If you start with simple targets and lower the bar so that you can walk over it, contesting can be a quite relaxing experience. So I decided not to chase some position in the rankings – which is useless in a DX contest from my location and with my setup. In stead my goals were to have fun and try to work some new goodies for 5BWAS. Mission accomplished! In retrospect I wonder why I have gone assisted. With no intentions to S&P and actually ran about all the time, cluster wasn’t needed. Though it makes for some moving words on the screen and I could follow VP6DX and try to work them in between. Anyway here’s the result:

Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec
   1,8      13      39    7
   3,5     254     762   38
     7     234     702   40
    14     692    2076   57
    21      50     150   19
Total    1243    3729  161
Score: 600.369

> short coil loaded inverted V with feedpoint @ 21m AGL
> elevated inverted L, feedpoint + 2 elevated radials 4m high
> vertical dipole sloping away from the tower to USA
> Optibeam OB11-3, 3el fullsize @ 21m AGL
> Optibeam OB11-3, 3el fullsize @ 21m AGL
> TS-850, ACOM 1000, microHAM stuff, N1MMLogger

Last year I made over 300 QSO on 15m. Most of them in a very fast run late on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t meant to be this year. The 15m band let us down. I didn’t even check 10m. Rich NN3W @ N3HBX summed it up nicely on 3830: "…and took comfort in the fact that conditions cannot. possibly. get. any. worse. than. this.". Right on! Even 20m was so-so. It was good but of course it can be much better.

I tried 160m on my Sunday sunrise. No go. I CQ’d away until KB1H spotted me BEFORE he worked me. A small pile up followed in which KB1H was the first caller but I am deaf on 160m so I couldn’t capitalize the spot. Sorry for those who called. K3LR was in there but I picked another call and he didn’t return after that QSO. K1ZZ asked to move from 80m to 160m just after my SR when I had QRT’d on Top Band. Hey, it worked! N4YDU asked the same earlier but his proposed QRG on 160m was occupied so that was a show stopper. I don’t think either Nate or myself have the signal on Top Band to make this happen.

80m was a nice surprise. I think I was about the only ON on that band. Maybe on 160m too? There is a handful of guys in Belgium with VERY BIG low band setups both for RX and TX but if it’s only this little shrimp that shows up you’ll have to settle for that. The problem is that each spot generated a packet pile up but with most signals zero beat and of the same level it was hard copying so I tried to get them to call up. The rate was halved because of the QRM on my QRG. I picked a call and sent the report but in the mean time people kept calling cluttering my signal so I had to repeat.

I made the most of it. I even got CA and OR coming in with pretty good sigs. It was a thrill to hear my friend Denis K7GK calling me for a new state for 5BWAS. I owe him a beer now. Note to self: stop making these pre-test bets or stop underestimating the force of your 80m vertical. Speaking of which: I couldn’t put it up on Friday so I skipped the lower bands the first night. That fitted my "easy does it" approach for this contest. Two weeks of ab-so-lu-te-ly no wind but on the afternoon you want to set up your station a strong wind shows up. Strong enough to mess with my flimsy 80m vertical. It consists of telescopic aluminum tubing and another 7m of fishing pole. I have been thinking to replace it with something more sturdy but a) it is such a killer antenna for its size and low cost and b) I have limited space. Hence each contest @ ON5ZO is a fieldday.

The sloping vertical dipole on 40m once again did its job. I didn’t bother to put the second one up with the switching unit to make it work for LP openings but I couldn’t resist checking out the 40m LP propagation to the west coast on Saturday. I heard a bunch and was excited to hear Denis K7GK @ K7ZSD calling CQ. He was weak (would return way stronger on 80m) and I called for quite some time. I even thought of going outside and move the sloper to the other side of the tower so that the sloping angle would favor LP. But it was so cold I decided to call a few more times. Bingo! If there had been a pile up I wouldn’t have made it. A bit lower in the band was K7RL with a better signal and a MUCH bigger pile up. In the end the LP opening died and K7RL just CQ’ed in our faces until QSY. I heard a few more W6/7 but I only remember these two because I worked one and the other had a pretty good signal. I wasted some good 20m time but who cares when you’re in it for the fun. I can work 20m any day but 40m LP to W6/7 does only work for me when the Big Guns are on.

I can be brief about the higher bands: Ten is not even born, 15m is still dead and 20m is having a midlife crisis. Nothing special there except for some good runs on 20m Saturday afternoon. It was very boring and slow on Sunday so I quit around 1700utc and lowered the tower. With the beam at only 9m high I can tell you that it’s hard to get beyond the east coast. The big West Coast guys were S7-S9 or more when the yagi sat 21m above the ground but they were gone when it was down.

Where were SD and ID? Not worked. I only worked 1 DC station. Thanks to all the W/VE stations for an enjoyable contest.

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