P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Callsign Used:



SOABHP Classic Overlay

Andy Faber, AE6Y, Aruba Trip Notes Nov. 2014 CQWW CW

Andrew L. Faber AE6Y, P49Y

Tuesday, November 25, 2014.  Instead of my usual redeye, Sandy and I flew during the day, though leaving SFO at 7:00 a.m. meant getting up at 3:45 a.m., ugh! Our SFO plane sat on the tarmac for an hour due to weather in Florida, and our MIA-AUA flight was also delayed, so we didn’t arrive in Aruba till after 10 p.m. Fortunately, Hertz at the airport now stays open till 11 instead of 10 as before, so we had no trouble getting our car. It was a brand new (65 km on the odo) Nissan Versa, and we had to sign several waivers to be allowed to take it without insurance.  

Started hooking up the radio. Since I was planning to go in the new 24-hour “Classic” overlay category, only needed one radio, as SO2R is (sadly) prohibited. I used the shack K3/P3, which worked fine throughout the contest. Did set up the DXDoubler anyway, which now lives in a plastic box in the second BR (neatly labeled thanks to Ed’s and John’s organizing efforts), just for convenience of connection. Ran PTT from Winkey and from the footswitch, though never used the footswitch; key in from WK and from the plastic box amp keyer. Note: in the future bring several RCA Y-cables (one male to two female). Also ultimately set up the K3 Key Out connection to parallel key both amps, so I could dedicate the right amp to 160, using Ant2 on the K3.

Spent some time listening to pileups to adjust the K3 AGC. Ended up at SLP=2 and THR=8. I normally use THR=12 at home, but anything above 8 on this radio seemed to cause distortion on very strong signals. Probably should have gone back to SLP=0 as have done before. Set menu item to use Sub AF control as a balance control (actually irrelevant, as I was never able to use the SUB RX during the contest at all).

Slept badly due to a cold that I had picked up the night before we left; went through a good portion of a box of Kleenex during the night.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014.  Slept till almost 9, then we were going to Ling and Sons to shop, but I suddenly was so tired I sat down in a chair in the living room and just couldn’t stir until I had had a 20-minute nap. Very strange, but then I felt better as we got up and about. A record shopping bill was almost $300, but this was partly due to buying extra food for Robin and Steve, and also some very dear aloe gift items. Back at the house, John Crovelli had arrived. We chatted for a while, then he started painting the front two towers, using some zinc paint that we had been left by KK9A when he closed his station. John said it was really good quality, expensive paint (thanks, John Bayne!).

Hooked up the internet and did some law work. Ran some EUs on 15 low power and arranged the station more. Conditions were great, as they were for the contest. I had noted that all antennas seemed to load up OK, and was pleased to see in the daylight that the lower arm of the 160m vertical dipole was still set up, supported on the line of yellow, plastic poles stretching from the back fence into the cunucu. So no cunucu work was necessary on this trip.

We picked up Robin and Steve at the airport at about 5:15 p.m. They had taken a direct flight from Charlotte. They unpacked, Robin took a nap, and I took a shower while Steve took flower photos in the backyard. We had been trying to call Marina Pirata all afternoon, and finally got through and made a reservation for 7. Talked to Chris and to Alex, KU1CW, who is staying at Carl’s, to invite him and Natasha to join us for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Robin, after looking on the internet, had requested a dining experience in Aruba on the water, so Marina Pirata was the perfect place. It was nearly empty when we arrived, and we got a table right at the edge of the deck – the kind of location where if you are careless pushing your chair back and have drunk too much, you can end up in the water. As usual there were lots of fish enjoying eating discarded pieces of bread. We had some typical Aruban dishes, including fresh fish in spicy Aruban sauce and pan bati. Returning, Sandy Robin and I sat outside on our front porch for a while reading under the porch light. Very pleasant temperature; actually, the whole trip was perhaps typical of winter conditions, a bit cooler (low 80s top), relatively low humidity, and intermittent rain. But by about 10, I was feeling cold and started to shake. Sandy gave me a sleeping pill (the first one I had ever taken), and it worked like a charm.

Thursday, November 27, 2014.  Woke up about 8:30 feeling better, though still coughing and with a runny nose. As with other mornings, Sandy and Steve plugged away on their laptops while I did the same, or read, or worked on the radios, until Robin was ready to engage with the day’s activities, typically at about noon.

I set up the left alpha 86, and checked it out. It easily put out 1-1.5kw on all bands. Ran the right Alpha 86 to ANT2 on the K3 with a three way RCA converter plug for keying so it would key both amps at the same time. Worked fine on 160, though only a little over 1kw out. Ran some EUs on the high bands. John Crovelli came over at about 11:30 to continue painting, now on the back tower.

We spent our family time on a sightseeing tour of the north half of the island. There was lots of traffic and slow progress through Oranjestad, with two big cruise ships in port (on another day, we saw three!). Went to Alto Vista chapel and drove around on the dirt roads on the north side of the island back to the California lighthouse. The roads were no problem in the rental car, though they had told us not to drive on them. Steve took over 200 photos and generally was in photography heaven -- thank goodness it’s digital and not film!

Back home around 5:15, and we freshened up and changed our clothes before heading off to the Hyatt for their Thanksgiving buffet. There was lots of good food including many vegetarian choices for Robin and Steve. We were joined by JP and Cris, John Crovelli, and Alex (KU1CW) and his wife Natasha. The latter two are staying at Carl’s where Alex intends to do a SOABHP entry as P40C in the contest. Lots of very enjoyable conversation all around. As compared to the last time we went there several years ago, the price had gone up by a third, the food was about the same, but the ambience was worse in that they had a loud singer. Fortunately, we were able to be seated away from the entertainment; if not, it would have been a total waste as a social event. After dinner, Robin, Steve and I took a walk on the paved path at the edge of the beach to the Riu and back. Perfect walking weather. It’s really very pleasant how the high rise hotels have integrated themselves into a kind of relatively self-contained mega resort. Slept well, but woke up coughing.

Friday, November 28, 2014. This afternoon we continued our sightseeing tour on the south half of the island. Spent a while at Baby Beach, which was occupied by lots of locals. Steve and Robin took a long walk and scores of photos; in fact his camera ultimately ran out of juice at the Boca Grandi cove on the north side of Seroe Colorado, which we drove to after leaving the beach. In the middle of the afternoon we were hungry and pulled into the famous Charlie’s Bar, but pulled out again when it turned out they had no vegetarian food for lunch. We ended up with very satisfactory sandwiches at the Subway just south of our roundabout.

I spent the rest of the late afternoon getting contest ready, making sure everything worked, making some contest sandwiches and setting out drinks and contest junk food, etc. The rest of the family had this time and the whole next day free. Here’s more or less what they did: Dinner Friday night at the Old Cunucu House for what is claimed to be the most authentic Aruban food on the island. On Saturday, the main event was a scenic and leisurely lunch on the terrace at the Faro Blanco, followed by a drive down to our “local” beach, Mangel Halto in Savaneta, for a late afternoon swim. Saturday dinner was leftovers in the house (and I joined them, eating a cold cuts and cheese sandwich after too much junk food during the contest).

CQWW CW Contest, Friday, 8 p.m. local time to Saturday, 9:35 p.m. local time.  I had been planning to enter the new 24-hour “Classic” overlay category, now in its second year. This allows only 24 hours of operation (with a one-hour minimum off time, as in WPX), one radio, and no internet or other outside assistance. Although presumably not score-maximizing, my plan was to operate the first 24 hours so as to have Sunday free with the family. As it turned out, this was very enjoyable, though it was hard to turn off the radio on Saturday evening, as the conditions were so outstanding. Also, I did miss using the second radio.

I planned to do more searching and pouncing for mults, while still trying to get as much rate in as possible. I think that worked out pretty well, though after the contest I always do think I should have done more moving of mults. Start on 20, with a 208 hour running on 14023. I knew this would be fun when the very first QSO was with a JA, and in the first few minutes, E2X called in for zone 26. After an hour and a quarter, spend about 15 minutes mult hunting (yielding 15 countries and 5 zone mults), then go to 80. Low noise on 80 and lots of EUs.

  After 136 Qs on 80, to 160 and run on 1825. I remember as a low power entrant in 2012, I virtually couldn’t run on 160 , but it worked well now with high power. At one point, when I’ve been on 1826 for about five minutes and made a number of contacts, HK1NA starts CQing on my frequency. Of course, he is very loud since he is a local, and I’m undoubtedly equally loud to him. Nevertheless, he ignores my requests to QSY and deliberately QRMs me till I give up and move away. I recall the same thing happening once before with HK1X, so it may be in their station’s standard operating procedures manual.

To 40 at 1325Z and immediately have a raging pileup, with a 204 clock hour in the 0400Z hour. Then tuning around for a half hour yields 15 country mults and 6 zones. I go back to 20 then, hoping to find Pacific mults. I do get zones 30, 31 and 24, but not as many as expected. Back to 80 at 0613Z, then 160 and 80 again. Unfortunately, when I try 40 at about 0800Z, the 40m yagi is dead. Acts like an open feedline. I waste about 20 minutes trying to diagnose it. The antenna analyzer is in Robin and Steve’s bedroom, and they are sleeping, so I don’t want to wake them. I do try connecting the ant directly to the K3, to no avail. I go back to 80 for a while, but am so unhappy that at 0906Z I decide to take an hour off in frustration. I sit in the chair in the living room, but actually can’t sleep, though I do take an hour an ten minutes off, returning to the radio at 1017Z.

Although this isn’t what I want to do, 80 is really enjoyable, and in the next 50 minutes, I actually run 19 JAs. Their signals are steady, without the usual flutter that makes them hard to decode and slow to run.

On to 10 at 1112Z, but I have difficulty getting strong EUs to hear me, so after a few Qs, I try 15 instead, which is much better. I basically stay on 21045 till 1247Z, then do a little tuning around. To 10 at 1345Z for a long run on 28033. Surprisingly at 1420Z, VU4KV calls in (zone 26 actually, not 22 like the rest of the VUs, and he later calls on 15 as well.).

At 1337Z, after 12 hours of operation, the totals are 160: 173/29/12 (Contacts/Countries/Zones); 80: 433/61/22; 40: 347/49/17; 20: 356/55/32; 15: 352/62/20; 10: 3/2/2. Starting at 1538Z, I tune around a bit on 10 and get some mults, with the highest one in freq at 28155 (YS1YS, zone 7). The 20Z hour is my best of the contest, 209 on 10 mostly running US. Two double mults in a row on 21090 at 2226Z when BY4CD (zone 24) and KH8B (zone 32) call in consecutively. CW Ops CWT regular FG8NY calls in on 10 at 1943Z and obligingly moves to 21111 and 14111. I’m barefoot on both of those latter frequencies, since the amp is set on 10, but I suddenly get a small pileup on 14111, and am called by 8 new countries in the next 10 minutes. That was fun. I bounce around between 15 and 10 running EUs and NAs before finishing out the contest with about two hours on 20.

Sunday, November 30, 2014. Slept like a log from 11 p.m. to 8:40 a.m. or so; as usual after a contest, I don’t think I even changed position once. Coffee tasted really good this morning! Did some radio tasks, including sending in my log to CQ. Also checked the 40m ant with the AA-54 analyzer, which just showed an open circuit. 

At about one we left for lunch at the Riu Hotel; this is an ornate Spanish hotel that is at the south end of the High-Rise Hotel District. It seems to be run generally on an all-inclusive basis like a resort with largely European clientele (menus are in English, Spanish and German), and was not very welcoming to us who just wanted lunch. We did enjoy, however, a very expensive and overpriced buffet at the Nautilus open-air restaurant by the beach and pools, both of which are spectacular. Then we were off to Eagle Beach (a little north of Costa Linda) for a lengthy swim for Robin, Steve and me while Sandy enjoyed a book in the shade of one of the thatched roof structures. It had just showered, but we did not get caught out, while still enjoying dramatic cloud effects.

We had reserved dinner at 7:30 at the Flying Fishbone, just a little south of us in Savaneta and I had raved to the others about the romantic setting with tables on the beach and even in the water. But at a little after 7 it started raining violently at the house. We called the restaurant, and they said it was raining heavily there also, but that we could eat inside. Sandy wisely suggested waiting, so we got there about half an hour late, but would have had to wait anyway, as they could only seat indoors, not at the outdoor tables on the beach or in the water. We still ended up getting splashed a bit during the heaviest rain, which continued all evening. But the ambience was still delightful and the food was great. Back home about 10.

Monday, December 1, 2014.  Waked at 2 a.m. by violent rain squall. Got up at 7:15 and it was cloudy but streets were almost dry, so maybe the rain had ceased. Actually, considering that it had rained off and on, and frequently violently, for most of the night, the place looked amazingly dry. Spent a good part of the morning cleaning up the shack and leaving it with the K3/P3 as the left radio, without the DXD, more or less as I had found it. John called, and I met him for breakfast at Huchada, after having eaten some cereal at home. This was the closest we came to a post-contest dinner on this trip (on the plus side, I avoided Tony Roma’s entirely!). On the way back I stopped into Mondo Nobo in Santa Cruz to get some plastic bags (food, and garbage). The girl at the register didn’t understand what I wanted, but when I found them, it turned out that this store is plastic bag heaven! They have several aisles of such items, including many packages of the same size bags from different manufacturers. I’ve never seen so many plastic bags in my life! Very strange.

For Robin and Steve’s last meal on Aruba (or so we thought, not knowing that ultimately their plane’s departure was to be delayed by over four hours), we went off to lunch at Seaport Center, at the southern end of Oranjestad and had delicious crepes at the Dutch Pancake House. Sandy and I then dropped them at the airport for their USAir flight back to CLT, then went over to Cris’s. But they weren’t yet home, so we drove around a bit, including driving into the entrance to Arikok National Park. This was completely different than upon my last visit some years ago. Then the roads were unpaved and poorly maintained and there was no official visitor center. Now the government, along with a European Fund of some sort, has put a lot of money into it and there is a lovely, modern visitor center and paved roads (at least what we could see on the western edge of the park). Very impressive.

John came over about 5 after having done some tower painting at Martin’s home, to help diagnose the 40m beam problem. There is a run of coax from the shack to just above the top of the tower, then a few feet of a jumper, then the longer jumper that is taped to the mast and goes out the boom to the driven element. He opened the upper barrel connector and put his analyzer on the coax going to the antenna, and found an open circuit (SWR=25). When he put a 50 ohm load resistor on the other end of the coax (i.e., the lower jumper and the long feedline), I measured 50 ohms at the shack with the ohmmeter and also a perfect SWR on the AA-54. So, the problem is clearly with the antenna, and most likely a feed point or balun issue. He could see nothing wrong visually at the feed point from the top of the tower. Too bad, as there is no easy way to get to the feed point. Possibilities include (1) using the island fire truck with extension ladder, which both John and JP thought doable, (2) climbing the mast and rotating the beam 90 degrees to lower the feed point, or (3) taking out the rotor, loosening the 20m yagi, and lowering the mast inside the tower. Incidentally, John also reported that the connection at the bottom of the rotor was just hanging out of the rotor, as though the metal plate fixing it in place had corroded.

With that bad news, Sandy and I drove over to Cris and JP’s to chat, go over finances, talk to Cindy (briefly to Andy also, now 21 and 14, BTW), then off to meet John at B55 for a last dinner and back to pack for our morning flight the next day.

Score report as sent to 3830 reflector: 

3830 Contest Report
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

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

Class: SOAB Classic HP
QTH: Aruba
Operating Time (hrs): 24

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
  160:  181    12       29
   80:  424    22       61
   40:  346    17       49
   20:  657    36       80
   15:  964    34       92
   10:  876    28       77
Total: 3448   149      388  Total Score = 5,481,696
Club: Northern California Contest Club


A very enjoyable 24-hour adventure. Thanks to the Contest Committee for inventing the Classic category that allowed me to have a great contest experience, but still spend Sunday with the family, who are on the island for a Thanksgiving vacation. Beautiful weather, great for beaches and fine dining outdoors in the evening (except for a violent rainstorm Sunday night, that is).

The 24-hour part was great, but my score would have been better if the 40m antenna hadn't suddenly failed at 0800Z. Not sure what went wrong, as the next day it all seemed to be there physically, but could well be an open feedline issue. Fortunately, I had already spent 2 hours on 40 (which was in great shape) earlier, but missed out on several dozen mults that were expected later.

It seems clear that the strategy to win the Classic overlay would be to pick and choose hours to operate, but I basically took 24 out of the first 25 1/2(and, but for the 40m antenna problem, had planned just to operate the first 24), so as to have the rest of the time free for family. Per strategy advice from Aruba pro W2GD, I did spend more time hunting for mults (4:40 hours, per the log) than I had in 2012 when I operated low power from here. Ended up with 100 fewer QSOs after 24 hours than in that contest, but with 120 more mults. I really did miss the second radio though, and several times picked move frequencies blindly that turned out to be very busy. Apologies to those who suffered.

Pileup behavior seemed a little more unruly than in the past. For example, I had a great deal of difficulty on 10 getting an insistent EW station to stand by so I could hear what I thought was a weak VU, which delightfully turned out to be VU4KV. Only one frequency fight, when I was QRM'd on 160 off an otherwise clear frequency that I had been using for about 5 minutes by a very loud and insistent mainland zone 9 station which apparently believes in spectrum ownership rights.

A delightful Thanksgiving dinner was shared with JP and Cris (P43A, P43C), John (W2GD, P40W), and Alex (KU1CW, P40C) and Natasha.

Thanks as always to co-owner John (W6LD, P40L) and frequent user Ed (W0YK, P49X) for keeping the station in good order. And thanks for all the QSOs, and to the organizers for the new category and the terrific world-wide participation.

73, Andy, AE6Y, P49Y

Rig: Just one K3/P3!, Alpha 86.

Ant: 160 vert dipole, 1 el 80, 2 el 40, 4 el 20, 5 el 15, 2 el 10, C31,beverages.

Software: CQPWIN ver. 12.8