P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Great conditions from Aruba this weekend! Much better than expected, yet down compared to last year. I had written off 10 meters, but it was open nicely worldwide for most of the daylight hours. 40 and 80 were noisy with good propagation, though 80 needs more participation in this contest. Not surprisingly, 15 meters was the “money band”, opening to Europe before sunrise and still bringing in European QSOs late in the day while simultaneously running JA and Asia�"amazing.

Similar to 2012, our third team member, Steve K6AW, had to drop out at the last minute due to a work commitment. So, once again doing M2 was essentially a dual single-op affair. We each got a 3-hour sleep break both nights by having the other operator run SO2R. That approach worked well whenever one of us needed a break, but having a third or fourth operator would have been more humane!

We configured three operating positions, each with a K3 and Alpha amp. The K3 was setup as SO2V with both receivers having their own decoder, allowing S&P on the same band while running. Two stations were side by side so that one operator could run both while the other op took a break. While either side could do any of the 5 bands, we generally ran 15/40 on the left and 10/20/80 on the right. The third station behind us was a hot spare and the 10 meter Yagi was manually switched into it for monitoring purposes.

Overall our score after log checking will be down about 10% from 2012, primarily due to the lower QSO total on 10 meters. 80 and 15 were about the same while 40 and 20 were up 150 QSOs each. Total mults were about the same. We felt we operated better this year but we just didn’t have the depth of callers to get the QSO totals higher.

Both 10 and 15 had low signal levels, at times completely inaudible while the MMTTY and 2Tone decoders copied solid. We had to watch the screen carefully�"the headphones were not enough! And, surprising to me, 2Tone (at least this latest version) was not the dominant decoder that it appeared to be earlier this year. MMTTY was just as often the better decoder and a few times the DXP38 copied clearly when the other two had nothing. The primary decoder was 2Tone on both the main and sub receivers with MMTTY and the DXP38 as parallel decoders on the main receivers. Far too often we had to pull information from the MMTTY window. 2Tone was also much slower to decode, causing us to use MMTTY to get the information faster. And, 2Tone frequently missed the Shift character, printing an entire line of unreadable text while MMTTY was perfect. Perhaps this latest 2Tone revision has regressed for the contest conditions we experienced this weekend, but have multiple decoders was essential for us.

Using the sub-receiver to pick off mults while maintaining a run worked excellently with WriteLog and the K3, especially since Packet filled the bandmaps without us having to do the gross tuning and finding stations. However, many of the mult spots were errors where a different station was actually running on the frequency.

Transmitted signal bandwidth, or “key clicks”, is a major problem on the RTTY mode. This is much more apparent now that our own FSK signal is filtered better and much narrower. Other stations are moving in closer and getting into our receive bandwidth more often now. As RTTY contest participation continues to rise, it is imperative that we all get our transmitted bandwidth down as narrow as practical.

There was a larger percentage of stations that were not in Super Check Partial compared to prior contests. And, a significant percentage of the US/VE stations were not in our prefill database, consisting of data from the 2008-2012 P49X WW RTTY logs. Both these observations indicate lots of new participants which is great!

Thanks to all the stations that moved to other bands for us. 100 of you worked us on all 5 bands; 209 on four bands. Preliminary stats are appended below for the analytic types to peruse. Thanks to John W6LD/P40L and Andy AE6Y/P49Y for use of their station.

K3s, Alpha amps
K9AY SO2R 8-way Beverage switchbox
WriteLog, 2Tone, MMTTY, DXP38

10m: 2-element Yagi
15m: 5-element Yagi
20m: 4-element Yagi
40m: 2-element Yagi (“shorty forty”)
80m: dipole
Beverages: 4 directions, single wire, un-terminated


Ed, P49X (W0YK), Glenn, W6OTC