2009 ARRL RTTY Round-up! Too Long, Don’t Read!

I have a spe­cial fond­ness for dig­i­tal con­tests, espe­cial­ly since N1MM log­ger takes the chore out of the thing. (note to self…blog Why-I-Con­test). I set a few mea­ger goals for the contest:

  1. Have the radio on for the entire 24 hours
  2. WAS
  3. Make 300 QSO dur­ing the period.
  4. Keep my QSO rates above 20/​hour

Goal 1. Have the radio on for the entire 24 hours. I have been spent the hol­i­days recov­er­ing from a sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure so I haven’t real­ly felt up to a marathon in the oper­at­ing chair. I proved myself much more healed than antic­i­pat­ed, and was able to man­age the entire dura­tion quite comfortably.

Often real-life inter­venes and keeps an op from con­tin­u­ing the entire time. Con­test oper­at­ing becomes more a time-man­age­ment exer­cise. I want­ed to con­sid­er prop­a­ga­tion and when best to break/​sleep, which I did to my sat­is­fac­tion. I slept in a lit­tle bit on Sun­day morn­ing, but real­ly only missed about 45 min­utes of the con­test peri­od. In this one, an op may only oper­ate in 24 hours or less of the 30 hour peri­od, and can take the off peri­ods in no more than two seg­ments. Basi­cal­ly this meant that you enjoyed sleep for 6 hours between Sat­ur­day and Sun­day. I had noth­ing else sched­uled, so I was able to take my shot at run­ning this thing.

So I actu­al­ly made a mis­take and stayed in the con­test for too long on Sat­ur­day. I should have kicked off at 0600z but 80M was boom­ing! Noth­ing like work­ing EU on 80 with a wire and 100 watts! When I actu­al­ly looked at the clock it dawned on me I had just robbed myself of 40 min­utes at the end of the con­test. It came back to haunt me as I tried to achieve my oth­er goals.

Les­son learned from this lit­tle error in judg­ment is to make sure to set time strat­e­gy in advance, along with con­tin­gen­cies in case things start hop­ping. Need to stay flexible!

Goal 2WAS. Total­ly achiev­able but a bit like fish­ing. I am a lit­tle whis­tle of a sta­tion, and unlike the big guns I can­not hold a fre­quen­cy and CQ and let the world come to me. I search-and-pounce up and down the band, and IF there is some clear spec­trum I will call CQ for a few min­utes. I do get calls, but when the rates drop down I get mov­ing again.

Recent­ly it seems like Okla­homa is rarest DXOK hams cer­tain­ly have more press­ing things than wast­ing week­ends on the radio I imag­ine. I can actu­al­ly count on North Dako­ta, Rhode Island, Mon­tana and Wyoming in the contests…there are at least one active hams in each of these states! This year OK called me twice dur­ing my brief CQing inter­ludes. Nice! That said, where were the Nebras­ka sta­tions? Again, they prob­a­bly had more sense to mess up the bands in a RTTY contest.

So, my time man­age­ment like­ly caught up to me. I bet you the if I had been on 80M ear­li­er on Sun­day I would have nabbed that elu­sive W0 Nebras­ka station!

Goal 3 and 4300 QSOs. Basi­cal­ly com­plet­ed by the first day. I don’t mind set­ting an easy stretch-goal! That said, my rates are usu­al­ly pret­ty low, aver­ag­ing 15/​hour over an entire con­test­ing peri­od. I was able to aver­age well over 23/​hour over the entire peri­od, with my best rate stats below:

ARRL RTTY Roundup — 2009-01-03 1800Z to 2009-01-05 0000Z — 538 QSOs
WF7T Max Rates:

2009-01-04 2152Z — 3.0 per minute (1 minute(s)), 180 per hour by WF7T
2009-01-04 1525Z — 1.2 per minute (10 minute(s)), 72 per hour by WF7T
2009-01-04 1603Z — 0.8 per minute (60 minute(s)), 47 per hour by WF7T

I also had a few extend­ed peri­ods of greater than 35/​hour: 80M the first evening for 3 or so hours, and 40M the sec­ond day morn­ing bet­ter than 44/​hr in two hour period.

Here is what I learned: I should have gone to 40M an hour ear­li­er on the first day then moved to 80M an hour ear­li­er as well. This would have helped me keep my sus­tained rates up. On Sun­day, I could argue that I spent too much time fight­ing 20M and should have only searched for new mults and then moved back to 40M15M was a bit dead on Sun­day, but still open to the west coast for the all-impor­tant vol­ume of CA and WA contacts…actually eas­i­er than on 20M. I actu­al­ly learned this les­son from the CW SS but appar­ent­ly for­got how poor­ly I per­form on 20M.

Also, my 20M abil­i­ty sucks! I need bet­ter anten­na there. Every­one in my con­test group with well-equiped 20M sta­tions had much bet­ter rates and mul­ti­p­iers than me. That said, I bet you I could hit 600 in anoth­er domes­tic 24-hour con­test if I man­age my band switch­ing bet­ter. Not that I will com­plain about 535 con­tacts that much…

So, my con­test sum­ma­ry is as fol­lows (535 QSO, with 56 states/​CA provinces and 25 DXCC con­tries con­tribut­ing to the multiplier)

ARRL RTTY RU Score Sum­ma­ry Sheet

Start Date : 2009-01-03 1800z

Call­Sign Used : WF7T
Oper­a­tor Cat­e­go­ry : SINGLE-OP
Band : ALL
Pow­er : LOW
Mode : RTTY
Default Exchange : TN
Grid­square : EM66PE

ARRL Sec­tion : TN
Club/​Team : Ten­nessee Con­test Group
Soft­ware : N1MM Log­ger V8.9.1

Band QSOs Pts Sta Cty
3.5 123 123 12 1
7 230 230 17 7
14 129 129 26 10
21 53 53 1 7
Total 535 535 56 25

Score : 43,335

Rig : 100W
Anten­nas : G5RV

I had a blast from my lit­tle sta­tion in this contest!

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