More Digital Contesting – The 2013 CQ WPX RTTY Contest

AB1QB Op'ing CQ WPX RTTY

AB1QB Op’ing CQ WPX RTTY

Anita (AB1QB) and Fred (AB1OC) decided to enter the recent 2013 CQ WPX RTTY Contest in the Multi-op Single Transmitter, High Power category. (If you are new to radio contesting, we suggest you check out this excellent introduction to contesting). We decided to move to the N1MM Logger and the MMTTY RTTY Decoder for this contest. This was our first use of this software and we did some pre-contest setup and testing work using this combination to learn the new software and get it working with our radio. We used our Icom IC-7800 for this contest which has hardware FSK capability, Twin Peak Filtering and a built-in RTTY decoder. MMTTY supports hardware FSK with this radio and this was also our first use of these capabilities in a contest. We operated for about 30 of the allowed 48 hours in the contest due to a major snow event and the associated cleanup at our QTH.

Our experiences with N1MM/MMTTY and the new radio setup were very good. We operated mostly on 40m and 20m with some operation on 80m and 15m. We operated in Running Mode for most of the contest. The N1MM logger enabled our QSO rates to run as high as 130+ QSOs per hour at times. We made a total of 1,562 QSOs, worked 609 prefixes, and worked 68 DXCC entities for a final claimed score of 2,981,664. If our placing associated with our claimed scores holds, we should finish in the top 10 entries in our category for North America making this by far our best contest effort to date.

The N1MM logger and associated setup made a major positive difference in our score! We would recommend the N1MM/MMTTY combination to others who are interested in RTTY contesting. N1MM really speeds up the QSO process. We made heavy use of N1MM’s Enter Send Message (ESM) and Call Sign Stacking capabilities during the contest and both of these features greatly improved our QSO rates. Enter Send Message allows the operator to just hit the <enter> key to progress to the next stage of a QSO and automatically send the correct string. Call Sign Stacking allows the operator to grab 2-3 responding call signs after calling CQ and then respond to each of them without calling CQ again. The following shows a segment of an example QSO using Call Sign Stacking to respond to both KB1OIQ and NE1RD after they both respond to our CQ:

CQ CONTEST DE AB1QB
< KB1OIQ NE1RD …>
KB1OIQ UR 599 NH DE AB1QB
<TU UR 599 MA DE KB1OIQ>
TU KB1OIQ AND NOW NE1RD

We also used the combination of MMTTY and the hardware decoder in our Icom IC-7800 as a means to have two chances to decode received information during weak or noisy QSOs. In many cases either MMTTY or the hardware decoder in our radio would decode key contest exchange information correctly when the other decoder did not.

We plan to add the 2Tone Decoder to our setup and enable SO2V operation for our next contest attempt. The 2Tone Decoder can do a better job decoding weak or noisy signals. SO2V operation allows us to use the second receiver in our Icom IC-7800 to tune a second QSO while we are completing another QSO in Search and Pounce mode. We still have a lot to do to improve our digital contesting skills but we are making progress.

– Anita (AB1QB) and Fred (AB1OC)

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