kwidelitz at gtemail.net kwidelitz at gtemail.net
Sat Jun 2 13:13:12 EDT 2001

                     CQWW WPX - CW
Call: PJ2U
Operator(s): K6LA

Class: SO(TS)AB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 36
Radios: SO2R

 Band     QSOs   Prefixes
  160:      0
   80:      0
   40:    303
   20:   1262
   15:   1161
   10:    902
Total:   3628 x    868  =  10,104,388

Club: SCCC


This was my first single op contest expedition out of the U. S. for a DX 
contest. Having had a taste of the fun, it won’t be my last.

When I signed up to go to the Signal Point location in Curacao, I knew the 
antenna setup would be simple, as the big towers and antennas were scheduled to 
go up after CW WPX. What I didn’t know when I signed up was that I would have 
to bring my radios because all of the Signal Point radios were broken. 

Murphy struck big time upon my arrival in Curacao. Despite packing my radios in 
regular suitcases, customs decided to ask me about what was in my bags, 
probably due to my having two large suitcases, one small one, and all kinds of 
cables dangling from my computer backpack. When the inspector asked me the 
value my radios and equipment, I told him a low twenty-five hundred. He checked 
with his supervisor who said I would have to make a deposit to bring the 
equipment into the country. Unfortunately, the place to make the deposit was in 
town and it closed at 4 P. M. Because my plane was late, it was now past 3:30 
P. M. For some reason, the supervisor was a real SOB and told me it was too 
late to get the paperwork done. More unfortunately, the next day (Thursday) was 
a local holiday, Friday the office was closed to make a four day weekend, so I 
could make my deposit and get my radios on Monday. Great… They wound up 
extorting $443 out of me for duty. I will note that I didn’t prepare an invoice 
in advance as had been suggested, but I suspect a complete invoice with a value 
of 50% of true value would have been more than $2,500.

The good news was that when I got to the station, the radios worked. The bad 
news was the recent shipment of towers, antennae and hardline was stacked in 
the second bedroom, making the closet with the 2nd and 3rd amps unavailable. 

I started early Thursday morning tuning the 40 and 80 meter delta loops for CW. 
That went easily enough. Then I put together an A3S for the second radio. That 
went easily enough until I tried to push up the push up mast which couldn’t be 
pushed or pulled. The A3S wound up sitting about six inches above the aluminum 
roof on a tower without a rotor. It was pretty useless. Getting up and down 
from the roof on a ladder a few feet too short took its toll on my body. My 
forearms have the bruises to show it from hanging on the corregated roof while 
my feet tried to find the ladder. One time I kicked the ladder over on the way 
up and had to drop to the ground on the way down. 

By dinner time I was really beat. One good thing about the QTH is that there is 
a resort a few minutes walk down the road. The food was surprisingly good. 
Thursday night featured a Calypso band. The resort also has a casino, but I 
never saw the inside. Thursday night and Friday was spent setting up the 
radios, computer and antenna switching. I had brought my Bird A/B antenna 
switch and there were two regular antenna switches at the shack so I was able 
to set it up so I could put the antennas on either radio and use the CL33 (at 
56’) on the 2nd radio when using the 40 meter delta loop on the CQ radio. 
Seemed like a great idea at the time, but 40 meters was so noisy, not to 
mention 20 meters being open all night, I didn’t spend much time on it. Murphy 
got me during set up when I burned up the 20 meter section on my bandpass 
filter. I think I transmitted into the wrong antenna. Fortunately I had a 

I took a long nap late Friday afternoon and was chomping at the bit for the 
action to start. Murphy got me again when the run radio took a few characters 
to fully power up, but only when connected to the amp. With a poor 79 QSOs in 
the log after the first hour, I took an off-time and swapped radios. I got back 
on and had my best hour of the contest at 133 QSOs. 

I had printed out the HC8N breakdown from last year to use as a benchmark. They 
had a number of hours over 130 and topped out at 155. I thought I could match 
that, at least for a few hours even with only a tribanders at 56’. Boy was I 
wrong. It doesn’t take much for the rate to go in the toilet. A little QRM at 
the wrong time, a couple of fills on the number …

It didn’t help that the radio I had moved into the run radio slot had a problem 
when the AGC was turned off. The RF Gain control stopped working, but only if 
there was a loud signal present before the RF Gain was turned down. Very weird. 
If I turned the RF Gain down with no signal present and then tuned up the band 
to a strong signal, it would work. I didn’t spend much time on it, but so much 
for the AGC Off strategy of pile-up management. 

Speaking of pile-up management, I made sure I signed my call after no more than 
3 QSOs and usually after each. One time, I guess I had made 3 QSOs without 
giving my call, a VERY loud station sends “CALL?” right over the current QSO’s 
number. I sent “NR?” This lid sends “CALL?” right over the number. This went on 
perhaps six times before I was able to get the number. 

133, 130 hours, I decided it was time for some 6 point action on 40 meters. 
Wrong again. The 80 meter loop heard better on 40 meters than the 40 meter 
loop. And I couldn’t put the amp on 80 meters because the radio would go key 
down after 150 – 200 watts. I wound up with ZERO QSOs on 80 meters and just 
over 300 QSOs on 40 meters. Definitely not part of the plan. 

I was lucky 20 was open all night. It was amazing how many hams from Russia and 
the former USSR countries were active with a cornucopia full of prefixes too. 
The Czeck’s cornucopia was nearly empty. 150 QSOs, 2 prefixes.

Except for one 4 hour off period when I slept three hours, most of my off-times 
were of the 1 hour variety. I made one mistake taking an hour off in the middle 
of a 10 hour period with rates averaging over 110. I’m sure I made a few more 
off-time blunders, but for a left coast contester to run EU all day and all 
night on 10 through 20 meters, it seemed like any time could be an off-time, 
given they have to be taken.

I made my goals of 3600 QSOs and 850 mults. I was short on my score goal since 
I made so few 6 point QSOs. 

73, Ken, K6LA

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