Cold – not only the weather but I have one. Day 12 already today. Lots of snot. It began the Friday before the 9A CW contest. I planned to do that one semi-seriously and set the bar at 1000 QSO. I decided to skip the Stew Perry contest in favor of 9A CW. But on Saturday my nose was clogged and I had a nasty cough. I don’t remember anything about the contest. I made 450 QSO and I kept thinking that the error rate for this contest might be worse than my usual clean (error-free) logging. I couldn’t concentrate because of the cold and the pressure in my head. No fun. I didn’t do much DX’ing either.

I was on the air on Christmas day. A bunch of Americans on 80m but nothing spectacular. Where is everyone? I have the impression that there is less ‘normal DX activity’ and that people are leaning toward contesting. On Sunday I did the RAEM contest. A planning accident happened: I thought that the contest lasted 6 hours, from 3 to 9 utc. My bad – the contest lasts 12 hours, from  0 AM to 12 AM. We had invited some guests for lunch and I volunteered to do some kitchen work. And the cold still plagued me so I didn’t want to spend the night in the shack. This year once again RAEM was a low profile entry. It’s a fun CW contest where you need to copy a real exchange: serial number + lon/lat coordinates, 50N04O for me. And scoring is distance based calculated from the exchanged coordinates. ZL1TM brought me 308 points on 40, 20 and 15m. VK’s are only 280 points  🙂   I made the same mental note I made last year (in vain): RAEM = worth to do a full time effort.

I got up early (QRV 04.00 UTC) yesterday morning for sunrise and well before SR on 160m. That was an absolute pathetic showing. Locals ON4IQ and ON4AOI were on too. Granted: in ON everyone is a local. Since no one answered me I listened and heard them working W6/W7. I clearly heard the W6/W7 – but my CQ’s remained unanswered. Not even a simple W1234. NOTHING. I went to take revenge on 80m where a W6 and a ZL1 called me. Then on to 40 where a bunch of W6 and a VK found my signals. But all that has been done before. Zone 3 on 160m hasn’t…

I tried again when the day was over, around 2200 UTC. I worked a handful of W1234 on 160m. Then I tried 30m. That didn’t work. I start to think that the sloping vertical dipole is no match for my rotary dipole. Too bad that one is broken (see previous post). Maybe the people trying to convince me to put up a rotary dipole for 40m are right? I started my EZNEC at 01.00 AM local time and modelled a linear loaded dipole for 40m. But I always end up being caught by the WARC bands. A 30/40 dual band rotary dipole is possible but what about 17/12m then?

I skipped SR today, it was a long day yesterday so I slept somewhat longer. I was on for SS but other than a VK on 40m, no real DX was worked. There was a spot for AH7C on 80m. I think I could hear him but the usual EU behaviour… Idiots calling and calling. Not only the usual suspects but also OK and DL’s were completely going berserk. We should start eating pigs in stead of turkey. Maybe there will be less pigs on the HF bands then?

I couldn’t resist. After almost two weeks I connected the analyser to the WARC feedline. SWR was acceptable again and it seemed resonance shifted 50-100 kHz down. Who stretched my antenna??? In the shack the K3’s SWR meter says SWR = 1.4:1 on 17m, where it was 4.3:1 at worst when I declared the antenna ‘broken’. The antenna takes 100W from the rig without problems. Key down for 1 minute, a good burn in test for the K3. SWR still 1.4:1. However, as soon as I try to load the amp on 17m, I cannot find a match anymore. Even with 12W drive giving about 300W out. A blown trap/coil can’t fix itself. Maybe it is water in the coax after all? I will have to inspect it – later…

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