Gather yer friends together and git in the contest!
By Outlaw Bob Epstein K8IA
As promised last month, here is a guide for getting involved in hosting a multioperator station for CQWW DX Contests. The Arizona Outlaws Contest Club encourages every member to operate this event. It is a great operating training ground, and multioperator entries can quickly amass points, assisting the points total of the club!
Category to Enter
There are three multi-operator categories, Multi-operator Single Transmitter (aka Multi-One), Multi-Operator Two Transmitter (aka Multi-Two) and Multi-Operator, Multi-Transmitter (aka Multi-Multi). Since this article has the word “Simple” in the title, I’ll concentrate on Multi-One, but be open to exploring the easier ways to do Multi-Two, since a simple Multi-Two is unequalled in sheer fun and bang for the Outlaws points total buck.
Simplest Multi-One Operation
An average equipped, normally single operator station can quickly be turned into an effective Multi-One. If the Outlaw station owner finds himself/herself time constricted, so the score contribution won’t be up to snuff, he/she should consider a multiop. Shared operating leads to more hours in the contest and leads to a bigger Outlaw score! Plus, it does my heart good to hear about a bunch of our Outlaws hangin’ around together. ;-)
The combination of a single radio, amplifier, average height tribander and some wires/verticals for the low bands, and contest software connected to the cluster, can lead to a lot of Multi-One fun. Kick any of those hardware categories up a bit and another competitive level opens up!
Share a single radio with one or two others, on the best band available at that time, and you can have a good time. No fuss, no muss.
Shared operating is fun, but with somewhat equal operators, it doesn’t offer a points advantage that much over a single op, non-assisted, except that cluster use is permitted. Let’s look at the next level.
Mid-Level Simple Multi-One Operation
This level of involvement requires at least two complete stations, using one station for Running and one for Multipliers as permitted by the rules. The CQWW Rules can become quite convoluted for the newcomer. They state,
“Multi-Operator (all band operation only):
1. Single Transmitter (MS): Only one
transmitter and one band permitted during
any 10-minute period. Exception:
One—and only one—other band may
be used during any 10-minute period
if—and only if—the station worked is a
new multiplier. Ten-minute periods are
defined as starting with the first logged
QSO on a band. A multiplier station cannot
call CQ. Logs found in violation of
the 10-minute rule will automatically be
reclassified as M2 (Multi-Op, 2 Transmitter). If electronic logging
is used (Cabrillo), for each QSO the run
transmitter or multiplier transmitter
must be indicated in the log.”
OK, on the surface that means you have one station running and the other looking for mults only. Plus, once you are on a band for 10 minutes you can switch those roles. Keeping things as “Simple” as the title of this article, let’s just go with that interpretation. (The multi-tower Big Guns with hotshot ops have a whole other way of operating Multi-One, but that is beyond “Simple” and will not be addressed here).
For example, say you have a tribander for 10-15-20 and some wires (or simple verticals) for low bands. At the start of the contest, depending on conditions, you may have your Run station on 20 and your Mult station on 15 or 40. Later in the evening, you may have a Run station on 40 and a Mult station on 80. You get the picture. Your Run/Mult assignments change with the band conditions, activity, etc.
Try to get at least 3 Outlaw operators to do this level of involvement. Yes, you can do it with two, but 3 or more allows people to get some rest now and then.
IMPORTANT: Introduction of a second station requires receiver protection for BOTH stations. This is very important with amplifiers employed and all antennas hanging off one support/tower. Yes, this is another investment and level of complexity, but it cannot be ignored. The result of ignorance here are blown receivers, certain to take all the fun away from your contest weekend!
Typically, receiver protection in multi-station environments is accomplished via bandpass filters and/or coaxial stubs. Array Solutions (W3NQN products), Dunestar, and ICE are the commercial players in the bandpass filter arena for amateur radio. They can also be homebrewed, as well. W3LPL has an article on the Internet of what he built up -- http://www.yccc.org/Articles/YCCC_6B_RX.pdf .
If you have a way to accurately cut coax for coaxial stubs, that’s a less expensive option that may be suitable. Let me refer you to a book by George W2VJN, Managing Interstation Interference – Coaxial Stubs and Filters. This 71-page book is crammed with useful information and available through International Radio Corp -- http://www.inrad.net . They sell ready-made stubs as well.
Bandpass filters and stubs can be switched via manual switches or (preferred) band decoders. Band decoder switching, by presently available decoders, is very reliable. Manual switching can prompt “mistakes” that could be catastrophic. Then again, manual switching is very inexpensive, compared to band decoders.
Simple Multi- Operator Two Transmitter Operation (aka Multi-Two)
The very simplest way to Multi-Two is to take a Multi-One, two radio station, like just described, and allow both stations to run simultaneously. You then have a “Simple” Multi-two. The advantage of Multi-Two cannot be ignored, as it certainly generates more points for Arizona Outlaws Contest Club! Points are good!
CQ Rules state:
“Two Transmitter (M2): A maximum
of two transmitted signals at any time
on different bands. Both transmitters
may work any and all stations. A station
may only be worked once per band
regardless of which transmitter is
used. Each of the two transmitters used
must keep a separate chronological log
for the entire contest period, or if electronic
logging is used, the electronic log
submittal (Cabrillo) must indicate which
transmitter made each QSO. Each
transmitter may make a maximum of 8
band changes in any clock hour (00
through 59 minutes).”
(The multi-tower Big Guns take this category to extreme levels as well, but that won’t be discussed in this article either, as I strive to keep it “simple”).
Those rules read easy enough, and a lot easier than Multi-One in many respects. All you Outlaws have to keep track of is keeping under 8 band changes an hour, and most contest software does that for you! Get on the two hottest bands, simultaneously, and life can be good.
Don’t think you need an experienced Outlaw op to pull this off. Oh sure, it helps to have at least one of your operators with multi-op contest experience, but it certainly isn’t essential. Learning under fire works, too! If you do have someone with experience, use him/her for ideas regarding band selection, equipment functionality, contest software operation, operating techniques, propagation, etc.
CQWW logs from past years are now available online. Download a log from a group that is similarly (or better) equipped, and has nearly the same propagation as where you will be operating from. Lots can be learned from this. Take a look at http://www.cqww.com/cwlogs/ for archived CQWW CW logs, and http://www.cqww.com/ssblogs/ for archived CQWW SSB logs. Check out what the competition worked and when. Propagation conditions have been very poor and, unfortunately, steady the past two CQWW years, and are predicted to be this year, as well.
Set some goals but make them realistic. These goals can be related to QSO’s, score, hourly QSO’s/mults, beating some previous result. Use whatever measure is helpful to keeping your rear in the chair and making points! Some contest software (N1MM for one) even allows you to input these goals and track your progress.
Some groups function well with rigid operating schedules. Some like to keep it loose. I have operated under both situations and there are advantages of each. Pick one and go with it. Schedules can always be modified later. Make sure you are covered for the full contest, with at least two ops on premises at all times if you are multi-station.
There is significant value to pre-contest team meetings. Things that can be discussed at these meetings may include equipment familiarization, operating schedules, station strengths and weaknesses, contest software, household rules, etc.
Station Considerations for all Multi-Op Categories
In summary, this has been a very simple and quick attempt to introduce the Outlaws to Multi-Op contesting. To many of our members, this is new ground. To others, this is old hat. I hope it has piqued the interest of the former, and I hope some of the latter will open up their stations to other Outlaws and take the multi-op plunge!
Please direct any questions to me at bobk8ia(at)aol(dot)com or via the AOCC Reflector. I will be most happy to discuss anything involving contesting and more specifics of this article. I realize I have made some assumptions and taken some shortcuts in this article, not deeply explaining many topics. That was done on purpose to keep the size of this document manageable. Email me for more!
We strongly encourage multi-op participation, as it generates more club points and allows those with simple stations, HOA restrictions, etc., to possibly operate at a better equipped station. This, in turn, will help invited operators learn another aspect of radiosporting fun and help the Arizona Outlaws Contest Club as well!
CU IN CQWW!
2010 CQWW DX SSB –0000 UTC October 30 through 2359 UTC October 31
2010 CQWW DX CW –0000 UTC November 27 through 2359 UTC November 28
© Arizona Outlaws Contest Club 2009-2010