N2RM, et al (reply) - ah, to run faster

Dave Pascoe pascoe at rocky.gte.com
Fri Nov 6 13:28:36 EST 1992

In a recent message eric! wrote:

{descriptions of both N2RM and W3LPL deleted}

> Basically, my rate at LPL's was about 20/hr lower into Europe that N2NT's at
> RM's.  Band openings were identical for both stations.  W3LPL and N2RM are
> located at the same latitude, with N2RM about 100 miles east of W3LPL.
> Interestingly, on Sat morning N2RM had a big 2nd hour into Europe: 170+ rate
> compared to 100+ at LPL.  (This is very discouraging.)  It is unclear why the
> rates were so different between the two stations.  Either I can't operate my
> way out of a paper bag, or there are some important distinctions in how the
> antennas are used!  This particular weekend was a great weekend to do 
> test comparisons between stations and strategies, because the band conditions
> were essentially identical both days and very stable.

> The end result was that N2RM had 2400 QSOs, 40 zones, and about 170 countries
> on 15.... W3LPL had 2030 QSOs, 37 zones (I think), and about 167 countries.
> I welcome all speculations about why the QSO totals were so different!  There
> are some lessons to be learned, but I am having a hard time putting my 
> finger on exactly what went wrong.
> -- eric  k3na

Having operated both at N2RM (mostly in the "early" days at N2RM
during the 80's) and at W3LPL for several years, I feel like I should
step in and offer my perspective.  I live in New England now, so my
perspective on propagation has changed a slight amount, but I still
have very clear memories about the relative performance of N2RM and

To start off, both RM and LPL are top-notch stations, and both are in
top-notch locations.  While both locations are top-notch, they are so
for different reasons.  I will go into this a little further shortly.

When I try to reconcile a performance after a contest, I try to rank
the following factors when considering the competition (note that this
thinking applies to the phone contests for now):

Assumption: The locations are not in the Black Hole region and
propagation is assumed to be more or less equal.  I know the
propagation assumption might be stretching a bit but I'm trying to
compare RM and LPL for now.  We can safely assume they frequently
experience about the same propagation, on average.

Factors                and the rankings         Ranked Factors
-----------------     ------------------>  ----------------------
1) Antennas                                 Operator
2) Audio quality                            Antennas
3) Location                                 Location
4) Operator                                 Audio quality

I think few would argue that the operator makes the contest station.
Yes, you do need the hardware, but here we're talking about two
stations whose hardware, while different, is so good that it ceases to
be the primary factor in why one would do better than the other.

I'd be interested in hearing from Eric how he feels about his fill
rate, i.e. how often did he have to ask for pieces of the DX station's
callsign, etc.  I would say there's a real high chance this had a lot
to do with the difference.  Not that the difference was anything to be
ashamed of.  The total differnce amounted to 7.7 QSO's per hour more
for N2RM than W3LPL.  This itself can be attributed to relative
operator running speed and the ability of the second station to find
mults/extra Q's.

Another factor is audio quality.  This is the lowest on my list shown
above, but by no means should be underestimated.  Good, crisp audio
with high audio spectral density  in the 2.2 kHz or so area (i.e.,
lots of highs, but not too high) cannot be beaten.  I have intentially
forced highs out of my voice in order to have a somewhat different
sound than my bassy competitors.  Whether it does or not, I feel like
it attracts more callers on phone.  It just took experimentation to
figure it out.  The Heil microphone is one of the very best for
providing what I consider winning audio.

Back to location.....W3LPL is located in a rural suburb of Baltimore,
MD and N2RM is located in kind of a sandy area in Mays Landing, NJ,
near Atlantic City.  W3LPL is located on fairly high ground while N2RM
is located not very far above sea level.  RM is on the edge of the
Jersey Pinelands, not far from an area that used to be (may still be)
known as the Jersey Triangle.  K2UA used to be located not very far,
as well as K2BU and other notable FRC stations who have made won
various classes before.  

The "takeoffs" from both RM and LPL are very good.  I always felt
louder into Europe from RM, but that is a very subjective judgement.
The fact that RM is 100 miles east of LPL does have something to do with
RM's relative success into Europe.  But I always felt like Frank had
one of the most crushing signals into the Far East from the East
Coast.  It's very hard to make any hard judgements, as there are so
many variables involved and very few samples (contests) to examine.

In any case, it feels good to see two stations I helped build and
operate competing at  the very top of multi-multi contesting.  Both
stations are clearly capable of winning the top spot, but it takes
that rare mix of operators with the right chemistry and passing
techniques to win.  Hats off to both teams for truly excellent
showings, regardless of who won.

That's all I have time for right now.......but I'd like to talk about
this a bit more in the future.

Dave Pascoe KM3T
Internet: km3t at rocky.gte.com

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