Eric Scace eric at k3na.org
Wed Feb 21 17:58:44 EST 2001

R3/K3NA... operating from my 6th floor apartment 1km south of the Kremlin 
in downtown Moscow.  Thanks to everyone who figured out my
odd callsign!  See below for a discussion whose length is 
disproportionately long compared to the size of my score.

Single Op, "most bands", low power.

160:  you've got to be kidding!
80:   0/0
40:  143/30
20:  90/23
15:  103/28
10:  42/19
     378 / 100 = 113,400

    160: -none-
    80:  40m vertical dipole + tuner
    40:  40m vertical dipole + tuner (dipole was cut for 7150 kHz)
    20:  40m vertical dipole + tuner
    15:  40m vertical dipole + tuner
    10:  40m vertical dipole + tuner

Radio:  Kachina 505DSP  100w.
Software:  WriteLog 10.23F

WriteLog was a lot of fun.  The entire contest was recorded on my hard 
drive, and WL indexes the recording with the log so that one
can click on any QSO and hear it replayed (even during the 
contest).  You'll have a chance to hear what you sounded like when I
worked you the next time I see you in person.  WL also has on-line CW 
decoders which I set up to decode 12 parallel 75 Hz-wide
segments of my receiver's audio.  The "Times Square ticker tape" then 
displays 12 rows of crawling, decoded CW in real time.  The
decoders are not perfect -- but it's often useful to glance back at what 
was sent two seconds ago for a second opinion... or to look
at a different spot in the audio spectrum to see what the station adjacent 
to you is doing for rate... or to grab several calls
simultaneously out of a pileup in case the one that got your attention the 
first time was a dupe.  The decoders also display a
frequency domain audio power spectrum, which gives you another way to judge 
your transmit frequency vs that of others.  WL also has
excellent SO2R support (which I couldn't exploit with just one antenna), 
along with ethernet-based multi-op networking.  In my book,
DOS-based programs including CT are now ready for history.

As the rate sheet below shows, running 100w into a dipole in far eastern 
Europe does not generate large rates into North America.
In fact, almost all of these QSOs were search & pounce.  I was able to run 
a significantly faster rate CQing rather than S&P only on
Sunday morning's 40m sunrise opening to the USA.  The best way to imagine 
contesting from Moscow toward the USA is to imagine being
in California and trying to work Europe through everyone else.  Moscow 
stations have 4000km of other Europeans to get across... and
we get to attempt this from a much more northerly latitude.

I did give a quick listen on 80m during the sunrise opening on Saturday, 
but 40m was too hot (relatively speaking) and I couldn't
hear anything from the USA east coast on 80... so didn't bother to crank 
the tuner's inductor control the 76 turns necessary to tune
up my dipole on 80m!

Propagation openings from here to North America are not lengthy 
either.  It's an 8 hour time change to the east coast of North
America.  When 20m is opening up for you at 12z, it's already mid-afternoon 
here.  By the time the opening reaches the west coast,
the bands are starting to shut down here.  And west coast USA is a 345° 
beam heading from Moscow, crossing directly over the
magnetic north pole.  I worked N6RO on 20m and 15m for my only California 
-- and he was pretty weak (so imagine what my 100w sounded
like to him!).  The only W7 I worked was in Utah -- on 40m late in our 
"sunrise opening" (actually, about mid-morning here).  K0RF,
N2IC, and W0AIH were not difficult to work on 40 through 15m.

10m, however, is a different story.  That great 10m opening you guys had on 
Saturday was pretty good for us here in Moscow, too.
That meant that signals were strong when the band opened to the USA late in 
the afternoon here.  W0AIH was the furthest west I could
work, and he was weak with just a touch of aurora flutter.  More surprising 
was how difficult it was to work VE3's on 10m and even
on 15m -- they are just too far north and much of their path lies along 
(parallel and inside of) the auroral ring, an enormous
signal drain.  The stations from the central states were workable with 100w 
with a bit of patience: wait for a gap in the callers
and for a bubble in the ionosphere to temporarily boost signal strength a 
few dB, and the guy would at least get a fraction of my
call.  And, as the contest went on, more people had "R3/K3NA" in their 
local database and could reach a faster conclusion about who
was calling them.

On Sunday it was clear from the weaker signal strengths on 15m, and the 
additional auroral flutter on central USA signals, that 10m
was not going to be as good for us.  In fact, 10m opened only briefly for 
Moscow stations at our sunset.  NH, MA, RI, and CT were
weak but copiable -- but no new callsigns were heard.  The opening did not 
last long enough to penetrate further south down the east
coast (we needed an extra hop, and I guess there wasn't enough signal 
strength to do it)... nor did it penetrate further west.  As a
single op I didn't spend much time squeezing out openings on 10; I checked 
it twice Sunday and went back to 15m... so there might
have been some more stations in there briefly.  I would not be surprised to 
learn that the opening was skewed, but couldn't tell
with a vertical dipole.

A big thrill was earlier that Sunday afternoon.  15m was just starting to 
crack open to North America and VY1/VA3EU was heard here
weakly over the magnetic pole with lots of aurora flutter and a pile of 
western Europeans calling him.  Nevertheless there wasn't
much else to do at that point so I dumped in my call, and worked him on the 
second attempt.  Perhaps stations located further west
in Europe were suffering from having more of their path in the auroral 
ring, whereas my path crossed the auroral zone almost at
right angle and spent very little time there.

Best DX was a long path QSO with K8PO in California on 40m at our sunset on 
Sunday evening.  With the 11 hour time difference
between Moscow and Pacific Standard Time, northern California and the 
pacific northwest states are still in twilight when the sun
sets here in February.  K8PO was weak -- and actually figured out my weird 
call from scratch, as I had never worked him before in
the contest.  KC7V was also attempted and he ALMOST got my call.  But 
finally he gave up and we didn't make the QSO.  You can hear
these QSOs from the disk also.

This was my first lengthy effort using the Kachina in a contest.  The 
receiver seems to be very good, although I didn't have a
FT-1000MP available to do a side-by-side comparison with the same 
antenna.  One test I was looking forward to is to see how well one
hears weak North American signals on 40m, in between the strong western 
Europeans and with the shortwave broadcasters loading up the
front end.  It's not a perfect test, as many of the best western European 
stations have their beams turned away from Moscow
(particularly noticeable with S5, YU, etc, where that puts Moscow off the 
side)... so these stations are not as loud as when they
beam direct to JA over Russia in CQ WW.  Nonetheless, it was quite easy to 
drill right down to the band noise level (here in this
urban environment) and pull out weak North Americans from the noise while 
some rock-crushing European was calling CQ a few hundred
Hz away.  It takes a pretty decent receiver to stand up to that!

The man-machine interface for the software does not work well for 
contesters, however.  WriteLog is able to tune the radio directly
using the wheel on your mouse... but other control actions (filters, 
volume, AGC settings, etc) require switching tasks if you run
the Kachina interface on the same computer as your logging 
software.  Unfortunately, Kachina's software uses keys like F1 and F2 to
recall previously-saved radio configurations, so if you forget to go back 
to WriteLog before attempting to dump your call into a
pileup, you'll cause the radio to jump to a completely different 
band/frequency/mode... and you'll be VERY unhappy.  I figured this
out before the contest and moved the Kachina to a separate laptop.

A surprising experiment was trying different techniques for tuning a 
computer-controlled radio.  At the start, I used the
stand-alone knob.  Here, too, the Kachina software imposed some 
inconvenient, as the knob tuning rates are at inconvenient sizes for
CW.  However, later I experimented with step-tuning the radio across the 
band.  I wound up abandoning the knob altogether.  It was
actually faster (even faster than a conventional radio) to step tune the 
Kachina, hopping from one signal to another with but just a
quick glissando in-between.  Stations who are calling CQ are rarely closer 
than 150 to 200 Hz, and one could just hop from signal to
signal with a tap or two on the keyboard much faster than turning a 
knob.  A few taps more would line up the rig on the desired
frequency for dumping in a call.  It sounds odd -- but I think it's just as 
efficient as a knob... and, with a bit of practice, it
might be even faster for S&P operation.

Another weakness is that the Kachina will not permit its built-in keyer to 
be used at the same time as a computer keys the 'normal

I'm working on a software package to fix all these problems but it will 
take a while to get that done.

QSO/Sec by hour and band

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

D1-0000Z  --+--   --+--   11/6    --+--   --+--   --+--   11/6      11/6
D1-0100Z    -       -      8/4      -       -       -      8/4      19/10 
D1-0200Z    -       -      3/0      -       -       -      3/0      22/10 
D1-0300Z    -       -      5/3      -       -       -      5/3      27/13 
D1-0400Z    -       -     12/5      -       -       -     12/5      39/18 
D1-0500Z    -       -     19/4      -       -       -     19/4      58/22
D1-0600Z    -       -      9/2      -       -       -      9/2      67/24
D1-0700Z    -       -      8/1      -       -       -      8/1      75/25 
D1-0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--   --+--    0/0      75/25 
D1-0900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0      75/25 
D1-1000Z    -       -       -     12/9      -       -     12/9      87/34 
D1-1100Z    -       -       -     11/5      -       -     11/5      98/39
D1-1200Z    -       -       -       -     24/13     -     24/13    122/52
D1-1300Z    -       -       -       -      7/3    18/12   25/15    147/67
D1-1400Z    -       -       -       -       -     22/7    22/7     169/74
D1-1500Z    -       -       -       -     12/2     2/0    14/2     183/76
D1-1600Z  --+--   --+--   --+--    2/1    12/2    --+--   14/3     197/79
D1-1700Z    -       -       -     10/3      -       -     10/3     207/82
D1-1800Z    -       -       -      7/0      -       -      7/0     214/82 
D1-1900Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     214/82 
D1-2000Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     214/82 
D1-2100Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     214/82 
D1-2200Z    -       -     10/1      -       -       -     10/1     224/83 
D1-2300Z    -       -     11/0      -       -       -     11/0     235/83
D2-0000Z  --+--   --+--    3/0    --+--   --+--   --+--    3/0     238/83 
D2-0100Z    -       -      1/0      -       -       -      1/0     239/83 
D2-0200Z    -       -       -       -       -       -      0/0     239/83 
D2-0300Z    -       -      6/0      -       -       -      6/0     245/83 
D2-0400Z    -       -     24/2      -       -       -     24/2     269/85
D2-0500Z    -       -     11/1      -       -       -     11/1     280/86
D2-0600Z    -       -      1/0      -       -       -      1/0     281/86 
D2-0700Z    -       -       -      6/0      -       -      6/0     287/86 
D2-0800Z  --+--   --+--   --+--    6/1    --+--   --+--    6/1     293/87 
D2-0900Z    -       -       -      9/0      -       -      9/0     302/87
D2-1000Z    -       -       -      9/1      -       -      9/1     311/88
D2-1100Z    -       -       -     15/2      -       -     15/2     326/90
D2-1200Z    -       -       -       -     17/3      -     17/3     343/93
D2-1300Z    -       -       -       -     17/3      -     17/3     360/96
D2-1400Z    -       -      1/1     3/1     7/1      -     11/3     371/99
D2-1500Z    -       -       -       -      7/1      -      7/1     378/100

Total:     0/0     0/0   143/30   90/23  103/28   42/19

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