What more can a fellow ask for – a 10 hour RTTY ham radio contest with everyone running 100w. Even with others having stacked arrays I feel like there’s a shot at me getting into run mode, calling CQ and not getting squashed between 2 high power stations. The NAQP runs for 12 hours but single ops can operate for up to 10 hours. It started Saturday at 2pm ET (18:00z) and I was all ready with anything I needed to get done completed well before start time. The night before I was setting everything up to make sure it was working and noticed an issue with N1MM and call stacking where you can work more than 1 station without calling CQ as long as you get multiple calls on your last one. After thinking it was a config issue on my end, I downgraded and the problem stopped and it reappeared if I upgraded N1MM to the latest release, so I left it at an earlier release and notified the N1MM development team there might be a problem.
Sat afternoon came and I was in the chair at 2pm ready to go. 20m was fine with maybe a slow start as folks might not have been rushing to get fired up the second the contest started. I spent all afternoon on 20m popping over to 15m many times to find absolutely nothing happening there. I logged a total of 7 stations on 15m which is sad. I noticed lots of western US stations active throughout the contest but didn’t hear/find a lot of western Canadian stations. In fact there was relatively little Canadian activity that I came across though there were still those same stations I often work during contests. So 20m was the day band and though I checked 10m two or three times, if it’s even possible, it was more dead than 15m. I figured maybe I’d get lucky and copy 1 station but nothing was heard.
I would alternate a lot between finding a run frequency and doing S&P. When running I had a few European stations call which is nice. The ones that called me were all coming in nice and strong and an easy copy. There were even a few EU stations that were running and calling CQ and it’ll be interesting to see how many Q’s the DX stations logged when the results are compiled. Running worked for a while but eventually got to transmitting CQ on repeat without anyone coming back so I’d switch to S&P and find some new ones. Infrequently early in the afternoon I’d check 40m and log 1 or 2 stations but most folks were on 20m until later in the day.
As the afternoon wore on there was more 40m activity and I’d bounce back and forth between 40m & 20m. 20m had activity the entire contest or at least the 10 hours I was on which is good because I hadn’t heard and logged a Hawaii station until 0330z (11:30pm) and it was the only Hawaii station I heard. As darkness came (sounds so ominous) I spent more time on 40m again running and S&Ping. Noise wasn’t bad at all and signals were very strong. Though I have dipoles for 10/15/20 I use the G5RV for 40m & 80m and it was working well. I don’t think there was a station for the entire contest that I could get any copy on that I couldn’t get into the log. The Q’s and mults on 40m went up pretty quickly.
Activity on 80m started late and maybe if it started earlier I would have logged more contacts and multipliers. Something to consider next time is to start 1 hour later or take a 1 hour break and work an additional hour from midnight to 1am ET to try and get some additional time on 80m to gather more mults. Of course if everyone works the 1st 10 hours that wouldn’t help things either. 80m had strong signals and because the exchange is constant, once someone worked you on another band, they know your exchange so 100% copy becomes less important and repeats aren’t necessary. As long as the 2 stations that previously worked can copy the callsign, it’s usually a good contact and that makes 40m and 80m contacts go quickly regardless of noise or less than optimal conditions.
In the middle of the contest I noticed an email from one of the N1MM developers with a patched version that should correct the issue I encountered. I downloaded it knowing I could always re-install the version I was using, ran a couple of quick tests and it seemed to resolve the issue. I let the developer know and used it for the remainder of the contest without encountering any difficulty. Amazing support and such a fine piece of software being developed by a skilled group of volunteers.
It was good to see some calls I hadn’t seen in a while and particularly that of WA5ZUP. I was actually getting concerned that something might be wrong since I hadn’t seen John in a while. I ended up missing the 4 states of MT, RI, ME & MD where MT would be a 20m or 40m contact and the 3 east coast stations 80m and maybe 40m contacts. On the Canadian side I didn’t log 7 Providences. I guess it’s a “close to WAS in 10 hours” type of contest for me.
The contest exchange is name and state and my favorite was Dopey from Oregon. I logged a Bambi too which had me write in my 3830 submission: I don’t know about the rest of the Dwarves but I found Dopey in the contest. No Snow White but there was a Bambi. Maybe we should have a Disney themed RTTY contest?
A really enjoyable Saturday contest and can’t wait for the next one! Thanks for all the Q’s. Here’s my score summary from N1MM:
Band QSOs Pts Mlt 3.5 49 49 24 7 129 129 41 14 181 181 42 21 7 7 4 Total 366 366 111
Score : 40,626