webform at b4h.net webform at b4h.net
Thu Feb 13 23:58:49 EST 2003

                    CQ/RJ WW RTTY WPX Contest

Call: VE7FO
Operator(s): VE7FO
Station: VE7FO

Class: SOAB LP
Operating Time (hrs): 29

 Band  QSOs  Pts
   80:   31   122
   40:   46   180
   20:  106   265
   15:  146   322
   10:  289   694
Total:  618  1583  Prefixes = 278  Total Score = 440,074

Club: British Columbia DX Club


Those who have been following the description of my efforts to build a contest
station may remember me talking about an audio patch panel.  Well, every audio
line in the station now runs through it.  Of the 48 jacks, only 3 are unused. 
How could a one position station have so many audio lines?  The Radio Shack
mixer alone has 4 lines in and 2 out so that's 6 jacks.  There are 4 isolation
transformers on the sound card lines in and lines out so they use 8 jacks.  I
put them on the jack field in case I ever want to patch something else through
them.  The MkV has 2 line outs, a patch in and a packet in and out.  The PK-232
has 2 audio inputs, etc. etc.  I bought a 500 ft roll of Beldfoil shielded wire
for wiring the jack field.  There's about 70 ft left.

This time I thought I would try something new.  In RTTY I normally have WriteLog
set up for 2 radios, even though I only have one.  Main Rx audio goes through
the Left channel of the mixer to the sound card where RITTY does the TNC duties.
 Sub Rx audio goes through the Right channel of the mixer to the PK-232.  I use
the mixer because the MkV line outs are fixed level and I like to be able to
independently adjust the audio level into the two TNCs as I can get better
performance out of them if I do.  This setup allows me to either have 2 TNCs
printing the same received signal (is this called "design diversity" as opposed
to space or frequency diversity?) or I can use the sub Rx to hunt for mults
while running.  Of course, while transmitting I can't hear anything so finding
mults is a very slow process, particularly because I don't like to leave a lot
of time between CQs.  Now that I have the old 75A4 Rx audio appearing at the
patch panel I decided to try feeding the 75A4 into the PK-232 and connecting it
to the 40 or 80 dipole while I was operating on the high bands on the tribander.
 While neither dipole is going to be great I'm sure to hear some signals.  With
luck, the A4 won't desense and I'll be able to print signals from, say, 20,
while transmitting on, say, 10.  So, the A4 audio goes to the other Right
channel input of the mixer.  This allows me to still feed the Sub Rx audio into
the PK-232 if I want to.  Just move it's mixer slider from zero up to its normal
position and move the slider associated with the A4 down to zero.  Oh man, am I
clever or what?  (Pride goeth before a fall.) 

So, before the contest, I'm trying this out.  Oops, one problem.  With the
earphones plugged into the MkV I can't hear the 75A4 audio so can't tune
stations in.  I thought briefly of using the technique that someone described in
a contest story of putting a small earphone on one ear with the main earphone on
top of it.  The thought of 30 hours of this doesn't appeal so better think of
something else.  Hustled upstairs, grabbed the receiver out of the stereo
system, and set it on top of the MkV (leaving the heat sinks clear).  OK, now I
can feed the mixer Left and Right outputs into the Stereo Receiver Aux input,
plug the phones into its headphone jack, and, by manipulation of the mixer
sliders, I can listen to any or all of the 3 audio streams.  

Hmmm..... got a pair of audio cables plugged into the Aux input of the Stereo
Rx.  Nothing to plug the other ends into.  Can't use the patch panel 'cuz the
mixer line outs already have something plugged into them.  MkV audio presently
playing through the speaker.  What the H... is all that racket that just
started.  Oh, it's 0000Z.  Sigh, another late start coming up.  What to do ....
What to do?

Well, the Radio Shack mixer has 2 input jacks for each of the 4 input channels,
a 1/4" line in and an RCA mic in.  Hah... rip the thing open, disconnect 2 of
the RCAs from their inputs, wire them in parallel with the 2 output jacks,
button it up again, plug in the cables to the Stereo Rx, plug in the phones and
start listening.  Awright, it's working and I'm getting print ... sort of.  I'm
also getting terribly distorted audio in the phones.  Check the 9V battery in
the mixer... 3V.  Replace it and all OK now.

First Q (S&P) at 0044Z on 10.

So, how did it work?  The audio side worked really well.  I can feed either the
A4 or the MkV Sub Rx audio to the PK-232 (or both, but I didn't try it... would
that be called "stupidity diversity"?) and I can adjust the levels for best
operation of the PK-232.  At the same time, the MkV Main Rx audio is being fed
to RITTY with its level being adjustable independently of the others.

Not only that, the volume control on the Stereo Rx allows me to adjust the
phones volume to a comfortable level without changing the levels from the mixer
to the TNCs.  Another unexpected benefit is that, if I don't want to hear, for
example, the Right channel audio (to the PK-232) I just slide the Stereo Rx
balance control hard left and the PK-232 just keeps on printing.  

The mixer has a Stereo/Mono switch.  I discovered that if it is set to Mono, all
the inputs appear at both Left and Right outputs, their levels, of course, being
dependent on the positions of their respective sliders.  The MkV line outs are
strictly Main Rx on the Left and Sub Rx out on the Right and "never the twain
shall meet".  If I want to feed the Main Rx to both RITTY and the PK-232 I just
pull the Sub Rx and A4 mixer sliders down, switch the mixer to Mono and the Main
Rx audio now goes to both TNCs.  I'm really, really happy with this setup.  

Made 3 more S&P Qs on 10 and decided to start running and see if I could hear
anything on the A4.

Well, when transmitting on 10 can't hear anything on 15 because the A4 desenses.
 But... 20 is fine!  I can hear on 20 while transmitting on 10 and it doesn't
seem to make much difference whether I'm transmitting or not.  Not only that, I
can hear lots of 20m signals on the 40/80 dipoles.  Hang on, this could be

0116Z  I'm printing VE4COZ on 20 from the A4 while I'm CQing on 10.  Wow!  Never
experienced this before.  I look at the A4 dial, interpolate between the 1 kHz
marks, set the B VFO (sub-Rx) on the MkV to that frequency and hit the MkV swap
VFOs button.  With only a slight amount of tuning COZ is printing on the MkV
Main Rx.  He signs, I call, and he's in the log.  Wow, is this neat or what? 
Hit the swap VFOs button again and resume CQing on the same freq as before.

0133Z  Find W4XTM on 20 while CQing on 10.  Bingo, he's in the log.
0140Z  Do it again with N6NN
0143Z  Do it again with HP1/DJ7AA
0150Z  Do it again with HK4QHD.  Wow, just like being 19 yrs old again.

And so it goes, average 3 run Qs on 10 then an S&P on 20.

0235Z  50 Qs, 36 mults.  10 Qs and 10 mults from the A4.  10 is dying, switch to

0315Z  61 Qs, 43 mults.  Can't hear on 20 while transmitting on 15 so switch the
PK-232 to the sub Rx.  20 m mult production falls way off and 15 is dying so
switch to 20.

0400Z  72 Qs, 50 mults.  Couldn't get a run going on 20 so just S&P.  Pretty
slow, check out 40.  Hey, 40's happening.  I'll just start running on 40 and S&P
on 20 with the A4.

0725Z  102 Qs, 72 mults.  Well, lots of sigs on 40.  Couldn't believe it, 2nd Q
was LY5A.  Found a nice mult on 20 with the A4, went to call him and realized
that I didn't have a transmit antenna for 20 as the A4 was using the beam. 
Sigh!  Not doing too well so try 80.

0810Z  120 Qs, 79 mults.  Didn't think to put one of the dipoles on the A4 and
the other on the MkV so no checking for mults on one band while running on the
other.  Give up and go to bed.

Well, ended up with 618 Qs and 278 mults.  Never got any kind of rate going but
very pleased with the SO1.5R experience and happy with the overall result. 
Tripled my score from the only other time I was in this contest.  RTTY provides
a very nice intro to SO2R as you aren't trying to decode 2 things in your head

RITTY performed very well.  Once when I had paused CQing while tuning around
with the A4 and watching the PK-232 window I glanced at the RITTY window and
found that someone who sounded like deep background QRM was actually calling me.
 I could barely hear him but he printed 100%.

Don't know how many 2nd Rx Qs I made as WriteLog doesn't seem to have any way of
telling me this.  I did have about 6 5 banders but don't recall who they were
and WL won't tell me.  I suppose I could convert the file to ADIF and convert
that to .dbf and then sort the calls with dBase or export as .WK1 and then sort
with Excel but I think I could put my time to better use.

Don't forget that the Pacific Northwest DX Convention 2003 July 18,19 and 20 is
being held in Vancouver.  Keynote speaker is a world renowned Dxer as well as
being a member of both DX Hall of Fame and Contest Hall of Fame.  How many of
these could there be?  Check out the PNW DX Convention page at
http:\\www.bcdxc.org and find out.  While you're there, you might as well

Thanks for the Qs everyone and see you next time.

73 de Jim Smith	VE7FO

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