P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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It was great to get back for the first time since completing the rebuild of the towers and antennas over two years ago. The windy, corrosive Aruban environment is very hard on the towers and antennas and they generally last only 10 years or so unless one puts in a massive effort to scrape and paint them on a regular basis.

I decided to try a single radio low power effort for a change and I was pleased by how loud I felt most of the weekend. Conditions seemed very favorable from the southern Caribbean.

We were only able to get away for the contest at the last minute and ended up taking a red-eye that got us to Aruba the day before the contest. That meant I was going to be starting the contest already somewhat sleep deprived, without much of an opportunity to evaluate local band conditions and with little to no time to address any unexpected issues. The single radio with no amp made set-up relatively quick and simple and, fortunately, all the equipment seemed to be working as expected.

Fatigue probably contributed to the dumb error I made the second night that cost me about an hour of operating time when I accidentally cut short what was meant to be an hour long break (the minimum) by 5 minutes. I don't think I'll make that mistake again.

The big challenge of the weekend was the very high level of local noise. The was the first time I found it useful (and necessary) to activate the K3 "NR" function for an entire contest (and it did help, just not enough). It was so bad (10-20db over S9) the first night that I almost "threw in the towel" Saturday morning when I started up after my first sleep break and discovered the noise was still very strong even on 10 through 20 meters. Beaming EU, the noise could be managed down to around S8 and fortunately conditions seem to be good enough that most signals could be heard. But beaming to NAm was not an option for much of both days with the noise at 10-20db over 9 even with the "NR" engaged. Fortunately, there were a few hours, mostly late afternoon, when the noise abated (somewhat).

We have our work cut out for us to identify and abate this noise source. The patterns and characteristics of the noise are unusually baffling. As I write this, it is "only" S6 on 15 meters in the NAm direction, a huge improvement over this past weekend but still much higher than in past years.

Despite the noise challenge, I ended up having a lot of fun. It was great to have so many old friends check in.

Congrats to Rich, N6KT/PJ4K, on the impressive effort from their new mega station on nearby Bonaire. He sounded great all weekend.

As always, thanks for all the Qs!

73, John, W6LD/P40L