P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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CQ 160 CW





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This year I discovered a new route to fly from Germany to Aruba. From Dresden there is a convenient long-haul flight with LUFTHANSA from Frankfurt to Bogota (Colombia) and then just a short flight from Bogota to Oranjestad. Total price and travel time were comparable to the routes over North America. And there was nice surprise being upgraded from Premium Economy to Business which enabled me to have some sleep on the 11-hour flight. Tnx Lufthansa!

After arrival at the evening in Bogota I spent a night in a hotel nearby the airport. A good opportunity to get rid of the jet lag. Next morning AVIANCA Airlines (member of Star Alliance) provided good quality, relatively spacious seats in the Economy Class and even a small meal at this short flight to Aruba Thumbs up!

I arrived relaxed in Oranjestad and this time I passed the customs without issues. As this year the rental car prices have increased significantly and I expected not much traveling on the island, I chose not renting a car and took the taxi cab to the cottage instead.

Arrived at the cottage, Cris, P43C, was already waiting for me. And my license was present! Unfortunately, this year for whatever reasons the local authorities missed to issue my license upfront my visit (despite timely application) but Cris finally managed to resolve the issue still before my arrival. Thanks again Cris!

And as this year I had no own car, Cris even helped me by driving with me to the super market nearby. That saved a lot of time.

First actions were to set up my laptop’s software to the actual K3 configuration and testing interfaces to the sound card and the P3. But with the experience of the previous year this was no major issue.

But then surprisingly the operation via the SIXPAK failed and could not see an obvious reason for. To not lose time I simply skipped the SIXPAK logic. I already was aware that due to some previous arcing the 80m SIGMA dipole would run just 400-500W. Unfortunately, already at 100W the SWR was varying widely, so I stopped trying 80m. There was still an option to build and install a temporary 80m Inverted Vee to mitigate this issue. Finally, all the other transmission antennas were fine.

I started a run on 20m to EU, as usual with a big pile up from Central EU. Later I changed to 40m and at 22UTC in the middle of big EU pile up suddenly JA0DIN called in. Wow, he came via Long Path, a great new experience! It was quite difficult to explain EU why they should stop calling while a good opening to them. Within minutes a big JA pileup grew, plenty of big guns like JA5AUS, JA5AQC, JA4LKB, JH2FXK and showed up one by one. Well, after half one hour of this exiting JA run incl. a couple of VK the game was over.

Next morning I started my plan to extend the EU beverage. Adding 150ft more wire sounds basically easy. But not in a plot of dense vegetation with lot of thorns and cactuses Moving the existing radials at feed point to the new feed point was more difficult than expected as the wires frequently hooked on the vegetation and sometimes each other. Pulling the extension wire and adding the coax extension was not easier. Certainly, there was a reason why the wire was no longer before.

On the way from the shack to the feed point a group of free running guard dogs of the neighborhood noticed me and approached me very soon. Well, it first looked a bit dangerous, but I already had similar experience from my last visit. It is important to show no fear (dogs smell your fear!). Doing a runner is not a good idea, and that might imply them to see prey. Just keep calm, go slowly your way, do not look directly to the dogs eyes and do not provoke them. Finally, they barked a lot, but there was no real danger. Back in the shack, the beverage noise at daylight was ok. Later at night I realized the performance was very disappointing. There obviously was an issue. I checked the coax DC loop resistance, but it was fine. At least there was no issue with the long coax, but either wire extension or the radials or both needed a fix.

Next day I replaced the solid wire extension by a new stranded wire and used the existing extension wires to extend the radials. Finally, it worked fine and there was significant improvement compared to the shorter beverage length before. I did not get the exact reason of the failure, but I guess the old very thin radials may had some interruptions.

Next day plan was to extend the W1 beverage. Unfortunately, I had to accept the vegetation in direction of the W1 extension simply was too dense for a one-man-operation. So, I chose doing the extension for the W6/JA beverage instead, which appeared much easier. Therefore, I used a brand-new stranded wire recently purchased by John on the Island. That should avoid any risk of already existing wire defects. Unfortunately, after a rather minor pulling tension the wire suddenly tore apart. This was quite surprising. This did not happen again, but the quality of the wire remained suspicious.

Pulling the new wire then was easy, but I had to pull back the feed coax to the new feed point. That was unexpectedly difficult, as first I had to untwist it from other existing parallel coax cables and as very frequently the coax has merged to the grown agaves and I had to carefully pull it out of them.That all took hours and was quite exhausting in the burning Caribbean sun.

My last task was to fix the East/West beverage. Somewhere in the middle the beverage wire was broken. Fixing sounds easy? Again, not in this Cunucu. Even visually following the wire path was very difficult in the very dense vegetation here. After some 100 hundred feet I came to a point where I had to quit further following up the wire.

But maybe I had already passed the position of the cut? When I walked back, I once again inspected the wire along its way and suddenly I saw the issue. There as a gap of roughly two feet and both wire ends still hung in the trees at correct height.

Later in the evening a new disappointment occurred. Both W6/JA and E/W beverage did not work anymore and there was indefinite DC loop resistance. Obviously, there was an issue with the coax. Oh no! Maybe pulling back the coax of W6/JA caused excessive mechanical stress to the coax? For sure a defective point along the long coax length was hard to find. And for the E/W beverage I had not even touched the coax.

At a phone call John advised me that he does not expect the rugged RG6U coax to fail, splicing issues at connectors are more likely.

Well, next morning, I checked the new feed point of the W6/JA beverage. Therefore, I shorted the coax in the shack, to be able to check the DC loop resistance from the field side. Surprisingly even after dismantling the F-plug indefinite resistance at the bare coax cable was shown. OK, what can we do? I cut the cable for one foot, and now with good resistance again, I added the plug and resistance was indefinite again. Well, I again dismantled the plug, measured the resistance again at bare cable, but still indefinite DC resistance. Rrrh!

I had to repeat this procedure three times (!) and after cutting roughly a total of 10 ft it remained stable. The resistance was roughly double than expected, but still in an reasonable range.

For the misfunction of the E/W beverage the reason fortunately was obvious, the coax has been over- bent at the plug, and I simply had to relieve the tension and re-tighten the plug.

The E/W now played very well again, for TZ4AM the E/W made a big difference. The W6/JA interestingly now provided one S-unit less noise but basically worked fine. But unfortunately, I missed a significant improvement on 160m. Interestingly on 40m it worked very well, at least from a short check. Later I remembered that I might have mounted the screen in the F-Plug incorrect, which may be a reason of the limited performance. Or maybe the new length was simply imperfect for 160m. This still need to be investigated by others.

Well, this year I spent of lot of time with the beverages and did not run so much pile-ups. But the main target of my visit was the participation in the CQ160 CW contest

Condx at this year’s contest I would consider as average. There was a good run around 01z at first night to USA with a 10-minute rate up to 156 and a 60-minute-average of 125. Around 03-04z and at EU sunrise there was the usual peak to EU, but generally EU was weaker then in the previous years But at least there was good signals from US all night long. First night brought roughly 800Q, not that bad. That made me hope to achieve a new record.

But at 2nd night sunset it became clear very fast, this will not happen. Condx was extremely poor and even US was almost impossible to work. Just 9 QSO’s in the first two hours to 00 UTC! And a 25 Q/h average over the next three hours made the contest boring. Then suddenly after 03z EU opened quite well for an hour and US came back, too Next hours by the EU sunrise an acceptable rate of 25 Q/h persisted.

After the EU sunrise I had to live with rather low rates from US. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the SD and NB mults. Usually they not very rare, but they simply did not call in and the two stations I saw in the DX cluster were not audible. Well, bad luck but other top stations missed states, too. But as sort of compensation I was called by KL7RA.

Unfortunately I had no beverage towards South Pacific. Sorry Holger, I once again was unable to copy ZM4T. For a short time he was audible, but big US-Pile-up prevented a QSO. Later I was called by ZL1?? but despite multiple repeats I failed to complete him.

More luck I had with JA4DND. Hiro managed to call at the right time to get into my log. Unfortunately, no more JA got through. But for a distance over 15000km and a path close to the North Pole any JA QSO is great.

Finally, I achieved 1.556m points with 1197 QSO and 75 multipliers / 56 States. Considering the actual band conditions this appeared to me as not bad. Even PJ2T as M/S had no more multipliers. So I was keen seeing the results of the competitors. After checking score at 3830 I saw P33W with 1,589m points. Too bad, that is that tight, just 2% difference! So eventually the CQ’s Log Check will provide the decision. Some days later, a big surprise, CT9ABO (OM3GI) posted a 2.5m score. Well, Josef, congrats to that great performance and winning the SOA category!

The day after the contest I let the equipment recover from hard work at weekend and visited Divi Beach. Perfect bright sand, perfect sun! Aruba is a perfect place for holidays! Later I spent the evening with Cris and Jean-Pierre at the BAREFOOT. It is a nice location with great food!

At this points my big thanks again to John, W6LD and Andy, AE6Y for let me operate again from their great station! And I don’t want to forget Ed, W0YK on top of John and Andy for all the support before and during my activity!

It was big fun again! And thanks ARUBA for the good weather!