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.