This weekend on the radio

Part 1: Friday and Saturday

While I am typing this, I am also trying to make some QSO’s in the UBA (low band) Winter Contest. Of course if typing this is possible with contesting at the same time, it means that the rate is almost zero. And so is the fun level. I just tried to explain to a UA1 (80m CW) that I don’t give a number but the abbreviation of my UBA section. Now he’s gone because he didn’t get it. I should have just given him 001 and get my number. That would have been a QSO extra…

I cranked up the tower one level yesterday and reinstalled the 80/160m antenna. I took the MFJ-998 out of the outdoor cabinet. I don’t use it anymore. With some pruning I can get the antennas resonant or at least showing an acceptable SWR. Resonance and low SWR are not the same but I settle for whatever makes my amplifier happy… BTW just logged QSO #51 and we’re 80 minutes into the contest…

I was glad to make a QSO yesterday after more than four weeks. I tried 160m at my sunset and worked a UA0 in the 5000 km range. Then I wondered if my trusty West Coast path was still there on 30m. Although almost one hour too late, it still worked with a handful of CA and WA state contacts logged. And two Mexicans. And I got spotted by a W2 who commented I was 599 at his place but that I had ‘no re…’. I guess he meant ‘no RX’ which was partially true since the band was very noise and there was strong QSB. But the W6/7 contacts proved him wrong! I hope to play the SS/SR ON-WC path again the coming weeks.

This morning I tried 160m at my sunrise but it was a bust. If I recall I worked a couple of W6 on 80m (can’t check the log while running the contest). Overall poor conditions. I went to 10m. After all it’s ARRL 10m contest this weekend. I only heard a handful EU’s and they were hard to work. Exit the shack… QSO #55 logged and contest has been going on for 92 minutes already.

In the mean time I learned that the UBA Winter Contest changed the rules since last year. ‘Triband class’ does no longer exist. So I didn’t bother to put up the 40m antenna. Someone (not a member of the organizing party) told me they took away this category because there were some complaints from people who don’t have an 160m antenna. Hence they don’t do well. I don’t know if this is correct but I understand. I had the same problem too years ago in every contest that included 160m. I looked for solutions and tried different antennas on Top Band. Stupid me. I should have asked to change the rules and lift off 160m! 102 minutes far and my friend ON4AFU called me for QSO #60… Contesting is only for the strong HI. I decided to play ‘dual band’ 80/160 CW only but the way this contest is progressing I just might stick to 80m CW only…

Part 2: Saturday Night

The contest dragged along and after four hours I managed to put an amazing 103 QSO in the log. I was glad it was 21.00 UTC so I could go downstairs and watch some TV. But in stead I went to listen to a DX spot on 160m that I –of course– didn’t hear. But I did hear a JA calling a PA station. Wait a minute. I hear JA… and it’s almost their sunrise. I heard a couple JA on Top Band last year but never pulled off to work one. Working Japan for a new DXCC on 160m is high on my wish list. Maybe tonight is my lucky night? I looked for a clear spot where I hoped some JA would find me and started calling CQ. Things weren’t moving a lot but suddenly JH2FXK clearly calls me. Half a minute later it’s done. JA on 160? Check!

Another minute later this appears on my computer screen to consolidate my QSO:

JH2FXK  1822.5 OQ5M    cq   2113 12-Dec-2009

YES! The hard-to-satisfy type that I am starts thinking. One JA is luck. A few more would be the proof that the antenna is not too shabby. JA0DAI must have picked up my brainwave or at least my RF signal and he calls me. I answer him a couple of times but he does not reply. So I wipe out his callsign and don’t log him.


Here’s a picture I took of the ON5ZO = OQ5M operating position in “darkness path propagation mode”.

A QSO to me means at least some confirmation. I CQ along and there he is again. JA0DAI. I answer him but he doesn’t come back. Maybe the VU2 below me went split and the JA is calling in the pile up? It doesn’t matter anyway because in the minutes that follow I work another 2 Japanese stations on 160m. And a K2 who was going up and down in signal strength. And finally: JA0DAI again. Third time is the right time so finally he confirms my call and gives me an RST. I try some more but I ran out of luck. And EY8MM didn’t hear me either. Oh well, a handful of JA on 160. New for me. I’m happy. Off to bed now and see what sunrise brings.

Part 3: Sunday

I got up at 05.30 and went to the shack. I tried 160m outside of the contest but nothing happened. On to 80m for the second leg of the UBA Winter Contest. In short: boring. The rate was thirteen (13) QSO per hour. I got called by some DX (USA including California and HP1). This contest made many ON participants unhappy. We show up to please the contest organizers who are our friends, a sort of moral duty. But if there’s no one to work us, it’s just a waste of time. I quit at 09.00 UTC with one hour to go but with an empty band. Maybe the timing isn’t right? I tried some more 10m for the ARRL 10m contest but that was a bust too. Then I went outside to do some garden work that needed to be addressed. Finally I could go outside without being blown over or become soaking wet. My fingers almost froze off but who cares when the sun is shining and the WX is sweet?

After the afternoon walk with the dog I hit the shack at 16.00 UTC for some more 30m propagation to W6/7. I think I was too late. I only worked a few.

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