P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Callsign Used:




Andrew L. Faber, AE6Y, P49Y
6/5/10  (pub. ver.)

Wednesday, May 26 - Thursday, May 27, 2010.  My usual redeye to Miami, AA 272, leaving  SFO now leaves at 11:55 p.m. and gets in at 8:15 a.m.  AA 1047 to Aruba was slightly delayed, but arrived at around 2:30 p.m.  Picked up a Hertz rental car (a Nissan “Amphera”, akin to a Sentra in the U.S., which was much more satisfactory than the junky Chevy Aveo they gave me in March).  The weather on approach looked gloomy, and sure enough, it was actually raining upon arrival – the first time I’ve ever encountered rain upon arrival in all my trips.  This could turn out to be very positive, as rain will wash off the power lines, which lessens the noise we usually have in May after a long dry spell [this was the result, happily]. 

One day before I left, Eric, WA6HHQ, one of the owners of Elecraft, had called to say that they had just finished a P3 bandscope that I could borrow for the weekend for the contest as an adjunct to the K3.  In Visalia, Eric had been confident of its availability, but two weeks ago had  demurred due to parts problems (general shipping is to occur July 15).  But he called on Tuesday, and I drove in the rain that night to his house in Aptos to pick it up.  I tried it out briefly at home and emailed Wayne and the designer, Alan, N1AL,with some ideas.  Then Wayne emailed me that Alan had found a bug in the evolving firmware and to be sure to download the P3 Utility to update it.  [Alan did in fact send new firmware Friday afternoon, but I couldn’t load it due to the power failure –  see Soapbox.]

I brought it down in the computer bag, with the K3 in the backpack.  As usual, the K3 and Begali paddle caused some consternation at the TSA in SFO (but none for the K3 in Aruba upon departure). 

First job at the house was to take some pictures of the bedrooms with neatly made beds (after criticism from P43E and K6VVA over the existing picture) for the website.  The place looked great.  My secretary, Carol, and her family had been there last week and had apparently left things in good shape, and Chris had done her usual careful cleaning. 

I hooked everything up as quickly as possible, with the K3/P3 replacing the FT1000D in the left operating position, and checked all the antennas.  They all seemed to work, and I didn't bother with hooking up the 160m dipole in the cunucu, as I didn't plan to operate that band in the contest.  All four beverages, amazingly, continued to function. After hooking up the computer and plugging in our "Frostholm" internet router and modem, it was only 4:45 p.m., so I trucked off to Ling and Sons in Oranjestad for some shopping.  Spent less than $60 this time due to the short stay, not counting the bottle of Frangelica that I sampled that night and later donated to Joop and Yvonne to experiment with.  Back home, there were EU signals on 10 meters (!) and I worked one or two.  I couldn’t resist going off for a run at Savaneta, finishing about 7:15.  It wasn’t quite dark at that hour.  I always think of sundown as being at 6:30 or so, but I guess that’s the winter condition.  Being at 11 degrees north latitude, there is some lengthening of  the days in summer. 

Dinner was a large spicy Italian sandwich from Subway.  I hooked up the computer to the radios, and verified that CQPWIN, ver. 12, was working OK with them.  All connections are from one USB port on the laptop to the 4-port Compaq expander, then (1) to the 2-serial port box, with serial ports to the K3 and the Pro 2 on Com4 and Com5 (actually, the computer goes to the P3.  It then passes the commands to and from the K3 via its connection to the RS232 port of the K3.  Note the need to set the baud rate on the P3 to match the computer), (2) to PS2 connector to keyboard and mouse, (3) to cable with two serial ports, one of which is used for R1/R2 selector, after being set to Com8, (4) to Winkey on Com6, which also has PTT cable attached to DXDoubler (not sure if it was really needed as I used VOX in the whole contest).  Amazingly, it all seemed to work. 

Friday, May 28, 2010.  My only real night’s sleep of the trip, soundly until about 8 a.m., then made some excellent coffee (a chi-chi European brand presumably left by Carol’s son-in-law Ari).  I worked a few dozen guys on 20 CW just to remember how to do it, then it was off to my usual breakfast haunt, the Hyatt hotel.  On the way back, I stopped in to the Toyota dealership and chatted with JP for a while in his nice Service Manager’s office, also giving him some parts that I had bought for him from Mouser and Yaesu. Then to their house to visit with Chris, who was somewhat discomfited in the heat and humidity (the Hertz lady called last week a “heat rage”), and a stop at Lisandro’s and Lissette’s to leave some requested parts for the repeater.

Back at the house for an email and vmail check, then I decided to go for a run, finishing at about 4 p.m. and stopping by McD in Santa Cruz for a double quarter pounder with cheese that I brought back to the house for the late afternoon meal.  Running on a hot day before a contest is a great way to bleed off some nervous energy.  It was so hot that no dogs were energetic enough to defend their usual turfs, but I actually felt good and made the run in 45 seconds less time than yesterday. 

I puttered around, putting out some contest sweets and junk food after taking a shower and shave, then tried to take a nap.  But as I was dozing, my partly-active brain was noticing some odd sounds coming from different parts of the house, and managed to make the connection that the power had gone out!  This happened at about 6 p.m., two hours before the start of the contest.  The only time I’ve ever experienced a power failure before (not during a contest), it lasted for about an hour and a half, so I was hopeful it would be restored soon.  I went outside, and Ester and James next door said it may affect the whole island, which didn’t sound good at all.

I vaguely considered calling Lisandro or JP to ask about a generator, or even possibly operating from Joop’s, but I didn’t want to inconvenience them, and if it really was a major problem, there would be more legitimate needs for power than mine.  Plus, I expected it to come back on any minute.  So I read outside till dark, then lit two candles from the kitchen and set them up.  Fortunately we have two good flashlights, the small blue one in the kitchen drawer and the yellow lantern light in the radio room (and I’m glad that I have bought batteries for them from time to time).  I sat around and eventually decided to try to get some sleep.  Of course I was not at all sleepy, but I did manage to doze off until awakened at 0656Z (that’s just before 3 a.m. local time) by the returning lights.  I was tired and miserable, but there was nothing to do but get everything hooked back up (I had unplugged all the electronics for fear of power spikes) and get started.  Instead of taking most of Sunday off, I now had no choice of off times, and would have to operate more or less straight through until early some time Sunday morning, then take about five hours off and resume until the end of the contest.

CQ WPX CW Contest Saturday, May 29 - Sunday, May 30, 2010 – Contest notes more or less as dictated during the contest. Start out on 40 at 0715Z and stay there with some forays to 80 in the 0800 and 0900 hours.  It’s just about only NA, as the band has closed to EU except to the far west of the continent.  I start hearing some EU on 20 at about 1000Z, first, of course the big stations like DR1A and S50K, also S50R on 15 at 1028Z.  At 1136Z things are slowing way down on 40 I am going to take a brief break with 361 QSOs in the log by 108 prefixes for 375k points.

Switch the run radio to 20 at 1215Z.  On 20 now at 1300Z and having trouble staying awake.  Getting a steady rate of 75-100 per hour all US, no EU yet.  This would be a great time to take some off time to wait for EU to get stronger, but I can’t do that because of the forced seven hours of off time earlier.  There are a few sigs on 10 – just worked P33W (he gave me number 1946 to my 528!) in Cyprus at 1353Z and AO3T in Spain right after.  On 14052 until 1440Z, with some forays to 10 on the second radio.  Due to missing the EUs on 40 last night, the prefix count is well below expected: at 1421Z I'm at 569/234 for 628k points.  I'm using the C31pointed NW to the US.  There's S50A on the same frequency, much stronger on the 20m yagi pointed NE, but using the C31 I can coexist with him with no trouble, and our two pileups don't interfere with each other. 

There are some strong signals on 10; WN1GIV [he was a beacon on 10 for hours, turns out he was in FL] and N8OO have strong signals.  The P3's measured noise level on 10 is about -153dbM, versus -140 to -145 on 20.  I work about 10 guys on 10, but then at 1500Z switch to 15 after working V26E on that band and listening to him seeming to have a good rate. I keep thinking 10 is on the verge of opening up with a bang, but it's never very productive in the whole contest [the overall hourly rate on 10 turns out to be a measly 65 QSOs per hour, same as on 80, and significantly lower than on the other bands.]  So since multipliers only count once in the contest, not per band, there is no reason to linger on 10 if the rates are better on 15.  

A milestone at 1658Z, finally 1M points.  In 9 hours and 43 minutes of operating time, I'm at 34/156/243/287/67 (10-80)with 303 mults.  The 1600Z hour is my first over 100 QSOs [101 -- note that in 2006 when I operated this contest LP on drugs due to a wrenched back and did very little real SO2R work, I had no hours over 100.  Here by contrast, I have six, with the best being the 2200Z hour exclusively on 20].  At 1702Z I work a fairly loud YT2T in Serbia on 10 so decide to try running on that band.  The EU run lasts about an hour on 10, then it's mostly back to the US.  I'm CQing on 10 at 1828Z, but having trouble on  20: I hear EUs quite clearly on the second radio with S5 or so signals, but they don't hear me. I suspect it's because I have both lower power and a lower noise level than they do, both of which make it look misleadingly like one-way propagation. 

It's now 2127Z and a great mostly-EU run that I've had on 15 for the past two hours has come to an abrupt end after about 200 contacts. My strategy has been to go for the highest rates, but try to maximize EUs to up the prefix count.  It's been working; e.g., in the 1900Z and 2000Z hours I get 99 new prefixes, virtually all EUs.  

At 2135Z, an 11-minute break for some food, at 1198/474 for 2.15M points.  20 is choc-a-bloc with signals, so it's time to run there for a while.  Although crowded, this frequency remains clear, thanks in part to the wonderful ability of the K3 to find narrow holes and insulate you from the adjacent clutter.  The 2200Z hour is my best of the contest, 122 QSOs all on 14060, and mostly EUs. 

Decide to move to 40 at 2317Z.  Though 20 is still full of signals with a good rate, it sounds like 40 is also open to EU, and I'm sure the rate will be at least half as good as on 20, which will make it more productive in points per hour.   Curiously, there are many more EU Russians than on the higher bands.   I had wondered where they were, as there is a wonderful profusion of R and U available.  RW2F opens up on my freq of 7047 and I can't believe that I successfully chase him away.  At the halfway point of the contest for me with 18 hours operating time at 0115Z, I'm at 1553/596 for 3.6M points.  Band totals are 185/414/429/458/67. 

Well, it's 02555Z and I've been having a wonderful run on 7047.  My 40m rate is 89 QSOs/hour, second only to the rate of  95 on 15.  I decide to take a 10-minute food break then try 80 again, which sounds pretty good on the second radio.  I do get some answers on 80, but it's pretty noisy and I seem to have better luck working the second radio on 40, so I head back there at 0427Z.  Throughout the contest, I'm trying to avoid making S&P sweeps on any band, but instead tuning a band on the second radio while CQing on the first radio.  In all cases, I use the K3 as the run radio and the Pro2 as the second radio.   Fortunately a second band is available during most of the contest. 

It's now 0652Z, almost 3 a.m. local time, and I've been on the air for 23 hours and 34 minutes.  I was planning to stay on for another two hours or so, but I seem to be running out of guys to work, and I'm falling asleep so I guess I'll take some serious off time.  Current totals are 1928/686 for 5.6M points.  To operate for 36 hours, I'll have to resume at 1130Z (7:30 a.m. local time).  Unfortunately, if past experience is any guide, that will be during the usual Sunday morning Caribbean doldrums, but I don't have any choice in the matter. This also means that I won't get more than 3 1/2 to 4 hours of sleep, but that can't be helped. 

At 7:30 a.m., I'm ready to rejoin the fray.  Woke up feeling miserable, had some coffee and cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, sent a quick email to John and Ed telling them about the power failure, and it's back to work.  Not looking forward to the next few hours.  It's now 1300Z and very boring on 20.  No second radio opportunities as signals are too weak on 15.  But you never know: at 1308Z, I work 4L0A easily on the first try  on the second radio on 15, then six minutes later, G6PZ on 10!  I think there is an EU on my run frequency of 14051, as I hear P33W working him and giving him a number in the 4300s, wow.  I try CQing on 10 but give up after three more QSO, all with the US.  If I can work G6PZ, where are the other EUs?

AT 1901Z, I now have five hours of operating time left.  I just crossed 7M points.  I've been running on 15 at a fairly slow rate, increasing in spurts probably due to packet spots, and picking off a number of second radio Qs mostly on 20 with a few on 10.  Start an excellent 20m run on 14021 at 1934Z and reel off 311 QSOs (the initial pile-up lasts for over an hour) in the next three hours before deciding to run out the contest on 40 -- again assuming that the rate in points per hour will be better there, even though I'm doing well on 20.  Last hour on 40 is at an 88 rate, so it's very pleasurable [in fact my last four clock hours on 20/40 are 102, 102, 89, and 88 -- psychologically making up for the four hours from 13Z to 17Z, when the rates were 55, 47, 41, and 49.]  I finally pass 9M points about 10 minutes before the end, thanks in part to a second radio Q on 20 of NJ3K for a new prefix (at this point, each contact on 40 with a new prefix yields about 12,000 points). 

Afterwards, I take out the K3 and pack up the P3 with our 12 volt antenna test battery to take over to Joop's so I can show him (and JP, if he's there) what it looks like turned on. 

It's a very pleasant low-key post-contest dinner, sitting outside with Joop, Yvonne and Lisandro, eating a very nice salad/meat dish made by Yvonne, which is much appreciated after all the junk food ingested in the contest.  We also started on the bottle of Frangelica that I brought over as a present.  Back to the house at about 11 p.m.,  put the newly-fixed Pro2 back in as the left radio, and pack up all my gear.  I notice that the 10/15 ant can't be rotated, though it worked a few days ago, and leave a note asking JP to look into it. 

Soapbox, as sent to 3830 reflector: 

CQWW WPX Contest, CW

Call: P49Y
Operator(s): AE6Y
Station: P49Y

Class: SOAB LP
QTH: Aruba
Operating Time (hrs): 36
Radios: SO2R

Band  QSOs
80:  111
40:  889
20:  935
15:  585
10:  216
Total: 2736  Prefixes = 821  Total Score = 9,073,692

Club: Northern California Contest Club


This was a very quick trip to the P40L-P49Y station, as my co-owner John, W6LD, had dibs on this contest (since I had done SSB), but offered it to me due to family commitments.  So I flew down overnight on Weds, and back the first thing Monday morning -- about as quick as it's possible to do such a trip without going crazy.

But everything had been left working in March, and fortunately still was including the extra Pro2 that I was bringing back, repaired by Icom, to the shack).  All antennas seemed to be fine, and I even had a pre-production Elecraft P3 spectrum bandscope that Eric, WA6HHQ, and Wayne, N6KR, had managed to scare up to have tested in battle conditions.

Speaking of battle, part-time Aruban Scott (P40Q, P40N, and K0DQ) says the first casualty of war is the plan, and that was sure true this weekend.  I've been reading some discussions in these posts about optimum off time strategy, but it's usually very straightforward in the Caribbean.  It's best to work at full speed from the start of the contest until some time Sunday morning when things really slow down, then take off a large block of time.

And that was my plan.  However, the unheard of happened on Aruba – Friday evening at 2200Z, two hours before the start of the contest, the power went off on the whole island!  According to Lisandro, P43L, there was a transformer malfunction at the main plant, and they gradually restored power in different areas (of course, we put the blame on Joop, P43JB, who used to run the electric system, but he claimed to be blameless due to retirement).

So there I am sitting in the dark by candle light ready to start the contest not having a clue other than the knowledge that this is a big outage, not just a localized event.  In all the contests we've done from Aruba, we've never lost a minute due to a power problem.  Lisandro suggests that had I been more resourceful I could have powered the station from my rental car.  This may be true, but, of course, I assumed it would come back on any minute.  So eventually I tried to get some sleep while I waited.  Of course, I wasn't really sleepy, but had eventually drifted off when the lights came back on at 0705Z!  I had missed more than seven hours of prime time!   What a mess.

So the new plan was to push as hard as possible, which would unfortunately require working through the normal Sunday morning doldrums (roughly 1100Z to 1700Z or so). It also meant doing as much second-radio work as I could, to get QSOs, not just mults.  I had expected to concentrate on 40 both nights for the added points, but had lost most of the first night.

As you can imagine, it was pretty odd at 0715Z to give contact number one to a surprised KR7X, who responded with number 658.  Ouch!  And at that hour 40 was closed to EU, so the prefix count started out low since all to be worked for several hours were NA, with a smattering of EU on 20 on the second radio.  (Interestingly, I hate to point out to my NCCC West Coast brethren who are complaining of a lack of EU, that 20 remained open to EU virtually round the clock from P4.) 

There were two general bright spots:

1)  It had rained for two days, so the power lines had been washed clean of the gunk that accumulates in dry spells and causes arcing noise.  We have often had high noise levels from local sources and thunderstorms over nearby YV-land during this contest, but this time the general noise level, both atmospheric and man-made, was very low for the whole contest.

2)  The K3/P3 combo performed great.  The K3 is so good as a CW run radio with its excellent selectivity that you can feel that you are in a "hole" during a run with no idea of general signal levels prevalent on the band (unless you are saddled with someone's key clicks in the passband), but now with the P3, you can see the other signals and get a good picture of what's going on in the neighborhood.  Thanks to Wayne and Eric, the owners, to Brian, who built it, and most of all to Alan, N1AL, the P3 designer.  Great job guys!  It's still a work in process; in fact, Alan even emailed me new firmware Friday that I saw in the dark on my iPhone, but had no way to download (and didn't want to mess with once the power returned).  But I have no doubt that it's going to be an essential accessory to all K3-owning contesters.

3) Thanks to the K3, I had virtually no interference problems for the entire time, and never had to give up a run due to QRM.  The occasional stations who opened up on top of me did QSY upon request (spasibo to RW2F on 40, who I was sure would just crush me, but instead did move!).  This contest is so much easier on your brain, if you can stay awake, than the constant cacophony of the phone version of WPX.

Social life was heavily curtailed by the short schedule, but I did manage to visit with JP, P43A, in his Toyota dealership (he's service manager); Chris, P43C, at home, and Joop and Yvonne very kindly hosted a small get-together after the contest for Lisandro and me.  Thanks for the home cooking, Yvonne, which is so appreciated after a weekend of junk food. Missed Emily, P43E, but thanks for her number 7 in the contest (and to W2GD, P40W, for number one near the end).

Rig: K3, 756 Pro2
Ant: 1 el 80, 2 el 40, 4 el 20, 5 el 15, 2 el 10, C31XR (all F-12)
Software: CQPWIN, ver. 12.0
Website: check out www.arubaqth.com.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed.

73, and thanks for all the Qs,
Andy, AE6Y

This table compares the results from the four times I've operated in this contest from Aruba.  2010 figures are corrected slightly from those sent to 3830. 2002 was my first operation, and it was a world third-place.  Same for 2006 LP, though my back went out and I operated the contest in a valium-induced haze.  2008 was a nightmare: good friends, good equipment (except the 80m ant) but awful condx. 


P49Y 2010 LP

P40L 2008 M/2

P49Y 2006 LP

P40Y 2002 HP









































Monday, May 31, 2010.  Not much to report.  Turned in the car at Hertz at 6 a.m. and flew AA to MIA and back to SFO, arriving in time for dinner!