Saturday, March 19, 2011

Russian DX

I was fooling around this morning and 15M was HOT! It's the Russian DX contest. I'm not much into contesting but I decided what the heck. I loaded up my 135ft open wire dipole as my primary antenna (RX1), and my 43ft vertical (RX2), loaded up N1MM and set up the log

logged into the cluster that I use with N1MM (W9AZ) and I was ready for some radio sport! I normally run 2 clusters K3NC and DX Central but when I have N1MM going I switch to W9AZ in Kankakee in both N1MM and Spot Collector Too many active telnet ports really bogs down the CPU so I have found using only one source for both programs keeps the extra CPU % down to a dull roar.

I mostly am interested in increasing my countries total. I certainly do not have the kind of antenna system or the skill set to effectively run a contest like this. I'm more interested in developing the systems involved in building effective contest stations (like the SO2R set up Steve K5FR and I created) than I am in actually running contests. I have spent way too many months up all night in my medical practice to stay up all night voluntarily.

This is the business end of things PSDR and N1MM. It's a point and shoot operation. Click on the band map and bingo you are on freq, the call sign is pre-entered into N1MM and if you can hear him you click the callsign and he is loaded for the contact. For example you can see my mouse pointer pointing at EM0K in the band map and I click and its preloaded to the spot above the station entry window in N1MM. I click that preload and the station is then loaded, make the contact enter the exchange and hit "log it" and I'm off to the next station. You can also see if you look at skimmer EM0K is indicated next to the green arrow. If I were to notice someone in skimmer I wanted to work just clicking his freq would bring him up in the contest system. If he was not logged in the N1MM band map I would just enter him and the exchange "log it" and move on.

If I copy a signal off the air I just enter it after I work it and hit log it, and it is remembered in case of dupes The other aspect is Spot Collector

If I notice something I want to work coming across this screen, I just click it. Since my data source for both N1MM and Spot Collector is the same (W9AZ), when I click spot collector what ever station I click is also in N1MM and all the automatic stuff happens, the station is preloaded etc. Spot Collector also loads the station in my normal day to day logging program DXKeeper so I can log new countries in that log book while I progress through the contest. If I am a little off freq I have a new toy that helps that

This is a contest Knob that is the brain child of Stu K6TU, has been in development by K6TU, K6TD, K5FR, and myself for a period of time. The Knob will be the subject of a further blog post when the time comes (in the fairly near future) It's MAJOR feature in it can control 16 functions of PSDR, without PSDR holding the windows focus, so if I am using a 12hz filter (which is what I do all the time) and the stations is 50hz or 100hz off the freq reported on the cluster I can simply grab the knob and tune up or down and get him on freq. I do not have to click to PSDR which makes N1MM disappear, tune him in and try to get N1MM back in focus. It makes contesting effortless. (Actually the way I have the screens set up it's not a major effort to change focus BUT I love the knob)

Well back to the contest before 15 fades into the noon time dust and all the Russians mosey on down (up?) to 20M and 40M