Sunday, February 12, 2012

CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest 2012

Alaska records for RTTY WPX
This year was a bit different for me when operating in the CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest. The main reason I had to enter low power this year was due to my amplifier being out of service. I knew it was going to be much more of a challenge, especially if the bands were anything like they had been lately. 

I like this contest format as everyone is a potential multiplier. I also like the fact that you can work everyone around the world! My strategy was at first doing a single band entry but I changed up my plan once Saturday arrived. I also decided to do more multiplier hunting!! I checked on the RTTY records for Alaska and I set my sights on the All Band, Low Power, which was held by KL7AC. I knew that my low band antennas were not going to contribute much to my score. Sadly, this is where all the points can be made! With substandard DX antennas for the low bands, I knew I would have to work that much harder on the high bands. 

I operated a few hours on Friday night and threw in the towel early so I could get an early start on Saturday morning. I was hoping I could wake up early and hear the sweet sounds of RTTY coming from Europe. As it's typical on contest weekends for me, we were experiencing another weather system that was bringing wind gusts above 40 MPH. Running low power and dealing with local QRN due to the winds was going to make for a challenging weekend for sure.

My Operating Times
I slept in a bit later than I had hoped on Saturday morning but Europe was workable on 20 meters. I hunted for stronger stations and I started to add 3 point QSO's and multipliers to my log, slowly. This is where I really noticed the difference running low power! Dealing with the flutter the northern propagation path to Europe, the extra power makes it much easier to be heard. There were many stations I tried working that just could not hear me. With so many different countries and prefixes in Europe, it's multiplier friendly and a good few hour opening to Europe will do wonders to any score! I stuck specifically to 20 meters but checked 15 from time to time. I was hearing stations on 15 but none were very strong. I stayed on 20 meters until the propagation moved westward when I was hearing the lower 48 and points south. 

My Weekend RTTY Rates 
I have a pretty good path to the lower 48 but with the winds, most of my QRN was in the direction of that path. Saturday seemed pretty good and I was able to add contacts on all the high bands. 10 Meters only produce a handful of contacts but it was nice hearing stations there. There was no doubt that 15 Meters was the money band! Lots of signals, most could hear my 100 watts. I parked and called CQ several times in the nose bleed section but I made sure to stick to my plan of Search & Pounce (S&P) for those much needed multipliers. I knew that if I was going to place in a top spot, I would need every multiplier I could get logged. Saturday seemed to fly by and once the bands faded, I left the shack to spend a bit of time with the family. I did manage a few contacts on 40 meters in the evening but that's only due to the other stations having the ability to hear weak signals like mine. 

I overslept on Sunday by a few hours (weekend theme) but I was very happy to hear European stations even stronger on 20 meters when I finally got on. I spent a large part of my morning chasing European stations and most could actually hear me! Heard but not worked was ST2AR as there was no way I could muster enough umph to make it through that pile-up. As the multipliers started to stack up, my goal of reaching over 419,000 points appeared as if it might become a reality. Of all the European callsigns I worked, I got to say my favorite was SL0W! Now that's my kinda callsign!

Conditions to the lower 48 seemed great once again on 15 meters. I spent a bit of time on 10 meters and it was also better Sunday. I was watching my score closely and I broke past 419,000 points at 2053z after a QSO with LU7FTS. I could never get any really good runs going on any of the bands but that also helped me accomplish my goal of more S&P. Sunday propagation for me was much better than Saturday. 

One of the interesting moments in the contest weekend was when I ran across N9RV (I think that is who it was if memory serves me right) calling CQ. I called N9RV and he kept asking for repeats. I was not aware until after I finally worked him (by monitoring his frequency a minute or so after our QSO) that both myself and KL5DX had been calling him at the same time! No wonder he was confused! On a side note, N9RV has some awesome antenna's so check out his QRZ page! 

In conclusion, I was pretty happy with my effort this weekend. It was tough but doing something a bit different paid off. Once I changed my strategy, I kept focused and it helped me land what I would consider (for my size station) a respectable score for low power. I could have operated for an additional 5.5 hours and I sure lost some points there! Low power is sure a challenge and I can only hope that next weekend will be as good, if not better, than this weekend. Thanks for all those that called and also to the many who pulled my small signal out of the mud! Your efforts were appreciated more than you know! 

CQWPXRTTY Score Summary Sheet

       Start Date : 2012-02-11

    CallSign Used : KL8DX
      Operator(s) : KL8DX

Operator Category : SINGLE-OP
             Band : ALL
            Power : LOW
             Mode : RTTY
 Default Exchange : 001
       Gridsquare : BP53LU

             Name : Phil Sauvey
          Address : 
   City/State/Zip : Denali National Park
          Country : USA

     ARRL Section : AK
        Club/Team :  
         Software : N1MM Logger V9.9.6

        Band    QSOs    Pts  WPX
           7        7        26    0
          14     250      651  164
          21     410      856  179
          28      73      160   28

       Total     740    1693  371

            Score : 628,103

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