Tuesday 26 January 2016

BARTG RTTY Sprint 2016

Having missed the ARRL RTTY contest earlier I was looking forward to a RTTY contest. The next one was the BARTG Spring Sprint.  The contest times are very civilised; noon start on Saturday, noon finish on Sunday (none of this 2am start of the BARTG March RTTY contest!!). Being a Sprint the contest exchange omits a report, only serial numbers are exchanged.

Looking in the loft I found the two Atom DG945CLF2 computers we last used in RTTY contests which ran Writelog under WinXP. Having now converted to N1MM software under Windows 7 a new computer with a more powerful processor and more memory was needed. I had built a media center in the USA using a DG41MJ motherboard. The case was also tall enough to acommodate the Delta D44 high performance stereo soundcard. Windows 7 32 bit  was installed with N1MM+ and the D44 drivers located. A stereo sound card is needed as the K3 supplies audio from the main receiver on the stereo left channel and audio on the stereo right channel from the sub receiver allowing two instances of MMTTY to be used to decode both frequencies. As usual FSK modulation was used.

The K3, KPA500 and KAT500 were assembled along with the newly established computer. The antennas were a good match so the KAT500 was not needed to match the antenna, but it does provide an easy way of automatically switching between the beam for 20/15/10, the 40m dipole and the 80m dipole.

The only issue experienced was that N1MM would go away and not allow anything to be done for periods up to two minutes,but would complain "K3 not responding" when it did come back and then work normally. This happened a dozen times on the Saturday evening, losing some QSOS. Changes were made, changing K3, closing N1MM windows, ferrite chokes, running without the amplifier but nothing changed, The same issue was also experienced with N1MM and a different K3 on a 432MHz afs a year ago which was never solved.   Then I remembered a similar issue with the TS950 and N1MM, The solution to this was to lower the polling rate in N1MM to 50%. This was tried with the K3 and the issue never happened again.

Conditions were poor for the contest and only 756 QSOs were had. All 6 continents were had for multipliers. At times it was slow that Practical wireless and the CDXC Newsletter were read!