[3830] ARI KP2M(N7MH) SO CW HP

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Wed May 30 17:29:46 PDT 2012

                    ARI International DX Contest

Call: KP2M
Operator(s): N7MH
Station: KP2M

Class: SO CW HP
QTH: St Croix
Operating Time (hrs): 16:20
Radios: SO2R

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  RTTY Qs  Mults
   80:    24                     
   40:   206                     
   20:   384                     
   15:   311                     
   10:   106                     
Total:  1031    0       0       0  Total Score = 1,269,910

Club: Northern California Contest Club


This was a dual-purpose trip to St Croix with my wife's participation in the St
Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon being the main purpose, just as 2 years ago when I
operated in the ARI DX Contest.  After arriving late Tuesday we spent most of
our time preparing for the triathlon.

I planned to do an all-out effort in this contest to try to better my score
from two years ago.  Philip/KT3Y, the new KP2M station owner, had upgraded the
station with K3s, bandpass filters and permanent Beverage antennas.

While getting acquainted with the station I realized that there was no audio
switching to support the SO2R operation that was now possible with the bandpass
filtering.  We made a trip to the local Radio Shack and after buying over $40 of
cables to split the audio from the two radios I got cheap and decided not to
spend an additional $80 to buy a switch and more cables, all of which I had at
home in California and could have brought with me.

While planning for the trip I had searched for the latest ARI contest website
and found only the 2010 and 2011 rules sites in web search results.  I
confirmed that "The contest will be held on each first full week-end of May
from 2000z Saturday till 1959z Sunday".  2000Z is 4:00 in the afternoon in St
Croix.  A couple days before the contest I finally found the 2012 rules for the
contest and noticed that spotting networks are allowed for everyone.

On Saturday morning my wife was preparing to get up early for her triathlon on
Sunday so her alarm went off at 5 AM.  I could not get back to sleep so I got
up shortly after 5.  Waking up 11 hours before the start of a 24-hour contest
is not a good strategy but I wasn't tired and couldn't nap.  I started to set
up the cabling for splitting the audio and began trying to configure N1MM for
the contest.

While I was setting things up I heard several stations calling CQ TEST,
including some Italian stations.  I wondered what contest they were
participating in, only hours before the ARI contest was to begin.

I interrupted my station setup to go to lunch and a mandatory pre-race meeting
with my wife.  We got back at 2 PM and I continued with my N1MM set-up.  Two
hours left to set up all my CW messages, get packet running, set up the
software interlock and confirm that the computers were networked.  This was
only my third time using N1MM so this all took a while to figure out.

After I turned the radios on I again heard Italian stations calling CQ TEST so
I now wondered whether I had gotten the contest start time wrong.  I found the
2012 ARI rules site again and was extremely dismayed to learn that the contest
period for 2012 had been moved up by 8 hours, now running from 1200Z Saturday
to 1159Z Sunday.  I had missed the first 7 hours because it had never occurred
to me that the start time would change.

This was very disheartening, but I had rented the KP2M super-station in the
Virgin Islands to do this contest so I got on the air as soon as I possibly
could.  It took me several hours before I had packet working with skimmer spots
from RBN.  A "Check" window popped up asking me to check something so I
dismissed that window.  I spent much of the rest of the contest trying to
figure out how to get a Super Check Partial window to appear since I'd often
miss a letter or two copying callsigns while listening to two radios with no
audio switching.  With about 6 hours to go it finally occurred to me that the
Check window I'd dismissed was the familiar SCP window from other loggers.

I had told my wife I'd drive her to the start of her race at 4:30 AM so I took
another half-hour off-time to get her there.  I recalled that rates were slow
at this time of morning so I wouldn't lose much.  Was I ever wrong - 20 meters
was open overnight and I had great rates into Europe at this early morning

Most of my SO2R time was spent dual-CQing.  Trying to pounce on stations with
one radio while CQing on the other was difficult without an audio switch to
mute out a loud CQer while trying to copy a weak caller.

The most memorable moment of the contest was in the last 20 minutes.  I decided
to switch one radio to 10 meters to see if I could stir up anything.  I heard
nothing on 10 meters but started CQing.  I0ZUT called me with a nice signal so
I knew the band was open to Italy.  I then heard VU2UR calling and came back to
him with an exchange.  I was mildly annoyed when another slightly louder caller
covered up VU2UR's exchange, only to realize that it was 4S7NE.  I gave 4S7NE
an exchange and he came back with number 2 (he'd called me earlier on 20 meters
for his #1).  I then gave the next sequence number to VU2UR who was still
standing by and completed the contact for a new mult on 10.

The contest ended at 8 AM local time.  After saving the log I walked out the
driveway to the road and watched the triathlon competitors riding by on their
bicycles with Brian, KP2HC, who is the caretaker of the KP2M Radio Reef
property.  About 5 minutes later my wife came by on her bike and we cheered her

I went to bed and was able to sleep a few hours before heading to the finish
line of the race.  My wife had finished 30 minutes faster than two years ago
but finished second in her age group by 50 seconds out of 6 hours and 20

Thanks to Phil/KT3Y and Brian/KP2HC for continuing to maintain and improve the
KP2M station.  We had a great experience in St Croix again and I only wish that
I had the foresight to check the rules earlier to confirm that the start time of
the contest hadn't changed.

-Mike, N7MH

P.S. I had more than 0 mults but I didn't copy down the summary so I don't know
what my actual mults were.

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