DXCC lost its appeal to me soon after I discovered the joys of contesting. And for my shot of DX I’d rather work a bunch of W6 on 30m with fluttery signals than spend the same amount of time in an unruly pile up. Once in a while I still jump in but I always set myself a time limit. Life’s too short to call and not log. But sometimes the reward is not the new one itself. Like 9U4U. Belgian operators and active in CW. I know most of them in person. So I feel a moral duty to work them, just like I did in the past. So I took the opportunity to work them while the tower and low band antennas were up for the contests.
I was on a roll but there were some hurdles to jump. The lack of WARC antenna since both wires for 80 and 160 were up. And a nasty virus rearing its ugly head from Wednesday on. I can put up an extra antenna but I can’t take out a virus. If only I could have! Soon I had quite some band / mode slots checked. Even 80 CW went quite easy. But I was determined to get them on 160. It had to be after the ARRL DX CW weekend, because they avoided the CW part of the regular bands. I was too tired on Monday but I was all set on Tuesday. Sure they were there. Weak but I heard ‘m calling ‘UP JA JA’. Japan? Darn. My “Catch of the day” post last week tells the story. The morning after their website said:
We understand there was some frustration about the 160m operation last night. We fully understand that Europe was a bit frustrated about the fact that we only called for Japan.
So my plan was to roll ‘m in on Wednesday. Yeah right. I commuted between couch and toilet and was so nauseous I couldn’t care less for DX. I had to stay home on Thursday because I was really ill. Time for DX you say? No way, catch sleep and feel sick. Darn virus. Reading this didn’t make me feel better:
GOOD OPENINGS ON 160 AND 80M LAST NIGHT
The effect of the virus was much less by Thursday night so I wanted to try once more. The last spot was more than half an hour old but sure enough they were there and working EU. Cool. Things were hectic and the Clublog stats told me the ‘peak’ of ON contacts on Top Band was yet to come. So I jumped in a pile up for an OD5. Told you already: sometimes I do. He was loud of course (backyard range in DX perspective) and signed QRT after about ten minutes. So back to 9U4U. Ah, a bit stronger already and still there and not spotted. Great! Then someone threw a spot on the DX cluster and literally ten seconds later the pile up exploded and some SoB started jamming 9U4U with intent to kill. A crying shame and the main reason for me to abandon DXing. Game over for me and time to go to bed. It was way past bedtime anyway.
I tried the same thing on Friday night. There was an extra obstacle: the CQ 160 SSB contest flooding the CW sub-band. Sure enough 9U4U was QRV low in the band but off and on. I think they had a hard time copying signals in the SSB swamp. I lost interest and was catching up on emails after being sick for two days. I left the VFO parked and suddenly they were back so I threw in my call. The operator was persistent in logging me as OK5M. No matter how much I emphasized the Q. No a K it was. Now what? There were zero contacts for OK5M in the online log, which was a good thing. Sure enough, the next update of the online QSO data showed exactly one QSO for OK5M: 160 CW. Well cut of my legs and call me shorty! What a bust!
I ended up with 12+1 QSO. I don’t care for digi-modes and it’s a pitty I missed them on 30. But I would never have spent so much time if it weren’t for the operators. Once again I heard some stupid things. I can understand it takes a devious mind to put a carrier on top. And a slip of attention makes for simplex calling. But if the DX asks for “AX1?” and you hear the whole alphabet coming back, it’s clear that: people don’t listen, people don’t care, people don’t copy nor understand CW or they don’t hear the DX. Some guys send their call so many times in a row that the snappy DX operator has logged two contacts in that time frame. Those things seem to become standard operating practice. Also in contesting, as I witnessed this past weekend. More on that later…