WPX SSB KP2TM M/S HP
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Wed Apr 4 00:22:39 EDT 2007
CQWW WPX Contest, SSB
Operator(s): K9TM, K8CC, W8MJ
Class: M/S HP
QTH: St. Croix, USVI
Operating Time (hrs): 48
Total: 5017 Prefixes = 1121 Total Score = 15,969,766
Club: Mad River Radio Club
FT-1000MP/Alpha 76PA, NA 10.61 and an MFJ-432 voicekeyer
2L 20/15/10 Quad at 50'
Cushcraft 40-2CD at 40'
80M AI1H dipole at 35'
No antenna for 160 and no receive antennas
Our second WPX SSB trip to the "Villa On The Edge" QTH which is the home of
KP2TM. After 5600 QSOs and 16M in 2006 with just two ops, we were looking
forward to 2007 even though our sanity was questioned for making such a trip
near the sunspot minimum.
We arrived on Wednesday, and spent Thursday R&Ring the reflector loops on our
2L triband quad. The wires were fraying at the corners where they passed
through the Cubex fiberglass spreaders, and the 20M loop was already broken and
hanging down. Before the trip we had consulted with the master quad builder
Greg, K8GL and applied many of his tips to make the quad more durable in the
Friday was spent gathering food supplies and setting up the station. As others
have reported, 28 MHz was in very good shape the afternoon before the contest.
We received a S9+25dB signal report from an HB9 while we were running just
100W! While this was unexpected, we were skeptical such conditions would last,
and we were unfortunately correct.
In 2006 we had a very good first 30 minutes on 10M, and followed that with 200+
Q/hr rates on 15 for the next 90 minutes before having to descend into the
quagmire of 20M. This year there was no 10M, and after starting on
15M we were down to 20M ten minutes into the contest. However, 20M was good
and we were able to make it produce last through most of the 04Z hour.
In years past, we've found 40M to be very difficult in this contest, both from
WP2Z in 2004 and KP2TM in 2006. One would think that having a 40-2CD
overlooking the ocean with a clean shot to Europe from many hundreds of feet
above the water (both stations) would make being a big sig into Europe a piece
of cake. This year was different; the first night we started out running W/VE
with QSX at 7166, and several of the EU big guns called us amongst the NA. Op
K8CC picked up the hint, and checked his transmit QRG on 7077 and found it
relatively clear so started running transceive and has two 100+ hours in a row
working Europe before the band closed. We went straight to 40M from 15M the
2nd night and while the rate wasn't as good, the callers were still
predominantly Europe. Overall, we were a lot more pleased with 40M this year
and the band's numbers bear it out - 2006: 673Q/3074pts/4.56PPQ, 2007:
On the other hand, 15M which was such a bottomless pit of QSOs in 2006 (2859,
or over 50% of our total) never really got good. The band opened late both
mornings and signals were consistently down from last year. This year, we were
working more W/VE and as a result our points/QSO average dropped slightly from
2.34 in 2006 to 2.29 this year.
80M is never a crucial band for us, and our decision to stay on 20M through the
early evening the first night and 40M the second night hurt us, for while we
seemed to get out OK, it seemed like by the time we got to 80M Europe was
largely gone and most of W/VE was asleep.
Despite the great Friday afternoon conditions, 10M never really opened up. We
were watching the PacketCluster and occasionally scanning the band, but We only
had one QSO the first day, and a couple of brief forays to the band in the 18Z
and 20Z hours the second day when we heard signals. WE wound up only working a
handful of Spanish stations, and most of our Caribbean neighbors like NP4A,
NP3U, TI5N, and VP2E.
Fifteen minutes after the contest was over we were down at the bar on the beach
seeking food, and they kept the kitchen open to feed the hungry contesters.
On Monday we took down the driven element of the quad and made similar repairs
as we had done to the reflector on Thursday. Hopefully the antenna will now be
ready for many more years of contest QSOs.
I guess we're starting to understand what it means to contest from the
Caribbean during a sunspot minimum. When you can make 5000+ QSOs with just one
rig, we can't hardly wait for the sunspots to return. Now if we could just
figure out a way to make KP2 a three point county :-)
Thanks for all the QSOs.
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