Starting this Friday at 5pm (0000 z) is the beginning of the CQWW WPX CQW Contest. It’s become a favorite of mine, based off my 2010 and 2009 efforts. While I had set lofty expectations in 2010, I came up well short of my goals. Compared to 2009, I doubled my contracts and tripled my final score. Still out of 36 hours I only worked 24 hours and 50 minutes, which put any idea of 1 million points behind me.
I gotta give props to many of these contesters who can go all night without sleep, many of them older than I. This was something I was unable to do last year and at 01z I called it quits. Hopefully that won’t be the case this year, as I am planning on operating through Friday night into the daylight hours of Saturday.
The SteppIR BigIR is back, erected and in good working condition. I need to make one minor repair on an 80M radial, but am looking to get the antenna tested on Wednesday afternoon. The hex beam has been unused for nearly a month and a half since my Yaesu FT-1000MP has been in the shop under repair. I did receive confirmation that the rig will arrive on Wednesday providing me 2 days to get the shack reconnected and in working order for the start of the contest on Friday.
At the beginning of April I wrote a piece called WPX on the Horizon, discussing my failure to achieve my goals in 2010 and how to be successful 2 years later. It will be the low bands (40M & 80M) that will be the deciding factor. If I can have a productive first night, then I should have a legitimate shot at making my goal of 1 million points.
This year I have set 1 million points as my goal, how I get there is of little consequence. Based on my 2012 CQWW CW spreadsheet I would need 890 QSOs, 418 PFX, which would equate to 2400 QSO points for a final score just over 1 million points. This is predicated on a prefix variable of 0.47. Based on my 2010 score, my prefix rate ended up at 0.46 but as the contest wears on new prefixes are difficult to find, but worth quite a few points.
As mentioned, it will be 40M and 80M that will be the deciding factor (4 or 6 points per QSO). I need to total 475 contacts between the two bands. If not, the shortfall will need to be made up on the low bands and will end up requiring more contacts at a lower point per contact. Not sure this would be a possibility for me since my effort will be search and pounce, without running any frequency.
Looking at the numbers, over a 36 hour period I would need to average a 24.72 contacts per hour (known as rate) in order to achieve my goal. In any contest a 24 rate is very low, especially when compared to those who will be running a frequency or using a SO2R (single operator, 2 radios) operation. My Morse code is adequate and my skill is improving, as well as my speed, but running a frequency only to have to QRZ for a call sign does nothing but waste time. If the first 7 hours of the 2010 effort is any indication (was at a 32 rate), I should be able to achieve my goal.
The factor that remains a question mark, the solar conditions. I am using N6BV’s propagation software and hoping for high conditions (SFI 100+ and SSN 100+) and planning my contest out for each hour. I don’t plan on spending much time on 10M (only planning 40 QSOs), but will check at the top of each hour. Currently I am planning my sleep schedule. Initially I had it set up for one block of 10 hours during the daylight hours on Saturday. After some consideration I am breaking it up into a few smaller breaks, hoping to be at my 36 hour limit about 3-4 hours before the contest ends. Whatever I finally decide on the sleep schedule, I am going to make it a point to stay up when the sun is down to maximize my score.
I will enter this contest as a single operator, low power, unassisted. This too could change before the contest, but I don’t see much reason to fire the amplifier up and run high power, especially for CW. With any luck I will be reporting back the fruits of my labor and grinning from ear to ear that I have achieved my goal.