P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Callsign Used:




Andrew L. Faber, AE6Y, P49Y

Wednesday, May 21, 2014.  I took the same basic flights as in March, starting with a 6:15 a.m. AA flight from SFO to MIA, then a 4-hour layover in Miami and a 7 p.m. flight to Aruba. Both flights were completely uneventful. Only downside is getting out of bed at 2:45 a.m. to get to the airport! Fortunately Anza parking was wide awake, and the shuttle picked me up as soon as I parked the car. I was traveling very light: just one suitcase and the blue backpack without K3/P3, but containing the laptop, with no separate computer bag. Got to baggage claim a little before 10 p.m. Knowing that Hertz closed at 10, I called them to see if they would stay open a few extra minutes. The lady refused, but said that I could go out, get the car, and then return to pick up the suitcase. This sounded like a procedure that would lead to arrest and incarceration with today’s security measures, but I checked with the customs officials and the guy at the desk in the waiting area and both said it would be fine. So, with trepidation, that’s what I did. No problems. At the house by 10:15 or so.  

Everything looked great. Hooked up the antennas and K3/P3 as the left radio, and had a glass of Frangelico on the rocks to celebrate my safe arrival. The only off note was no dial tone on the phone. [A Setar repairman came on Monday and said the problem was external to the house, and he fixed it. In the interim I could only call out on the cell phone, and no one could call in. DSL, which comes over the phone line, worked fine.]

[For reference: It’s now very easy to hook up the antennas: just attach the antenna coaxes to the jumpers, with barrels already provided for 10-80 (assuming not putting the 4O3A filters in line), plug in the 160m ant to the SixPak, plug in the C31 to the StackMatch, and plug in the four beverages. All nicely labeled, BTW (Thanks to W6LD and W0YK).]

[For reference, the internet modem is in the master bedroom, connected by a cable to the radio room, where the router is mounted high on the front wall. The drill is as follows, following the directions that Ed had left for us: (1) Connect DSL cable in MBR to the side of the black connector hanging from the modem (not the end slot). (2) Plug in modem. Three green lights should come on. (3) Plug in router in shack. Fourth light should light up on the modem. It’s wi-fi called “Linksys.” (4) In dining room, plug in phone, and connect phone cord to the phone jack on the wall, through the DSL filter. (5) Plug in extension phone in MBR.]

Thursday, May 22, 2014. Woke up at about 7, having gone to bed after midnight after finishing the long and very talky Nelson DeMille novel I had bought at the airport and started on the plane. I hooked up the computer and plugged in one of the Pro2s as the right radio using the DXD and rig control cables from the bags kept by the radios in the MBR closet. Set the AGC for the K3 to SLP 002 and THR 12 to give more dynamic range to help in pileups. Had the computer set up as usual: USB relay box for R1/R2 only, rig control from the two serial port adaptor, Winkeyer from USB expander, used for keying and PTT, Ps2 connector to external keyboard/mouse, and monitor plugged into side of computer.

I was annoyed to see that I had forgotten my little switch box normally used to key the radio for amplifier tuning. Instead I rigged up a substitute using the N0SA paddle and two clip leads going to an RCA plug plugged into a multiple adaptor on the back of the DXD (both clip leads and adaptor from the cabinet in radio room). So pressing the dash side of the paddle now gave a solid key closure. Both radios worked fine with CQPWIN, but as usual, antenna switching for the Pro2 must be done manually (i.e., switch the 6-Pak and the band pass filter). But rapid band changes aren’t necessary in WPX, so it shouldn’t be a problem unless I have some brain fade in the contest.

At about 10 I headed out for a shopping expedition to Ling and Sons, stopping off briefly to chat with John Crovelli, and also spending about a half hour socializing with John Bayne, KK9A, and his wife Leslie, who were renting Carl’s place for a week. Drove back through Oranjestad. There were no cruise ships in the harbor, but there is a new trolley in operation, and I saw a trolley car crossing L.G. Smith Blvd. at the north end of town.

Back at the house, John Crovelli is hard at work painting the south tower (C31). I had some breakfast, then John stopped for some drinks and cookies and went back out to start on the north tower (10/15). In his painting outfit, he looks like a fugitive from a science fiction film: white painter’s costume, head balaclava, goggles, and paint everywhere. We had engaged him to put a coat of epoxy paint on all three towers. It looked like very hot, uncomfortable work and I was glad he was doing it. He recommended trimming the trees that are hitting the guy wires on the south tower and also building up the base on the north tower, the only one showing obvious corrosion at the base. He thought that corrosion came from allowing debris to collect on the concrete base, which then trapped water against the legs. [On Tuesday, I asked JP to see to the tree trimming, and he said he would. I also asked him to do some trimming on the tree in front of the garage, which is rubbing on the two guys for the back tower.]

John used our portable drill to drill 1/8 inch holes about an inch and a half above the base in each tower leg to check for trapped water. Eight of the nine were dry, but the leg closest to the house on the back tower yielded a stream of rusty water lasting maybe 15 seconds.

I worked a pileup for a while on 15 and verified that the 91B worked on all bands. It did, but the power seemed to stall out at 1100 watts or so. The 91B would only put about 900 watts into the C31 on 20 and 10, though the reflected power wasn’t into the danger zone where one would expect to see power fold back. [But see later discussion].

After John finished the north tower, we sat out on the back porch and chatted. Later I went for a run at Savaneta, then John and I met for dinner at B55. Pretty good food, but as usual we were the only customers when we arrived. I think we had exactly the same food that we had had there in March (pina colada, salad, spaghetti, cheesecake and ice cream).

Friday, May 23, 2014. I went to bed pretty early last night, 10:30, after experiencing problems with both Pro2s. The first one had worked fine for a day and a half (left on continuously), but then the display started to get jittery, sort of a slow vibration of the images. The second one seemed OK, but after a little while suddenly half-died. It seemed that it still transmitted and the functions seemed to work, including the display, but the RX was dead as were all meter functions, both on TX and RX. This morning, feeling more energetic than last night, I decided to take both of them apart and look for loose connections. I didn’t want to have to use the old FT1000 as a second radio, since it doesn’t have the Icom’s band scope. On the first one, I took off top and bottom covers, bent forward the front panel assembly, and reseated a multitude of ribbon cables. These are tricky, as they don’t have connectors on the end, but just the exposed flimsy metal of the wires themselves. I must say, I was impressed with the mechanical complexity and precision engineering of these rigs. It’s remarkable how Elecraft has managed to vastly simplify the internal architecture of the K3 without compromising performance. With the second one, I primarily tried reseating the multitude of small internal coaxial cables.

Well, the result was success with the first one, which I used throughout the contest. The only strange thing is a persistent thin vertical green line on the display, about 3/16 of an inch from the right edge. But it seemed to work just fine. However, no luck with the second one. I finished all this work at around 10 a.m. then decided to have some breakfast. Went over to Chris and JP’s to drop off some items brought for Cindy – no one was home. Came back, read, checked out the 86, which seemed fine. Went out at about three for a run, hotter than yesterday but not as windy. A slower time by about a minute, not sure why. BTW: it’s been quite windy, so much so that John says the paint is drying too fast on the windward side of the tower legs! Lisandro said that they had serious winds a few weeks ago (sustained 40 knots), which damaged his Pro 67-B antenna. I’m always amazed that antennas stay up at all, considering the vast number of flex cycles they go through in this climate (not to mention getting sandblasted by the same corrosive winds).  

Usual pre-contest stuff. Washed and shaved, napped briefly, set out some contest junk food, paced around nervously, etc. Had a light dinner (maybe not light enough – something caused me stomach cramps that evening, which gradually subsided over the weekend, but also took away my appetite). I was always planning to go high power, as John was going to do low power with his special new callsign P44W. In 2011, he won high power and I won low power -- maybe we could reverse that this time. 

CQ WPX CW Contest Saturday, May 24- Sunday, May 25, 2014 – Contest notes more or less as dictated during the contest. Start out pretty much as in 2012 with the K3 on 40 as a run radio and the Pro2 on 20 to pick up some second radio Qs. 40 is pretty noisy. John had said there were expected to be thunderstorms in the US that will add to the noise, but I’m hoping it won’t be too bad. Surprisingly at 0220Z I get QRMd by key clicks from a UA5 about 300 Hz above me on 7014. Ironically, the same thing happened in this contest in 2012 from another UA5. At 0318 I work RT3O and then am suddenly jammed by someone sending RT3O over and over on my frequency (I assume inadvertently), so I take a very brief break at 410 Qs by 301 Pfxs for 704k points. The beverages have been very helpful in making signals readable and also being directional. Have been on 7014 the entire time but now need a new frequency. Now on 7009 and to top it off, the clicky UA5 dupes me at 0334Z! I’ve had the computer set at 35 wpm the whole time, with the Winkeyer pot set at 32-33 for hand sending. It’s 0423Z, passed a million points a little while ago, now at 513/356 for 1.038M points: 485 on 40, 28 on 20.

 I’m running out of things to do on 40 as the rate has slowed way down at 0648Z. Will move the Icom to 80. Note that though it’s been very hard work, in the first six clock hours I have 686 contacts, an average rate of 114/hr, which is really good for 40m.

At 0730Z at 810/499 for 2.269M points. Only 18 Qs on 80. I’ve even been doing some 40/80 dual cq’ing, but there is very little activity on 80 and lots of noise, so contacts there are few and far between. I think I’m going to take about 1¾ hours off now. My stomach and back have been hurting and I can use a little sleep, but I want to be on the air in the 9 and 10 clock hours to try to work JAs.

A short nap, wake up feeling pretty good, and first contact is at 0914Z. I turn the beam to the NW and the second contact is JJ1IRS, first JA and a good sign. I have to slow down to 29-30 wpm. A few JAs are strong, but most are weak and I need many repeats. At 1105Z, just broke three million points. I’ve been working JAs and some interesting Pacific, including two YBs, 9M6, VKs and ZLs. Copy on the JAs is difficult, as their signals sound watery and soft without hard edges that would make it easier to distinguish characters clearly. [However, this and a similar stint on Sunday morning were well worth it, as I ended up with 51 JA prefixes in all.]

It’s getting time to go to the high bands, with the K3 on 15 and the Pro2 on 10 waiting for an opening. Second contact on 21033 kHz at 1114Z is P33W, who gives me number 2982 to my 948, an incredible total for a multi-single. Interestingly, two minutes later his compatriot P3N gives me 2984!

It’s 1255Z, having a pretty good run on 20133 but key clicks from an OE1, nearby, are driving me crazy. Falling asleep, will take a brief break (turns out to be 9 min) and make some coffee and walk around a bit. Return feeling much better. Now it’s 1610Z, I’m at 1475/701 for 4.8M points. Band totals are (10-80): 15, 509, 59, 874, 18. Good time to take an hour off. The last hour was 77 Qs, which is awfully low for the high bands. (This may have been a solar event). Both 20 and 10 seem to be open mainly to the states right now, not to Europe.

 Back on the air at 1723Z, and have a nice run on 10 on 28026. The off time was a good move. Have the C31 pointed NW and monobander NE, sometimes using both simultaneously. The EU propagation spotlight can be pretty focused on particular regions. OM/OK is very loud for a while. It’s now 2100Z and have been on the air for exactly 18 hours as measured by WPX off-time rules (min 60 minutes off), so it’s the halfway mark of the contest for me. Total is 1913/794 for 6.514M points. Band totals on 10 and 15 are now 447 and 515. [Interestingly, I finished at 3868 raw QSOs, almost exactly 200% of this total, and a score of just over 16M points, about 250% up, showing the cumulative nature of WPX scoring.] Since I only have 59 Qs (all from the first night on the second radio) on 20, it would seem to be a good time to put in a few hours on 20 before going to 40 for the evening. First I’m going to stretch my legs for a few minutes.

At 0019Z, have had a good three hours on 20, all on 14027. Moving to 40 after a 10 minute break, it’s too messy on 7016, so I move up to 7024. But it’s very slow on either freq. Not sure what is wrong. There are very loud EUs all around, but very few takers answering my CQs. Since my strategy is to maximize 40m contacts, this is very frustrating. Maybe I just came down too early and have to wait an hour or two. Calling CQ on 14023, gets two immediate answers, a VU3 and an US4, both new prefixes, so I take that as a good omen. 20 works pretty well (e.g., the 0100Z clock hour is 124 Qs), but it starts to slow down, so I head back to 40 at 0246Z. Now at 2546/906 for 9.2M points. I have a reasonably good hour and a half on 40, including a digression to 80 that yields almost 30 Qs. I’m going to call it quits for a couple of hours. It’s 0449Z; I’ve been on the air almost 26 hours, so I need to take 9 hours off in the next 19 hours to the end of the contest. Totals now are 2721/926 for 10,351,754 points. Updated band totals 20-40-80 are 662, 1051, 46. I promptly lie down and enjoy about four hours of sleep. Ah, the joys of the required 12 hours off.

 It’s now 1043Z and I’ve just been on 40 for an hour and 10 minutes working some 84 stations, including a lot of JAs and new prefixes (28 in all), so it was a good idea to get up for this JA opening. This last spell on 40 was fun, though it can be tough when you have a JA pileup of callers all of whom are on the same frequency, at the same loudness (not very), and of the same length callsigns. Now to sleep for another 4½ hours or so. I set the alarms for about 1025 local time, but I wake from a deep sleep in the middle of a dream naturally about five minutes before that time. Not like last year’s CQWW SSB, when I went to sleep for two hours, slept through the alarm, and woke up four hours later. After a shave, shower, change of clothes, coffee and a bite to eat, I feel like a human being again, energized to hit the high bands for the rest of the contest. Interestingly, I really haven’t been hungry this weekend, probably due to my stomach ache. I didn’t notice it in bed, but upon getting up it returns at a low level. I force myself to eat a bowl of frosted flakes (my Aruban vice), and the coffee certainly is welcome. Looking at the 2012 rate sheet, I appear to be exactly on course. At the moment I’m 90 QSOs behind; however, I have about an additional hour of operating time available that I didn’t have left in 2012.

  I resume on 21008 at 1449Z. At 1627Z, I just broke 12M points and 3k contacts. I had to fight off a YE1 a few times (imagine having a frequency fight with an antipodal station!!). At about 1847Z, W2YC opens up, loudly, about 100 Hz above me, with nary a QRL? I ask him to move several times but he ignores me and keeps CQing. At 1909Z, the contest average rate finally tips up to 107/hr from 106, where it had been stuck for hours (107 was the final hourly average rate in 2012).

 It’s 2002Z, four hours left and I must make a tactical change. I’ve been on 15 for the last five hours (now at 1152 Qs there, with a total of 3443/1041 for 14.1M points). I was listening to P44W on 10 on the second radio. He was on 28002 for a long time, working lots of interesting stuff, though the band didn’t seem busy. I kept thinking I should go to 10 also while it still is open, but I was having a steady pileup on 15 (averaging 122/hr), so never needed to move. I do go to 10, but make only 59 Qs in 40 minutes, as the band is starting to fade out. So off to 20 to finish out the contest at 2053Z. There’s an unruly pileup for about 15 minutes, then a nice steady rate, as I stay on 14025 all the way to the end of the contest. Barely break 16M points in the last few minutes with a few new mults. I had been using the Bencher paddle for hand sending, but what a mistake! About an hour before the end of the contest I actually lose a KC6 mult because I can’t correctly send NR? with it! I replace it with the N0SA that I had been using to send a tone to tune the amp, and it works much better. Pretty embarrassing, frankly.

I pick up John and we drive up to TR’s for a two-person post-contest dinner swapping contest tales, then back home by about 11 p.m. In the southern part of Oranjestad there were many hundreds of cars parked in the beach areas -- presumably some event as part of the “Soul Beach” week.

Soapbox, as sent to 3830 reflector: 

This was deja vu all over again -- QSOs, Pfxs, score all within 1% of 2012. Conditions were generally good, though 80 in particular was very noisy and relatively unpopulated. 10 wasn't as much fun as it can be, but there seemed to be endless stations on 15.

 Thanks to the many fine operators that can make a CW contest, when everything is clicking right, a grand activity. There also were some who struggled with hand sending. I almost lost a frequency listening to a station trying repeatedly to send the number 12 properly. Unfortunately, I have to put myself in the same category this weekend. Instead of bringing my Begali mono simplex from home (for me, the best paddle to use for proper sending), I foolishly had set up our old Bencher paddle for hand sending. I never really liked it, and now I remember why. The Bencher needs to be pushed around hard (at least as we have it set), but it was moving around on the table, with the result that my hand sending got worse and worse as I got more and more tired. Many apologies to those who heard NA? or NL? or some other variant when I meant to send NR? It got so messy that near the end of the contest I yanked it out and replaced it with an N0SA paddle that I can use much more clearly. Next time I won't forget to bring the Begali from home as I usually do. Sorry!

Thanks to everyone who gets on for this really enjoyable event (and thanks to the organizers for running it and requiring 12 hours of off time for single ops -- really appreciate getting some sleep and not hallucinating on Sunday!).

Rig: K3, 756 Pro2, Alpha 91B, 86
Ant: 1 el 80, 2 el 40, 4 el 20, 5 el 15, 2 el 10, C31XR (all F-12), beverages
Software: CQPWIN, ver. 12.5
Website: check out www.arubaqth.com.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed.

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

Here are some comparison scores.


P49Y 2014 HP

P49Y 2012 HP

P44W 2014 LP

P49Y 2011 LP









































Monday, May 26, 2014. I went to bed a little after midnight but inexplicably (and highly unusually for a post-contest Monday morning), woke up at about 6:30 without an alarm, and decided to get up and greet the new day. I sent my score off to 3830 with a brief note pointing out that Qs, mults, and score are all within 1% of 2012. Grabbed the stepladder and pruning saw from the garage and trimmed off the two lowest branches of the palm tree that were hitting the roof of the house over the MBR, to try to reduce the interior noise in the wind. I then set up the new RigExpert AA-54 antenna analyzer (which is a pretty slick device, by the way), loaded the software from the supplied CD to my laptop, and using the Antscope feature ran SWR scans of all the antennas. Using the Windows clipboard, I copied each image into a Word document, to have a record of antenna condx on that day.

Ran into some very strange 91B/C31 problems. Plugging the C31 directly into the back of the 91B allowed the amp to put out 1500 watts on all three bands, but doing so through a 3-foot or 6-foot jumper cable increased the reflected power markedly and the 91B only would load about 900 watts (even with the reflected power below the red zone). This was highly peculiar. Tried swapping out cables, barrel, jumpers, jiggling connectors, etc., to no avail [but see below, where this situation cleared itself up completely the next day.] Sent the plots and some emails off to John and Ed, and got sensible trouble shooting suggestions in return.

I had arranged to meet colleague Mike Martello and wife Pam for lunch at their hotel, the Marriott Ocean Club, which is the low-rise building just north of the big Marriott hotel itself. It seems to be a pleasant self-contained resort, with pools, beach, shops etc. We had a very good lunch at the patio restaurant, then I played tour guide for a couple of hours, driving them around the island to encourage them to rent a car and get out of the high-rise district. It was fun to see the island through their eyes. Started at the California Lighthouse, where I made a reservation for Tuesday dinner at the Faro Blanco restaurant, and Mike and Pam made their own reservation for Wednesday. Then south through Oranjestad, ending up at our house. John Crovelli was on the back tower, painting, when we arrived. On the way back after returning them to their resort, stopped in at Lisandro’s and chatted with him for a while. He was doing antenna work, repairing his Mosely Pro-67B, which had suffered insulator failures, among other maladies, due to recent high winds. Back at the house Crovelli was resting up from his labors, having finished painting the top 45 feet or so of the back tower. I trimmed off some more tree limbs that were rubbing against the patio roof to stop the squeaking noises.

We spent some time on the 91B problem, finding that a 12-foot jumper would cause the amp to load properly, but not the shorter ones. This was a mystery to both of us. One suggestion John had that turned out to be very useful the next day, however, was to carefully tune the 91B to try to center the tuning indicator. I generally had ignored that indicator in the past, just tuning quickly for max power, but found the next day that careful tuning would get to full output of 1500 watts. Also found out that the tuning was somewhat different at full power after having used the Tune function on the K3 set to 20 watts for initial tuning.

I took a run at Savaneta, but for some reason it was even slower than Friday’s. Not sure why, but think it was general tiredness intervening. I was so pooped that I just went through the Taco Bell drive-thru for dinner, then spent most of the evening reading the book “Unbroken”, a harrowing account of WW2 Pacific airmen POWs. A quick shower and to bed around 10:30.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014.  A packing, organizing, and socializing day. Packed up the bad Pro2 in my suitcase (along with its manual, power cord and hand mic, in case we decided to sell it), which meant that I didn’t have enough luggage capacity left for dirty clothes, etc. Decided to take the computer in our pink beach bag as a carry-on, and then return it when my law partner comes down in a few weeks, along with the big beach towel that is wrapped around the radio plus another such towel that I have had at home for several years from similar duty. Took the opportunity to throw out some junk from the MBR closet, including the ancient and rusty bathroom scale. Replaced the shack Heil Proset felts with ones I had brought from home.

Finally drummed up my courage to examine the 91B/C31 issue again. Lo and behold, this time the SWR scans on the C31 look fine, whether the amp is feeding the antenna directly, or through 3-, 6-, or 12-foot RG-8 jumpers (which are all easy to find, BTW, thanks to the wonderful organizing, boxing and labeling efforts of W6LD and W0YK). Also OK when hooked up through the StackMatch using a 6-foot jumper from amp to StackMatch input in the normal way. Using the 91B and with careful tuning to center the Tune control, it will put out 1500 watts on 10-15-20 into the monobanders and 1300-1500 into the C31. There were even occasional red flashes on the power bars! I saved all of the AA-54 scans as Antscope native-format files on my computer. As mentioned above, the tuning does change when going from 20 watts tune power on the K3 (it can be set higher) to full power output on the amp (which usually is 37-50 watts on the K3). Generally at full power, the tune indicator is too far to the right, which requires advancing the Load control to re-center it, which in turn requires adjusting the Tune control, etc. It’s a little tricky, since the 91B doesn’t have vernier tuning like the 86, and the controls are a little stiff. Time to declare victory and withdraw.

I finish working on the shack, leaving the K3/P3 as the left radio, with the Pro2 back in the closet. DXD cables for both are in the plastic bags in the closet with the radios. Emily, P43E, called, and we arranged to meet for lunch at the new Promenade restaurant, which is on the ground floor of the orange office building on L.G. Smith Blvd. just west of Ling and Sons. Before going, I climbed up the south tower to the roof to cut off the last palm frond that was brushing against the MBR roof in the wind. Emily and I had a pleasant lunch and chatted for quite a while. The food was also good (e.g., had an interesting cobb salad, better than the one I had had the day before at the Marriott). While we were there it actually started to rain, and kept it up for a while. I had taken a white beach chair and bathing suit and towel with me, expecting to go up to Eagle Beach for my obligatory once-per-trip swim in the ocean, but decided that wet sand wasn’t going to be much of an esthetic experience. Instead, went back to the house, then later had a run and a brief swim before dinner at my Savaneta swimming hole. Note that there are now two staircases into the ocean just south of Marina Pirata, the more southerly, which I used this time, has a metal staircase, and someone has even cleared a path of rocks and seaweed on the bottom to walk into deeper water. How genteel.

I had made a 7 p.m. reservation at the Faro Blanco and arranged to pick up Chris and JP to drive up together, and to meet Lisandro and Lissette there. When I got to their house, Chris was still at Carl and Sue’s awaiting the arrival of some German renters whose plane was supposed to have arrived in the late afternoon. JP and I chatted on the porch for a half hour or so, then I headed off to the restaurant by myself. To make a long story short, Chris waited until 8:30 p.m., but no one showed up -- turned out that they had canceled the trip but word hadn’t filtered down to Chris and JP. So Lisandro, Lissette and I had a very pleasant dinner, but we missed JP and Chris’s company.