P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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As always, an enjoyable weekend contesting. Conditions were much better than recent years, but not as good as I hoped. Signals on 20-80 were weak, which limited the volume of stations to be heard and worked. 10 and 15 were great when they were solidly open, but signal strengths were up and down. 10 was nearly as good as 15 from here and so nice to have it be fully open all day.

There seemed to be a larger share of stations calling off frequency than normal. Most, of course, were dead zero-beat or close enough that decoding was fine. While it’s really annoying to be on the receiving end of this, in fairness to the perpetrators, they don’t know it unless they begin to wonder why they are not being copied quickly and well. On the other hand, there were less instances of people answering CQs with their exchange instead of just their call (the new technique learned from FT operating).

With the prospect of 10 meters being open, I was looking forward to setting up SO3R for the first time since the last solar maximum. I usually dedicate the third radio/PC to 10 meters for constant monitoring and instant QSY. More precisely, this is 2BSIQ + 1 since SIQ can’t feasibly be done with 3 radios.

Surprise! One of my 3 contest PCs shutdown during BIOS boot due to a failed fan which will need replacement back home. There were other PCs available but it would take far too long to configure all the details for my configuration. Surprise number two was that one of the three radios wasn’t putting out RF. Again, there are other (older) radios available but I much prefer all the radios I’m juggling in the heat of the contest to be identical, especially with sleep deprivation.

So, back to my normal 2BSIQ setup … until mid-morning Saturday when I moved the 20m radio to 10m. That moment inadvertently overloaded the 15m radio and added 25 dB attenuation across all bands, AKA “frying the RX front-end”. Turns out the bandpass filter box was in pass-through mode. The second of three radios out of commission. Most of the contest was therefore SO1R, which was a big disappointment. While I could often get the 10-minute QSO rate up to 150, I couldn’t sustain it for an hour.

But, even before losing the second radio, it was discouraging to start out behind my prior years rate and never catch up throughout the 48 hours. At 0030 UTC Saturday, my logging system crashed, causing me to stop contesting to re-boot, re-start and re-configure my computers. Even then, some features still weren’t working right which really hampered my agility at managing two PCs for maximum rate. Around 0600 UTC, my experimenting succeeded in finding a fix to get things working properly again. Quitting isn’t an option, but it was considered several times during the contest!

SO1R has a few advantages. When I’m sleep-deprived and hallucinating, one radio/PC are easier than dealing with two of them. Also, I can do a better job of tuning the band with the second receiver while running on the first. It just requires a lot of band changes to optimize coverage when one can only be on one band at a time.

Early on, I was resigned to have this 8th WW RTTY SO operation as P49X be my worst finish. At the end, when I compared to the other 7, this one wound up #5 out of the 8, which was a nice surprise after all I’d been through. I only managed 39.5 hours minus a couple hours of short breaks to fix meals and tend to personal things. I love operating but when I got tired, it was hard to stay motivated with all the operational handicaps I had accumulated.

I appreciate all the QSOs, especially the 39 five-banders, led by NJ4P who was the first. Interestingly, Ron’s last band was 15 meters, not 10. As well, I really appreciate the continued access to this cottage QTH. I haven’t been here since February 2020 and it was great to be back. I had actually planned to come down on three different occasions during the pandemic but ended up canceling at the last minute due to Covid surges here or in the US.


Ed, P49X (W0YK)


K3S/P3 and Alpha 91B (plus, for the first few hours, a second K3/P3 and Alpha 86)
Networked ThinkPad X220s, BT mice and keyboards, 19” 4:3 displays
WriteLog 67D, 2xMMTTY, 4x2Tone encoder/decoders, Mortty TinyFSK for each radio/PC

Tower 1: 80’ with 2-element shorty-forty, 5-el 20m Yagi, 80m Inverted-V, 2-el SteppIR at 35’ due north and double-L vertical for 160m
Tower 2: 55’ with single boom interlaced 5-el 15m and 5-el 10m Yagi
Tower 3: 45’ with JK Mid-Tri tribander
Beverages (4): West US, East US, Europe, Africa/VK/ZL with versatile K9AY switch