ARRL DX CW 2012 – part II

I imagine ON4BHQ kidding: “You’ve become the Poulidor of contesting!”. Poulidor goes by the name of ‘Eternally Second’. After UBA SSB it’s now in the ARRL DX CW that I have second place in Belgium. OT2A beat me in the Unlimited HP category for first ON. Last year he beat me too in claimed scores but I won after log checking (remember?). This time the difference is too big for him not to survive in the log checking process. I always get beaten on multipliers but not so this time. I even have ten more. But I lack QSO. I think I know why.┬á“A man is always smarter afterwards” to quote my father.

Comparison of claimed scores between OQ5M and OT2A

My quest for mults on 160 and 80 cost me a lot of time. I kept CQ’ing at a very slow rate to work at least some multipliers. Conditions on these two bands were absolutely horrible. I worked more multipliers yes, but at what cost? The cost of higher rate and more QSO on 40m.

It’s not that I did not know what was going on at the time. As soon as I saw the first packet spot for OT2A I knew ‘Country Winner’ would not come easy. I decided to keep a close eye on OT2A without him even knowing. I made use of the Reverse Beacon Network website. Yes I know: I said I don’t like Skimmers and all but this is different ­čś«

I opened a ‘DX SPot Search’ window on the OT2A callsign and as soon as OT2A launched a CQ on any band, I knew he would be in the window. So I could follow his every move. Most of the time we were on the same band. Propagation dictates that. But I didn’t always agree with his choices although I understood. Sometimes I was grinding 80/160 for a QSO in the hope for a multiplier while he was on 40m. I knew the possibility that 40m would produce more rate, which it did it seems, but I really did not want to get beaten on mults. So now, afterwards I am smarter. The extra mults don’t make up for another 200 QSO on 40m. End of story.

I also used what I like most about the RBN: the Signal Comparison Tool. I learned that in most cases I was as loud as OT2A on a given Skimmer RX. Which is good because OT2A is a BIG station. Except on 40 where he usually was louder. Once again it is proven: my setup offers a lot of fun but bigger is better and height plays for horizontally polarized antennas especially when the wavelength goes up.

But Skimmers aren’t everything. There is still a big advantage of classic packet cluster spots. At one point OT2A and I were both on 10m, a few kHz away. He got a classic packet spot and things were slow (ten was horrible) so I went to listen. K0HA calls him for the NE mult. I turn green in envy and hit CTRL+Q to jump back to my CQ QRG. I’m only a few kHz away so if K0HA scans the band he’ll bump into me. Not so. Never heard him. I don’t know if he was ‘assisted’ or not but I assume he saw the spot for OT2A, worked the multiplier and went away. No classic spot for me = no NE mult.┬áBut later on it gave me an idea. Needing NE on 20, I openend up another RBN Spot Search window looking out for K0HA on 20m. As soon as he sent ‘CQ’ on 14 MHz, I’d be on top of him. And so I did and worked my NE multiplier.

For a second I was disappointed that OT2A beat me. I’m a contester and I like to win and be on top of things in Belgium. But then again: I had a good time and made the most of it given my limited setup. I only miss out on a piece of paper. Which is nothing for a weekend of big fun working only DX on all bands. And it’s more fun to have some competition than to be the only one and be ‘Country Winner’ with only 32 QSO like it happened to me ┬áa few years ago in ARRL DX SSB.

What also could enhance the competition and ‘race’ feeling is if more people would make use of the real time score reporting possibility. I sent my score to┬ábut you’d need more people and especially high scorers to make it really fun.┬áThere also a Russian alternative for that but there were even less scores reported there. Maybe next time?

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