CQ WW SSB 2009

As you read in my previous posting, I settled for SB80. No more SB20 after four years in a row. So you probably expect me to report on my 80m findings. The tragic of this contest is that the fun was no where to be found on 80m. I put in all my chips on the wrong band. 15m All In would have been the real deal.

I was on a break Sunday afternoon. There is nothing to work on 80m (75m) except EU during the day. I was reading my mails and process some papers when Wim OQ4B reported me his temporary summary and I was impressed by his 15m score. It seemed that the band was open so I aborted my break and went upstairs. Sure enough: 15m was jam packed with loud DX stations. For almost two years, working outside EU had been virtually impossible. In some occasions it was a treat to work a single UA3 for a multiplier. Ground wave ON/PA/DL/F was all I could do then. But what I heard now was… magic! The whole band full of loud DX signals. Just for fun I launched a new log for ON5ZO and fired away. I went ‘assisted’ since my goal was maximize fun as long as it lasted. I set the yagi at 300° for USA and started CQ’ing.

Then crazy things happened. I worked 3 point USA stations by the dozen. Being called by HI and CO back to back was cool. I mean the DXCC HI and CO, not the WAS. At one point I worked California and other zone 3 on 21 MHz, in SSB, and with ease. Yipeekayee! West Coast on 15. How long has it been? Over three years or so? I worked what I believe was my fastest hour EVER in SSB: 150 QSO, with ID’ing after every QSO. In the beginning it was hard to sign with ‘ON5ZO’ after using ‘OQ5M’ for over 3.5 years. Then it was time to go for the promised walk with the dog. After that I had dinner and went up again. USA was virtually gone but I could work Caribbean multipliers and achieve WAPY*. The YS mult drew a local crowd. Me and some other ON stations called him and I consolidated the pecking order by logging him first. FY5 and V4 were already out of reach at that time. If I had known all this in advance I might have done SB15. Coulda woulda shoulda… I spent less than 3 hours on 15m yet built a score comparable to what 20 hours on 80m brought me. With a lot of fun and adrenaline rush to boot. I really hope it’s a sign of things to come and not just an occasional lucky shot.
* Worked All PY, a lot of Brazilians on 15m. HI.

Now about my 80m contest. This weekend’s core business. Run this contest again with these conditions and the same setup but in CW and you get a whole different story. The problem is this simple equation: Overcrowded band + strong signals + splatter + general QRM = a thick layer of mashed potatoes.

The S-meter got pinned at S9+20dB or worse all the time. Suppose that DX calls in at an S7 signal. How could I ever copy them? In CW you can squeeze the filtering really tight and pull the signals out of the noise and QRM. No way in SSB. Without any directivity and F/B on RX to rule out QRM, it’s impossible. So I quickly became disappointed. In retrospect I should have known this. But it’s a lesson learned the hard way. Stay away from the low bands in SSB. I have never taken so many notes in any contest. So here’s what I had to endure.

  • 03.40: Saturday morning, 9A7A comes playing 3 kHz away from me. His wide modulation wipes out my reception. We’ll be ‘hearing’ from him again.
  • 04.46: PJ2Tcalls me! Yes!
  • 06.16: K1TTT announces on 3817 that he’s listening on 3636. There is a German talking out of band on 3817 over K1TTT to jam him and announcing a corrupt QSX frequency. I say ‘German’ because his English had the distinctive German accent. First German obtrusion, but not the last.
  • 06.40: I try to run on 3781.8 where I am suddenly greeted by some nice SSTV signals.
  • 06.50: 3780 seems to be the place where some English chaps meet regularly. They talk away and away, since the band closes I monitor the conversation. No calls, silly topic.
  • 06.55: KP2M calls me! Yes!
  • 15.10: Let’s see what the band gives. I find a place to start after asking three (3!) times if the frequency was clear. No reply. But then some Tommies (plural!) come out to eat me alive. I tell them that I asked three times in a row if there was someone on the frequency and that no one replied. “Well, we’re telling you now”, he says. It’s not the first time this happens. See my “He doesn’t care because he’s an idiot” part last year. I’ll let them wank away and move off to a new QRG. On 3781 those bloody Germans are still firing away first class bullshit without ID’ing. They seem to bash contesting. It helps if you understand 4 languages.
  • 16.30: The Germans are still at it. Blahblahblah, no callsigns, only to express their hatred towards contesting. In the DX window, mind you! They are unbelievable loud here. Well it’s another way to spend the weekend and enjoy ‘amateur radio’. And cheaper than getting wasted in the pub. The quality of the conversation is similar though.
  • 17.20: LZ9W shows up 1.2 kHz away. I need to move since he wastes a big chunk of spectrum.
  • 17.45: LZ7J now fires away 600Hz below me. I don’t know why, but he moves.
  • 18.00: LZ7J enters the scene again almost on top of me. But he does not consider my kind remarks so I see no other solution than fight fire with fire and ‘adjust’ my TX frequency accordingly.
  • 18.40: UW5U lands 1.6 kHz away and leaves a trace of devastating splatter. He would come and go, and as a result, so would my rate.
  • 19.25: Newcomer DP9I 1.8kHz away, and thus S9+60dB QRM on me. No typo. With UW5U still in position on the other side, it’s time for a break. These two loud and wide signals will make sure no one occupies my running frequency. No one will ever find that frequency anyway between these two.
  • 21.30: I return after the break and am lucky to find a ‘clear’ spot. Clear is only S9+20dB QRM. I checked and sure enough, it was clear. Then I CQ a couple of times when angry OL4A appears. Appearing means: CQ CQ CQ. I tell him the frequency is in use. He must agree but has a different opinion about by whom. So he continues to call CQ but I do too, but I wait until his TX is done so that he won’t hear a thing but me. Then he starts insulting me. A couple of times. That I’m an idiot. Now that may be true, hence I hit F1 some more. That makes him even angrier. His defense is that he was running, just took a sip of water, and while he was drinking I just came up. That must have been some ‘long drink’. The way I see it: he went away to catch a multiplier but it took him too long. Without even saying one word in this situation, I move away. OL4A, the drinker. If he would have been polite and calm, explaining the situation, I would have moved right away. I may be an idiot, but one with common sense.
  • 21.50: It’s wipe out time again! 9A7A – remember him? Comes 1.5 kHz next to me, nothing but his garbling to be heard.
  • 22.53: I S&P and find M3TGC on 3967. He CQ’s but is not in the contest. He specifically insists on that. Fine.
  • 22.55: 3743: another batch of contest hating Germans. Topic: food or something. Spaghetti Bolognese is what I hear and move away. Time for me to catch some sleep. The fun has long been gone. I am NOT tired, I’m really fresh. But what is there to work in this mess under a thick cover of
    splatter and QRM?
  • 04.50: Back again. TA2DS calls me. Yes!
  • 05.19: I run and UT3SA settles less than 1 kHz away. Needless to say my business ends there. So I move and find a spot. A good run, finally. I even work split, with the second receiver on 3817. I work USA! Not much later F8EMH comes only 800Hz away. I had a good run. Bye bye run. He persists, although I tell him. No go. Once again I adjust my TX frequency and fight fire with fire. He tells me the frequency is in use but is very polite. In the end he goes away but so did my Americans. A few moments later, F8EMH reappears on the edge of the RX passband. #{@|#{@|#{|@#[|@{#[{  But I notice he gently comes closer after each CQ. That means his rig is drifting, or he is just playing me. I address him in my best French. I tell him that his rig probably is broken since it is the third time he comes on to my frequency. He friendly thanks me for the information and goes away. Attaboy!
  • 06.31: The German pub is open again on 3678! Topic: those stupid contests with the idiot contesters!
  • 07.12: Band closed as is my business. I settle on OT5A’s frequency. I notice I can hear a bunch of stations calling them that they just don’t hear or copy very hard.
  • 19.00: My fun of hunting DX on 15 is at an end and I want to close the 80m log with 800 QSO. It’s hard to find stations that are not in the log yet. Running is useless and I don’t feel like doing that. The last but one is RW2F for a multiplier! Then I find QSO #800 and close the shack.


  • Maybe my signal is too clean and narrow? People can come too close to me without being bothered by my wide sidebands.
  • The German contest bashers on 80. They seem to group together especially for the occasion.
  • 68 US stations on 80 SSB. I only worked 26 K’s on 80m SSB ever!
  • SB80 in SSB? Never again!

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