CQ WPX CW 2020

This post is different from my 3830 post. If you want to see that, click here: https://www.3830scores.com/showrumor.php?arg=1jaPz1msigqql

Now that some of my contest induced sleep deprivation has subsided, I’ve had a chance to better reflect on this contest and what I could have done better or changed. This is an ongoing process since I started contesting 20 years ago. Plan, operate, reflect, analyze, and correct. What does that mean exactly?  


You can’t fight Mother Nature. After a week of good conditions, why does it always seem like a solar disturbance hits the airwaves just before a contest starts? My WPX weekend seemed like no exception to this odd rule. Shortly after the starting bell, I watched as the A and K spiked, while hearing that distinctive hollow and fluttery signal quality that is never good. “Okay, Mitch. Take a deep breath and work through it,” I said to myself.

The result was a very poor start. As the clock hit 00:00z, 20m was the only band really open. It took a full minute to get an answer, but it felt like 30 minutes. As I watched my rate meter barely get off the ground, running EU wasn’t going to happen. Trying to find rate, I pointed stateside and salvaged what could have been a disastrous first hour. 93 in the log after hour one. Not the start I hoped for.

Working EU on any band other than 20m is usually the first casualty during a solar event. EU to 40m is off the table with shorter openings on 20m. Little or no EU always makes for a challenging contest.

Off-Times Matter

DX low band Q’s are double the points of other bands. That makes staying up all night practically mandatory, unless the rate is so poor, it can be made up on higher bands. That’s typically not the case, however, but can’t be overlooked.

As a single op, 12 hours of off-time comes down to planning around the least productive time of day, usually during transition periods between DX openings. That could be several short periods, or one long period. Depends on what Mother Nature throws your way. You hope to make the best decision based on what you think might happen coupled with knowledge of local propagation patterns.  

With 10m and 15m so bad, I sacrificed high band time for low band time, taking two six hour breaks versus smaller, more frequent breaks.

Little did I know 10m and 15m were going to open to EU Sunday morning and into the afternoon. When my contest ended at 19:00z, Sunday, the bands were still going strong and who knows how many of those multiplier rich EU prefixes I missed.

Plan, execute, roll the dice.


I’ve been participating in the online scoreboard: https://contestonlinescore.com/

It interfaces nicely with N1MM+ and provides a real-time display to see what others are doing. If you want to track your competition, this is a good way to do it, assuming they are logged into the service.

WPX is a major contest for WRTC 2022 qualification so most big guns are active and engaged. This time N6MJ (ND7K) operated from AZ with KI6RRN (NO6T) operating from SDG. Axel (KI6RRN) wasn’t on the scoreboard service, but Dan (N6MJ) was. Two contest heavy weights at big stations ready to pile on the points.

For me, this was more of a west coast competition. There are other SOAB HP west coast heavy weights that typically show up like N9RV, N7MH and K6XX. All world class contesters that take no prisoners. You’d better bring your “A” game with this group!

After the first few hours, N6MJ, was way ahead. No surprise. Dan is a world champ and has a list of prestigious accomplishments as long as my arm – that’s long. Axel, KI6RRN, is relative newcomer, but don’t let that fool you. He’s the real deal and will do very well at WRTC in Italy. Stay tuned.

Would I be lying if I said that Dan and Axel had no impact on my motivation? Yes, I would. After falling behind those two so dramatically, it did take the wind out of my sails, somewhat. Intellectually, I know these guys are world class, but emotionally, what serious contester wants to get their butt so thoroughly kicked?

From a west coast perspective, it was Dan and Axel, and everyone else. After a rough 24-hour start, I took my foot off the gas and operated purely for fun and not necessarily a top score. Once that happened, 10m and 15m seemed to magically open to EU and provided a level of high band contest excitement not seen since we last had sunspots.

Lesson learned? Stay loose, have fun, do your best, and maybe the bands will smile on you 😊.

Final Thoughts

You win some, you lose some, but it’s always fun to be in the game.

If we worked, thank you! If not, hope to get you next time.

73, Mitch, K7RL

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