Over the years I built myself a station that reached the limits of what is possible for the budget and the size of the garden. I have a crank up tower that brings the yagi up to about 21m. It’s a modest tribander but it performs superb for its size. I have no gain for the low bands but I have fairly good full size resonant antennas, except for linear loading on 160m. I have a working SO2R setup with a pair of K3’s and I have a kW amp that I conservatively run at 900W. All the SO2R antenna / filter switching is done automatically. I think we can say that this is a modest but decent setup, even well above Belgian standards.
I think I’m a good CW operator that knows how to contest, accurately copy callsigns and exchanges (UBN’s always good), work band openings, get the most out of propagation and handle the equipment listed above. I do not attribute myself extraordinary operational skills. The tricks I play were learned by spending countless hours in contests big and small over the past 10 years. I try not to make the same mistakes twice. Where is this leading to?
After a contest I browse the 3830 numbers. When looking at the guys that beat me bigtime, I wonder: how do they do that? For this specific contest (IARU), I know that I lost almost 3 hours of high rates. I did not do SO2R. Moreover: SO2R with a tribander? And I did not do a lot of S&P to look for multipliers. I didn’t expect to make all the other bite the dust. I will never win plaques in DX contests from here. That’s not what I’m thinking of. What strikes me is the HUGE difference in QSO count. Much more QSO means much more multipliers. My own experience teaches me: run run run and the multipliers will pop up. More QSO means more points. More multipliers means bigger score. Simple math.
So that big number of contacts: I want to know how they do that. I assume they play fair. I assume there is no black magic. It’s a matter of CQ, answer, TU, take the next in line. Is my setup really that small compared to the guys that beat me bigtime? Do they all have stacked monobanders on 40m high towers? Do they all have 4SQ on the low bands? Do they run 5kW making my kW sound like QRP? Do their callsings belong to some exotic DXCC you only work once a year, or once in the contest? As opposed to everyday ON. Is it the location versus propagation miracle? For CU, EA8 – I agree. But Russia? Ukrain? And Finland for crying out loud? Or are those guys really miraculous wonder boys that suck up every QSO that is possibly possible?
There is only one way to find out. Go to a HUGE contest station preferably in a southern location. Play SO2R on stacked monobanders and massive gain low band arrays. Use a pair of true 1500W amps. There are two problems with that: I hate being away from home and I hate to spend a lot of money on travelling. Suppose I do travel and gut the piggy, and my ass gets kicked bigtime. Then what?