Monday, February 20, 2017

PACC 2017 - amazing results with our field day station

This year I participated for the 4th time in the PACC contest together with the other two members of the highly exclusive YNOMY DX club (3 members). We again used a temporary station with wire antennas on a campsite, knowing that low tech and high spirits are a good combination in this contest.

We had set ourselves a challenge by winning the PACC last year in the multi-one category. It is difficult to be satisfied with anything less than first place now. However we downplayed our expectations by aiming for a top 3 position.

We upgraded our antennas slightly with the use of a higher Spiderbeam pole for the low band antennas. The biggest one is 26m - a nice upgrade from the 18m we used previously for 160 and 80. It is quite a challenge to set up in the field but we managed to get it up in one try. We used the 18m pole for the 40m inverted V. Another upgrade as it was on a 12m high pole in 2016.

We spent the Friday afternoon before the contest weekend setting up the low band antennas in between sheep  - more info and pictures of what the set up looked like including the curious sheep:

In the weeks and days before the contest we made our operating plan using the data from our 2015 and 2016 logs and available online log data of the last few days before the contest to get a hint of the opening times of bands to various directions. This plan was our rough operating guide that was constantly revised using our experiences of how busy each band was and online sources of contact info (clusters, online monitors, online log traffic, etc).

Working in shifts (at least two of us were, our unlucky CW operator had to be on standby for 24h) we kept a steady rate of QSOs going. The high bands were really nothing like last year so the multipliers were more difficult to collect and the Sunday morning was definitely less exciting than last year when there was a local skip with high QSO runs in the last 2 hours. Now it was a far slower pace.

However, all in all we managed to make more contacts than last year - much to our own amazement: 1735 QSOs with 1705 qualifying for points. We also managed to minimise the impact of the poor top bands by scoring more multipliers on the low bands. Up to the last two hours it even looked like we would be able to top our score of 2016 but then the pace slowed down.

We came close but we did not pull that stunt. Last year our pre-evaluation score was 590k (558k after evaluation). This year our pre-evaluation score is 568k.

Considering band conditions we are very pleased with the results. We understand from other participants that generally the contest was perceived as far more challenging than last year. Looking at the preliminary results we can count on a top 3 position.. probably a high top 3 position :)