P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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CQ 160 CW





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This year I was very keen to fly to Aruba again, as last year my flight to Aruba was cancelled at last minute when I arrived at the airline counter to drop my baggage after successful check-in the night before. Well, in the days of COVID there is a residual risk, but I have been triple vaccinated and felt the risk to be acceptable if I avoid contacts as much as possible and wear an FFP2 mask at complete travel and at buildings in Aruba.

But it is not only the own risk, but one always has to be aware that always something can happen which prevents one from travelling. At least all was prepared from my side, PCR test done, ARUBA COVID insurance made, ARUBA ED card confirmation received, no cancellation from the airline. This year I choose KLM to fly to Aruba, to have the direct flight from the EU (Amsterdam) and to avoid any risky of transit via 3rd countries. The first flight from Berlin to Amsterdam was no issue. At departure from Amsterdam then there was a significant delay. Upon my question for the reason, I was told that one essential crew member had tested positive, and KLM was looking for a substitute. The substitute was found soon, but now a PCR test for the substitute was required and the flight will not start before the negative result arrived. My mind suddenly recalls the issues from last year. How long will it take to get the results? Surprisingly it took just 1 ½ hours, then take-off. I was relieved.

Delayed but without additional issues I arrived at Oranjestad airport. This year I had a 2nd suitcase full of RG6 coax, beverage wires and other small material with me. This of course is always a certain risk at customs. I already passed the X-ray at customs without questions and was just about to leave when another officer asked me to open my suitcase. I explained that I have strong wires for fishing with me and it is used material without significant worth. Finally that was accepted.

Arrived at the cottage, Cris, P43C and Cindy, were already waiting for me and gave me a warm welcome. My license was present, and they had already purchased some food for the next breakfast. Perfect! After unpacking, I started to set up my laptop to interface the local K3. Normally the connection via USB cable is no issue, but this year for whatever reason the logging software was unable to read the transceivers QRG and I could not see any reason for that. After a long time of try and error I found out that the COM port speed set in the USB driver is just a default speed and I have to set my logging software COM Speed to only match the K3’s serial port speed and ignore Windows settings. Not truly intuitive, but now I know that. All other equipment worked well, except the rotor for the tri-bander which sometimes needed some back and forth to move.

Unfortunately, I soon found out that condx on 160m were not really good, so I did some rest and later went to 20m at 4z. There was a good opening incl. many VK/ZL. But quite low activity in CW while good pile up on FT8. That is somehow frustrating but is obviously the new reality.

First action at next morning was to install the 26m (85ft) 160m spider pole. But I discovered that someone had bent the foundation aluminum profile for 45 degrees. Obviously, someone tried to steal the foundation but failed and tried to bend the profile to get it off the ground. I was able to bend back the profile, but stability has been degraded and there was an unknown fatigue effect. So finally, I decided not to take the risk that the pole may get damaged due to a broken foundation and to rely on the existing vertical c antenna. The owners reported that it should be at least equal to the spider pole vertical. So I prepared the installation of the pole with a reduced height as a 60m band version right from the beginning. Later the day I got some help from JP, P43A, to extract all the segments and to install the guys.

Within the last two years the vegetation has grown drastically and made the laying of radials more difficult than expected. The theoretical impedance of a quarter wave vertical is 36 Ohms, but due to the dry ground and radials not perfectly flat on earth the actual impedance was close to 50 Ohm. Well, at least in this scenario no matching elements are required, the coax could be connected directly the vertical with an SWR of 1:1.1

And 60m worked very well right from the beginning, with a total of 650 Q in 4 days. Later I shortened the vertical for the 60m band, easy job now, and done within half an hour. SWR 1: 1.1, too. Now I have two premanufactured transmission wires for both bands which helps to reduce installation time for the future even more.

Next day(s) I inspected the beverage antennas. John, W2GD, reported that the grown vegetation pushed parts of the beverage wires down. He already freed a lot of such occurrences during his stay at the last CQWW and I continued his job further down to the termination end of the W6 beverage. In this direction the thorny vegetation got extremely dense. Despite the protection from an old leather jacked and a base cap I quit appr. 50m after John likely stopped. Gloves did not help, as thorns easily penetrated the gloves.

I found a position where the wire was partly torn, and only the inner core wire was still withstanding the strong tension. The wire was about to tear apart very soon. So I cut off this part and replaced it by an new wire piece. I also inspected the other beverages and re-positioned the wire if necessary. Although I did this close to sunset and sunrise, it was quite exhausting as it takes quite a long time, and Aruba’s sun is quickly dehydrating.

Back to the bands, 160m was disappointing over the week, strong QRN and no good skips. 80m and 40m were a bit better but no real fun as well. So, I spent a long time on 60m in the night, where I expected the biggest demand.

A real surprise was conditions on high bands. 15 m was open to EU over long time with very good signals at almost every day. And often there were good openings to JA between 22 and 24z. The last day there was even Long Path condx to JA on 15m around 13z. And I managed to get 1 QSO with JA on 10m. That was great, as I had not ever worked worked any JA on 15m during my last 4 stays.

All the last years I was unable to copy ZM4T when he was calling me on 160m. Time to do something this year. For this reason, the next day I installed a temporary 550ft beverage to VK/ZL with the material I brought from home. As I now had a dedicated antenna to the S/W I now added a termination resistor at the EU end of the EU Beverage. This was good success! The signal gain from EU signal of course did not increase, but there was significant reduction of noise from South America.

The main reason to be on Aruba was to again participate at the CQ160m contest. The bad condx over the week did not promise to much fun over the weekend. But it came even worse than expected. First EU showed up first time at 0z but only a limited number of big guns were calling with generally very weak signals. That did not look good! Suddenly then after 4z signal level from EU increased, but obviously the improvement was on my side only. Now I had the pileup but after difficult picking of weak stations at very noisy QRG the called stations seemed not to hear when I called them. Certainly, it was a combination of weak signal of me and a huge pile-up on EU side. So the rate did not increase much. But the worst was still to come. After EU sunrise was over there is usually some hours of working US stations. But obviously with thes bad condx also the US stations did not see any sense to continue and shut own. The last hours to my sunrise I had a rate of 6 to 8 Q/h. That was frustrating again.

In 2020 I did appr. 2.18 M points, but now I was happy to achieve a minimum target of 1 M with the given condx. And the next night was similar, just without the 4z peak. The only highlight was ZM4T, who became audible shortly before my sunrise. I was very glad that my additional temporary VK/ZL beverage paid-off! And right after, 4 JA stations! I did not expect that at this day! I closed with 1009 Q / 68 DXCC, 56 S/P and 1.241 M points. Missed SD and NE as states. Well, not a great score, but certainly not bad with the given condx. And as per 3830 it seems it was good enough for #1 world in the SO/A category.

On Monday after the contest I spent the day to go to the great beaches and enjoy Aruba’s sun and to visit Oranjestad. BTW, this year I rented an E-Bike instead of a car. I found it simply unreasonable to rent a car for mostly some minutes of ride each day. And it worked well, it is good physical exercise, too, and you simply see more while riding the bike. It took half an hour to get from the shack to Oranjestad, and only little more to the Eagle Beach. My little share for a green world! Just beware of free running dogs! They consider the cyclist as prey, and tried to catch me when I passed nearby houses. But luckily I always was faster 😊

On Tuesday I did the majority of dismantling works and just left the minimum for Wednesday morning. Later in the afternoon all Antennas and AC Mains plugs were disconnected with roughly 12k QSO in the log. The biggest total QSO number ever, thanks to excellent 15m condx! Then I took a taxicab to the airport. The flight was again late, but I could conveniently spend the whole time in the VIP lounge, as a KLM agent usually informs the lounge visitors when it is actually time to board. The flight back to Amsterdam and Berlin was without issues. The airplane was fully booked, seemed to be no covid.

At this point thanks again to John and Andy allowing me to operate from the fine station! Despite the bad 160m condx it was big fun again!