[MiQP-Mail] MiQP N1IW/8 Single Op LP Montmorency Co. (Long)

Mike Bernock n1iw at myfairpoint.net
Wed Apr 22 10:45:56 EDT 2009

Michigan QSO Party

Call: N1IW/8
Operator(s): N1IW/8
Station: N1IW/8

Class: Single Op LP
Operating Time (hrs): 10

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs
   80:   94     21
   40:  141    121
   20:   58     24
   15:    0      0
   10:    0      0
Total:  293    166  CW Mults = 66  Ph Mults = 58  Total Score = 93,248

Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club


                    Rig : IC-706MKIIG, Heil Proset Plus
           Antenna : 80M Off-center fed dipole up 30'
       Automation : N1MM v9.4.0, Microham microKeyer, Averatec POS laptop

Well, another fun one from the cabin on Canada Creek Ranch (CCR) outside of Atlanta, MI. Arrived from NH on Friday at around 4PM and was greeted by a fresh breeze, cloudlees sky, and 70F. Warmest weather I have experienced so far this year. (Note: As I write this summary on Monday, the NWS is predicting 1" of snow for tonight into Tuesday. Welcome to Spring in northern Michigan.) Since it was 55F in the cabin, the first order of business was to open the place up and get the vittles stowed. Got the 80M off-center fed dipole up in the trees in abt an hour and also pulled the VHF/UHF stick up in a tree. A VSWR check confirmed everything was ship shape so moved on to setting up the station with the local public service VHF traffic buzzing from the IC-706 in the background. 

By evening I had everything set up except for the voice keying/routing setup on the Microkeyer and device router. Charlie Whiskey is my main operating mode so getting that operating was a no brainer. Gotta love that Winkey interface. But setting up the audio routing for recording/playback of wave files for SSB thru N1MM turned out to be a problem with N equations and N+1 unknowns! I don't believe I had ever set it up before with my laptop so that was part of the problem. I eventually figured out how to record a CQ MIQP wavefile via the Heil Headset boom mic using the Windoz sound recorder and play it thru the radio to save my voice a bit. But never did figure out how to properly route the boom mic audio to the radio in real time. So I ended up using the ICOM hand mic plugged directly into the 706 and a footswitch. It was a pain, but it worked. By 9 PM I was wiped out: I had been up since 3 AM that morning to catch my 6 AM flight out of Manchester, NH. So I walked away from t!
 he problem, poured 2 fingers of my favorite single malt and called it a night. 

I slept like death, as I usually do up here. This is truely a place where I can recharge my batteries. The silence was broken around 7:30 AM while I was making breakfast. My sister-in-law Julie called and gave me a few bits of information she had read on the digital TV transition up here in the north woods. You see, one of my missions this trip is to sort out the whole digital TV puzzle. We get 4 analog channels up here on a set of rabbit ears: 4, 6, 8,and 10. Channel 6 (WCMU) is on a tower a few miles south of here, so no problem getting them when they were analog and they now put out 3 digital channels that come in solid with the same rabbit ears. These popped up recently on the inexpensive digital converter box Julie had picked up last Fall via the coupon program. Unfortunately, one can take only so much of public TV; I lost interest in Sesame Street many years ago. Besides, they don't have local news and weather, which is the only real reason we even have a TV up here at!
  the retreat up north. The other channels range from marginally solid to fuzzy so I figure that when they all go full power digital in June reception may be a bit problematic. So after breakfast I tried connecting the vertical VHF/UHF stick (yes I know broadcast TV is horizontally polarized) and the OCFD to the converter box and it still only found the Ch 6 digital channels. Not sure what the other channels are doing at the moment in the digital domain, maybe low power test signals, not sure. I will have to connect these antennas up directly to the analog TV set and see how the reception is just to get a benchmark. Sorry for the diversion, now back to our regularly scheduled program... Blame Julie. 

I tuned around the bands Saturday morning afer my diversion and immediately noticed a fairly significantly broadband noise problem on 80 and 40 meters; 20M was fine. I quickly tracked it down to the laptop power supply. This is the first time I have attempted to use this laptop for logging from the cabin. Do not recall having a problem during either my 2006 or 2008 efforts from up here with my old HP W98se laptop; probably shouldn't have been so set on retiring it. Anyway, if I coiled up several turns of the DC side power cord I could reduce the level a bit and completely make it go away if I unplugged the power cord. I could also reduce the noise significantly if I unplugged the USB cable between the microKEYER and the laptop. Unfortunately, the battery in this laptop is tired so operating on battery for the 12 hour MIQP was not in the cards. Just my luck that my box of magic ferrites was back home in NH. Rats. Maybe I can get away with running on batteries while only on 80!
 /40... We will see. Also, the CMOS battery is flat so the clock drifts around and this could make the time tags in my log a bit squirrely. So just going to have to deal with the noise if it becomes a significant problem. Another option would have been to operate completely manually. Paper logs and dupe sheets? No way. Let's just see how it goes... 

The Beginning (16Z-20Z)... MTMO & The Evil Noise
Last year I did 471/128 for 102k; I believe a respectable single op score from a simple, one anenna setup in the woods. So I checked my notes from last year, set a goal of 500Q/100K points, and decided to keep the same basic plan: run on 20M CW for the first hour and try to nab some DX, and then try to keep to the MIQP guidelines of SSB at the top of the hour and CW at the bottom of the hour unless I had rate. Stay band agile to keep the rate up remembering that a CW QSO is worth twice that of an SSB QSO. Finally, spend the last 2 hours focused on hunting counties for local mults. As a close friend says, "Have a plan that works, and work the plan." My first hour running produced only 39 Qs compared to 44 last year, but netted 3 DLs and a CU. Nice to see DM3ZF and DL3GA in the log again this year. Pretty cool to have DX call in a state QSO party using only 100W into a dipole! At the end of the 17Z hour I made my first jump down to 40M and had heart failure. I now had an S7 no!
 ise floor in SSB and an S3 noise floor in CW, both with the 706 preamp off; this just isn't going to work. I tried a few Qs but it really sucked. I then lost about an hour of operating time trying come up with a station configuration I could live with. What did I do you ask? I did a complete install of N1MM and the Microham device router on my work Dell laptop which I have with me to do a couple of training courses while I am out here. Fortunately I had the appropriate user privaleges to do the install. Turns out the Dell is moderately quieter RF wise than my personal laptop. In the 19Z hour I started out on 40CW and bagged 60 QSOs; now that's more like it. By 20Z I had 135 QSOs logged compared to 157 QSOs last year (-22). 

The vast majority of stations worked this period were either west of the Mississippi or in the deep south. First QSO back east on 20M goes to AE1T in NH at 17:28Z, weak but workable. When I moved to 40M, I started working stations to the east, but it was initially a struggle given the noise problem. I bagged my county, MTMO, compliments of K8CIT at 1806Z on 40M. This was also my first MI contact. He gave me #48, I gave him #72... Sweet! Worked my first fellow BARiSian, WO1N at 1810Z. Thanks Ken for the MA SSB multiplier. Shortly after that I attacked the noise problem with some success. In my 19Z hour run my YCCC buds WO1N, K5ZD, W1END and others back east stopped by, and I ended the run with a nice ND mult! Before switching to 40SSB at the top of the next hour, I threw out a few CQs on 20CW and netted 2 QSOs, both mults: ID and MT. 
Total: 135 Qs, 123CW-12SSB / 44 mults / 11,352 points

The Middle... Captain Zero and Alaska
OK. So how do I make up the lost QSOs? Stay agile and run baby run! Started the 20Z hour on 40SSB as fresh meat. 33 QSOs in first 20 minutes using my foot switch/hand mic combo, for my best rate run of the event. This included a QSO and mult from my friend KV1J (Eric) back in Maine. He has a brother Tom (W1TOM) that lives down in Vienna, just a few miles from the cabin here on CCR. Eric said Tom was on the air, but I never heard him. So that makes at least 3 fixed MTMO operations this year. Is that a new record? Another nice run on 40CW at the bottom of the hour, then back to 40SSB in the 22Z hour. Another fellow BARiSian, Jerry-K0TV who runs one of the top New England multi-twos in the majors, jumped me here and I moved him down to CW so he could get the mult. I was just so focused on rate: sweep and run, change mode/band, sweep and run. Never even occured to me to do a focused sweep of 40/80 for the mobiles/rovers. The final mult count would reflect this as I recall focusi!
 ng more energy last year on tracking the mobiles. Had a nice suprise while revisiting 20M in the 23Z hour that netted some nice mults of UT, AZ, CA, WA, NV, NM, OR, and AK! Unfortunately I never really made up for the QSOs lost during the 80/40 noise reduction effort as I finished up the 2300Z hour now down 25 QSOs from last year. Although I proably would have been down more if I hadn't improved the noise floor a bit. 
Added 137 Qs,  37CW-100SSB / 35 mults
Total 272 Qs, 160CW-112SSB / 79 mults / 34,128 points

The End (00Z-04Z)... Sprint to the Finish
Started the 00Z hour with a quick bite to eat and a fresh cup of coffee. First QSO was on 40SSB at 0020. Balance of the hour netted 44 QSOs. First visit to 80M was at 0148Z. I knew it was a little later than I had originally planned but maybe the band had critical mass. I was correct: Swept the CW portion and found it to be pretty ripe so I found a clear frequency at around 02Z and ran. Turns out this was my best hour of the event as I logged 76 QSOs that hour. There were several zero beat packet pile ups which did make things interesting. Thanks to those that spotted me. Thanks also to all of my YCCC mentors who have taught me to dig in and work the pileup. Change the CW speed, add some receiver attenuation, try to return whole calls instead of partials. Man this is fun! At 03Z I finally forced myself to go county hunting starting with 75SSB with nearly every QSO a new mult. Where were all of the rovers/mobiles? Guess I just waited to long. Only station I found was K8IR and!
  nabbed him in his last 2 counties IRON and DICK. Never heard N8KR (air mobile) probably because I was running and not searching while he was in the air earlier in the afternoon. Nor did I come across K8MR. I mostly swept 80/75 in the last hour but did call CQ a few times when I could find a clear frequency. Yet another fellow BARiSian, EriK-KE1V, found me on 75SSB and I also moved him down to CW to give him the mult. 
Added 187 Qs, 133CW- 54SSB /  45 mults
Final 459 Qs, 293CW-166SSB / 124 mults / 93,248 points

Great participation from the states this year. Only missed Nebraska and Hawaii for WAS, and worked 5 Provinces too. It was great to see VE4EAR (MB) and VA7RN (BC) in the log again this year. And what's with the wacky prefixes? XM2AWR had me off balance for a few seconds when he sent QC. Good thing N1MM knew the prefix to be a VE. Another good thing was that we again had a good afternoon/evening static crash wise. I remember my first year doing this from the cabin in 2006, there was a pretty wild cold front crossing the central plains and the lightening crashes were terrible. Also only had the stock SSB filter to use in the ICOM for CW. Have since installed the optional 500 Hz filter for CW. It will be interestng to see from the other participant's write ups if the general feeling was that in state participation was down a bit. I noticed that the map on the MIQP home page was never updated to indicate what counties would be active and by what station class. If I remember corr!
 ectly every county was activated last year in support of the special 50 yr Anniversary Big Mac Certificate; a very motivational prize. Mine is proudly displayed in my shack at home. Probably should bring it to the cabin for display. It is very professionally done. 

One final note regarding N1MM: Per the MIQP rules, DX do not count as multipliers. The CU, OM, and first DL I worked were all shown as multipliers in the log and score summary and I could not find a way to change this. Also, "DC" (Districy of Columbia) does not count as a multiplier either; only the 49 states and 14 provinces. Other than that little glitch, N1MM was flawless. 

Here's the breakdown for the 10 hours of chair time:
Hour   Total     3_5       7      14    Running Total 
16      39        0        0      39      39            
17      26        0       10      16      65            
18      10        0        9       1      75            
19      60        0       58       2     135           
20      33        0       33       0     168           
21      31        0       31       0     199           
22      43        0       43       0     242           
23      30        0        6      24     272           
00      44        0       44       0     316           
01      34        6       28       0     350           
02      76       76        0       0     426           
03      33       33        0       0     459           
Totals 459      115      262      82       0  

And a comparison with last year:
2008: 471/128/102,144 : 327CW-144SSB QSOs / 40 States + 5 Prov for 68 mults / 41 Cty for 60 mults
2009: 459/124/ 93,248 : 293CW-166SSB QSOs / 48 States + 5 Prov for 89 mults / 27 Cty for 35 mults

The numbers tell the story. Ended up with only 12 fewer QSOs than last year, but the ratio of CW/SSB was 1.8:1 vs 2.3:1 from last year (that's 752 QSO pts vs 798 last year). I was only down 4 total mults from last year but the mix was definitely more heavily weighted towards the state/province mults. 

Thanks to all for the QSOs and especially those weaker stations with the patience to repeat the exchange several times so I could get you in the log through the PC noise. Thanks also to The Mad River group for hosting such a great event with such excellent participation. See you all next year, same bat time, same bat channel!

Best 73... de Mike, N1IW/8

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