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[3830] IARU AT1HQ Headquarters HP

To: 3830@contesting.com, vu2ptt@gmail.com
Subject: [3830] IARU AT1HQ Headquarters HP
From: webform@b4h.net
Reply-to: vu2ptt@gmail.com
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2016 08:07:21 +0000
List-post: <3830@contesting.com">mailto:3830@contesting.com>
IARU HF World Championship

Call: AT1HQ
Station: AT1HQ

Class: Headquarters HP
QTH: Multiple
Operating Time (hrs): 24
Remote Operation

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Zones  HQ Mults
  160:     -      -     -        -
   80:    12      -     2        8
   40:   272     41    23       30
   20:   401    343    32       42
   15:   233    644    27       41
   10:   123    110    12       24
Total:  1041   1138    96      145  Total Score = 2,132,127

Club: VU Contest Group


We knew from the beginning that this was going to be a hard grind when we had
many spotless days leading up to the contest. IARU is not a rate contest except
for brief periods when we have a solid opening to a major population area; which
is usually EU for us here in the subcontinent. The fact that it is monsoon here
with heavy rains means only the most hardy souls willingly volunteer to operate

This year we had a team of 8 ops across 3 cities who were networked via a cloud
server that made operating fun. Propagation varied vastly with VU2RCT enjoying
some great openings compared to the rest who were further inland in Bangalore
or up along the coast in Mumbai. 10m was dead all of Saturday and only came to
life in the last hour of the contest on Sunday where we managed to squeeze out
a few hundred QSOs. 15m was flat by Sunday afternoon despite showing promise on
the previous evening. 20m was noisy all the time and proved to be a test of
patience and hearing. Fairly strong opening on 40m and the gray line yielded
some good mults. But we still lack a good 40m phone station and hope to fill
that void by next year. When it all ended it was clear the we lost about 700
QSOs on 15m and 10m due to conditions. Hopefully we will have stronger low band
performance next year.


This year we decided to network the stations spread across India on a WAN using
VPN links. The plan was to have central copy of N1MM+ as the Master log on the
cloud and with a VPN server for remote stations to connect. Hamachi VPN was
considered as an option but we need to buy a license for more than 5 users - we
had 9 computers. We then tried setting up an Amazon AWS Windows Server running a
N1MM+ master copy for the other stations to connect over VPN. but quickly found
I would need to set up a second server as the VPN gateway machine. After doing
a quick check with Brian N9ADG who had written about a similar setup for CQWW
SSB 2012 - http://lists.contesting.com/_3830/2012-10/msg02855.html - where he
had mentioned this too, we got one golden nugget - that they had used the
Softether VPN server in that effort. This idea was parked for future

We then went to Microsoft Azure cloud and tried the VPN gateway provided as a
service there - the remote VPN clients were connecting but the N1MM+ network
was not making connections although the machines could be seen in the network
status window as trying to connect. Softether VPN suggested by Brian helped at
this point - we tried this on this Azure cloud based instance of Windows 2012
server and it worked perfectly after a bit of tweaking. VPN Setup was also far
more easier than trying to configure AWS or Azure VPN gateways. Brian N9ADG
also helped with some of the testing to ensure stability of the network. Maybe
some more tweaking would have got the WAN network going but in the interest of
time we decided to go with a hard coded network.

The experience that we had with N1MM+ was that the built in network self
discovery of stations was not working well on VPN - this works quite OK on
local networks which we used during our VU4KV expedition. To fix the issue with
network self discovery over VPN, we decided to go with fixed IP addresses over
VPN and added the computer names and VPN IP addresses to the Network section of
N1MM+. This worked seamlessly - the VPN network only carried the N1MM+ traffic -
all other network adapters and internet connectivity of the client machines
worked as usual. The setup ensured that the client machines easily logged back
on the N1MM network whenever they were stopped for some reason and started

We have written up a user manual for setting up the network and configuring
N1MM+ for the contest for the client side. This Operators setup  manual is
complete and was used by the team members who are all non-IT folks! The server
side setup was not documented completely in the rush to get everything going
but we are working on finishing this quickly and share it publicly so others
can use this as an option in future. There is not much reference material
available in the public domain on how to setup this kind of network we use for
IARU HQ stations, hopefully  by sharing this detailed step by step manual it
will not be a mystery anymore and others can improve on it. The whole team
really enjoyed the real-time network connectivity and messaging feature of
N1MM+ Logger and will be back next year with a hopefully bigger performance
conditions permitting.

Thanks for the contacts, every single QSO is appreciated. Logs will go to LoTW
shortly and paper QSL via VU2PTT.


The AT1HQ Team

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