Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The 2013 CQ WPX RTTY Contest
If anyone were to examine my operating logs (which I admit have some "holes" in them), you would see that the greatest majority of my operating over the past few years has been using RTTY- mostly in contests. After my Yaesu was sent to Australia in September, I wondered whether or not I would be back on the air in time for RTTY Contest season.
A few weeks ago it was WB2VUO to the rescue...selling me his HTX-100. And, since I still had one of the Buxcomm Rascals leftover from the gear that I had before, I purchased the 5DHTX100 cable to use with it.
But, as luck would have it, I couldn't find my Rascal GLX among the boxes of my personal belongings that I have in West Falls. I even drove to my office in Orchard Park to look through the totes of my stuff I have stored in our warehouse.
At 4:00am Saturday morning, I woke up out of a sound sleep, and realized where the interface was: my suitcase. So, there I was during the wee hours of the morning, setting up the HTX-100 to the PC.
Now, I wrote about the HP 6715b in my last post that I've been using. And it's been going VERY well. Even with the Class 4 SD card housing the OS, the computer is smooth and runs very well. I added fldigi from the Ubuntu Software Center and set it up, in anticipation of using it a few hours from then. With the cables are connected properly, I switched on the HTX-100, and tuned to 28.224 MHz. Where I am in West Falls is about 6 miles from the W2DLL/B, so at least I had a consistent signal source.
In CW mode, fldigi was solid copy. Then it came time to set up the Prolific PL2303 USB-to-Serial cable. Plugged it in, went into Terminal, typed "lsusb" and "dmesg", and sure enough...12.10 saw the cable and loaded the proper "drivers". Drivers is a poor choice of words since the PL2303 "driver" is part of 12.10's kernel.
I then restarted fldigi. Went to Rig Control, and clicked on the separate PTT setting. And...good news.../dev/ttyUSB0 was there.
But no joy.
Nothing I tried would make the HTX-100 key up. NOTHING.
I even tried 2 other cables, one of which being the OVERPRICED Radio Shack $30 adapter.
NOTHING, even though 12.10 could see them in Terminal.
So, at 5am I went back to bed for a little while.
Later that morning, I set up my Windows 7 laptop, and it took very little provoking to get everything set up just right.
And away I went.
On Saturday, 10 meters was rough, and there wasn't much activity to be found. This of course has a lot to do with how 10 meters can be finicky and somewhat regional. Nevertheless, I managed to work EE8E in the Canary Islands. So, USA contacts, no....3 points for working AFRICA...yes.
Between both days, I worked maybe 8 hours of the contest, and made 32 contacts. I worked about a dozen countries and managed 1800 points. Not a stellar performance, since my 2011 and 2012 scores placed me in the Top 5 for QRP both years. Still, it was great being back on HF and working a contest with the mode that's the most fun for contesting.
And as I sit here writing this, I'm the second entry in the Single Operator/Single Band/10m/QRP class, 2nd to KO3T in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Whether I win new wallpaper, or not, it was nice to see the usual "Big Guns" and even new calls I've never seen in the past.
So, once in the new apartment this weekend, I will be using this HP 6715b with the Virgin Mobile Broadband (yes, the USB CDMA modem works) and then using my Dell Inspiron 8100 for RTTY/digital. Last night, I was even playing with my vintage 1998 Sony Vaio PCG-505f "netbook", setting up MixW 1.45. I was never really a fan of MixW, but the old versions are simple to break the encryption so you don't have to pay for the registration. 1.45 was made for OLD Windows, and the Vaio has Windows Me on it...and they work astonishingly well together...even with 32MB of RAM in it.
The NEXT RTTY contest is the NAQP RTTY. That one's always a good one.
at 7:28 PM