P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Thanks for another fun weekend! The continuous stream of calls challenged my ability to service them all. When 10 meters fully opens AND enough stations spend time there, this contest is going to be a 24-hour sprint. With four bands, my average rate was 135/hour and a new high for me in this contest. I'm fortunate to be on this side of the QSOs, but it is really the thousands of other stations that get into the log to create the results. Thanks again for playing the game!

It was surprising and a little disappointing that the initial rates weren't higher. I felt the messages were about as short as they could effectively be. And with some enhanced UI features in WriteLog, e.g., call stacking efficency, the QSO flow was more streamlined than in the past. Of course, there is only so much that can be done on this side. A short, quality QSO equally depends on both stations. As more and more of us employ short transmissions (but sufficient as conditions dictate) the rate should continue to increase. Dave, K6LL, gets the award for how to do this properly: when we work, I know I better be on my toes for a no-frills QSO! He thinks it is a contest and behaves accordingly.

15 and 20 were solidly open to both Europe and North America both days. 40 and 80, however, had some disturbing fuzziness and echoing for the first few hours Saturday evening. Signals were loud, but decoding was sluggish, slowing the rate. The rate in the early-morning hours (local time) held up much better than previous years. After the European sunrise, North America continued calling in at a good clip. There were good openings to JA on 15, 20 and 40. Sunday afternoon had stronger JA signal levels on 15 than 20 and many stations moved from one band to the other for me.

As others will note, we had another year without 10 meters. Again though, the band was able to support a lot more rate than we saw, simply due to lack of participation by enough stations. I had a third radio (Icom 756ProII) dedicated to 10 meters all weekend. With its bandscope constantly monitoring 50 kHz centered on 28080, I can vouch for what appeared to be a dead band. I also had 28080 mixed in with the audio stream of my right radio to alert me. There would be an occasional signal and finally around 18z Sunday, I couldn't restrain myself and started interleaving CQs there in between the other two radios running on 15 and 20. I got a response after the first CQ on 10, so started pushing it harder. The "rate" couldn't be called a run, but I stuck with it for 30 minutes and only worked 17 stations. Several of them wound up getting P49X on five bands and that was fun.

For the third year in a row, I ran out my 24-hour operating period more than an hour before 00z Monday. This is about when the 15-meter rate drops off here. At 0645z Sunday, I took my first break and grabbed two REM cycles of sleep. I got back on 1007z, intending to stay only 30 minutes and see what mults I could get. Fortunately, I did get VK3TDX (barely) for my only VK, but no other new mults. Since the rate was better than usual at about 80/hour, I couldn't pull myself away and stayed for an hour before taking my second break and getting some breakfast. I've used this tactic a lot over the years and don't think it is particularly useful, but it makes me feel good that I'm checking 40 meters into Asia/Oceania. ;>)

The highlight of this contest for me was inauguration of a complete turn-over in PC systems. New ThinkPad computers, new USB soundcards, new USB-Serial adapters, Windows 7, new version of MMTTY, Beta WriteLog, new wireless router (first time without direct-wired Ethernet between computers), etc. Amazingly, the wirelessly-networked PCs were 100% solid all weekend with no driver glitches or other problems. I didn't think this result would be possible, but I was curious to find out and was very pleased with the results.

Speaking of results, this year got within 1% of my highest score (2009) and marginally set a new QSO record of 3241. It will take a significantly lower error rate for this to be a new record. 3500-4000 QSOs are in my sights, but 10 meters is needed. As it was, there were a large number of stations who got P49X on four bands -- thanks! Mults were disappointing again and while I got all the US/VE mults that were likely on, my DX mult total will probably be lower than a few of the NA participants. WriteLog was extended recently to take advantage of the two receivers in the K3 so that one can interleave S&P QSOs on the same band used for running. Unfortunately, the best time to find mults is when the band is open which is also when the rates are highest, making running on two radios while tuning the second receiver of one of them (plus monitoring the bandscope and audio from the third radio!) more of a challenge than I've been able to adequately master.

Thanks to Andy, P49Y/AE6Y, and John, P40L/W6LD, for sharing their Aruba cottage with me. I'll be back for WPX RTTY (and also ARRL DX CW with John) in four weeks. It was nice having an eyeball QSO with Robert, P40P/W5AG, over dinner at seaside last night. He operated low power at Sue and Carl's new station (P40YL/AI6YL & P49V/AI6V), so no one should have missed P4 this weekend.


Ed - P49X (W0YK)