CQWW SSB 2017 post contest report

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Someone who shall remain nameless asked once on the CQ-contest list if anyone had placed in the top 10 single op with a Flex 6000 series radio. That was a darned good question, and I didn't really research thoroughly to see if anyone did. Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to test that theory.

So this past weekend I did 40 hours in the chair, came up with 3.4M points assisted SOA and about 2400something QSOs. Based on current 3830 scores I'm about 6th place (USA) but it isn't over until CQ publishes the results. Here's hoping it holds!

I should note that I don't have a large station with multiple stacks. I have basically one high band antenna and a field of low band antennas. However I live in a decent-ish location with nice drop offs to Europe and Africa and a bit of a hill (high point state park and stokes state forest) toward JA. I thrive in conditions where the low bands are better, and the high bands are lower. I do run limited SO2R but that will change when I get the Power Genius XL and complete some other antenna work I've been putting off due to time commitments so I will run full high power SO2R with no lag between band changes.

I won't say that it has been flawless with the Flex but it has actually been quite good. There were a few quirks such as minor delays when switching SO2R but those are easy to work with and work around. I did not use Maestro as I am more of a point and click operator and 99% of my focus was on the N1MM+ logger, with the spectrum display which is supported in v2.0 of SmartSDR now. Who needs knobs? Some ops do, I don't. I do have a flexcontrol but it got little use.

Rates were pretty amazing and I found myself often doing 360+/hr rates for several minutes, with sustained hour rates around 170.



Anyway, this may be little pistol by some people's standards, but it's my best score ever in CQWW and I hope to improve. My goal was to get points for my contest club so we can win this year again. See you in sweepstakes and CQWW CW.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Posted 1 year ago

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Chris DL5NAM

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Bildergebnis fr thumbs up
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k0eoo

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3.4M points, that's impressive Ria!!!!  I've never got close to 1M points yet....
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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It's far easier from up here. Now you have the remote guys setting up stations on the coast of Maine. Top three single op unassisted stations were coastal Maine. 
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k0eoo

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Oh, didn't realize guys were doing that but it makes sense I suppose.  In that case is there a category for that type of operation?  So if you're in MN you can't claim high score for MN if your station is in Maine? I suppose you have to claim Maine as your QTH in that case?
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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No, they compete in the regular categories. For DX contesting everyone in the entire USA is on equal footing as far as the rules go. Yes, east coast will have an advantage because of the proximity to Europe. 
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kjave63@yahoo.com

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This does remind me of The offhanded comment made by a mutual ham radio friend that we have, that did wonder how there could be a “leveling“ of the playing field if we have some stations for reasons of geography or reasons that they pay the money to remote into very high-powered stations are on equal footing two stations like yours or mine. I am quite certain in just about every other sport that I have either directly participated in or nearly just spectators, there are multiple divisions made for various competitions such as stock, super stock, modified, heavily modified, whatever. I know there must’ve been thousands of conversations like this but just wonder if the ARRL is seriously going to consider addressing this very important issue that you raise? Either way 3.4 million points! OMG, I am not worthy! LOL
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I don't think they will. Cat's out of the bag anyway. Better to just live with it. That said I have done some low power efforts while waiting for my PGXL to come back from the Flex lab. So far 1st in ARRL DX SSB and 10th in ARRL DX CW. On a roll I guess. 
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Duane, AC5AA

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Congrats on a terrific effort, Ria!
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John - K3MA

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Good Job Ria, following your N1MM+ setup post I was able to get on and do a Single Band 40M effort for 20 hours.  Now I know some of the refinements I need to make using N1MM with the Flex for future contests.
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Gary Wise

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Hey Ria,

Great job. I heard you on many bands. I thought, "Hey, there's Ria."

I also heard you during the first night of the Worked All Europe contest when band conditions sucked and I felt the same frustration as I heard in your voice. I worked 4 stations in WAE that first night and gave up.

This was the second time in the CQ WW SSB as SOAB HP. Using my 6500, a KPA-500, a hexbeam and wires, I improved my score 30% over last year and my QSO count by 15%.

I'm not in your league (yet) but I'm improving. And I can't imagine contesting with any radio but my Flex.

Vy 73 - Gary W4EEY
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Hi Gary,

Yes it does get discouraging but I have been told by some of my mentors (especially John, W2GD and Bob, KQ2M) that you should never just turn off the radio if band conditions are terrible. Keep pressing on. Why? The others you're trying to beat are probably gettiing discouraged too. If you stay on and they go, who wins?

Ria
(Edited)
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Great Ria thanks for posting this 6700 contest success story on the community. 
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Mark - WS7M

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Nice job Ria.  I can't imagine 40 hours in the chair... I do that all week long...

I did make one contact at zero hour:59 and 50 seconds.  It was funny the band was like massively congested, I made my contact then it just went dead as everyone turned off.
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Tim - G7GFW / F4VQP

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Well done Ria - hope the score holds for you.

One thing that seems very strange to me the that remote operating does not have a seperate category. I think that is is completely wrong that someone (or a group of someones) can build a remote station and then operate from the comfort of their own home and be categorized as working under the same conditions as everyone else. 

To take it to extremes, what is difficult about setting up, for example, two remote stations, one on the East coast and one on the West coast to take advantage of different propagation conditions ?

I remember logging for a Ham in the 60's, we operated from his little terraced house with a homebrew G2DAF RX and TX and a 400watt linear and a cubical quad for 10/15/20 and coming 3rd in the UK.

Far cry from what is possible now. In those days it was a real achievement to do that well, these days, and not to belittle your efforts Ria, it seems so much easier now. 

I did look at the bands last weekend and 20 and 15 were jam packed all of Saturday and Sunday. Could take any active part because my voice is virtually non existent due to the Radiotherapy I having at the moment. Maybe next year it will be better.

Tim
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I really hope they use those SDR recordings to look at some really BAD splatter. Some stations were blasting 10-20kHz. 
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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I dont think that is a priority.  If your looking for clean signals a contest is not the place to hang out ;-).  #elbowroom #theydoitonpurpose #overdriven
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Although there is always an OO camped out in the mid part of 40m SSB waiting to write up pick slips for US stations that click spots without checkin that take them out of their band plan hi hi.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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According to the CC it is a priority now. The bad signals may have been commonplace but that doesn't mean they are acceptable. They should also never be part of one's contest strategy. Whether it is to drive away QRM or to make yourself noticed, it is in violation of operating rules and it is also very unsportsmanlike. I suspect we will see some disqualifications this year like we did last year. There are some things I am privy to as well that I won't get into here, but you can reach out to me privately if you like. 
(Edited)
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John - K3MA

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Being a 40M band only entry.  I can tell you there were about 20 countries and 3 zones that I heard below 7125 but they did not listen up into the 7125 to 7200 band area.  So I did not get to work them.  Frankly I can't blame them.  The band was packed in the US Phone area without a semi clear space available that would not result in QRM to someone else and often time with the Flex I could hear 3 or 4 different stations transmitting within the same 3 khz bandwidth.  As a result I did not call CQ except for a couple hours at the end of the contest.  What a pile of noise.  I am not sure what is worst the band being packed with broadcast stations like it use to be or the constant high buzz from everyone calling over each other.
(Edited)
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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There is not difference between my driving up to my remote station, vs remoting in to it.  I am operating from the same location, a station that I have built.  If I remote some other station on the east coast, it would have to be a separate effort with a different call and would be considered operating from there and not part of the same effort.  In many instances, this is the only way for some of our fellow hams to compete, due to the many stringent HOA restrictions of today.  Its pretty straight forward, and has been written into the rules of contests, and other competitive activities like DXCC.
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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ok, then distance from radio. In shack, on same LAN, on via WAN.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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I dont really see the relevant need for such a rule.  Let me give you my scenario.  I have been building a station K6LRG for 10 years.  for many years I just drove up there and operated.  now I can remote into it.  I can drive up there..  anytime I want.  I have a fridge, A/C.. and some times I do, and some times I dont. But I am always operating from that station, same location, same signal.  whats the difference?
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Think of the internet link as a virtual extention of your headset.. and footswitch and cable from you paddle.  otherwise its exactly the same deal.
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Paul

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IMHO Chris is 100% correct about remote, It's just a long mic lead. I have operated this way since it became legal here and have experienced mixed reactions over the years.

There are a multitude of different facets to our hobby and we all engage in those that give us the most enjoyment. As a case in point; the technical challenges of establishing a remote station (especially in the early days) appeal(ed) to me. However, I am not competitive - but I do understand the attraction of the now ubiquitous contest to those who are. I see no reason why the two should not continue to be combined.
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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Nice going Ria. In 2014 my first contest I entered in the Rookie category got N1MM downloaded the night before figured out how to use it with my Flex 5000A. My results using mostly S & P method were just under a million points (946,164) however official results deducted 157,000 points mostly because I changed bands without waiting 10 minutes. Got #1 Canada, North America and World Wide. I took Saturday evening off to watch a hockey game but got back at it 11pm. This was before I got the 6500 and now 6700. I have not yet entered a contest since but do plan to in a year or so. Panadapter is so conducive to my preferred method of going up the dial working every station, using TNF to mark the frequency worked, going back down to the ones I've missed and keep repeating. Then switch bands do the same.
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Varistor

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Mike, don't wait, jump with both feet in. Contesting is a great way to hone your skills and work out any station shortcomings.

Go to Contest University's file area to read on great advice on improving your score:

https://www.contestuniversity.com/files/
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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S & P is a habit from SWLing days of the late 60s thru 70s. Got 6 band DXCC in my first 2 years without CQing. Since got 289 entities. I can see myself  getting into more contesting when I get closer to 300. Right now when I play radio, it's DXing.  I must say using N1MM was a kick. Got addictive with points like a video game. So many aspects to ham radio took on too much initially, HF, VHF, UHF and satellite setups. Gotta leave some challenges for retirement years and contest likely will fill the void.
(Edited)
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Gary Johnson

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My guess is that if ARRL and CQ magazine were located in Kansas City vs the Northeast, that rules of contests from US states might be a bit different.  Might have separate categories by ARRL Section or at least time zones.  Of course with CQ, I'd just be happy to get my October magazine in October vs mid to late November.      73,    Gary Johnson  N5BAA
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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You can compete regionally. They give certificates for each call district. ARRL has plaques for each division.

Also remember the coasts only do well in DX contests. For VHF contests, sweepstakes and NAQP, the central US does better than us. 
(Edited)
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kjave63@yahoo.com

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Awesome Ria! I was on the radio for a couple of hours and stuck to 20 m SSB only and was able to rack up 155 European contacts in just under 2 hours. I had to manually submit my logs to excel spreadsheet and upload it. Not easy. Must talk to you about N1MM logging. HRD does NOT work quick enough for contesting. I had a lot of fun ! Saturday from 1600 to 2000 utc was awesome!
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Steve Jones

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Well done Ria, great effort. I heard you on several bands and i know we worked you on at least one band. We were multi two tx using my gw9j contest call and low power no amps. It was hard going with just 100w to dipoles wire verticals and a wire yagi spiderbeam at 25ft agl but we managed 1519 qsos and a 14yr old club member we were mentoring enjoyed himself. Its a pity my 6300 crashed twice in the first two hours and had to be replaced with my ic7300, but at least the spectrum window support in n1mm for the 7300 meant we still had a bandscope and waterfall available. I think we will be multi one low power in cqww cw.
73
Steve gw0gei / gw9j
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Sorry to hear about your 6300. My 6700 performed mostly good. I had a few small glitches but it worked very well. I am hoping your issues get resolved.
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Steve Jones

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Were the glitches with the radio Ria or with the way it interfaces with n1mm? I still find (like in this evening's short 80m ssb contest) that when I click in the ssdr window to change filter width or anf, the focus switches from slice one to slice two for no apparent reason. Kept thinking it was my set up of n1mm but I have gone over it again recently and its all set up as per the so2r help sheet. I have put up with the glitches but another random disconnect on the 6300, without any warning this evening, 75% through an hour long short and fast 80m ssb contest meant I lost a precious 5 mins removing the power from the 6300 as it was also stuck in tx, and then waiting for it to reboot (after which it had also lost persistence so I also lost my run frequency). A real PITA and sadly I think this now means the 6300 is going to be boxed up and sold or traded for a second ic7300, which will be put to so2r use for a few months whilst I see how the new flex radios and amp fare out in the wild.
Steve gw0gei / gw9j
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Mark K5XH

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Great job Ria!

I would like to return to the subject of your original post - How many of the top ten scorers are using Flex equipment? Other than yourself, no one responded with a top ten score report.

RTTY is my mode of choice for contests. I managed to place in the top ten in my category (SOHP  not assisted) in the RTTY Roundup back in January. My Flex is an old F5K driving a Henry 2K. The antenna is a TH3 plus some wires for 80/40.

I hope to be using a new 6600 and Genius XL for the next RR. Got my fingers crossed!

73, Mark K5XH

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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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I replied Mark, used a Flexadio 5000A RX2-ATU-VU5K, 3 el SteppIR w 40m addon, 80m double bazooka, 160m inverted-L Since then got a 6500 then upgraded to 6700 w Maestro, still have the 5000. 6000 series has helped me get all zones, WAS, 289 entities, 6 band DXCC (almost 7).
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I did an informal survey of radios in the top 10. For primary radios there are:
Elecraft K3/S
Icom 7800 series (7800, 7700, 7850, 7851)
Kenwood TS 990
Yaesu FT1K
Yaesu FTDX 5K/9K

These seem to make up the majority of them. What's striking is that the FT1K is still very popular. It's an older radio but it's a workhorse. Talking to other contesters I found out that they like it because it just works and they see no need to change. However there are some who have been changing over. 

There is skepticism among some amateurs who are accustomed to a radio having a knob and a small screen. Flex is only now breaking more into the contesting arena and I expect with the new radios (M series) and the Power Genius XL they will further their presence. 

Contesting isn't really a game of cutting edge. It's a game of reliability, longevity and performance. Flex has to show the community that the radio can do these things and do it well. 

I do know that many people have been asking me about the new radios. I have people asking me about contest deployments (even before this). I'm not a Flex employee, just a close friend of the company. But I like that trust that I have developed with Flex users. As such my goal is to encourage people to see the benefits of this platform and I am more than happy to help people get into using it. 

I think now we are at a tipping point where more people are looking to shift away from conventional radios. Seeing spectrum is a very distinct advantage, even if you run assisted already. Finding holes to CQ in is very, very invaluable. Seeing open bands and how open they are is also helpful. Having multiple receivers to keep tabs on things is also helpful. 

I know what the platform did for me. I tried the others like Elecraft, Kenwood TS990, FT5K, Icom 7300 and I still go back to the Flex 6700. Best radio I've owned. Hands down. 

Now, there are some issues with the platform. However I believe that the team can work those out and improve. 
(Edited)
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Varistor

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In order to understand why people do not use Flex or Anan, it is important to first understand who the contester is. Virtually all of the discussions here are focused on the radio, not on the human using it. So, without advocating any particular radio, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind:
  • The #1 rule in contesting is running. You won't win unless you run most of the time. You only do S&P when rates are low. When you run, the actual radio makes ZERO difference, assuming it has a decent receiver. The only thing that matters to the operator is the logger and the keyboard. I do not touch my rig for hours on end. Take a look at this link to understand what rates we are talking about https://www.cqww.com/rates/
  • Good contest operators know how to use their logger extremely well. For example, it is much quicker to use the keyboard to go from mult to mult (or from Q to Q when S&P-ing) than using the mouse. You can argue otherwise all day, but I challenge you to grab the mouse, move it, and click faster than Ctrl arrow.
  • Great contest operators do a lot of SO2R to maintain very high rates. The practical implication is that they don't have any time to move their hands away from the keyboard. Some ops prefer using two keyboards, one for each radio, but the concept still applies- you just don't have the time to mouse around the screen. To fully appreciate this point, watch and listen (with your headphones) to this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ncFJZqkTA  Did you notice how many times he touched the radio?
  • Last but not least, SDR radios have the real or perceived reputation of high latency and inconsistent reliability, being prone to software crashes, random freezes, etc.
So IMHO it will take time to see mass adoption of Flex like rigs. The M series certainly has the potential to change the adoption rate.
(Edited)
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Steve Jones

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Good points.  I have had three ft1000d radios, kenwoods, pro 3s, and ts590s but increasingly prefer now not to touch any knobs, as ctrl up and down arrows do work better and I have found it less tiring just using the flex knob or mouse when required to adjust volume or agc or rit. Gave up on so2r with microham top of the range so2r box due to complexity.

However, frs still have a long way to go with ssdr to really make an impact on the contesting front. Its still a bit flaky with n1mm I find, and those of us suffering from the random disconnect problem have that to cope with too.

I still use a ic7800 at a host station I use for dx contests, due to the level of automation and the larger optibeam antennas at the station - but the receiver is not as good in coping with near in qrm on ssb as the flex. My ic7300 is however proving to be up to the ssb qrm job and is more reliable than my 6300 at present. Unless frs can sort out the reliability issues they wont make much impact in the contesting world.
73 Steve gw0gei / gw9j
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Mark K5XH

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Sorry Mike - I missed your reply amongst all the remote operation comments. I knew I should have gone back and re-read everything! Congratulations!!

Ria, thanks for the list. My previous radio was a FT1000 but I would not go back after using the Flex. Just the thought of getting all the interface wiring and boxes hooked up is enough for me to keep it on the shelf!

I have used the Flex in the last six or seven RTTY RU contests and I have never had any problems with the radio. All my problems were of my own making. I ran the last (2017) RR using W10 Pro (and N1MM+) without any issues.

  

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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I should also mention that there is a healthy sprinkling of ten tec radios but they seem to be dying off by attrition. That FT1K though, is very hard to die. With the 1KMP MkV you get 200 watts out and the radio feels like a real radio. One of my friends sold his for an Elecraft K3S and he occasionally complains of regret because that radio had a flow and a feel like a handcrafted instrument. That 1K was a sweet radio. But yes, you are right. The cable mess is bad. 
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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I know how your friend feels Ria. My first radio was the 1000MP and I sold it to help finance getting the 6500, never regretting getting the 6500 but do regret having to sell the 1000MP. I've gotten over it but not really.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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200 watts out also helps with some tube amps, like the 3CX1200D7/A7 based amps. There's no warm up timer but they take more than 100w for full output. Having the Alpha 91B in the shack, now I know what a PITA it is. Especially when you transmit in the wrong band and the entire amp shuts off due to protection. Then you have to wait 3 minutes while the DX goes QRT
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Results are out.

8th place SO(A)AB HP. Did only limited SO2R. Not too bad for a popgun single tower station :)
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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looked at 3830 post.. EU was there but just fringe.  for us thats Portugal and Spain.  and only a few in the log. 

Total: 671 Prefixes: 344.  Looks like i had a bit of score reduction...  probably due to marginal signals.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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That is true. With low sunspots, domestic QSOs play a bigger part so it becomes more "even" on the higher bands. During WPX this year, W2RE didn't even go above 20 meters. 15m was pretty much shut here except for trans-eq, and 10 had a few stations for trans-eq as well. 
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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I have to soldier though the solar minimums as the 15m captain at N6RO. Thats... "my" band and my operating position there.  the advantage is that when you spend years of focus on a band, you gain a mastry of the propagation and an understanding of being in the right place at the right time.  I spent a couple years on 160M and a couple more on 80 back in the day.. for the same reasons. (and also you work your way up from the low bands at that contest station ;-)).
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I made the decision to only play 80 in last year's contest due to time restraints, and my desire to snag some more 80 DX for the DXCC.  I had no idea at all that it would be a winning effort!  LOL.  So this came as a shock to me when I checked the stats.  I had actually forgotten about it until I checked it out!

If only I could do the same on 10 Meters in a Domestic contest in order to get my last 5 states on 10 Meters, then I would be thrilled.

And if I could get some of the few DX stations I have worked on 12 meters lately to send their logs to LOTW, then I would have DXCC on that band, too!  (my last HF band for DXCC except for 160 & 6) .

It is getting really close......

WAS:  7 more States on 12M; 5 States on 10M; 10 States on 6M

DXCC:  only 3 more countries on 12M; 67 Countries on 160M; but 91 on 6 Meters!

ALL of it LOTW....I have 230 countries confirmed on LOTW.  (I never would have dreamed that!)  I am waiting on several more from DXpeditions that haven't submitted their LOTW logs yet...

I have a not counted the additional I have confirmed via actual QSL Cards, unsubmitted.  And I haven't taken the time and trouble to check the log for QSL's that I can request with $$$ for DX stations that won't do it any other way.

Once I get DXCC on all bands 80-10, and perhaps 160, then my next goal will be to start getting more diligent on the unconfirmed others....

Ken - NM9P
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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If they didn't insist that for CQ160 that ALL assisted stations claim the HIGH power category, even when actually running LOW power, then I would probably fare much better on the 160 Contests!  (Which are among my favorite!)
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Lasse Moell

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Only having less than a little pistol set up here, but working on improving... I find my Flex 6500 great for contesting, except for the filter/AGC missery! In most contests you do need really sharp (steep) filters, as most signals are strong. But having anything but the least sharp filters enabled, leads to awful clicks and terrible audio. This has been reported over and over again, and I am surprised this is not fixed. A contest grade radio should have proper filter skirts! As I hope some of you beta testers do use CW, please push for this to be fixed!
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Doug

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Ria complaining about splatter etc is hopeless. I don't even know why I am writing this because it has been going on since I have been a ham in the 60's. Contest turn normal everyday people into monsters ! Also as you know most of the big contest folks don't operate unless there is a contest and they have told me when I have ask them to please be considerate they only operate 10 days a year and I need to suck it up. It is fruitless to ask I have learned this decades ago and just stay off the air until the animals leave. It's just part of the deal and you either suck it up like they tell me or stay off  the air because what you say or anyone else says it isn't going to change.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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There is QRM and there is wide splatter. QRM is expected in a contest. Splatter, as in your signal splatters across the band - is unsportsmanlike conduct and people are being DQed for it. 

As far as contest vs non contest, well if they operated every day of the year, the bands would be super crowded like a contest weekend, so I guess it's kind of good that the contests allow us to just let it all out for that weekend and we go silent for the rest of the year. There are 700k licensees in the US alone, and millions more worldwide - imagine if they were on the air all at once!

Ria
(Edited)
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WW1SS - Steve

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Contesters are some of the rudest and most inconsiderate operators in amateur radio. I was on one of our Rv nets and a guy moved in 1kc above us on LSB and he wouldn't move and basically said FO. I wish they would allocate a portion of each band for them to operate in.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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btw Ken,  the last sentence was not directed to you.  What you did I celebrate as good operating practice and try to emulate even in a competitive situation.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I am pretty much the same. Ask nicely and I will move. Bully your way in, and I am likely not to move. Interfere with me, and you are being recorded and if you really behave like a lid, I will forward it to your net manager and you'll probably be relieved of NCS duty. Maybe even the FCC if you really decided cause trouble. And if you're stateside my back is likely to you and the european pileups I'm usually running will not care if you are there...
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Gary Johnson

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Where is it that I can apply to reserve a frequency??  Everyone needs that internet link.
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Mark - WS7M

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Gary... Just live to be over a 100 and I think the FCC assigns you a frequency for your "made it to another day" net.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Gary, it’s good to see a familiar name and an expansion of the N6RO contest team in this forum. Welcome.
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Bill-N6RV

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I have been operating SOABLP Unassisted in most contests for years. For the past 10 years (?) I have been running a Flex 5000a. It is no different than using my Elecraft except the Elecraft does not freeze up six times a day. In fact, I use the Elecraft as the second radio when I ran SO2R. I cannot do that now with only one antenna. I placed 4th in North America in the 2017 CQWW SSB contest with 457,000 points. It was not a good showing. I have done much better, well above a million points. Not many multi-million point submissions here and for Low Power... not any. For West Coasters the only way to get a substantial score is S&P on multipliers and run Asia. The Pacific is not that populated. East Coasters have a distinct advantage. They can run Europe on multiple bands. We have a few hours in the morning. At the top of the cycle West Coast scores increase dramatically with longer openings to Europe. The past 2 years I have missed multipliers on 75 & 160. I have no antennas up yet.

My hope is next contest season I will have the second SteppIR up along with the slopers for 80 and 160. I will be able to do true SO2R with the 6600M running on one band and S&P one the other. That is why I bought it. I have been burning it in for 3 weeks. I had one Blue Screen of Death and I had to reset the computer. That was the day before Easter. So far no other serious issues other than getting over the culture shock. It is much more difficult to find things in SSDR than PSDR and the buttons and knobs are too small for an old timer.

What I would suggest would be a nice double sided laminated Quick Guide. I am looking at the one that came with the FT1000MP MKV. The Japanese are very good at concise step by step procedures. Americans are too wordy.
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Charles Fontenot

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Ria,

I admit that the Single-Op category is much tougher than the Multi-Single category in any of the major DX contests, but I have managed 5 top ten finishes in the ARRL DX Contests since 2014 using my Flex 6500 (Multi-Single, High Power category).

2014  SSB HP Multi-Single - 7th place
2015  SSB HP Multi-Single - 8th place
2016  SSB HP Multi-Single - 10th place
2016  CW  HP Multi-Single - 8th place
2017  SSB HP Multi-Single - 8th place

I am very fortunate to be competitive from the deep south in Louisiana (40 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico) having only two 75 foot towers with a 4 element SteppIR on one tower and a DB18 SteppIR on the other tower. Only an elevated vertical for 80 meters and no antenna for 160 meters.  The Flex 6500 has been the contest radio in all of these contests.

As for a geographical handicap, don't hold your breath.  I brought this up years ago and never heard anything back from ARRL or CQ.  I feel there would be a lot more participation if there was a formula that adjusted for geographical location, club stations, super-stations, stacked yagis, number of towers, antenna height, wire antennas, etc. Dream on.
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Stan - VA7NF

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Ria,
Worked you from our club station (VE7SAR) and commented to nearby members that I know you from these forums and that you were running the new amp (which the club wanted to purchase but was over budget).  Excellent signal in strength and quality.  With that combination you may qualify as more than little pistol.
From the West coast, Europe is much further away but Japan is closer - many call signs but few mults.