P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

Back to P40L-P49Y Contest Page







Callsign Used:





Round-Up is great fun! Even with deteriorated propagation compared to recent years, it still offers a lot of excitement for the first weekend of the year. Overall, I really enjoyed the operating despite propagation/activity being less than the past 4 years. In fact, band conditions far exceeded my expectation going into the weekend in the aftermath of the solar flare a few days prior. 14080-130 was packed and even more so on 15M.

I didn’t go to 10M until Sunday morning. It looked dead on the bandscope, but of course once the Skimmers spotted me, there were pileups from Europe and NA. The activity dried up pretty fast, though, so I wonder how many stations even tried the band. However, this is a near-the-equator perspective where the north-south path can work well into EU and NA but they can’t work much of each other. When P4 and a couple others are the only stations on the band, and without per-band mults, why should northern latitudes spend time on 10 meters?

The high bands went up and down but never into a complete blackout. The transitions were amazingly quick. Even 40 and 80 exhibited some of this behavior. The low bands were quiet with clear, crisp signals most of the time. Late Sunday afternoon 10 and 15 faded extremely fast, in less than a minute. Soon 20 was hollow and watery. I had a 30-minute off-time contingency which I gladly took just to get away from the operating position. When I returned, things seemed more stable.


At times I could achieve peak rates of past years, but those periods didn’t last long. And, there were longer periods of low rates (for P4). I averaged 142 QSOs/hour compared to a personal RU high of 158 in 2015. 4000 QSOs is still virgin territory.

Mults were almost as high as they’ve ever been from here, so the score is only 2% down from the all-time high. As others have mentioned, WAS seemed to come earlier this year. DC was my last mult in the lower-49 and then 3 more called in for a total of 6 QSOs. Someone reported it was their first mult which just shows how different experiences we can all have in the same contest. Missed NB which seemed odd, and of course all the northern provinces. Also missed the A71 and VP8NO plus of course others I don’t know about.

OH2HAN was my 5th QSO on 10M and the first of 47 five-banders overall. Thanks to all of them and everyone who moved to other bands. And special thanks to all the professed non-contesters out there that make the event as active as it is for all of us. The EU participation seemed lower, and indeed the log has only 14% Europe vs. double that in prior years.

On average, operating technique continues to improve. More stations are sending shorter messages. OTOH, I’m grateful for all calls, regardless of messaging. At least the station is adding activity to the event and they’ll refine their messages with more time spent in contests.

This year’s Tail-Ender Award goes to K5ZD who laid his call perfectly in the deadspace between another caller and my replying transmission. If I hear a transmission start just as I hit a key, then I hold off a beat to see what it is, or even ESC out of my message (if it started) to copy the transmission. It’s worth doing that so I can roll right into the next QSO without wasting time on another CQ/reply cycle. Actually, a number of stations pulled this off and it really speeds things up. Sometimes their “tailend” may be an inadvertent mistake, but it still works as long as it doesn’t QRM something I need to copy. ;>)


In the weeks leading up to RU, I had the opportunity to dialogue with folks who were having various problems with their RTTY setups. I always learn things when discussing issues with others. And, I get my share of these challenges with my own setups.

Arriving late Monday, I was too tired to setup the station so that didn’t happen until Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile, I was dealing with DNS server IP address problems here in the cottage. Once the SO2R setup was complete, it worked fine on the right side, but not on the left. There was no FSK transmit. I found an incorrect setting in the K3 but that didn’t fix it. I checked all software configurations, switched from Rttyrite FSK to MMTTY FSK and back again, wiggled and re-seated cables, etc. Nothing worked and the problem didn’t make sense. Then, I moved the radio end of the FSK cables from the right radio to the left radio. That worked, validating that the left radio was OK. When I reconnected the left side FSK cables, it suddenly worked fine. I suppose there was an intermittent connection that was corrected with the unplugging/plugging, but I had already done that before unsuccessfully, so it is still a bit of a mystery. Point is, I am impressed that any of us get this stuff working!

On Wednesday, I noticed some disturbing unwanted audio spikes in the MMTTY spectrum display. This seemed to be interfering with weak signal decoding. I traced it to the audio-in connection on the DXP38 TNCs. Disconnecting those cables cleared up the spikes entirely. I don’t recall this problem in the past and all the components and setup are the same. Ignoring the technically better solutions, I simply added an audio isolation transformer at each of the DXP38 inputs. Problem solved, though I admit I cheated by not redesigning my radio, PC, modems, etc. to eliminate that nefarious Pin-1 violations and unbonded system components that cause this noise. Shame on me!

I tried some new mini-keyboards and trackballs that are wireless and facilitate easier, simpler setup. The keyboards are great, at least for my RTTY use where I seldom touch-type, but am just pushing a few single keys on the keyboard most of the contest. Still getting used to the new trackballs. The “non-thumb” button is on the side and harder to access with fingers, so I may have to abandon it. Or, go to a conventional mouse which may be necessary anyway as my hands develop more trembling.

I added the KXV3B with second pre-amp and KIO3B with USB CAT and audio to one K3. I was looking forward to comparing the internal Codec with the outboard USB soundcard I usually use. Unfortunately, I grabbed the wrong cable for also connecting up the P3 with the KIO3B running on USB, so this test will have to wait for WPX RTTY. In a couple RTTY contests from home, though, the internal Codec seemed to perform better than the external soundcard, but that is purely anecdotal. At the least, this approach eliminates the audio noise issue described above.

I have naturally good near- and far-vision, but the transition between the two is blurry. That transition is the typical distance to a LCD display. So, I have computer glasses that help immensely. And, you guessed it, I forgot to bring a pair. Fortunately I don’t often type info from the screen into the log, but I’m sure it slowed me down at times, not being able to clearly read the screen.

During the contest, two problem arose that were absent from all the testing and operating I did the week before. First, the left-side PC would develop a sluggishness that produced several seconds of delay before a message was set after being initiated. All PCs are identical in hardware and software, but clearly something has changed in this one. This was as frustrating for me as I’m sure it was for the other station.

Second, I was once again visited by our chronic self-inflicted RFI. We have wide-band RFI created on the second harmonic, e.g., 40M creating RFI across the entire 20M band. It switches on and off instantly and seemingly uncorrelated to anything being done in the shack. It will suddenly appear and then 5-15 minutes later it will be gone. When it is on, nothing can be copied below S5 or so. That’s the majority of signals part way into the contest period.

Folks, RTTY contesting has a major problem with far too many excessive transmit bandwidths. The extent of the issue is readily apparent with a good bandscope. Worse, there is little incentive to transmit a properly narrower signal because neighboring stations can move closer to you! Those who do transmit narrow are penalized because other stations can unknowingly position themselves too close, such that they themselves have no QRM, yet are creating terrible QRM for the “good guy”.


Each and every QSO is much appreciated. The fun of operating exceeds the achievement of contest goals. As always, thanks to friends John W6LD/P40L and Andy AE6Y/P49Y for sharing this cottage with me.

Rigs: Elecraft K3s (2), with P3s (2) Amps: Alpha 86, Alpha 91B Logging software: WriteLog 11.33b on three networked PCs, one for each SO2R radio and one master as backup. Tower 1: 4 elements 20 meter at 68 feet; 2 elements 40 meter at 76 feet; 1 element 80 meter Sigma 80 at 64 feet; 160 meter "Double L" vertical at 67 feet Tower 2: 2 (yes, two!) elements on 10 meter interlaced with 5 elements on 15 meter at 55 feet Tower 3: C31XR at 43 feet RX antennas: four 400-500 foot beverages using K9AY switching box/preamp

Thanks to everyone who got on a played radio with me this weekend!


Ed - P49X (W0YK)