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ARRL DX Contest, SSB   2018   Mar 3   Claimed Score

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Call: WX3B
Operator(s): N8IVN ND3D W3GXP WA3AER
Station: WX3B

Class: M/M HP
Operating Time (hrs): 11
Location: USA

Summary:   Compare Scores
Total:644142Total Score271,788


Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club

Comments:     [email]     2018-03-05 18:52:05
First, thanks to Jim for allowing the team to put WX3B on the air for this contest. It's been some time since I've had the opportunity to host an operation for Jim at WX3B. So, I was looking forward to CQWW SSB. Jim's mantra is, "Have FUN". And so it went for our abbreviated operation of approximately 11 hours. This contest team was made up of: veterans Ted/WA3AER, Bob/ND3D, myself, Dennis/N8IVN, and newbie Kyle/W3GXP. I point this out because Kyle and Bob teamed up on 20m early in the day on Saturday allowing Kyle the excitement that I originally felt when, some years ago I sat down at the same station for my first taste of contesting. It was obvious that Kyle felt as I did. A look at the bandmap and the opportunity to work numerous DX stations brought a huge smile to his face! While much fun was had, the day was not without challenges. The 40m system gave us some fits with the radio sometimes staying silent after transmitting making it difficult to run. The amp on 20m protected itself by going into standby (a good thing), but not coming back up requiring us to swap it out. That said, the station (and house) withstood the high winds with no apparent problems caused by the weather. And, due to Jim's current mix of radios in the shack, those of us who would not necessarily have the opportunity to play with different radios had our hands on MkVs and the Icom 7300. This was a great opportunity to shake down the station for the upcoming WPX where Team WX3B will be looking to repeat their 1st place, USA victory of last year and potentially their 3rd win since 2015. Operationally it worked out this way: Bob & Kyle working 15 & 20m; Ted on 15, 20, 40, & 80; myself on 15 & 20. Jim, for those of us who don't have the opportunity to push down on the switch, give our call once or twice and make contact with stations worldwide, thanks again! To the club, see you in WPX! 73 Dennis N8IVN {Soapbox notes from Ted WA3AER} Was the Best of Days; It Was the Worst of Days The Best: We assembled a great team of experienced and new operators so that WX3B would be represented during ARRL DX SSB. Kyle did quite well on both 15M (more slow, but a good place to start and got to use the IC-7300) and 20M. Bob, ND3D, and Dennis, N8IVN, both guided Kyle during his Baptism by Fire on 20M. Meanwhile, yours truly was attempting to operate 40M, and then 15M. Continuing on with the Good, the IC-7300 looks to have a decent, selective Rx section (we already know it packs a nice punch on Tx thanks to Jim's tweaking). And it has a very good NB which proved its worth when the 15M beam was gingerly turned southward; there is/was some horrendous QRN popping up in that quarter, possibly as a result of the winds and the prior day's windstorm. OK, more Good: WX3B had power and no damage to its antennas. Some more of The Best was Ted, WA3AER, being able to have a short JA run on 20M and then find several more JAs to bring our tally up to 12 or so (I was so happy I didn't bother to keep count). And several were quite strong. If memory serve me correctly, one of the JA stations was running 5W and was copyable. There were also a number of 10W and 25W stations that made good showings for themselves. I might not have left many more JAs on the table for Dennis; Mea Culpa, my friend. Having consulted with an oracle, I learned that 80M could possibly open around 1700L for some of the big guns in EU. So, I had the opportunity to work a half dozen or so of those ops before 80M got somewhat more active. And by the time it was rolling around to 1830L when I turned 80M over to Dennis, I think I'd left him with another cleaned plate. And now, The Worst: 1. PCs that didn't want to behave. E.g., one kept alleging it had no Internet connection when I tried updating SCP and WL files (40M PC). But between the remote oracle and persistent tries, the PC finally succumbed to our will. 2. The 40M station's antenna caused problems that prohibited running and even made S&P a chore. We gave up on 40M and that cost us a lot of lost Qs. 3. Band condx, to put it politely, were lackluster. Even the gargantuan 20M pileups didn't happen. Yes, there were pileups, but not like one expects. We had to resort to S&P when incessant CQs brought nothing, particularly on 15 and 80M. 4. 10M, fuggedaboutit. SFI was so low, and there were no spots, so we didn't even try. 5. We lost the 20M linear (OUCH, that wasn't nice to do to Kyle). Not to give up yet another band, we moved the 40M linear to the 20M position (it was the 40M amp??). After finding a dummy load to do the initial tuning and setting drive power level, we connected the antenna and were back in business after a final bit of tweaking. 6. Inter-band interference was evident pretty much across the board, and we don't understand why. Normally it is 15M that gets beat up; but this time it seemed to go both ways. Dennis and I did the best we could in the afternoon, but... That and the lackluster 80M performance by 1900L is why we shuttered the operation early. 7. We also had some issues keeping the Internet connection to VE7CC spotting network alive in the afternoon. NOTE: Some of The Worst is best kept for internal consumption and used to resolve issues prior to WPX. In particular I'm referring to item 6. Before WPX, we need to learn how to use features of the IC-7300. It's OK as-is, but I -know- there are filter adjustments I'd like to be able to make. I'd also like to know how to tweak the panadapter display to be more useful to me. BTW, it -is- nice to be able to really see what's going on around you on the band. I've been spoiled by having the P3 panadapter next to the K3; and, before that, the same kind of display with the Flex radios. It was great having Kyle and Bob join us yesterday. I hope Kyle had a good time; but I'm pretty certain the rest of us, who Jim referred to as "old men (on Facebook, no less !!)" have had better days operating. It was a good learning experience dealing with issues we'd not had previously. And it sure beat the hell out of sitting on the sidelines doing nothing. I hope we can get together again at Jim's to operate when the challenges are fewer and band condx are better. Thanks for sharing the day with us. 73 --- Ted WA3AER