It’s not easy writing about a contest, especially if you enter many and have been reporting for years. But I’ll try.

I was eager to get on the bands. It has been a while (WAE CW) and skipping WW SSB was hell. Since I put up and tested everything last week for the LZDX contest, I was all set to go. Of course the usual hectic (little kids!) and stressful (work!) life prevented me from resting and relaxing before the contest. I feared that this would be my enemy since WX was said and turned out to be calm. Even Murphy’s attempt to ruin one of my rigs botched and I managed to use the cripple K3 as my main running rig. Murphy managed to sneak his little cousin in but that was no biggie. See later.
I don’t like the start of contests. Looking for a QRG. Fearing that the slow first minutes may last during the contest. Frantic operators all over the bands. But this time I was on point after a short nap on the couch. Brush teeth for minty fresh taste and off I went. Target was 4000 QSO, no goal for mults and score.

Adding the 500W ‘low power amp’ really is a good move for SO2R. No more waiting. I can even run now in CW with 500W and use the Little Big Power amp (driven to 1200W tops) to slice my way through the pile ups. While I like the 10/15/20 vertical for the second radio and it really works well for its size and footprint, I think that some extra firepower might come in handy. It’s never enough for a contester!

Rates were good and I progressed to plan throughout the first night. Except nothing to work on Top Band. Loads of fun while Saturday passed. Around midnight thus halfway the contest I reached 2000 contacts. I was a bit tired but better than anticipated. Things slowed down so I took the decision to take a short nap before I would totally crash. I slept for about two hours, then took care of my I/O and started again. But a few hours later I was about to crash anyway. I felt misty and light headed. I decided not to fight it. I leaned back in the chair, rested my head on my chest and off I went. Luckily I didn’t sleep too long. My last logged QSO was exactly one hour ago. But the little nap in the chair did wonders. Back to the races!
In the mean time I lost control over the PC! WTF? It was good one hour ago. Mouse works, keyboard not. Oh sh…. I bought a 2.4 GHz wireless desktop kit because RFI plagued my P/S2 and USB stuff. All problems solved since moving to 2.4 gig wireless. I decided not to change the batteries before the contest because I have a few fresh spares within reach in the drawer under the operating desk. NOT! It’s all AAA while I need AA types. [{#@{[|@{|@]. Rechargeable batteries not charged! NOW WHAT? Take batteries from kid’s toys? I went downstairs and ploughed through the ‘various rubbish’ drawer. I found two AA’s of different brands. Usually we dispose run out batteries in a dedicated recycling bag so these should still be OK. I put them in the keyboard, but still no go. Run the synching procedure between wireless device and USB stick in the PC. No go! I decided to restart the PC. Success! I lost about twenty minutes but the adrenaline rush and walking through the cold stairway sharpened my attention. Here ends Murphy’s little cousin’s attempt to topple the operator.
Strangely enough I was good on Sunday and not as tired as the previous years. When ON4BHQ woke up on Sunday and checked in to see how I was doing, he feared that 4k QSO was aimed too high. I think he was right. At that time. But things sped up and the usual high band openings to NA provided good rates. Thank you American Contest Legions! With extensive use of radio #2 I even managed to work extra mults and ‘threepointers’. By 2200utc I passed the 4000 Q mark and went downstairs to empty my bladder. I needed relief but told myself ‘not before 4k’. Because I achieved my only preset goal, I could rest from the chase and take time out for some multipliers. Thanks to ON3DI for following my progress on the Russian online scoreboard and texting me cheering messages.

About this online scoreboard: GREAT! I only watched the SOAB category and only the pure score in points (no breakdown). From the first hours, the pecking order was set. Positions changed now and then but everyone in the top 20 roughly held the same position give or take a few places. I was glad to be on top of the second tier. I don’t have the location nor the means to be a Top Gun. For ease of mind, let’s assume I am an ace driver but drive a robust family car in an F1 race. I might just carjack a real F1 speedster one day! If you’re seriously entering a contest, this score board is a real motivator. At least it is for me.

About packet pile ups: hate ‘m! I always am assisted but in the last years I have learned to leave the green double mult spots alone. At least for a while. What are some guys thinking? Some UTxy (forgot the actual 2×1 Ukrainian callsign) station heard yesterday for a late double mult: firing salvos of five times his call, pause two seconds, then fire the same salvo again. And again. And again. Say what? When does he ever listen? QSY 100 Hz and smart timing is usually enough for a family car to outsmart a dragster. The later in the contest, the worse it gets. M/x mult hunters are bored and hungry for action. When a new one pops up, they fire op ye olde callsign chaingun and shoot a few rounds. Blindly. As a crafty marksman I make more clean cuts then their artillery. Enough metaphors.

About my broken K3: who needs a front panel anyway? I should try to send it in for repair this week.

Since I’m a glass-half-emty kinda guy: how will we ever survive the years without 10m and working a single W6/7 on 15m calls for champaign? I even remember recent years where openings on twenty to the West Coast were short lived. Let’s make the most of it while it lasts. Hopefully we can do this over in three weeks in the ARRL 10m test.

CQ Contest!

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