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jcrovell at jcrovell at
Fri Nov 29 10:23:28 EST 1996

>From jcrovell Fri Nov 29 10:14 EST 1996 remote from 580howard
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>From: "John Crovelli" <jcrovell at 580howard>
To: "'Contest'" <CQ-Contest at>
Subject: Re:  160 DX Window and P40W - CQWW CW
Date: Fri Nov 29 10:21 EST 1996
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Hi everyone,

The 1996 CQWW CW event was so much fun I wanted to share some of my 
observations.  BTW, for those who are still hammering away on the 160M 
window issue, I vote to dump it!  Regulations world wide have been 
liberalized to the point that working DX on Top Band occurs everywhere on 
the band these days.  With good directional rx antennas and generally better 
stations the problems of years past are gone.  Other than the CQ 160 where 
there seems to be significant peer pressure to keep the window open, folks 
don't pay attention to what the ARRL says.

OK, now on to the P40W story:


      160      394     1163     2.95     15      61
       80     1117     3314     2.97     22      85
       40     1026     3051     2.97     29      93                  QSL VIA 
       20     1539     4568     2.97     36     111
       15     1863     5504     2.95     34     112
       10      620     1791     2.89     23      65

     Totals   6559    19391     2.96    159     527  =>  13,302,226 pts.

Operation Time:  46 Hours          

Location:      Santa Cruz, Aruba, approximately 1.2 miles north of P40V,
          near center of island on a small hill approx. 160 feet ASL

Rig:                TS930S, Alpha 87A, CT 7.19 on 486 Laptop, Heil Proset

Antennas: Single 70 foot Rohn 25G Tower, 15 foot mast, Ham III Rotor

          160M Inverted V at 68 feet    
           80M Inverted V at 65 feet
          FORCE 12 Yagis:  2 ele 40 and 4 ele 20 at 70 feet
                     5 ele 15 at 85 feet
                     4 ele 10 at 78 feet
          750 foot beverage toward Europe
          300 foot beverage toward USA


Having set up and operated CQWW SSB a month earlier, there was little 
physical work to perform when I arrived back on Aruba on Sunday, November 
17th.  Bob, P40J/WX4G picked me up at the airport and we discussed my idea 
of dropping the FORCE 12 two element 40 - four element 20 combo yagi to 
retune the 40M elements.  After weighting the pros and cons the idea was 
dropped when we considered the risks/rewards of the process.  Our collective 
years of experience in building and maintaining stations in the Carribean 
told us to leave well enough alone - the antenna performed just fine thru a 
tuner - the improvement would be marginal in relation to the effort required 
and and potential risk of damage during the process (actually I think we 
were both looking for an excuse just to be lazy and have more beach time). 
 So the only real work was setting up the station, adjusting the 80M 
Inverted V for operation on the CW end of the band, and making some minor 
beverage repairs.

When leaving  the island three weeks before, the local power company was in 
the process of extending the high tension lines to my host family's driveway 
and installing several new stepdown transformers along the road.  Low line 
voltage has been a cronic problem at this QTH, with readings below 190 volts 
in the eventings all too common.  Anyway, the work had been completed and 
the meter read a nice steady 220 VAC.  The Alpha 87A, which automatically 
turns itself off when it senses line voltage dips under 185 or so,  would 
now work just fine.

Not having all that much to do left lots of time over the next five days to 
casually operate the bands, make daily visits to the wonder beaches on Aruba 
(being very careful not to get too sunburned),  and then in the evenings to 
enjoy the delights of dining at many of the fine restaurants on the island. 
 For once this actually seemed like a REAL VACATION in contrast to the 
normal race against the clock and frantic efforts to make a station work. 
 Wow!  Now I know why those who fork out the $$ for many of the fine FOR 
RENT stations have such a great time.

I got into a pattern of getting up around local sunrise (1040 UTC), checking 
out grayline and long path openings for a few hours, and then doing minor 
maintenance and other chores.  Around noon Bob, P40J  and I would head off 
for some lunch, maybe a beer or two, an hour or two on a beach, and then 
back for another beer or two. The weather most of the week was quiet odd in 
that the normally dependable  20+ mph trade winds out of the east weren't 
blowing.  The winds were light and variable and frequently shifted 
direction.  We later found out that Hurricane Marcos about 600 miles to our 
north was causing the problem which persisted until the Sunday morning of 
the contest.  In the mean time, without the breeze it was HOT both day and 
night.  The home of my Aruban host is not air conditioned so at times it was 
a bit uncomfortable.  Thank goodness for ceiling and floor fans.

It was nice to be able to take such a relaxed attitude while preparing for 
what I consider the biggest contest of the year.  During the week one by one 
the expeditons showed up, creating pileups.  K3TUP/C6A always seemed to be 
attracting a big crowd regardless of band.  Did some DXing, working XZ1N 
long path on 20M around 12Z.  Also a big surprise to run into N4WW at 5S7B 
on 15M about 15Z one afternoon.  Had frequent chats with 3E1DX/DL5XX, 
8P9HT/K4BAI, PY0FF/OH2MM, 9Y4H/CT1BOH, 4V2A/9A3A, CT8T/N6AA, K5KO/HC8, and 
others as we all were checking out our stations and propagation.  Kept 
checking 10 meters all week and heard very few stations, just a few Africans 
and deep South Americans.  But did manage a QSO with IQ4A, they must have a 
huge antenna.

As usual I could not sleep on the afternoon before the contest.  Guess I get 
too keyed up.  Normally I also develop a detailed band plan to follow.  This 
time I started the contest WITHOUT a set plan of attack, just a general 
notion that I would follow the MUF and frequently change bands..  With the 
experience of having operated from the same place for 11 years you do 
collect a lot of useful knowledge on propagation and I suppose at this 
juncture I conciously or unconciously capitalized on whatever I have stored 
up over all those years. Another big factor of course is to keep my sleep 
time to a very minimum.  The last few years oversleeping has cost me mega 
points so this time I was determined to sleep only 2 hours during the 
contest.  As it turned out I sat in that chair for the first 34 hours 
without moving even once!  So when I took a planned 2 hour nap Sunday 
morning at 0945Z, I had already been awake 46 hours since arising Friday 
morning.   Not having other active P40 stations seemed to make me much more 
attractive to all those multiplier hunters out there, it was me or nothing 
so I suppose some percentage of the score can be attributed to rarity this 
time around.

Conditions were very interesting.  At the beginning of the contest 20 meters 
was absolutely dead, not even an LU to hear/work.  Forced me to start on 40 
which wasn't exactly what I wanted but again the idea was to take what the 
bands had to offer.  Managed a 403 contacts in the first two hours, which is 
OK but not the 450 or more I was hoping for if 20 had been open.  Anyway by 
0200 I was off to 80 and then 160.  The low bands were simply great, good Eu 
and As.  In retrospect I spent too much time on 80/160 and not enough on 40. 
 My love for 160M clouds my judgement I guess.  The QRN level Friday nite 
was only moderate so working stations on top band was relatively easy.  As 
the hours went by followed grayline across Eu moving up in frequency.  The 
only time during the first 34 hours I really wanted to sleep was just before 
dawn Saturday morning but managed to fight it off.  Between 10 and 13Z 
worked some good PAC/AS on 40 and 20 and LP on 15.  Then off to the races 
working Eu in earnest on 20 and 15.  Kept a close eye on 10M....worked a few 
AF and US but no real opening.  Later in the day moved PAC (KH8, ZL, etc) 
from 15 to 10 with success.  Rates were about normal in the in 155 to 200 
range most of afternoon and pileups for the most part were quite manageable 
and thats what I like, ideally one station at a time.  When the  pileup gets 
too big it just slows  down too much.  By the end of the first day the 
totals were as good as I have ever accomplished so figured I certainly I had 
a shot at breaking 6000 Q and doing well mult. wise.

Saturday nite 40, 80 and 160 were even better than the Friday. There was 
virtually no QRN, it was absolutely the quietest evening I have heard in all 
my trips to P40.  You could listen to the Eu stations on 160 using the xmit 
antenna and then you were hearing the 2nd and 3rd layer guys!  Wow, great 
conditions.  After being duped by XZ1N earlier on 40M I was feeling pretty 
good and running on 80 was really a blast.  Nice JA run on 80M about 06Z 
told me conditions were near perfect, I just had to not sleep too much later 
on to be in the running.  9Y4H and I exchanged some numbers and he was a bit 
behind in mults but it was early yet.

Between my multiple alarms and my host I managed to keep my sleep time to 
just under 2 hours.  Of course I was disoriented when awakened  but it wore 
within an hour and I was ready to run run run run all day Sunday.  QSOs win 
contests and I wanted to make the rate chart flat at 150 or more all day. 
 Kept a close ear again on 10M and was rewarded with a short Eu opening to 
G/F/PI/ON/I/EA/YU, etc. and then a more general opening to Af and USA.  Ten 
was open to most of USA but activity seemed low.  But in a few sprints I 
managed 600 Qs.  It was particularly nice to work many  Carrib. stations 
that were really loud and surprises like YB, HZ, and other goodies from 
zones 38, 39, etc.  The goal Sunday was run like hell and move mults 
whenever possible which 95 perecent of the time worked just fine.  Thanks to 
everyone who was willing to QSY!

Anyway, as you will see from the summaries (see 3830 Reflector for rate 
chart)  the mults where there and the strategy worked.  My 40M antenna 
failed in the last hour (burned up a barrel connector) but it really didn't 
hurt all that much.  The beverages worked GREAT on 160 thru 40 and made 
listening so much easier.

The raw score is about 80K better than the existing SOAB record by 
EA8EA/OH2MM back in '91 near the top of the cycle.  Most likely Ville will 
retain the record once the log checking is done but it sure was fun coming 
so close at the bottom of the sunspot cycle.  Guess it goes to show you just 
never know what to expect.  The rise in flux to near 100 over the course of 
the weekend sure made a huge difference.  Can't remember working so may 
PAC/AS multipliers in prior years.

As you can tell I thought this was probably the most exciting contest I have 
ever operated.  Everything just seemed to fall into place at the right time. 
 I want to thank Bob, WX4G/P40J for his constant encouragement, and my hosts 
Humphrey and Corrie Kock, for their efforts on my behalf.

73, John  W2GD/P40W

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