P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Station - I first thank John P40L/W6LD and Andy P49Y/AE6Y for giving me an opportunity to pilot their wonderfully rebuilt station this week. I hope the world situation improves over the month's ahead so they'll again be able to enjoy this gem on Aruba.

Note: All of the P40L/P49Y towers are on a small 100 x 100 foot lot: Rohn 45 tower (66’): Single boom 2-element shortened 40m interlaced with 4-element 20m (68’) (JK2040, long-boom version); 80m Inverted-V (65’); 160m Double-L center-fed vertical dipole (65’) North Rohn 25 tower (56’): Single boom 5-element 15 interlaced with 6-element 10 (58’) (JK1015 configured for dual feed) South Rohn 25 tower (45.5’): Tri -bander (JK Mid-tri) - Backup not used. Beverages: 4 controlled by K9AY switchbox: West-US (800’), East US (500’), EU (800’)and East-West (AF and OC) (350’) Rig: Elecraft K3/P3 + Alpha 91B 900 to 1000 watts Logging software: Win-test 4.28

This has been a most enjoyable week. I had the pleasure of piloting a well engineered station that was fully renovated just one year ago - all new towers and antennas. After years of struggling to make things work on most of my visits this was really a treat. It released me from enduring the typical two days of physical exertion that it takes to make my own station functional. The absence of the subsequent fatigue played a role in how this one played out.

Arrived a week before the contest. Had to call in a favor from my oncologist to get the required Covid19 PCR test done within 72 hours of departure for Aruba. Left for Newark Airport with 18 inches of snow still on the ground and a minor ice storm in progress. Fortunately the weather took a turn for the better just hours before takeoff and the trip down went smoothly. I felt very safe on a flight where every passenger had just tested negative for the virus ... probably a better place to be than the weekly trip to the local food store.

Initial station setup and testing went as hoped. All of the antennas looked visually great on their rust free towers and the SWR curves looked perfect. The only antenna that didn't sound quite right was the NW beverage. On Thursday I did battle out in the cactus patch - ultimately discovering the NW beverage wire was on the ground in two places, covered by some nasty needled brush and bushes. After two hours of work with a branch trimmer the wire was in the air and normal operation was restored. The NW and North beverage antennas were exclusively used for receiving on 160/80/40 the entire contest. All of the beverages are located ~500 feet or more from the power grid so they are very quiet and directional - one of the special features that make this station so effective. If you can't hear them you can't work them.

Conditions leading up to the contest weekend were nothing special since there were no sunspots, and the prediction of a solar wind event loomed large. Unfortunately that prediction was accurate and things started downhill just as the contest started. Sigh.

My free time offered an opportunity to do a few maintenance projects at the real P40W. Repairing a broken beverage and then scraping and painting one of the two towers filled some of those hours but it was on a very relaxed basis. Getting ahead of things is a luxury down here ... the salt and wind never stop doing nasty things to steel and copper.

K2LE and W1VE had to cancel their plans to do a LP M/S at P49V. This left me as the sole P4 operation as happened during CQWW CW. Figuring out a set of goals ended up being a blend of the 2020 P44W ARRL CW operation and factoring in the rates seen during last fall's CQWW CW when there were no other stations active. I thought a stretch goal would be about 6500 contacts (compared to the 5000 logged last year) - was very happy to be proven wrong.

My rate sheet is at the bottom of this report. The first hour was really amazing (I'd almost decided to start on 20 but fortunately reconsidered). Twelve hours over 200 and another 12 between 150 and 200 kept me hopping all weekend. Conditions on 40, 80 and 160 were exceptional with no QRN. But there was a touch of absorption creeping in on 160 as the hours passed ... signals sounded 'dull'.

About two hours after local sunrise Saturday, 15m went almost completely dead. Some form of solar event had occurred, I could hear the sun literally 'talking' to me. I've experienced this many times down here and just hoped it would not last too long (it didn't - 15 minutes). Ran off nearly 1000 contacts over the next four hours. That's what I call a run.

At 1800 I saw blips on the P3 scope revealed life on ten meters. The highest rate of the weekend would be enjoyed over the next 2.5 hours as 571 contacts were logged, with the rate peaking out at 273 an hour. No meters like ten meters came true once again. It was a somewhat unusual opening since it started favoring the west coast and then worked itself east (normally it's the other way around).

Before the contest started I aimed the station's monobanders at 317 degrees, which slightly favored the central and western USA. Never touched the rotor controllers again the rest of the way. With the Yagi tips now pointing toward EU, there was a deep null which prevented hearing much from EU over the entire weekend - sort of like having tunnel vision toward the States and Canada. JK antennas rock!

Twenty meters Saturday afternoon sounded completely normal down here although I could see the WWV numbers said conditions were still on the way down. High 200+ rates were enjoyed for several hours before the big fad out around 0100. Cycled through the lower bands for the next six hours till bed time - trying to be on 160 at the top of each hour per tradition. Rates were about 20% better than normal overall.

At the end of January, 2021 the US governement implemented Covid testing rules that require a negative test within 72 hours of boarding any return flight to the States. Earlier in the week I was fortunate to schedule my test for Sunday morning at 1215 UTC. This is normally a slow time from past experience so losing an hour seemed a small problem. The entire drive through testing process at the island's hospital was very efficient - I lost just one hour door to door. By the end of the contest a negative test result needed for my planned Tuesday departure was in my in-box.

Conditions were noticeably subdued as Sunday progressed. Ten meters opened for about one hour again at 1800 but it wasn't as deep an opening as the previous afternoon. But overall it was great fun putting over 700 ten meter contacts in the log ... something not experienced for many years.

Finished out the contest moving from 15 to 20 to 40 and eventually on to 160 during the final five minutes. The hoped for sked with a DC station didn't quite work out but I made three other competitors very happy with a new multiplier in the last few minutes on Topband.

During the weekend, over 80% of all contacts were made sending by hand. I just enjoy it.

I also want to thank those of you who were willing to move to another band with for a new multiplier - it was greatly appreciated!

Congrats to Dan, N6MJ, for his masterful remote operation of ZF1A and the well earned new Single Op Unassisted World Record. Great effort OM!

A huge THANK YOU to the 179 operators who worked P44W on SIX BANDS and another 205 of you that made it into the log on FIVE BANKS. I had as much fun working you as you did chasing me down. BRAVO!

Hoping to return once again to this One Happy Island for the WPX CW in May.

73, John, W2GD aka P44W P40W