Recap: 2021 WPX RTTY

As we while away the days until the ARRL DX CW contest during the coming weekend, there’s a moment to reflect on the Feb. 13-14 WPX RTTY Contest.

Short version: pretty great fun.

A 26.5-hour effort produced my second best-ever result. That’s not too bad considering we’re still at the bottom of the solar cycle. I expect scores in this one will continue to rise every year for the next six or seven years.

On the bands

There was no deep well of DX stations to work from the west coast of North America, but 20M did provide brief weak openings to Europe both mornings — and you had to be up for the first hours of daylight to make use of those openings. By 9 a.m. they the window was pretty much closed.

The best surprise for me was how well the 80M receive loop on ground antenna helped. In this contest, 80M has always been a bit of a disappointment, with what I thought was too few stations going there at night to capitalize on the double-point contacts. For those of us in Canada, that means each US contact is worth four points.

Turns out, the stations have always been there under the noise. The RX loop on ground removed the noise to reveal a whole new layer of stations to work. Result? A 230 percent increase in QSOs on 80M — going from 83 last year to 189 this year!

Here’s the Athena chart of my 80M performance this weekend vs. 2020:

Red line is 2021 total, black line is 2020 total.
Blue bars are hourly totals for this year, and the blue line shows hourly totals for last year.

Band-by-band breakdown (VA7ST)

    Band     QSOs     Pts  WPX  Pt/Q
     3.5     189     738   81   3.9
       7     193     752   68   3.9
      14     665    1459  263   2.2
      21     124     251   28   2.0
   Total    1171    3200  440   2.7
   Score : 1,408,000

I was disappointed by 40M as there wasn’t much access to Europe and the Japan trans-Pacific path didn’t produce many of those treasured 6-point contacts. 40M has been a difficult band for me ever since the 40M wire quad came down (lightning strike severed the supporting cable) a few years ago.

Summer 2021 will bring renewed focus on improvement for antennas on this vital band. Options include:

I’ll start with the two easiest — the wire element for the Steppir (creating a low 2-element yagi) as that wire is still out there and needs only one new line through a well-placed fir tree, and revamping the all-band vertical. The quad is a lot of work to raise (needing two new cables through the trees, and the half-square array needs four supports).

Never a dull moment around here. But whatever effort I put in will be well-worth it come next contest season. 40M is indispensable and I’ve short-changed myself there for too long already.

Software and real-time scoreboard

As usual, I used N1MM Logger+ and MMTTY. They worked extremely well, with only one system crash, and a couple of computer hangs (due to a bit of RF locking up the ethernet adapter, not the software).

I also run Athena software to compare my real-time score with any previous year I have in the logger database.

And, to really keep me motivated, I make sure N1MM Logger is sending my real-time score to the online scoreboard. I watch the scoreboard throughout the contest to see how well I am doing compared with others in my category.

Year-over-year scores (VA7ST)

Year   Qs WPX     Score 
2021 1171 440 1,408,000 26.5 hrs HP 
2020  934 384 1,014,144 22.5 hrs HP 
2019  931 353   870,851 24.0 hrs HP 
2018  420 196   237,160 19.5 hrs 
2017  626 275   424,875 21.5 hrs 
2016  845 413 1,038,695 22.5 hrs HP 
2015  574 320   504,640 20.0 hrs 
2014 1322 534 1,885,554 29.2 hrs HP 
2013 1041 466 1,308,994 25.5 hrs 
2012  830 373   883,637 26.5 hrs 
2011  836 322   806,610 27.5 hrs 
2010  921 388   994,056 24.0 hrs 
2009  846 335   907,180 27.5 hrs HP 
2008  612 258   470,850 21.0 hrs HP 
2007  972 420 1,154,160 28.5 hrs HP 
2006  702 284   578,792 28.2 hrs 
2005  584 264   422,664 
2004  225 114    67,009 
2003  344 149   147,212

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