SFI > 250 or bust!

What I like about this one? You only work DX and no EU. No worries about where to point the beam. There usually is a lull in propagation that allows some sleeping.

I cranked up the tower on Friday. I had three helpers: both my sons and their pal sleeping over. Why does that need to be so high? Because it just works better that way. Why does it go so slow? Because the gearbox has a tradeoff between speed and strength. Lots of questions and no easy answers for six to nine year olds…

I started the contest on 40m. That went fairly smooth. Later on I attacked 80. Usually I do quite well there but this time it wasn’t special. Then my biggest hope turned into the biggest letdown: 160. Almost nothing heard, only few answers to my CQ and all weak signals. Even the east coast powerhouses.

Around 7 AM utc things slowed down and by 8 AM it was game over. Honestly I was a bit disappointed that not only 80 and 160 were poor, but also the 40m band didn’t provide sustained runs. The good thing was I could catch some sleep.

I didn’t even try 10m once but maybe 15 could offer something? Well… it was slow cooking while I was craving for fast food. There was a mild opening but I couldn’t even get to 100 Q. Yes we’re here: short and weak openings at the bottom of the cycle. I’ve been there once before and it won’t change for another few years. So back to twenty. And there too the signals faded fast and the band closed early. With a gap between 14 MHz closing and 7 MHz opening.

I watched some TV with the XYL and when she went to bed I went to 40m again. Then 80. And nothing on 160 because too early on the North American side. Around 2 AM local time I decided I’d catch some sleep. The rising A and K indexes were not in favor of us contesters.

Sunday morning turned out to be more of the same but worse. It became clear that 160 wasn’t going to surprise me.  Not even a hundred contacts there. I know: many of my countrymen might envy 77 Americans on Top Band in a weekend, but I can do better if propagation helps a hand. By 8.30 local time (07.30 utc) I went to bed.

My mother in law took the family out for dinner to celebrate her birthday. I didn’t want to be a party pooper again so I figured that lunchtime is a lull in ARRL DX during sunspot low. So why not go along and join the party? I insisted on being home before 3 PM local time. But that turned out wrong. The kitchen was painfully slow and we had to wait long between courses. That started to annoy me. Even more than those hungry souls that didn’t have a schedule dictated by propagation. I needed a few more Q on 15 and the band would provide a spotty opening at best. Long story cut short: I got home around 16.30 local time (15.30 utc). I was happy to see me still where I was when I left the online score reporting. And I managed to work a dozen stations in the 21 MHz range to make it to 100. Overall things seemed worse on Sunday than the day before.

Then it was off to twenty again. That provided a good run with lots of callers and another batch of multipliers. Woohoo! Just like anticipated signals started fading fast and the band died around 7 PM utc. I watched some TV before going to 40 again. Still broad daylight on the DX side but plenty of stuff to be worked. Even some extra multipliers. During the last hours I tried 80 again and only worked a few more on 160.

N1MMLogger says I was active 23 hours. I could have done more but the propagation and openings made is less interesting. Five years ago I made 2700 QSO in this one. But I had 1100 contacts on 10 + 15m. That’s 1k QSO on two bands that were not open this weekend. So propagation sucked when compared to these peak years but given the place where we are between cycles 24 and 25 and the fact that the sun burped this weekend, it wasn’t all too bad. I worked only DX and heard some friends and many many familiar callsigns. Even hidden behind unusual calls. Like Mr. C at KM7W ☺

 Band     QSOs     Pts  Sec  Pt/Q
   1,8      77     231   27   3,0
   3,5     264     792   46   3,0
     7     482    1446   49   3,0
    14     532    1596   60   3,0
    21     104     312   27   3,0
 Total    1459    4377  209   3,0
Score: 914.793


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