Last week was a busy one. Something’s got to pay for the bills so I had to focus on work. In between I tried 30m LP at my sunset for those nice W6/7 openings. The path is there but it seems to me that there are less people active at that time compared to last year. That is a general impression I’m having lately. Sometimes the bands seem open to somewhere but there is nobody in the shack in ‘somewhere’. Like this morning on 80m. East coast was loud but not much worked. W6OAR in California seems to be in his shack 24/7 and he called me again. Why do I always hear him and no other Californians? It’s about 23.00 local time in California on a Sunday evening. If W6OAR hears me and I hear him and we work like a breeze, I suppose the band is open.

“Being open” is not something that can’t be said about 160m. There was a Mexican on 160m this morning that I could hear quite well. But I didn’t even try to call him because of the EU Zoo. I tried a lot the past week but it wasn’t very successful. One night I worked two or three W1 stations at their sunset. I admit: I don’t have a super antenna for Top Band but I do get across the Atlantic. I guess it’s the same story: no one home? Saturday morning I worked NR5M on 160. He was very loud and I worked him right away. Where was everybody else? Again, it must have been just after midnight in Texas in the night from Friday to Saturday. That’s why you work more DX in a contest. There is a lot of activity in contests and shacks are ablaze then where people are asleep on weekdays or regular weekends.

Speaking about contests. I did one last weekend. In fact I did two. I like those 24h long ‘everyone works everyone’ contests. This weekend was the Croatian 9A CW Contest. Running along was the Canadian RAC Winter contest. I worked a few stations on 80m and two on 160m, one of which was NR5M. When the 9ACW test started, it ran parallel to the RAC contest. Both contests needed serial numbers but the Canadians sent their province. This caused for a mess when Canadians called 9A CW participants. I tried to get them to give me a number which wasn’t always a success. Later on I got called by Canadians who switched to giving serial numbers so I guess either the contest finished or they switched between contests.

With another rise in the SFI which brought the number well above 80, I had hoped for 15m to be open. It wasn’t. Neither was 10m and 20m wasn’t great either. I was glad to land on 40m which had long skip right away. VK4SS and ZM2B called me and it always puts a smile on my face when DX like that calls me in my little pistol station. A handful USA called me too with the sun not even set over there. I had high hopes for 40m. I took a break to prepare dinner and went to 80m. That band played great and soon I had doubled the number of QSO I had on 40m. Some nice DX too and I was glad to be called by JA0DAI for a multiplier on 80m. I recognized the call from last week’s Saturday night 160m activity (see Part 2 below). By 0100 UTC things got slow. I couldn’t get 160m running and 40m let me down while it started so great. With 80m amazingly being the best band so far, I went to bed and set the alarm to wake me up 4 hours later.

I made the first QSO on 160m at 05.15 UTC but I worked mostly EU. I really wanted a USA multiplier but it didn’t work. So off to 80m again. A bunch of USA called me on 80m and I went up to 40m. Soon 40m was dry so I jumped to 160m again with a short stop on 80m to work CO8ZZ for the multiplier. WJ9B was running 160m and I worked him right away. So I tried running myself once more. Regular N4AF called in and K6LF. Yes K6 on 160m! But he lives in Florida. Bummer. That reminds me of my first KH6 who was from there too… MD0CCE was an easy multiplier when he called but a mult is a mult! Back to 80m where I found N4AF for QSO #5 with him. A sixth (on 10m) is impossible because… Well, you know. W6OAR (him again!) was the last to call me on 80m before I moved up to run 40m. It was necessary because on 40m I was still a lot behind my 80m numbers. I made 106 QSO on 160m so with milestone ‘100’ there I decided to focus on 40. JA8GMZ called with some kind of SP/LP echo at his sunset / my sunrise and he was a welcome multiplier on 7 MHz. Finally I hit the 200 mark on 40m so around 08.00 UTC I went to grab a bite. I’m not in this one for the result so I enjoyed breakfast with the XYL.

After that I went to 15m to see what was happening. The cluster showed ZM2B. I hear him… I call him… I log him. Great! Since 15m was crappy Saturday afternoon, I work a lot of multipliers now. But 15m isn’t in great shape and soon the rate collapses like a card house. ‘Soon’ being when the packet pile ups die. I use the second radio for the first timeimage in the contest now to work G3TXF who is a mult on 40m. I try running 10m which gave me 9A, LX, 4O and ON as a multiplier. More luck than anything else so time to attack 20m. That band also let me down the day before so low numbers and almost no multipliers on the score board. Let’s try!

The eight caller was VK4TT. Hooray for multipliers! RX0AW’s call turns red when I type it – another mult! See how bad 20m was on Saturday? Not even a UA9 made it into the log. VU2, BA7, JA, EX and YB are some of the sweet things that call me. I use radio #2 to log CN8IG on 40m. Barefoot. From then on it was counting down to the end of the contest. I tried 15m and worked some USA and used the second radio to look for multipliers on 40m while running 20m.

As always I played for fun, took breaks and went to sleep. So it won’t be a top score but the target was to have fun and believe me: fun it was! I said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the greatest hobby in the world!

EDIT 18.50: I’m summing up some nice DX that called me but how could I forget that J28OO called me on 20m and 80m? That was cool, especially when he gets spotted later on and has a pile up going. Running pays (yeah I know, I run too much and do too little S&P…). I just got reminded about J28OO because the contacts are already confirmed on LotW.

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