IARU HF Championship 2020: OPØHQ 20 CW

I did not participate in 2019 but this year I wanted some piece of the action cake again. A huge slice (20 CW) or nothing. As a one man show of course. I’m not someone who shares the little fun that one band offers in just 24 hours.

Two years ago  (link)  I managed to stay out of the remote network. As the only station out of twelve. I am not a huge fan, it doesn’t help me to make a QSO extra and it opens up Pandora’s box for software problems or freezing logger software. I attended a pre-COVID meeting early February, during one of those stormy weekends. We were still joking about the virus then. Little did we know.

I felt kinda pushed into the remote network thing during that meeting. One of the UBA officials made it more or less clear that it was mandatory for everyone. Fair enough so at one point I said I would step back if that was the case. With no hard feelings. And I meant it. Rather do Single Op than do something I don’t like. And I would not hold that against anyone. That strong is my feeling against all those gimmicks that don’t really lead up to extra on the air performance. And for those who don’t know me: if you try to twist my arm… I find ‘Prinzipienreiter’ such a beautiful word.

Another UBA official said that two years ago I made a lot of QSO (i.e. more than anyone else) and that finding a valuable replacement would not be easy. True ☺. Someone else at the table tried to ensure me that this network thing is completely transparent and does not cause latency or did not cause any problems with the logging software. So in the end I agreed to give it a try and make everyone happy. But with a lot of doubts and prejudice.

Just like in 2018 I wanted an extra antenna to fill the gap to EU when running USA. I used a wire dipole as an almost flat top antenna, stackmatched with the yagi. It felt it was a good addition. This year I made a full size aluminum dipole. Very successful project, but too heavy for my field day mast (link). I could crank the tower up but it felt unsafe. Since my garden is not that big I tried to leave it unguyed. The antenna analyzer showed a nice SWR curve but it is simply too heavy. All that 36 hours before the contest. All that work for nothing. Even worse: I now need to stock a full size 20m dipole.

On Friday I settled for plan B: two lightweight and cheap fishing poles and copper wire. The field day mast was installed anyway. Might as well use it instead of the fiber glass poles I used two years ago. I hauled the portable tower up and SWR was flat along the 20m band. The fishing poles are only 4m long. I left the excess wire hanging loose towards the ground. This dipole was now about 12m above the ground or 0.6 λ. It was fixed with the lobe to Japan and France/Spain and CN. I connected the rig straight to the stackmatch. Nothing in between. I did some RX testing and it worked just fine. The yagi and the dipole have about the same impedance R+Xj, which means the A+B transformer makes it back to 50Ω. I could use the amp settings for all three options (A or A+B or B). So I would not have to touch the amp. Friday afternoon, all set to go.

I will be short about the contest. All things went great. Even the network. Rate was good, DX was good but the band did close for a few hours. I decided to take nap, because calling CQ in vain is tiresome and I wanted to be fit when the band opened up again. I was QRV around 5AM local time, which is 0300z. But the band was still closed. Apart from some big gun Russians which were of course worked on Saturday. I had set myself the goal of 2000 QSO but I fell short two dozen claimed QSO. I think that this is about as good as it gets with one small tribander (short boom) only 1 λ high. Numbers on 3830 confirm this.

The dipole was a great addition. The footprint on the RBN confirmed this. I think I ran with both antennas combined about 90% of the time. I’ll try to put something down about this antenna. On a few occasions, with the yagi to USA, I tried the difference when a JA called in. Almost unheard on the yagi (90° out of the direction), solid S7 or more on just the dipole…

Once again a very enjoyable contest operation!


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