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CQWW WPX Contest, SSB   2012   Mar 24   Claimed Score

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Call: P4ØW
Operator(s): W2GD
Station: P4ØW

Class: SOAB LP
QTH: Aruba
Operating Time (hrs): 36
Location: South America

Summary:   Compare Scores
Total:3857Prefixes1105Total Score14,185,990


Club: Frankford Radio Club

Comments:     [email]     2012-03-28 13:09:05
Station: IC756ProII (95 watts) Win-Test Logging Software Antennas: Force 12 C31XR @ 20M, 4 el 40M and 3 ele 80M wire beams @ 18M, Cushcraft 40M rotatable dipole @ 23M, 2 el 40M wire beam @ 20M, and 160/80 Inverted-V @ 20M. RX Antennas: 250M beverage NE, 180M beverages NW, N/S, and E/W. A Contest Week Story: I've operated the CQWPX PH only once from P40W, way back in 1999 when my 17.6M SOAB HP effort was a distant second place finish to the 24.6M score amassed by Rich, N6KT @ HC8A. It seemed 2012 might be a replay with Rich scheduled to perform his magic from a new D4A location, and Carib locals 8P5A and P49Y on their way south from W6-land. Hoping to join the exclusive W2SC/K0DQ club with world high scores in all of the BIG SIX (both modes of CQWW, CQWPX and ARRL DX) my planning shifted to a Low Power entry. The current LP record set in 2008 by P40A/KK9A seemed potentially within reach with cooperative solar activity. A very low $303.00 airfare (without taxes/fees) from NJ to Aruba about a month before the contest and the promise of a tower painting gig at P49MR sealed the deal! Non-radio comment: IMO the merger of Continental with United Airlines is a total disaster. Loyal Continental customers have beome second class citizens under the combined rewards program and there is new and pervasive "I don't care" attitude by employees. Apparently my observations are shared by many former Continental flyers. Arrived early Tuesday afternoon for a week stay. Approaching the station it was a relief to see both 20M high towers still standing (the far tower has severe corrosion damage and is unclimbable beyond the lower guys). Quickly got to work stretching out the ends of the 160/80 inverted Vs, laying out ~900 feet of cables to the main antennas and NE and NW beverages, extending out the catenary rope for the 2 el 40 wire beam to the US, and a quick tower climb to release the manual brake on the mast just before dark. Later in the evening confirmed my Icom transceiver survived the trip (in checked baggage) and the primary antennas were all functional. Objectives on day two: extend the NE beverage an additional 100 meters (off the property to its normal contest configuration) erect the 80 and 40 meter wire beams, and lay out cabling to connect the N/S and E/W beverages, which essentially completed the pre-contest antenna work. The weather on Aruba this time of year is quite pleasant. Temperatures were in the mid-80s F with relatively low humidity (50%) and a near constant wind from the east. Worked sunrise to sundown on these tasks, very fortunate to have some cloud cover. Had to clear the path to the NE beverage of the new cactus growth since November, and repaired two wire breaks. Erecting the inverted V wire beams hung from the rope catenary between the two towers takes 4 hours and 1000 feet of nylon string to pull away the element tips, and of course lots of walking. Because of brush and cactus growth, more path trimming was needed to open pathways in critical directions (it would be so nice to be able to go from point A to B without zig-zagging and dodging cactus someday). Tests of the wire beams and beverages later that evening showed the beams were providing the normal/expected one s-unit of gain toward EU and the beverages were working. BUT one observation of potential trouble - very loud line noise on 10M. This time of year when it doesn't rain for long periods of time, salt buildup on power line insulators is common. I started praying for rain! Unfortunately it never did. Enjoyed dinner with my island neighbor Andy, AE6Y/P49Y who had just arrived from CA two hours earlier, and Lisandro, P43L and his XYL. After 12 hours of fighting the cactus that pina colada I had with dinner hit the spot! Finished up a few minor antenna adjustments early Thursday morning and headed over toward P49MR's place on the NW end of the island. On the way stopped in to visit with Carl and Sue (P49V/P40YL) and made arrangements for dinner that evening. Finished out the day doing minor antenna maintenance and applying a coat of primer paint on the most severly rusted portions of P49MR's seaside AN Wireless 50 foot tower. P49Y picked me up promptly at 7:10 p.m. and we headed to a buffet dinner at the Raddison with P49V, P40YL, P43A, P43C, and visitor DF7ZS (P41P). Andy mentioned a severe SWR problem with his 4 el F12 20 and that the T2X rotator on their 80' tower which also turns the 2 ele 40 would only move in one direction. My station was ready to go so we agreed to meet for breakfast early Friday morning and see what could be repaired. It turned out a coax jumper on the 20M beam had failed and the T2X had a bad motor winding and had to be replaced. A few hours of effort on the tower and Andy was ready to rock and roll. Great score OM - glad I could help out. After a few hours sleep, I was ready....but the line noise was once again raging on 10M. Decided to try 15M at the start, but quickly moved to 20. The 177 rate the first hour would be the best of the contest. Stuck it out another hour on 20 before going to 40/80 for an hour before again returning to 20 for another hour. But eventually 20 faded and had to slug it out on 40 and 80. With Eu working Eu, it was difficult to get things going and the rate suffered. Took my first break at 0800Z for 2.5 hours of sleep. Got up and operated ~45 mins at sunrise to put needed 40 and 80 qsos in the log. Then another 1.5 hours off, during the the predictable 11Z to 13Z Carib "lull" when USA is beaming EU. The next three hours were slow on 15 and 10, but at 1600Z the rate picked up as EU faded to the USA. Maintained a ~160 rate for the next six hours, working primarily USA. The line noise went from nil to S-8 and I felt like an alligator much of the time with the beam pointing at 70 degrees to reduce the noise. Used the beverages on 10M whenever I could, but struggling with low signal levels was wearing. Over the weekend the line noise easily cost me 250Qs. Took an hour off in the early evening Carib lull at 0100, then did my best to put 40 and 80 meter qsos in the log. But conditions were noticably worse than the first night, and sustained runs were hard to generate. Did S&P to keep putting contacts in the log. Took another 1.5 hours off around 0400 then back on for another hour of 40M, then off again until 10Z. Took advantage of enhanced conditions on 80 and 40 at sunrise. Amazed to have a JA call in on 80 running just 95W. Off again 1100Z to 1300Z to finish up off-time and started an 11 hour sprint to the end. The first three hours were slow, again EU was preoccupied workng Ws. But at 1600z rate improved to EU on 15, and then at 1800Z ten meters opened to EU and then the US with sustainable runs of relatively loud signals (at least loud enough to overcome the line noise). At 20Z decided to operate largely 20M with the hope of enhanced multiplier production from EU (this strategy seemed to work). At various times between 2230 and 2330 did some S&P sprints on 10/15/20 for South American mults (added about 30 in the process). Wrapped things up on 20, my last QSO being JT5DX for PFX number 1105...a very nice way to end the weekend. In retrospect, conditions were good but not great last weekend. A solar disturbance for about 24 hours (beginning 16 hours into the contest which drove the K index to 4) subdued 15M propagation the first day, effectively closing polar paths on 10, 15 and 20, and introducted significant absorption on 40 and 80. Fortunately conditions improved part way into the second day but the damage was done. Ten and fifteen meters were significantly improved to SA on Sunday. One highlight of the contest was being called by a significant number of very young operators. It's wonderful to see parents and grandparents encouraging these activities. Following a post-contest tradition on Aruba, we all met at Tony Roma's Restaurant for dinner. It was a surprise to find Mike, K9NW sitting at the table, being on Aruba for business. We traded scores, contest stories, had a great evening (some good food too). Andy, P49Y came by early Monday morning and helped me take down the wire beams and roll up the ~1800 feet of feedlines which make P40W tick. TNX OM! Then it was off to P49MR to apply the 2nd coat of paint to his tower. Tuesday morning I gave my good tower a quick coat of paint before heading to the plane. Thanks to all of the stations made the effort to get on the air for CQWPX PH and congrats to the stations and operators world-wide who generated both large and small scores. 73, John, W2GD aka P40W