Ten hours of diddles in the NAQP RTTY Contest and now it’s time to take a look back. This would be the first time I worked all 10 hours of any NAQP. I spent the better part of two days reviewing previous RTTY contests, last year’s NAQP RTTY results. I weighed my 2009 performance into the equation, but only minimally. This because I only spent 3:43 working in the contest for 72 QSOs. This year would be another story as a full effort was being planned.

Much like previous contests, 15/20M would be my “big gun” bands from my little pistol station, while 40/80M would make up the remaining difference, based on my goal of 350 QSOs. Ask expected, 20M did not let me down and I was very pleased with my time spent on 15M. While the numbers don’t really reflect my work on 40/80M, I was frustrated once I made my way to the low bands. Chalk this up the short opening on 40M and the excessive noise on 80M, while not being able to be heard on the East Coast.

I had set what I thought were “reasonable” goals for my 10 hour effort during the NAQP. For only the second time I created an .OBF file, which set my contest objectives in Win-Test. These figures were based on band, time of days and anticipated QSOs/mults. I did not really include the required 2 hour off time because no decision had been made as to when I would do that. More on those objectives in my next update.

I am somewhat frustrated by my results from this contest. I cam close to my goal of 350 QSOs, but missed out on achieving it by 8 QSOs. On the other hand, I exceeded goal of 125 mults by 12 for a total of 137. The good news is I beat my anticipated final score (43,750) by 3,104, scoring 46,854. Those additional mults really helped out the final score.

I was fortunate enough to see action on 20-80M, with a single QSO (thanks W6YX) on 10M (a first!) at the top of the third hour. Most of my contacts the first two hours were S&P on 15/20M. I attempted to set up to run a frequency, but the rate never materialized on either band. I was still able to get a 25 rate for the first two hours, which was better than I had anticipated. It would be the next two hours that would make this contest a success for me.

From 20-22z I was able to make 99 QSOs as I established runs on both 15M and 20M. The work I did on 15M during 20z was wonderful as contacts flowed on a regular basis, nearly a contact every minute. When 15M started to slow down I jumped to 20M which saw me set a 55 rate between 21-22z! This is a new high for my contesting experience and what a great feeling to have contacts continually rolling in. I established myself just about 14.080 and ran for well over an hour, maintaining a good rate for my station and experience level.

As I neared the 5 hour mark I had made the decision to cut the contest short and not work the final two hours. In hindsight this was probably a mistake as I could have used more time on 40/80M. As luck would have it 40M did not last long and I probably made the most of my time on that band. There was a definite drop in activity from 23-01z as my rate slipped under 20 QSOs/hr. Better planning would of seen my take my two hour break while 20M was closing and 40M was opening.

After sunset it was all low band activity. As I have read from others in California, the 40M window did not last long, but it was long enough to get some QSOs before making the jump to 80M to ride out the contest. I knew not to expect too much from 40M, but even less from 80M. As it turned out, both bands had better totals than 15M, but for some reason I feel I was stronger on 15M, but that I attribute to my run on that band.

I saw it mentioned by others, but 80M was noisy, especially into the East Coast. There were some very strong signals, but no matter how hard I tried I could not be heard, so I had to continue spinning the dial to the next signal. I spent no time running 40 or 80M. I felt I could keep a better rate if I continue in S&P. It would have worked to my advantage to spent the last two hours in the seat working 80M, as this would have given me the necessary QSOs I was looking for when I set my goal.

The 14 and 19 rates I had from 23-01z would have been replaced by a 25-30 rate from 06-08z. Now I am just speculating here, but I know I could have worked some more stations and even picked up a few more mults. Speaking of stations I was not close on securing all mults on any band. There were many stations I did not hear or were not involved. One state I did not miss out this time around was Delaware. Strangely enough I made two QSOs with Delaware in the span of 2 minutes. I guess that is contesting.

I’ll have some final thoughts later today when I review my hour by hour log. Overall I will consider NAQP RTTY a success even though I missed out on my QSO goal. Thankfully the mults pulled me through and my final score was better than anticipated.