NH8S went off the air yesterday and should be about ready to leave Swains. I finally managed to get them on two bands, 17 and 20m SSB.
There has been a bit of criticism about this operation. For us here in Spain, Swains is a looong haul, and checking the propagation predictions on their website www.nh8s.org, it was easy to tell at a glace that our DX windows were pretty short on most bands. 20 metres was probably the best band, with 40, 17, and 15 also offering reasonable possibilities. However for many days in our morning, they were not on 20 phone and this led to a bit of frustration for those of us who needed Swains for a New One.
On friday morning they did come on, and the rate was pretty slow. More frustration, frequency cops, and one english gentlemen on the TX frequency stating "Terrible operator" "Very slow", and suchlike.
I sat there and wondered to myself, has this guy listened on his other VFO? I guessed not, otherwise he would have known that the band was open from Swains not only to Europe, but also to Japan, west coast USA, and the rest of the pacific. When the operator asked for one station only, the pileup continued to bellow. I can understand that there are times when you are calling when the DX calls someone else and you didn't hear him. But in this case, the DX was deliberately making his reply long so that everyone would have time to hear he'd gone back to someone.
So, whose fault is it that the rate is slow? The DX because he can't pick out a call? Or the unruly pileup who doesn't want to admit that they didn't get THEIR callsign first time?
On the 3830 contest reflector there has been a lot of talk recently about how rate is negatively impacted by packet spotting. Others also argue that a pileup can get too big if your signal is too strong. It seems to me that at times. the NH8S ops deliberately operated at times on bands where propagation was marginal, and that way they were able to keep up a good rate because only the strong stations could hear them.
Let's also take into consideration that apart from the fact that we should show some due respect to some guys who have paid money out of their own pockets, and taken their precious time, to give US a chance for a new one, that these guys are in an extremely hot and humid atmosphere and are starting to get a bit tired. I personally know what it's like to operate in these conditions, and it sure does tire you a whole lot more than sitting in your comfy heated or air conditioned shack!
There will always be those who say, they could have planned the windows better, they have been sponsored by all of us, they weren't the best guys for the job.... To all of them, I say, if you can do it better, please go to a DX entity that I need, so I can easily work you, and I will be very grateful!!