Monday, February 20, 2017

Preliminary results of PACC 2017

We have finished checking our log data and are happy to conclude that we have done *very* well this year: our preliminary results are actually HIGHER than our final results last year (when we won).

Band conditions were clearly less favorable than last year - with the higher bands hardly open. In 2016 we scored 35 multipliers on 10m and this year only 2 (-33). We also scored less multipliers on 15m (-14) but we compensated most of the loss on the other bands ending with only 24 multiplier less than last year on 333 multipliers. 

We managed to make more QSOs than last year, much to our surprise - as we were already very pleased with those results. We went from 1564 (post-check 2016) to 1705 (pre-check 2017) QSOs. 

Remember that these are preliminary results that have been filtered on dupes but not on other errors - like call or exchange mismatches. Last year we lost 4% of the QSOs in the final check. This included a few multipliers. The final score was 5,5% less than the pre-check score.

If this is exemplary for "our" error rate than our score will be somewhere around 535k to 540k. This is less than the 558k we scored last year but judging from the feedback of other participants, we did extremely well.

It is our of our hands now.. we will have to wait and see what the final outcome will be.

Callsign: PC55C

Band     Qso    Cancelled  Dup  Point  Penalty  Mult        Score
160M     135            0    0    135        0    37
 80M     491            0    5    485        0    73
 40M     496            0    7    489        0    90
 20M     483            0   15    467        0    86
 15M     126            0    1    125        0    45
 10M       4            0    0      4        0     2
        1735            0   28   1705        0   333       567765

Sunday, February 12, 2017

PC55C - PACC 2017 in pictures

We have just finished our fourth PACC. It was a challenging one as we were keen to improve on our performance of last year but the bands were not in a shape to make that an easy task. Last year we had some openings on 10m and quite good 15m propagation. This year we had to rely more on the lower bands. The flow was quite different from last year.

We will have to analyse our log file some more to make claims about our success but in the mean time we can share with you some images of PACC 2017 @PC55C.

Just like in our previous attempts, we have used a field day set-up. We prepared the low band wire antennas on Friday afternoon on a campsite we also used in 2015 and 2016.

Our 26m high center support pole for 160m and 80m 
An improvement over last year was our new center pole. We used the -very heavy- Spiderbeam 26m pole instead of the 18m version. We have seen better results on 160m and 80m, so we think it helps (but the impact of propagation variation is hard to filter of course).

We have used the 18m pole for the 40m inverted V this year. Last year we put it on a 12m version - so it was a bit higher as well. 

Support poles and sheep - an interesting combination
When we arrived at the campsite we saw - to our surprise - sheep grazing the field we were going to use. Assuming they would not nibble on the guy wires we followed our original plan but we did keep the coax a bit more than sheep height off the ground.

The sheep kept their distance initially but soon they got used to us
Last year we stayed in a cabin near the field. It was already rented out however, so the owners kindly offered us a cabin they use as an office when the camping is open - inside a large barn.

A comfortable spot but it did present us some coax challenges as the antennas were quite a bit further away. It turned out that a lot of the spare coax was not good enough and we just made it connecting the usable segments together. 

Our 2017 shack - weather proof under a double roof
In the same barn they store a few camper vans. One of them was available for us to sleep in. 

A camper van for us to use as bedroom

Saturday morning we arrived at the camp site. We added our last antenna: the portable hexbeam for 20-15-10 and were ready for some action.

The tried and trusted portable hexbeam

Some impressions of our team in action:

PG8M behind some random trophies

PD7YY listening carefully

The operations center - our planning table

The table above shows you some of the data we have used planning our operation. We always come prepared, using data of our previous attempts and recent propagation information. The plan we make before the contest serves as our guiding light. We use the plan and the propagation as it unfolds (experienced behind the radio but also from sources like the cluster) to make our band and mode decisions.

We had a lot of fun and apart from the normal issues like connectors not working properly and a 12m support pole tipping over (no damage), everything went smoothly. Propagation was rather typical and made this quite a different contest compared to last year. We used more CW and wasted less time on the higher bands. We did miss the short skip propagation for a nice phone sprint in the last hours of the contest - as we had last year.

Sunday at 12 UTC we switched off the radio and started to pack. There was quite a bit of work ahead to take down all the antennas, poles, guy wires, coax. Luckily the weather had improved - the sun was out and most of the snow had melted.

The sheep were following our steps

Two hours after the contest we left the campground as it was before - like nothing happened this weekend.

An empty field once again (on the right side the cabin we used in the previous 2 years)

We will update this blog once we have had a time to look at our performance.