P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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At the end, this claimed score is less than 1.5% lower than last year.  The numeric details are also very close.  But, the journey was quite different.

First of all, my sincere thanks to the hundreds of stations who worked P49X this weekend.  You make the contest an exhilarating experience on this end!  It's too bad we all can't know what its like first hand.

I began the contest with one Alpha crippled and only able to run 500 watts.  I kept it on 80 and 15, although I argued with myself about whether the lower power should be there or on the money bands of 40 and 20.  Who knows?  My band breakdown numbers are very close to last year with the largest difference being 100 less QSOs on 15.  But, that can be explained by propagation and subsequent activity level on that band.  I suspect the main disadvantage of 500 vs. 1500 watts was psychological, but I was well aware of that factor and tried hard to minimize it.  As N6BV says, no matter what your station actual capability, you're only as loud as you "think" you are.

For the first time ever, I had catastrophic computer problems during the contest.  Just one hour in, the 40 meter computer froze completely.  This required a hard reset that not only wastes a few minutes, but causes the loss of the carefully developed run frequency on that side.  And, trying to maintain a psence on 80 while renewing the software on the failed computer was challenging and distracting.  It "helped" that at 01z, 80 was not doing much from here so it didn't need 100% of my attention.

Although I got the computer back the network wasn't quite right for some reason and I ran the next eight hours with the two logs unsync'd.  Compounding this issue was the 74 practice QSOs that must have not gotten erased from one of the backup files on one of the three computers ... they integrated into the contest log, inflating the totals and giving me a few non-real dupes for those I had worked on the same band during the practice Thursday night.  Not a big deal, all of this, as I straightened it all out at my 09-13z break.

For the first few hours Saturday morning, then, the computers and network seemed solid as it usually is.  But, once again, right in the middle of the peak rate mid-day, the same computer (20 meters this time) got confused and WriteLog's networking failed.  So, I went the rest of the day until my 19z hour-long break to reset everything again.  Fortunately, for the rest of the contest, the computers and network remained solid.

So, after my three-hour sleep break early Sunday morning (09-14z), I start getting the radios and amps moved from 80/40 to 20/15 and discover the 20-meter Yagi is fatally bad.  The VSWR is infinite; although it seemed to work OK on receive.  Luckily we have a C31 tri-bander on once side of the station, but in this case the wrong side, so I did a bit of rewiring to "move" it to the 20 side where I wanted to run 20 meters (due to the amplifier problem).

That's most of the whining part of the event.  The operating part was a lot of fun as always.  Despite my initial rate being ruined by the computer problem, I rallied on the low bands and actually wound up ahead a bit compared to last year when I took my first break nine hours in.  However, Saturday's rates on 20 and 15 were lower and I fell behind.  This was discouraging, but every year can't always be as good as or better than the prior years.  By Sunday morning's break, with only 2-1/2 hours of operating time left, I was down by 200 QSOs and several hundred points.  The mults seemed be in about the same place.  Last year, Sunday was relatively much slower that Saturday on 20 and 15, so I was expecting to end up significantly behind last year.

Then, 20 and 15 from 1430-1700z Sunday exploded with rate.  Both bands had instant pile-ups (thanks, Packet!) that didn't let up.  It was hard to let go with my contest clock rolled over to 30 hours.  This last ditch spurt got me to only 58 QSOs behind last year and only 165K points lower.  Incredibly, the mults are down by two out of 744, dead on the pdictable trend line of QSOs-per-pfix.

Sunday's rate was the highest (QSO) rate across both years.  Of course, by far the highest point rate is during the first six hours on 80 and 40.  But, this Sunday's experience makes me wonder what 80 and 40 will be like at the end of the 48-hour contest period and whether I should have put my last 2.5 hours there instead.

After I finish breakfast (its 2pm now in Aruba), P43A and I start removing antennas and tower sections in pparation for a complete station rebuild when AE6Y, W6LD and N6BT arrive on Wednesday.  No rest for contest addicts!

Once again, many thanks to station owners Andy, AE6Y, and John, W6LD, for sharing their wonderful "cottage" with me.  And, of course, all the contest participants, especially the more casual ones who make contesting the great sport that it is for us more serious types.


Ed - P49X (W0YK)