KM5PO/R.... HSCW Contest May 2 & 3, 1998
by KM5PO / ex-KD5BUR, Jim McMasters 05/11/98

Click on thumbnails for larger image.
This time I worked from the back seat! Also: Hi Res   image. Trusy FT-290RII and TE systems 350w amp. Hi Res   image.
Modified Tape Recorder and CMOS Super Keyer-3/homebrew paddles.  Hi Res   image. EM21 location. Here you get an idea of how high that 22' pole is!
Looking East from EM22 location. The EM24 location (Spirit Lake) is on the second hill!

We activated 4 grid squares for the First Annual HSCW Contest on May 2nd and 3rd. Activity on 144.100 seemed quit low during the contest although at one time on Saturday morning I heard two meteor scatter CQ's on the same transmit minute sequence and at least one more via tropo.

Except for the first few hours of the contest, I used an MTR (Modified Tape Recorder) and the CMOS Super Keyer III to work HSCW. I had practiced some with this setup prior to the contest, making several sked contacts. The MTR can handle over 4000 lpm quit well. At exactly 4K lpm, the slowed down playback CW clocks out at 17 WPM. This fast receive speed is accomplished by recording the receiver audio while in the "fast-forward/record" mode. The MTR uses most of one side of a 90 minute tape to record one minute. This concerned me at first, but approx. 7 hours of use during the contest produced no problems at all. I only changed tapes twice but this was because I wanted to specifically save some great one minute sequences. During my testing in the shack prior to the contest I learned that ultra weak pings that are just barely de-codable in MSDSP are not quite de-codable with the MTR. I quess this is the price to pay for such a simple system. The MTR uses an up-converter and a simple motor control circuit. It is powered by four AA batteries which required replacing 4 times over the course of the weekend.

I found the best situation for me was to monitor 144.100zb, turning the antenna back and forth about 30 degress East and then West of due North, depending on the "minute". Even numbered minutes I was looking West, Odd numbered minutes I was looking East. I usually did not use the MTR at all until I heard pings. Immediately upon hearing a signal I would begin recording. Usually within the same minute or on the next minute, I received a ping strong enough to work whereupon I quickly programmed Msg bank #1 in the CMOS keyer with Callsigns (and the LPM speed and "loop" function), changed frequency to the CQ offset and started calling when it was my turn.

All the strong-arm twisting and turning managed to unscrew the top section of the antenna mast and at 5am Saturday morning the 13b2 came tumbling down narrowly missing me. It took 15 minutes to straighten some aluminum and get back on the air.

After moving from EM21 and EM22, I returned home for a shower. On the way I had a battery failure in the car and had to pay premium bucks for a replacement. After a stop at home, I drove to the EM23 location and set up shop. I then sat in the car trying to operate through a local approaching weather front which dumped inches of rain on me. No contacts were made from this site on Sat. night.

Moving up into the low mountains of South West Arkansas was slow going with very rough roads but it was worth it when I got there. We had our best signals from this site (EM24) but again, there were few stations apparently on the air to work.

Returning to Texarkana late in the afternoon, I once again stopped at the EM23 site which is on a hill over-looking Interstate 30 about 5 miles from my house. Once set up, I worked K0GU just before the contest was over and only heard one other station: K5IUA via tropo calling CQ.

Normally we have a lot of pictures to show off however, the MTR was using several battery sets and I was nervous about running out of power so I held back on the pictures since the digital camera and MTR both use AA batteries.

At first it was hard to really trust the MTR system coming from an MSDSP/Pentium background, but by Sunday I was enjoying the simplicity of it all.

Post analysis of my signal recorded via tropo by KB5WMY has revealed some problems possibly associated with the CMOS keyer. Somewhere around the 3000 lpm speed level, the weighting/spacing seems to change and what I can best describe as "garbage" has been observed. This problem may be caused by some type of association between the CMOS keyer and the XR2206 Oscillator, or may be even RF induced. I plan some more tests to find out more. All is FB at 2000, 2500, 4000, and 5000 lpm.

A recap in brief:

I worked 10 stations total from all grids. Some of the same stations were worked from multiple grids. K0GU was worked from all four grids.

Portable Equipment set-up:

Yaesu FT290, TE systems amp : 325watts
Cushcraft 13b2 at 22 feet.
Modified Tape Recorder for receiving/playback up to 4000 lpm
CMOS Super Keyer III, homebrew paddles, VOX box interface.
Up-converter for receive audio and XR2206 xmit LO built into keyer box.

Hope to be QRV 6/2 HSCW during June if work doesn't get in the way.


Jim McMasters KM5PO / (ex-KD5BUR) Home QTH: EM23wk

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