AA5AU Contest Notes – 2005 XE RTTY Contest

With the XE RTTY contest just one week prior to WPX RTTY, I wanted to shake the station down to make sure it was ready for WPX.  I re-installed my HF2 vertical out into the swamp.  I decided to run high power.  I didn’t have a lot of time to check the station out on Saturday before the contest because I had several errands to run that morning.  I knew I wouldn’t be in the contest full-time.  I like the XE contest but I’m disappointed the sponsors have not issued awards in the past few years.  I placed 2nd in the world in 2002 and so far have received nothing.  Awards aren’t a big deal to me but if an organization is going to put on a contest, they should at least issue awards.

I got a nearly 2 and half hour late start to the contest and found conditions were fairly good.  Everyone was way ahead of me in serial numbers so I thought I would try to see if I could catch some people.  I started with Radio A on 15 and Radio B on 20 meters.  I had the Packetcluster running and RTTY spots being fed to WriteLog.  Things started quickly and in the first 30 minutes had 45 contacts and 77 QSO’s in the first full hour.  After about an hour and a half, things slowed down quickly but spots started coming out for EU on 40 meters around 2130Z which is kind of early for me but since 15 was nearly comatose, I moved Radio A to 40 meters at 2145Z.

The first station I worked on 40 was WA2ETA.  Carl has really been doing a great job in RTTY contesting.  He gave me serial number 178 and I have him 95.  He was well ahead of me but I would try to catch him throughout the contest.  I know he only runs one radio but he’s become an excellent RTTY contester and I knew I had my work cut out for me.

After working Carl, I worked some nice DX on 40 in the likes of 9A5W, KP4JRS, CN8KD, SY3Y and HA9RU.  DX signals were good despite the fact that it was still a couple of hours before my sunset.  But there weren’t a lot of signals coming through on 40 so I went back to 15 on that radio where I picked up a couple of JA stations.  Once I had the JA multiplier on 15, I moved the radio back to 40.  In the meantime, Radio B stayed on 20 meters with mostly stateside stations.  TF3RB and NL7V did call in for nice multipliers.  On 40, I found VK6HD on 7030 KHz at 2231Z for a nice long path contact along with XE1LM, VE1OP, UR0CB, CT1AGF, UX1IL and PT7AZ and it was still way before my sunset!  Again, I worked all the station I heard on 40 and went back to 15.

On 15 I picked up XE2AC which is pretty rare for me because I rarely hear Mexico on 15 because it’s so close.  Unfortunately he was the only XE on 15 I could hear but I did pickup up nice multipliers DS4DEV and UA0CA who called me on 21083 KHz.  But 15 meters was going out so I switched the A radio back to 40 for good.  And 40 was starting to heat up around 2300Z which was a good 45 minutes before sunset.  I picked up LX5A, YV5AAX, T94DO, CM2ZT, XE2XX, F4JRC, S57NRO, OK2PAY, OE50IGP and Z41RO.  Z41RO? – found out after the contest that this station may have been operating from Kosovo, but it’s not a legal prefix.  I also worked VE2RYY who was nearly 80 contacts ahead of me.  I would try to catch him during the contest but I never did – he waxed me big time.  Congrats for a fine effort.

Twenty meters went away early that evening, so just after sunset at around 0001Z, I went to 80 meters but the receiver in the Pro III was dead – no receive.  Hmmm.  It was just working on 20, so I checked the other bands and 40 was not working either.  I quit transmitting on the other radio and turned off the Dunestar filter on the B radio to see if that was causing the problem.  It wasn’t.  So I got up and checked antenna connections but knew that had nothing to do with.  It finally dawned on my that this was the radio I had taken to the local club meeting earlier in the week and we had the 40/80 meter vertical on ANT2. Sure enough the radio was set to ANT2, so I changed it to ANT1 and everything started working again on 80.  I was happy that it only cost me a few minutes.

So I started back contesting on 40 and 80 and worked F6IRF on 40 and he moved me to 80 where I worked him on 3594 KHz at 0009Z.  I worked a couple more stations on 80 and was CQ’ing strong on 7041 KHz on the other radio when at 0027Z, the receiver in the B radio on 80 meters went silent.  I looked at the Dunestar filter switch and knew immediately what happened.  I forgot to turn the filter back on to the B radio and was running a KW on 40 meters on the A radio with the 40 meter antenna only a few feet from the 80 meter dipole.  A sick feeling shot completely through my body.  I knew this feeling because it has happened nearly a year earlier in March 2004 when I took out the protection bulb in one of my Kenwood TS-870’s during the NAQP RTTY Sprint.  I feared the worse.  I checked all bands and the receiver was nearly dead with only very strong signals noticeable.  I had the 6 db attenuator on and for grins, turned it to 12 db and the receiver came back life!  I switched it to 18 db and it went silent and when I switched the attenuator off I had full receive.  I felt a lot better that I had not damaged the whole receiver and was able to continue with the 12 db attenuator activated on 80 meters.  But I was still quite mad at myself for making such a stupid mistake.

After my nerves calmed a little, I got back into the swing of things.  There were several signals on 80 meters but I worked them all so I went checked 20 meters at 0045Z where I found FO5PS while he was S&P.  I guessed he was tuning up the band so I moved up a few KHz, turned the antenna in his direction and called CQ to “fish” for him.  He came right back to me.  Man, I love when that happens!  After working him, XE1BEF called me.  I called CQ a couple more times but 20 was virtually dead so I went back to 80 meters on the B radio.  In the meantime I was working a slow, but steady stream of stations on 40 meters while running 7041 KHz and being called by XE1ZTW, I2KMI, XE1ZVO, DJ3IW, NP4BM, EA2RY, XE1XOE, RK6BZ, XE1VY bunched in with a lot of stateside and Canadian stations.  From there, it was 40 and 80 meters well into the night.  At 0453Z, my good friend Mike W5ZPA called me on 80 meters and I moved him to ten meters for what would be my only 10 meter contact of the contest.

I started alternating CQ’s on both 40 and 80 meters and was called by KP2D, NP4BM, XE2AC, YV6BTF, XE1VY, IK4FNF and ON4CD on 80.  40 was mostly North America except for DH8WR/HC2, XE1YJL, ZS2BWB, IK1SOW, KH6GMP and VP8/LZ2UU in the Falklands (that was cool!).  At 0648Z, I pulled the plug for the night and went to bed.

I slept for about four and half hours.  Got up and made a big pot of coffee and restarted the contest on 40 and 80 again at around 1145Z.  80 was slow with only stateside.  I was hoping to find VK6HD but never did.  Forty meters was excellent into Asia.  I worked JA1XRH, 7N2UQC, JA1OVD, JF2SKV, JA1BNW, 7K3QPL, JF1PJK, 7L4IOU, UA0FGZ, XE3RCC, JA1WPX, DS5DNO, JA1EOD, JA1BNW, JR6EZE, JA1ANR, JG3VEI/1, JA1TVE, JM1AHX, JA2BY and finally YB0DPO at 1237Z when I decided I would move the A radio from 40 to 20 meters in order to use the PW-1 at a full KW and try to rack up some multipliers.  I would put the B radio on 15 meters (this is normally opposite of what I normally do) and watch for the band to open.  The A and K index were at 1 and I was very optimistic that 15 meters would be good into EU.

Twenty meters was wide open to Europe.  After one S&P run across the band where I picked up CN8KD, OK2CLW, DL4RCK, RA6DB, RZ6AVF, 9A5W, OH7MJU, UX0IK, LZ2BE, GD0TEP, GM0KBU, F6IRF, OE5FDM, SP8FPK, T99C, UA0FGJ, HR1RMG, LY2FN and RD3A.  After that I found 14092 KHz clear and called CQ for a few minutes but had to move down to 14091 KHz because of QRM.  I had a decent run for 30 minutes which included several European stations and lots of stateside.  On 15, I only worked KP4JRS in that time but at 1400Z I started hearing EU so I switched radios.  I put radio A and the KW to 15 meters and the B radio to 20 meters.

Fifteen meters opened late to Europe that morning but when it did open, it was good.  With the A and K still both at 1 and the solar flux staying steady at 95, I had my best hour of the contest with 90 contacts split between 15 and 20 between 1400-1500Z.  I was running 21084 KHz and a lot of the signals from Europe were very low.  Using a tip from Hisami 7L4IOU on using the Twin Peak Filter in the PRO III, I turned it on and backed the receive RF gain until the S-meter read about 10 db over S-9 to reduce the extra noise that is present with the TPF on.  When I did this, I was able to copy the very weak signals with no problems.  It was a great discovery!  It was working so well on 15 that I did the same thing to the B radio on 20 meters and was able to copy the European signals much better on that band as well.  It was a major difference and I left both radios that way the rest of the contest.

With the TFP enabled on both radios, I noticed the DXP-38 was pulling out the weaker signals better than MMTTY consistently.  It was almost too hard to believe and if it hadn’t been so noticeable on both radios, I wouldn’t have given it much thought.  But it was cool to see.  Discovering this TPF setup is the most significant feature of the PRO III to date.

That Sunday morning for 3 hours from 1400-1700Z was a lot of fun with big runs on both 15 and 20 meters.  Occasionally I’d check 10 meters for signals (quickly done by using the band scope in the PRO III) but never found any.  And as the sun set over all of Europe, I worked IZ2ADH on 21082 KHz at 1658Z and at 1700Z, I lost propagation to Europe on 15 for good.  In that last hour 1700-1800Z, I worked only DH8WR/HC2 and LU7HN on 15 (and for my last two multipliers for the contest).  However, even with weak signals from Europe on 20, I was able to pull them through using the TPF.  After 15 died, I turned off the B radio and set the A radio (with the PW-1 at a KW) back on 20 meters and tried to work as many stations as possible.  At 1759Z, I worked N0IBT for my last contact and the contest was over.

It turned out to be a real fun contest.  Wonder if there will be any awards this year.


Call: AA5AU
Operator(s): AA5AU
Station: AA5AU

Class: SO2R HP
Operating Time (hrs): 16.5
Radios: SO2R

Band  QSOs  Pts   Mults
80:  106   241    16
40:  173   444     4
20:  258   670    52
15:  180   511    41
10:    1     2     1
Total:  718  1868   154  Total Score = 287,672

Station A:
Icom IC-756PRO III
Icom IC-PW1 amplifier 1000 watts
Icom PS-60 power supply
Dell 2.66 Ghz Pentium 4
WriteLog beta version 10.53D
MMTTY plug-in
NIR-12 DSP audio filter
Dunestar 600 band filter

Station B:
Icom IC-756PRO III
Ameritron AL-80B amplifier 600 watts
Astron PR-40 power supply
Compaq Deskpro 233 Mhz Pentium II
WriteLog beta version 10.53D
MMTTY plug-in
NIR-12 DSP audio filter
Dunestar 600 band filter

Cushcraft A3S w/40 meter add-on at 62 ft. (Yaesu G-800SDX rotor#1)
Cushcraft A3S at 55 ft. (Yaesu G-800SDX rotor #2)
80M inverted vee
Butternut HF2 vertical (40/80)

WX0B SixPak antenna switch
Dunestar 2 radio headphone selector
Heil headphones
Bird wattmeter