Bob N2ESP, Johnnie W4TSP, Paul KA4IOX, Rex KB8ESY and Tom NY4I. The team kept the station on the air for the full 48 hours of the contest. A feat even more impressive when you consider this was also the weekend of the Orlando hamfest and several of the operators also attended the hamfest on Saturday. By this time you might be wondering, what the heck is the CQ WPX RTTY Contest?
As with most contests, the objective is to contact as many other stations as possible. The mode this weekend was RTTY, which is digital mode that you may hear above the PSK portion of the HF bands. It is distinctive by its characteristic “diddle” sound. As with any digital mode, the main interface is a computer that generates the keying signals for the radio (FSK) and decoding software that processes the received audio into text readable by the operator and the computer logging software. There are many types of contests and each has its own specific objectives. Usually one is interested in points—the number of stations you contact—along with multipliers, which are the unique twist for each contest. For example, in DX contests different countries count as a multiplier. So if I have 10 contacts—each for one point—and work 5 different countries, the score is 50. The scoring for each contact varies—as in this contest contacts with our own continent (North America) are worth one point, but contacts with other countries are worth 3 points. But the basic idea of multiplying QSO points by the number of unique “multipliers” gives the score. That means we always want to add as many multipliers as possible. Now in many contests, there are far more US stations than DX stations. But in the WPX contest, unique prefixes are the multiplier. That means that if we use a call that has a somewhat rare prefix, we are the multiplier and other stations want to work us. This weekend we used your author’s callsign, NY4I. As NY4 is only a 2×1 prefix (there was no NY4AA or NY4AAA issued), there are only 26 stations in the entire world that have the NY4 prefix. While there are some NY4 stations that are also contesters (NY4A), we did not hear any other stations in this weekend contest. What this means, is that the operators at the club station could act like the DX stations and camp out in one place and call CQ the entire weekend. This is known as “running a frequency”. This is a much more efficient way to make contacts rather than searching for other stations and working them (Search & Pounce). If you have any wondered how it would be to operate on the other side of the pileup where stations call you, a prefix contest is the place to be.
Tom NY4I working another multiplier
WriteLog in operation
We had plenty of food available to keep the team running. The famous contest chili was there as well as hot dogs, drinks, doughnuts and the usual assortment of goodies in the station. As fas as the equipment, we used the newly elevated Log Periodic for the 20 and 15 meter bands and a simple dipole for the 80 and 40 meter band. The equipment was an Elecraft K3 and an SPE 1.3k-FA solid-state amplifier running around 1200 watts. The software used was the club standard WriteLog which particularly excels at RTTY contests.
So, how did we do? The total points submitted for this contest were over 3 million! We had 1923 contacts with 675 unique prefixes for a total score of 3,121,200. Not too bad at all!
This was a great team effort led by Ron KP2N as the organizer. Many thanks to all the operators that came out and supported the effort. We will not know r where we placed in the standings for a few months, but regardless, this was a great testament to what this club station can do especially after the hard work of the club’s tower project. The only thing missing from this weekend was you! We had new operators this weekend as well as old pros. The camaraderie of the operating team makes it a great way to spend some time “playing radio”. As I have said many times, you do not need experience. You just need a desire to learn something new, have fun with some fellow hams, and get on the radio. Our next planned contest is also a RTTY contest but this is a short one. It starts at 1:00 PM on Saturday, February 25. Right after that is a phone contest on March 4rd. This is the ARRL SSB International DX contest. This contest encourages DX stations to work US stations so while not as big a multiplier as NY4 in a prefix contest, it still gives plenty of opportunities to work DX. Watch the new Club Station Activities page for more information. We welcome all to come down and operate or just stop by the watch and learn. I promise you will have a great time no matter what you choose to do.
In order to let people know what club contesting activities are planned, there is now a page that members and guests can review. This will be updated with information about each contest and the planned schedule of operating. You can find this page in the menu on the left side of the club website as well as here. If there is other information you would like to see here, please email NY4I@arrl.net.
You are invited to join the SPARC Contesters as W4TA participates in the ARRL SSB Sweepstakes contest beginning this Saturday at 4:00PM. Sweepstakes is the oldest domestic amateur radio contest held, beginning in 1930.
We will gather around 1:00PM to reinstall our temporary 40M/80M dipole antenna, with operating activities starting at 4:00PM. The object of this contest is to exchange QSO information with other stations in the United States and Canada (including territories and possessions) using the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands. While the contest lasts around 24 hours, we typically operate until we get a clean sweep of all 83 ARRL/RAC sections.
If you would like to tryout our new antenna system, learn how to contest or just enjoy the fellowship, drop by the club station on Saturday or Sunday morning.
For additional information on how the Sweepstakes contest works, click HERE.
With the completion of the relocation of our Log Periodic antenna on our new tower and the erection of a temporary dipole for 40M/80M, W4TA is on the air. The tower puts the antennas up around 55 feet. And boy do they work well in combination with the Alpha 9500 amplifier. We inaugurated the antenna/amplifier combination in the CW Sweepstakes contest, the oldest contest in amateur radio. It was no effort to hold a frequency and it was fun to hear the pile ups focused on us.
Congratulations to all that were involved in raising the SPARC contesting effort to a new level.
Tom, W4CU working CW Sweepstakes
Contest Crockpot Chile keeps the operators fueled for the contest
SPARC member Tom, NY4I has taken responsibility for the bridge program that enables two popular ham radio programs to share QSO data.
“N1MM” is a popular contesting program that is configurable for competition in most international Radiosport contests. “DXKeeper” is the logging component of a suite of programs known as “DX Labs.” The “bridging” program Tom is working on transfers the QSOs entered in N1MM to DXKeeper in real time. This allows you to update your needed DXCC entities list as you are contesting. The bridge is also compatible with “TR4W” contest software, sending real-time logging information to DXKeeper.
All of these sophisticated programs are FREE, thanks to programmers such as Tom that volunteer their skills toward the advancement of our hobby. The following URLs will provide you with additional information: