A personal best, but still a mediocre effort

The North America QSO Party RTTY contest is done and I managed to log 227 QSOs over roughly 7.5 hours of operating. This is a personal best for me in any contest which I have participated in, but I know I lost at least 50 (if not 100) Qs when I had to leave the action for another commitment for several hours.

I did try to schedule the break in the late afternoon, so I could scour 10, 15 and 20, take the break, come back and hit 40 meters with a vengeance.  That band resulted in the majority of my QSOs and I was still able to contact stations on the west coast even as midnight approached.

Most of the action had retired to the 80 meter band after 10 p.m. or so, so I tried operating there with limited success, owing to RFI and loud background noise. I many cases, I was hearing stations just fine. They just couldn’t hear me. 80 meters is just a stank band for me on digital modes, and the only time I’ve ever had any success on it was the last ARRL DX CW contest. I think I could improve my situation if I had my wire higher.

During the contest, I was on the lookout for three states I need to wrap up the digital portion of the triple play: Wyoming, North Dakota, and Mississippi. I found WY within the first hour, and ND was my very last QSO, right around midnight. Never saw MS, and it turned out my ND guy doesn’t use LOTW, so I will still be on the hunt for those final two.

Once again, the K3 was just phenomenal. I ran nearly full power the whole night and the thing barely got warm enough to run the fans. The only issue I ran into was the RF issue on 80 meters, which was intermittent depending on what portion of the band I was operating.

I felt reasonably good about my performance, but checking out some of the scores on 3830 Scores, I realized I have a long way to go before I can hang with the real contesters out there. Still, there was marginal improvement. During my last NAQP RTTY, I hauled in a meager 140 Qs with a full 10-hour operating time. I was still using the Yaesu 847 then, and lacking a panadapter — something I can’t do without nowadays!

Final results were something like this:

Band   QSOs   Pts   Sec
 3.5   9      9     7 
 7     108    108   38 
 14    64     64    32 
 21    39     39    17 
 28    7      7     6 
Total  227    227   100 

Score: 23,154

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