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To: 3830@contesting.com, jeff@n6gq.com
Subject: [3830] CQWW SSB YN2AA(N6GQ) SOAB HP
From: webform@b41h.net
Reply-to: jeff@n6gq.com
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2012 09:47:37 -0700
List-post: <3830@contesting.com">mailto:3830@contesting.com>
                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

Call: YN2AA
Operator(s): N6GQ
Station: YN2N

Class: SOAB HP
QTH: Nicaragua
Operating Time (hrs): 38

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
  160:   11     4       10
   80:  332    16       35
   40:  965    28       89
   20: 1751    31      101
   15: 1324    25       92
   10: 1893    27       90
Total: 6276   131      417  Total Score = 8,153,692

Club: Northern California Contest Club


First, my sincere thanks and appreciation go out to my friends
Octavio and Martha (YN2N and XYL). I was so looking forward to getting
back to Octavioâ??s after my previous trip â?" being in the jungle of
Central America offers a quiet and calm that is pretty rare these
days. Octavio and Marthaâ??s hospitality is second to none â?" I had a
wonderful time with them!

Each year when I do a single-op effort, I look forward to the recap at
the end, its my way of memorializing the weekend, and sharing it is a
fun way to collaborate with others with similar interests. I read
other commentaries with a lot of interest, usually learning quite a
bit from what others experience.

With each contest, I enter with a set of goals, sometimes itâ??s a
full-bore effort for raw QSOs, sometimes its just fun, other times its
to win, or sometimes its to test a theory. This particular contest I
chose my goal as testing a theory â?" (as I did in the previous YN2AA
operation) â?" this yearâ??s test was to see what a multiplier count would
look like with no mult-chasing, only CQing. As Iâ??d expect, its not so
good, but I believe  the theory that most mults can be had by CQing is
directly proportional to how rare your country/zone is. While I
believe I was the only active YN in the contest this year, there were
a good number of other very active zone 7 operations on the air, and
so I was only â??half-rareâ?? :)  I think its also somewhat proportional to
how loud you are around the globe, and this operation shows what can
be done in a contest with decent conditions, and without stacks of
yagis, big amplifiers, SO2R, or any large investment. In fact, the
station is probably similar to what most hams might have at home, a
small tribander and low wires, and a small amplifier (500w).

My â??day jobâ?? has kept me extremely busy this past year, and this
contest represented a get-away from work for me. Besides testing my
theory mentioned above, I also had a goal of not pushing too hard this
year, which meant getting more sleep than a regular SOAB effort,
taking  time  enjoy 3  full meals a day, take a nice shower each day,
and not be ruled by the clock. I think I struck a good balance this
time, having clocked about 38 hours of chair-time, and most of the
time feeling pretty alert and not tired. I had been fighting a cold
for the week going into the contest, and through the contest my voice
changed as the cold started to take hold, bu t I think given that I
got sleep and good food, I was able to beat the cold.

I had arrived in-country only Thursday afternoon, and so only had the
afternoon and next day to get set up and adjusted to the weather,
station and propagation.  The station consists of the following:

Radio: My early Elecraft K3 with DVR but no sub-RX
Amplifier: Drake L4 (80-10M â?" no amp on 160)
10/15/20: Cushcraft A3 @18m
40: 2 element wire quad loops fixed on Europe or a dipole @ 18m
80: dipole @ 18m
160: dipole @ 18m

I had been listening from home in W6 quite a bit in the preceding days
and was hoping propagation would remain as hot as it had been, and for
the most part, things were pretty good, thankfully.

Iâ??m not a great sleeper, and my flight from SFO to Miami was a redeye,
so I pretty much didnâ??t sleep at all on the night of my travel, but
tried to recoup some of that on Thursday night before the contest.  So
I was a bit tired on Friday but the adrenaline rush from the contest
starting pretty much fixed that problem :)

I started the contest on 20M and had pretty decent rates for the
first 2 or 3 hours, with the 10 minute rate meter regularly pegged at
600/hr, which is always fun. Iâ??m a rate-junkie and always look forward
to the â??rightâ?? pileup size â?" one thatâ??s managable but doesnâ??t fizzle
too quick. Too small and you exhaust the callers and wait to get
spotted again â?" too big and you canâ??t quickly pull calls out of the
mess. As my friend Robert (S53R) so eloquently noted, it is also
related to the origin of the pileups, US and JA pileups are very
managable regardless of size mostly, but European pileups can be
exceedingly aggressive and this becomes a challenge when trying to
complete each QSO. This caused me to make some minor adjustments in my
bandplan this time, more on that later. It was in these first few hours that I
had the best 60 minute rate of 380/HR.

I knew I could probably stay on 20 well into the night but also wanted
to get to 40 to catch the majority of the European multiplier base, as
well as into Western Asia. I contrast this with 40 being so incredibly
crowded that finding a clear frequency in the band is virtually
impossible. I didnâ??t have the option of being 40 over 9 in Europe, so
I got pushed around quite a bit by incredibly loud and wide European
signals. I remain surprised at how incredibly loud Europe is in
Central America with a mostly-open-water path â?" the band is literally
full of S9+40+ signals, and most of them are incredibly WIDE as well,
with â??goodâ?? audio being somewhat of an exception. In fact, I recorded
the entire 48 hours of the contest, and have been thinking of
publishing some of the clips in an effort to try to get ops to be more
responsible with their signals (more on that later, too). So it was
with trepidation that I wnet to 40 and tried to find a hole to get a
pileup going. This didnâ??t work so well because as soon as Iâ??d get
something going, Iâ??d get pushed off by one of those S9+40 signals
splattering over my pileup, to the point of S9+20 signals being
uncopyable. So Iâ??d move again, and kept doing that until I decided to
change  my course.  So I switched to 80M.

80M was unfortunately mostly a bust, as the noise level on 80 was
S9+20 â?" perhaps because of the Storm Sandy? I donâ??t know, but it was
essentially unusable in that condition. I went to 160, where the noise
was â??onlyâ?? S9, but the problem was there were just no signals. You
know itâ??s going to be a long night when the only thing you hear on 160
during primetime is one or two â??localsâ?? (for me, that was HK1NA and
TI8M). No US signals at all, not K3LR, not KC1XX, not NQ4I, not W3LPL,

I went back to 40 and putzed around for a while but still never really
got any kind of good rate going. For me, it becomes an avoidance thing
â?" so I start subconsciously looking for other things to distract
myself with â?" looking for other bands to be open , listening to other
ops work pileups, etc. At some point, I just went to bed and set my
alarm for 30 minutes before sunrise.

At about 30 minutes before sunrise, I expected 40 and 80 to be full of
Asian signals, but that wasnâ??t the case. I did work a few JAâ??s, but
couldnâ??t get the few BYâ??s I heard to hear me. I also couldnâ??t generate
any kind of rate by CQing, so I ended up going to 20, which was
already pretty much wide open â?" and full â?" so I ended up going to
10/15 and getting some rate going with the Europeans.

The rest of the weekend was spent jumping from the US band into the non-US band
trying to get to a point of maximizing QSO rates and efficiency. This actually
worked pretty well, because I spent a lot less time CQing than in previous

Some fun statistics:

Number of amplifier failures: 0 (Drake L4)
Number of computer failures: 0 (surprising, given a Windows 7 box. N1MM is a
great logger)
Number of radio problems: 0 (Elecraft K3, love it)
Crime rate in Nicaragua: Lowest in Central America
Best 60 minute rate: 380 (1st hour)
Number of missed meals: 0 (I made sure of this!) :)
"Way Cool Band Openings": 2 (10M LP at 1AM, 20M SP at ~1AM)
Number of 6 band QSOs: 2 (PJ2T and V26B)
Number of 5 band QSOs: 82 (Thanks!)

The 20M opening on Saturday night was incredible - the band was mostly flat,
then about 1AM or so, it "popped" to Europe and Central Asia - the band went
from mostly quiet to wall to wall S9+++ signals. So I found a spot and called
CQ, and for the next 90 minutes ran Europe at a crazy pace. Finally decided to
go split and that sped things up quite a big and allowed me to work through the
enormous pileup better and thin it out quicker. Amazing. Lots of fun. Then, like
a light switch, it closed again.

It was a great contest, a big thanks to all the ops that traveled to unique
destinations to get on the air, or those that are already there that took their
time to get on the air for the rest of us!

And in the end, my score shows that chasing mults would have been a good idea,
as I think it would have been 2M points higher with some time spent there
rather than sleeping :) But since rate is fun, I'm very happy with the score,
especially given that it was done with a small tribander, low wires and "low"
power (for the HP category).

Thanks for all the QSOs, and one last thing, I do have the entire 48 hours
recorded, so if you want your QSO in MP3 format, let me know (or if you want to
hear something specifically). I'd also wonder if we, the contest community,
might ever have a chance to listen to the SDR recordings, that would be really

All the best,

Jeff N6GQ / YN2AA

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