WAE CW, one of my favourite contests. But take away the QTC and you get a slow, lame summer contest. Slow and lazy is the mood I was in the week before. Hey, it’s summer and holidays so why not?
I planned to finish a project I already started late 2011: an RX loop for 80/160. After the noise on 80 in EUHFC, I thought I could use it. But I didn’t even touch it until Friday and since I was so lazy, I decided to drop it. I did not even bother to test the N1MM Logger for the QTC interface. Very risky! And I was so confident that for the first time since 2002 I did not even use the QTC MP3 as a warm up. All in the name of summer laziness!
So I watched some TV in the evening, went to bed and set the alarm to ring at one hour before the start of the contest. I booted the shack PC and OUCH – in the mailbox was an email from the N1MMLogger reflector with ‘an experimental version to solve a delay problem in WAE’. Aarrggh, that’s what you get when not testing! But the latest regular update worked fine. There was no delay so I left it that way. A few minutes later: another mail for another experimental version. Not to fix a problem but for some change in WAE functionality. I decided once again to leave it because I have learned to work around the problem in the past.
I was all set for the start. Normally I start late and begin on 40 but this time I plunged in at 00.00utc and 20m was in good shape. I had two fast hours running USA and some DX like 9V and 3W called in from behind. But of course the well dried out and the rate dropped. Around 7 AM local time I jumped up: last QSO was one hour ago so must have lost control over the cockpit and fell asleep. So I lost one hour to an unplanned break. Tried some more 40/80 but got disappointed. ON4IT (a/k/a OP7T) and I discussed break planning strategies over Messenger. We quit for a four hour break and agreed to call each other if not back on the PC after the break.
From then on, it was business as usual. Run the bands, and do a lot of S&P. The DX became so snooty it decided to run itself and leave S&P for EU. As always the DX/EU ratio was a low number. The usual suspects were present though. Propagation was bizarre: sometimes it seemed the bands were poor, sometimes it seemed they were wide open. Only ten meters was a bust. Apart for some Middle and Far East there was only a very light opening to theUSA. And of course to SA.
On Sunday the slow pace decelerated until it came to a halt: CQ’s remained unanswered, S&P only revealed stations already worked. My ‘best ever’ score seemed out of reach: 1000 QSO, 1600 QTC for 1.5 million. Especially the mult count was a disaster with ten being closed. I missed tons of multipliers on 80 too. That band was quite good although not many people around. “C’est la vie” I said to myself and took another break although the 12 hours were already taken.
Sunday early evening things changed for the better. Better and more signals, more multipliers and more QTC. Great! I finally reached the 1000 QSO mark, but I was still missing mults and points were stuck around 1.3 mega. Once again I tried ten. The Reverse Beacon Network did not show a single skimmer picking me up. Off to fifteen meters then. RBN showed I was heard from W6 where the beam was at to JA and the V5 skimmer. I had a modest run with some mults and quite some QTC. The clock ticked and I repeated that routine on 20m.
In the mean time I kept an eye on 40/80 for multipliers. Packet spots are especially nasty in WAE. There aren’t many juicy multipliers so if one pops up, everyone jumps in. Especially since the contest for EU stations comes to a halt. All the multiplier positions in M/S setups have nothing to do and are waiting for a packet spot. If one comes around, all hell breaks loose with all the mega-stations wanting to work the multiplier and of course keep us all waiting when they get a round of QTC. Some of these M/S stations and big gun SO are rude. They use the ‘brute force attack’ method by calling over and over. Others seem to call while not really copying the weak DX. A few times I was able to outsmart them by sending 200-300 Hz away from the spotted QRG. Don’t give away my little secret!
I decided to spend the last half hour on 80m. The UA9’s were loud and RBN showed an unspotted UN9 for a multiplier. VO1MP blessed me with another multiplier. For some reason I had no PY on 80. At 23.57 PY2ZXU called me. YES! Another WAECW is history… It was fun but after IARU, RRTC, EUHFC and WAECW my contesting needs are saturated – for now.