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July 2021: OP0HQ and my first USA on 6m

OP0HQ in the IARU contest

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the first OP0HQ participation in the IARU contest. At that time I was the HF manager for the UBA and it seemed like a good idea. I managed to put together an All Star team with the biggest and best Belgium had to offer. I myself was hosted by ON4UN for 40m CW.

ON5ZO in ON4UN’s shack as OP0HQ on 40m CW in July 2006

This year, once again, I manned the 20m CW slot. For this purpose, once again, I put up my mobile antenna support and installed a dipole for 20m. This simple antenna at about 12m above ground performs remarkably well. I use my stackmatch to divide RF power between the yagi and this dipole. That way I can still access the far east while running USA.

Luckily the thunderstorms stayed away but during the first hours, I few nasty showers caused terrible QRN. I was surprised by the number of stations worked on 10m and 15m, which may have led some people away from my 20m band.

I had hoped for more contacts and sustained high rates but it wasn’t to be. I squeezed out 1900 contacts. The only thing that can improve this number from here is better propagation.

RRTC

The weekend after was RRTC, the Russian Radio Team Championship.

Always fun to hand out some points to our Russian friends in their tents. Nothing spectacular and not my best score (not that it matters in this one). Participating is more important than winning. Yes that’s what I always say because I never can win…

First USA on 6m

Something on my retirement bucket list: get a decent 6m antenna and work my first USA there. I am not active on 6m and I have zero interest in that band. But since I discovered that my WARC wire dipole, or now the 30/40m dipole offers a low SWR on 50 MHz, I occasionally listen there. I have no clue what the radiation pattern looks like and it probably has a poor efficiency but due to the low SWR I can pump some RF power into it. Sounds like a dummy load doesn’t it?

I worked a new one: HB9. One night I was going to bed but I had to shut down the shack. I was looking for weird and unexpected late night things so why not listen on 6m? There were a few stations on CW (my only interest) and some cluster spot mentioned ‘Es’. So I called CQ. After a few CQ’s I checked the Reverse Beacon Network. I got an adrenaline shot: only one skimmer picked up my signal: KD7YZ (in KY?). A few other spots popped up. I heard some pings from KU8E, but he faded away or didn’t call CQ anymore. So I decided to call some more CQ.

For the first time (to my knowloedge), my 6m signal is heard in the USA by a skimmer.

Then at 2129utc K2ZD called me, I gave him 559 RST. Then W1AIM, one minute later – yay! WU1ITU was calling CQ but he didn’t hear me. A while later his call popped back up in the bandmap from the RBN. Logged at 2152utc. Sweet!

At 2213utc I logged a nice 10m ragchew QSO with N3RS. We both were glad having a chat instead of the short contest exchange we had over 200 times since I got trapped into the contesting habit. Especially noteworthy was that 28 MHz conveyed strong signals this late. Can’t wait for a sizzling hot Ten!

Bonus:

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