AA5AU Contest Notes – 2004 SCC RTTY Championship

The SCC RTTY Championship was held August 28 & 29, 2004.  Coming just one week after SARTG, this contest lacks the activity needed to sustain a full effort for me.  Back-to-back RTTY contests are usually not fun for me and this is no exception when it comes to the SCC RTTY Championship.  After a full-time effort in SARTG last weekend, I decided on only a limited effort in the SCC test and put in about 10 hours.

The contest started with the flux at 91, A index at 6 and the K at 3.  The K would later drop to 2 and conditions overall appeared better than SARTG the previous weekend.  The path to EU from Louisiana was actually more sustained (barely) on 15 meters this weekend and even though I made only 19 QSO’s there, I feel the band was better.  But all-in-all, conditions were poor on all bands except 40 meters.  20 meters closed at night and 80 was too noisy to work with local thunderstorms creating major static crashes.   Because of the QRN, 40 was tough too, but signals were good.  I even worked YB0ECT early Sunday morning before my sunrise on 40 and this may be the first time for me to work YB on 40 RTTY.  Also just before sunrise on Sunday (around 1050Z), I tried moving VK6HD from 40 to 80 meters.  I called and called on 3580 kHz, but I never heard Mike.  Later Mike would E-mail to say I was 449, but my antenna is just not very good for weak signal reception.  It makes me more aware that I need a put up a beverage antenna for 80.

The SCC Championship can be a fun contest, no doubt.  Multipliers are “years licensed” and it’s interesting to see when your fellow competitors first became licensed amateurs.  Because of the uniqueness of multipliers in this contest, this contest should be approached as a “rate” contest and a different state of mind is required.  For example, this weekend I came across Claude XU7ABN, but because he wasn’t a multiplier, I decided to pass on the pileup after just a few tries.  So there is no real motivation for working a rare station (XU is a difficult path from my part of the world) and for me, that takes some of the fun away from this event.

There were several debates on the RTTY Reflector before this contest related to the harsh rules.  For one, Single Operator Low and High power stations are limited to 10 band changes per full clock hour.  Who needs that?  In the past, this was enough to keep people from participating, but this year SCC added an “Assisted” Single Op category with unlimited band changes and use of spotting assistance.  I applaud the SCC for this move but it appears it wasn’t enough to bring back those that have stayed away in the past.  Also, to be eligible for a plaque, the frequency of each contact has to be in the log, instead of just the band.  This is not a big deal, but it does cause a hardship to some operators who don’t own or use contest software connected to radio control.  One can only guess that those with stations capable of going for the win and getting a plaque have the necessary means of recording the frequency of each contact, but still it’s a rule that seems inane.

From reading the Soapbox after the contest, it appears there was good activity out of Europe.  Some Europeans posted nice scores and I even read some that said there was good activity from Japan.  Well, I never saw that here.  Europe was OK on 20 and 40 meters, but signals from Japan were non-existent on 20 meters and there were only a handful on 40 Sunday morning.

The main objective of the contest for me was to re-test the microHAM USB micro KEYER (also referred as the “mk”).  In SARTG, I had a few “lock-ups” while transmitting on 40 meters when RF got into the USB cable that connects the mk to the PC even though I was running low power.  So before this weekend’s contest, I installed a #77 ferrite toroid on the USB cable at the PC by wrapping 6 turns of the cable around the toroid.  And even though I did make some contacts on the “B” station, I eventually shut it off and worked most of the contest on the “A” station with the Icom IC-PW1 blasting away a full KW out.  I made 50 QSO’s on 40 meters and transmitted countless CQ’s at full power and did not have one single lock-up.

In my honest opinion, if I owned a PC that was lacking COM ports, I would buy a USB micro KEYER.  It’s a solid product.  I give it my highest rating of 5 stars even though I’ve not yet tested the audio switching for SSB yet.


It’s a shame the SCC RTTY Championship has to be held just one week after a long-standing “major” contest like SARTG because I believe this greatly hurts world-wide participation in this event.  Another issue I have with this contest is the band-change limits for single ops.  This also hurts participation.  Band change rules for single ops is plain stupid, even with having an “assisted” category.  There is no incentive for single ops to spend time on a slow band if they risk the possibility of getting “stuck” there.  This stifles activity on the slower bands like 10 (in the lower part of the sunspot cycle – like now) and 80 meters.  As you can see, I had no contacts on 10 or 80 meters.  It wasn’t because I didn’t try, it’s because there was no one there.  And that’s a pity.  Until the SCC decides to move the contest to a more appropriate weekend and get rid of the band-change limits for Single Ops, this event will remain just another mediocre contest.

                    SCC RTTY Championship

Call: AA5AU
Operator(s): AA5AU
Station: AA5AU

Class: SOAB(A) HP
Operating Time (hrs): 10
Radios: SO2R

Band  QSOs  Pts  Mults
80:    0    0     0
40:   50  123   32
20:  121  301   53
15:   19   53    16
10:    0    0     0
Total:  190  477   101  Total Score = 48,177

Station A:
Icom IC-775DSP transceiver
Icom IC-PW1 amplifier running 1000 watts output
JPS NIR-12 Dual DSP audio filter
Dell 2.66 GHz Pentium 4 running WriteLog for Windows under Windows XP Pro
microHAM USB micro KEYER for radio control and FSK transmission
MMTTY Plug-in for WriteLog in the main Rttyrite window
HAL DXP-38 in a cloned Rttyrite window for receive only
DXTelnet 5.1

Station B:
Kenwood TS-870 transceiver
Ameritron AL-80B amplifier running 500 watts output
JPS NIR-12 Dual DSP audio filter
HP Pavilion 200 MHz Pentium I running WriteLog for Windows under Windows 98se
MMTTY Plug-in for WriteLog in the main Rttyrite window
HAL DXP-38 in a cloned Rttyrite window for receive only

Cushcraft A3S triband yagi with 40M add-on kit @ 62′ controlled by a Yaesu SDX-800 rotor
Cushcraft A3S triband yagi @ 55′ controlled by a Yaesu SDX-800 rotor
80 meter inverted vee with apex at 60′