[3830] TxQP NO5W SO CW Mobile LP

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Thu Sep 30 14:21:01 EDT 2004

                    Texas QSO Party

Call: NO5W
Operator(s): NO5W
Station: NO5W

Class: SO CW Mobile LP
Operating Time (hrs): 17

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Dig Qs
   40:    60             
   20:   979             
   15:    41             
Total:  1080    0       0  Mults = 63  Total Score = 237,120

Club: NARS - Northwest Houston ARS


The above score includes 33000 bonus points for 33 counties with 5 or more

Returning home from operating mobile in the TQP I thought it would be a good
idea to upgrade my virus protection before writing this report -- not exactly
sure why I decided that would be a good idea but I guess it was to silence a
daily nag message that my subscription had expired. Well it wasn't a good idea
as removing the existing anti-virus software was non-trivial and eventually
resulted in having to reload the entire operating system. But that's a story for
another reflector and just my excuse for being later than I wanted to be in
filing this 3830 report. I hope I get this filed while memories and excitement
of TQP are still fresh.

This was my third time out as a mobile in TQP and my most successful outing to
date with more Qs, more Mults, more Counties (33), more miles, and higher rates
(bursts of 160 at some county lines) than in either of the other two years.
Thanks to all those that tracked my signals around a big Texas arc of about 900
miles and provided the source for all those improved stats. 

The Trip: 
Including the 260 mile Friday afternoon drive from Houston up to our starting
point on Lake Bob Sandlin in northeast Texas and the two days of TQP we put in
almost 1200 miles. Lake Bob Sandlin separates Camp county on its south bank and
Titus county on the north and there are a number of counties in that area that
can be traversed in 15 miles or less. So the plan was to drive a couple of miles
back across the lake into Camp county for the start, sit there until the pileup
subsided, then head back across to Titus to begin a big counter-clockwise spiral
out of the area eventually ending up in Bowie county on Highway 82. Then a full
afternoon's drive across the counties bordering K5YAA country would take us to
Wichita Falls around 5:00 pm and from there we would head southwest through
Archer, Baylor, Throckmorton, and Stephens counties for a three hour drive until
civilization was again in view in Eastland county where the driver (my YL)
declared "I'm Done" with 45 minutes left in the first session. As in cards so in
TQP: "You've gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold 'em, know when to
S&P, know when to Run" but most of all "know when to QRT when the driver's
done". So we stopped in Cisco which we found out is the site of the first Conrad
Hilton Hotel. Unfortunately the Hilton had left town long ago leaving behind
only a museum so we settled in at the Best Western and went in search of Linda's
Cafe, the only cafe in town open till 9:00 pm -- the other one closes at 7:00.

Sunday we headed on south to Lampasas county where we turned southeast for a
three hour drive back into Houston arriving in our home county (Montgomery) with
five minutes remaining in the TQP. Then it was on to the NARS post QSO Party
Party -- we like to party down here -- to listen to tales, brags, and probably
some exaggerated truths of all the TQP adventures of the NARS mobiles and fixed

The Setup:
I'm not a regular mobileer so when it comes time for mobile operation in a QP I
basically move most of my base station into the Pathfinder for the event. This
includes -

Radios: IC-706MKIIG with TenTec Pegasus as a spare just in case. The main radio
bodies are located in the rear of the vehicle with the control heads on a
lapdesk in the front passenger seat along with the laptop and paddle.

Laptop: Dell D400 running homebrew logging program CQ/X de NO5W. If there is any
interest in using CQ/X in any other QSO parties send me an e-mail. I'll be happy
to share it and to provide support in creating the files needed to tailor it to
your particular state.

Paddle: Palm Paddle

Antennas: 40/20/15 meter hamsticks on two tri-magmounts with the front mount
holding the 20m stick throughout the contest and the rear mount alternating
between the 40m or 15m stick depending on where I think conditions and activity
are best. The magmounts don't quite completely straddle the ribbing on the top
of the Pathfinder so there is a noticeable tilt to each of the antennas -- not
pretty, but they are high and from all reports put out a decent signal although
the 40m has a rather high (3:1) SWR.

External Keyer: This year I decided to go with the WinKey from Steve, K1EL, so I
wrote a DLL to interface it to CQ/X via the serial port. This is a really nice,
reasonably priced, external keyer that draws its power from the serial port,
sends excellent CW and has many useful features.   

GPS: For a new technology this year I added a Garmin Street Pilot III and wrote
a DLL to interface it to CQ/X to enable display of GPS information on the
logging displays. This included miles and minutes to next county line and miles
to any waypoints that I choose to define - mostly towns where we might find
something to eat!. I found it very useful to be able to know in real-time how
far to the next county line and to receive a visual alert (aka blinking panel)
of an upcoming county change. A feature for auto-detection and change of
counties was also added but I stuck with the visual alert and manual changeover
since I hadn't had time to fully test the auto-county change feature and the
manual county change requires only two key strokes. 

Serial Port Expander: The two additional serial ports required by the above
setup were realized using a Keyspan port expander and a USB to RS232 adapter.
One of the extra USB ports on the expander was used to connect a USB pen drive
for performing periodic log backups.

Visits from Murphy:
As always Murphy was in the area. Fortunately, however, he played his cards too
soon and I was able to resolve both of the following problems:

Problem 1: The remote cable from the control head to the 706 was a good antenna
to the RF coming off the hamsticks and as soon as about two Vs in a test signal
were sent the radio would completely turn off just as if the on/off button had
been pressed. Beads on each end of the remote cable solved that problem.

Problem 2: The original setup had the WinKey in the rear close to the radios
with serial cable, keying line, and paddle cable running from lapdesk area to
the keyer. However, pressing the dah paddle resulted in alternating dits and
dahs just as if both paddles had been pressed, not good for impressing others
with your fist which is already pretty bad due to the bouncing environment. 
Relocation of the WinKey to under the passenger seat and shortening the paddle
cable solved that problem.

This was the first year that I have been able to break through the 1000 Q level.
Thanks to all the stations that contributed and especially to the following who
worked me in more than half of the 33 counties: WA3HAE(31), VA7LC(30), KS5A(27),
N6MU(24), AA4FU(23), NW6S(23), AB7RW(22), K3TW(22), K4MUT(22), N4PN(22),
KN4Y(21), K5KG/7(20), K5YAA(18), W3BBO(17), W8TM(17), W9MSE(17). 356Qs from
those stations alone!

When RK2FWA went in the log as the third QSO and DL3GA as the sixth I thought
conditions would be great but that was not to be the case although RK2FWA went
in the log in 16 counties and DL3GA in 13. I felt loud but also very much like
an alligator since I knew there were stations calling that I just could not pull
out of the QRN which was often very bad -- not sure that BPL will have much
impact in many of these areas since QRN is already at a saturation level. My
apologies to those stations that called only to hear a CQ in response --
hopefully we will do better next year.

I'm very fortunate to have a YL that is very supportive of my radio activities
including getting excited about driving 900 miles in the TQP and being patient
when the radio op fails to communicate the route plans at critical junctions.
Thanks, Keri.

So that's the NO5W story for TQP2004. Hope to work you all again next year and
at several points in between (SS, NAQP, etc).


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