Long time no update. Not hibernating. On the contrary. I have done a lot of work the last four weeks. Trying to fix broken things, preparing future projects (top secret for now 🙂 ). And working on a new software project for the UBA log checking. More on that later.
Then came the UBA SSB contest. With some of the broken things in the station, I was limited to LP. The plan was LP 12 hours but my friend ON4BHQ wanted to do that. He won the plaque last year and was looking for a repeat. He says he’s no match for me because I have bigger antennas but I think he’s wrong. Anyway I didn’t want to interfere with his plan so I was glad to have an excuse to do only 6 hours. That plaque for 6h LP was won in 2010 with 50k points and 300 QSO. That seemed a target I could match.
I did not prepare or set up antennas on Friday. I was finetuning my software. I slept late on Saturday and ran some errands with the XYL. I got home about 2.5 hourse before the start of the contest and had to crank up the tower, put up 40/80m antennas and get the voice keyer working. I did all that in reverse order. But a Windows PC that hasn’t booted in over 4 weeks, does not do what you want right away. Updates, patches on the updates, update for anti-virus… Once it was running, I was amazed to discover the microHAM DVK monster worked right away.
Off to the garden. Very cold but blue sky and sun. Cranking up the tower is a routine job, especially with the electrical winch. I opted for the 40/80m dual band dipole since I anticipated much more EU than DX contacts. Once again it was a one man field day show and the antenna was almost up when I remembered that the dipole was cut for CW and it’s a SSB contest. Drat! A rough calculation out of my had to figure out how much shorter it needs to be… ballpark figure, run to the shack, and see that it was too short. I grabbed the analyzer which works faster and in no time I was all set for the contest.
The contest was no fun. Propagation seemed absent. I remember good USA runs on 20 last year. I was glad to be called by only a handful this year. Nothing happening on 15m. So I can be short: it was a long, slow and boring contest for me. I did note make 300 contacts. But I made more multipliers than last year’s winner. I’m afraid my score isn’t plaque material.
The benefit of running barefoot was lightning fast and carefree QSY. Never needing to wonder if you re-tuned the amp or forgot the band switch. The bad side was: no addtional heating in the cold shack and obviously the lower rates than when running QRO. Compromise would be an auto-tune amplifier. But that is no compromise for the bank.
Another contest for the books…