Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 WPX SSB Contest

Yes, with 310 QSOs and a score of 153,957, I beat my result in the 2010 CQ WPX RTTY contest, but I worked longer 27hrs 32 minutes compared to 19hrs 28 minutes. Phone contacts take longer, I'd say but I would have to validate that with other scores to generalise. I am happy with those results though. I did compete in the TB-Wires overlay category, so maybe I have a chance to see my scores published...

This time I decided to give the newest version of the N1MM contesting logging software a try. Thanks David K2DSL, for convincing a pig headed ham to try it out. OK, really not kosher pun there right before Passover! It performed pretty well for me, with a few moments of panic and a lot of saved files for backup (I did not trust it fully, so I was prudent). Some of my problems stemmed from not heeving read the 4000+ pages manual, fortunately in pdf form and searchable, which allowed me to solve some of the problems while contesting. Others remained unsolved as they were not critical. All I can say is that I logged all my QSOs, did not lose any to the program. I avoided dupes and the only ones I did call were due to call signs errors. This part worked much better than HRD. At the end of the contest, the Cabrillo file was created very smoothly. While contesting, I discovered I was elligible for the TB-wires category overlay and I did not know how to do change that with N1MM, so I did it manually, a breeze when compared to entering a whole column of data. BTW, I never send in my CQ WPX RTTY log because I had to edit so many entries. That made me decide to seriously try N1MM as I was not ready to do so much paperwork after a contest. I don't know how people managed to do it before computers...

I made 310 contacts with 56 different entities (most are countries, but not all). From Alaska in the north to Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands in the west, Chili and Argentina to the south, Morocco and Senegal in Africa, to Russia in the east. That's a lot of ground, but there is a lot more out there.

Band-wise, 160m was a bust, I heard some station but they never heard me, 80m was not very productive, but then I was not up late at night, 40m was ok, not great either. 20m was my strongest but 15m was right up there with a huge number of South America stations, a pleasure to work them. Finally 10m showed up too and made me very happy to operate on it. While I did call CQ several times, mostly on 20, 15 and 10 meters, I did not get any replies so my score reflects a search and pounce strategy.

I did not hear too many local stations on the air or being replied to, but AB2TC and I were playing cat and mouse over the same stations for a few minutes. I don't know if he heard me though.

20 meters at times became very challenging, as it was so loaded with signals that it became hard to pull them apart. I first found solace on 15m as there were many stations and making QSOs was relatively easy but on 20m, I had to use many bells and whistles my Icom756ProII has and indeed, I managed to isolate signals and making contacts. It was time consuming though. My MO5A antenna was still frozen on Friday night and Saturday morning, but temperatures got up in the day and never got much below freezing after that, allowing me the use of the rotator. I will replace that el-cheapo Rat-Shack one with a decent one that can be computer controlled. That is my next step/expense for my base station. And now the weather is starting to allow thinking about getting on the roof...

This hour-by-hour breakdown shows me where the weaker work hours are. It seems that 10-11 UTC, or 6-7 EST are not very productive, under double digits, so I could stay in bed longer, but my dogs wake me up anyway... But maybe staying up later at night might be worth while, especially working 40 and 80 meters. I may want to try that. I also noticed a drop in the afternoon of the second day, well, most stations were dupes for me, so all I can do is try harder and maybe call CQ a few more times.

That is one thing I need to set up in N1MM as it has more memories available than my 765ProIII. I also then can keep the full spectrum display and not bother with voice on the radio. RTFM!!!