Is it me or does anyone else notice this? There seems to be a buzz in the amateur community and it’s caused by the huge improvement in solar conditions. The fantastic propagation, certainly compared to what we’ve been having the last couple of years, makes people want to be more active again. At least that’s my impression. So I could feel the high expectations about this weekend’s contest. Now, I am not really known as a big fan of SSB but the vibe caught me and I decided to do an ‘all band’. I didn’t want to limit myself to say 15m, because what if 10m was cooking? Or do SB10 only to read stories afterwards about a shining 15m. Yes I swore never to do an all band effort again in CQ WW SSB. Seriously: last year was pathetic. Not even 2000 QSO and I seem to believe not even 2 meg points. So I decided to give it another try, with no expectations other than to make 2000 QSO and maybe 2 million points? ‘Word on the street’ was that I hoped for 2500 QSO but I only declared that off the record. 🙂
So how was this weekend? Hard to describe. This comes close:
WWWWHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ! ! ! ! ! !
I started on 40m and soon I asked myself: “Why oh why?”. The band was full and I encountered the same feeling I always have about 40m SSB: YUK! The first couple of hours were nothing special but soon I started having fun. I have 15 ‘clock hours’ of +100 QSO. Best hour was 176, and a handful of 140/hr. Last year: only one (1!) hour of +100, this year fifteen. ‘Nuff said? Best surprise was ten meters. We’d all been hoping it’ll come true and yes: ten kept giving and giving for hours on end. Fifteen meters was great too. Of course there were the usual frequency fights, and once again some horrible modulations from Eastern EU. Some people say it’s a tactical matter: providing elbow room. I like to think that you can fit a whole CQ QSO party in this slice of spectrum! I was assisted but didn’t really jump on the spots. Packet pile ups can be nasty. On the other hand, if a run had to be aborted, I could keep the rate high by S&P’ing between band edges.
Once again it is proven that if you run and keep running, the mults will come. Even the ‘green’ double mults that cause deep pile ups. Stuff like VP5 and C5A calling me on 80m, or KL7 / KH6 on the higher bands. That’s what I like most about contesting (apart from the rates and the friendship): unexpected juicy DX stuff that calls ME. I quit taking notes last year, but there is one thing I will remember. Our Sunday sunrise on 160m was a bust. I only heard K3LR CQ’ing in our faces. So back to 80 where I worked K1DG. He asked if I had a decent 160m antenna and if I wanted to QSY. I always accept QSY requests but now declined, remebering an unresponsive K3LR. I did not want to let him know what a crappy 160m antenna I have, the darn thing deserves some respect 🙂 But K1DG insisted that “we can at least try” and I agreed that he’d call me there. So I went to the agreed QRG but there was only noise. Told you so! I was just about to go back to 80 and tell him I didn’t hear him as he started calling me. Not loud but very clear. Twenty seconds later we both won a multiplier. For me it was even a double mult. And I believe this is also my first ‘six bander USA’ in ten years of contesting. Thanks to ten meters, always the missing band in previous years.
I also noticed a lot of ON stations around. A lot of them running on 10m. Some even went as far as using their son’s callsign to spot themselves. Seriouisly, and I counted: doing this fifteen (15) times really is pathetic. Oh well, I need at least one thing to moan about, don’t I? Other than that, it was a great weekend. Fingers crossed for WW CW. Now off to enjoy my post-contest high…