P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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This claimed score falls short of my log-checked score from 2007 that set a new world SO HP record.  So, if the record is broken again this year, it won’t be P49X.  My QSO and multiplier totals were both disappointing.

It was clear from my 2007 RTTY Round-Up experience that achieving 3000 log-checked contacts is quite doable.  This year, for the first time, I did have the faint satisfaction of handing out serial number 3002, but that corresponds to an actual duped QSO total of 2936 which will undoubtedly be lowered further after log-checking.  But, even with current solar conditions, the ever-increasing number of Round-Up participants provides locations like Aruba the opportunity to exceed 3000 contacts.  The return of 10 meters and hopefully larger participation in the future will significantly improve this opportunity further.  Who knows how far it can go, though?  Just three years ago, P43P broke the 2000 QSO barrier for the first time and already this year at least two US/VE 3830 postings have over 2000 contacts.

I take full responsibility, of course, for failing to exploit the QSO opportunity this year.  I trailed my 2007 rate from the starting bell and clawed my way toward the cross-over point in the 19Z hour Sunday when the QSO totals of the two years coincided.  My highest clock-hour rate was the second hour at 186, down from my highs of 193 and 190 respectively in the first two hours of 2007.  On the plus side, though, the Sunday rates were outstanding this year, keeping full pace with Saturday rates.  RTTY Round-Up is truly a 24-hour rate-fest and quite a contrast to the November Sweepstakes from Northern California with its Sunday doldrums!

Ten less multipliers showed up in this year’s log.  I missed Alaska and Newfoundland, and of course the three elusive Northern Canadian provinces.  I did hear a few mults that I missed, e.g., CT9 and LU, but never heard Oceania mults, not even ZL or VK.  In my one hour early morning stint on 40 and 80 that should net Oceania mults, I found none, but surprisingly had a few new European mults call in.  I called ZX2B for a few minutes to no avail, but fortunately he called in to me later as did another PY.  On the plus side, there were a few more African mults that called in (TR, CN, ZS, etc.) and particularly pleasing were the two VU’s that were amazingly strong, both on 40 meters.   With my ratio of 24 QSOs/mult and an average QSO rate of over 2/minute it doesn’t pay to abandon one of my two run frequencies to search around for mults.  Especially considering that many mults don’t CQ, but instead answer running stations like my own.  One of the best ways to collect multipliers is having a run presence on the bands.  However, in the future, I plan to set-up a separate RTTY decoder on the built-in second receiver in each radio to be able to search my run bands for needed mults.  Then, it is easy enough to interleave grabbing these missing mults with running.

Speaking of run frequencies, when I started into my last operating session at 1330Z Sunday, I found the needed NS mult with VE9DX auto-CQing on 14108.  Andy was loud here and only getting a response to one of every ten CQs.  I called and called but he just CQ’d back to me!  However, he ultimately gave me something just as valuable when he got bored and left the frequency.  A couple stations then called me for a contact and so the only gracious thing to do was take over the frequency which I held for the next eight hours.  Thanks, Andy!  (It was a great frequency, nicely cleared out with your early morning CQing and a bit removed from the crowded alley down around ‘85.)  You never did come back to work me there, but did find me Sunday evening on 40 and fortunately VE9GJ called in on 15 and 20 during the day.

I didn’t feel “in the groove” until mid-morning Sunday when the rates began exceeding most of the Saturday rates.  It then seemed possible that I might close the gap with my prior year’s cumulative QSO total.  I even hoped that I might exceed 3000 far enough to clear log-checking, but that was not to be.  Once 15 dropped off Sunday evening and I went to 40, I just couldn’t sustain 130/hour rates.  40 was great, though, with European signals extremely strong.  Too bad there weren’t more of them operating.  Although, there seemed to be an endless supply of IK3 stations.

My Saturday troubles were part psychological and part station.  I was bummed at not being able to get an initial clock-hour-rate exceeding 200.  In fact, since it was significantly lower than 2007, this portended the strong potential for a lower QSO total overall.  I ran until 1:30am local time, 80 minutes past my 2007 break time, yet had 80 fewer contacts in the log.  Then, there were the station problems.  In the third hour, the ‘A’ side of the station, which was on 15 meters at the time, suddenly had an infinite SWR.  Bummer!  We’d had the 15-meter Yagi feedline open up during CQWW WPX CW last May, so I figured the wind had returned that problem to me.  Since it was about time to move from 15 to 40, I cleverly decided that was the thing to do since my rhythm was interrupted anyway on that radio.  Punch the 40 meter button on the ProII and that side instantly is on 40.  Find a clear frequency around 7050, drop my call sign in and ... Oops!  Same problem.  Oh crap!  I’ve got more than a rhythm problem now.  I need to be running 180/hour on 20 and 40 but apparently one half of the SixPak or its cabling is broken.  As a “single-op”, I now must stop operating entirely for a few minutes of down time to move the 40 meter coax from the SixPak and put it directly on the Alpha.  OK, get going again and later move the ‘B’ side from 20 to 80.  In the back of my mind, I’m already planning what, if anything, I can/should do on my official break to deal with this equipment problem for the remainder of the contest.

Then ... the room goes dark and my first thought is, great, a power failure and there’s no back-up generator.  But, wait; I’m still working stations even though it is too dark to see the keyboard keys.  Oh, OK, just a simple matter of the room light.  Could be a fuse, could be the light bulb.  But, there’s no other light source in the room at the time, so another unscheduled interruption of prime time in necessary to get find some light.  So, I once again left both run frequencies to find a lamp, and by the way, take a quick bathroom break since my rising anxiety was not conducive to holding my bladder.  My already lower QSO rate kept dropping as these events unfolded and I took my first break significantly behind last year’s QSO total.  Needless to say, I was not in the same euphoric state-of-mind at this time compared to prior years.  OK, well decades of Sweepstakes experience served me well, because I know how to suck it up and tough out Sunday.  I vowed to extract every possible QSO from the bands during the remainder of the contest period.

Sunday was a much better day.  During my break, I rewired the station during to get around the problem on the ‘A’ side, and did some cursory troubleshooting.  I thought I was beginning to zero in on the problem, when all of a sudden it disappeared entirely, never to return again during the contest.  While I was still skittish about the ‘A’ side, it still felt good to have everything working.  Then, the rate instantly went to 150/hour from the first CQ in the morning and didn’t drop off until 15 died and I moved to 40 for the last two hours.  I still had 13 minutes of off-time to take at the end because my two breaks had already been used.  I wanted this anyway because the last two hours have been the slowest historically.  As soon as my on-time hit 24:00 hours, I stopped transmitting.

So, the best part of contests is operating, not the results.  ARRL RTTY Round-Up is a ton of fun to operate, especially as P49X.  You folks gave me a heck of a workout and provided enough QSO arrival rate to challenge my skills to capitalize on it.  Thanks too for seeking me out on other bands even after you already had the P4 multiplier.  I usually announce my other run frequency if we haven’t worked there and a number of you went there within the minute.  There were also a large portion of you who got the sweep of all four bands.  Finally, there were a few DX stations gave me serial #1 on Saturday and #2 and #3 on Sunday, obviously casual ops chasing P4 on RTTY.  All this adds up to a fun time for me.  Again, thanks to everyone.


Ed - P49X (W0YK)