YCCC Scuttlebutt #124, August 1996
Each station was set up with a VCR to record the entire contest. WRTC teams were allowed to note any "problem" QSOs during the contest and could correct them during a ten minute period after the contest. If you ran into a problem QSO that was not noted during the contest, it could not be corrected afterwards. In any case, after ten minutes the log had to be given to the judge.
The WRTC log checking team (N6AA and some others) used the 54 WRTC logs, plus 20+ logs from IARU competitors to crunch through the competition logs.
The log comparisons generally turned up two kinds of problems by finding "unique" QSOs (those worked by only one station). The first is where a callsign was copied incorrectly (we had our share). This is where, for example, 25 people worked WA1ABC and one station worked WA1ABD. The second is where a callsign may be OK but no one else worked it, and no others are similar (like our QSO with IK0HBN). Not all of these uniques were deleted from logs - the judges made the final decisions.
The top ten logs were put through extra scrutiny to make sure the final order was accurate. Our unique rate of 1.6% represents about 35 calls out of the 2173 claimed (i.e. 2138 were matched with other logs!). Correctly copying 10 more QSOs would have meant a swing of about 10K points - enough to move up one spot!
N6AA has a summary sheet for each WRTC entry showing what the unique checking found and which QSOs were deleted. He said it will be available to team leaders, along with the tapes from the VCR. I'm not sure what the arrangements are for getting them for those who didn't get the word in SF (Our tapes have good audio).
I had a brief look at the sheet for our W6D entry and noticed a few things about the log. We logged AI7AO which probably should have been KI7AO, W7OM in zone 6 instead of 8, VE6RAC instead of RWC. The last two were in our notes for post contest checking. We had them right and corrected them the wrong way...(ugh!).
Because computer controlled band changing with CT/NA/TR software was not permitted, we had trouble getting it right every time we QSYed (or changed modes). I heard that many (most?) stations lost a few QSOs because cross checking didn't find calls on the right band or mode. I noticed that our last QSO (C21NJ with 15 seconds to go) was logged on 40 meters instead of 20 meters but I don't think it was deleted as a unique.
Two multipliers were deleted (IK0HBN on 20m and LU3AVA on 10m) because they didn't show up in other logs. I assume the three busted QSOs we made during the contest and filled in with W6D were also deleted.
From what I know about ARRL and CQ log checking, actually deleting unique QSOs without verification is not done - but, a high unique rate is a good indicator that there may be problems to check into. Plans for handling unique QSOs differently by WRTC log checkers was communicated to all teams beforehand.
The log checkers spent even longer than the competitors doing the post-contest work! Everyone seemed very satisified with the care taken to make the results accurate.
Station location: We were at the Palo Alto ARC field day site (W6OTX). This was located in East Palo Alto (drive through a very, very bad neighborhood, then an industrial park, past a really big electric power distribution plant, then a bike path/nature preserve, then to a flat spot next to a boat yard along the bay). This was noted as a "class B" location on the site survey (is that worse than class A?). The nearby salt water should have been a big plus, the tribander a bit worse than TH6/TH7's used elsewhere, the power distribution plant QRN was a minor negative, and the two runs 200' of coax to the antennas appeared to be older than any I own (15 years+?). Most people were hosted in "real" houses, we had a 25+ year old trailer (K3UA sez it was like N2RM's QTH). A special treat was the ants - a scrap of food was surrounded and carried away within minutes. Raid was applied liberally - ants were not a long term problem.
Other: We expected a lot more search and pounce operating but this was really a contest for those who could run, run, run (and hunt multipliers). During the contest it seemed like we were doing as well as anyone else but we came up a bit short in QSOs - mostly on 20m. Though the multiplier total was excellent, at least 20 more were heard and not worked. We had five or six 5-minute periods calling multipliers that got away, and several others that finally snagged one. It was tough with 100 watts at times!
For all WRTC teams, the second radio was only for receiving, no transmitting, and it was quite a challenge to use it with 40m dipoles usually just a few feet from the tribander! Only a few teams had equipment problems from what I heard, though sev-eral did experience significant powerline noise. One team had computer and VCR problems so their totals were not complete.
Overall, I agree with those that say the playing field was pretty even - it would have been impossible to do much better. I think it does show several areas where people might make improve-ments to "modest" stations to gain advantage - use a longer boom tribander like a TH7 instead of a short boom TA-33, work to eliminate powerline noise, don't move into a house up against a hill, and pay attention to the quality of coax and connectors.
The WRTC contest was really a lot fun - but the real fun was meeting so many other contesters and having a chance to spend some time getting to know them. The organizers really put on a first class event that will be hard to top in the future!
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