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Andy Faber, AE6Y, Aruba Trip Notes Nov. 2016 CQWW CW

Andrew L. Faber AE6Y, P49Y

Tuesday, Nov. 22 -- Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016.  I now don’t remember why, but as in March, the ticketing worked out to a redeye on AA leaving SFO at 10:35 p.m. to Charlotte, then a 5-hour layover at the Admiral’s Club, and an almost 4-hour flight to Aruba, arriving at about 4:30 p.m. It all went like clockwork. Since I was planning to do a one-radio “classic” contest, I left my K3 behind, but did take my large blue backpack full of cables, Winkeyer, books etc., also two suitcases packed mostly with stuff for JP (two large Po-Sistel rotor controllers that he had purchased, and some stuff for Cindy and Lissette). Hertz gave me a nearly new Chevy Sonic, a small four-door car, but nicer than the Aveo I sometimes get. The a/c and radio worked well, and I spent some time listening to a Venezuelan station carrying an impassioned speech about the benefits of the Chavez-Maduro regimes (as far as I could tell).

They have made considerable progress in the grand plan to turn the main road south of the Airport into a divided highway. Large portions of it are now built, but actually nowhere did it appear to be open as such. There are some large towers (that would be good for radio) that seem to be involved in building a bridge over Spanish Lagoon. The house looks great, and there were no signs of water damage due to the recent heavy rains that I had heard had caused some grief at Ben’s house. Thanks Cris and JP!

After a quick unpacking, off to Savaneta for a normal run. Felt pretty good, though the run finished after sundown. The temp seemed to be in the low 80s, but there was higher humidity than in March. There were no signs of heavy flooding, but there was standing water in some areas along the roads (not near our house, though, as it is more elevated). I had been thinking of going shopping first, but seeing two cruise ships in port from the airplane convinced me that traffic to the north would be very heavy, so that was postponed till tomorrow. Dinner was Taco Bell drive-thru takeout. Then turned on the wifi, which worked immediately (Thanks, Ed!), and the laptop connected automatically. After dinner, the real treat was for the first time getting to use the electric spot water heater that JP had installed just after my last visit – how wonderful to take a true hot shower! There are three settings, and 2 seemed best for me. By the way, it was “on” when I arrived. Though it has an internal switch that shuts it off when there is no water flow, I’m going to put up a note saying it must be turned off – there’s an obvious fire hazard if that switch were to fail.

The next task was to hook up the radio. The shack was very clean and orderly (thanks, John!). There was only one radio in place, our shack K3. I hooked up the DXDoubler to it, bypassed all the 4O3A filters, got the computer running with CQPWIN, and all antennas seemed to load up OK. Tried the 91b and it worked fine also. Ran some guys on 40 and a bit on 80. Later, I joined in the CWT at 0300Z (2300 local time), just running, at 37 wpm on 40. I’m a bit rusty, and this was good practice. Also good to verify that all four beverages worked well. P40W called in and we arranged breakfast at 8:30 tomorrow. Place not specified, but Huchada’s implied. To bed at midnight.

Thursday, November 24, 2016.  Up at about 7:30 after a very good night’s sleep. I brewed some coffee then met John for breakfast at Huchada’s. The agenda for this morning was to go shopping at Ling’s, but I gave Martin and Truus a call, then stopped in for a visit at their house at Malmok. Very pleasant sitting out on their porch looking at the ocean. Their tower is gleaming white (even the mast), after John had contracted with a local painting company to do the repaint. Then to Ben’s for a visit with Alex (KU1CW) and Natasha. They had had serious flooding problems in the recent rain, and Alex showed me a trench he had dug to drain the back yard out to the street, requiring him to drill some holes in the masonry wall in the front. They had major roof leaks, primarily in the master bedroom. Natasha blames it in part on two families of iguanas that apparently have taken up residence under the roof tiles.

Then to Ling and Sons for a relatively cheap shopping trip. Even though I didn’t “shop on an empty stomach”, I still undoubtedly overbought snack foods. Came back through O-Stad; the traffic was OK, as there was only one mega-cruise ship in port (the Carnival Splendor). Drove down to the new beachfront parking area just off the roundabout south of the city (the same exit you take to go to the Barefoot restaurant). This is very nicely done, and there is something at the end called a Splash Water Park, which appears to consist of lots of large, floating inflated structures out in the water. It looks like a lot of fun for aqua-friendly kids. Can’t wait till Colton and Roxy learn how to swim and can try it out.

Off to a run at the airport, but first dropped in on Cris and JP, giving them JP’s two rotor controllers and leaving stuff for Cindy. Then a 45-minute run, fortunately it was mostly overcast and there was some breeze, so though it was hot, it wasn’t really unpleasant. Had some food back home, but of course I didn’t want to eat much in light of the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. Got on the air briefly at about 4:30 p.m. 15 was dead, sadly. Worked PJ4/K4BAI and 8Q7DV barefoot on 20, so maybe conditions will at least be ok on that band [Sadly, I never heard 8Q7DV in the contest, nor any of the zone 22 VUs that can normally be worked in the early evening on 40 and 20].

Lisandro and Lissette picked me up at 6:50 p.m. to go up to the Hyatt for a Thanksgiving dinner. It was a delightful outing; along with JP and Cris, John, and Alex and Natasha. In the middle I had a very nice telephone call with Holly, GMa and Roxy from Tania’s house in Portland where they were celebrating with 20 people. The buffet was excellent, and overall it was less crowded and quieter than in 2014 (perhaps making the reservation for 7:30 helped, as we were one of the last parties left when we departed circa 9:30). Back at the shack, I called up Ed, W0YK, and we had a 30m QSO on RTTY, using the K3 in Data mode and sending with a paddle plugged into the back. The K3’s internal antenna tuner seemed to have no trouble loading up the 40m yagi on this band. Strangely, for a guy who has handed out tens of thousands of QSOs from P49X in Aruba, Ed had never worked the island from home on the WARC bands, nor on RTTY. It was actually my very first RTTY QSO from here as well.

Driving home, I noticed for the first time the profusion of Christmas decorative lighting that is going up all over Oranjestad, including on all the light poles on the way out of town to the south. Even the pedestrian overpass at our roundabout has floral decorations (holly, mistletoe?) on the sides – hadn’t noticed any of this in the daytime. Also the roundabouts seem to be sporting decorations and lighting.

Friday, November 25, 2016. Up at about 7:30 and breakfast is some coffee. I rewired the C31 switch attached to the table leg to allow the radio to feed either the left amp and antennas or the right one. Checked out the Alpha 86 (the right amp), which easily put out a kilowatt on 160. Then switched to 15 and ran an EU pileup for a while with it. The right amp only feeds the normal antennas.

In contrast to yesterday’s social activities, today was spent pretty much in isolation. Had lunch at the Dutch Pankake House at the Seaport Centre, a traditional haunt. Called Ed at about 12:15 and we easily completed Qs on 17m and 12m (the latter a little surprisingly, given the poor conditions), just using the K3 barefoot, with its internal tuner easily loading the 10m yagi on 12 and the C31 on 17m.

Then a run at Savaneta, a nice hot shower (I’m getting used to these!), a nap, a light dinner of egg and chicken salad sandwiches, yogurt and cookies, then getting contest ready. I have the radio keying both the Alpha 91b on the left and the 86 on the right. During the contest I set the 86 at various times for 10, 15, and 160, and used the 91b on the other bands, switching between them using the table-leg-mounted switch. I had to remember to switch antennas manually on the Sixpak, and only the left amp gets to use the C31, but it generally worked very well in the contest.

CQWW CW Contest, Saturday (Zulu time) Nov. 26 -- Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Contest notes more or less as dictated during the contest.  I’m recording the whole contest on my Sony digital recorder (bought with JUG advice from K6XX). It is hooked up to the headphones output from the DX Doubler, just using a splitter to record headphone audio in stereo. At various times I forget to turn it on after turning it off during breaks, so the recording is incomplete.

A very nice run on 20 to start the contest, with first hours of 234 and 186 (only 46 minutes). I have only 14 mults (it’s mostly all US/VE and a few JAs), so I go to 160 at 0150Z after tuning around and discovering FY5KE and ZD8W on 20.

It’s 0547 and I’m going to take a break. Haven’t yet been on 80 save for one contact with 4O3A, who moved me there. Totals are 20: 428/16/13; 40: 418/47/13; 80: 1/1/1; 160: 95/17/10.

At 0810Z I hear very heavy rain noise on the roof. Now have 552/61/19 on 40 and 157/44/15 on 80. And 160 is 99/20/10. The bands have been pretty quiet, though I’m using the beverages exclusively. 40 is in great shape as usual at this time of the morning; it’s open all around the world. At 0819Z I’ve worked one new zone and three new countries on 160 in the last few minutes (CX, P4, 6Y) and decide to take about an hour and a half off. Back on the air at 1009Z, first contact is a new one on 80, PJ4Q.

To try 15 at about 1200Z. A rare one, JY9FC, CQs in my face, though he is S9 here. It’s 1249Z and I have had a raging EU pileup, now at 35 countries and 6 zones on 15 in the first 136 contacts. I’m getting very tired and losing concentration, so I think I’ll take an hour off – aah the benefits of Classic. I’m not sure it’s a good idea, but I think I need a break. I do go to sleep, but awake naturally after only 15 minutes, must be one of those short “power naps.” So I have some food and read for a while to use up an hour of off time.

Mults seem way down from 2014. For example, I’ve worked no deep Russians, no zone 18 or 19, no VUs. Switch to ten and make 204 Qs in the 14Z clock hour. But only 8 countries and 7 zones in the first 237 contacts on 10! At 12 hours of air time the totals are 1868 by 308 for 1.675M points.

I think I’ll look around on 10 for a while. While I was dictating this, P40C landed on my exact frequency to start a run, so I just worked him. At 1609Z I just broke 2,000 QSOs and almost 2M points, now with 266 on 15 by 48 countries and 12 zones. Still a very limited scope of propagation, as witness the low zone count. I have the 86 set on 10 (it was on 160 last night), which makes it easy to switch bands, though I miss not having a second radio to monitor other bands. At 1730Z I decide to take some time off after 14:23 hours of air time. Had a great run on 20 recently, so the totals now are: 2220 by 357 for 2.3M points. 10: 270/19/10; 15: 266/48/12; 20: 755/64/20; 40: 552/61/19; 80: 265/52/18; 160: 112/23/11. The bands are simply not wide open to large parts of the world, but there is lots of NA activity which is leading to good, but limited in scope, runs. But I think I should come back to 20 later in the afternoon, so I will take maybe an hour off, then do some low bands tonight and hope that 10 will be open to EU tomorrow [never happened!].

After a short nap and some food, I do some mult hunting on 15 and 10, working about 20 new countries and 9 zones in the next half hour, then at 1902Z I take another break, with the mult total now up to 386.

Well, it’s now 2305Z, the end of the first day for me, as I’m going to take some more off time after 216 and 156 clock hours in the 21Z and 22Z hours, on 15 and 20. Now have 6:25 left of my 24 hours and am at 2713 by 406 for 3.19M points. I’ve been working JAs on both bands, and AH2R called in on 15 (last night he called on 40 and next day on 20 as well). I was hoping to find some BY’s, but never heard a peep out of China in the whole contest. At 0018Z I spend 20 min on 40 mult hunting, with some good double mults found: HC2AO, ZD8W (which I now have on 3 bands – their signals are really strong here), HS0ZAR. I sleep for about two hours, then get up to look for more mults on 80 and 40. I don’t want to do runs on the low bands, even though that would result in some new mults, as I assume the run rates will be quite a bit higher in the daytime on the high bands. Between 0321Z and 0350Z, I work 9 new mults, which is a good trade off of time for score. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn the recorder back on for this time.

I have a good night’s sleep, arising at about 1020Z. Still have about 6 hours to go. Only find one new mult on 40: VK6LW for Zone 29 (don’t hear any other VKs). 20 is open to EU. On 160 I only hear the big multis. I brew a pot of coffee and decide to wait an hour to start afresh with the new day.

It’s 1435Z, with just under 3 hours left, I’m now at 3187 by 444 for 4.1M points. I’ve had a very nice EU run on 14080 and then a similar run on 21055. On 20 a YB1 called in for zone 28. Usually a number of them call, as they are anti-podal and typically have good signals, but this is the only one I hear in the entire contest. 15 is now at 748/74/21, while 20 is 1210/82/24. However, I’m not getting many new mults here, so I want to reserve some time for 10 in case it ever opens up. These runs have been at 36 wpm, which is the speed I’ve used in most of the contest. Slower on 160 and at 37 wpm near the start of the contest. There are some guys sending at 45 wpm or so, but I’m not comfortable doing that. I’m hearing only NA on 10 and on 15 no Russians, though I’ve worked many on 20, so I decide to wait a while to resume.

Back on 10 at 1601Z, but there are only a few NAs on working SA stations. I do work YW4D in nearby Venezuela for a new mult. The band has never opened to EU, very disappointing. A nice run for almost 2 hours on 15, mixed NA and EU. At 1747Z I have just an hour and eight minutes left, so I decide to get out of the house for a run and come back in the late afternoon to finish out the contest. Currently at 3525 by 450 for 4.6M points. My goal is to get to 3700 raw QSOs, which will bring me close to 5M points. I take a run at the airport. It is hotter and sunnier than yesterday and by the end of it I definitely feel lightheaded. Drive down to my favorite ice cream place, the Ritz, 4 km south of our roundabout on the right hand side for a cup of chocolate/strawberry ice cream that was very refreshing.

Back on at 2013Z, I run out the contest on 14040 with 220 contacts in my last hour and 8 minutes. Final raw score is 3745 contacts by 458 mults for just under 5M points. A few new mults did call in, including OX5M for a double mult, and the only zone 40 heard in the contest.

The contest ends for me at about 1730 local time, so I decide to go out to take in the lower end of the 160 vertical dipole, as long as I’m still unwashed from running. It’s easier than it used to be, as someone has bulldozed a road from the other side of the cunucu to the back of James’s house (which is now being extended outward into the cunucu). So the poles supporting the wire are easier to get to than before. Rolled up the wire and the rope, attached them to the tower as usual and put the three yellow fiberglass poles in the garage. As before there are stub yellow protectors on top of the rebar rods that are in the ground (3 in all). There were a few mosquitoes about; Lisandro had said that next week Aruba may well be plagued with them as a result of the standing water after the recent heavy rains.

John came by a little before 9 and drove us to a small post-contest dinner at Amuse, a restaurant on the water that seemed to be very much like an upscale version of Marina Pirata. We were close to being the only customers, but the kitchen stays open until 10:30 and we each enjoyed a salad, a steak and a Balashi. John did very well as a low power assisted entry. (To get to Amuse, take the main road north and turn left at the first light of the pair about a mile north of our roundabout, then turn right on the industrial road along the water for several miles, and it’s on the left.)

Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Slept very soundly then up for coffee to clear the cobwebs. First order of business was to prepare a 3830 report and send it off. Then I had a project this morning: I had brought down two tubes that K7ZS had sent me for my Alpha 91B at home. I swapped them out with the two in our station 91B and verified that the amp worked exactly as before with them in it, so they are good. Then replaced the original two tubes and checked that the amp was back to normal.

At about one, I left for a run at Savaneta, followed by a swim in delightfully warm and calm water. In addition to the wooden ladder leading into the ocean just south of Marina Pirata, a little bit further down the road (just about opposite the first intersection) there is a cast iron ladder leading into the water, and the bottom is sandy with no rocks, so it’s an ideal place for a float. This time I ran in my bathing suit, so just needed to replace running shoes with sandals to go in the water. The water felt great after a run in the sun. I wonder if it has gotten saltier (??), as I could float comfortably with my feet up even wearing sandals. I noticed my sandals were delaminating, so it would be good to bring down a new pair next time. Capped off the outing with a chocolate milkshake at the Ritz, then filled up the car at the Valero on the way back to the house.

At about five I went over to talk finances with Cris, leaving her some cash. I also made a contribution to her community holiday light decorations in the small park just up the street from their house. Their project is called Sero di Jan Flemming (Jan Flemming Hill, JF being the name of their District). They’ve built little houses (to create a “village”) and decorated trees and even cacti with thousands of LED lights. We went to see it at night after dinner and it is most amazing—what a stellar example of community spirit! Had dinner with John at Marina Pirata, sitting on the water as usual, joined for dessert by Alex and Natasha. Talked mainly politics and Belorussian history, not contesting.

Score report as sent to 3830 reflector: 

Call: P49Y
Operator(s): AE6Y 
Station: P49Y
Class: SOAB Classic HP
QTH: Aruba
Operating Time (hrs): 24 
Location: South America 

Band	QSOs	Zones	Countries
160:	109	11	23
80:	264	18	56
40:	555	23	75
20:	1405	28	86
15:	1060	22	78
10:	292	13	25
Total:	3685	115	343	Total Score	4,986,246
Club: Northern California Contest Club 


I've enjoyed the Classic version of CQWW for the past two years (2014 in CW and 2015 in Phone), and decided to continue the mini-tradition this year. It is so civilized, compared to the all-weekend grind, and doesn't leave you wasted for the next few days. This year conditions were very much below those of 2014, and my score is down about 10% from that year. Mults are way down, primarily due to limited 10 meters, while Qs are up, as long NA runs substituted for some of the DXing that wasn't possible this year. For example, here are the QSO, country, and zone totals for 2014 on 10-15-20: 880/78/28, 971/92/34, 664/80/36. And for 2016: 292/25/13, 1066/78/22, 1428/86/28.

In 2014, my family was with me for Thanksgiving, so I basically just worked the first 24 hours of the contest. This time I spread out operating time more, leaving about 8 hours for the second day of the contest. That was designed to try to sample some different propagation on the high bands (e.g., in the vain hope that 10 would open up to EU on Sunday, which it never did) and to stay off the low bands on Saturday night, except for brief attempts at mult hunting, to concentrate on higher rate hours on 15 and 20.

On the plus side, the noise levels were very low here, and it was not hard to hear guys calling. And not a single frequency fight in the whole contest!

Congratulations to John (W2GD), P40W, and Alex (KU1CW), P40C, for fine efforts from Aruba. Surely no one can have failed to work us this weekend (except for all the Asians and Pacific stations that I never heard, let alone worked). We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner together, also with Cris (P43C) and Jean-Pierre (P43A), and Lisandro (P43L) and Lissette, and Alex's XYL Natasha; and it was very nice to get a chance to visit with Martin (P43MR) and Truus (P43MRS).

Thanks to everyone for participating. And special thanks to the many US/VE hams for calling in on extended runs when there was propagation only to the NA. As usual, thanks are also due to John, W6LD, and Ed, W0YK, for keeping everything shipshape with the station (and to Cris and JP for ditto with the house itself -- with particular mention to JP for the delight of actually being able to take hot showers now with the new spot water heater for the shower that he installed for the cottage).

73, Andy, AE6Y, P49Y

Rig: Just one K3/P3!, Alpha 91B.

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

Software: CQPWIN ver. 12.9