P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Conditions were fairly moderate from my perspective here in Aruba. There were no spectacular periods, nor were there any radio blackouts or even severely diminished periods. Late Sunday afternoon was the most noticeable decrease in average signal strength, but copy was still possible on nearly all apparent signals.

It seemed to me that low participation was more limiting than propagation. Typically, my highest QSO rates are during the first 4 hours and often exceed 200/hour. This weekend, though, there wasn't enough incoming rate at the beginning to sustain 200+ rates. My highest rates came Saturday and Sunday mornings, running 10/15. In any case, it was another fun weekend playing radio contesting.

This was one of my more enjoyable CQ WW Contests. I approached it "casually" as explained by K5ZD and this worked out well for me this weekend. That is, I did the fun parts and skipped the not-so-fun parts. I always thought you had to keep your butt in the chair for the contest period and 48 hours is hard for a 76-year old. In fact, regardless of age, I can't imagine anyone considering all 48 hours "fun".

I ended up operating 37:46 hours, less than my previous "serious" 48-hour contest efforts. When I sensed there was more pain than fun, I took a break. Sleep, nature calls, meal prep, etc. took precedence. This really changed the psychology of the weekend and I was in much better physical and mental state when I was operating. Interestingly, the contest results are probably as good or better than if I forced myself to stay in the chair longer.

AS P49X, my point/QSO averages 2.98, and QSO data is proportional to score. Here is my history in this contest:

Year   QSOs
----   ----
2008   3501
2009   4453 M2
2010   5025
2011   6479 M2
2012   5914 M2
2013   5475 M2
2014   4899
2015   5034
2016   4346
2017        [broken femur prevented ZF1A M2 participation]
2018   2837
2019   3513
2020        [COVID-19]
2021        [COVID-19]
2022   3511
2023   4519

Out of 9 SO operations in this event, this was my fifth highest finish, not as good as the finishes during the Cycle 24 peak that were about at this same relative time in the solar cycle. Until I looked at this data, I was really disappointed. Now, it seems that "casual" contesting can be competitive as well. Of course the solar cycle plays a part in all this. Band-QSO totals move between the low and high bands throughout the 11-year period.

There were a number of issues surfaced during the couple days prior to the contest that mostly got diagnosed and fixed. The station started the contest in solid condition. The biggest issue during the contest occurred Saturday afternoon when the 15-meter feedline exhibited intermittant high SWR (5.6:1), faulting out the Alpha 86 amplifier. While continuing to operate one radio, my work-around fix was to connect the JK Mid-Tri tribander to the 15-meter position on the SixPak. Anecdotally, we think the tribander is inferior to the 5-element 15-meter Yagi. But, as my Elmer taught me, most any antenna is better than no antenna. I pretended it was just as good and I can't say, again anecdotally, that the tribander diminished the station performance on 15 meters this weekend.

The next most significant issue is our chronic self-inflicted re-radiated RFI between two transmitters. It seems to occur in the environment outside the radio room, perhaps due to some inadvertent diode junctions in the many metal roofs of our house and those around us:

1. 20-meters obliterates 10-meters and the work-around is to not use those two band simultaneously. When I want to operate on 10-meters, I move the 20-meter radio there.

2. 80-meters obliterates 40-meters and the work-around is to pair 80 with 20 and 40 with 20. Both of these compromises are reluctantly acceptable.

3. The biggest interstation RFI problem is that we sometimes can't operate 20-meters and 40-meters together because 40 often makes 20 unusable. I say "often" because not always. The pattern seems to be that there is no problem during daylight hours, but as the sun sets, the re-radiated RFI instantly appears, rendering 20 meters unusable. However, sometimes it isn't so severe and sometimes it varies during the night-time hours. My work-around for this situation is to temporarily go SO1R, switching between 40 and 20 as appropriate. Alternatively, I can operate 80 and 20 together for some compromised SO2R operating.

The last significant problem turned out to not surface during the contest, but it certainly had me worried. On Thursday evening prior to the weekend some man-made noise source emerges in the evening that raised the noise floor 9 S-units between 7080-7100 kHz. It was really ugly and I suspect it came from our neighbor next door. Incredibly, I was spared as it showed up an hour before the contest much attenuated from the night before and completely disappeared by the contest start. It never occurred again during the weekend.

I'm always indebted to the other contest participants who create the environment that makes radio sport so magnificent for everyone. Many of you moved to my other band/radio in response to my "QRV 7097.3" message. Multi-band QSOs with many of you increased both our scores. As always, my thanks to Andy AE6Y/P49Y and John W6LD/P40L for the opportunity to operate their cottage station here in Aruba. They are vigilante about maintaining it, which is no small financial or physical effort, diligently over the years. The effort to maintain a remote contest location like this far exceeds common impressions.


Ed, P49X (W0YK)

  Station detail (on a small suburban lot):

(2x) K3S/P3/KPod, Alpha 91B and Alpha 86
FilterMax low-power BPFs, high-power BPFs for 40-10 meters, SixPak, Green Heron
rotor controllers

(3x) Networked ThinkPad X220s, WriteLog 12.73F, (2x) MMTTY 1.70K, (4x) 2Tone
21.03a encoder/decoders, (2x) Mortty 2.0 with modified TinyFSK 1.1.0 sketch for
each radio/PC.

Tower 1: 67’ with 2-element shorty-forty, 4-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 6-el 10m Yagi
Tower 3: 45’ with JK Mid-Tri tribander
Beverages (4): West US, East US, Europe, un-terminated Africa/VK/ZL with
versatile K9AY switch