CQ WPX CW Update

CQ LogoIn preparation for the WPX CW contest decided to adopt last year’s strategy of going non-stop for the first 24 hours. Using the same plan I would try to improve my 2012 result in Single Operator, High Power, Assisted. I also was curious to see how the new 15 meter 5 element mono would help me improve rates and eager to put the recent improvement of the SO2R automation to the test.

I overslept my pre-contest nap and got in the chair 45 minutes late, but with a 36 hour cap on operation I didn’t worry. And with the recent flare activity it was going to be a slow start anyway. The first hours I spent on 40 and 80 meter to grab low band double-pointers, but with very little DX it didn’t make much impact on the “point-o-meter”. Once in a while I went on 20 to snag a few North Americans who made it through the absorption over the pole.

During Saturday 20 meter was the main band with the second radio doing SO2R duty on 15 meter for multipliers. Rates where low and DX scarce in the morning and during midday. When NA woke up the situation improved slightly, but it was not easy to run for rate. At 14:00 it got so slow that I started to do alternate CQ on 20 and 15 which helped maintain a rate in the 60s.

With propagation being so slow I decided on a few breaks during Saturday, at least to get breakfast, lunch and dinner. The sweetest break included a nap in the sun around midday, but I also took a five our sleep the second night and woke up fresh for the Sunday morning runs.

Sunday turned out to be as slow as Saturday. K-index came down a little, but it did not change much. The only excitement on Sunday was the 8 o’clock morning hour when a lot of JA’s came into the log on 15 meter.

At the end there where only a handful more contacts made than in 2012, but about 100 less WPX multipliers. And there where fewer DX logged this year, 28% of all contacts where outside EU compared to 45% in 2012. Click graph to enlarge.

Continent composition in the WPX CQ 2013 log.

Continent composition in the WPX CQ 2013 log.

Claimed score is a bit disappointing, 3.773.813 points, but I had fun anyway. The increased number of contacts despite the lower propagation is at least a small improvement. There was not a single contact made on 160 and 10 meters, but after all it isn’t needed as the prefix just counts ones, regardless of band.

        Band    QSOs    Pts  WPX
         3,5     227     487   81
           7     535    1305  236
          14    1000    1648  461
          21     279     631  149
       Total    2041    4071  927

Below is a more detailed analysis of the rates per hour and the bands used each hour. Click graph to enlarge.

Rates and Bands per Hour graph.

Rates and Bands per Hour graph.

The new SO2R setup worked out fine. I am finally getting the hang of the SO2R shortcut keys and N1MM worked well together with the microHAM automation hardware. I am practicing the ability to decode CW in stereo with one radio in each ear. The logic switching allows for muting the radio which is out of focus or listen to both radios in “stereo”. A keyboard shortcut turns Stereo on or off, ie mutes the radio not in focus and this key naturally gets much use.

As the propagation was really different compared with 2012 it was hard to evaluate the performance on 15 meter with the new mono band yagi. I did notice that I could attract NA and JA response much easier than I am used to with the SteppIR, but this was no A/B test, so the the improvement might be perceptual. The important thing is that it feels good, right?

Thats all for now folks, CU in the next TEST. 73!