Countdown to CQ WW CW speeding up

Two weeks since my last update here but I haven’t been sitting still. I tried to do all the non-ham stuff well before this weekend so I could focus on getting ready. Remember: major contests here are like fielddays: cranking up towers, pulling up low band wires, extra tri-band vertical for SO2R etc etc.

Two weeks ago I did a quick testing of my new 80/160m antenna. It’s a makeover of my trusty 80m vertical antenna. Quite a disappointment. It didn’t work well on 80 but the wire was too low because I didn’t care to extend the tower. I found a match on 160m but I could never get the amp going. While tuning the amp on Top Band it did not find a match. All settings were going back and forth. Bummer!

Last week I found the culprit: the coax at the feed point got soaked and water poured right out. It’s been over 8 months since I last used it (UBA DX CW). So I never discovered this. I made a new feed point assembly but it was raining which did not really invite me for more work. Other than that it was nice WX. My gut said ‘above’ was saving all wind up for CQ WW.

Last Friday I tried to cut off some length of the feedline and solder a new PL to it but the coax’s braid sucked up a lot of H2O. So that one’s SK. I’m out of plugs and loose ends so I sacrificed a longer run of RG-213 to make the jumper cable between the feedpoint and the box in the garden where all feedlines see the daylight. It was raining all afternoon so once again a very comfortable situation for such a job… But it got worse. For two years I used the LZ DX contest prior to WW CW as a dry run. That was the plan also this year but I needed to get my 160/80m project going. If not: no CQ WW, or at least not SOAB but a 20m SB effort. In stead of contesting I was doing antenna work. It was snowing all day so soon I was walking around with three layers of soaked clothes. And I needed to run back and forth between shack and garden because the antenna analyzer does not help in this particular case. I need to apply RF power to check the matching. But nothing helped. Adding wire, shorting wire, de-tuning elevated radials, dropping elevated radials on the ground, adding a length coax to the feed line. All this with snow falling from the sky and a razor sharp wind. NOTHING did work to get a match on 80m. The good thing is I heard 2 JA’s on 160m – a first. I called a few times but by then I was so exhausted from the whole day in the blistering cold that I abandoned the ship and crashed on the couch. My last resort was to try to get the vertical wire away from the tower as I assumed coupling between the wire and the tower.

This AM I awoke and got an idea. I added all spare ferrite chokes I had and bingo! Now I could match on 160m and 80m. I heard a loud 5K0T on 160m but only called a few times. I called them on 80m and worked them pretty soon after my first call. So I guess the bl**dy thing works. I hope it’ll work next weekend. Finally I had some time left to play in the LZ DX. I started on 15m but it wasn’t a big success. With one hour to go I wondered if I could pull off a +100hr on 20m. Sure I could. I made over 160 CW QSO in 60 minutes, which is my personal best. I made a +160 hr in RDXC 2006 so I need to get the exact numbers to see if today’s hour is my best but I think I topped it with a few contacts. Let’s hope for a couple of hours like that next week!

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