Two contests! What a treat. My last appearance in the UBA SSB contest dates from 2015. That means I skipped this contest two years in a row. Due to bad weather so I didn’t crank up the tower. My last participation in the CQ 160 CW was from 2014.

This year I wanted to play in both contests and the WX allowed to crank the tower up all the way so 160m was possible too. The SSB part is done out of loyalty to the UBA. The 160 CW participation was to check the water temperature on Top Band.

I cranked the tower up Friday afternoon. For some reason a lot of things went wrong. Nothing serious and no damage but still… Ropes tangled up, the winch’s PVC cover sheet got tangled between the gearbox and the cable drum (my bad), the gearbox making a weird sound and slowing down (action needed?) And I forgot to secure the rope to pull up the 160m wire so the wind blew it up the tower. I had to climb a few cross bars to grab it about four meter high and lower it. Apart from these minor issues, all went OK. I guesstimated the length to fold back to bring the 80m wire into resonance in the phone part of the band. I made it a tad too short and after a small adjustment all was ready to go.

I set the alarm at Saturday 5AM local time so see if I could work USA on Top Band. I woke up pretty brutally and it took me a while to get into the shack. My first contacts revealed a problem with the messages. There was no 5NN. A quick check of the rules: yes RST needs to be sent. After a scratch behind the ear I figured out what was wrong. It was my first session of the new year and I had made a clean database as I do each year. But the CW messages were set to default and not to my tailored F-keys. Easy fix!

Soon after that I started working stuff on 160. Even Americans and Canadians. Around 8 UTC with 270 contacts in the log, I called it a day and went to play with the kids and watch some TV. My neighbor texted me to see if I could give him a hand for an ‘quick and easy job’. The job turned out to be impossible without further preparations (breaking away stuff to make room). We figured that out after more than two hours and with half an hour before the start of the UBA contest. I walked home, ate lunch and landed into the chair ten minutes into the contest. Not a biggie: plenty of off time. I had to stay on twenty meters because there was nothing happening on fifteen. What’s that you say? What about ten meters? **devilish laughter**

The good thing was I was logging many Americans. Always a treat. Around 1600z the band seemed to dry up so I took a break. Later on… Oh well it’s always the same story. Change bands, try to run, yaddayadda. It’s SSB and there wasn’t much to be worked or heard. On 160 it was only EU so I went to bed around 1200 utc. I had the W mult on 40 but not on 80. I didn’t care.

Sunday – toes wet into Top Band. The water wasn’t cold. ZF9CW was the first at 0530 utc. Some DX. I worked a C6 for a new country and N2IC for what I believed was a new WAS. It turns out I worked New Mexico in 2010 but I don’t have a paper QSL and the contact is not confirmed on LotW. So if or when N2IC loads up to LotW I have a new state confirmed on 160.

I pulled the top band plug again around 8 AM utc and took a break and a nap. Because of this I would not complete the full 12 hours allowed in my chosen UBA category but things would be slow for sure. I tried 40m again which was a drag last night. I didn’t work much in volume but I did manage to get the 40m mult count way up with EU stuff that I missed the night before. Missed? Maybe they just weren’t there!

I tried fifteen but as you might have guessed: it was a bust. Somehow a four letter suffix VK8 came through tough. ON4AYM called in to see if I had ON on ten meters. With zero Q on 28 MHz, I made the QSY. Thanks OM! I was glad to end the contest because it ended up in boredom.

The 527 CW QSO on Top Band (including 16 VE and 84 K!) were easy. The 545 SSB QSO in the UBA contest were not. I pulverized my best score in CQ 160 CW:

2013: 84,280 pts / 265 Q / 15 W+VE / 41 CTY

2018: 264770 pts / 527 Q / 31 W+VE / 52 CTY

More than a thousand QSO this weekend. January usually is the slowest month for me (together with April). Next up: ARRL DX CW and UBA DX CW…

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