WPX SSB 2012

After the solar flare disturbances last weekend, it seemed that propagation restored itself over the week so I decided to do SOAB in this contest. WPX SSB is normally done on a single band here, if done at all. But what if you pick a band and it turns out to be the wrong one? So I decided that with an all band entry I could just pick the band that was runnable. No further plans, no tactics, no targets.

Since there were 12 hours of off time to be spent, I slept the first night. I made the first QSO around 05.30 utc on Saturday. A few easy DX on 80 but I was soon out of DX. I tried running and worked mostly EU. Then off to 40m where I made an 110 QSO hour. It would turn out to be my only +100 hour. ‘Nuff said!

The bands were FULL. Overcrowded. A thick multi-layer of sticky SSB slime. Sometimes I could not squeeze in to run. At least not without harassing others. Some people apparently don’t object to that. If you don’t transmit for 10 seconds to listen to a weak signal repeating its number, they jump into the gap. Runs were hard to get and maintain. Even a packet spot did not yield the usual increase in rate. I did an unusual amount of S&P in this one. Especially on 10m where a tried a few times to run in vain.

And just like every major SSB contest, most signals between 60° and 120° from here use 10kW amps with the ‘elbow room’ function enabled on their rigs. On Sunday evening, I was about to quit. I simply could not find a place to run on 20m, it was jampacked. The typical splattering SSB sound of a full band, it drove me crazy. When a Polish powerhouse decided to completely ruin it for me by wiping out 8 kHz around me, I almost went berserk. Needless to say I did not really enjoy this contest. This time the fun was more than ever in working DX and meeting familiar callsigns again in yet another contest.

Once again it is proven that neither the operator nor the station here is made for SSB. Just change the mode to CW and keep all other parameters the same, and I make 1000 QSO more. I hereby solemnly swear NOT to use a microphone again in the next seven months. Oh wait, CQP falls in that period.

There was a running gag throughout the contest as well. Actually it was rather a tragicomedy. Remember the self-spotting clown I talked about a few weeks ago? The guy spotting himself all over in ARRL SSB? If not click here, but anyway: the circus was back in town. This time he used the same local’s callsign to spot himself 26 times over the weekend. Sometimes with less than half an hour interval. If you call CQ three times without reply, then just spot yourself! Or could it really be that the local is just a loyal SWL fan spotting his idol over and over? That is called cheerleading in contesting lingo I believe and is of course very much against the rules. But WPX Chief K5ZD probably will draw the ‘apply peer pressure’ card if a complaint would be filed. Peer pressure my ass! Imagine me sending a letter: “Pretty please don’t spot yourself, it is against the rules and it is not in compliance with ham spirit”. These cowboys just don’t care. An official note from the contest promotor with the evidence copy-pasted: “This log is rejected and you are DQ’ed. Have a nice day.” That’s more like it!

Apart from this, I feel sorry for sincere operators full of ham spirit who refrain from these obnoxious practices. Like my friend ON4BHQ on the 15m band as OQ4B puts it: his call is ALWAYS in the bandmaps because he puts it there himself. Enough of this before we get all grumpy again.

8 replies on “WPX SSB 2012”

Was my first time in the WPX and I thought it was insane how so many stations were right on top of each other, especially 20 and 40. That is why I went to 15 meters (And worked you btw 🙂 ) Not a major contesting station on this end either. Kenwood TS-440S and a Cushcraft R-5 Vertical. I think I will try it on CW next year. Thanks for the multiplier! 73’s and Good DX!

Hi Jeff, thanks for the note and the QSO. Your KA1 was a mult for me too (although another called later on).

Crowded bands are especially a nasty issue on SSB. It is easily overcome in CW with a good rig and some filtering. You can achieve much MUCH more in CW with the same setup than in SSB. I don’t enjoy SSB contests as much as CW. I find the latter relaxing and the first only worth its while when the rates are high. But I’m a contester and any contest appeals to me in the end HI.

Why wait until next year to try it in CW? The last weekend of May is the date for WPX CW. The same contest as last weekend, only in CW. Activity level will be of the same magnitude but with a modest setup, you’ll be more likely to ‘sort them out’. If all goes well, I’ll do a more serious effort (or at least a better motivated one) in the CW part.

73 / CU!

It won’t really stop me from participating for now, but I always wonder: if 1kW, a 21m high tower and a good tribander are not enough to stand out, what does then? What if you work barefoot with an inverted V on a fishing pole? Oh wait, ten years ago I started out barefoot with an inverted V on a fishing pole! That worked in CW but NOT in SSB.

More and more I want to try it once from a good DX location / station. You hit F1 at 00.00 utc and run a pile up until you move to another band, hit F1 and… 😉

It was nice to work you around the bands and see our scores quite close in the same category we participated in. What amazes me is that I put a good amount of effort and amusement into this one, resulting to a similar qso/pfx numbers as you, but you mention you didn’t have a good time (explainable). I do not want to think of our score difference mark, if this was the CW part 😉
Btw, I believe in CW part I will work SOSB(A)HP, possibly on 10m.
CU there !!

Contesting is ssb is not fun more so when the bands like 10 an 15 m are closing the remaining bands get crowed.
Add some participants with ellebow functions on their rigs/head and you have frequency war going on.
Sa mornig a YU station on 14140 could be heard up to 14180. I was following the guy during his operation. I told him abt
the severe interference. The answer was that he was using 6 kw (!) and that was it !

I have more fun in cw/rtty contests


It is not fair to say the contest sponsor will not do something if you do not submit a complaint. Have the courage to name some names.

Randy, you are absolutely right but you probably get so much mail you forgot the message I sent you last year. It was about a similar issue in the same contest with the same participant. You remained very vague on the subject so I didn’t really rave on. No I don’t keep copies of mails…

Naming names is not a matter of courage. I’ve been ‘courageous’ in the past and only got thrown dirt at me. Where does that get me?
I typed you a mail last week with the DX Summit search results included yet I decided not to send it and wait at least until after the deadline and then see further. Maybe the log will be resubmitted? Although self spotting / chearleading has no category on its own.

I just typed a long reply here over the past half hour, only to hit backspace. I admit: I chickened out. Because I just don’t want to get involved in ‘a situation’, whatever that may be and should there be any as a result of naming names. It’s just one of these situations where me and my big mouth decide to ring the alarm only to end up in a nasty situation aftwerwards. Been there too many times.

I comfort myself with the thought that cluster abuse is less of an issue with real contest operators i.s.o. casual SSB participants (same case with same callsign in ARRL SSB), and to my knownledge occur less in my beloved CW contests.

Still I’m glad you wrote a note to make your point which once again shows your dedication to contesting.

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