P40L-P49Y Contest Summary Information

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I arrived in Aruba a bit less than weeks before the contest in order to have time to continue work on several projects around the cottage and station.

High band conditions during the first week were superb, with 10 meters opening each day around 1100z and staying open at least around 0200z. And local noise conditions were also excellent. But solar and geomagnetic disturbances going into the week before the contest changed conditions significantly and was unclear what to expect for the contest.

I did this contest in the low power category last year (my first low power effort from outside the U.S.) and found it surprisingly fun. I tentatively planned on doing it again provided conditions were good. It was a bit “touch and go” as conditions Thursday and Friday morning were not looking that good. But they improved significantly over the course of the afternoon and seemed very good when 0000z rolled around. It was tempting to start on 10 or 15 because they sounded wide open; however, I decided to start on 20. That turned out to be a good decision as the rates were good for the first 3½ hours, at least for the low power category.

Operating low power is quite different from operating high power. It is much more difficult to establish and hold a frequency and in the Southern Caribbean you often end up “sharing” frequencies with other stations that do not hear you at all or at least not that well, often South Americans working EU and NAm and NAm stations working EU or Asia (with their high F/B antennas turned away from you).

This year the transition to 40 was more of a struggle than the prior year, especially after the first wave of 150 or so NAm stations had been worked. On 80 it was hard to get anything going at all. The low bands continued to be a challenge throughout the weekend and it was during those periods that I really regretted not having SO2R set-up.

I toyed with setting up for SO2R with a K3/P3 combination using the on-site DX Doubler. However, the initial set-up produced unwanted noise in both the receive and transmit audio streams, so I gave up on it without a lot of effort as I did not want it to become a distraction. I have to say, though, that during the contest I wished I had put more effort into ironing out the noise issues as I felt a second radio would have been very useful, especially when rates slowed down on the low bands and when less than obvious band change decisions needed to be made.

Andy, AE6Y/P49Y, had left his K4D at the station following his ARRL DX ssb effort and offered its use for WPX ssb. I had only had a couple hours playing with the K4D previously, and this was my first opportunity to use one intensively in a contest. In a nutshell, I like it a lot. It sounds great, does really well in the pile-ups and, based on many unsolicited comments, seems to produce a strong ssb signal with excellent audio. I also played with it in the CW mode before the contest and I think its performance in pile-ups is a significant improvement over the K3.

This was my first use of DXLog.net in a serious contest and I found I like it a lot too. I am a long-time user of Win-Test but we were unable to configure it for the Contest Online ScoreBoard when we tried in connection with our prior CQ WW ssb M/2 effort. DXLog.net is very similar to Win-Test but makes it simple to connect to real-time online reporting. It was fun to participate in on-line reporting and to monitor progress throughout the contest, but I have to admit it is tempting to let it become a bit of a distraction.

Local noise has been more of an issue in Aruba in recent years than in the past. Noise levels had been excellent before the contest. During the contest, however, especially on Sunday, that changed and we had a high noise level (~20db above band noise floor) on 10 and 15 most of the day to the northwest. I tried to muddle my through it using the K4Ds noise reduction, the 2L SteppIR (which at times seemed to be less susceptible to noise) and a 12AVQ vertical listening antenna placed 800 feet away way back in the Cunucu as an experiment (that also seemed less susceptible to the noise at times). Nothing I tried helped that much, though, and I suspect I missed out on a number of Qs on 10 and 15 during Sunday as a result. I apologize if you were a station I was unable to hear.

As always, thanks for all the Qs. They are always much appreciated.

Also, congratulations to D4Z, PJ4K, CR3DX and 8P5A for their impressive results in the HP category, CN3A and P33W for their remarkable results in the M/M and M/S categories, respectively and our neighbor, P43A, on his great SO15 effort.

73, John, W6LD/P40L

Station (all towers on a 100x100’ lot):

Rohn 45 tower (66’): 

•	Single boom 2-element shortened 40m interlaced with 4-element 20m  at 68’
(JK2040, long-boom version)
•	80m Inverted-V at 65’ 
•	160m Double-L center-fed vertical dipole a 65’
•	2L SteppIR at 40’

North Rohn 25 tower (56’):
•	Single boom 5-element 15 interlaced with 6-element 10 at 58’ (JK1015 configured for dual feed)

South Rohn 25 tower (45.5’):  

Tri -bander at 47’ (JK Mid-tri)

Receiving antennas:

•	Beverages:  4 controlled by K9AY switchbox: JA/West-US (800’),
East US (500’), EU (800’) and East-West (AF and OC) (350’)
•	12AVQ vertical 800’ from station

Rig:  Elecraft K4D with Yamaha CM-500 headset

Logging software:  DXLog.net v2.5.44