I guess there is much to say about hams, their love for the hobby, as well as the support and guidance they provide. As I previously posted I thought my weekend was shot after reading about my inverted RTTY signal during the Thursday night practice session. I guess this is my answer to WHY no one on 15/20M would ever answer my CQ call, because they could not hear it. So I owe N6ML, Iain some props for drawing that to my attention. I am still not sure why the set up was not working correctly. There is time to troubleshoot before the next RTTY event.
The first 4 hours of the contest were slow, to say the least, only 27 QSOs. This was after my attempts to solicit for help from three different Yahoo Groups, as well as the brain trust of the NCCC. Thankfully, Dean, n6DE, Hank, W6SX and Bob, W6XX came to my aid and provided me enough information to correct my problem and get myself “righted” and moving forward. In fact, I knew what the problem was and how to fix it, but there are some “issues” with the FT-1000MP that I will be addressing in the coming days.
In my pre-contest strategy I was told by Ed, W0YK to maximize scoring by taking advantage of the scoring on 40/80M. It comes as no surprise that 80M was my weakest band…again, but of the 48 QSOs I managed 23 PFX. 15/40M were nearly identical, 96 QSOs on 40M to 94 QSOs on 15M. I had hoped to hear more from Asia and the JAs on Sunday afternoon, but that never materialized. I am glad I took advantage of the “West Coast” chip shot across the Pacific the prior day and scored some good points with the JAs. In the PFX count I had 57 PFX on 40M and 44 on 15M.
This meant that 20M was my workhorse band again, which in WPX makes it challenging because QSOs are either 1, 2 or 3 points. This worked to my advantage in the early morning hours on 15/20M when I was able to get a window into EU and AF, although I still missed out on CN2R. EU was very strong and accounted for 18% of my total QSOs. Surprisingly AS was a distant 11% of my QSO total.
As I figured, NA accounted for the majority of my contacts (64%), most of which were worked on 20M. Just think of the small increases I could have taken advantage of if some of these 20M QSOs were on 40 or 80M? That difference alone could have put me well over 400,000 points.
While I won’t call it handicapped, I was without the use of my Alpha 76PA linear amplifier. Guess what? I really did not miss it much. Sure it would mean I would have submitted a SOAB HP, as opposed to SOAB LP. Looking at the scores roll in from 3830 and the NCCC reflectors, the low power option seemed to be a blessing in disguise. In reality, I am sure I missed out on a handful of contacts, but I sure did well making needed contacts. Sometimes it was as simple as a single call into EU or three or four calls for a JA. Heck even got BA4RF on a single call to start the WPX!
While W0YK provided me strategy information, I set my goals the week leading up to the WPX. I looked at 2009 results and how low power in ’6? land fared. I took the top 5 scores and did some statistical analysis on them. I also took the fact I had a very good run in January during the RTTY RU with 652 QSOs in 22.5 hours. Being able to operate another 6.5 hours meant that I could see 600 QSOs again.
If those figures held true, then I might have an outside shot at being the top score in ’6? land as a SOAB LP. Last year’s high score for that category was 313,730 by W6FFH (618 QSO, 274 PFX). It was with this information in mind I decided upon my goals. I held off on making it a second RTTY contest at 600 QSOs because the WPX is more of a DX contest and I didn’t believe I would be competitive on the low bands.
Thankfully I was able to get things together and ended up with my best ever attempt in any contest. While I could have spent more time in the early morning hours of the low bands I didn’t so I probably lost out on 50-75 QSOs per night. I don’t think I made up all of those missed points by spending more time on 20M, but hey, that is how I did it.
I finished up the contest working a full 30 hours, I made 564 QSOs, 307 PFX for 1243 points (2.20 avg) and a final score of 381,601! Not only did I beat every personal goal I went right by last year’s winning total. Could I see my first award in my future? Dunno, but I am very pleased with my performance this weekend.