Aahh, the contest of all CW contests. QTC rulez! At least in CW. I wonder what the fun in SSB or RTTY is. If any. But the CW QTC makes this one of the primary events of the year for me.

Not much to say. After all these years and all these reports, chances are real I’m repeating myself. Like how it all started: already told in 2008. Or how I usually train for QTC: already told in 2011. I didn’t train this year. That’s how good I am 🙂

And I probably told the story how I got N1MM to finally support WAE in his world famous contest logger. No? It’s exactly a decade ago. The long hot summer of 2003… I bet he still has nightmares where the QTC code comes up. My bet is that WAE and the QTC interface specifically score very high on his top ten of hardest code to write. In fact it was the only reason WAE was not supported yet back then. I had made a modest start with the code so that the foundation was done and I could hand it over to The Man Himself. My hope was that my start was an incentive for him to take over. I provided a separate window for QTC like I had seen in WriteLog. I used that program in 2002 with a very negative experience. Like losing QTC. Like using TAB to jump fields but the Tab Order of the controls was not in logical order. Windows GUI programmers know what I mean. This means that a TAB does not always jumps to the next field but skips a few or goes back a few. A horror scenario when logging QTC.

So I thought: let’s copy that GUI concept and make it behave better. But then Tom N1MM had a brilliant idea. He decided to leave the separate QTC window route and walk down another path by using the entry form itself and alter its behaviour in QTC mode. I still think this was a very good idea and I have loved it ever since. And have never lost a QTC ever since! I’d hate a separate window now. Although it is implemented for RTTY I believe. But now that ON5MF does CW, this RY will soon be a thing of the past (HI Jurgen 🙂 ).

So a few thousand QTC later I find myself on the eve of WAE CW 2013. If it weren’t for QTC I would have skipped this one. Propagation stinks and I’d rather spend the weekend with the family. But it’s the yearly QTC bash! I took a late start and slept the first few hours. I have always been a poor strategist and always make the wrong decisions when it comes to plan off times. I didn’t expect much of propagation. But somehow there was much activity on 20 at 02.00 utc. So I started there. I was still a bit sleepy but for QSO #2 I decided to hit the ctrl+Z combination and sure enough K3IE sent me my first batch of QTC. With no specific training before (hey I think I have mastered the QTC game by now), I felt a bit worried but all things went well. Who da man? Off to the races! I could even work ZL1 on 20 LP! Then my friend K7GK/6 called me. Nice surprise Denis! I worked lots of W6-W7 and they were eager to hand out QTC. This early in the contest? That’s new! I welcome that change.

Around sunrise I discovered that 80/40 were absolutely useless. Not many stations there, CQ’s remained mostly unanswered and QRN / noise on 80 was terrible. I took a break and continued. In fact this was the way I continued the whole contest: run and ask for QTC, S&P and ask for QTC and when I was out of stations to work I took a break. In the end I took more breaks than the twelve hours provided. That’s mostly because WAE is a sloooooow contest. Thousand QSO in 30 hours. Compare that to 1250 QSO in 12 hours in EUHFC last week. When it goes too slow I have a hard time staying focused and awake.

For a few years in a row I put WAE SSB on the schedule but September is such a hectic month and it’s the same this year. Always QRM on the contest agenda. WAE CW, and I suppose this applies to SSB too, is a weird contest. Knowledge and expertise from other contests usually do not apply. You need special tactics. Planning off time is crucial.
And it’s a love-it-or-hate-it contest. A lot of the usual suspects don’t participate and you find quite anonymous players putting down good scores. Especially the CW part separates boys from men. You actually need to copy more than a callsign and a zone that is already filled in by your software anyway. If you refuse to copy QTC all together you end up down under the pack, no matter how many QSO you made.
I admit: I am biased when it comes to CW and WAE. After the major fail in 2001 (‘WTF is QTC? What do they want from me?’) I decided to make my way into the men’s row in stead of the boys queue. The more the station evolved and expanded, the more I could rake up QTC. Yes I’ve come a long way. Yes I practiced a lot in the past for those QTC. Yes I’m quite proud of it since skills are not something you can buy off the shelf or download from the Internet. Skills only come by practicing and the proverbial blood, sweat and tears. In August it’s mostly sweat.
Winning this one from EU seems hard. Competition is strong with a dozen very experienced WAE specialists all wanting to win. There usually is no room for smaller stations à la ON5ZO from common EU locations like ON in the top ten. That’s because the ratio DX-to-EU is skewed. Much more EU demanding than there is supply of DX. Add to that that you need big antennas to get out of EU. Especially when propagation is poor. But you can do very well with modest antennas from a unique DX location. Sit back and call CQ. TA or 5B are popular destinations. The drawback then is sending the QTC which seems very boring to me.

Closing note: packet spot mayhem by the end of the contest. The M/S ops and Big Gun S/O are bored after a slow Sunday and each and every cluster spot offering fresh meat is jumped upon with the big calibre shells loaded. They call and call and call and call but never seem to listen. When the calling dies there is one idiot that decides to call again which triggers another salvo of blind calling. OD5ZZ on 40. And many others. So it makes me smile when I call CQ and get called by a juicy DX mult. Like CO, KH6, V5, KL7 etc.

CU in the next one!

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