|Secrets of Success: Lessons from WRTC 2006 - Part One|
Eric L. Scace, K3NA
pdf version (119k)
WRTC 2006 featured an exciting race between the top-scoring teams. A detailed study of their logs highlights many excellent operating tactics (and some occasional clinkers). Every contest has its great stories and moments of frustrations. The teams analyzed here share a few of those with us as well. Let's see what we can learn, and what can be applied to other contesting situations back home.|
Antennas and Locations
The WRTC hosts provided the following hardware at each operating site:
This was the first WRTC at which competitors enjoyed a Yagi on 40 meters and transmitter power above 100W. The Brazillian organizing committee felt that, at the bottom of the sunspot cycle from the southern hemisphere, reasonable signals required more power and better antennas than those used in past WRTCs. Events demonstrated the wisdom of the committee's judgment. Even with the additional power and gain the highest scores reached just over 2300 contacts, compared to 2700+ achieved in Finland during 2002.
- Antennas on a 15-meter tall tower:
- 20 meters, 15 meters and 10 meters: rotatable Acom LS86 8-element log periodic on a 6.5-meter boom
- 40 meters: Two-element Yagi on a 6.7-meters boom on the same rotator.
- 40 meters and 80 meters: trap inverted V
- Feedlines and a manual coax switch for the three antennas.
- Acom 1010 amplifier.
On Friday morning, July 7, each team's captain randomly picked a sealed envelope out of a pile. The envelope's contents included the site identification. Table 1 (see pdf) summarizes the characteristics of each site for the teams analyzed here. Five of the 46 WRTC teams, and two of the top 11 teams, found themselves in towns in the interior of the state of Santa Catarina; the remaining teams were relatively close to the Atlantic coast.
Dean Straw, N6BV, has begun examining the influence of local terrain on antenna patterns for some of the WRTC locations. While writing this article, not enough information was available to draw conclusions about sites versus performance.
Contest Rules and Station Hardware
Operating rules and scoring for the teams generally followed those of the IARU contest. Important variations included:
Some teams also had coax stub filters on their amplifier outputs and others wished they had! N6MJ and N2NL accidentally toasted the input 20-meter band-pass filter inside their Radio B transceiver (a Yaesu FT-1000) and had to bypass it via the RX input jack. UT4UZ and UT5UG also fried the Radio B front end in the middle of the contest.
- No self-identification: teams could not identify their operators, nationality, or use anything other than English language and common international abbreviations.
- A WRTC team, while constrained to one signal on the air at a time, could work on different bands immediately. The 10-minute rule for a normal IARU multi-single entry did not apply to WRTC competitors.
- Super check partial databases forbidden. The computers could only cite calls logged or copied during the contest, although operators could refer to printed lists of calls. A few teams brought a list of HQ multipliers expected to be participating in the contest.
- The operators could use two radios for listening, but only one radio and its current operator could make transmissions. This last point greatly influenced the interconnection of competitor-provided radios and computers. A common solution included:
- Radio A: a transceiver with enough power to drive the Acom amplifier.
- Radio B: a second transceiver, used only as a receiver. Band-pass filters protected this receiver from the out-of-band transmitted signals of Radio A and its amplifier.
- Two laptops, networked with an Ethernet or wireless LAN, for logging and spotting stations.
For the complete version of this article as published in the NCJ, view the pdf version.
The following Excel spreadsheets are associated with this article:
Point Differences (561k)
Equivalent Qs Behind (561k)
Percent Differences (561k)