ON5ZO – OQ5M

SFI > 250 or bust!

The tower is down and family visits are scheduled so not much to do
around the shack. RF-wise that is because I just cleaned the desk,
vacuumed the floor and gathered a pile of odd QSL cards to process
(SWL, NIL, returned etc).

Maybe now is the time to look at some recently published contest results?

First up: Russian DX Contest. Very enjoyable contest especially from here with my setup. This link
shows that I’m #17 in the World CW HP class. Nothing to be proud of
really. I got bothered by nasty WX, I needed to take down the antennas
at about 0800 local on Sunday making me lose valuable operating time
and leaving me with a yagi only 9m above the ground. March is a very
unstable month when it comes to WX. I seem to remember only wind during
RDXC from 2002 up to 2007.

WX is the red thread though my contesting activites. I have a
telescopic tower that I can’t deploy when the wind blows too hard. That
tower also supports some low band antennas. Bad WX has bothered me from
CQ WW CW 2006 throughout CQ WW CW 2007. It wasted a 24h effort in both
the UBA contests. That turned out quite OK as I won both SSB and CW
parts in HP 12h category.  So in 2008 I can nail 2 extra plaques on the
wall.    Open mond

Then RDXC – see above. Later on I didn’t even bother to show up in WPX
CW 2007. May was a horrible month with heavy rainfall and continuing
strong winds. WX was very good for ARRL DX CW but I had work to do
around the house so I only put in about 10 hours in that one.

Only the summer contests were quite OK. That is: IARU and EUHFC (more
on that later). WAECW was a drag because I got a summer cold and
propagation was horrible (SFI = 67 and A = 27 or something like that).

Early August I had big fun in the EU HF Championship.
That’s a 12h contest working EU only. Again tailored to my setup and
location. I made +1200 QSO maintaining a +100 rate over the whole
contest. I ended #9 there, as this link to the results
points out. Number 9 is not a big deal but I’m in good company there
and what’s noticable: I’ve got the best UBN in the top 10. That means
something too.

Now for the "cliché of all clichés": off to put that turkey in the oven!

I carefully reread the Daily DX pages about FJ/OH2AM regarding the "situation" yesterday. It turns out that OH2AM is a club callsign and that it is a 2 man operation indeed: OH2BH and OH0XX. I really can’t believe one of these two does not sign his call for over 20 minutes / 40 QSO. But it is what it is and that is what I witnessed yesterday. Case closed.

Or maybe not? I was firing away on 17m yesterday afternoon working USA at a very slow pace. Then along came a spot on the DX Cluster…


    K1ZZI        18072.8 OQ5M                                        1330 22-Dec-2007
    K2XX         18072.6 OQ5M                                        1501 22-Dec-2007
N5AU 18073.2 FJ/OH2AM CQ 1517 22-Dec-2007

    CT1ILT       18073.2 FJ/OH2AM    up2 nice..                      1520 22-Dec-2007

OQ5M QSY! I couldn’t copy them but was ‘kindly’ asked to QSY. I didn’t plan to do so but… I didn’t work much later on. On Friday I worked a couple of West Coast stations on 30m but yesterday NIL. Though KW7Y must have heard me as he put me on the cluster. We worked on Friday so he didn’t call me again. Lately 40m has been in very bad shape (more on that later). So I called it a day and went downstairs and worked on my LogStats project.

I added what I call the XYL feature. I now have an overview of how many days I was active in a year.

The number of days is based on the number of different dates in the log. So it marks a day as QRV no matter if you worked one DX in 5 minutes or spent the full 24h in the chair working a contest.This is what it looks like.

I need to check if the code computes these numbers well. 223 days in 2001 is a lot but not impossible. I was still living at my parents’ place, working in shifts provided a lot of free time and the rig was in my bedroom…

XYL-feature

This morning I fired up the shack – I could use some heat against the freezing cold.  Open mond
I tuned to 40m and found a pile up with a huge split. The DX’s signal was S5-S7. It was not easy to find whom he was working because of the wide split and (can it be any different?) the out-of-turn-callers. I kept listening to the DX but he didn’t ID for a couple of minutes and a dozen of contacts. He remained anonymous for quite a while up to the point that it got annoying.
So I started timing to do something usefull while trying to work Anonymous. It was 07.09utc now and I had been trying and listening for some minutes already. He went on for 5 minutes and 9 contacts without IDing and QSO #10 since counting was yours truly. I gave him 5NN and wanted to ask his call but 5NN was enough for him and he immediately sent TU. So I kept listening and listening… and he went on and on remaining utterly anonymous. At 07.25 someone got curious too and sent ‘DX? DX?’ on Anonymous’ QRG. One of the Frequency Cops (see Chapter 12 of ON4WW Operating Practice reference) on duty sent ‘FJ/OH2AM‘ – so that’s who he is! Now why couldn’t he have sent that himself? Is that a new trend in DXing, working with ID-subcontractors? I kept counting and timing and after 20 minutes and 40 contacts and ZERO ID I quit and went for breakfast. Still he hadn’t sent his call only once! Now who had I just worked?
Of course I knew… eerrr: had a clue who he was from the start, because I was connected to the DX cluster. But obviously Mister Anonymous thinks that everyone is and that IDing is a thing from the 20th century.
The list of poor operating practices is long but this one sure is soooo annoying. I wonder who the operator was and why he didn’t send his call? On the other hand: if he maintains a rate of about 120/hr without giving his call for at least 20 minutes, then he just gave me a good idea to have some fun and make up my own pile up…

Maybe more later this weekend. I need to get those Christmas cards to the post office today. 73 / QRU.

ADDED info 11.00utc:
I Googled FJ/OH2AM and found more info on the Daily DX website. Apparently the operators are OH2BH and OH0XX, and maybe others but these are the only 2 calls listed. It’s hard to believe that one of these two would wait over 20 minutes or 40 QSOs to send his call. They’ve got so much experience. It’s just not their style. Maybe some other op on the team? In fact it doesn’t matter who it was. Bottom line is: PSE give your call.

Not much to say really. I’ve got some work to do -most of it is done- and I’m recovering from a sudden but severe flu that hit me late on Sunday. Nasty feeling! Last weekend I played in the 9A CW Contest. I didn’t bother to put up the 80m and 160m antennas. It was too windy and too cold. I didn’t want to mess around in the blistering cold. I made about 560 QSO or so.

Half an hour before the contest started it seemed that 15m was opening up. I worked a dozen US stations there between 13.30 and 14.00 utc. Then at 14.00 when the contest started, either 15m closed in a split second or not many W’s were in the contest on 15m. So I only worked a few there and eventually ended up on 20m – again!

But it now seems the tide has turned because several sources state that Solar Cycle 24 has officially begun. It’ll probably still be a year or more from here before that’ll pay off on 15m and another 2 years before we may begin to blow the dust of those 10m antennas. But I’m glad that we can look forward to brighter days on HF. I came on the HF bands late 2000 right in the peak of cycle 23. With a simple wire antenna I could work USA day and night. Those days were over soon. 2006 was pretty lousy and 2007 was a complete disaster so I assume 2008 will be pretty lousy again and 2009… Oh well – you still work DX just not that much and openings don’t last long.

Speaking of DX: half an hour ago I was CQing on 20m. CW of course, you know I don’t do SSB outside contests. Then W8ERN called in. I worked Angelo as my QSO #93 late 2000 when I just started. Read the above paraghraph: you could still do that in 2000 with a wire. I was ON4CLN back then. Not really a CW / Contest call. And not that it mattered because I wasn’t intoxicated by the CW virus then.

There are some QSO’s you’ll never forget and I remember Angelo closing the 2000 QSO with "…this is Double You Eight Everything Running Normal in Brighton, Michigan". Very catchy and so it happens that I never forgot his name and QTH. It was a nice QSO this afternoon. Sometimes I really get bored with that 5NN stuff so I throw in my name and when I feel it’s an op who can copy more than his own call in CW I’d like to engage in a ragchew QSO. I’m not that good a ragchewer, but at 30WPM I can manage. And I like it. It turns out it’s mostly US ops who can do that. Could it be more of a language barrier than a CW barrier? So Angelo and I had a nice chitchat in CW and he told me some kind words about my signal. We always like to hear that don’t we?

All for now. The sun is going down here and maybe there are some nice goodies to be worked on 40m or 30m?

Yesterday I was calling CQ on 30m. I saw FO/N6JA spotted and I have never worked a FO. But I figured I wasn’t going to hear him and I didn’t feel like engaging into a DX pile up. So I called CQ…

I had a fairly good EU run which I interrupted from time to time to listen for DX. Then there he was: FO/N6JA. He was S2 and I asked his call again to make sure. Yep: FO/N6JA. All time all band new DXCC for me.

I worked a couple of ‘regular’ W2-W3 (early afternoon to late morning for them) and a 9M6. It was sort of grey line propagation with the sun rising over the US West Coast. I think a handfull of 6/W7 called in but I had troubles copying them. The signals were good (S5). It wasn’t QSB, nor QRN or QRM. It’s wasn’t polar flutter. It was an echo rendering the signals quite hard to copy. Simultaneous LP / SP propagation? I don’t know. The LID-factor rose: giving 559 yet asking for their call a couple of times. Is there a Q-code for this? If so, please let me know!

The LogStats project has reached phase 2:

         ON5ZO-dec07-band

                     ON5ZO-dec07-mode

EDIT 2 hours after posting: it seems that others have done the same ‘investigation’. While I was typing this, several people posted the same on the CQ Contest reflector…

I have always tried to keep the ham spirit high, especially in contesting. But I know there is a lot of cheating going in. Excessive power (5kW or more?), claiming Low Power while running an amp, claiming unassisted while using packet etc. There are probably a ton more ways to cheat that I don’t even know about. That’s why contest plaques and World Records don’t mean too much to me. I’m mostly in it for the fun. Because my station / location are not positioned to win on a global scale, I admit.

But then there was this Battle of the Cheaters posting by N6TJ made on the CQ Contest reflector. I don’t really know Jim Neiger N6TJ but I respect his accomplishments in contesting and overall his postings make sense. This time, I think he’s speaking in tongues and remaining vague. In his next posting he revealed something more:

It’s amazing to me that so many are not aware that last year’s CQ WW CW SO/AB No. 1 claimed score was ultimately DQed, and with a minimal amount if interest and reading of what is available to 100% of the world to read, all could learn.

So I did some investigating. I downloaded last year’s CQ WW CW results on the CQ Mag scores and results page. The very very last line is quite interesting. I quote: Disqualified: C4M (op. RW3QC). Log results deemed incompatible with category of entry.

                                    CQ-snippet

Then on to the logs that are made public. Here’s the C4M log claiming SOAB(A). Here’s what he claims:

CLAIMED-SCORE: 14538876

That score is also on 3830 from that period only claimed as NOT assisted. What strikes me is that his 3830 posting is SOAB – NOT assisted while his submitted log claims assisted.

But look at this: the claimed scores for not-assisted SOAB-HP non-USA. Here’s the top 5 in that category:

CT3NT(CT1BOH)     6563   160   520    48 13,289,920 Madeira Team
P40W(W2GD) 6464 151 490 45 12,244,382 FRC
V47NT(N2NT) 7189 154 491 48 12,009,900 FRC
PZ5ZY(N6ZZ) 6089 150 492 43.5 11,469,330 SCCC
P40T(N6AA) 6372 143 441 46 11,041,688 SCCC

In short: the C4M 3830 Claimed score would top CT3NT with over 1 million points. It goes without saying that this will have rasied a few eyebrows resulting in very close log checking and scrutinizing his performance by the log checkers.

So what exactly did happen? Was he assisted claiming unassisted? Was it a M/S or M/2 operation submitted as SOAB? I have no clue, but I surely would like to know… And what (who?) does N6TJ mean that is is happening again this year (2007)? To be continued?

NOTE to the readers: I wonder of there ARE ANY? Make yourself known: on5zo@hotmail.com

SFI
Isn’t it great to see the SFI climb out of the bottom to 87 with A=0?    Sukkelig
Isn’t it a crying shame that this absolutely does NOT reflect on the air?    Ontblote tanden
I started the ARRL 10m contest yesterday with high expectations. But it took only 5 minutes to realize it’s not ‘here’ yet. Little signals, only noise and lots of repeats for the serial number. I tried 17m and worked the usual UA / UR and a ZL who wasn’t weak. No JA though.

Exit the shack. Enter the laptop.

Processing QSL
Finally I finished processing that huge pile of OQ5M QSL cards.
I tried my homebrew QSL Manager Processing Tool that adds the QSL_VIA field in ADIF using my DX4WIN QSL Manager database. I submitted a sample of my output format to the guys at Global QSL and got a final ‘GO’. So I ordered 1k cards which is really a bargain especially with the favourable Euro-Dollar exchange rate. No more printing labels, sticking, sorting, putting in boxes, driving to the local club to hand the outgoing batch to the club’s QSL manager. Over are the days – just some electronic processing and off we go. Yes!

I uploaded my ADIF and got a minor error. It seems that when copy-pasting a QSL manager from QRZ.COM there could be a problem with an illegal zero. If you look up 5J0A you get WØJAR. Note the slashed zero which isn’t accepted by GlobalQSL. It took me five minutes to add a function that removes this slashed zero and replaces it with a regular zero (0). Reload the ADIF et voilà: 759 QSO’s confirmed and sent via the ‘buro’. That’s a lot of labels! Or better: that WOULD have been a lot of labels.

Crunching numbers
For a while I’ve been thinking to get some statistics out of my logs since I got on HF in December 2000. That’s a lot of work in DX4WIN (I really can’t say much positive about this anymore) and you still need to calculate. So now that I’m on a programming roll, I decided to tackle that and wrote me a tool. It is still VERY MUCH under development and the current release is something like ‘minus zero point 1’. You can see what it looks like below.

 LogStats1

This clearly shows a couple of trends:

  • I got my ticket December 2000 but didn’t make a lot of contacts.
  • End of 2001 I was OQ5ZO with a 3el yagi on 10m and terrific conditions – that was a boost!
  • During 2002 I discovered contesting.
  • During 2003 we bought the house here and needed to work in it. That resulted in a lot of commuting back and forth. And I had no antennas and no time and conditions took a plunge.
  • In 2004 I had the time but no antennas, the tower and yagi got installed the Friday before CQ WW SSB.
  • In 2005 I was OO5ZO and made the most QSO’s with this PFX in Belgium. I got a plaque from the UBA‘s president to show for it – my first plaque ever!
  • Early 2006 I bought an amp to compensate the loss of the prefix advantage. That’s not the real reason but…
  • This year (2007) was scheduled as my sabatical – no comment. There might be some kind of competition playing here.
  • As you can see, out of 77.257 contacts 77.230 are made on HF, and 65596 in CW. That’s 85% of my HF contacts in Morse Code.

I need to work on this tool to get a more usefull output but I’m glad I got the engine working. All for now, more later. 73!

Well, not quite. There have been serious stormy winds coming from the west. Last Sunday was afwul, it was a minor storm. Lucky me that came a week later or WW CW would have been wasted. The coming days aren’t looking any better. I don’t have the time to play right now (work to do, XYL’s birtday, need to catch up on QSLing etc) but I hope next week the WX will settle and finally bring us winter: cold but dry and as a cherry on top: blue skies? Then I’ll be cruising down 40m and 80m again…

In the CQ WW aftermath:

  • My 3830 Top10 days will soon be counted. Maybe, just maybe I’ll squeeze out Top10 Europe in the end? Verward
  • My mult totals have killed me, look at this 3830 score: 1000 QSO’s less, yet the same score. Ouch! I just like running and don’t have the station for REAL DX mult hunting?
  • Our RRDXA Team claimed about 20M points.  Open mond

Next weekend is the ARRL 10m contest. I don’t think I’ll be making many contacts in what will be my favourite contest in a few years. SFI sustains above 70 for a few days in a row now but we need a hundred more SFI-points to make 10m swing. Bring on the sunspots, please!

First of all: a BIG
THANK YOU
to my XYL who supported me during this weekend by checking how the
score progressed once in a while and feeding me in a timely fashion. That and
coping with my pre-contest stress and a garden full of aluminum and copper
wires. I would never enjoy this hobby without her approval and support. But I
would never stop contesting.   Open mond

 

Next: station setup
(see my website).
 

  • N1MMLogger – accept
    no substitute!
  • A microHAM MK2R+
    driving a pair of TS-850 with band decoders and SO2R antenna
    switching.
  • One kW amp for the
    running TRX and the 2nd transceiver is operated
    barefoot.
  • An OptiBeam OB11-3
    tribander at 20m high.
  • Fritzel triband
    vertical for SO2R.
  • 40m: 2 slopers with
    simple A/B switching, one favoring
    USA and the
    other in between JA and VK facing UA.
  • 80m: inverted L vertical, with feedpoint and 2 elevated radials at 4m
    high.
  • 160m: shorty
    inverted V loaded with coils.

My target? Based on
last year: 3000 QSO and I was shooting for 3M points. A bit too optimistic since
10m was dead and 15m was poor at best. You can see the comparison with last year
in the picture below.

 

Glimlach  Highlights:

  • Working my friend
    K7GK on 40m long path on my sunset.
  • Working VK9AA on 4
    bands (10+15+20+40).
  • Getting called by
    numerous DX.
  • I run 160 and see
    SV9CVY on 80m. I go and work him and he asks to QSY to 160m. I tell him my QRG
    and says he’ll CQ there. I tell him I am CQing there, so in one minute I had two
    mults… SO2R pays! I was assisted this time but it pays even more when unassisted.

Bedroefd  Lowlight: ZS4TX asked to move
from 40m to 80m but his proposed QRG was occupied by two ragchewers so that
didn’t work out. Bummer!

 

Some
thoughts:

  • The contest was
    long, I prefer 24h contests. Yet I don’t plea to reduce it or add part time
    entries. This is The Big One, no mercy on the battlefield!
  • DX propagation on
    40m LP at my sunset works but only 2 z3 worked (K7GK and WC6H). Last year I
    worked some more.
  • The rates were
    average, no real peaks like I remember from 2001 when I started contesting. I
    guess the sun needs to cooperate and support long openings to
    USA and
    JA?
  • Operation was quite
    courteous. I didn’t get bothered this time.
  • Fantastic
    participation. CW dying? Yeah right!

All for now, need
to clean up the shack and the garden and catch up on postponed
duties.

73 ES
BCNU!

Remember my earlier post about XP acting up the week before CQ WW SSB? That one showed up again TODAY at 1200utc. Hit PANIC button! Right before CQ WW with less than 12 hours to go? This must be an anti-contest bug somewhere in XP. The message is that explorer.exe generates an error. Not Internet Exploder but the Windows (system) explorer.
System recovery didn’t help and Google showed many hits of a gazillion people being bugged by this yet no solution. A link pointed to the MS website but it was of no use. The symptoms they described were there but the causes weren’t and the solution offered didn’t help or was impossible to do.

Now what? Format C: and reinstall? With half of my antenna setup left to do this was hardly an option. One of the links pointed to Media Player so I downgraded by removing Internet Explorer 7 and Media Player 11. To no avail.
Another link told me to run "sfc /scannow" from the command prompt with the XP install CD in the CD reader. That did the trick but it took almost an hour to complete the process. Add to that the full hour lost to get to this point. I now have auto-updates disabled for the duration of the contest. I’ll look into this later on. First concern now is to survive the contest without PC problems. Fingers crossed!

Tower is up, all antennas are up, the 2el 40m sloper system shows gain and F/B and the 80m antenna was a pain to set up in the wind. Ideally this is a two man job but since I was home alone this afternoon…
I decided not to use the auto-tune solid state amp after all. Retuning / QSYing goes too slow and I don’t want to risk damaging another person’s amplifier in the heat of the battle. SWR is flat on all bands so the second rig will put out 100W and not fold back. I’ve done it like this for over a year so it’ll work out this time too.

Less than 4 hours to go. I’ll hit the couch and try to relax or even better: get some sleep.
73 / CU de Franki ON5ZO – OQ5M