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Tue May 28 09:42:21 EDT 2013

                    CQWW WPX Contest, CW

Call: N2NT
Operator(s): W2GD
Station: N2NT

Operating Time (hrs): 35.5

 Band  QSOs
  160:    5
   80:   53
   40:  329
   20:  411
   15:  250
   10:   60
Total: 1108  Prefixes = 568  Total Score = 1,792,608

Club: Frankford Radio Club


Rig:  K3    Win-Test 
Antennas:  Wire gain Arrays on 160m and 80m, two 40m beams, and stacked Yagis
on 20, 15 and 10. N2NT's station always "rocks".

I must be totally crazy - because I genuinely enjoy the challenges of QRP
contesting.  Now admittedly, I pick my spots, loosely aligned with sunspot
maximums.  It's been about 12 years since my last serious QRP operation (the
2000 CQWW PH from P40W).   When I try to talk to other contesters about the
virtues of serious QRP operation they most often just shake their heads, tell
me I'm completely nuts (I've even seen eyes glazing over when I just mention
the word QRP).  Hey, until you try it, don't knock it. 

Now - there is "qrp" and then there is "QRP". Using an
extensive array of gain antennas or operating from a Caribbean island with
enhanced propagation, is nothing like slugging it out with a tribander at 60
feet and wires strung up in the apple tree out back of the house.  Tilting the
odds in one's favor is definitely part of the 'fun' equation for me when
operating QRP.

The wildcard is propagation.  Unfortunately the worst case scenario developed
this weekend. Multiple CME events prior to the contest had already depressed
conditions worldwide, and then a pronounced dip occured over the first 36
hours, the A rising to as high as 30 and K to 5.  As a QRPer, you live and die
with the supply of workable big signals available to S&P.  On Saturday and
part of Sunday there were very few loud guys to be found in any direction.  The
idea of 'running' was completely abandoned until the last few hours on Sunday
when conditions somewhat normalized. One can only wonder what would have been
if we'd had the great propagation from a weekend earlier.

Setting operating goals is always a good practice, but its important to be
ready to adapt expectations to current conditions.  I'd hoped to achieve 1500
QSOs and 600 multipliers this time.  It was quickly apparent, with large
portions of the world completely inaudible to me on Saturday, that much more
modest numbers should be considered.  At the final bell, the totals were
roughly 80% of original expectatons.....which was about all one could
realistically hope for under the circumstances.

Pretty much followed a pre-contest plan to exploit 40m both nights, and cycle
between 20/15/10 during daylight hours.  Maximizing six point production is
essential for success (and a big score).  Thankfully the low bands were very
quiet following a week of what seemed like endless thunderstorms across the
USA.  Had hoped for a combined total of 400 contacts on 160/80/40 combinded and
came pretty close.  Salivated over all the EU stations I heard on 160m the 2nd
night that were unworkable with 5 watts.....but rejoiced over the two dozen
plus six pointers logged on 80m over the weekend.

Could actually hear the sun "roaring" on the bands for several hours
in the middle of the contest which is never a good sign.  With conditions
declining, I front-loaded off-time the first day, in the hope propagation would
improve Sunday, a gamble that more or less worked out.  

QRP operating requires being patient, persistent, and having a thick skin. One
expects to be routinely beaten in pileups, suffer the indignity of stations
CQing in your face, and responding to the never-ending requests for repeats. 
During disturbed conditions, the frequency of all these not so pleasant
operating attributes are increased.  Such was my weekend!

Hit 40m hard the first night.  Although it wasn't runable, S&Ping produced
rates approaching 60/hour during repeated trips up and down of the band.  A few
moves to 80m near EU sunrise produced a fair number of six pointers too.  But as
the evening progressed the increase in QSB and dropoff in signal strengths was
obvious.....the slide in conditions inexcapable.  

After EU sunrise, when the expected 20m enhancement to EU didn't materialize, I
decided to take a 1.5 hour nap, which became a 3 hour siesta. Just after my
sunrise, 20 and 15 were clearly under full attack by the sun.  Top tier EUs
were just S5 to S6.  Following a few hours of mediocre rates on 20 and then 15,
I took the first of three one hour breaks during daytime, which under normal
circumstances wouldn't usually happen.  Headed to the local Dunkin Donuts for
breakfast and a big cup of DD coffee to raise my spirits.  

Approacing darkness, it was back to 40m, and then cycling through 80 and 20
until EU sunrise.  Added another 100-something six points on 40 and 80, and
even found two mults on 160.  But by 0630 the number of new stations to work
was dwindling so went to sleep for 3.5 hours.  Awoke with what sounded like
improving conditions but still not runable.  Encouraged to work my first JA
(heard just 3 all weekend) and several other Asians on 20.  Tried to max out SA
mults with hourly trips to 10 meters, the PY and LU guys were consistently loud,
and landed a ZS and D4 too.  

About 2000z conditions on 15 and 20 became runable ... a good thing since my
fatigue level had increased making S&P real work.  Had a few nice runs up
at the top of both these bands, and briefly at the beginning of the last hour
on 40m.  Bagged VK6DXI LP on 40....probably my best QSO all weekend.

So....what makes QRP so enjoyable to me?  
1.  The thrill of working stations far away with just 5 watts....you never know
who will respond.
2.  The thrill of breaking pileups with 5 watts.  Beating out stations running
200 times the power or more is a huge boost.
3.  QRP operation has a lower stress quotient.  Lets face it, the need to
continually run at 100 plus an hour isn't there....and the level of competition
is lower.  You can make some mistakes and not be blown out of the game.

Congratulations to all the stations who struggled to successfully pull out my
call/report this weekend...I now it wasn't always easy.

And my sincerest thanks to Bonnie and Andy (N2NT) for once again hosting me
this past weekend.  Andy as always your station performed flawlessly.


John,  W2GD a.k.a. P40W

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