The NAQP RTTY Contest

naqp rtty contest
Diving into RTTY contest operation

I spent last Saturday with my friend Rick, WØPC, at his shack. We decided to give the North American QSO Party RTTY contest a go. I’ve never been much of a contester, although I have dabbled a bit here and there. Conceptually, I find the idea of contesting exciting. But, when it’s just me in the basement, after a couple of hours I usually get a little restless and go find something else to do. Also I don’t really know what I’m doing with contests, and find them a bit intimidating.

So when I read about the NAQP RTTY contest, I asked Rick about it. Rick has a group of friends in Nevada that he visits to run the RTTY Roundup. They usually win the NV section, so I figured who better to partner with. We decided to run from his station to take advantage of his hex beam antenna and panadapter on his Elecraft K3 radio.

I had never used RTTY mode before, so I showed up a little early to go through the ins and outs.  WØPC had the N1MM+ contest logging program and MMTTY, a companion RTTY application. These programs made running the contest a breeze: We could tune to signals seen on the panadapter, and then fine tune with the lissajous figure displayed by MMTTY. After that, it was a matter of using the preprogrammed macros to either call or answer a CQ, than another to send the exchange.

The nice thing about RTTY contesting, I discovered, is that I couldn’t hear any pileups beforehand. In SSB contests

naqp rtty
WØPC taking a turn in the chair

I’ve dabbled in previously, I would aften hear a large pileup and keep moving, expecting that I’d never break through. With the RTTY contest, I would occasionally see several operators trying to respond, bur garbled text on the screen doesn’t have the same intimidating effect as a cacophony of call signs in my headset.

We operated continuously for the entire 12 hours, each of us taking it shifts of a couple hours or so. Rick’s YL, Helen, ACØNF, was a gracious hostess as well. She went on a Domino’s run early in the afternoon, and appeared with coffee late in the evening.

By the time midnight rolled around, the team of WØPC and WZØW had logged 261 QSOs and a score somewhere north of 24,000 points (if memory serves). We had a bit of a hiccup getting the Cabrillo file formatted correctly, and the upload site kept giving an error. Rick got it sorted out sometime after I eventually left, though, so it’s all good.

I’m not sure when results will be announced. While some kind of award would be great, I gained a whole lot of experience in one day, and had a lot of radio related fun.


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