RDXC 2009

I like this contest. The format is right. Everyone works everyone and it only lasts 24h. However it seems that there’s always something that keeps me from going all the way in RDXC. In 2004 I had to attend a course on Saturday. 2005 was my grandfather’s funeral service. In 2006 all went fine but my experimental 80/160m antenna wasn’t the best although it worked. In 2007 I had to take all antennas down on Sunday morning because the wind started blowing too hard during the night. And I wanted to spare myself a repeat in 2008 where the WX was stormy for weeks on end (or at least to my perception as a contester with a field day setup). So I didn’t even start last year but went to a ham fair instead.

This year the cards were dealt in favor of ON5ZO. WX forecast was dry, sunny and no wind so I could set up all the way. The only problem was a busy week before the contest and I’m very tired because I haven’t been sleeping well for over 3 weeks now due to some bruised ribs. I knew the rates were have to be pretty good at night to keep me going. I started the contest on 15m and as always I was on 20m only 3 minutes later without a single QSO. 15m was dead – period. Also ‘as usual’ 20m was packed because of the closed 15m (no need to mention 10m). For about 20 minutes I felt I was going somewhere but then someone needed to park on top of me and away went the rate together with the frequency. Soon I discovered that 20m wasn’t in great shape either. Three weeks ago I made 1000 QSO in 12h in the small UBA CW contest. Extrapolation made me hope for 2000 QSO in 24h in the big RDXC. But the rates didn’t follow my hopes.

I can be short about the contest. It is fun but it would be more so with good propagation. I hade a constant average rate of 50-60 QSO. Nothing to brag about. Being called by nice DX is always a treat. On 40m I was rewarded some mults by VU2, VK4, VR2 and VK9AA to name a few. Again it seems that I have good RX on 80m but my signal is not too loud. I need to address that. I think I have a clue about what can be improved. On 160m I got called by a few W’s with good signals. At about 04.00z I needed a break and programmed the alarm to wake me 90 minutes later. Things were just too slow to keep me going.

In the morning I tried some more 80m and bagged some Caribbean mults on 40m. Then a good hour on 20m (127 QSO) and I constantly tried 15m but no surprises there. I found a loud SK3W on 10m called CQ there myself.  RU1A called for a double mult but it wasn’t an easy QSO. If RU1A is a tough contact, that means there is NO propagation.

SO2R is not really productive when your second antenna is a simple triband trapped vertical. If you don’t hear a thing on a 3 element yagi up 21m, this whip won’t cut it either. And making a dual band 80/160m vertical sacrifices SO2R on those bands too. I made 105 QSO with the second radio, about 7%. That’s 16% or more in the contests I did SO2R seriously. On a brighter note: the 2el vertical dipole system for 40m once again proved to have a killer DX-to-simplicity ratio.

I was thinking about WPX SSB next week but given the propagation and SSB… I don’t think I will spend too much time in the shack.

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