The first activity since late December. The yearly hiatus after a busy November and December. I would never operate this contests if it wasn’t for the UBA. It’s slow and most of all: it’s SSB. I delayed setting up until Saturday morning. The weather has been cold, very wet and windy. The only absentee on Saturday was the wind which is good. But it was raining and near 0°C. Brrr!
Setup went smooth, for both tower and low band antennas. I was hoping to catch a few DX on 160m in the CQ 160 CW contest. It took me one hour and a half and I was soaking wet and cold. But at least I was ready. I thought…
I forgot that the new 40+30m dual band dipole I installed last summer exhibits very high SWR in the phone band. 2.4:1 or more near 7200 kHz. I forgot about that because I don’t care about SSB (it’s good in CW) and I haven’t done SSB there since… WPX SSB ’20? Which was with the previous monoband antenna.
The only solution I saw was to T a stub to cancel out reactance. The antenna analyzer showed it was inductive (X positive). Which means it’s too long – hence the resonance down low in the CW sub-band. I wasn’t in the mood for calculating and cutting so I just went ‘trial-and-error’ style and added a few lengths of open ended coax to the T barrel joint until the inductive reactance got cancelled out. The best I got was an SWR of 1.7:1 in the desired band segment which was good enough for the amp to pump power into it. All this made for about an hour more in the cold. I was frozen and had to take a warm shower to return to a more or less normal state.
My plan was to do the 12h category. This contest is too slow for 24h and it’s SSB. I can’t stress that enough. I can’t hype myself anymore for this brutal waste of spectrum. Last year I bailed out from 12h and shorted things to 6h.
The contest had a VERY slow start. More than ever: no spot = no rate. People don’t tune, they hop spots. So if you’re not visible in the bandmaps they just hop over you. Some Belgians have found a neat workaround for that: they just spot themselves. Either with their own second call, or with a club call or whatever. A friend called this ‘self-assisted’. Go ahead, make a fool of yourself.
The contest continued on 20m because Saturday had a dead 15m. I didn’t even bother for 10m. I went to 40m early and returned to 20m for 3pt USA. Forty meters didn’t go as planned. It’s not CW, that much is clear.
Later on I was bored and decided it was time to play some CQ 160 CW. I can be short about that: I made over 200 QSO in just over one hour. That’s relaxing and better than yoga or mindfulness.
There was no DX to be worked. I went back to UBA SSB for some 40 (slow and disappointing) and 80 (much better).
I had a funny moment on 7MHz. I got called by 7A… Then there was brief chatter in some language on my frequency and YB… called. More chatter and YB.. called. This went on for a few minutes. Apparently the Indonesians were alerting themselves about my presence and I worked a total of xxx Indonesians in xxx minutes. That’s a first. There were a one or two that were just too weak to work and I didn’t want the locals to turn into net control and relay reports to me. Luckily that didn’t happen.
I decided to go to bed, it was 3AM local and I set the alarm for 6AM (0500utc). The alarm rang when I was deeply asleep. I couldn’t even swipe the alarming phone into snooze. After a few trials and cursing from the XYL, I disabled the alarm and only woke up at 7AM local time.
I went down for breakfast with the family, after all it was my youngest son’s ninth birthday. Then I went back to CQ 160 to work a batch of USA. Some were pretty loud, most weren’t. I quit that race with 400 QSO. My plan was to return late in the afternoon until the end of the contest.
I still had five hours or so to go in the UBA DX SSB. I attacked 20m which had low QSO count. It worked only so-so. There was a weak opening on 15m. Nothing spectacular but it is what it is. I got a phone call from my niece who was bringing back my trailer she used which was an half hour break. Then my youngest wanted to go for a walk in the afternoon so I quit the contest with not even eleven hours active out of the allowed twelve. But I had enough of the splatter and all the nuisance that comes with SSB.
The walk started under a gray sky but it started raining. We did a 10km tour and were cold and soaked when we got back. I didn’t return to 160m anymore, I fell asleep on the couch and went to bed early.
Monday afternoon there were already 600+ mails with logs waiting to be accepted and imported. Twenty four hours later we have already 100 logs more than in 2020 and more than 20 000 QSO more than last year.