Monday, February 14, 2011

CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest 2011

CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest
This past weekend was the annual CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest. I had not operated RTTY with any seriousness since last years event when I smoked a trap in my 4 element tri-band antenna by feeding it a little too much power 15 meters.


Call: KL8DX
Operator(s): KL8DX
Station: KL8DX

Class: SOSB20 HP
QTH: Alaska
Operating Time (hrs): 29.49

Band  QSOs
  20: 1059
Total: 1059  Prefixes = 537  Total Score = 1,316,187

Club: North Coast Contesters

Full Band as seen by Icom

I had decided to do a single band entry on 20 meters, my strongest band. I decided this since I did an all band effort last year (well, all band for me anyhow). I wanted to change it up a bit for 2011. My low band antennas do not do very well so I wanted to take advantage of my strongest band. I also contemplated a low power entry but decided to run with high to take advantage of as my QSO's as possible. I saw the space weather forecast and we were due to see the effects of another solar wind but that was not likely to hit until after the contest. 

I got a late start on Friday afternoon but that was only by about 40 minutes or so. As with any contest, I prefer to park and call CQ. This is where my Icom shines as I run FSK and filter down to 250 Hz. I can normally find a hole someplace and I prefer to hangout in the nosebleed section. I worked lots of lower 48 stations and also a few Japanese stations before the band closed down on Friday night. I was patiently waiting for Europe to start showing up on the waterfall which is around 9 to 10 PM local time (0600z to 0700z). 
By Friday night, European signals were pretty darn good. It was obviously one way propagation as I was hearing them good but apparently they could not hear me. I found a frequency, called CQ until I exceeded my preferred quota with no responses. I decided then to call it a night and try early in the morning on Saturday. My experience has been that my path to Europe is much better under these conditions around 1200z and later. 

I woke up Saturday morning and immediately started to Search & Pounce on European stations. I was glad to see that they were at least hearing me finally. It's great to work the European stations due to the fact they are 3 point contacts (on upper bands) and almost every QSO was a new multiplier with all the prefixes from the different countries. Strangely though, I could not get a run going for the life of me but I could work almost everyone I could hear. So, I tuned up and down the band working as many stations as possible in Europe and points east. 

I worked Europe until the band faded over the North Pole and I turned my antenna toward the lower 48. Once again, I found a small hole and called CQ and opted to run stations rather then exercise my VFO. Again, I prefer to stay
away from the PSK31 (14.070) and weak signal (14.076)
Run Rates for KL8DX
frequencies. I operate those modes and as with any contest, I try to respect that bandwidth to those modes. This also includes the beacon frequencies. I follow a site on Twitter that announces heard beacons and oddly enough, none were heard during the entire weekend contest. This I'm sure is due to the QRM created on or near that frequency (14.100). During CW contests, you will hear CW in the digital spectrum and it's no different with digital as it heads south into the QRP CW spectrum and lower. Working a major contest (or not) is like shopping on Black Friday! It's gonna be crowded, it's gonna try your patience, and you will find both rude and polite operators. Above is a snapshot of where I ran and the lowest I got in the 20 meter band was 14074 but I did not stay long. This was pointed toward Europe and I parked here to draw a few stations that were S&P'n just above that and were new multipliers. These stations did in fact find me and I moved onward and upward.

By the end of Saturday night I had 700 + QSO's. I re-read the rules on Saturday night (thankfully) and realized that single operators were only allowed 30 hours in this contest. I checked N1MM to see how many hours I operated and found I only had about 10.5 hours left. I saw that signals were sounding pretty good from Russia and Europe late Saturday night so I decided to do the same, wake up and get on the air around 1330z on Sunday morning. 

Sunday morning was a carbon copy of Saturday morning, great propagation abroad and more 3 pointers and multipliers were added as the morning progressed. I only experienced one LID moment and that was when EA5IY decided to call CQ and run stations on the frequency I had been on for short while (14.130). And yes, he knew I was there. 
Also, an interesting moment while doing S&P on 20 meters. I had just worked ON4TO and right behind me, I saw KL5DX call him. I immediately could tell that ON4TO was confused (see screen shot above). I suspect that he figured he "busted" my callsign as I saw him give KL5DX the same serial number he gave me. I also saw the delay when ON4TO realized that serial number that I gave him and what KL5DX gave him were very different. So unless ON4TO figured it out and shows in his log that he sent the same number to both KL5DX and myself, it appears I will have this one struck from my log. I get confused with KL7DX quit frequently but this QSO cost me 3 points and a multiplier not to mention it cost ON4TO the same since I believe I was the only "KL8" active in this contest. 

I had a similar close call experience which made me laugh out loud. I was calling CQ and I had W2YE and W2YC calling me at the same time (I did not realize it until afterward). Both were the same signal strength and I was getting parts of both. So, as I normally do, I asked for the W2 only. Both responded. I asked for the W2Y?? again and both responded. Finally, W2YE was decoded on my screen and after working him, W2YC came booming in. Both are in my log and I had to chuckle at the thought of what the chances were of both calling me at the very same time. 

From my score report at the top, you will see I worked 537 different prefixes, roughly half of my log was unique. At the top of that list was EV85DOSAAF! Not sure I would run a contest with that callsign as it's not user friendly to N1MM anyhow. Not much information on the web about this operation other than the QSL manager. 

ON Air Time for KL8DX

In the end, I could have operated a few more minutes but I did not want to push going over the 30 hour mark. The Aurora and QSB did leave a bit of gibberish on my screen a time or two so I hope I did not bust too many callsigns. I am not sure what was up with the duplicate QSO's but I had more in this contest than any other. I'm not sure if someone caught my callsign in passing and saw it as something other than KL8DX and just immediately called or what. In looking at the cluster after the contest for KL8's, I was spotted as KL8XX, so I assume that could of been part of it but that was at the very end. Most stations probably clicked and called without first verifying my callsign. My strategy when that happens is to ignore them once, call CQ again with my callsign or work another station and if they continue to call, I work work them in hopes they will move on. I won't NOT work dupes as many operators have a macro that states something like "worked before" and they continue to CQ. I can bust a callsign just like the next guy so I don't mind logging them again, respectfully.

I beat my all time record score and number of QSO's in any RTTY contest. The score can start to climb if you work the low bands were those QSO's are worth more points. The propagation was outstanding which allowed for so many QSO's. I'm thankful for all the small stations like mine that get out and play in this contest. From large stacked arrays to the ham who is using an indoor antenna and low power, I'm grateful for each and every contact! Contests can be intimidating but they become addicting. I have read so many threads regarding the use of macros but in the end, I don't care how you have yours set up as long as you call me. I had a few stations send their entire information first before I acknowledged them while others had several line feeds or went on to say 73 and thank me for the contact. Actually, I find these less than common macros a bit challenging or maybe a bit refreshing from the normal every QSO grind. I think it's good to change it up once in awhile but that is my opinion and many operators have heartache over something other than non-perfect, textbook macros. Don, AA5AU has a great RTTY information site that I would highly recommend to any station who is new or wants to start off experiencing this mode. Contests are about accurate, short and sweet exchanges. Remember, it is a contest so it's best just to send what is needed and nothing more, in a format that works.

I have been deeply involved with digital between JT65A and now RTTY. I think it's time I blow the dust off my key and get back to my most favorite of modes. Sadly, I have a very busy schedule over the coming weeks but I hope to be on any chance I get as I need to work on my CW speed for some up coming contests. Our temperatures dropped to -30F this past weekend but I am hoping this is the last deep freeze as the sun is returning and they days are getting longer. I'm looking forward to putting up my Hex beam and also doing some camping with a touch of remote QRP activity, both CW and digital. That's the beauty of this hobby, you can take it with you and it's always willing and ready when you return. To those I worked in the RTTY contest, thanks for calling and sorry to those I missed or could not decode.


  1. Very good results for sure looks like the 20 meter gods were smiling on you. I too toasted an antenna during an RTTY contest a few years ago.

  2. VE3WDM - Yea, I learned the hard way. I REALLY love this 4 element but did not realize it has a 600 watt limit on RTTY. It took a KW for a very long time and through several contests before it gave up. I know operate a bit more responsibly :0) Glad Mosley had quick service and they were more than helpful in getting me back on the air. Thanks for reading and comment!! 73!