[CQ-Contest] on WPX (WL7E M/M)

Dan Robbins kl7y at Alaska.NET
Thu May 29 20:31:28 EDT 1997

Just recovering from the WPX CW contest (WL7E m/m @ KL7Y).  Our game plan at
the start was dictated by Mother Nature.  With the long days and the very
short nights (actually more like a few hours of continuous twilight) at this
time of year in Alaska, we can not count on the low bands for big numbers.
At the bottom of the sunspot cycle, 10 is useless and 15 never is a big
producer.  That leaves 20 meters to bear the burden, but that's a band with
pretty big shoulders.  So we cranked the 205BA north whenever we could.  Let
the other bands work USA and JA, just let 20 hammer over the pole.

Conditions at the start were great:  KL2A keyed 20 to 1206 Qs in the first
10 hours (many of them EU Qs), 40 meters popped open about 4 hours before
sunset and 15, while spotty, even produced some Qs.  We were excited, we
were running well ahead of the 1988 pace which was our best effort in this

Around 13-14Z the bands began to run out of steam, the total rate for all
stations dropped below 100, then below 50, then below 20 and 20Z was really
bleak - only 1 QSO.  Things stayed pretty bad all day Saturday.  40 opened
about an hour and a half later than the previous night, but condx were not
nearly as good.  The Europeans on 20 had disappeared.  15 went into the
peekaboo mode, now a signal then nary a signal. With most of the earlier
enthusiasm gone we could only keep plugging away; maybe things would get
better. Too often we've been enticed by an interlude of good conditions,
only to suffer the rest of the contest when the signal strengths just never
returned.  The record pace yielded to a very mediocre one.

Around 07Z on Sunday things got a little better.  20 got crisper, 40 started
to work some and we started hearing signals on 80. In fits and starts the
conditions improved.  80 and 40 started working some JAs and we even nabbed
some SE Asia on 40 around dawn.  Shortly thereafter EU returned on 20. That
band settled into a 50 to 60 per hour rate for the last 10 hours of the
contest.  Running M/M meant we did not have a total computer score (using CT
with the -mo switch) as we went along and our estimates showed us
recovering, but still off of our record pace even with the resurgence in
propagation.  But near the end of the contest I began to closely look at the
individual bands and one thing was evident: we weren't working a lot of W's.
We were working mostly DX.  Our points per QSO was going to be higher than
earlier estimates.  Maybe a station best was still possible....

Some things did stand out.  We were able to run at 14001 or 14002 for
several hours, even after the band opened between EU and USA East Coast.
Now that was an unexpected plus - usually we do great on 20 until the W1
pipeline opens to EU.  Then we get blown off to S&P or CQing with the
RTTYers.  This time King 20 did not let us down.  Another stand out was the
EU operators.  Usually there's quite a few who seem to think the way to win
is to transmit so long as to prevent others from getting the Q.  We didn't
hear nearly as much of that this contest.  Positive feedback provided here
in hopes of modifying behavior - GOOD JOB EU!  Finally, I think the one
thing that really  stood out was that all the ops had a great time.  Sure we
had stations jump our freq, more QRN than usual, illegal SSB all over 40 and
to a lesser degree on 80, a rotator that turned but didn't indicate, not
enough sleep and a dearth of QSOs during Saturday day local, but, hey, we
had a good time.

And as for that attempt at a station record, well, let's just say 20 was
very good.  Very, very good.

                                        Dan KL7Y


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