Tuesday, August 30, 2005

F6IRF - Where am I located?

Google-earth 3D-view of my QTH.

Marcellaz-Albanais is located about 40kms south from Geneva and the Swiss border. Toward east are the Alps, and toward west, the Jura. Altitude of my QTH is 563m, overhanging the "Fier valley". On the right bottom corner of the above picture is the "Semnoz", culminating at 1700m.
Terrain profile to JA (Az=36), my best direction. The lower point is the "Fier river".
Below is the minimum take-off angle function of the azimuth. The dotted line is for USA (not too bad); the worst directions are South America and Western Africa. (profiles done with radio-mobile, freeware by VE2DBE - Elevation data is from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission - Nasa).

Though far form being ideal, I have a good take-off to contest most active areas. You can see both my bonus (the take-off to North sector), and my main handicap (the 380kV power line) on my 1991 EME system pictures (F6IRF - The EME years).

My north sector, with the "Saleve" in the far (the Saleve is the mountain which overhangs Geneva)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

F6IRF - SCC RTTY Championship

SCC RTTY Championship
Call: F6IRF Operator(s): F6IRF
Station: F6IRF Class: SOAB(A) HP
QTH: JN35AU Operating Time (hrs): 21
Radios: SO2R

Summary: Band QSOs Pts Mults
80: 106 216 43
40: 215 477 56
20: 357 812 58
15: 207 457 56
10: 67 135 34
Total: 952 2097 247 Total Score = 517,959

Thanks to condx and activity, I think I never did that many Q's in a 24h TTY contest. I may have been able to pass 1000 without a break, but the motivation was kind of unsufficient... Conditions have been mainly "short skip" and allowed many 5bands but onlywith EU stations. Some Surprising signal levels with JA and ZL on 7Mhz at short-path in the evening. Low activity on 3.5 with poor transatlantic condx.Anyway the rules do not really encourage DX (Strategy is kind of "work'em all") so condx were perfect for this game, though I must say that personaly missed "real mults" to hunt. I did not want to have to worry for band changes, so I selected the "unlimited" category, but the cluster is kind of useless with such a rules.All "milesimes" from 1949 to 2005 are represented in my log, but only 3 before 49 (35, 37, 47). The most represented "classes" are 76 (19stns) closely followed by 78 and 82 (18 stns). In general the younger blood comes from Eastern EU...Many thanks to SCC and Slovenian stations for the activity, to all for the QSO's, and see you soon on the bands. Patrick
contest stats may be seen at http://lists.contesting.com/archives//html/3830/2005-08/msg00945.html

Friday, August 26, 2005

EM5F (EU-182) IOTA-contest 2005

It's at the invitation of Alex UR5FAV, that I decided to join the Ukrainian team for the IOTA contest. As mentioned, by Alex in his invitation, I would be the first "non-Ukrainian ham" to operate from Ankudinov island. This, together with the curiosity of discovering a new country, was a sufficient motivation. The fact that Ukraine recently removed the visa requirement for the EU-citizens had also made traveling to Ukraine easier than ever. Alex, also took care of obtaining my license, which I believe could have been a long process on my own...

the EM5F team: UT0FT, UR5FAV , F6IRF, UX0FF

I left home Friday at 7:00AM local time. After Geneva airport and a 5 hours air trip through Budapest, I arrived in Odessa airport... Alex was there waiting for me, and after another 4 hours by car we arrived in Sylkove around 18:30 local time. The island owner was waiting for us with his motorboat. This black-sea island is located in the Danube's delta, just across the Romanian border. The island is wild and covered by swamps and the only permanent inhabitants are mosquitoes, boars, and birds. However, a small part of the island has been equipped with a few bungalows, mainly for fishers and boar-hunters and from time to time for radio-amateurs !

The larger part of Ankudinov island is covered by swamps: a Mosquito paradise!

On the island Nick UX0FF and Vlad UT0FT had already started warming up the pile-up... but bands conditions were obviously not in a very good shape. I did a few RTTY QSO's, but I also had to get familiar with the software; fortunately the PC keyboards were QWERTY's so I did need to learn the Cyrillic alphabet to make QSO's (I am only familiar with QWERTY, though the french standard is AZERTY). Communication between us, did not turn out to be a problem... I could even realize when Nick was unhappy about something (shouting is the same whatever language you use...). The main problems have been the temperature inside the schack, and the constant mosquito attacks.

the food? nothing simpler

the 15m delta-loop and Nick hunting mults.

At one point we suffered from a complete ionospheric blackout, and for a couple of hours after we could only contact "local stations". Fortunately conditions improved a bit during the contest, especially on day2 which allowed us to work a few DX's. We ended up the contest with 2227 QSO's for a total score of some 4.6M claimed Points. All together some 4000 QSO's were done over the weekend. After dismantling the station, the trip back, on Monday allowed a short visit of Nick's and Alex's city Izmail, as well as a quick visit of Nick's station. But we had to be in Odessa before 3PM... so we could no spend much time for tourism. I finally arrived home around 23h local time after a safe trip through the crowded Budapest airport (this weekend was also the F1 Budapest grand-prix).
Obviously Ukraine is not the best place for winning a IOTA contest, especially when the condx are poor (this contest participation mainly remains UK, and they are the stations to contact for the points). However this has been an instructive and pleasant trip. Again thanks to Alex UR5FAV who made it possible.

the QSL


After the family holidays, the second objective of my trip to FG was the ARRL DX CW. After my first contact with George's station at h-24, the 7 years old HH2AW (9A3A) SOSB80 world record definitely became my objective... Too many problems were to be solved to reasonably think about a SOAB participation. Thanks to Georges's efforts, electricity was restablished in the schack at h-5, and the Alpha76 PA finaly operational at h-30mn... George's station is located on the East coast of the volcanic Basse-Terre, the best take-off is to Europe, Africa and middle-east, but is finaly not too bad to states. The 100' tower supports a half-wave sloper that I turned to NW and tuned for the CW part of the band. Due to low mains (abt 200V), it was not reasonably possible to get more than 500W from the 2 brand new 8874 brought in my luggages. After a rather slow first hour, the rate jumped over 110 for the next 3 hours, but unfortunately the second part of the night was not that successfull, and I ended-up the first night with 802 Q's for about 10 hours of traffic. No need to say that the second night turned out quite boring, with only 420 QSO's and 3 new multipliers for 13 hours of traffic and I went to bed very disapointed missing 27 QSO's... HH2AW record was finaly beated at 2330z and about 20 more qso's added in the last half hour. Final claimed score 225,144 (1272/59) only 3Kpts ahead from the previous record, but 32K behind C6AKQ (N4BP). Congratulations to Bob and the FCG team for their new SOSB 80 and 160 world records... A very good and enjoyable experience anyway, will keep in mind George and family's warm welcome, and the very good time we had in Guadeloupe in general and in Capesterre in particular. Another 3000 QSO's were done from Guadeloupe outside the contest (FG/F6IRF), using Georges's station in Capesterre, or FG5VIJ simple antennas in Deshaies.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


The 2 antennas at the contest start; the 4elts DXSR, and the 105BA after the night snow-storm, with winds >120km/h

Operator(s): F5IQA F6GRC F6HYE F6IOC F6IRF
Class: M/S HP, QTH: Corsica, Operating Time (hrs): 27.4

Mode QSOs Mults
CW: 1351 124
SSB: 1359 132
Total: 2710 256 = 2,080,256

F5IQA and F6HYE in the schack

The unexpected "cape horn" weather conditions (*) did not make easy a "field-day style" operation! With accumulated snow and ice and exceptional high winds, the 105BA at 8 meters fell and broke before the start of the contest. By chance the second antenna (4 elements) decided to slide down on the mast, at about 5 meters (height of the guying plate) which saved the mast from bending. With a single antenna at 5 meters, a very noisy south , and no DX-cluster or multiplier spotting we honestly did not expect such a score, but the maritime "take off" to the north sector and the "magic power" of the call sign made up for our modest single antenna.Last but not least, we are most grateful to Guy, our logistic and generator specialist who managed to maintain the electrical power to the station while a part of the island was in the dark...
(*) Corsica island normally benefits from a mild Mediterranean climate where snow at the sea level does not appear more than once every 3 decades...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

SO2R, a minimal setup...

SO2R means Single-Operator 2 Radios. It is a contesting technique, which consists in optimizing the contest time, by doing 2 things simultaneously IE calling on one band and hunting the multipliers on another band. This is possible in contests where no limitation in band changes has been defined in the rules. For full compliance with most of contest rules, the software allows transmitter interlock, so that it is not possible to transmit simultaneously on 2 bands.
SO2R can be done in any mode (I have also tried CW), but RTTY is for sure the easier mode to start playing with it. You can learn more about SO2R-TTY, by visiting one of the pioneer's site AA5AU

Unlike DON who is using 2 networked PC's, my SO2R setup is using a single PC, a single soundcard (this has been made possible by the introduction of windows XP), and no additional hardware. N1MM allows 2 entry windows, 2 bandmaps and 2 RTTY engines to be used simultaneously. In CW the software also takes care of the headphone audio switching.

Of course each radio should be protected from the other radio interferences by bandpass filters and sufficient antenna separation. However even when this last point cannot be met (due to insufficient space), the experience shows that the bandpass filters may still provide enough protection for the technique to be used.

My N1MM RTTYscreen setup, with 2 bandmaps, the 2 MMTTY engines, and the 2 entry windows at the bottom

In my case, the band to band immunity has been recently improved by the installation of the SteppIR antenna which does not have resonant element on unused bands, so provides an additional attenuation against signals transmitted in other bands. Of course better are the receivers in terms of IMD, better are the synthesizers in terms of spectral purity, better is the performance of the station. The only problem really tricky is the 40m H2 falling in 20m RTTY segment (ie 7040/14080), other band combinations are less problematic, as the harmonics fall far enough from the interesting segment (ie 3590>7180>14360>28720). Use of coaxial stubs and harmonic suppressors (low-pass filters), at the PA output, may further reduce the interferences from a radio to the other. A few ham even report having used antennas mounted on the same rotator, or even on the same boom...

As you can see, my antenna separation is not fantastic (15m between the steppIR and the OB6-3M), but it works.

The last question is: does it really allow better contest performance... I think the answer can be found in contest results and RTTY-toplists for example at http://www.rtty-contest-scene.com/index1.html and at http://home.arcor.de/waldemar.kebsch/ . I am currently at second world place in both toplists (though they use different rules), of course it is also a matter of regularity, but it is a big satisfaction to compete with big-guns, only using a small-pistol station !.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

F6IRF - The early contesting years

1989: F6IRF/P (M/S HF CW) the contesting computer age had started... From front to back F6AVK, F6EUQ, F5JBP

1989: VHF / UHF contest from "le Mont d'Or" (1600m ASL)

1990: TX6A, CQWW CW 1st line F5LGE, F6ARC, F5IN behind F6IRF, F6IWW (and F5IN antennas)

1992: first experience from DX-side (QSL manager is now F5GTR)

1997: WPX RTTY - M/S at 4U1ITU -from front to back F6IRF, TY1PS, F6IOC - My first ever RTTY contest, with a new EU-record...

F6IRF - the EME years

1990: the first 2m eme system, made from antennas recovered from the bin... (4x2lambdas) G=18dBi

1991: the second 2m eme system: 4x4.8lambdas (DJ9BV design) G=22.5dBi (this modest system allowed to pass the 100 QSO's in a first weekend of the ARRL EME contest)

1995: CN2EME 70cm EME expedition (Rabat), from left to right F6HYE, F5JBP, F6IRF (wee took part in the first weekend of the ARRL EME contest)

Monday, August 22, 2005

SARTG RTTY contest

Call: F6IRF
Operator(s): F6IRF
Station: F6IRF
Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 24
Radios: SO2R

Band QSOs Pts Mults
80: 100 1030 35
40: 220 2490 57
20: 329 4130 79
15: 136 1710 55
10: 17 165 8
Total: 802 9525 234 Total Score = 2,228,850

my antenna setup: homebrew 7el /6m yagi - OB6-3M tribander - 40/80m dipoles. you can see the new installed SteppIR on the bottom right side

Rig: My modest "legal-limit" domestic SO2R station:
- IC756 pro2 - 3-500z-PA - 500W
- IC706 - HB-4cx250PA - 500W
Antennae: Optibeam (2l/bd) OB6-3m @12m / 2el SteppIR @10m / dipoles @18m / R7
ICE 400-series bandfilters - N1MM 5.7.2 - Telnet cluster assistance

Excellent start - tnx to unexpected 20m condx, I ended the 1st round at 350Q (could not believe I could be ahead of a few EU "big guns" for a while). Of course it could not last ! After a slow 2nd round, I suffered in round3 due to heavy rains making high noise on my local 380kV line (had to say goodbye to my 1000Q expectations somewhere at mid-test)

Anyway, with moreless similar condx, managed to improve my last year score by some 15% and for the first time I have the feeling that I got almost the optimum from my small setup.
Only E's opening on 10m (mainly Scandinavia). Had zero sections on 15m saturday
but the band came to life on sunday (a pity I had so much noise).
20m has been "average" with a few good surprises, and low bands somewhere below average due to high level of statics.

The new deployed SteppIR allowed better band-to-band immunity than the former
spiderbeam (I believe , due to its monoband behavior). A must in SO2R...
Had a few problems with multiplier check in latest N1MM version (Digital-interface color not reflecting dupe status...) and a few others with lost serial numbers. Pse apologize if I called you twice!

Has been fun to compete... Great activity - nice unique contest format
Tnx to SARTG for organizing (IMHO one of the most enjoyable contest for the last
past monthes). I

Tnx for the QSO's and see you soon on the bands - Best 73's - Pat

My contest statistics have been published here:

my 4cx250 homebrew PA

hundreds of contests with the same pair of second hand tubes !