How to edit your log for the UBA DX Contest – 2024 update

1) FOR BELGIAN PARTICIPANTS ONLY who are using N1MMLOGGER: please add your section abbreviation.

I repeat: ONLY for Belgian stations (that is with prefix ON, OO, OP, OQ, OR, OS, OT). Belgian stations: please do it! Do this BEFORE the contest. That is done by changing the ??? into three letters for the correct section abbreviation (AAA, NNV, ZLZ…).

It’s here, in the ‘Sent Exchange’ field in the window where you add a new contest.

For a list of valid abbreviations: check the rules on the UBA website.

I know, reading rules is a controversial concept but try it.

2) FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS: please use the right category!

  • I repeat: this is for EVERYONE, no matter what logging software!
  • ONLY Belgian stations can choose between 6/12/24 hours. Everyone else does 24h. This means:
  • DX (= NOT from Belgium) can only do the full 24h.
  • Belgian stations: please please please please please indicate the right category with respect to time (A = 6h, B = 12h, C=24h) and power (L = LP, H = HP).
  • Result: AH is 6h HP, BL is 12h LP etc.
  • QRP is all band only, there are NO single band QRP categories.
  • Categories are found on the UBA website, under HF > Contest Rules.

Step 1: open the Cabrillo file (*.CBR or *.LOG) and locate the ‘category-operator’ field.

Step 2: change this to ‘CATEGORY:’. Don’t forget the colon (:).

Step 3: add your category code (AH, CLP, CH, DXE…. etc). Please find this in the rules on the UBA website, under HF > Contest Rules.

Save and mail to the right email address. That’s it. That will save ON9TT and me a lot of trouble. Every year we have the same problem, ESPECIALLY WITH BELGIAN STATIONS who don’t seem to understand it. And the same people have been forgetting all this year after year since 2010…


One year update

It’s been over a year since I last posted something. That has never happened before. There are a few reasons for that.

I think blogging is out. Period. And there is not much interaction with the audience. I don’t even know if there is an audience. Hello?

Over the last two years, I haven’t done as much radio as I used to do. Nor as I would have liked to do.

I mainly do contests. But I have written about that for over fifteen years and I find myself repeating the same things over and over. Basically because every contest follows the same scenario. Which doesn’t mean it’s less fun but… You get it.

I ended up on Mastodon:

I prefer this over IG but there is much more happening on IG. Too bad.

I did some purchases and homebrewing to start doing POTA. I managed to do five activations. I would have done more but the weather, work etc got in the way. I sure hope to do more in 2024.


While it was fun and my youngest son is very keen on going along, I was disappointed. I see Y/T videos of US hams making tons of contacts and running modest pile ups. I knew from the start that if that was my goal, I would end up disappointed. It’s not catching up here.

Other than this, nothing to report and it’ll probably stay very calm here…



QSL policy from 2023

I have been a very lousy QSLer since a few years. I know. I admit. I have written about that in the past.

Over the course of 22 years I have developed a love-hate relationship with QSL cards. The scale leaning very strong towards hate nowadays. There are a few reasons for that. It’s not that I’m against QSL cards. It’s mainly a tradition from the past and I’m all about traditions. Heck our hobby is nothing but a tradition. Something from the past. The practical value today is zero. Apart from EmCom and the likes. But still I am VERY passionate about ham radio. At least in the way I like to experience it.

When I started out every QSL card was a treasure and a small victory. One of the local club’s Honor Roll DXers (old skool, when DXCC still might have meant something) said: Yeah it’s all great now, the first cards, but wait until you can fill a few shoe boxes with USA or JA alone. He turned out to be right. Slowly I filled my shoe box. Then another. Then another. Gathering cards for the designated ARRL DXCC QSL card checker. And so I applied for DXCC. CW only, of course. But then…

After four or five years on HF I completely lost interest in the DXCC program. My focus shifted to contesting and it still is there. Haters gonna hate but it’s what I truly like. I like talking to DX too, very much so. Unfortunately it’s been hard to find some CW on the bands outside of contest weekends. The mode-whose-name-I-shall-not-mention turns out to be the coup de grâce for casual weekday DX. But I digress.

My HF activities usually generate about 15k to 25k contacts or more in a good year. That in turn generates a lot of incoming QSL cards. Which by itself is totally fine. I’ve been using a few special calls too (OQ5ZO, OO5ZO, OS5ZO and also ON5ZO/P). So I get QSL requests for each and every callsign from the same stations for the same band-mode combinations. Which has absolutely no value for me. So what is my problem with ‘buro QSL’? It’s not the financial cost. Sure there is a price tag but as it’s part of the hobby, I can live with that.

The main problem is that is so very time consuming. Each time I see the local club’s QSL manager, I get a big pile of QSL cards. I need to process these. And mark the contact for QSL purposes. I consider that a total useless job seen from my side. Because I just don’t give a damn about these cards. By now I have three huge plastic bins full of QSL cards that are just taking up space. And should I ever need a specific card from a specific station, the search is just not going to happen. I’m not a red tape lover, I’m not an accountant. I want to put up an antenna, hook up my radio, hope for propagation and talk to fellow ham radio operators. Preferably as far away as possible. I collect experiences and memories, not paper.

Time is a problem. Job, family, raising kids, keep in touch with old time friends, work around the house – you know how it goes. The time that remains should be spent on the air. Not by shoveling through hundreds of QSL cards. Another W2 in NY on 20m. Another DL on 80m… Again: I do not want to deprive anyone of my QSL cards. But I just don’t want to spend my time on that.

At first I sent out handwritten cards. Needless to say I soon quit that. Printing labels was the next move. After processing another few hundred cards, I needed to print a few hundred labels and stick those on a paper QSL card. Sort ‘m out, get them to the club… Repeat every so many weeks. Weeks became months. Months have become years. I guess I’m really behind. A few intensive home improvement projects over the last five years didn’t help. And certainly not the complete shack tear down half a year ago. Everything in boxes, many of them still waiting to get unpacked. If it’s not contest related hardware in the box, it’s still stored somewhere.

Along came GlobalQSL. The Israeli company that printed your QSL cards with all the data on it and sent it out to the right QSL bureau. Just upload an ADIF containing the contacts you want to confirm et voilà. I still had to process the cards though. But the label printing and sorting was already out of the way. The price was right for full colour QSL cards. Notice how I put everything in past tense?

At first their system worked flawless. Nice cards and the turnaround time between uploading and the other side actually receiving the card was quite short. Then complaints started popping up on various reflectors. Do the cards still leave? Why don’t they respond to my email? I uploaded an ADIF but the other guy never got my card after such a long time… Their reputation down the drain and soon it became clear that for some reason they were out of business. A case of take the money and run? Who knows? With many hams still having a few Euro or Dollar worth of QSL credit. Like me. Long story cut short:

GlobalQSL ceased to exist when the owners passed away. The Spanish QDURE (  ) seems to fill the gap. I made an account and checked it out two years ago but I never uploaded or bought QSL credit so far. From what I read and hear, it seems to work. So that is part of my new QSL policy for 2023: upload to QDURE and have them do the job for me.

But that does not address the nasty issue of all those incoming cards. I need to find a way to keep people from sending me a QSL card. I’ll gladly send you mine. If you really want it. Free of charge. Traditions, you know. But as much as I appreciate and like our HF contact, no matter how long or short it was, no matter how many kilometers you are away – I don’t need your card. I don’t want to announce on my page (  ) that I’ll throw your card into the trash bin and that I’ll never send you my card. Because I have never thrown a single QSL card away and my intention truly is to send you my card. However I don’t want to spend hours processing an endless stream of QSL cards. Hence I need to find a way to deter people from sending me a paper card through the IARU QSL bureau.

A first attempt was made a few years ago. I put this on my QRZ page:

I use LotW and eQSL. I don’t collect paper cards anymore.

QSL via the buro  WILL  TAKE A  very very  LONG TIME  to get your card.

I  DO NOT COLLECT QSL CARDS  anymore but I reply to all incoming QSL requests.

If you want to get the QSL card faster, just send me an email or send your card direct with SAE and postage.

This is what was on my QRZ.COM page until this morning.

But I guess this is not enough. So I will try to formulate it in a different way so that it’s clear that bureau cards might never gonna happen when you send yours to me and wait. My friend OT1A  ( ) uses the notorious ClubLog OQRS system. And that’s what I’m about to do. Gather the requests, make an ADIF and launch that file into the QDURE system.  I have just activated OQRS on my three active callsigns (OQ5M, ON5ZO and ON5ZO/P). Now I need to find a way to formulate and spread the word that if you want to receive my paper QSL, the only way to go is file a Clublog OQRS request and wait for QDURE to do its part. Oh wait, I will need to exhibit some form of self-discipline to bridge the gap between  OQRS and QDURE. An incentive for 2023?


Status Update

2022 was a total non-radio year. I didn’t post much here. Because there wasn’t much to blog about. And because I’ve been more active on my Instagram account.

The year started with the celebration of 75 years of UBA:

I did the UBA DX SSB contest. The CW part got cancelled though.

Early in 2022 I missed both ARRL DX contests due to storms so I couldn’t raise the tower.

Those stupid storms always cause minor troubles:

I did do CQ WPX CW as the last contest from the old shack.

The war that Russia started in Ukraine caused the cancellation of a few events and I dismantled the old shack to build a total new one. That took longer than anticipated.

No WAECW either:

I was back for CQ WW CW. I did 20m CW for the OT7T M/M Distributed effort that the UBA did. I had OT5Z and ON4IT come over to help.

Then I did the ARRL 10m contest and 9ACW. The ARRL even featured me on their social media account.

After that I rearranged the shack to correct a few mistakes and make other thing better.

Oh yeah: early November I operated from 4U1A.

There is a report on that here:

Six months update

It’s been over six months since my last post. Not much has happened on the radio front. Unfortunately.

There was a storm in February keeping me off the air in ARRL DX CW. Then the Russians started a war in Ukraine turning the world upside down, also our hobby. Exit a few contests, and my motivation down the drain.

Then I had to dismantle my station to build a new shack. The contractor was very late to the party and things have been moving slow. The roadmap I laid out in Spring 2021 turned out useless.

I don’t want to mess with temporary setups by moving the heavy and expensive things back and forth. So the only thing left to do is do my part of the work whenever the contractor has completed a phase and count down until I finally can build a new shack from the ground up – literally. Even from below the ground.

I surely miss being on the air and doing contests. I hope to be back soon but it’ll take another few weeks / months. Bummer!


Three months update

Just a quick list of what happened after CQ WW CW end November. Those studying contest history in the next century, or the author writing my hagiography should have complete data don’t they?

Propagation seemed only so-so. Result: once again I didn’t even turn on the rig for the ARRL 10m contest.

December: 9ACW contest

Half the number of QSO compared to 2020. Less people active, the COVID stay-at-home effect wearing off?

December: RAEM contest

After a storm in 2020 I was back in RAEM this year. Always good fun.

Early January:

I could invade the bands with the special event station callsign ON75UBA, celebrating 75 years of our national society. The problem was the wind speed picked up and I had to lower the tower. This is acceptable for anything above 10MHz but it makes my low band antennas disappear. I made about 3700 QSO, mostly CW.

End of January: UBA DX SSB

Participated as OQ5M in the 12h sub-class. Participation seemed up from recent years. But it’s SSB and I only do this one because it’s our own contest.

I also made 500 QSO in CQ WW 160 CW.


February was windy. I was looking forward to ARRL DX CW but then windy turned to stormy. Then stormy turned into a few days of consecutive heavy storms: Dudley, Eunice, Franklin. Deadly trio. I was lucky that my antennas survived. All over this part of EU people reported antenna damage. And cancelled or limited participation in ARRL DX CW. I had to sit this one out because of storm after storm after storm.

All my hopes were set on UBA DX CW the week after. The weather finally calmed down and the forecast for the weekend was very contest friendly. Then Russia decided to invade Ukrain and two days before the contest someone in the UBA thought the contest should be cancelled because of this. A few hours later an official announcement appeared that “The UBA” had decided to cancel the contest. And then questions from my fellow Belgian hams came in through in my private comms channels… They do know I am not ‘the UBA’, right? I just check the contest logs and use their special calls. That kinda made me member of the UBA HF Commission. Something that organically grew back gently after I withdrew cold turkey from official UBA business 15 years ago. And I not always agree but who am I anyway?

Asking if a contest should be cancelled yes / no and why / why not is a legitimate question to ask. I’m not saying it should nor that it should not. But the thing is: there was very little thought put into this, if any. And now it turns out that people don’t like to be put against the wall. They rather make up their own minds and take it from there. Gee, who’d have thought? And isn’t that ironic? Think about the disease and the cure. The pot and the kettle.

So now I suddenly find myself with lots of free time this weekend. Time to update this webpage here. Since a few weeks I have a few new insights and thoughts about the hobby. Some of them strongly opinionated. Others are just plans I’d like to execute. I hope to find the time and energy to do something with it.

In the meantime: let’s root for peace and common sense. If not in international politics, then at least in our hobby!


CQ WW CW 2021

The weeks leading up to the contest I decided I wasn’t going to do SB80 or SB40 anymore like the previous years. Much to my surprise I discovered that last year I did SOAB(A) already, too! How could I forget my epic personal 5200 QSO record? Goes to show how much I care about scores and records of the past. Except ‘in the now’, for how to improve things from the past. The problem with growth and improvement is that it has to stop somewhere. When the curve flattens you just have to cope and deal with it to avoid frustration. I think I hit the ceiling with the parameters I can manipulate (or not): size of garden, budget, things you can put up and keep up in the air and the everyday common location that is Belgium. The only uncertainty comes from the sun. What will propagation be like?

The propagation in CQ WW SSB a month earlier was promising, especially on the Ten Meter band. That Son of a Band has been playing dead for years now. Eternal hibernating, it feels. But in the SSB part we were surprised with the best conditions there in years. Cycle 25 ramping up! We climb out of the valley! Yay! Optimism galore. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a one off event and the band has reverted to a coma. The occasional spasms aside.

I now also remember why I did All Band last year. The COVID imposed work scheme (50% at home, 50% in school) was very favorable for a CQ WW CW participant. At home on Friday, at home on Monday coinciding with the contest weekend. Rest and calm. Not so this year. A full bore work schedule, more stress than ever before (various reasons, not just a virus thing) so I felt very tired leading up to the contest. But this COVID thing saved the (Fri)day. My son’s class was put in confinement for a whole week and my wife and I split the days of social leave to be at home with the kiddo. He can’t stay at home alone for whole days already at his age. And grandparents shouldn’t be addressed when there is a risk of COVID. Note that my son was not affected, it’s just that his class had too many positives so as a protective measure the complete group was put at home. I ‘volunteered’ to stay home on Friday. I still had some school related work to do but at least I was home and not performing my show in front of those  possible  probable germ spreaders for a whole day.

Friday went by. I didn’t really sleep and I had hoped for more rest, but I felt OK. Around 1800 local time, 1700utc, I did a walk with the dog. To give him a workout, and to get myself a workout in the hope to fall asleep for at least a few hours. Friday had been windy, rainy and cold.

Upon returning I put up a second RX antenna, just 30m copper of unterminated wire on the ground with a stock 9:1 balun. It was facing JA. Report: it kinda works, just like anything works but some things just work better than other. It was more to satisfy the urge to put up something magical that would make all the difference in the world. Some of you will understand. Of course it doesn’t change a thing in reality.

After that I went to bed for about three hours of sleep. I woke up before the alarm rang. Subconscious stress. Good for the XYL who hates being woken up in the night. I took a bite to eat, something to drink, slipped into comfy clothes and off to the races. 23:59:55…56…57…58…59…

00:00:00  OQ5M OQ5M TEST  on 3503.50. Proven strategy for me: start on 80 low in the band. My 80m antenna (copper wire hoisted up the tower and 2 elevated radials) is a fantastic performer for its simplicity.

The first minutes went very slow. This was worrisome. Actually it was not too bad but nowhere near new records. Which is one of my unspoken ambitions; to better my best QSO/hr time. I already own seven out of ten of the fastest hours from Belgium in this contest, but this is one figure that can be improved I guess.

After a few minutes it became clear that this was not one of my fastest hours since I found myself grabbing the VFO dial of radio #2 and interleave 40m QSOs with the 80m run. During the first six hours I was mostly on 80 and a good run on 40 netting almost 1000 QSO. It’s tempting to extrapolate this to the entire contest multiplying the number by eight (8 x 6hrs = 48 hrs) but I know that I can’t maintain this from Belgium with my setup. I wonder if it’s the Belgium or the setup? It’s not me because I thrive in adrenaline soaked fast runs. I get exhausted and tired from low rate. That’s when I get tempted to leave the shack or sleep.

Later on I dabbled a bit on 160m but that was a waste of time. Double mults of course on the fresh band but the rate got killed. The 9th clock hour with 97 QSO was the first below 100. Mainly because I milked out 40m for 3pt USA and ended up late on 20m. There was a lot of action already on 15m too so I headed up there with an 185 hour. Yay! That may seem a lot but once you’re used to it, anything less feels like a drag. I need to score that runner’s high baby!

I don’t really know what to tell about the next part of the contest. A few bullets:

  • It was fun.
  • Rate varied between 105 and 170.
  • It was more fun.
  • I was amused by the number of DX that was in the mix and that called me. From all over the globe.
  • It remained big fun.
  • This cannot come to an end!

Sidenote: the online scoreboard ( )

Marc OR3A was also in the SOAB(A) game. The first few hours we were neck to neck, he often overtaking me especially in number of multipliers. After a few hours he had way more mults than me but I took a bigger and bigger leap in QSO totals. I was sure that I would catch up on mults as long as I could keep running. Remember the motto:

Keep running and the mults will come!

Which they did in the end. Mostly by sticking to my running strategy and a few fast S&P excursions. I almost never spend too much time in a cluster triggered spot mess. Often a short while later the multiplier gets enough of the mess and starts S&P while looking for a clear spot to call CQ again. It then comes across OQ5M et voilà: mult logged by yours truly.

Just to say that I dig the online scoreboard and that my main concern was keep a lead over OR3A. Sorry Marc, nothing personal, I just have to have a target that is more or less realistic. I gave up on you in WW SSB so… This time I could not play the “I don’t like SSB” card.

The beat goes on. I sucked up QSO as much as I can.

I always get a motivational dip in the middle of the contest. I get tired, things slow down. Then I start to wonder and think. So once again I decided to take three hours of sleep during a timeslot that would still return the day after, towards the end of the contest. I wasn’t really exhausted like previous editions. But I wanted to avoid that to happen later on when there was more fruitful propagation. I attribute my freshness to two factors:

  • I adopted the rule that about every four to five hours I would stop no matter what for a short break. Get up, get down, take a wiz, stretch legs, move around, open the door, get on the floor, walk that dinosaur. Ten minutes tops. This helped to stay fresh.
  • Losing a good 35kg and being much fitter than 18 months ago. Not that I became a gold medal athlete (bronze baby yeah), but I’m just much fitter now. It shows in a lot of aspects in life, and also in contesting. Franki the Radio Sports Athlete…
Rate is King!

Things were not too spectacular the second half of Sunday. Rates were low, ten meters was a total bust, fifteen closed early, twenty closed soon after and there was only the low bands left from here.

With about two hours to go and trying to draw the attention of USA on 40m (which worked!), I suddenly noticed the amp put out 700W or less instead of the desired 1200W. This was weird. I adjusted the tube amp’s settings for 1200W but the tuning knobs’ values were way off. I put the amp in standby and checked SWR. It had risen to 2:4:1 where it should be 1.7:1. PANIC! ALARMS GOING OFF! What is wrong here? Quick check from the shack: SWR was bad on both rigs but OK on dummy load. Not the rig, not the amp, not the bandpass filters. Must be the antenna then. Ferrite core sleeve balun overheated and beads saturated? It’s rated 2kW+ and homemade so pretty much bullet proof… Water ingress somewhere after the rain? Seems unlikely.

All THESE ARE HORROR SCENARIOS because I hate tower works. I was very exhausted by now and my hand-eye coordination was messy. Thinking straight was a problem too. I decided to go outside and into the garage where shack and antennas are interconnected. I checked some connections and I decided to take out the coax stub that shorts out the 20m signal when TX on the other radio. Once back upstairs into the shack: everything reverted to normal. It’s now five days later and I have checked the 40m antenna every day: it has been stable. So there must be something wrong with the stub. I will check this later on, when I’m recovered from the contest and taken care of the fallout.

All this lasted a good twenty minutes but this was enough the drain the batteries a good deal, from whatever what was still left after 45-46 hours into CQ WW. I sat out the rest of the time running one band without much success but intensively hopping around and scoop up anything audible with radio #2.

Note about radio #2: it drives an Elecraft KPA-500 and more than ever I was amazed how well 500W works. Even 10 000km DX and modest pile ups were easily handled with 500W. I don’t get those Power Fetishists ( © ON4IA 2006) running 4kW or more, if rumors are true.

The bell rang and right away the counter started for 2022.

  • Not my best QSO total, not my best total score, but somewhere in between.
  • 10,3% QSO with radio #2 (500W amp).
  • Almost 32% QSO with USA!
  • Best hour: 186 QSO 0100-0200utc: 176 on 80 run + 10 on 40m with radio #2.
  • It was fun and this truly is the biggest of the biggest.
  • Lots of people worked, many DXpeditions on the air.
  • Many familiar calls in the log. Too many to mention but much appreciated.
  • Many DX from the Far East and Latin America.
  • Some rude big gun morons on too. But a very very small minority. Often the usual suspects doing the usual stupid things (QRMing DX, calling without end, calling but not answering etc).
  • 128 different countries worked overall.

Like last year I want to say thanks to my wife for supporting this crazy hobby and putting up with my quirks. And shout out to my kids who cater me and keep a close look on the scoreboard. They often boohoo all who’s above me in the ranking. Be warned!

Thanks for reading this. I’m not as much into blogging anymore as before. It’s also a matter of not seeing the audience. But occasionally people tell me they actually drop by to read this so here we/you are.

Here are the numbers:

Here’s a graph just because…


LZ DX Contest 2021

Time for the annual pre-WWCW Smack Down that is the LZ DX Contest. I usually have a good result in that contest but in 2020 I had an unusually good score. I got second ‘world’ after RT9A.

2020 Results – look who’s not first!

I have more QSO (I always do well in QSO numbers) and even more multipliers (which is where I usually underachieve ) than RT9A. So his average point/QSO ratio is higher. He has of course much better access to those ten point LZ stations than I have. It’s not easy to work LZ from here on 10-15m, even on 20m it’s not easy.

I was a bit disappointed though that there is no distinction between UA9 and ON and that there is only one plaque to be won. I understand it from the LZ logistical / financial side but a plaque is a plaque. And no plaque is a plague. So there is a little voice in my head that says “Why bother to squeeze out every drop?”. Which is of course a total motivation killer.

Nevertheless: I was ready for this year too because a CW contest is a CW contest and rate is rate and yada yada: CW contesting – it’s what I do.

It seems this year more than ever I have a busy and stressful job. It attenuated my energy and motivation by a dozen dB for CQ WW SSB. But SSB, not my thing so who cares. Apart from the weather (storms), there could be a second potential show stopper in 2021. I felt tired, I had a cold and as a teacher I am exposed to the COVID threat every day. But I dodged the virus’ bullets and I managed to stay healthy. Or at least not become ill. The perspective of a good CW contest is of course as good a reason  as any to encourage oneself.

Rate is king!

As always the first hours went fast and I accumulated a lot of QSO. Then it inevitably slows down around local midnight (2300utc). With the previous paragraph in mind, I decided not to overdo. A plaque will not be won, Country Winner Belgium is a fact. OK: only 99% sure. Maybe there is an obscure Belgian out there whose signals I have not come across and who is outnumbering my QSO total. Furthermore  I need to survive another week before WW CW. So let’s not totally drain the operator’s batteries. A long way to say: I took some sleep. I got up in the morning and carried on but as always the hours of high rate are gone. Apart from that last hour.

Everything went well. It seems the station is ready for the BIG ONE next week. Another LZDX Contest, another satisfying event. Thanks for hosting, see you in 2022 if all goes well.


CQ WW SSB 2021


  • It’s a major contest
  • It’s DX
  • Lots of activity on the bands
  • Lots of friends on the air


  • It’s SSB
  • I’m not in the mood

Here’s what I did in the previous years:

My first plan for obvious reasons: SB80. Lots of room, not too much spatter and QRM, sleep during the day. But what do I have to proof? I set a few Belgian records for SB entries. I’ve done it before. So why not just go for maximum fun and see what happens? There seems to be life on Ten these days!

KL9A and/or N6MJ started the hashtag #roadtocqww. My road leading there was full of potholes, traffic jams, detours… Lots of work, an unusual amount of work related stress, meetings, projects, deadlines. I was mentally empty and physically exhausted by the end of the week before this contest.

On Thursday my bowels went through the same thing as the sun right before the contest. The gastric equivalent of a CME. Add a snotty nose and I was beginning to fear illness – or worse: the dreaded C-word.

Added twist #1: the weather was bad and was predicted to be worse during the weekend. Strong winds on Friday, a calm Saturday but a nasty Sunday with possible gusts exceeding 70-80 km/h and lightning. Two things I hate and drive me nuts when there is a contest.

Added twist #2: A CME on the sun could/should/would hit Planet Earth during the weekend and cause a radio blackout. Why does this always happen during contest weekends? My wife would answer: “Every weekend is a contest weekend for you guys!”. Fact.

Long story cut short: come Friday I was dead tired and I had nothing prepared. Tower not cranked up. No low band wires. Where is that headset? I’m a CW guy so my microphone is in a box, somewhere… That forced me into a non-competitive mode and I had settled for a ‘just for fun’ approach. First thing: get quality sleep.

I more or less felt ok when I woke up on Saturday. With the tower down, so the yagi at only 8m high, I could work some stuff on 10m. With the small amp, no use to pump out 1.2kW RF with a low antenna.  LIFE ON TEN – that’s to be filed under ‘Breaking News’. I scrutinized the outcome of several weather forecast models: Saturday rain and a tad of wind, a calm night but on Sunday a cold front would move over with very strong gusts – just like they predicted the previous days.

Another setback: our new 50kg heavy 8 month old puppy (yes, 50kg at 8 months) charged its way through the RX loop I set up a few days earlier. Luckily a zip tie snapped which released the stress on all other parts. Quick and easy fix but this is a sign of things to come…

I went out around 10AM local time It was cold, raining and a bit windy. It’s been a long time since I was out in this weather doing antenna work. I decided to crank up the tower, play on 10/15/20 and do the low band wire shuffle in the afternoon when it was supposed to be dry. I had two layers of clothing and I got soaked but the yagi was now at 21m high and I could go for it.

Ten was hot. I worked deep into the Far East and Oceania, including 2 VK and 5 JA. On 28 MHz. In SSB. Go figure. This is what I mean with ‘maximizing the fun factor’.

There was an opening to USA on 10m but it was not spectacular. On the other hand, any opening on that band is spectacular today. This band has been closed for ages! Time to head out into the garden to set up the low band wires. It was not too windy so ‘wire management cursing’ was within reason. I have marked the points on the 80m wire where I need to fold it back to make it resonant on 75m. Spot on. I installed the coax stub on the 40m feed line. The dual band dipole exhibits high SWR in the SSB part and since I operate >95% CW, this is the fastest way. I use a T-barrel to put in a parallel coax stub to lower the SWR between 7100 kHz and 7200 kHz. Quick ‘n dirty fix, works FB and makes the amp happy on 7 MHz SSB.

The reason why I don’t like CQ WW SSB is 40m. That band is a total madhouse here. There are hundreds of stations in a small slice of bandwidth, most seeming to use the newest +3kW amps. Impossible to get through with my setup. Last year I worked 3000+ QSO SB40 in WW CW, so my setup is ok for CW. It is not suitable for SSB. Which is fine because SSB is no fun. Here’s my motto:

I work SSB contests, I play CW contests

I tried calling CQ during the night. There is a bit of room below 7125 kHz because USA can’t go there. 7125-7200 kHz is jam packed for the reverse logic. Only thing left to do: call CQ below 7100 and use the second RX in the K3 to listen above 7200. Technically that is easy and is a perfect solution. But it seems no one tunes the bands anymore and your faith lies in the hands of the Cluster Spot Gods. It took a while but finally:

W3KB          7059.0 OQ5M       + QSX 7214.0    0104z  2021-Oct-31 
W2YR          7059.0 OQ5M       + QSX 7214.00   0102z  2021-Oct-31 
N4XL          7059.0 OQ5M       + QSX 7214.00   0044z  2021-Oct-31

This caused a short lived surge in the rate. Oh well, this just confirms my feeling about the band-mode combo. Off to 80m 75m for better times.

By the end of the night I developed a minor headache. SSB is brutal and makes my ears bleed. CW operators will understand this. The sun came up and I managed to work a few Americans and Canadians on Top Band. Those who called me were easy, but there weren’t many. Their loss.

As predicted the weather went south and the wind speed increased so I called the Big Gun phase a day. I reeled in the low band wires and lowered the tower. I still scanned 20/15/10 once in a while and switched to the 500W amp.

In the afternoon there was a decent opening on 28 MHz and I had a good run, including a +100 hour of USA. With the yagi at only 8m high and only 500W. With this run, a few stations achieved ‘six band status’ in my log.

It was a good thing I lowered the tower because the wind speeds increased and when the real cold front passed over, there was a shower with very strong gusts. I am very protective towards my setup when it comes to wind. I’d rather avoid damage and problems to the key element in my semi-field day setup. Soon after this the higher bands died and I occasionally went into the shack to work whatever I could with the tower down.

Here are the ‘USA in log’ statistics (679/1750 = 38.8%), my benchmark for any DX contest:

Prefix    1,8    3,5    7     14     21    28   Total
K         8       37   93    218    196   124    676

Two of these were with fellow blogger John AE5X:

I also found Bas PE4BAS calling CQ on 80.

Here’s SJ2W:

I worked Dima RT5T who was making 20m a better place.

And here’s Instagram phenomenon Marija YU3AWA.

Max ON5UR was living the DX contest dream from A73A and called me on 80m for a double multiplier. Thanks Max!

And many more friends across the planet. Ya’ll non-hams can do whatever you want but Ham Radio is the only Greatest Hobby In The World!

My sons came in to listen on the speakers I installed. My oldest even told me he wanted to this contest thing too. I told him he first has to get his license and pass the tests. I think the minimum age is 12. He replied: I turn 12 in a few months…


August – September: a couple of contests

Not very active in the blogosphere. I haven’t got much to talk about and who’s still reading this anyway? So just for the archives a/k/a my online memory…

WAECW 2021

From 3830:

I took a late start and many many breaks (a total of 22h operating). Operator tired and unmotivated. It’s often a slow contest and face it: we’re only in it for the QTC, right? Glad to see I still ‘have it’.

Band Q/QTC QSOs Pts Mlt Pt/Q
3,5 QSO 36 36 68 1,0
7 QSO 247 247 162 1,0
7 RQTC 312 312 0 1,0
14 QSO 394 394 144 1,0
14 RQTC 827 827 0 1,0
21 QSO 125 125 74 1,0
21 RQTC 208 208 0 1,0
28 QSO 3 3 6 1,0
Total All 2152 2152 454 1,0
Score: 977.008

That’s more than last year…

RDA 2021

First time ever I participated in this contest. Propagation so-so and just seeing what it’s all about. Might be back…

Band QSOs Pts DXC RDA Pt/Q
14 118 1180 0 97 0 10,0
21 39 390 0 30 0 10,0
28 8 80 0 7 0 10,0
Total 165 1650 0 134 0 10,0
Score: 221.100


To close down the summer holidays. Always nice to go in and out of the shack during these contests.

Band QSOs Pts DXC Cty Pt/Q
3,5 64 184 26 7 2,9
7 189 551 38 18 2,9
14 201 662 38 18 3,3
21 67 282 18 12 4,2
28 11 41 7 2 3,7
Total 532 1720 127 57 3,2
Score: 316.480


This is the right kind of therapy: CW and no pressure. Calling CQ Is useless, just go up and down the bands and work what you can. HF Propagation was not favoring the Belgium-Scandinavia link.

Band QSOs Pts DXC Pt/Q
3,5 87 87 32 1,0
7 113 113 33 1,0
14 111 111 33 1,0
21 11 11 10 1,0
28 2 2 2 1,0
Total 324 324 110 1,0
Score: 35.640