WAE CW 2008

Short version pasted from ON5ZO’s Contest Template 2008:

Bad weather + no propagation = no motivation >> no contest.

Long version for the records. WAE CW is my favorite contest. Only for the QTC of course. I’ve never missed one since I accidentally stumbled in WAE CW 2001 (follow this link to read more about that). But since 2008 is really my off year, and it’s the sun’s off year and the summer weather’s off year I decided to skip this one completely. We had to attend an event on Friday night so I couldn’t start on 40/80 anyway. Better make that: I could have done so if I wanted to.

While WAE is big fun it isn’t an easy contest. You need to get out of EU. On the higher bands that’s a ‘no go’ because of the total lack of sunspots. On the low bands you need to have good antennas and preferably good ears. In mid summer 40 and especially 80 can be really noisy and full of summer QRN. The money band is 20m but you need the low bands for the multiplier weighting. I was looking at the online cluster on Saturday and saw a few spots EU-W and EU-JA on 15m. That looked promising. The week before in EUHFC conditions were horrible from here. I gave up on 10 and 15 for DX. And given the shape of 20m I wasn’t expecting a lot. But this looked different. I decided I would crank up the tower one level on Sunday and play ‘fresh meat’ to gather at least some QTC for the fun of it.

And so I did. By local noon on Sunday -way too early to be considered ‘fresh meat’- I got on 15m and immediately heard YE1ZAT. I could work him right away and solicited QTC. I got only 7 but the QSO/QTC ratio was 1:7 right away. Until last year I practiced copying QTC a few days in advance with a batch of MP3 files and the N1MMLogger software. Not so this year. But the copying went amazingly well, even better than before. Apart from QSB and QRN and the occasional QRM from an impatient LID.

After YE1ZAT I worked some ‘local DX’ on 15m like TA, RA9, D4 etc. I even worked AP2IA. Sweet. On 10m only 4L0A was worked and he was weak. So off to 20m where my goal was to run and ask for QTC on each QSO. That went fairly well. I went to work VY2MT (= KD4D as close to EU as possible) on 20 and of course got some QTC. VY2’s are always loud here on all bands. Their signals on all bands are an indication of propagation. VY2MT must have thought an ON on 15m was badly needed so I was happy to QSY to 15 for him. That worked as well.

I stayed on 20m where K7SV called in. I was mislead by his signal. It was weak but on K7SV’s 3830 post I read he’s LP and not on the West Coast. QTC were granted but it wasn’t easy. I had (have? – need to check) a terrible noise on 20m when the yagi is pointing between 320° and 220°. That is from KL7 to PY… Next up was K5KG. On 3830 K5KG tells he’s HP but in FL. Sure sounded as if he was deep into Texas. QTC were a pain too – SRI OM. Maybe it was too early for good 20m propagation to USA? RZ9OZO (= RW1AC) was louder and he asked for a sked on 80m. I had to turn him down as my low band antennas are down and packed away. That might have cost him the ON multiplier.

At about 12.00 utc I moved up to 15m again. I could run some USA but a) not many heard and b) those heard were not too loud. But beggars can’t be choosers so I was glad to make it across the Atlantic. Ten minutes later I worked VY2EJ on 10m. Great: DX on 28 MHz. I moved back to 15m for more USA and then up to 10m again. I worked about 20 stations from North-America on 10m. Almost 4x more than last year!

At that time I had set myself a goal: work as many stations and beg until you have 500 QTC. I figured the best thing to do was run USA on 20m. Conditions were only so-so and the truckload of loud PY/LU on 15m was absent, even quieter on 10m. I kept asking and quit the contest with 508 QTC in 182 QSO.

I’ve come to terms with 2008 being a serious dip in my operations. I’m still profoundly in love with ham radio and especially contesting. It took me almost 8 months to figure out that taking it easy for a while doesn’t make me a lesser ham or contester. I’m pretty sure that by the time the solar conditions pick up I’ll be hungry like a wolf again to enter each and every contest, be it full time or just handing out some Q’s.

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