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Gary Sutcliffe, W9XT SMC Fest 2013 Copyright © 2013 Gary C. Sutcliffe.

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Presentation on theme: "Gary Sutcliffe, W9XT SMC Fest 2013 Copyright © 2013 Gary C. Sutcliffe."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gary Sutcliffe, W9XT SMC Fest 2013 Copyright © 2013 Gary C. Sutcliffe

2 How Do I Do better in Contests? Topics to be covered today Contest selection Antenna improvements Shack improvements Planning and goal setting Operating tips W9XT

3 Pick Contests You Like The Most Domestic or DX Domestic: Sweepstakes, Field Day, State QSO Parties DX: ARRL, CQ World Wide, Worked All Europe Both: ARRL 160 & 10M, IARU, WPX Phone, CW or RTTY Many contests have separate mode events Short, Medium or Long Short: Sprints, NA QSO Party, some state QSO Parties Medium: Sweepstakes, IARU, FD Long: DX contests, WPX W9XT

4 Match Your Antennas & Contest Match Pick contests that match your antennas Or optimize your antennas for your favorite contest(s) Consider becoming a single band expert Easier & less expensive to put up an excellent antenna system on one band than competitive antennas on many Deep knowledge of the band will be a competitive advantage W9XT

5 What Bands Play Best for You? Depends on: Antennas available Local terrain Who you want to contact Both antenna gain and take off angle are important Take off angle may be more important than gain W9XT

6 80M Example – 60 W9XT Max Gain at about 60 degrees EZNEC Plot Down about 5°

7 80M Example - Vertical W9XT Max gain ~25° Down 5° EZNEC Plot

8 Propagation Modes To Europe W9XT SUMMARY 5 MODES FREQ = 3.5 MHZ UT = 7.0 (VOACAP) Most REL Mode: 3.F2 4.F2 4. E 5.F2 5. E 3.F2 TIME DEL ANGLE VIR. HITE ABSORB FS. LOSS SNR PROB Calculated for Oct. 30, 2009

9 Propagation Modes to Ohio W9XT SUMMARY 8 MODES FREQ = 3.5 MHZ UT = 21.0 (VOACAP) Most REL Mode 1. E 1. E 1.F2 2. E 2. E 2.F2 3.F2 3. E 1.F2 TIME DEL ANGLE VIR. HITE ABSORB FS. LOSS SNR PROB Calculated for Oct. 30, 2009

10 10M Yagi Example W9XT EZNEC Plot

11 Best Antenna Its not just about gain Matching take off angle to signal can have huge effect Angle of arriving signal from a given transmitter will vary Time of day Season Sunspot number You rotate your beam towards the other station – think of take off angle of aiming in the third dimension W9XT

12 Optimize Antennas to the Contest Design antennas to perform to target population areas Have multiple antennas per band Cover different conditions Cover different directions Cover different distances Maximize flexibility In general Low take off angle antennas best for DX contests High take off angle antennas best for domestic contests W9XT

13 W9XT Antennas Low Band RX: 350 Bevs to Europe & JA, K9AY Array 160M: Dipole at 60, putting up Inverted L (fall 2013) 80M: Dipole at 45 + Vertical (shunt fed tower) 40M: Dipole at El Yagi at : (fixed on Europe) Tribanders can be fed 1, 2 or all 3 in any combination W9XT

14 W9XT Field Day Setup – 40 CW Dipole at 30 with reflector at 7 High take off angle for stations within ~600 miles Sloper Dipole Slopes toward SE during day, move to SW at night Lower take off angle and a bit of gain Uses phasing network CQ on both antennas Select best antenna when weak ones call Lose 3 dB with 2 ants, but more than make up on TO angle Typically make about M CW QSOs each year. W9XT

15 W9XT Field Day Setup – 40 CW 2012 & 2013 Dipole at 30 High take off angle for stations within ~600 miles NVIS 7 Very high take off angle for stations within 250 miles Inverted L Low take off angle for west coast Elevated, tuned radials for easy set up Phasing: Dipole and either NVIS or Inverted L W9XT

16 FD at Ozaukee Radio Club – W9LO W9XT 40M CW Station

17 Coax Phasing Network Simple to build Coax Switch 3 Coax Tees 2 X ¼ wavelength 70 ohm 1 X ¼ wavelength 50 ohm Transmitter always sees 50 ohms with 1 or both antennas Single band only W9XT More details at

18 Phasing Network W9XT

19 Inexpensive Antenna Improvements: The more the better! Low Band RX: K9AY, Beverage, Beverage on ground Vertical or Inverted L: low take off angle on low bands Low Dipole or NVIS: High angle take off Sloper Dipole: Gain in desired direction, angle Power splitters Beam multiple directions Instant direction switching Pull out weak stations with best antenna W9XT

20 Optimize Shack for Efficiency Place most used equipment in easiest reach Keyboard, radio, mouse, CW paddles in best positions Rotor, Antenna switch next best positions Amplifier, PC can be further away Always wear headphones Hear weaker signals Cut background noise – noise will increase fatigue Use microphone headset with foot switch for phone Mic does not take table space Mic always in proper place Does not tie up a hand W9XT

21 Additional Efficiency Tips Put SWR bridge/watt meter in direct view Immediately see problem or wrong antenna selected Amp mistuned, off line, wrong band Computer Monitor & Keyboard at proper height Automate Keep log program and radio in sync Automatic selection of antennas W9XT

22 Optimize Shack for Comfort Good lighting Good ventilation Comfortable chair (switch between 2) Table at correct height W9XT

23 Cheap Secret Weapon for Comfort Simple foot rest Takes pressure off legs Keeps feet off cold floor Keeps foot switch in place W9XT

24 Planning For the Next Contest Keep notes on every contest, review before the next What went well What went poorly Propagation conditions Best & worst times Station changes since last contest Special or unusual openings & contacts Things to do differently next time W9XT

25 Make a What-If Spread Sheet Use to set goals See effects of Getting a few hours sleep at slow times Chasing low band mults at sunrise Putting emphasis on certain bands Different operating strategies 2007 ARRL DX CW Goals BandQSOsDX Total Score817,860 W9XT

26 Other Planning Aids Make a Band Plan Listing of bands to be on each hour of the contest Good general guide, but adapt to opportunities QSO & multiplier totals by hour Goal for hour + cumulative totals Base on previous efforts Good motivator and indicator of falling behind W9XT

27 3 Most Important Things While Operating Rate W9XT Always watch the rate meter!

28 Keeping the rate: CQ a lot CQ whenever possible An average CQ rate is usually better than a good S&P rate More than half of stations in contest never CQ CQing seems slower than S&P – watch rate meter Smaller stations Try CQs higher in band CQ 2 nd day in DX contests, Sunday afternoon in Sweepstakes Dont waste time in frequency fights W9XT

29 Watch the rate meter! When rate is below what it should be: Stop CQing and start S&P (Search and Pounce) Stop S&Ping and start CQ Change bands Take a break if contest has mandatory off times W9XT

30 Know the Value of Multipliers Many logging programs give value of a mult Relative to number of QSOs Relative to number of minutes (based on current rate) Dont waste time in big pile ups for rare mults Consider coming back later Dont leave a good CQ run to chase packet spots W9XT

31 You wont make the PGA Tour after your first 18 holes, and you wont be a world class contester by just doing FD Every sport requires practice Learn to copy and log quickly without errors Learn propagation Get a feel for when things are going well or not Know when to switch bands, when to CQ, etc. Learn to copy through QRM & QRN Learn how to crack pile ups Learn how to manage a high rate CQ run W9XT

32 Summary Select contests that match your interests and station Antenna take off angle may be more important than gain Multiple antennas (even inexpensive) = great flexibility Optimize station for efficiency and comfort Plan an operating strategy Keep the rate up, CQ whenever you can Be smart about chasing multipliers All the contesting tips in the world wont help without practice W9XT

33 Resources NCJ - Contest Magazine published by ARRL – Contesting web site CQ-Contest - mailing list dedicated to contesting Society of Midwest Contesters – regional contest club – Contesting accessories W9XT This program will be put on

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