StackMatch, StackMaster User ZX0F
The ZX0F Story - CQWW SSB 1999
Multi Multi Operation
By Atilano de Oms Sobrinho - PY5EG
Initial Planning - The Stage is Set
A major multi-transmitter/multi-operator entry during the 1999 CQWW SSB Competition has just been completed from the Brazilian Island of Fernando de Noronha under the special callsign ZX0F. Led by Atilano de Oms, PY5EG, and organized under the banner of the Araucaria Dx Group of Parana, Brazil, and with a great support from the Bulgarian team, an International crew of (12) contesters from Brazil, the USA, Bulgaria and the UK began arriving on the island in late October in order to participate in the contest from 29-31 October 1999.
Members of the team included:
PY5ZBU - Don
A few special words need to be said about our host for this operation. Our host was Andre Sampaio, PY0FF, and the operation was conducted from Andre's lovely bed and breakfast known locally as the "Pousada de Morena" on Fernando de Noronha. While Andre did not operate or specifically work with the team during the contest, it would never have taken place without his friendship and full support.
The idea for this operation was originally conceived at the Dayton Hamvention in May 1999 when Krassi (K1LZ) and Oms (PY5EG) met and agreed to make a serious attempt in CQWW SSB using (6) six new ACOM auto-tune amplifiers for the operation. Krassi wanted a chance to test the performance of his new amplifier line and Oms wanted to see how competitive an International score could be made in the highly competitive multi-multi class from a deep South American location.
By way of background, the Araucária DX Group had already achieved several records in both the WPX and CQWW contests operating in the Single band, Single-Op allband, and Multi-single categories from the existing contest stations of the Group. One is normally operated with the call sign ZW5B from the PY5EG home-QTH , the newest one is been operated with the call ZX5J from "Boa Vista Mountain" near Florianopolis Sta. Catarina. In Fernando de Noronha Island, the very well known Araucaria Dx Group has also built up a very competitive contest station normally operated with the special callsign ZX0F. The property is quite small and does not have sufficient space for a true multi-multi effort. Actually, it is better suited for multi-single, single-op all band or single band operations.
Even considering these limitations, the Group decided to go for a multi-multi effort with the main objective of learning some of the most important techniques for such operation, and also to enlarge the know-how for a big future project. The idea is to build a contest station specifically dedicated to the multi-multi category.
During the summer and early fall, intensive preparations were made and the group used email and the Internet to finalize arrangements. Logistical planning was an enormous task and included many advance shipments to the island. These included the Acom amplifiers, thousands of meters of coaxial cable and wire for the antennas as well as helium gas for supporting various lowband wire antennas. The experts in software also worked very hard to learn and adapt CT to DXTELNET, and how to put both on a reliable communications network for use in a contest.
The plan was to run with stacked monoband yagis for 20, 15 and 10 meters, two monoband yagis for 40 meters and wire beams/verticals for the lowbands 80 and 160M. Phased beverages would be employed in order to optimize reception on 80 and 160m. One of the biggest challenges was to solve the problem of intra-station interference between the stations due the congestion of antennas on a small piece of land. Nick, LZ1JY, and Krassy, K1LZ, did an extremely efficient job on this matter. It was amazing how they reduced the level of interference to a minimum in such a small place.
Additionally, the group would optimize its multiplier search efforts by accessing several overseas Dx packet clusters in the USA and Europe using the K1XX gateway in NH and the well-known Dx Telnet software.
Arrival on the Island
N5FA (Jim) and PY5CC (Peter) were first to arrive on the island on the 20th of October along with Nicolau, a trusted friend of PY5EG, who was the group's most experienced tower rigger on the team. Although not an amateur, Nicolau sure knows his way around towers and was very skilled in maneuvering huge monoband yagis with 15 meter long boomlengths. He and Peter made it look easy - although we knew it was not! While Peter and Nicolau worked optimizing the yagis, Jim, N5FA, set about stringing wire down to the beach through the jungle for the various beverage RX systems.
On the 26th of October, members of the US and Bulgarian teams arrived including K1ZM, K1CC, K2DM and K1LZ. (Fortunately for the team, our telecommunications expert, David, who is not an amateur but, rather, an employee of Inepar, Br who works for Oms also arrived this day to help with CT and network preparations. We soon learned that David was **damn good** and without him we would not have kept our network working for very long. It seemed he was everywhere before and during the contest making sure all the computers stayed up and on-line).
Due to a very congested business schedule, PY5EG Oms, PY5ZBU Don and PY5GU Gus, arrived on the Island only late Wednesday.
The group by now had divided itself into teams:
Work proceeded almost 24 hours a day for the next three days until finally the crew was ready to go for the start of the contest. Only short breaks were taken for a minimum of sleep and for the taking of meals in Andre's very fine Italian restaurant - the finest on the island.
0001Z 30 October - The Race is ON!
With several exceptions, the group shared operating responsibilities and most operators got to operate on ALL the various bands at one time or another. Oms specialized on 40M SSB and operated the first night on that difficult band making around 1000 Qs, but other ops on the team also got to try their hand on 7Mhz on the second day as well. Everyone got the chance to experience the high QSO rates possible using a rare call sign from a rare country - including our developing younger operators on the team. That's what contesting is all about - trying to bring along new blood into the hobby and then teaching them how to operate successfully in a major competition. We feel we did a good job with this part of the operation.
As the contest progressed, rates peaked over 250 contacts per hour at several times on the individual higher bands and the overall CT rate meter peaked at nearly 1000 a number of times during the best European runs on the higher bands at sunrise on Saturday morning. At the end of the first 24 hours we had 11000 QSOs and we felt that we could reach the 20,000 target Qs we had set for ourselves at the start of the competition. But, we were totally wrong. During all the afternoon of the second day and portions of the night we had a propagation cloud over us on all bands and the rate dropped to a very low mark. On the second day we made only 56% of the Qs of the previous day!!!.
When it was all over, the group was generally pleased with a solid score outcome of over 50 Million points - the highest score ever made from deep South America. While it is somewhat disappointing not to *win* the contest outright, each team member recognized the geographical distances involved between PY0F and the USA and Europe - knowing that teams like IG9A, CN8WW and PJ4B were more favored operating locations. Considering our distance from Europe especially, we were very pleased with our results.
On Monday, the troops began scattering as soon as a ZX0F group picture was taken with the ACOM amps in front and El Pico in the background. Pico is a 300m tall rock outcropping that defines the island from a distance and lies just to the West of the shot from ZX0F towards the USA.
K1ZM, K2DM, K1LZ, K1CC, LZ1JK and LZ1JY hung around the island just long enough to go touring on Tuesday after all the lowband antennas had been disassembled. The group enjoyed snorkeling with the dolphins and cruising the North side of the island most of the afternoon. Like all good things, this operation had come to an end and the last of the team said it's good-byes to Andre at Noon at the airport on Wednesday, 3 November. This gave Andre, PY0FF, some much-needed "peace" on his lovely island and a chance to put his bed and breakfast back in some semblance of order following the wild events of the preceding two weeks!
Where Do We Go from Here?
Well, it is hard to say for sure. But, the team felt a definite kinship (brotherhood) among the group and will consider another effort at a point in the future - possibly for CQWPX SSB in March 2000. This may be attempted as a Multi-Single or Multi-Multi either at ZX5J in Santa Catarina or at Oms' home station at ZW5B in Curitiba, or even another operation from ZX0F. Many thanks to all of those who worked us. It was our pleasure operating at ZX0F and we hope to see you from the next operation. Qsl's for the ZX0F operation are via PY5EG.
Our best thanks also to, ACOM, DXTELNET, CT(K1EA Software), WX0B (ARRAY SOLUTIONS), and especially to K1XX for the extraordinary support with our packetcluster link.
What we will always remember - our best results of the contest:
1) The contest family we formed (Bulgaria+USA+Brazil+UK) fantastic!.
2) Effective solutions to station interference elimination (Thanks LZ1JY+K1ZM+K1LZ)
3) Computer network (Thanks to David + Krassy + K1TTT + K1XX)
4) Low band reception beverages (Thanks to N5FA + K1ZM)
5) Multiplier passing (Thanks to N5FA )
6) How to build up antennas in a small area efficiently (thanks to PY5CC and Nicolau)
7) How to keep our equipment running (Thanks to LZ1JK+PY5ZBU)
8) How to have fully automatic 2kw station band changing (thanks to ACOM)
9) Hospitality (Thanks to Andre & Morena)
Thanks also to God for this Gift!!!!
73 and hope to CU in the next one,
Oms - PY5EG