WPX: Final Stretch Update

I feel like I am sitting in traffic and not going nowhere quick. That is how I compare the past 5 hours I have operated in the CQWW WPX CW Contest. This time yesterday I was putting up some good numbers, but the sun, being unpredictable has thrown a wrench into my plans.

While my time should be better spent in front of the radio, which is where I am currently sitting I have modified my goals a few times since yesterday. Hell, a few times since this morning for that matter. I am hoping to break 500,000 points as a final score. Currently I am just over 465,000 points. Typically I would say this would be a snap to get with the scoring being weighed in my favor. Unfortunately the solar conditions have taken a turn for the worst and I have one band to work, that’s 15M.

I continue to spin my dial and listen to stations I have already worked and logged. Right now I am making contact with maybe 10 stations an hour. Talking about dreadful! Still it beats being at work. Maybe things will pick up as the afternoon rolls on. Although I expect I will have a challenging time with these last 35,000 points I am chasing. I will provide a complete synopsis at the conclusion of the contest.


WPX Update

As expected, things did not go as planned. Currently sitting here on a break since conditions have deteriorated since yesterday and I am not able to keep up the sort of rate I expected. So I will give it an hour (or two) and get back to the radio. This puts me at about 5.5 hours off from the contest, leaving me with 6.5 remaining to use up of my total of 12 hours.

Unfortunately the overnight hours were not kind to me. I as hoping for better on the low bands (40M and 80M) but the antenna and solar conditions did not allow me the luxury of keeping a reasonable rate. There seemed to be a bit of local noise, which kept me on 20M well into the late hours of the night. Oddly enough I was working Europe after the sun went down. Wish I could be working EU on 15 or 20M now, but there does not seem to be an opening.

Based on my projections I will probably come up about 350,000 points short of 1 million. Last night I believe has done me in. I didn’t see a reason to spin through static and noise making very few contacts, so I dropped out at about 0930z (230am) and returned about 13z (600am). I put up one good hour and one crappy hour, only to find myself here, typing about why I won’t achieve my goal.

With daylight brings the return of the high bands (10/15/20M), which are all lower scoring than 40 and 80M, so exchanging out 6 point contacts for 1 and 2 point contacts won’t help my overall position. Still I will be pleased with the effort so far. I am on pace to beat last year’s mark before hitting the 25 hour mark, which is how much time I put in last year.

Still 36 hours in front of the radio is better than 2 days at work. So no further complaints from me. As I said yesterday, numbers can be manipulated to reflect anything you want. In this case, I was probably a bit off in some of my predictions, which will cause a major scoring change. I decided to run low power, unassisted, meaning not using any spotting resources like a DX cluster of the Reverse Beacon Network. All search and pounce for the the rest of the contest.

Ready for Radiosport?

The contest season is warming up, as are those sunspots. Solar conditions have been excellent, unfortunately I have not been spending much time on air due to other activities filling my free time. I was looking at the SSN of 141 and K of 3 yesterday and turned the radio on with some outstanding 10M signals to T32. Unfortunately when I tried to turn my hex beam in that direction I noticed I had some issues.

I leaned a ladder up to the roof and climbed up for a closer look but could not see much. I then decided to pull the antenna down to return the rotator to Radio Shack and get a replacement, since I had purchased the 1-year warranty. After collecting some tools, I needed to use a hacksaw to cut away a small piece of metal that was holding a set screw against the telescoping mast.

After the tension on the released the mast slid down. It was more evident when retracted the upper sections of the mast and was eye level with the rotator. It seemed the weight of the antenna has collaped into the rotator box. I figured it had damaged the gears. I unbolted the hex and disconnected the feed line. After lifting the antenna off I pulled off the rotator box and took it to the work bench for further inspection.

When I opened the access panel on the bottom all 4 bolts dropped out that held the rotator plate in place, which attached to the casing. Maybe I knock it off to being cheap Chinese made crap! But what should I expect for $99? I tightened up the 4 bolts, cleaned the casing and closed up the rotator and made my way back outside to reinstall on the mast.

Since picking up the last a few months ago I have been working on trying to get the mast to 40′ and have not had much luck. I am about 5-10′ short in what is really a two man operation. The two lower sections of the mast will now be fully extended totaling about 18′. The third section will put me close to 27′ It gets a bit dicey approaching 30′ and above because the mast is only about 2″ in diameter and I should be using guy wires up at 40′. Possible? Yes. Desired? Not really and I am trying to keep a clean (but safe) installation for the HOA and my neighbors.

I reattached the mast to the brackets on the back of the garage and installed the rotator box to the top of the mast. I then placed the hex beam antenna in the slot on the rotator so it can be controlled from inside the shack. With any luck the bolts will remain in place. I guess this will be an item I will need to check periodically to make sure they are not coming loose. With any luck I will be able to slide the mast up to 35-40′ a bit later today.

This is all in preparation for the CQ DX WPX RTTY contest coming this weekend. While I would love to take the entire weekend off and participate, especially with solar condition still very good, I won’t be putting in any sort of real effort. With any luck I will combine for about 10-12 hours, opening on Friday afternoon with 2-3 hours and 7-8 hours over the weekend.

The following weekend it’s the NCCC sponsored CQP, which I am hoping to participate in. While I would like to say it will be a full effort, chances are it won’t. Right now I am planning on taking Oct 2-3 off from work, due to the contest. My XYL and son are leaving that Sunday morning for Disneyland, so it would end up being a free day for me.

Right now, it’s been almost a month since I have really put any time into the radio and even less when it has come to any of the contests over the summer. Not really sure why. I have very little time to take off from work for one, I am trying to save that time and use it wisely, which isn’t easy. I am highly involved in fantasy football and spending too much time on FFS as well as dedicating time with my son and at his school. So radio loses out. Not to worry, it will always be there and as conditions continue to improve all I need to do it turn the rig on, I am sure I will be able to find a signal.