P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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

Tuesday, May24 - Wednesday, May 25, 2011.  As in March for ARRL Phone, my usual redeye to Miami, AA 272, left SFO at the early hour of 8:45 p.m., arriving at a sleepy MIA airport at about 5 a.m. local time, and necessitating a five-hour layover at the Gate D-15 Admiral’s Club. Surprisingly, since March AA has moved into a whole new terminal at SFO, Terminal 2, which is lighter and airier, with improved amenities. Didn’t sleep well on the plane. I was in an aisle seat in coach, and it seemed that every person that went by, particularly a rather large flight attendant, bumped my shoulder. That plus a very fidgety middle-seat partner, a young, drunken Russian tourist, made relaxation difficult. Maybe TSA is changing their protocols from last year, as once again, the K3 in the backpack aroused no suspicion and didn’t have to be removed for checking. Arriving about 1:30 p.m., I picked up a Hertz Chevy Aveo and was at the house shortly thereafter. This is a pretty basic economy car with some 29k rental km on the clock, and actually makes our old Mercury Tracer seem powerful by comparison.

As usual, Chris had the house looking great. Since my last visit, they had removed two enormous cacti, including the one in the northeast corner of the yard, and had installed a new living room a/c, which worked powerfully the whole week. My luggage survived unscathed, including the IC 756 Pro2, that I had brought back after servicing at Icom for blown front end diodes. Setting up the K3/P3 as the left radio and using the existing Pro2 as the right radio, everything seemed to work fine, including all antennas 80-10 and the beverages. How nice it is to come down here and not have to do a lot of antenna work (though next trip will require rebuilding the 160-m dipole, as the lower wire got wiped out by our neighbor’s grading activities in the cunucu – fortunately, I didn’t need that band on this trip).

The weather was typical for Aruba but a bit hotter than normal: the temperature was probably about 90 degrees, and pretty breezy. There was no standing water at Frenchman’s Pass, from which I concluded that it hadn’t rained much lately. I was a bit worried about power line noise due to the lack of recent rain, but that wasn’t a problem (though atmospheric band noise was). 

To get some exercise, I went off for a late afternoon run and swim at Savaneta, arriving back just in time for a shower and shave and to meet John Crovelli for dinner at B-55 at 7:30. As he noted from doing antenna work, the sun is setting a bit after 7, which is about 45 minutes later than in the middle of the winter (well, we are at 12 degrees north latitude, so the days should be a bit longer in the summer). This is the restaurant on the road from the main highway to Santa Cruz, and is a favorite of John Fore’s, though I had never been there before. My seafood dinner (calamari, fresh barracuda, cheesecake) was very good. We were the only customers, until another couple strolled in as we were nearly done. This seemed a bit strange, but John later divined that they seem to survive on daytime tour bus business. The waitress said that the name is simply their address, Balashi-55. Of course in Aruba such addresses aren’t street addresses; Balashi is their district, and the eponymous beer plant is on the other side of the highway. John and I each had a bottle of Balashi in its honor.  

Returning home, I hooked up the laptop to the radios and verified that everything was working fine. I was using just one USB port, which was then plugged into the Compaq 4-port USB expander with ports: (1) to PS2 dongle to keyboard and mouse, (2) to 2-port serial adaptor to rig control cables, (3) to Winkeyer, used for CW and PTT, and (4) to cable serial port adaptor used for Radio1/Radio2 switching. And the monitor was plugged into the laptop. This was all very convenient, as when I wanted to carry the laptop into the dining room to use it there, I only had to unplug the power cord, the monitor and the single USB cable.

I also hooked up the internet connection and telephones, following the protocol that Ed has organized and greatly improved. The modem is now in the master bedroom, connected by a cable that he and JP ran along the ceiling and through a hole in the wall to the radio room, where the router is mounted high on the back wall. The drill is as follows, following the directions that Ed had left for us: (1) Connect DSL cable in BR to the side of the black connector hanging from the modem (not the end slot). (2) Plug in modem. Four green lights should come on. (3) Plug in router. (4) In dining room, plug in phone, and connect phone cord to the phone jack on the wall. Also plug in normal phone cord near DSL connection in BR.

Thursday, May 26, 2011.   After a good night’s sleep and a some coffee, it was off to Ling and Sons for grocery shopping. On the radio for a while in late morning, I ran a European pileup low power on 15. But they didn’t seem to hear me terribly well and the pileup became unruly. I switched the two amplifiers, to put the 91B on the left side and the 86 on the right, which entailed some true heavy lifting. Also had to take off the plug for the 91B and rewire it, as the cord had been put through the hole in the middle back of the desk which was too small for the plug; apparently no one had noticed the larger hole to the right of it that was drilled by me several years ago for the plug for the right amp; now it is partly covered up by the new copper grounding strips that Ed had put in. Later on I ran some guys on 20 with the 91B, and it seemed to run very quietly and sweetly. It also seemed willing to tolerate a bit more reflected power than the 87A did (the manual says up to 165 watts).

In the late morning I had some law firm business to attend to, including a client conference call and talking to one of my partners about a court hearing. Late in the afternoon, it was off for another run; as is common on Aruba, my run on the second day was a full two minutes faster than yesterday. Lissette and Lisandro came by at 7:30 to take me out to Peanuts Restaurant (the old TR’s in downtown Oranjestad), for a very pleasant meal. Lissette was very pleased to get the latest Harry Potter DVD and some books that I had brought for her. Back at the house, Lisandro’s inventory of r/c model airplanes has further expanded, included a Korean War era F9 jet that someone had given him after a crash. This has a real jet engine and with a length of about seven feet and a takeoff weight of about 70 pounds, will be a scary thing to fly, IMHO. The C-130 we had brought down in Feb. 2008 is still awaiting its maiden flight, but getting closer.  

Friday, May 27, 2011. A quiet morning, breakfast, emails, some office work. About 11 back in the radio room, 15 and 20 seemed to be generally open. I checked out the Alpha 86, which worked FB, though the power is only about 1 kw on 80, more on the other bands (I didn’t try 160, since we don’t have an antenna right now). I took a run and a swim at about 3 p.m. in pretty hot conditions, but I wanted to get it out of the way well before the contest. Stopped at Subway to buy a large sandwich, half of which I ate at about 5 for a light dinner, then napped off and on for about two hours, whiling away the time before the 8 p.m. local time contest start.

CQ WPX CW Contest Saturday, May 28- Sunday, May 29, 2011 – Contest notes more or less as dictated during the contest. The strategy is to try to maximize 40m points, but there’s a lot of QRM, a high noise level, and my low power doesn’t seem to be very effective. I have only nine contacts in the first ten minutes. Fortunately, I can hear on the second radio that 20 is wide open to EU, so I move to 14058 at 0019Z. It’s 0400Z, and I’ve been on 20 almost all this time. The current total is 427 QSOs on 20 and 43 on 40. 40 is much better now, and I can run successfully on 7036. At 0611Z, I’m at 715 QSOs, just heard P40W on 80, and his number is amazingly a little below mine, but, of course, his are probably double-point low band contacts. 20 is still wide open with S9 EU signals, good for second radio Qs. Amazingly, 15 is actually open and I just worked YE1C in Indonesia on that band (at about 2:30 a.m. local time!).

It’s 0819Z and I’m at 872 by 446 for 1.7M points: 471 on 20, 415 on 40 and 22 on 80. The 40m rate is really slowing down and I’m very sleepy so will take a short break. I was just about to pack it in at 0900Z when I was jolted awake by a run of JAs (24 of them), plus some ZLs and VKs. Decide to take two hours off at 0932Z. Totals are 936 by 476 for just over 2M points.

I go to bed and sleep like a log, miraculously waking at about 1120Z without the alarm and actually feeling fine. Breakfast is a quick cream cheese and jelly sandwich, a pudding and coffee. It’s broad daylight now, and that always gives me a lift.  

In the 1400Z hour I have a good EU run on 15 on a quiet frequency, 21052 kHz. By 1501Z, it turns out there is someone else on the freq so I’ll probably have to leave. This happens several times this weekend as propagation shifts. I use the C31 at 330 degrees, and the 15m ant at 030. With low power, I don’t power share them, but just switch back and forth on the StackMatch as appropriate. I note that the 5 el 15 seems to have a sharper pattern than the 4 el 20. I make 5 contacts on 10 then pass 3 million points at 1533Z. It’s 1541Z and I seem to have fallen into a black hole on 20, with no contacts in the last 4 minutes. The 1500Z hour is very slow [possibly due to solar flares reported after the contest] and I’m fighting for contacts (109 in the 1400 hour and only 47 in the 1500 hour, my worst hour in the whole contest).  

By the way, checking the outdoors for a breath of fresh air, it’s another typically beautiful Aruba day, though it’s now clouding up more and is breezy. At 2230Z I hear Crovelli moving from 20 to 7001 kHz, getting a steady stream of Europeans. I try 7008, a relatively clear frequency, but just like last night, I get very few callers, so I head back to 20, where I have a very good (125 QSO) 2300 hour. 20 is really slowing down at 0032Z . I’m at 1957 contacts by 734 for 5.3M points, and I can hear PJ4A and P40W continuing to battle it out on 40 (PJ4A is at about 2250 Qs right now). I go to 40 and have several fun hours with occasional detours to 80. The beverages are working great on 40, with very good directionality, even using the East-West one for Australia. At 0345Z, just hit 7 megapoints. I’ve been on 7047 for quite a while. 40 is slowing down, so I QSY to 80 at 0354Z, which is now quieter than before.  

Brief break at 0526Z as I’m falling asleep. The plan is to hold out until 0800Z or so on the low bands, then take eight hours off. So much for the plan, I just can’t stay up any more. I give it up at 0543Z and head for bed. Totals are 2363 by 822 for just under 8 million points. I have to take eight more hours off, so should take them in a big block now and restart at 1345Z or so (9:45 a.m. Sunday morning). I go to bed and sleep soundly for about six hours (the great advantage of this contest with its 12 hours of forced off time), then have some food and am ready to start again. 20 is noisy and 15 has EUs, but they’re not very strong, the sketchy condx combining for a lowly 52 Qs in the 1400Z hour. At 1503Z, just worked G5O on 10 -- first EU on 10 heard today. I hear a weak TA2 also (note that it’s TA2ZAF, who calls me with a strong signal at 1751 for an interesting DX contact).  

At 1540Z I hear NQ4I on 10, for the first NA of the whole contest on 10, but he can’t quite make out my call, so I give up temporarily so as not to lose my 15m run frequency. Still, it’s a good sign that maybe the band will open to the US/VE soon. Several minutes of CQing just after 1605Z on 10 are fruitless, other than working CS2C for a new prefix on 15 on the second radio, so I go back to running on 21036. Finally back to 10 at 1739Z and starting to get EU and NA callers. A milestone at 1751Z, 9 million points. This is just about where I finished last year. Start a really good 10m run at 1851Z on 28019. The 1900Z hour is my best hour of the contest, at 138 contacts, mostly NA but some EU. At 2025Z, AJ2Y just put me over 10 million points, at 2914 by 887. Ten is slowing down. It’s been a blast, but I head back to 15 at 2049Z. I leave 15 at 2108Z and pick a clear frequency on 20 -- whereupon someone sends “QSY” very loudly. At 2128Z, just passed 3000 Qs and 900 mults at virtually the same time. At 2229Z just broke 11 million points. I try switching to 40 after running EUs on 20. Like yesterday, 40 is very noisy and unproductive, so after literally one contact, DL7BY, I head back to 20 to run out the contest.  

John Fore calls on the telephone right after the end of the contest at 0000Z. John Crovelli calls and asks me to print out his rate sheet and summary sheet; John Fore had already received them both. John C. then drives over and we spend a little time comparing our respective rate sheets. Then he drives us up to Tony Roma’s (my idea – no kidding!) for dinner, and we both enjoy the ribs. I have a salad also, to try to atone for a weekend of mostly junk food. Back at the house a little before midnight, and I have a glass of Frangelico, from an unopened bottle that I had bought on my last visit, while I pore over the 3830 score reports. I see that K4BAI at PJ4A has posted 17M points (to Crovelli’s 16M) on 3830. 

Soapbox, as sent to 3830 reflector: 

With PJ4A (K4BAI) and P40W (W2GD) battling it out in HP for SA honors, I decided to see if I could improve on last year's low power score, which had been affected by missing the first seven hours of the contest due to a power failure. Fortunately, the power stayed nice and steady this year, and the claimed score is some 2.5M points better.

LP worked pretty well on the high bands, but I must say that there were times in the contest when I looked longingly at the lovely Alpha 91B that we had just purchased from KK9A when he had to close his P40A station -- it would have been a big help on 40m. Last year I had a great time on 40; it was quiet and seemed very available, but this year was totally different. With LP, you just can't blow a hole in the spectrum, particularly on a noisy band. For example, on Saturday evening I was on 20 and I heard P40W go to 40 at about 2230Z (which is about when it starts to be workable to EU here) and start a successful run on 7001. I tried the same thing a few kHz higher, but got absolutely no answers to CQs. The same thing had happened at the start of the contest. After only 19 difficult QSOs in 16 minutes on 40, I ended up on 20 for the next four hours. But I shouldn't complain: it was very nice that 20 was wide open at night, which hasn't usually been the case for the past few years of low sunspots. And, amazingly, later on while running on 7036 with the K3, I idly hit the "21" button on the Pro2, and there were signals on 15. Between 0637Z (that's 2:37 in the morning local time) and 0655Z, I made second radio Qs with YE1C, II9T, HC2SL, and C4N on 15 -- what fun!

All hardware and software worked FB this weekend. As usual, the K3 was cool and rock solid. I've come to appreciate the resolution of the P3, as there are times LP when you have to slot yourself very accurately between adjacent signals. By contrast the Pro2 bandscope, which I have always found very useful, is much lower resolution and mushes out on a crowded band. I had this overpowering, semi-hallucinatory image when I was running on 40 and had the Pro2 set to 80 for second radio Qs that the signals on it were little yellow dancing ghosts playing in the surf of background noise. Every so often a static crash would bring in a huge tsunami of noise that would submerge all the dancers, who would magically pop back up waiting for the next wave -- you don't see that kind of imagery on the hi-res P3!

Ten was open to parts of EU on Saturday, but I didn't think it would be productive to try to run there, though it was good for about 20 second-radio Qs. When it finally opened stateside on Sunday afternoon it yielded the best hour of the contest: 138 Qs in the 1900Z hour.

Thanks to everyone for their participation, particularly those in northern latitudes who suffered through some marginal conditions. Also thanks to the casual operators who get on to pass out some points. And in that category was the co-owner of the station John, W6LD (P40L), who managed to push a few watts on 15 into his 20m dipole for a contact. Also thanks to him for our excellent beverage setup, which helped greatly on 40. We have four of them, all K9AY switch-selected, and their directionality was very helpful when 40 seemed to be open to all directions at the same time. Even got to try the rarely-used East-West beverage when a few VKs called in.

Rig: K3, 756 Pro2
Ant: 1 el 80, 2 el 40, 4 el 20, 5 el 15, 2 el 10, C31XR (all F-12), beverages
Software: CQPWIN, ver. 12.1
Website: check out www.arubaqth.com.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed.

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

Here are band-by-band comparisons of my scores in 2011 and 2010, along with PJ4A (K4BAI) and P40W(W2GD) for 2011. 


P49Y 2011 LP

P49Y 2010 LP

PJ4A 2011 HP

P40W 2011 HP









































Monday, May 30, 2011.  Up at about 8 a.m. to have some coffee, browse scores on 3830 and compose my own report. Had a nice chat with Emily, P43E, on the phone, then drove to the California Lighthouse both to get out of the house and to make a reservation for tomorrow night at El Faro Blanco (for some reason, I couldn’t raise them on the phone). On the way back, I stopped into JP’s Toyota dealership to say hello and to take a test ride in one of the Chinese economy cars that they are now selling, and which I had seen in March. The salesman, Alvin, and I drive around for about 4-5 miles in a BYD (“Build Your Dreams”) F-Zero, which is a small four-door hatchback that sells for a little over $10,000, by far the cheapest car for sale on Aruba. It has a 4-speed stick shift, and a features a three-cylinder engine with a “mighty 50kW” of power according to the brochure. That’s about 67 horsepower, so “mighty” is a relative term. The brochure also says the radio offers “studio quality” sound, another claim the veracity of which may be open to interpretation. But it was cute and fun to drive. On the way back, stopped off at the General Store to purchase a Black and Decker 13 inch (4.4 amp) string trimmer requested by Chris.

Back at the house, I turned on the 91B and ran some guys on 15 and 20 phone, but conditions were very poor, the bands were noisy, and US signals were weak, so it wasn’t much fun. I packed up the K3 and P3 and got ready to put the repaired Pro2 that I had brought back from home as the left radio, but first had to remake the power cable, since the one in the shack has normal wire ends to go into the power supply, but the supply now had Anderson Power Pole connectors with a note (from Ed?) warning not to change them since the screw terminals are very fragile. Rather than fasten on PP connectors, I found an adaptor in the cabinet under the shack that has PPs on one end and about three inches of wire to tinned ends. I simply connected these to the Icom cable using wire nuts, figuring that if wire nuts are good enough for household wiring, they should be good enough for a radio.

Then off to visit Joop and Yvonne, who seemed to be in good shape. Joop showed me his latest key additions. Then to Savaneta for a run and a swim. Also took some pictures of my private swimming cove near Marina Pirata, including wading out into the water (very carefully) with the camera. No evening dinner plans, since I was tired and wanted to finish setting up the station in its normal two-Icom SO2R configuration. JP called and wanted to check out the W2IHY box that I had brought down for him. It’s the two band equalizer/noise gate kit, which he had built over the weekend. It really does seem to help the audio. We chatted for a while on 15, then he stayed on to work a bunch more US guys who had been listening to the conversation and wanted to chime in on his audio while I QRT’d for a dinner sandwich. At about 9:30 p.m., in the midst of reading a brief from the office, I suddenly ran out of steam, and went to bed.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011.Woke up at about 6:30 thanks to my early bed time, had a cuppa joe and a muffin with cream cheese for breakfast, then put on my work pants and hiking boots for an early morning (i.e., cool temp) foray into the cunucu behind the house. It was clear that the lower leg of our 160m H-dipole had fallen victim to our neighbor’s grading of the cunucu behind their house. They have more than doubled the size of their back yard, and the lower leg of the dipole would pass over a corner of the newly graded area, if it hadn’t been buried in their new foot-high berm along the northern edge of the new yard. I cut off the remaining 20 feet of visible wire, and left it coiled up against our fence (actually thrown over the backside of the fence), to keep some tension on the down leg, which now terminates at the eye bolt on the inside of the back fence. A new leg can be spliced in and temporarily strung in the fall for CQWW. I was thinking of walking the beverage feed lines, but since they all worked, and the feed lines are clearly north of the neighbor’s berm (i.e., in undisturbed land), there seemed to be no point to such an exploration.

 After hooking up the repaired Icom as the left radio (see above), I verified that everything was working fine, and it truly seemed fully repaired. I did notice an odd phenomena that the radio would put out full power into the C31 but put only 30-40 watts into the normal 15m antenna, even though the meters showed low SWR. I thought this might be our old problem of an intermittent or dirty relay in the SixPak. I tried some hot-switching and little pounding on the box, and that seemed to cure the problem. Go figure.

I replaced the torn thin felt pads under the ear cushions on our shack pair of Heil headphones, and left spares in a plastic bag in the 2d BR closet that seemed to contain some other Heil parts. I also left behind on the key shelf my new N0SA mono paddle that I had brought down and used in the contest. At about 11 a.m. I headed up to my favorite beach, Eagle Beach and spent about an hour reading and swimming. It was quite pleasant out in the sun with very few people around, the surf was very low and the water warm, but the wind at times was strong enough to blow sand around, which can be annoying. On the way to my normal running grounds at Savaneta, I stopped at the General Store to buy a new 6-volt lantern, since the old yellow one seemed to have developed intermittent switch problems. I left both of them on the table in the radio room (and the blue flashlight in the kitchen drawer as usual). Running in this weather is hot, sweaty work, and back at the house I quickly downed a pint of strawberry-flavored milk (a great Dutch product, sold at Lings in sterilized, non-refrigerated bottles) and an equal amount of Gatorade -- both tasted great and really hit the spot.

To Chris and JP’s to pick them up for my last night’s dinner a little after six. We had a very enjoyable, and excellent meal at the Faro Blanco along with John Crovelli (unfortunately Emily didn’t make it). We sat out on the terrace to get the sunset view, but it was so cloudy that there was no visible sunset at all. Nonetheless, it was a very convivial meal. Then home to pack and get ready for tomorrow’s flight back to MIA and SFO.