P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Callsign Used:



Single Band 40m HP

Andrew L. Faber, AE6Y, P49Y

Tuesday, May 26 – Wednesday, May 27, 2015.  For reasons I now don’t recall (maybe due to flying on mileage), I flew through Charlotte, NC, instead of Miami as usual. The flights were on U.S. Airways, affiliated with AA, but I would say the planes (Airbuses) were less comfortable than even AA’s old 757 (replaced on the return route by newer but smaller737-800s) clunkers and had less room and inferior service in first/business class to AA. The Flight left SFO at 10:20 p.m., and there was a long layover in CLT at the very large Admiral’s Club there. The flight to AUA arrived at 3:30 p.m., and immigration, luggage, customs, and Hertz car pickup went so smoothly that I decided to drive straight to Ling & Sons to do grocery shopping. At the gate at CLT, I met Dave, NU4N, and his wife MaryDee, who are on the same flight, to meet up with the other Dave, N4QS, who was already at the P49V-DL6RAI QTH. They all live in Paducah, KY.  

The car is a Chevy Aveo with about 7,000 km on the clock. The island looks pretty dry, with no water at Frenchmen’s Pass. Took a run in pleasant weather, temp about 80 with normal humidity. As usual for my first run after the overnight flight, (a) I felt tired and weak, but (b) was glad I did it. The house looks beautiful, as always (thanks, Cris!).

It’s now 11:05 p.m. and I’m about to go to bed. I just hooked up the four beverages and checked all the antennas. I’m using the shack K3 as a single radio, intending to do a 40m single-band entry in the contest. The antennas all seemed to work on 10-80, running through the 4O3A filters, though I then disconnected all but the 40m yagi, and for that one I bypassed the filter, since it wasn’t necessary. The problem this evening has been the internet. For some reason using my laptop that has always worked fine there (and in fact worked at the airports on the way), I can only get local access through our wifi, not full internet access. The same is true if I connect directly with a CAT-5 cable (in plastic boxes above closet in 2d BR). It’s a real problem right now due to some heavy document and email demands at work. I’m tired and frustrated and going to bed.

Thursday, May 28, 2015. Woke up at about 7:30 and brewed some Lavazza coffee from Ling’s. I tried the radio out briefly on 15 and ran a few guys barefoot on CW. By the way, I listened today as on all days for evidence of the horrible noise that we had experienced in ARRL Phone and John had also in WPX Phone, which had been worst on 15. Never heard one wisp of it, and the high bands seemed relatively quiet for the whole trip.

Went over to visit the Daves and to see if my computer would work on Carl’s wifi -- worked fine. When Cris came over there to collect the rent, I asked her to call Setar for advice. Later, she told me simply to call their help number for internet from the phone book. A friendly fellow named Arvin walked me through setting up manual IP addresses, internet masks, etc. The changes needed were all to the TCP/IPv4 Protocols (one way to get there is by running the program from the Run menu, “control netconnections”, then going to Properties of the LAN). For reference, the addresses to use are; subnet mask; default gateway; DNS server addresses: preferred server, alternate server Amazingly, the internet then worked fine using the CAT-5 cable, though still not on the wifi. Fortunately we had a very long cable in the box that I can use anywhere in the house. What a relief!

On the radio front, I tried out the left Alpha 86 only on 40, and it seemed to work fine. On the right 86, I ran a number of tests on 20/40/80. First, using the two tubes from my home Titan, I got 1.5 kw on 20 and 40 and 1.2 kw on 80, all with normal tuning (unlike the 700-800 watt output in ARRL Phone with very touch tuning). Then a long work conference call, a bunch of emails, and back to the amp. BTW, to loosen the plate caps on the 86s, it would be helpful to have a set of the small jeweler’s open end wrenches, as well as the small Phillips head screwdrivers with a bent shaft. I actually took a break and drove out to the NAPA auto parts store west of Santa Cruz to get a 1/4 inch combination wrench (for $12) after the local WEMA didn’t have one. I next tried one Titan tube and one of the original tubes, the one of the two that seemed a little more discolored and beat up, and the amp did have less output. But I then decided to gently file off the discoloration on the anode caps of the tubes, and also a little on the outside of the pins (using a set of jeweler’s files that I had brought down for that purpose—another kind of tools that we should have on site). Replacing the two cleaned original tubes appeared to restore normal function to the amp. In fact, during the contest, I used the right 86 exclusively and it was rock solid at 1.2-1.3kw indicated. Note that an RG-8 jumper from our collection that I used made an intermittent connection with the center conductor of the output SO-239, which may have loosened up a bit over time (when I checked it out with the VOM, the cable was fine, and, when reversed end to end, it seemed to sit more solidly in the 86).

A lot more internet work, then at 5 p.m. off for another run, prior to meeting the Daves at the Marriott for dinner (there, because Dave NU4N and his wife actually had a traded time share week there so they were staying at the Marriott while QS stayed at the house). An overpriced but pleasant dinner at the restaurant on the beach at the Marriott Suites, with lots of ham conversation (which MaryDee gamely endured). Back home at 9:40 or so, I intended to go on 40m high power to test the amp, but I noticed that our neighbors to the south, James and Esther, seemed to be having a big party, with lots of cars out front, including in front of our house, so I decided to stay off the air to not risk bothering them.

I did spend some time listening, and adjusted the AGC on the shack K3 (THR=12, SL=2). Also set up the Sub RX controls using the menu to get the SUB AF control to work as a Main/Sub balance control and the main RF gain to control both Main and Sub. The sub AF gain control didn’t work smoothly, but by taking off both knobs and resetting them, smooth operation was restored. This required the smallest Allen wrench in our set, marked “.050”. Ran a few guys on 40 barefoot, then to bed.

Friday, May 29, 2015. A slow morning with a lot of internet work time, and some light reading. Took the 91B out of the closet and removed the tubes and the transformer, the latter being left in the MBR closet. The tubes I brought back in my suitcase wrapped in t-shirts. I put the 91B in the Alpha box inside the large, blue suitcase to take home for repair (it has some kind of power supply problem, Ed thinks – he had removed the PS boards but had not been able yet to diagnose the problem). It fit perfectly in the Styrofoam inserts, in which had been residing an Icom 756Pro2 box, which also fit perfectly. Left that box behind.

At about 2:30 went for a run. Felt better than yesterday, and my time was about a minute shorter than yesterday. Since the day continued overcast, it wasn’t too hot. Back home with a takeout lunch from Taco Bell, then tried to take a nap starting at about 4:30 p.m., but was awakened by phone calls from the office, so I eventually give up. A little before six I start putting out junk food and Gatorade and water and turned on the amp to be ready. The computer is hooked up in the usual way, though with one radio and CW it’s very simple. The computer has a USB port to the Compaq 4-port expander. One port to K3 serial control and one to the Winkeyer, from which CW and PTT outputs go to the DX Doubler. I used the Bose QC-25 active headphones throughout, though mostly just in passive mode to reduce the a/c drone (the active mode takes it out completely). They were very comfortable and also great on the flights home to listen to music or the movie.  

CQ WPX CW Contest Saturday, May 30- Sunday, May 31, 2015 – Contest notes more or less as dictated during the contest. I’m doing a single-band 40 meters. Using the right amp to start with, which easily loads to 1.2-1.3kw. Not sure if it will sustain that for the whole contest [later: it did]. The tubes are obviously a little weak, but I can easily switch the connections to the left amp if necessary. I haven’t been listening too much, but the noise level sounds reasonable on 40, so let’s hope that holds.

I get on the air about five minutes before the start of the contest at 2000 local time, running some guys on 40 and staking out a frequency. Then with literally just one minute to go . . . the power goes off! First a flickering, then a reduction in power such that the living room lights are still on full, but not the radio room or MBR lights, nor the wall outlet in the radio room, and no 220 vac for amps and a/c. Then the overhead lights in radio room go out completely. Very frustrating!

I go outside and James has some lights on also, as does the house across the street. Well, that’s that, for the start of the contest. It appears that a wire is down about 3 poles south of our cottage. An Elmar bucket truck shows up in about 20 minutes. I go inside – talk about being “all dressed up with nowhere to go.” I actually hook up an extension cord to the outlet by the chair in the LR, and plug the white master 120 vac outlet box into it, along with a desk lamp. With that setup, I actually run some 17 contacts low power search and pounce. It’s awkward to say the least, and I am worried about keeping the equipment energized in case there are power spikes when the power comes back on. And then -- even that power source goes out (presumably Elmar disconnected the working phase in order to fix the broken one). So I unplug everything and go to bed, but of course I’m not at all sleepy. A call from the office at 10 p.m. doesn’t help. Eventually lights and a/c return at about 12:15 (0415Z), and I get ready to go back on the air high power. By the way, we have lots of candles on top of the cabinet above the stove, as well as our two flashlights (and an iPhone screen, of course).

The first contacts require lots of repeats on the number, particularly when I’m just sending a single or two-digit number. I generally don’t use a leading zero, but this is an occasion when it would be helpful. I’m on 7013.30. At 0423 local time, 0823Z, I’ve been on a little over 4 hours and have 407 Qs with 289 prefixes, score 681k points. Things have slowed down greatly. Europe stopped at about 0630Z (showing that I missed the best EU 4 hours of the contest). Some KH6 and VKs; also two JAs, very weak and bad copy, so I’m waiting for them to show up in the next hour or so. The right 86 has been working like a champ with its old tubes, putting out a solid 1.3kw with about 40 watts of drive (and 50 watts will drive it now to 1.5kw). Started at 36 wpm, then 35, now down to 30 to try to get JAs. I’ve worked a few guys using the sub RX on the K3, with the CQ interval set to 4 seconds.

It’s 1100z, and the JA run stopped a while ago. It’s daylight though quite cloudy and looks black to the north. There was actually some rain last night. I’m still getting some East Coast callers at a slow rate. Very sleepy, so will have a little walk around the house. At 1109Z, I think the K4BAI record at PJ4 set in 2013 is safe for another year. There’s no way I can break it with my terrible start, so there is no point killing myself to eke out the last morning contact on a semi-dead band. A very disappointing first night: 572 QSOs by 366 mults for 1.215M points.

I sleep/doze for a few hours, then, get up at about 1415Z for some coffee and food, including a bowl of muesli with a banana and some banana milk (there were no Frosted Flakes at Ling’s for some reason). Nothing much to do, reading, internet work, cleaning up the place a bit. I throw out the old magazines in the living room, then turn my attention to the small book shelf in the dining room, which is very dusty and also full of old and multiple copies of guidebooks, restaurant flyers, “Destinations” magazines (the one they give you at the airport) etc. I take apart the MFJ noise sniffer, and find the 9v battery terminals corroded. I go out and buy new batteries at the Mundo Nobo in Santa Cruz (strangely, WEMA doesn’t sell them). I also buy some Lock-Eze at the Napa auto parts (they had several cans, slightly rusty , with date codes of 2007 --- obviously not a big seller) to lubricate the front door lock and the padlock for the gate.

There is still something wrong with the battery connector on the MFJ, however, but since there is no noise on 15m anyway, I just decide to take it home [where I miraculously find the small 3 el. yagi that comes with it languishing in my garage]. Listening to the radio, 15 is really jumping, and with a very low noise level. My choice of 40m single band has certainly dulled the daytime hours. Out of boredom I verify that our old TV works fine, though its remote doesn’t, even with fresh batteries.

First QSO at 2114Z, DL2CC, is S9, but there are very few Europeans on the band. This is about an hour and three-quarters before sunset here. I have to go though several repeats to get him to hear me. Other loud EUs, I’ve either worked or they don’t respond. I start calling CQ on 7119. First call at 2138Z is a loud IB9T, but he’s a dupe. The EUs all have numbers in the 2000 range, and I’m stuck below 600 – very embarrassing, and it engenders repeated queries from callers. Now on 7037.8 and hear terrible key clicks from LZ9W about 500 Hz below; have to QSY. At 2352Z I finally break 2 million points on QSO 750 with S56X. 463 mults. So far 9 1/2 total hours of operating time. Running on 7012, another clicky station is DL5AWI nearby. I take a food break at 0110Z for about ten minutes.

At 0217Z with just under 12 hours total time, now at 941 by 568 for 3.086M points. Suddenly at 0250Z after a good run, the band dries up and at least 30 CQs go unanswered. On 7024.5 where I am CQing, YT4W suddenly opens up on top of me; he did the same thing earlier on another run frequency, but in each case he moved.

At 0710Z I’m literally having no one answer, so I’m going to take an hour off and come back. Actually, I stay on and slog it out. First JA is JA1BLX at 0804Z. Then several more JAs but it’s hard copy. I just fell asleep at the key and was awakened by hearing a question mark in my earphones. The 0800Z hour yields only 39 contacts. This is slow and unrewarding, but was excited to have an easy contact with FK8CE for good Pacific DX. I’m getting sleepier and sleepier and am going to give up at 0943Z. I should stay on for another hour and a half, but this is just hopeless. At 1336 by 724 for 5.59M points.

I wake up at slightly after 1400Z (10 in the morning) feeing wretched, but decide to have some coffee and food and see how the day goes. This has not been a very enjoyable contest. It’s another overcast, windy day. After two cups of coffee I have a sudden urge to get a McD burger, and buy some large trash bags at Mundo Nobo to do some cleaning up. In particular, there is all this stuff on top of the cabinets in the kitchen, including old coffee cans and such, and also lots of half-eaten packages of food in the freezer that should go. As I have noted on previous visits, that store is absolute plastic bag heaven, with aisles and aisles of them from many manufacturers. A very strange emphasis in stocking the store.

Back from a sunny, but not too hot, and windy run at about 1830Z. A slow run, but felt fine. There were lots of people about in Savaneta and at the Mangel Halto beach. This may just be normal for a Sunday afternoon. It seemed unusual, but then I realized I probably had never gone running on Sunday afternoon before.

Back on the air for the last segment of the 40m contest, before it ends at 2400Z, first contact is YU2A for a new one at 2155Z. Chased off 7024.5 by UP2L, though I do work him for a new mult. On 7011 at 2158Z I am apparently spotted as P40Y, as there is a sudden flurry of stations calling after a long dry spell. I work some and refuse to work some (including D4C, who is supposed to be non-assisted). Since I’m giving my call after every contact and calling CQ a lot, the callers are obviously just following spots. Finally 6M points at 2319Z. The contest mercifully ends at 1436 by 757 for 6.25M points, after making only three contacts in the last ten minutes, though I’m sure to have some reductions due to difficulty in copying the numbers. Only 100 contacts in the last two hours.

I let things cool for a few minutes, then turn off the gear and drive over to Lisandro’s and Lissette’s house to go out for dinner. Unfortunately, Lissette isn’t there due to some family medical problems, but Lisandro and I have a pleasant dinner at our regular haunt of Peanuts in downtown (keshi yena as usual and a Greek salad). He had just returned from training in Barbados, so he had lots to say about that island. I returned to him his Yaesu VX8R that I had had repaired in California. Back at the house, then a midnight dump run to an open dumpster near the Valero in Santa Cruz.

Soapbox, as sent to 3830 reflector: 

How did I manage to anger the Contest Gods? What did I do wrong in my life since the last WPX CW to deserve this? 

After years of doing WPX CWs as an all band entrant, both high and low power, I decided for no very good reason to do a single band 40 and try to break the SA record set two years ago by K4BAI at PJ4. With that in mind, I was dutifully holding down a good freq just before the start of the contest, the K3 and Alpha 86 blowing a suitably-sized hole in the ether, and then, literally ONE MINUTE before the start of the contest, the power went off! The power on Aruba is normally very reliable, but this time a line had broken about 3 power poles from my house. Actually, one phase still seemed to be active as the lights were still on in the living room, so after a while I thought maybe I could run the radio, low power, off an extension cord, and operate with a desk lamp for light. I set this up and did work a few guys search and pounce, but it was very slow, and after a while even that power went off as the bucket truck from the power company was working on the problem. So... nothing to do but go to bed until the power was restored. But that cost almost the entire first 5 hours of the contest -- the prime EU time on 40 from here. 

Unfortunately, I think I never recovered from the power outage, mentally or in the score, so John's record is safe for now (and I doubt anyone would be tempted to try to break it again until a much lower point in the solar cycle). 

Apart from that misfortune, Aruba was its usual "one happy island". Nice to see Lisandro (P43L), Cris and JP (P43C and P43A) and the two Dave's (N4QS and NU4N, operating from the P49V-DL6RAI QTH). We missed W2GD, who sat out this contest, and of course it was sad not to have P49V and P43JB with us any more. 

BTW, thanks to co-owner John, W6LD, P40L, and Ed, W0YK, who fixed the corroded feed point problem on the 40m yagi this spring. I can't complain about the antenna, which seemed to work great (along with beverages for receiving). 

Rig: K3, Alpha 86
Ant: 2 el 40, beverages
Software: CQPWIN, ver. 12.8
Website: check out www.arubaqth.com.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed.

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

Monday, June 1, 2015. A very sound sleep until about 7:40 a.m., then a couple of cups of joe perked me up. Sent off my contest report to 3830. As expected, others are posting very good results on 15 and 20, which both seemed hot all weekend in my occasional listening. This may have led to reduced activity on 40. Off to the Hyatt for a pancake breakfast, my usual Aruban vice, then stopped in for a contest chat with the Daves. They had a great time, making 7.2M points as a low power multi-single. A sandwich for lunch back at the house, then took apart the radio stuff, packed up the Alpha 91B ready to go, and off for a run at Savaneta, followed by a brief swim in the ocean just south of Marina Pirata. There is now a nice steel staircase into the ocean. I chatted with a guy who was fishing by using a trap, about 4 ft square by one foot deep, He said that he leaves it in deep water and retrieves it twice a week by swimming out to it. There were about a dozen fish inside, four or five of which he kept for eating. He told me some of the names, but the only one in English was “doctorfish.” Never seen that before.  

To Cris and JP’s to chat with them and the kids, go over finances, leave some funds with her, then to dinner at Texas de Brazil, the churrascaria restaurant opposite Playa Linda.