P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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By mid-September it looked like there would be a one-week break in harvest exactly centered on the WW RTTY weekend. I planned to do a single-op as P49X when Glenn, W6OTC, became available and interested in joining me for a multi-op. Moreover, his wife Joan hadn't been to Aruba and asked to come along. That was a no-brainer for me and it turned out far better than I even imagined; Joan prepared and delivered three exquisite meals each day right to our operating positions! In between, there was always a fresh supply of healthy snacks and drinks. Such a luxury I've never experienced during a contest. Now I understand why some people advocate that such dietary support puts single ops into the Assisted category.

With two operators, Multi-Single is the obvious choice over Multi-Two, but we thought it would be more fun for each op to be able to run as much as possible. I also reasoned that it was a simple extension to my original SO2R plan-- we'd just have one op on each radio and now have the opportunity to fully exploit SO2V to keep the bandmap cleared out while running on the same band. Finally, one op could take a break while the other ran SO2R, but now unconstrained by the one-signal-at-a-time rule. The disadvantage, of course, is that we were not capitalizing on the ability to use multiple operators for stamina relief. And, my alertness was further compromised by Joan delivering wine with some of the meals!

This variation of the Multi-Two category was a lot of fun and we are happy with the results as compared to the 4-operator Multi-Two we did last year. Our numbers were nearly identical except for a 500-QSO shortfall on 20 meters, which we believe to be self-inflicted.

Like the 2011 CQ WW RTTY Contest, solar conditions peaked nicely again, though at a lower level. 10 and 15 were open worldwide beyond daylight hours. 20 was relegated to a nighttime-only band along with 40, while 80 meters was a struggle for QSOs, let alone mults. However, we experienced hollow, watery signals for much of Friday night and early Saturday. Signals on all bands were difficult to decode despite having good signal strength.

We fell behind last year's QSO total by 350 on Friday night, then reduced the deficit to 250 when 10 and 15 exploded to life Saturday morning. But, we lost ground again Saturday night on 20 meters. Our run rates plummeted during the last 4 hours when it appeared that participation decreased while signal strengths held. On the other hand, there was no CME event that shut down all bands for 90 minutes like it did on Sunday morning last year.

The second-harmonic from the low end of 40 inhibited copy of weaker 20 meter signals, significantly lowering the rate on 20. In retrospect, we could have operated higher on 40 and decreased the RFI. Also, we unfortunately determined after the contest that the interference was less when we swapped the radio assignments for the two bands. Inter-station RFI abatement remains a top priority for this station. I installed high power bandpass filters on each band but initial measurements don't show the expected improvement. The long term plan is to also add a high power combiner and three StackMatches so that the C31 is available simultaneously on the three high bands with the station's monobanders.

By running only one radio most of the weekend, I had the bandwidth to hone my SO2V skills. It was relatively easy to keep the bandmap worked out at run rates below 100/hour. The priority is to minimize delays on either the run sequencing or in responding to the S&P QSO. And, it is easy to injure yourself by transmitting the wrong message on the other VFO.

Another gratifying aspect of the weekend was the noticeably larger number of quality tail-enders. I'm not referring to endless callers while a QSO is in progress, but rather the careful timing of a single instance of a callsign. And, this worked nicely in both directions. That is, there were several stations who picked up my tail-end and worked me next without the CQ/pileup phase and without missing a beat. One that comes to mind is WA5ZUP. Those were a lot of fun.

I hope more people are catching on that I try to work callers in the order that they first appear. When I sense there may be more than one caller to my CQ, I hesitate just a bit after getting the first callsign, in order to see if I can get more callsigns. The record this weekend was a 6-deep stack. 1- and 2-deep instances were common. Eliminating all those CQ/pileup cycles really speeds things up.

The Elecraft PR10 10-meter preamps were invaluable. They enabled us to decode extremely weak signals on a very quiet band.

Thanks again to all the participants, especially those who worked us and we greatly appreciate the band-moves! Also to John, P40L (W6LD), and Andy, P49Y (AE6Y,) for use of the cottage station. Special thanks to our live-in gourmet chef, Joan Vinson. The pre-contest log of 1300 QSOs will be on LotW tomorrow and the contest log on 16 October.


Ed, P49X (W0YK), Glenn, W6OTC