- My last LotW upload was December 31.
- The year is over half way and so far I have made ZERO contacts on the WARC bands. Not ‘few’. Not ‘almost none’. But the absolute value of ZERO.
So it was time to grab the bull by the horns and fire up ye olde shack again. The plan was to set up on Friday and relax on Saturday before the contest. Yeah right. A friend asked to help him in a heavy construction project on Friday. Double trouble: bye bye plan and it would certainly cause some body aches the day after during the contest. I have been distracted from ham radio duties so much over the last year… The job was done sooner than anticipated so I wanted to set up in the afternoon before an invited friend would arrive for a BBQ party. I powered up the winch to crank up the tower when he texted me he was already on his way. That’s almost one hour sooner than planned so setting up the tower and antennas would be done on Saturday after all.
Sure enough my body felt Friday’s physical effort and as a result I woke up around 5AM with a cramp in my leg. I knew I would not fall asleep again soon so I booted the shack PC and powered up the TRX. Say what? K=5 overnight? Oh boy this will be a dull contest. Let’s make the most of it anyway. Since everyone and everything worked along the set up procedure outside was done in under an hour. I took a nap before the start of the contest and was ready to go.
Conditions indeed were not the best but things didn’t go too bad. I maintained an average rate of just over 100/hr. With intense use of the second radio and the simple triband vertical. The latter antenna works great when the propagation is great too but this time it was barely making me heard. Better than nothing. Second radio share: 2151 QSO of which 253 with radio 2 = 11.8%.
At a given point, just like last year, someone insisted giving me 001. PSE ITU ZN ITU ZN PSE ITU ZN @24WPM to match the caller’s speed. Then he proceeded to give me his CQ zone. *sigh* Log what is sent? Yes but what if he changes his cabrillo before submitting?
One hour into the contest I developed a head ache. I never have headaches. It distracted me. Not so much the pain itself but wondering what the cause was, never having had a headache before. It got so bad I took off the headphones for some relief. When my fingers touched the left part of my head, I felt a sore spot. That was it! During WPX CW I broke one of the hinging suspension brackets of the (expensive!) headphones. Since I use these tight fitting cans to suppress the amp’s noise, I don’t want to go back to my open spare model that doesn’t block ambient QRM. I fixed the bracket with a liberal amount of plastic tape and it held during WPX. But because I fixed the ear shell with the tape, it doesn’t follow the curve of the skull anymore. So the protruding remains of the plastic brackets were pushing against my head. In fact pretty hard but I didn’t notice at first. I tried to bend the taped assembly a bit but it always comes back to its painful position. I can still finger point the spot now more than two days after the contest. For the rest of the contest I tried adjusting the bracket and the layers of tape but I needed to repeat it every hour. I wonder why that wasn’t a problem in WPX CW? Now what? Buy one again?
The night was slow but it could have been worse. I didn’t actually sleep but ‘lost it’ for a quarter of an hour on two occasions. Tired, warm in the shack, slow rates. Together with a few I/O breaks I lost a good hour of operating time.
I had a close eye on the online score board. SN7Q was out of my league but I traded places often with OH1F and UC7A. All these guys seem to have more, bigger and higher antennas than yours truly. I had to let OH1F go in the last half hour. He must have found a source of new multipliers. The RBN map showed him spraying his signal to Asia / far east and USA / Caribbean at the same time. Since I only have one antenna, it was either direction for me. I was very tired and was relieved when the final bell rang. I slept for two hours straight.
Here’s what I’m going to do:
- Upload about 8000 contact contacts from 2015 to eQSL and LotW
- Reinstall the WARC dipole and try to make a few contacts every day.
Today (Tuesday) the bands were either closed or everyone at the beach. I worked a 4S7 on 17 CW though.