P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Station - John P40L/W6LD and Andy P49Y/AE6Y offered me yet another opportunity to pilot their terrific station this week. I hope the world situation improves soon so they'll again enjoy their 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’) SteppIR 2-element (35')

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 - 100 watts

Logging software: Win-test 4.40

Another great week on Aruba - this never gets old especially during the winter months. The island is 'normalizing' with less restrictive travel requirements and nearly full relaxation of Covid rules.

Didn't miss the physical aspects of setting up my own station for this contest. All I had to do at P40L/P49Y was sit down and point the beams at 320 degrees (US/VE). Love simplicity.

No station preparations were required since I last visited here for CQWW CW last November. DL5MM (P40AA) used the station during the CQ160 CW just a few weeks ago. It was fun to enjoy some casual operating - all the time marveling how having more sunspots had changed the high band landscape.

Carefully watched what was happening on 160 and 10 meters before the contest - key bands for my low power entry to come. Spent some time over at P40W - doing long delayed beverage maintenance and painted a tower on Friday morning. The salt laden air never takes a vacation.

Conditions early in the week were exceptional - it was a shame they started to decline mid-week with a disturbance predicted on Sunday. Unfortunately the prediction proved accurate when things started downhill late Saturday. Notably, 160 meters were never very good all week with high absorption observed at this latitude.

K2LE and W1VE once again decided to cancel their trip to do a serious LP M/S at P49V leaving me the sole serious P40 operation as happened before last year's ARRL DX CW.

I set operating goals based upon the 2021 P44W SOABHP(U)log, factoring in being 13 dB weaker running low power and not having the cluster to pick off multiplier targets. The wildcard in the plan was propagation on 160 and 10 meters. I established stretch goals of 6100 contacts and 340 multipliers (compared to 6700 and 336 operating results running HP in 2021). I almost got there. The plan was conceived to strongly challenge the SOABLP record set in 2004 by K9PG @ WP3R - something I'd failed to accomplish twice before.

The P44W rate sheet is provided at the bottom of this narrative. With improved conditions I made the decision to start on 20 meters for the first time in many years - which fortunately proved successful.

Over the course of the weekend there were 6 hours over 200/hr, 12 hours between 150 and 200, and 13 hours between 100 and 149 - low power. After every QSY pileups began almost instantaneously. Manual call outs were still very obvious. There didn't seem to be that much difference between high and low power except perhaps the depth of the pileups.

Conditions on 40 and 80 were exceptional - strong signals and no QRN at all. But as mentioned earlier poor conditions on 160 meters continued - very absorbed and a big disappointment. Without the aid of the cluster it was impossible to take advantage of spotlight 160 openings as they occurred. Moving stations from 40 or 80 to 160 was successful less than 30% of the time.

Sleep management is an important aspect of the plan since lack of rest impairs efficiency (at 72, this is a real factor). On Friday afternoon I banked about 4.5 hours of rest before the start. The general plan was to take six hours off (three hours before local sunrise each night). Unfortunately my brain again ignored the blaring alarm buzzer for an extra hour Sunday morning (I have a long history of sleeping through alarms on Aruba during contests) ...a definite oh crap moment. Quickly found PJ4NG calling an endless string of unanswered CQs on 15 meters ... felt somewhat relieved ... since conditions had notably weakened as predicted and my extra hour of unscheduled rest had likely only cost me 50 to 75 sunrise period contacts on 80/40 ... not catastrophic.

Saturday morning conditions were about as good as I'd hoped they would be. Spent an hour on 20, then an hour on 15, before moving to 10 meters at 1400z. Five of the next six hours yielded solid 200+ hours on 10 meters (and a 200+ hour on 15m). During the initial burst on ten I had a 230 hour, my best rate of the weekend.

My intent was to maximize the number of 10 meter contacts the first day with the predicted solar disturbance Sunday looming. Logged 1122 on ten the first day ... by far my best band during the first half of the contest.

I was surprised to find that at the beginning of my first rest period (0800z) I was dead even in contacts (1435) with my 2021 HP(U) effort, but behind in mults because of the poor 160 conditions. This exceeded my expectations!

I aimed the station beams at 320 degrees at the start, which slightly favors the central and western USA. Never touched the rotor controllers once. With Yagi tips pointing toward EU, there was a deep null which effectively made EU signals disappear - it was like having tunnel vision toward the States and Canada. JK antennas rock!

Transitioning to 15 and then 20 meters near the end of the first day was seamless, the rate remained strong with each band change. Twenty meters Saturday afternoon sounded completely normal ... the front loading of contacts on 20 at the contest start didn't seem to have had any ill-effects on rate. At the end of 24 hours the line score was 3734q, 312m, for 3.5M points. It appeared the pace supported achieving my goals.

Cycled through the lower bands for the next seven hours of darkness till bed time - trying to be on 160 meters at the top of each hour per tradition. During this period rates notably dropped off when compared to 2021. Difficult to determine if this was because I was running low power or due to a general drop-off in overall activity. I suspect it was probably a combination of both.

Conditions were noticeably subdued as Sunday progressed. Twenty, fifteen and ten meters all opened an hour later than on Saturday. Although ten seemed OK, fifteen was a consistently better band for running. Spent the final three hours of the contest on 20 meters. It was time to make up for having purposely ignoring the band all day, hoping for a strong finish. Averaged 150/hour the last three hours and crossed the 6,000 contact mark with a full five minutes to spare.

During the weekend, over 80% of all contacts were made sending by hand and nearly 100% in QSK mode. I enjoy both. A huge THANK YOU to the 141 operators who worked P44W on SIX BANDS and another 190 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! And a special thanks to my fellow CWOPS and FOC members for being 'everywhere' all weekend!

Also special thanks to those of you who were willing to try a move to another band with me for a new multiplier - it was greatly appreciated!

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

73, John, W2GD aka P44W P40W