P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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This was a blast ... never a dull moment.  The calls just kept coming.  Is there anyone left who is NOT on RTTY these days?  Of course having the country to myself and being located in a superb location was a wonderful opportunity.  Jacky, P43P, has been busy with work and family and just wasn't able to get prepared and devote the weekend to the contest this year.  My sincere thanks to all of you who called in, many on four bands.  The growing community of RTTY contesters is what makes this all work.  The thought occurred to me several times during the weekend, "What if all these stations calling me just didn't show up?"   Would have been lonely down here in Aruba.

I arrived on Monday and spent the week reconfiguring the station for RTTY and working out the inevitable problems that come up.  I only worked about 600 stations on 80-10 RTTY as a means of checking out the station.  I had planned to do some WARC and 160 RTTY prior to the contest, but that had to be postponed until the Monday/Tuesday following.  I brought three identical wireless laptops down here, one each for the two rigs and one for email/Internet and as a back-up.  (If you plan for a back-up, you'll never need it.)  Well, the computers couldn't see each other's file system over the network.  Small baffling issue with XP permissions and other security delights.  That took a day to stumble through.  Then, there was hum on my headphone audio and RFI between the rigs on some band combinations.  The band pass filtering and coax stubs didn't seem to have any positive or negative effect on this particular problem.  I got everything solved except the RFI and apparently the signals were strong enough to overcome it in most cases.  At least I had plenty of stations I could hear and work.

Last year my first hour rate was 161, so when I fumbled through the first hour on Saturday with 140, it didn't look good.  But, I quickly found my feet and got centered into the motions of playing the two keyboards no matter what was thrown at me.  Occasionally I'd get myself (somewhat comically, I must say) confused and gridlocked with the operator on the other side of the QSO wondering what was going on.  And, unlike last year and most contests the rate really didn't drop off much.  I was at 1341 when I knocked off at 04Z (1am local) and got nearly that much more on Sunday.  There was a lull about three hours before the end and I figured it was all over.  That only lasted a few minutes before I was once again struggling to keep up with the incoming stream of callers.

I never moved the bandswitch to 10 meters although I'm sure there was some minimal propagation from this location.  But, I would only have lost ground by leaving 15 or 20 which were always producing high rates.  An incremental mult was worth 21-22 contacts.  And I was in the enviable position of being the sole station available for the P4 mult, so many came to me, even if they were rare themselves.  Still, I missed a lot of mults.  I heard some deep Russians, and I know a number of Oceanic and Asian mults I could have gotten, but didn't want to break either of my parallel runs to chase them.

I used two 756ProII's this year and they are wonderful RTTY radios, although it was the first time I had seen or operated them.  Each rig setup was an exact duplicate with its own laptop running WriteLog and networked together along with the email computer.  Separate keyboards and displays are used on each computer.  This really challenges the operating position layout, but I managed without getting any ergonomic injuries during the weekend.  FSK was keyed using a homebrew cable from the laptop to the rig with the level shifting transistors installed in the RS-232 connector hood.  The RX audio chain consisted of a NIR-12 filter isolated from the decoders with a W2IHY iBox.  The Hal DXP38 TNC was fed in parallel with the sound card line input on the laptop.  MMTTY was the main decoder and did the TX keying.  The DXP38 was set up in a "cloned" Rttyrite window in WriteLog.

During this RU, I noticed a few occasions where the decoding difference between the DXP38 and MMTTY was dramatic.  Most of the time they yield identical results of course, but a couple times one or the other copied nearly perfect while the other had nothing recognizable at all.  Once case I recall was early Sunday morning on 40 meters where the JAs were not registering on MMTTY and the DXP38 was spitting out the call signs easily.  Normally, I also run 2-3 additional MMTTY cloned Rttyrite windows, each with a different profile (flutter, multi-path, etc.) in hopes that with marginal copy at least one of them will give me a hint of what is being received.  However, I noticed just before the contest that any of these open MMTTY windows, including the main one, would lose AGC on the display which would go into overdrive.  I fiddled with all the windows and could sometimes fix the problem and then have it show up in another one.  So, I fell back to just one MMTTY window for reliability in the contest.

There are three towers here that support: 2-el 40 and 4-el 20 on a common boom; 4-el 15 and 4-el 10 on a common boom (with a 4-el 6 several feet above); and a C31XR

From the 20/40 tower are suspended two inverted-V's for 80 and 160.  There are three Beverages: US-west, US-east and Europe.  Their biggest benefit is separating the pileups by region as the US directions effectively null out Europe and vice versa.  An old Ameco pre-amp was used with a simple coax switch duct-taped to a side table.

Both stations are automatically bandswitched in a typical fashion.  A SixPak is used for antenna switching and a StackMatch can bring in the C31 on the left radio.  ICE 419A bandpass filters and coax stubs provide RFI suppression between the radios.  Linears are the Alpha 86 and 87A.

Thanks to my contest club (NCCC) buddies John, W6LD/P40L, and Andy, AE6Y/P49Y, for the use of their excellent station here in the pleasant isle of Aruba.  They also took a personal interest in helping me think through some of the troubleshooting as I configured the station for this contest and then provided cheerleading for the event.  Also, a big thank you to Don, AA5AU, for his wonderful help and friendship as I learn my my way through the world of RTTY contesting.


Ed - P49X