Ducie: prelude to ARRL DX CW

It’s been quite a while since my last post but I wasn’t active at all in the hobby. Professionally I was too active but I think the pendulum is about to swing the other way. Less duties, more ham! Last Saturday we went for a long walk in the woods including pick nick and late in the afternoon I fired up the rig and made about 160 contacts in CQ WPX RTTY. I would have made some more on Sunday but suddenly I felt ill and sick and took a raincheck. Quite honestly I was fed up with RTTY after two hours on Saturday.

This weekend is ARRL DX CW. I will be on but I will maximize fun and try to relax. Like last year when we were working in the garden and I made just over 1000 QSO’s in between. That was fun and I want to do that again this weekend. Except for the working part  ;o)   So I won’t be on for 48h – I don’t even think there will be 48h of continuous propagation between EU and NA. I won’t be pushing the limits and if I’m tired or things get too slow I will bail out and get back later. I’m hoping for some nice runs, a couple of 100+ hours would be welcome. It’s been over 6 weeks since I did some CW. So I need a quick fix. And bagging some nice new states for WAS on 40/80 would be thrilling. And what about 160m? I don’t have high expectations for that band so each QSO is a victory on Top Band. We’ll see what gives.

Oh yeah… Ducie VP6DX is on! I missed VP6DI in 2002 (living at my folks’ place: no antennas) and missed VP6D in 2003. We just moved here and I didn’t have any real antennas. I’m not sure about the dates but missing these two expeditions to a new DXCC was a traumatic experience so retaliation was at hand. During lunch I looked up the peak times when they logged ON in the previous days. Great info on the site, just like 3B7C last year!

Then I raised the tower this afternoon. The tribander and WARC dipole are 21m above the ground. They were on 20m with quite a loud signal (S8 or more). Three calls and OQ5M was logged. A couple of minutes later ON5ZO got logged too. The sweetness of owning two calls. Hey, I pay almost 120 Euros (180 US$) to the Belgian equivalent of the FCC for those 2 licenses! No you can’t have a 2×1 vanity call (OQ5M) without paying for a regular call (ON5ZO). It’s a package deal that costs twice as much. But I digress.

Logging them so soon on 20m wasn’t satisfactory so off to 17m. They were weak and I tried for almost one hour and a half. Normally my limit is 15 minutes. If the DX isn’t in the log by then, I’m gone. The online stats say 1700utc was the time when they logged the most ON on 17m and 5 minutes before that time mark I worked them and a few minutes later I worked them with the second callsign. On 15m they were also weak but I managed to work them twice in less than a minute. Having some gain (3 el full size) compared to the dipole on 17m pays off. So I’ve worked them on 20, 17 and 15 in CW with both my callsigns. Next target to bomb my Ducie frustrations away: 30m, 40m and I wonder if I can work ‘m on 80m? I didn’t put up the 80m vertical and the 160m dipole yet. Too much wind this afternoon and motivated lacked. I will do that in the morning when 40m fades to the US of A.

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