[SECC] [Contest] CQ WPX RTTY Strategy

John Laney k4bai at worldnet.att.net
Fri Jan 15 10:42:05 PST 2010

Jim, KC4HW, has asked about stregegy for off times during the CQ WPX 
RTTY Contest in February.

All WPX contests are essentially rate contests.  Multipliers are 
essential, but are unlimited and come naturally with QSOs.  Low band 
QSOs give more QSO points, so you can have a lower rate on 80 and 40 and 
actually make more QSO points than on 20-10 with a higher rate.  So, 
time off should come when the rate diminishes.  You can tolerate a lower 
rate on the low bands.  So, drops in rates are more significant when 
only the high bands are open.

My suspicion is that the rates drop during the wee hours of the morning, 
after Europe has had its peak and before sunrise.  That might dictate 
some time off in the wee hours.  Nevertheless, you need to pick up 
Japanese multipliers.  You might take off some time in the first night 
for sleep and becoming refreshed, but don't miss the rush of the 20 (and 
hopefully 15) openings to Europe in the morning.  If the rate drops 
during the day when only the high bands are open, take some more time 
off.  Be sure to be QRV in the late afternoon (2130 to 2230Z/ on 20 
meters and beam to Japan for those multipliers.  If that doesn't pan out 
well, you might plan to be QRV for Japanese QSOs in the wee hours (maybe 
0930-1130Z) on 40 meters.  If the rate slows significantly, take some 
time off for sleep before west European sunrise, return at 07Z and stay 
as long as you have good rate.  If you don't get good rate at 07-08Z, 
take another hour or so off and come back to beam to Japan.  Again, be 
sure to be QRV for the European openings on the high bands.  Then take 
the remainder of your mandatory time off during the day when the rate 
will slow, especially on the second day.

Between the two days, take more time off on the second day when people 
have become tired or bored and there isn't as much action as on day one.
I'd always be planning to save a couple of hours of operation for the 
last few hours of the contest on 20 and 40, keeping in mind that your 
rate on 40 can be lower than on 20 to a degree, but your score will 
benefit from the higher points per QSO.

For a winning contest effort, you can probably write off 10 and 160 
meters.  (160M may not be used inf the RTTY WPX contest.)  But, if you 
have a station that can QSY to other modes quickly or are SO2R, you 
should at least take a listen and QSY to the other bands if you think 
there is a chance for rate there.  If ten meters were to open to the US, 
on CW and phone, you could have some fantastic rates for a short period. 
  But, be careful about staying on a marginal band too long.  Many of 
the stations worked there will have already been worked on other bands, 
so the number of multipliers will be less than you would expect on other 
bands.  If the rate drops, go back quickly to your rate band at the 
time, I assume 20, but possibly 15.  I'd be very reluctant to leave 40M 
to go to a 10M opening because of the QSO point difference.  On some 
modes, you can have a winning effort working only 40 and 20 meters.  40M 
gives you the higher QSO points and the two of them give you the 

You should be familiar with the points allowed per contact.  You need to 
maximize your contacts with other continents.  Note that same country 
contacts count one point regardless of band on SSB and CW, but are one 
point on the high bands and two points on the low bands on RTTY.  (I'd 
argue that same country contacts are generally harder on the low bands 
than they are on the low bands, but recognize that the rule was adopted 
to encourage contestants to operate on the low bands.  When the WPX 
contests were first initiated and the QSO points were the same on any 
band, there was very little activity on the low bands.

I don't know that the strategy differs greatly between phone, CW, and 
RTTY WPX contests.  Others can address particular operating patterns for 
a particular mode.  I have been thinking about this very issue in 
connection with the CQ WPX Contest in May when I might do single op from 
Bonaire.  In May 160 may not be very useful at all and 80 will be a 
marginal band.  We could more likely have Es on the higher bands, so 
more attention to 10M would be warranted than in February.  I might not 
even put out the beverage antennas, which we use on Bonaire primarily on 
160 and 80.

For phone, we will be QRV M/M from NQ4I, so our strategy is to be QRV 
any time any band is open and to pass stations to other bands as much as 

73, John, K4BAI.

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