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SPARC Breaks Own Record in CQ WPX RTTY Contest

This past weekend (February 10th – 11th, 2018), the SPARC Contesters activated the SPARC club station again to participate in the CQ WPX RTTY Contest. You may recall that in last year’s effort, SPARC achieved the highest score in our history and had the top score in the 4th call area. We also had the 7th highest score in the US in the Multi-operator, Single transmitter category.

2017 Certificate (Note the score is the final score versus the 3.1 million we submitted)
2017 Certificate (Note the score is the final score versus the 3.1 million points we submitted)

The WPX RTTY contest, sponsored by CQ Magazine, uses unique callsign prefixes as a multiplier. So the more distinct prefixes used, the higher the score. This means that stations with a rarer prefix as desired by the other participants. This time we used the callsign of Dave KR4U. Using a rarer prefix means we predominately stayed on a frequency and called CQ—waiting for stations to call us. At times, this yielded 4 contacts a minute which is about as fast as one can make a complete RTTY contact.

The contest was organized by Ron KP2N with help from the rest of the team. Dave KR4U and John KI4UIP ( with the additional assistance of Donn N4KII) have been working hard on antennas and the star of the antenna farm in this contest was the new Force 12 Sigma 40 vertical dipole. We made use of the Log Periodic for 20 meters and the new 80/160 doublet for 80 meters. We even used the doublet as a receiving antenna when working 40m to help with any noise the vertical antenna picked up.

We had the usual assortment of goodies including our now customary Sunday morning bagels to keep the 9 people that operated well-nourished. Considering this was the same weekend as the Orlando hamfest, it is a fine testament to the dedication of the contest team that we were able to keep the station operating for the full 48 hours. So how did we do?

Top 5 operator table showing Bob N2ESP on top with 548 QSOs

Our score and QSO totals were similar to last year but with us adding 100,000 to last year’s points for a total points total of 3,284,788 points. That was made up of a total of 1941 QSOs and 700 unique prefixes (multipliers). Bob N2ESP led the contact count with 548 QSOs. Rounding out the top 5 operators in QSOs was Scotty N4RI, Ron KP2N, Dave KR4U and Tom NY4I. Other operators included Paul KA4IOX, Rex KB8ESY, Leslie WA4EEZ and John KI4UIP.

 

The Real-time Score Display showing on a TV at the station
The Real-time Score Display showing on a TV at the station

If you were at Field Day, you may recall our real-time score display on both the big-screen TV at the station as well as available on the SPARC website. This was in-use again with one of our usual contesters, Tom W4CU even checking the score while on vacation in Hawaii.

Tom W4CU and his YL Joy in Hawaii.
Tom W4CU and his YL Joy in Hawaii.
Leslie WA4EEZ operating the RTTY station
Leslie WA4EEZ operating the RTTY station

Here, you see a few action shots of Bob N2ESP and Leslie WA4EEZ running stations. As this is a RTTY contest, it is mostly point and click using the computer to decode and send the RTTY signals. When 3 different stations as all calling at once, it gets very intense and it is always fun to have rare DX call us.

Bob N2ESP makes contacts while Leslie WA4EEZ looks on...
Bob N2ESP makes contacts while Leslie WA4EEZ looks on…

Speaking of rare DX, on Friday night, Dave KR4U mentioned he had been trying to bust through a pile-up on 30m at home to get the Kosovo station z60A on RTTY. During his first shift at 8:51 PM Friday, z60A called Dave on 40 meters. It pays to have the rare call in a prefix contest!Log entry showing a contact with Z60A in Kosovo

From the chart below, you can see the breakdown of contacts per band and our rate.  As anyone that has contested with us knows, we are competitive and like to keep track of these things, but we also like to have people that are new learn.

Showing our sustained rate per hour
Showing our sustained rate per hour
Total number of contacts by band
Total number of contacts by band

We had two of our newer regular contesters, Paul Ka4IOX and Rex KB4ESY with us again. John KA4UIP also made some contacts (That is rare as John is the club fabricator/machinist and is usually found putting things together rather than operating—what would we do with John and Dave?). It is always great to see newer contesters continue to participate with us. Learning to use the logging software (N1MM) on RTTY is a new experience for us all (having switched from WriteLog last year). We learn together and get better each time. As we always say, all are welcome and no experience is necessary. We will stop everything to teach new people how to contest as that is what keeps a ready supply of contesters for years to come.

As we cannot all operate at the same time, we can even do non-contest things while we are at the station. On Sunday, Winston VE3YFB/W4 emailed Tom NY4I asking if anyone could help him checkout a Yaesu FT901 HF radio he bought at Orlando. Since we were at the station, I said to bring the rig down and we could check it out. It was fun to tune a radio with the tube in the final amplifier. I hadn’t done that in awhile but it’s like riding a bike. It’s dip the load and peak the plate, right?. We checked out the rig and it was working well. While there, we also put a new set of UHF connectors on coax for the new 30 meter dipole. That is a great example that even if you are not contesting, just being there will expose you to different aspects of the hobby. We hope to see you all there next time.

Our next RTTY contest is on February 24. You are welcome to come down. It is a great time to hang out with fellow hams, learn a few things and just have fun.

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