Recap: 2020 RTTY Roundup

Boomer the antenna assistant border collie

The new decade opened with the annual ARRL RTTY Roundup, and I was excited to get on the air to cap off a wonderful three-week holiday break.

RTTY Roundup is a 30-hour contest, but you must take at least six hours of off-time in one or two breaks. I spent 14 hours in the chair, but took several long (3-hour) breaks beyond the minimum as lack-luster band conditions couldn’t keep my interest high enough to warrant more time.

Scoring is pretty simple: each contact is worth one point, and you multiply those points by the number of US states, Canadian provinces, and DXCC countries you contact.

This year, states and provinces weren’t difficult to work, but inter-continental contacts were scarce. My highlights were working Indonesia on 40M early Sunday morning (around dawn), and the big low-light was missing out on Europe on 20M, which should have been a treasure-trove of multiplier countries, but wasn’t.

With virtually no access to Europe from here, I watched my colleagues soar ahead Sunday once they had European openings on 20M and 40M. My country total sat at 9 until Sunday morning (vs. 40 or so for the stations I was chasing), and when the normal 20M EU opening was supposed to arrive I worked just three more countries — finishing with 14 DXCC for an entire weekend. And only three of those were from Europe (OM, S58, DL).

Great job by KT9L, W3RGA and WD0T with whom I was managing to keep pace for a few hours Saturday, but all of whom took off like rockets when they started their Sunday shifts. And you should have seen K5ZD climb the scoreboard Sunday, with the highest reported rate of 290 per hour at one point.

On the domestic side of the scoresheet, I got to 50 states/provinces fairly easily, but had the usual missing suspects across Canada and low-pop or close-in states. In the final half hour I just called CQ on 40M and hoped they (WY, ND, NE in particular) would find me. That worked a bit — thanks to needed mults QC, WY and ND calling in during the last 10 minutes or so. Never heard DE, NE or any of the three northern territories.

Love Roundup. Sure disappointed with my high-power outing. I stayed on 20M too late Saturday, leaving for 40M just after 0000z with a comfy 350 Qs on 20M but losing out on the prime-time action on 40M. So I took a long break instead and it was pretty much game over competiveness-wise and otherwise-wise.

The gear worked well with only one failure — and it was fixable in real-time. 10 p.m. Saturday night when I went to 80M, the wire vertical was intermittent — obviously a feedpoint problem at the base of the hanging wire (it’s suspended by a catenary cable at 80′ between the pines).

Flashlight in hand and Boomer the antenna assistant border collie along for the excursion, we traipsed (Boomer bounded) through a foot of snow to the antenna.

While Boomer sat silent guard alert for any coyotes lurking in the woods, I found that the 12 ga copper wire element had broken off at the feedpoint plate. Fortunately, ‘excellently engineered’ strain relief kept it from flying away when it broke, so I was able to make the repair and managed to work 100 stations on 80M before everyone shut down for the night.

What a way to wrap up a three-week holiday break. Back to the grind tomorrow, fearing I may have become addicted to frequent naps 🙂 Already looking ahead to NAQP CW next weekend.

I see we have a real Cycle 25 sunspot this weekend, so that bodes well for 2020. Happy new year to all.

— Bud VA7ST

VA7ST scores from the last 900 or so contests:

Roundup history
QSOs Sec Cty Score
2020 700 53 14 46,900 HP
2019 629 52 8 37,740
2018 435 49 12 26.535
2017 491 47 5 25,532
2016 720 49 25 53,280
2015 839 54 18 60,408
2014 961 57 38 91,295
2013 1009 57 41 98,882
2012 535 52 18 37,450
2011 438 48 21 30,222
2010 810 56 25 65,610
2009 667 56 17 48,691
2008 802 55 21 60,952 HP
2007 783 53 19 56,376 HP
2006 826 54 30 69,384