This contest is always low priority for me and most of the time I just skip it. It usually comes right after a series of contests (both UBA DX, both ARRL DX and RDXC), it’s only SSB and it usually falls on a weekend that has social commitments. None of this in 2020. I missed all contests in February and early March because of the storms. Social commitments in the Covid-19 era are non-existent. So I let the antennas up in the air after RDXC and decided to play in CQ WW WPX anno 2020.

My initial plan: SB20 with an auxiliary 20m antenna to spray RF in two directions with the stack-match. I had played with this idea in the past and it would be useful in other contests too. So my youngest son and I started building a 20m dipole. Not a wire inverted V but a real flattop dipole. I would use the field day mast to get it up about ten meters high. This plan was a follow up of my 2018 plans and ideas (read here)

I started collecting all parts from the scrap bin. This antenna needn’t be pretty, it needs to work and be ready in a few days. Soon I had to give up. There was one size of aluminum tubing missing to make the tapering and I was missing some bolts of the right size and diameter. This is not a problem under normal circumstances. But now all stores are closed. So I gave up on the antenna. And the SB20 effort. I would just do a SOAB(A) HP entry for fun. No goals, no targets, no stress, no real time scoreboard. Just run a band that is open and when it’s no longer fun: take a break.


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CQ WPX SSB Contest With off the premises activities strictly limited, I suspect -no: fear- my radio shack being invaded by my boys (8 & 10 y/o). With phone activities there can be zero verbal interaction as opposed to telegraphy. So I decided to turn them into SWL. I installed my headphones distribution amplifier and hooked up two extra headphones. I gave a quick lesson on the NATO spelling alphabet and tested for EMC / RFI when running QRO. Seems fine. Look for OQ5M trolling the bands. Just for fun, nothing competitive this time. #cqcontest #hamradio #amateurradio #swl #cqwpx #cqwpxssb #behringer #behringerpowerplay #hamradioshack

Een bericht gedeeld door Franki – ON5ZO – OQ5M (@on5zo) op

The closer the contest came, the less I was tempted. SSB… Closed upper bands… Phone on 40? Oh boy. I went to bed on Friday and set the alarm for 4AM local time which meant the contest would be in full swing for about three hours when I would finally land in the chair. Not so. I snoozed and snoozed. Then I got up. But I didn’t go into the shack yet. In fact I was looking for excuses not to start. I got a message from K7GK/6 who had a very unproductive period from the SF area. W6 is not z14 but anyway…

I took a late start and decided it would be on 80m. Signals were good even from the USA. A worked quite a few of those: 38 in total. It’s a phone contest and I missed prime time for this band. After about 150 QSO I moved to 40. Ouch – forty on phone. I. Hate. That. Nevertheless I had two hours of about 125 QSO each. Then a three hour break.

Back some 20m and pathetic efforts to work someone on 15m. That’s how I spent Saturday afternoon: slow runs on 20, desperately looking for life on 15. In the evening I did 40 but not much success. I did 160 but that wasn’t a hotspot either. I did work two fast hours on 80 then, about 240 QSO in total. The wee hours of the night were slow and uninteresting. So I took a break for a nap and answering a call from nature. QRX 180…

I knew from my SB80-efforts in CQ WW SSB that 3656 is a good place for both EU and USA. This once again turned out well. Maybe I should keep this to myself? Around 0630utc a local French net claimed the frequency with the usual contest mockery and profanity. It doesn’t always have to be a German invasion or a G-tea party.

By that time I had taken a look in the scoreboard. With my ‘just for fun’ attitude in a phone contest I was way down in the list. Über-nice-guy Anton ON6NL was there (below me) and OR3A way ahead of me. That upset my contest-ego and triggered my competitive drive. Suddenly I went from ‘laid back – no goals’ to ‘not on my watch!’. The target was simple: get over OR3A. It’s nothing personal Marc. You’re a good operator and a very nice guy, I know that. But I have my small sides. This is one of them. The problem was that OR3A had a big deal of score advantage. Furthermore he worked way more 6-pointers on 40 where I focused on 3-pointers on 20. How does he do that? I will ask later on. I don’t think he has a big 40m antenna (but I might be wrong).

During the day it was obvious that everyone is on 20m. There was no free spot to call CQ. If you run barefoot and have a multiband vertical, this SSB contest obviously is not for you. US1Q had an awful signal and he decided the RS report 59 is optional. UB7K was even worse. From here there was more than 7 kHz of spectrum around him that masked everything else below S9. There were many stations not giving the mandatory 59 report, just the serial…

The afternoon was uneventful. Runs on 14 MHz were not spectacular, it was hard to work something on 21 MHz. The good thing is that I caught up with OR3A and by the time the contest was coming to an end, I had a good margin to beat him. Which I did, at least judging from the real time scoreboard.

I had a few good hours and a few boring hours. SSB is hard on the ears and not nearly as much fun as CW. I hope I can do SOAB in the WPX CW in two months.

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