Seemingly prepared for IARU

It seems northern EU isn’t exactly having a great summer. For two post in a row, Mike of SJ2W fame talks about bad summer weather. Local OT1A talks about ‘no summer in ON’ and I’ve mentioned the crappy WX too ‘ad nauseam’. In fact this morning when putting up the 80/160m wires I realized I haven’t been this wet and cold in a long time when setting up the antennas. Not even in the past winter.

There is a dangerous evolution though. Until last week, when you went outside and started doing something, it would suddenly start to rain and the wind would pick up speed. Now just thinking of going outside and doing something will trip the WX from dry to windy and showers. Maybe the weather division of Murphy Industries now picks up and decodes our brainwaves? Our national weather institute says it statistically is a perfectly normal summer. To me it is just a repeat of last year’s summer. The only difference is that spring 2011 was warm, sunny and dry and spring 2012 was just a prelude to the start of the summer: chilly, wet, cloudy and a tad windy. Enough about the weather though – after all this is a blog about ham radio and contesting.

Yesterday I wanted to crank up the tower but the wind was a bit too harsh to my liking. Not a problem for the tower itself but all the ropes get tangled. The three ropes on the pulleys to hoist the low band wires and the two ropes to release the safety flaps between the tower sections. These mix up to a nice spaghetti when there is wind. Remember: contesting here means a one man fieldday time after time! So I did some gardening in stead, of course only to get wet in the end and all the work been done in vain (again!). I had some more work to do in the garage awaiting a dry period. I sent I text message to OT1A and soon got a reply. Oh my, all work was done there and he was all set to go. Luckily the wind speed decreased and I started cranking up the tower. For some reason I don’t remember anymore I delayed the 80/160 installation to this morning. I should have done it yesterday evening too when the wind was gone and it was dry. Now I had to do it this AM in the cold rain. I was glad to see all antennas were still resonating within the band.

I think I did not put up 80/160 yesterday because I was in doubt. Lately 160 hasn’t been of much use in the IARU contest. Only a handful of EU but almost all (HQ) multipliers. I advized OT1A to drop 160 only because he didn’t have an antenna at hand and all the extra work in my opinion is not justified. But I have a 160m ready hanging in the trees. I just need to attach the end to a rope and pull it up. So I decided to go for 160 ànd 80. OT1A did some research apparently and he wondered why in 2007 I made 130 QSO or so on 160 and last year only 11, and 17 in 2010. Answer is easy: 2007 was a top year, and after that there was mostly noise on 160. Heck, it was mostly noise on 160 last winter too so I guess 160 is down and out for a few years. If mults were not per band like it is in WPX CW, I would have dropped 160 too for sure. But a dozen easy mults can make a big difference.

So with about two and a half hours to go before the contest, I assume I am ready too. Forecast predicts showers with local thunderstorms. Let’s hope local means ‘not here but there’. And what about propagation? I have no clue after being away from HF for 7 weeks. Wow, 7 weeks without a single QSO? Time to change that! Fingers crossed for WX. Better not worry too much about thunder and lightning or my brainwaves will be picked up…

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