P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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Like many others, I really enjoyed the contest. As typical, conditions and activity were “unusual”, at least from here in Aruba. While adding diversity and interest to the event, it can be frustrating and annoying at times!

10m was open from sunrise to sunset, no waffling other than temporary solar events. 40m was mostly all right but 80m was dismal. 15m was the “best” band and 20m suffered from loss of activity to 15m and 10m.

Saturday around 1530 UTC there was a near total RF blackout at this QTH … except for 15m. Within 10 minutes, both 20m and 10m had zero signals on the band scope, while 15m was going strong almost without impact. I considered taking a break, but it’s hard to stop running, and 10m started to come back 20 minutes later so I persevered through the lull.

Then, there is the human element in this game. I caused some self-inflicted errors which could be discouraging or alternatively exciting for the “learning” gained (;>). First, as often the case, I struggled with RFI problems getting setup for the contest. The original owner, Carl AI6V/P49V, only used the station for SO1R and occasional classic MS (no mult transmitter). Thus, interstation RFI issues were never encountered, must less dealt with. I learned some things about the RFI here that explained extreme frustration in prior operations. I was doing things that made the problems worse.

As in my September operation where I “blew up” two radios with RFI overload, yet another radio lost a T/R diode this trip in a not-fully-understood RF overload event. Thus, going into the contest Friday night I was not confident in the station reliability.

As a stretch reference point, I posted my 2013 WPX RTTY hourly stats table on the operating shelf directly in front of me. Numbers were better the first hour and then quickly went south for the rest of the weekend. Nothing was obviously “wrong”, but the data fell further and further behind the 2013 reference. To be fair, 2013 was my best claimed result and nearly tied in my three highest log-checked results out of 14 consecutive years, pre-COVID. This weekend’s claimed result is the lower than any of those prior 14 outings. Have I learned nothing in 14 years?!

I was never able to get enough incoming rate to push my logged rate up above 200/hour as in past years. This may be due to lower activity and local propagation characteristics, hard to say. All I know, operationally, is that there were never enough callers to achieve an hour above 200. I did notice the 10-minute rate meter at 220 a couple times but that doesn’t make a 200+ hour. I also wonder if the propagation was so good for NA and EU that antennas were east-west, leaving us ‘poor souls” in SA out of the action. (This comment is inserted to show the NA Mid-West stations that anyone can complain about their QTH!)

The biggest self-inflicted issue was Saturday morning when the 15m amp was in Standby for several hours before I (embarrassingly) noticed it. 10m was out performing 15m by 3x in QSO rate. I kept checking 20m and it looked worse. Turns out that one of my several RFI problems was the 10m station faulting the 15m amplifier. My on-the-fly work-around was to move the 10m station from a 5-element Yagi interlaced on the 15m boom, to a 2-element SteppIR on another tower.

However, a second self-inflicted problem was discovered Sunday when I realized that the SteppIR was configured for 180 degrees, i.e., South America. (This was intentional so I could instantly switch to it for a new SA mult.) Ignorance is bliss as Dean N6BV used to tell me, “think that you’re loud, rather than focusing on a compromised antenna—it’s worth 10 dB gain!” Frankly, I really didn’t notice any “better” 10-meter operation on Sunday with the SteppIR oriented north to NA and EU. Perhaps Dean has a point there.

I love making QSOs with all you folks. When someone worked me on our fourth band, I sent them my other-band QRV if it was the fifth band we needed. Amazingly, 9/10 of you showed up in a minute or two! That’s a lot of fun.

Another fun snippet is when you all stick around during a pileup, assuming I stacked your call and will quickly work you. I had one 5-deep stack that resulted in 5 QSOs. My part is working everyone as fast as possible. Your part is patience! What really gave me a high were the handful of instances where one of you “tail-ended” expertly to give me your call to stack while a QSO was in process. What a rush! OK, maybe I’m having too much fun.

I’ve rambled on enough and want to sleep. Thanks to literally everyone who is in the log. Yes, you folks that answer my CQ with your exchange (clearly from the FT “skip Tx1” technique) are “loved” as well. Your QSO is just as valuable as those “classic old-school” operators who follow the same old pattern of just sending their call sign. In return, I hope you appreciate my replying with both my exchange and QSL messages in one transmission. I’m just trying to step up to new age operating.

As always, many thanks to John P40L/W6LD and Andy P49Y/AE6Y who share their wonderful Aruba station with me. Plus, they each worked me 5 bands, as well, a bunch of you all!


Ed P49X (W0YK)

K3S/P3/KPod, Alpha 91B and Alpha 86
FilterMax low power bandpass filters, SixPak, two StackMatches, Green Heron rotor controllers

3 Networked ThinkPad X220s, BT mice and keyboards, 19” 4:3 displays
WriteLog 12.69B, 2xMMTTY 1.70K, 4x2Tone 16.02a encoder/decoders, Mortty 2.0 with modified TinyFSK 1.1.0 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, un-terminated Africa/VK/ZL with versatile K9AY switch