Tuesday, June 2, 2020

CQ WPX CW contest summary.

Another CQWPX CW contest has come and gone and this year for me it was a parttime effort as the weather was great here and many outdoor "Stuffs" had to be done. I was shocked to see 10m open and I was able to bag 7 contacts there. During my first leg of the contest on Saturday, I found it very hard to contact any Europian stations. I did make one into Ireland and that was it. The second leg of the contest was Sunday and it seemed that Europe had opened up just fine and I was making DX contacts. The only issue during the short time I was taking part in the contest was the XIT issue which I posted about a few days ago. The other issue was right at the get-go of the contest, I was not able to get the N1MM CW macros to key up the Icom 7610. I have been working QSO parties Win4Icom rig control software looks after N1MM+ as 3rd party software. I do this because I can control the 7610 via my mouse using Win4Icom software. So things like band changes, fine filter adjustments, APF on and off and so on. I did not want to play with the issue for too long as I was not really going to be in the contest for all that long. I ended up going back to old school operating.....well almost old school no paper and pencil yet. I shut down Win4Icom and configured the N1MM+ com port to talk directly to the 7610. In minutes I was up and running again.
without issue and not an issue! Most of the time I get on the radio the day before a contest and test out the rig, software and keyer to make sure all is well.....guess what I failed to do the day before this time? My setup is as follows, I use
Below is the contest breakdown:
20m          73 contacts
15m          20 contacts
10m            7 contacts
Total      100
Score 18,778
WPX        83

Sunday, May 31, 2020

What is wrong with this picture???

I am operating in the CW CQWPX contest today and just can't contact anyone. Yesterday all was good but today NOTHING at all. Have a look at the above picture and see if you can see what's wrong. It took me some time as I kept overlooking the obvious.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Contacting the Dodecanese islands on FT8.

Last evening I wandered down the hall to the radio room someplace I have not been for about 2 weeks or so. I have been taking advantage of the great weather here to get some outdoor projects done.  There was a shed to level and rebuild and also a deck to level and refinish. Doing those projects during the day left me with no real energy to get on the radio in the evenings. For some reason last evening I just had a nice kick in my step and it was off to the radio room for some FT8 adventures. I found myself on 30m and it was hopping with activity at 0200 UTC. One of my contacts was to the Dodecanese and I had never heard of this location. I looked it up and it is a group of 15 large islands and 150 smaller ones. SV5DKL was from Rhodes which is the capital of the Dodecanese islands. These set islands are a part of Greece but it was very cool to contact this off the beaten path location. Overall I was very pleased with the conditions on 30m and I was on making contacts until 0300 UTC and then my internal clock told me it was time to hit the sack.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

RFI mystery

RFI issue spread across the band
Over the last let's say a month or so I have been seeing some RFI on the waterfall of my Icom 7610 that is new. For about 7 months I have been RFI free at my new QTH and was very happy regarding this fact. At my old QTH in downtown Toronto RFI was the norm. 20m seems to be the worst for the issue and it's not all the time and as for what are the times I am not exactly sure. I have been very lazy with trying to narrow down a time frame for the RFI events. Way back about 10 years I did have a plasma TV that gave me a huge headache but I was able to solve that issue with the MFJ 1026 noise cancelling unit. In my wisdom, I ended up selling the MFJ unit for whatever reason. To try to narrow down the issue I have done the following:
- Switched to my active antenna and I still had the issue.
- I change to battery power only and I still had the issue.
- I turned off the main AC circuit breaker to the house and I still had the issue while using battery power obviously. Oh and an added note.....my dear wife was not happy about that.
Sometimes the RFI stops but then soon starts 

-Switched to my dummy load and the issue was gone but so were all signals.
So from the above, it seems it is being picked up by the antenna and not something within my home. At this point, I have not tried to pinpoint times as to when or if the RFI is present. I will be within the next few weeks paying very close attention to times when I am on and if the RFI is present or not. Until then I wanted to see if I was able to solve the issue with the Icom 7610's filtering. The choices I have are the noise reduction option or the noise blanker option. As a side note, my previous rig was the Elecraft K3 and it had amazing filtering for RFI issues. It was time to put the Icom 7610 to the test and see how it performed. I tried both the NR and NB and found it was the NB (noise blanker) that did the trick. I was able to totally remove the RFI and still hear the CW signal that was getting buried in the noise. Within the noise blanker settings, you can adjust the level, depth and width. I did find certain settings worked better than others at removing the offending RFI. I did change over to my Elecraft KX3 just to see how it dealt with the RFI and I was shocked how it really was not able to remove the RFI and the Icom 7610 won hands down!
I have included some screenshots of the RFI in the post here and if anyone has any ideas of what it may be or other tests I can do please post a comment. One theory I have is our very close neighbour has what is called down it this way a "split mini". Until I moved to the East coast I had never heard of one or even seen one but they are a heat pump so you have heat in the winter and cool in the summer. It's about 30 feet away from my Endfed antenna but this is just my humble opinion. The trick for me will be to check out the radio when his split mini-cycles off.
The split-mini