Viva 12m ! ! !

There just is no emoticon available that can express the way I’m feeling after three days on 12m. Last week the conditions on 15m went up together with the SFI. But no luck yet on 12m although I tried. Friday around 13.30 or so I entered the shack and saw a spot for P43JB. I didn’t hear him of course but I did hear whom he was working. That was S9. The loud station then signed “… DE P43JB”. Come again? Sure enough: P43JB was S9 on the meter. I could not hear the other station(s). I quickly set the amp and threw in my call. “5M?”. Bingo! He gave OQ5M “5NN PLUS”. Great! Last time I worked P4 on 12m was in March 2002. Almost 8 years ago…

I have never put my good antennas to work on that band. When they got installed late 2004, the sun started hibernating so the SFI took a plunge. So not a lot of DX on 12m. A lot of easy and obvious stuff is missing there: JA, VK, ZL etc. So Friday, with that DX coming in so loud, it was time to change all this. I parked myself and called CQ. And I called CQ. And no one answered. For almost one hour I called CQ without an answer. Only a ZS2. A couple of times I went back to P43JB: the opening didn’t die, he was still S9 and I could not hear the EU he was working. That might explain why no one called me.

Then at 14.15 UTC WS1L called me. That was my first American on 12m since end 2005. More than 4 years! I have worked only 98 USA stations on 12m between 2000 and 2010. Before this weekend, that is! After WS1L a bunch of USA came back as far west as LA and TX. By 15.30 the opening was gone and I went to 17m. I worked the same states there as always, with a big difference: WA, OR, AZ etc were S7-S9 now in stead of buried in the noise. Great. The power of some sunspots. Imagine if there were A LOT of sunspots…

In the mean time I was chasing TX4T. On 15m I got lucky and only called 2 or 3 times before the packet pile up exploded. On 17m it took some more calling but I worked them in the end. I wanted to try 30m which is my best DX band but no luck. Their online log shows that ON on 30m (4 QSO then) only occurred between 8 and 9 UTC. Yesterday morning (Saturday) I was QRV at that time and at 08.00 UTC I logged TX4T on 30m. This weekend is CQ WPX RTTY. My plan was to make some contacts on 15m. The number ‘500’ lingered in the back of my head. So after TX4T on 30m I launched a 15m RTTY log. Good to see it all still  worked after the microHAM USB router upgrade. I made a few QSO with new RTTY countries on 15m (VK, JA, 9M2 etc). But after a dozen QSO and wanting to repeat the exchanges by grabbing the CW paddles, I decided that GameBoy modes are not for me. Point-and-click, what’s the fun? I tried it and I can do it. But it doesn’t satisfy me. What satisfies me except for CW contesting is CW DX on WARC bands. So off to 12m again.

One of the first to reply was a VK6. VK6? My guess was that VK was a new one on 12m. I had to look it up. I worked a VK3 on 12m SSB somewhere in December 2004. Never got a QSL. So it is my first VK on 12m since I only keep track of CW contacts. A good start. Around 12.15 VU2PAI was having a blast running a big EU pile-up. He was loud. Although the XYL shouted twice that dinner was on the table, I had to work him for a new one. Not really a new one as it turns out: I logged a VU2 in April 2002. Never saw a QSL. Doesn’t Pai use LotW? I believe he does! Do you hear the ‘new one’ bell ringing? I do! After lunch two KP4’s called me with a PY in between. KP4 is new on 12m! Ding dong! PY is confirmed in SSB (2000) but none worked in CW. Ding dong! New one! Then I ran the band for a lot of new USA states and went out of my way to work an A7. Loud signals from Qatar. Ding dong! New one! Then more USA and finally a CE1 running a big EU pile up as well. Ding dong! New one!

This morning I was on 12m again around 09.30 UTC. I was only warming up when a JA1 called me. JA? Ding dong! New one! I worked 31 more the hour following that one for a total of 32 JA’s on 12m. In the afternoon: USA time again. I worked 113 Americans on 24MHz over the last 3 days. Compare that to a total of 98 between end 2000 and early 2010. That’s what you get when you have a decent antenna and some sunspots. Imagine I had a 3 el yagi on 12m in stead of the rotary dipole! What else called in? PJ5? Ding dong! New one! OX Greenland: Ding dong! New one!

I’ve had some very nice ragchew CW QSO’s too. Talking about snow storms on the US East coast. Talking about big contest stations. Talking about K3 rigs and comparing serial numbers to see who was first HI. And I managed to work my friend ON4AFU who’s signing HS0ZJF/8. I wonder what antenna Eddy uses over there. Simple wires for sure. I always get much better reports than I can give to him. The problem then is that he starts asking me things or tell something. Copying my call and some RST when he’s in the noise is fairly easy. But follow his conversation? And when the EU pack gets impatient, they simply start calling on top of him. Like the UY5 on 20m who started calling ME while HS0ZJF/8 was transmitting. Same story today on 17m. But I don’t have the gain I have on 20m. So it was a matter of swapping RST again.

Big fun and many nice DX on one of the upper HF bands. Let’s hope this is only the sign of things to come.

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