P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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CQ 160 CW





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This year my wife Sabine was able to join me at my yearly trip to Aruba. Sabine was keen enjoying the Caribbean sun at the Winter time and the great beaches of Aruba. This year we tried to find a compromise between radio and holiday vacation.

Again KLM was chosen for the flight to Aruba. KLM simply provided the shortest travel time and a reasonable fare for a convenient cabin class. This year we did not face any issues at the flight and the service was great. That was a good start!

I again brought another Spider pole (55ft/18m), formally a big fishing rod. Customs accepted this without issues.

But my plan to mis-use it as an additional vertical for 60/30 parallel to the 160 vertical did nork out. There have been strong winds and extreme gusts almost at all the time while our stay. And I finally decided to not take the risk to damage the pole at erection and that the pole maybe is incapable to withstand the gusts. But at least partly extracting the existing 85ft pole for the 30m band only, seemed feasible and worked very well. And again there was a strong demand for 30m.

One of my first actions was to inspect and maintain the beverages. Well, lets get started with the most difficult one, the W6 beverage. Due to the grown vegetation, again parts of the wire were pushed down from the shrubs and needed to be freed. The farer from the cottage the more difficult this became. At the remote end of the beverage the density of the thorny vegetation and occurrences of wire portions needed to be freed increased drastically and caused quit hard work. At the moment I believed the job was done, the dogs of the northern neighbor started barking. I stopped moving and hoped the dogs will calm down soon. Unfortunately, the barking continuously came closer to me and I thought it was better to quickly go back towards the cottage. But due to the rush I lost track of the path home and came to a point where I could not walk further because of the dense vegetation. Then I suddenly saw 3 dogs approaching me inside the Cunuco. That was definitely a very unpleasant situation! They then stopped roughly 60 ft in front of me. I was standing still. They continued barking and after one minute they slowly came closer. I was preparing to defend myself using the lopper. At a distance of roughly 10ft I shouted loud and hit the lopper to the ground to make some additional noised. That seemed to impress them and they pulled back. But shortly after they tried to come back but after some strong noise they finally disappeared. Well, the Cunuco was not the inner territory of the neighbor’s property, so at least by theory the dogs should not actually attack, but who know if the dogs know that?

The next issue was, how to get back on the path home? Of course I did not want to go back in direction to the neighbor’s property but there was no obvious alternative route home. Due to the previous works and the escape before I already was very exhausted and freeing the way with the lopper in dense vegetation costed a lot of energy and on top it became warmer and warmer. And Sabine could not help me in this situation. After roughly half an hour later I finally get back to the normal path home, but was completely exhausted when I arrived home. At least I was able to recover and relax at the beach later the day.

The second morning it was the W1 beverage turn. Especially at the farer end some work had to be done. Unfortunately, at some places there was simply too much vegetation and I had to accept some portions were the wire was very close to the ground. Certainly, some day in the future heavy/motorized tools to be used to free the wire there. But at least I did what could be one with reasonable efforts.

At the end of the W1 beverage I could not see and termination of the beverage. After questioning John about the termination resistor, I was told that he before already tried to install it, but stopped after neighbors dogs discovered him and it was still an open task for him.

But because a termination is important, I decided to take the risk and try to install the resistor. The idea was doing it at noon at high temperatures, where the dogs supposed to be tired and not keen to waste their energy. Together with Sabine I drove by car to the north neighbor’s gate. There I entered the Cunuco to lay the radials and connect the resistor. Sabine sitting in the car was watching me. Unfortunately, the dogs become aware of us very soon, but Sabines car was good distraction for the dogs. Finally, the dogs detected myself, too, but obviously they remembered the day before and continued barking but did not came closer. After plenty of barking the female neighbor came to the gate and ask Sabine why she parked in front of the gate. She explained that I had to do some wire works in the nearby Cunuco. The neighbor then said, ok – OMG, again that crazy guys - and returned to her house, together with the now quite dogs.

So happy end again, and it was a big success. Before there was just little difference between EU and W1 beverage, now there was clear directivity.

Additionally, I investigated the beverage issue mentioned by Ed, regarding general lower beverage performance. I tried to skip the Overvoltage Guard Box but there was no difference. Later I tested to change the inputs of the K9AY box. I swapped the beverages from the left keys on the K9AY keypad to the right side. And my impression was that the (so far unused) inputs brought a higher signal level then on the left side. Of course signal strengths subject to QSL and it always took some seconds to move the plug from one BNC socket top the other, but I was pretty sure that there is a trend the right side to be better. But that should be later proved by a true attenuation measurement. Maybe the long used relay contacts have aged and provided some additional attentuantion.

All the other equipment worked to my full satisfaction. There was just a minor problem. The guying of horizontal c dipole wires was loose and the antenna therefore was mistuned. But this could be easily fixed and I additionally moved the center frequency a little bitte higher ( 1835khz)

On top I again installed an additional temporary beverage towards VK/ZL.

With regards to propagation, the night to Jan 20th was the only night with good lowband condx. At least 5 JA on 160 and 64 more JA on 80m came in my log. The other days were very frustrating, some days not even EUs at EU sunrise.

But the worse the condx on low bands the better the condx were on highbands. Especially 10 and 12 m was widely open to JA almost every evening. I faced incredible pile ups. I worked up to 4 streams in FT8 towards JA. That is no more then 6 Watt output for each stream. In CW I needed split up to 10khz. I felt like an early 3Y0J. 😊

Worked almost 1000 JA on 10m over the weeks. And the 2el StepIR worked very well on 12 and 17m, as well. Plenty of JA here, too.

In total I had 14k5 QSO outside the contest and I could have been even more if I skipped the daily time at the Beach with Sabine. That was great!

If it comes to the Sun, I have to mention that the strong winds were accompanied by frequent and heavy rain showers. Well, warm rain, but honestly, me and Sabine did not expect that much rain on Aruba. Sabine was sometime a bit unhappy. But well, we complain on a high level here. At least I could comfort her by visiting a local jewelry in Oranjestad. 😊

The nature certainly was more happy about the rain! And we could see the grass at the cottage backyard growed rapidly while our stay. And first time a saw plenty of big colored butterfly caterpillars around the cottage. They somehow look poisonous, but after lookup in the internet I found out that they are quite common in Central America and the Caribbean and actually not dangerous.

At least if the sun was shining the beaches were great! Clear and warm blue water, no jelly fish! This year I was snorkeling, as well. I watched a lot of big colored fish especially at Mangel Halto beach. Aruba has really the beast beaches I/we have ever seen. Sabine was getting tanned very soon, unfortunately myself rather get a sun burn.

Now back to the radio. After inspecting all the beverages and re-tuning the c-dipole I felt well prepared for the contest. But after the miserable condx the week before I expected the worst at the contest. Surprisingly it started different. Usually I takes 1.5 to 2 hours after 22 z to get a good skip to the US and EU. This year again there was the known phenomena that I could hear all EU with clear signals right from the begin but none of EUs copied me. But this is normal, as at sunset I benefit from very low noise level while EU has normal noise level. The difference was that already after 45 minutes the first strong EU called me and there was a good pile up from both EU and US. These nice condx lasted roughly by 03:30 UTC and then condx dropped drastically. The usual sunrise enhancement simply did not happened and only a few US stations still called thereafter. Still missed the normally easy “EW” and “ON” DXCCs after the first day. However, I was basically satisfied with the more than 700 QSOs after the first night.

The second night was back to normal. EU all the time was very weak, but at least time to time some callers. My QRG was quite clear and US called with normal signal strength. Then around 03:45 something strange happed. Suddenly a very strong SP station called in and I gave him the report. Then he called me again, I gave him the report again. That repeated maybe 5 times. Maybe he was not calling me? But he exactly called in my rhythm. Then he finally gave me the report, all done. Therasfter somebody called me on frequency and asked QSY 200Hz down. Ok, there was no Station 200Hz below and so I QSY’ed the 200Hz down. Then suddenly the band opened and plenty of loud EU stations now called. (Later I was told that there was some local QRM in EU on my previous frequency) That magic lasted roughly half an hour and then the band closed that fast as it opened and the rate dropped down again. I soon became pessimistic that I was unable to reach my last year result. Quite close to my sunrise some more station called in und I reached almost the same result as last year. Unfortunately, no JA’s or RA0 worked this year, first time ever. The only highlight was a ZL station half an hour before my sunrise.

At this point thanks to John and Andy for the QSOs! Every QSO is important and can make the difference. And Ed, thanks for trying! And John, (W2GD) thanks for spotting!

My final result was 1003 Q and 1.23M Points. First I was very optimistic for this results, as my friend DL5AXX as CR3W had “only” 950k and he usually has some more points from Madeira than me. So I was surprised that P3W had 1.24M points, more than AXX from the CT3 location. Well, the difference is very small, and there is a good chance to override him after the logcheck

Unfortunately I later found out that I “guessed” the wrong ZL call and so I had to delete the ZL from my log. After deletion of the ZL 1002 Q with 58 S/P, 65 DXCC and 1.22 M points left. That increases slightly the difference to P33W but I hope there is still a chance.

But what I did not expect, that PJ2T this year participated as Single Op Assisted. On 3830 he reported 8% more points than me, and I do not expect that this very experienced gentleman will loose this percentage after the log check. Interestingly, this year no Top stations participated as Single Op unassisted. If I knew that before! OK, bad luck this year, next year new try! At least it was fun again!

Ironically , right after the contest the winds calmed down. So I extracted the spiderpole to the 60m version. On 60m there is a good demand for P4 and at least for two night I could make some people happy.

On Monday evening me and Sabine invites JP and Cris to the usual Post-Contest dinner. Food and service at service at the barefoot was again excellent. A good opportunity to say thank you to Cris and JP for their valuable support! I like to mention that JP this year has strengthened the support for the spiderpole upfront my arrival, that saved a lot of work for me! Thx again!

On Tuesday night me and Sabined had dinner at the Que Pasa restaurant, following an recommendation by Ed. That was a really great experience! Excellent quality, very attentive staff! Really perfect! Thanks Ed! On top, after leaving the restaurant by chance we reached a big crowd at a nearby street. I asked a spectator, why there that many people present, and I was told that the Dutch king will walk on this street very soon. And indeed after a while the Dutch King Willem, his wife Maxima and Princess Amalia came along the street. There was just modest security measures and I was able get very close to the King. In a distance of 2ft I received an implied hand shake and a “GoedeDag” (Good Day) from him. The royal family was quite relaxed and very friendly. I’m not an enthusiast for the Royals but this was a nice experience.

The day after we left the cottage late in the afternoon and arrived save home the next day. In total it was again a great stay on Aruba. John & Andy, many thanks for letting us live in your cottage and using your fb equipment!

Mathias & Sabine